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Freeland’s budget expected to focus on green investments, helping the vulnerable



Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to deliver a budget Tuesday that will offer limited cost-of-living relief to the vulnerable and promote green investments as uncertainty continues to cloud the economic horizon.

“I don’t think people should get their hopes up too high at this being a sort of goodie bag budget,” Elliot Hughes, former deputy director of policy for former finance minister Bill Morneau, told CBC News.

“It certainly is not being spoken about in that way by both the prime minister and the finance minister and if anything, they’ve I think been … really leaning into the fiscal restraint piece for this budget.”

Freeland has warned Canadians that while the budget will offer investments in green energy to address the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, and targeted relief for those struggling with inflation and high interest rates, the cupboard is nearly bare.


“The truth is we can’t fully compensate every single Canadian for all of the effects of inflation or for elevated interest rates. To do so would only make inflation worse and force rates higher for longer,” she said last week.

Hughes said that while the Liberals want to use the budget to seize control of the political narrative for the coming year, that will be difficult with the economy uncertain and no federal election on the horizon.

“It is always tough to seize the narrative by saying we need to … be as boring as possible,” he said. “That said, there are going to be some good measures in here.”

Groceries and dental visits

Last year, under pressure from the NDP, the Liberal government doubled the GST tax credit for six months. Singles without children got up to $234 more from the credit, couples with children got up to $467 and seniors got an average boost of $225.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has said he wants the budget to turn that one-time payment into at least a two-time payment. It looks like he’s going to get his wish.

CBC News reported Monday that while the program is being rebranded as a rebate on groceries, the Liberal government will be rolling it out again at a cost of $2 billion.

The move comes as the cost of food continues to rise year over year despite the fact that overall inflation has been easing for months now.

The cost of food has remained stubbornly high as inflation has eased off. (Agustin Marcarian/Reuters)

The budget also is expected to expand beyond children under age 12 the national dental care plan for low-income families and individuals.

The deal between the Liberals and the NDP that guarantees New Democrat support on confidence votes in the House of Commons requires that the Liberals expand the dental care program each year.

In 2023, the program is set to expand to cover Canadians under 18, seniors and those living with a disability. The program is to be fully implemented by 2025.

The government is planning also to crack down on so-called junk fees for consumers — hidden or unexpected consumer charges that are tacked on to the initial price of a product or service, inflating the total cost.

The Inflation Reduction Act response

The limit on what students can withdraw from their registered education savings plan (RESP) for post-secondary education will also be increased.

During the first 13 weeks of schooling, students can’t withdraw more than $5,000 of the education assistance payment (EAP) portion of the RESP. The federal government will increase that limit to $8,000 to reflect the rising cost of college and university.

There is no limit on post secondary education (PSE) withdrawals, which are contributions made by the subscriber.

The budget will contain measures to offset the impact of U.S. President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which Finance Canada officials have said amounts to “a gravitational black hole” that will draw green capital to the U.S. at the expense of Canada and other countries.

U.S. President Joe Biden is pictured with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on March 24. The green economic incentives in Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act are requiring the Liberal government to introduce climate focused incentives of its own. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

Washington’s multi-billion-dollar program earmarks government dollars for developing low-carbon energy in a way that boosts the American manufacturing sector while taking aim at China’s dominant position in the clean energy tech supply chain.

“I think we’re going to see some pretty deep investments in the green economy space,” Hughes said. “I think they’ve [got] a mix of tax credits and other sorts of ways to lure companies to Canada. Big focus on that.”

CBC News confirmed Monday that one of the bigger tax measures in the budget will be a tax credit for clean tech manufacturing worth 30 per cent of capital investment costs in manufacturing equipment.

The budget is also expected to offer more detail on two tax credits proposed in the fall economic statement — the Clean Hydrogen Tax Credit and the Clean Tech Investment Tax Credit.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to pledge to halt any further tax rises, or the introduction of new taxes, and to put an end to deficit spending, which he says is driving inflation.

Hughes said getting spending back to balance is not likely in the short term.

The fall economic statement projected a balanced budget by 2028 — the first time the Liberal government had made such a prediction since 2015. It remains unclear whether the Liberals still look to set a date for achieving budgetary balance.

