Mr. Mario Dumont: “Canada without a budget” [“Le Canada sans budget”]

First, here Mr. Dumont’s original article published on May 8, 2020 in the Journal de Montréal:

Second, here is a quick translation:

Should the Canadian government have a budget? Justin Trudeau has hinted that he will not table any. The budget is a forecasting exercise. With this year’s situation being too unpredictable, he said the exercise would become pointless.

Generally, the exercise is done in late February or early March.

Minister Morneau pushed it back a bit this year, and then we found ourselves in the middle of a crisis.

In the past month, the Prime Minister announced unprecedentedly large budgetary measures, but did so at daily press conferences.

From a legal point of view, completely new measures, such as the CERB [Canadian Emergency Response Benefit], have taken their legal foundation in the bills adopted urgently in Parliament.

From a strictly legal point of view, it could therefore be said that a budget is not mandatory.



The opposition parties are demanding at least an economic update, a kind of a lean version of a budget.

I would say this is the minimum. Budgeting is not trivial, even if the forecast it contains may become obsolete after a few months, during turbulent times.

Mr. Trudeau maintains that he was completely transparent in disclosing all his measures daily and stating the cost of each. True, but this has nothing to do with a budget. Unpacking a long list of expenses is not the same as budgeting.

Budgeting brings income and expenses together. It deals with debt financing, an economic strategy, and the interaction between measures, for example.

The CERB and the wage subsidy are communicating vessels. Where are we at? The taxpayers who receive this aid will return part of it via their tax, for those who earn enough. How much do we estimate?

Spend, spend

Making a budget is the difference between spending relentlessly and having some sort of plan, even if you are going through a storm.

A budget also provides the government with a framework for future decisions. These difficult decisions will come quickly.

Next June, should we extend a few billion more to extend the wage subsidy for companies that have not resumed their activities?

In July, the Trudeau government will have to rule on the CERB. Add months or turn the millions of people still out of work on regular EI [Employment Insurance]?

These decisions must be made as a function of the needs expressed, but also according to the government’s ability to pay.

Normally, the budget provides the government with a framework for drawing the line among all possible expenses.

Right now, we would rather have the impression that Mr. Trudeau is spending frantically and enjoying announcing it during his press briefings [mind you, the French verb for “enjoying” is “jouit”. One must say that it has a sexual connotation in the language of Molière. If Bambi is not mistaken, it is not the case in the language of Shakespeare].

The urgency of the situation justifies much of it, but still. Is anyone still keeping a record/account on his/her calculator somewhere?

In the absence of a budget, we are asked for a complete act of faith in Justin Trudeau. And rigorous financial management is not his specialty.”

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