Federal budget announcement largely unnoticed in Fredericton

The Liberal party campaigned on many promises last fall and took their place as governing party as a result. One of the more controversial promises was their intention to run a $10 billion deficit in order to invest in infrastructure and create jobs. But when they announced the federal budget a few weeks ago, the projected deficit grew to $29.9 billion.

Gillies still
Gillies (above) says the Liberals may believe the public is more concerned with benefits and goodies than the projected deficit. Photo: Peters / Elliott

Jamie Gillies is a communications and public policy professor at St. Thomas University. He’s highly engaged when it comes to Canadian politics and feels the Liberals are taking a gamble on their budget.

“[I think the Liberals are] saying if we’re going to run a deficit here anyway, let’s run a big one, provide an offer a series of programs and changes and that’s what they think the public wants,” said Gillies.

He doesn’t believe many Canadians worry about the deficit, unless it’s a campaign year. Even then, the deficit would have to reach a point where it was negatively affecting the economy before people became concerned.

When the public was asked how they felt about the deficit, many preferred not to comment, saying they had either not had time to look at the budget reports as of yet, or they simply did not have an opinion on the deficit. One man stated it was a question better left to economists and government experts.

Still, there were a few that did have strong feelings on the matter. Sean Kenney is a young man and proclaimed himself to be a Conservative running for local government.

“I think it’s a bit ridiculous,” said Kenney. “We had a balanced budget with the Conservatives before, and we were on track to a really positive great government. They were doing a great job, but I guess people wanted change.”

On the other hand, others had little to say regarding the deficit itself, but had a ‘let’s wait and see’ attitude towards the overall government. Bob Miller felt as the government had just got into power, we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss them after their first budget announcement.

“I think we have to be positive, we have to look forward, and give them a chance,” said Miller. “The liberals are just as guilty as the Tories for being scoundrels. But let’s give these new guys a chance and this young Trudeau fella a chance.”

Miller added “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself,” and said fear can cause people to stop spending, which is not always best for the economy.

Political Science professor at St. Thomas University, Tom Bateman.  Photo: Peters / Elliott
Bateman (above) believes federal budget announcements are not as important in recent years as the public usually knows what to expect before the announcement. Photo: Peters / Elliott

Political Science professor at St. Thomas University, Tom Bateman, said the current state of the economy has provided the Liberal party with an out when it comes to projecting the deficit. While they may have back-tracked on their initial promises, oil prices have dropped which has lost a lot of projected revenue.

Bateman said apart from think tanks and some corporations, budget announcements do not tend to engage the public, except on a very low level. For example, they might be interested in what tax credits will be coming into effect.

“They’re just looking at what kind of advantage they can reach from these economic incentives,” said Bateman. “There’s a lot here, I think, to digest and maybe so much that people just kind of get lost in the fog and then move on.”