The cost of dealing with the pandemic, along with the additional cost-of-living supports, will make getting back to balance much more difficult than it would have been ten years ago, Hughes said. And any target date for returning to balanced budgets has to be plausible, he said.

“Whether or not people will sort of take the government at face value on that, on that outlook or on that projection, that’s a bit of a tougher one if you’re basing yourself on previous experience,” he said.


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Populist or not, Danielle Smith is another challenge to Liberal climate policy –



As the newly re-elected premier of Alberta, Danielle Smith sits at the nexus of the two most powerful forces shaping contemporary politics: populism and climate change.

While the former may have carried Smith to the leadership of the United Conservative Party, her campaign in the general election was aimed at convincing enough Albertans that she was not the scary figure her opponents accused her of being. As my colleague Jason Markusoff wrote, Smith “turned her back on a lifetime of libertarian populism” and “largely jettisoned most of the ideas she’d campaigned on to win the UCP leadership.”

But the worried voices are still hard to ignore.


Jared Wesley, a professor of political science at the University of Alberta, wrote in April that democracy was on the ballot. On Monday, Politico quoted Thomas Lukaszuk, a former Progressive Conservative MLA, warning that Smith would be “unbridled” if the UCP emerged victorious.

“If we thought she was radical now, and dismissive of any democratic norms, wait until she wins,” Lukaszuk told Politico.

Naheed Nenshi, the former mayor of Calgary, endorsed NDP Leader Rachel Notley and described Smith as an “existential threat” to the province.

“I did think that the NDP platform had a slight edge. However, I think there’s something deeper here. And I think a lot of Albertans are feeling the way I’m feeling, which is that this is no ordinary election. That the stakes are different, that the stakes seem higher,” Nenshi told CBC Radio’s Sunday Magazine this weekend.

“And what we’re seeing is Danielle Smith really pushing the boundaries of acceptable political behaviour … And I realize that when we look at what’s happened in places around the world, from Hungary to the United States, that silence is complicity.”

Smith did not make it hard for observers to draw those comparisons. Her first act as premier was to table the Alberta Sovereignty Act. At different points during this campaign, it was determined that she had violated ethics laws in her dealings with the justice minister, She also compared people who got vaccinated to the people who followed Hitler.

WATCH | Danielle Smith on what her win means for Alberta — and its relationship with Ottawa: 

Danielle Smith wins Alberta, but not without some battle scars

18 hours ago

Duration 11:30

The United Conservative Party has won its second straight majority in the closest election race in Alberta’s history. Premier Danielle Smith sits down with Power & Politics’ David Cochrane in the wake of her election victory to discuss her diminished caucus and what she plans to do with it.

But enough Albertans were willing to look past such things.

It’s possible to overstate how well Smith did on Monday night. Four years ago, Jason Kenney led the UCP to 63 seats. Smith’s UCP won 49 seats. Smith very likely acted as a drag on her party’s support — much as Doug Ford did when he ran as an arch-populist while leading the Progressive Conservatives to government in Ontario in 2018.

But a narrow win is still a win — and Smith did it with Conservative stalwarts such as former prime minister Stephen Harper and federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre publicly lined up behind her.

It’s hard to know what direction Smith might take next — and Poilievre might eventually have cause to regret his endorsement. But whether Smith now reverts to her populist roots or sticks with the more moderate approach, there is at least one thing Albertans and other Canadians can count on: Smith will find reasons to fight with the federal government, likely over policies related to oil development and climate change.

Some things never change

To some extent, that would have been the case under Rachel Notley as well. Fighting with “Ottawa” is the easiest thing for any Alberta premier to do. It gets much easier to do whenever questions arise about how that premier is handling his or her own job.

But with Notley as premier, the fights might have been at least fewer in number — and would not be conducted in the shadow of the Alberta Sovereignty Act.

Of the climate policies promised or implemented by the Trudeau government, Smith’s government officially objects to at least three: a proposed cap on emissions from the oil and gas sector, clean electricity standards and methane regulations. She also opposes the federal carbon tax and has criticized the Liberal government’s plans to assist those who work in emissions-intensive industries. (She isn’t refusing to accept the federal government’s large subsidies for carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies.)

On Monday night, Smith devoted nearly a quarter of her 12-minute victory speech to the federal government.

