Don Martin: It’s a stimulus budget all right — for votes in the next election

DM

Reading the federal budget spending spree as it scrolls on for 720-plus pages, a certain numbness takes hold. The columns traditionally assigned millions of dollars are now given extra zeros to become billions in what my CTV colleagues tallied up as 280 handouts in Monday’s epic fiscal blueprint for 2021. It was a super-spreader event for spending. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s first budget had something everywhere for everyone who might conceivably enter the polling booth with Liberal-leaning inclinations. Some moves were incremental, others were revolutionary. Supported boosts for the wine sector, farmers, entrepreneurs of every minority, the CBC and that old election-goodie of fixing up small craft harbours were among the incremental variety. And then there’s the revolutionary signature move, a $30-billion kickstart that could make $10-a-day child care as much of a Canadian birthright as Medicare. More about that later. But it’s not until the devilish details buried in the back pages where the dilemma dawns. Freeland advance-billed her budget as a $354-billion-deficit rescue mission to save Canada from a devastating pandemic.

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