John Ivison: Federal budget criticism that will be hard for the Liberals to brush off

DM

The reception that greeted last week’s federal budget from fiscal conservatives was predictable. If you agree with American tax reduction advocate Grover Norquist that government should be shrunk down to a size where it can be drowned in a bathtub, you probably didn’t appreciate a budget that will send federal net debt levels to $1.4 trillion within five years. The Trudeau government can brush off such criticism as ideological and partisan. It will find it harder to discount the reaction from an officer of Parliament and from respected economists who have been allies and colleagues in the past. The critique coming from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Yves Giroux; from two former Bank of Canada governors – David Dodge and Mark Carney, and from former senior Liberal adviser, Robert Asselin, is that a budget that claims to build prosperity for the future overstates the amount of growth it is likely to generate. Giroux told the finance committee on Tuesday that a chunk of the $101 billion the government touted as economic stimulus was in reality a continuation of existing COVID-19 support measures.

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