“And finally, my fellow Albertans, we need to come together no matter how we have voted, to stand shoulder to shoulder against soon-to-be announced Ottawa policies that would significantly harm our provincial economy,” she said.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith looks down at the hand of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he extends his hand for a handshake.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith as Canada’s premiers meet in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Trudeau might take solace from the suggestion that he could be such a unifying force for Albertans — a prime minister has no higher duty, after all, than bringing Canadians together. But Smith argues Liberal policies would increase household costs, endanger Alberta’s electricity supply, eliminate jobs and lead to economic ruin.

“As premier, I cannot under any circumstances allow these contemplated federal policies to be inflicted upon Albertans,” Smith said. “I simply can’t and I won’t.” 

The immediate response from Ottawa was conciliatory. “I think she’s going to see a lot of good faith on our part,” Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc told reporters.

Populism can’t beat climate change

The math here is not new — but it is inescapable

While national emissions were lower in 2021 than in 2005 — the baseline year for Canada’s current emissions target — emissions from oil were 12.5 per cent higher in 2021 and the industry now accounts for 28 per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Largely because of oil and gas development, Alberta is also the highest-emitting province in Canada.

There is no longer any real debate about the fact that those emissions have to be reduced substantially over the next 27 years — Smith’s own government is now nominally committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The only thing unclear is exactly how she would have Alberta reach that target — especially after she has ruled out so many of the federal proposals.

It would be expecting too much to imagine that a discussion about getting to that goal would be perfectly sublime. But it’s a necessary discussion and the stakes are high — not least for the people of Alberta.

That discussion will benefit most from facts and reason and logic. It will gain nothing from populist appeals to anger and contrarianism.

AT ISSUE | Should Ottawa be worried about Danielle Smith’s win in Alberta? 

Should Ottawa be worried about Danielle Smith’s win in Alberta?

14 hours ago

Duration 9:53

In her victory speech, newly re-elected Premier Danielle Smith vowed to stand up against federal policies that she says undermined Alberta, including ambitious green energy plans. Should the Trudeau government be worried?

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Auschwitz museum criticizes use of death camp in politics after ruling party uses it in political ad – ABC News



WARSAW, Poland — The Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial museum has denounced a political spot by Poland’s ruling party that uses the theme of the Nazi German extermination camp to discourage participation in an upcoming anti-government march.

The state-run museum attacked “instrumentalization of the tragedy” of the 1.1 million people who were murdered at the site during World War II, arguing that it is an insult to their memory.

“It is a sad, painful and unacceptable manifestation of the moral and intellectual corruption of the public debate,” the state museum said.


The 14-second video published Wednesday by the Law and Justice party shows images of the former death camp, including the notorious “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate, and the words: “Do you really want to walk under this slogan?”

The reference is to a now-deleted tweet from journalist Tomasz Lis, who claimed that President Andrzej Duda and ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski deserve to go to prison. He published the tweet amid a heated debate over a law passed by the party lawmakers and signed by Duda that is viewed by the U.S., the European Union and many Polish critics as anti-democratic.

“There will be a chamber for Duda and Kaczor,” the tweet said, using a nickname for Kaczynski.

He used the Polish word ”komora,” which can be simply a dark cell or chamber but which many in Poland associate with the gas chambers used by Germans in mass murder during the war.

Lis has since deleted the tweet and apologized.

“It is obvious that I was thinking of a cell, but I should have foreseen that people of ill will would adopt an absurd interpretation. I hope that Mr. Duda and Mr. Kaczynski will pay for their crimes against democracy, but on a human level I wish them health and long life,” Lis said. “I never wished death on anyone.”

President Duda weighed in with a tweet that implied criticism of the party that supports him. “The memory of the victims of German crimes in Auschwitz is sacred and inviolable; the tragedy of millions of victims cannot be used in political struggle; this is an unworthy act,” he said.

The purported aim of the new law is to create a commission to investigate Russian influences in Poland. But critics fear that it will be misused ahead of fall elections to target opponents, in particular opposition leader Donald Tusk. They say the commission could be used by the ruling party to eliminate its opponents from public life for a decade.

The law was approved this week by Duda, to widespread criticism in Poland and by the EU and the United States.

Critics in Poland have informally dubbed it “Lex Tusk,” and its passage has energized the political opposition. Tusk plans to lead a large anti-government march on Sunday in Warsaw, the capital.

