Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery amid the pandemic’s escalating third wave.

Yet despite the high stakes and expectations leading up to Ottawa’s first full spending plan in more than two years, the likelihood of the budget being forcefully opposed — or even outright rejected, triggering a snap federal election — seem remote at best.

“All budgets are political documents,” said Greg MacEachern, a former Liberal political aide and current senior vice-president of Proof Strategies. “But the politics around this one is probably going to be the lack of politics.”

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will rise in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon to present the budget, which the government has portrayed as its vision for shaping Canada’s economy for a post-pandemic world.

The Liberals have promised to lay out a plan to green the economy, create a national child-care system and help displaced workers improve their skills, while provinces, small businesses and others will be looking for aid with the pandemic and beyond.

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget.

Conservative finance critic Ed Fast wrote Freeland last week reiterating his party’s demands the government present a plan for reopening the economy that includes supporting small businesses while keeping spending under control and not raising taxes.

“We will be analyzing your budget for a plan that restores hope and confidence in every region of the country and delivers a road map to re-opening our economy and restoring our prosperity,” Fast wrote.

The NDP, Bloc Quebecois and Greens have also laid out their own demands for the budget, including in phone conversations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held with each party leader last week ahead of the spending plan.

With a minority of seats in the House of Commons, the Liberals need at least one opposition party to support the budget to avoid a snap election.

Yet the potential for real political drama appears to have been snuffed out already thanks to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s assertion last week that his party will not vote against the budget.

NDP finance critic Peter Julian reiterated that position in an interview on Sunday, saying: “Jagmeet has been very clear: We are not going to vote non-confidence in the midst of this third wave.”

That doesn’t mean the NDP will refrain from criticizing the budget if it does not meet the party’s demands, Julian said, including the need for a national child-care system and universal pharmacare as well as taxes on the wealthy.

“We have taken, I think, the responsible route, which is where Canadians are as well,” he said. “There’s not a single Canadian I’ve met or spoken to or talked to online that believes it would be in Canada’s interest to have an election right now.”

Recent opinion polls, including one conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies for The Canadian Press, back up Julian’s assertion.

Only 14 per cent of respondents to the Leger poll conducted between April 9 and 11 supported a spring election, while 29 per cent want one in the fall. Forty-three per cent said they hoped to see one later, while 14 per cent did not know.

The online survey of 1,504 Canadians cannot be assigned a margin of error because online panels are not considered random samples.

Yet while that would appear to give the Liberals’ carte blanche to roll out whatever measures and promises they want, MacEachern suggested the government should be careful about how far it pushes the envelope.

“Canadians are showing that they really do not have a lot of appetite for partisanship right now, and the government has to show that they’re listening to Canadians,” he said.

And while the Liberals have previously talked about the need for preparing for a post-pandemic world, MacEachern suggested the government needs to be mindful that Canadians are nervous and worried about the third wave of COVID-19.

“Politically, if I was being asked for my advice, I would be careful of large aspirational language and programs right now,” he said.

Trudeau has repeatedly said he does not want an election, but declined to swear off triggering one before the passage of Bill C-19. The bill would amend voting laws to allow for a safe election during a pandemic.

The Liberals could decide to pull the plug themselves, and party insiders suggest that may happen over the summer provided the vaccine rollout continues apace and the pandemic, currently spreading like wildfire once again, is sufficiently doused.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirusfederal budget

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jaimie Davis won received a Northwest Community College President’s Art Award in 2018. This year, she won the Best Solopreneur Award from Small Business BC for her online shop Jada Creations. (Contributed photo/Northwest Community College)
Terrace artist wins provincial small business award

Jaimie Davis of Jada Creations won BC Small Business’ Best Solopreneur Award

Chera Bergen (left) with her sisters Hali and Dylan Ouellet (not in the picture) raised money through a bottle drive in Terrace to buy essential supplies for a homeless shelter. (Binny Paul/ Terrace Standard)
Terrace sisters’ recycle drive raises money for homeless shelter

With the $1175 raised, Chera, Hali and Dylan bought essential supplies for Ksan Society

A memorial march takes place along Highway 16 also known as Canada’s ‘Highway of Tears’ on national day of awareness of Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). Over five dozen people from nearby communities joined the march which began outside Terrace City Hall and ended at the memorial totem pole erected along Hwy 16, near Kitsumkalum. (Binny Paul/Terrace Standard)
‘City of Terrace can and should make spaces safer’: MMIWG activists

Activists called on governments to amplify safety net for women on national day of awareness of MMIWG

RCMP are reminding the public to be aware of their surroundings after a stabbing sent a man to hospital on May 4, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace stabbing sends man to hospital

RCMP remind the public to be aware of surroundings

The construction site for the new Mills Memorial Hospital has been cleared. (Binny Paul/The Terrace Standard)
Bird nests key to decision to log hospital site in Terrace

Nests would have posed a risk of increasing costs

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

Most Read