Advance View: Budget building windows

One of the main advantages of fixed-election-date legislation in a parliamentary system like Canada’s is that it removes the ability of the sitting government to wait for the right window to open to maximize its chances for re-election.

A disadvantage of fixed election dates is that governments are tempted to spend billions of dollars to build such a window.

In the past, federal budgets have often signalled a government’s intent to call an election. Now, the fixed October election date signalled this week’s federal budget.

The budget has “election” written all over it. It apologetically offers a $1.4-billion surplus, a nod to earlier predictions of a $6-plus-billion surplus, predictions nixed by a loss of $6 billion of revenue due to an unexpected 50 per cent drop in oil prices.

In the same breath, the smaller surplus is premised on predictions that oil prices will rise an unexpected 50 per cent.

There are always goodies in an election budget, and the treats are for seniors and those approaching retirement age. But they’re geared to be of greatest advantage to the most affluent seniors. Likewise, there are handouts for families – but affluence is again almost a prerequisite.

The surplus depends on an immediate one-time sale of stock options and a deep swig from the feds’ contingency fund.

Meanwhile, many of the goodies don’t come into effect for two years – lots of time for strategic back-tracking after this year’s election, if oil prices don’t budge.

Another disadvantage of fixed election dates includes a big advantage of a parliamentary system like Canada’s: it precludes a government from dissolving itself by lack of confidence in its leadership.

That’s why we don’t really have fixed election dates – the pertinent federal legislation is more like a guideline, allowing the government to ignore it… which Prime Minister Stephen Harper did once already.

The question that the current budget raises is whether it’s a window-building project or an excuse to bend the fixed-election guideline once again. 

– B.G.

Just Posted

Team BC advancing undefeated in junior nationals

A Langley-based team is 6-0, thus far, at the Canadian curling championships.

ODD THOUGHTS: Hi, I’m Bob and I’m a news addict

It’s dangerous to be a news junkie is this day and age.

Langley serves as backdrop to pair of competing short films

In the 20th annual Crazy8s Film competition, two of six producers will be filming in Langley.

VIDEO: Rivermen back on the ice in Langley tonight

In their game against West Kelowna tonight, Langley’s junior A hockey team gets into action at 7:15.

Louder helicopter partly to blame for rash of complaints in Surrey: RCMP

Police say helicopter training is conducted in Cloverdale because it’s ‘a very practical area where we do a lot of real police work’

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Four students sent to hospital after school bus crash in Mission

Mission RCMP say hospitalization a precaution, 14 students were on board

5 to start your day

Court hears South Surrey mother ‘never called 911’ after killing daughter, Four students sent to hospital after school bus crash in Mission and more

Arrest made in case of incapacitated woman who gave birth

A 36-year-old nurse has been arrested and charged with sexual assault

B.C. dairy farmers say milk cup is half full in new Canada Food Guide

Despite what seems like a demotion, B.C. Dairy Association insists its inclusion is still integral

Slippery roads reported along Coquihalla

The winter weather is finally here in the Central Okanagan

$20K pay gap between women, men in Canadian tech jobs

The report defines tech workers as people either producing or making extensive use of technology, regardless of industry

Catholic student says he didn’t disrespect Native American

Many saw the white teenagers, who had travelled to Washington for an anti-abortion rally, appearing to mock the Native Americans

Former Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay voted into Baseball Hall of Fame

M’s legend Edgar Martinez, Rivera, Mussina also make the grade

Most Read