The march is to be held on the 34th anniversary of the first partly free elections in Poland after decades of communism, on June 4, 1989.

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Colby Cosh: Following Alberta election, Prairie politics now firmly anti-Ottawa



=The new Prairie party system, pathologically disconnected from the political authority of Ottawa, may be as significant a development as Danielle Smith’s win

EDMONTON — Alberta’s 2023 election provides the setup for some good tricky trivia questions. Lemme play Alex Trebek for you: what party finished third in the election? Congratulations to the Alberta Green Party, which got all of 14,085 votes among the 1.7-million-plus cast; some reporter will be along any minute now to try to turn it into Cinderella. But it goes without saying that if you’re finishing behind the Green party in an Alberta election, you’ve got problems.

So which party finished fourth? That would be our old friends from the centrist-vapourware Alberta Party (AP), whose support declined from about 172,000 to 12,715. Yikes. You may have noticed that the Alberta New Democrats’ vote count rose by 157,000 from 2019, and the party made the best of a disappointing night by talking excitedly about all the people who voted NDP for the first time. The mathematical coincidence here suggests that many or most of these dewy virgins weren’t disillusioned Jason Kenney voters, but just cranky Red Tories who were never on board with the United Conservative Party project in the first place and who had dallied with the AP in ’19.

(The high-profile “ex-Conservatives” who rallied noisily behind the NDP and Rachel Notley in the late days of the campaign were people who almost certainly voted AP last time, and who wouldn’t brake for Jason Kenney in a crosswalk if he was pushing a stroller with twins.)

Which party finished fifth, you ask with bated breath. That would be the separatist Independence Party of Alberta, which demonstrated the enduring strength of Canadian federalism by collecting a measly 5,181 votes. Sixth place, whatever crummy metal you make that medallion from, went to Artur Pawlowski’s Solidarity Movement of Alberta (4,812 votes). Anybody further down the list than this is getting outpolled by a wacko street preacher, which means seventh place must have gone to, you guessed it, the ancient and dignified Alberta Liberals (4,282 votes). The party that created Alberta was lucky to hold onto seventh ahead of the die-hard Wildrose Loyalty Coalition (4,256 votes, with some recounts assuredly pending).

That’s all an annoyingly elliptical way of saying that Monday night’s Alberta election might have been the purest, clearest two-party choice to have come about anywhere in Canada in 100 years. (Even in Saskatchewan in 2020, there were minor parties that collected not one but two per cent of the vote share.) The development of politics on the Prairies has reached its full westernized form: elections are to be contested for the foreseeable future out here between the descendants of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (founded in Regina in 1933) and the descendants of the Reform party (founded in Winnipeg in 1987).

Foreign organs such as “Progressive Conservatives” and “Liberals” need not seek friends west of the lakehead. We’re informed that there is a national party called the “New Democrats,” but if you ask Rachel Notley about it, she’ll say they have nothing to do with the Alberta version and that she doesn’t even, like, talk to those weirdos. And who can blame her?

This new Prairie party system, pathologically disconnected from the political authority of Ottawa, may be as significant a development as the headline outcome of the election (by the way, the Conservatives won). Even in British Columbia, the provincial Liberals finally ditched their awkward branding this spring, becoming “B.C. United” (and possibly turning into a soccer team — editor, please check). The Saskatchewan Liberals did the same thing, with the new name still TBA, and their morbid New Democrats are openly hostile to Jagmeet Singh’s federal NDP. Only pride and dim memories of St. Tommy Douglas keep them from reinventing themselves as Saskatchewan Now or some such.

There is now a large section of the country whose citizens, even the ones strongly oriented toward Liberal political ideals, look to the federal government and recoil in sick horror at its managerial abilities. That’s a new thing in Canada, a passive accomplishment of the federal Liberals. You might enter a hospital out West with some trepidation, but you know it’s not going to be run as poorly as our military procurement or Aboriginal governance or the RCMP or passports and aviation.

Grotesque economic atavisms that would obviously benefit from liberalization (telecom policy, food-supply management) don’t get liberalized by Liberals; they’re too busy raging against “assault rifles” and putting the CRTC in charge of the internet. National sentiment remains very strong in the West, but everything federal carries a stench of incompetence, swindling and hipster moralizing, and the political scene now reflects this distinction.

National Post



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