The Topsy-Turvy World of Bill Morneau

There was good news in last week’s Federal budget. The economy grew again and the government pulled in a projected $9 billion more than they expected, and a cool $21 billion more than the year before. The bean counters are expecting an additional $6.6 billion on top of that unexpected windfall next year. Not too shabby.

All that extra cash provided Finance Minister Bill Morneau a great opportunity reduce the Federal deficit — an opportunity he chose not to take.

Our Finance Minister, who possesses a level of wisdom so far beyond mine that I can’t even make sense of it, chose a different path — one where every cent of our anticipated new revenue is spent, plus an additional $19.8 billion.

Conventional thinking is that a government ought to run a surplus in times of growth so that in times of shrinkage the economy can be stimulated through deficit spending — thereby stabilizing the business cycle without breaking the bank.

quarterly GDP growth via

With 9 consecutive years of economic growth under our belt, one might think that somehow we could have balanced a budget somewhere along the way, but that would be wrong according to Morneau.

IN FACT: now is “exactly the wrong time” to balance the budget, he tells us. The “right time” is, by process of elimination, while the country is plunging into a recession. I tried to reach Morneau for comment but he was busy getting his snowblower tuned up and getting winter tires installed on his car.

If there are any foolish Canadians that don’t trust our Minister of Finance with his dizzying intellect to steer the economy in the right direction, they can take that into account this fall when they head for the polls.

“For people who are looking towards that election they should assume that they will get more of what they decided to hire us for in 2015” Morneau said. If you’re thinking ‘now wait a minute … didn’t we hire you to balance the freaking budget?‘, well, then you’re not thinking on the same plane as Morneau — one where “facts” and “knowledge” evaporate into a ghostly mist and reform as their exact opposites in Bill’s grey matter.

I don’t envy Bill Morneau. Out-of-the-box thinking of this kind can be very draining, as can be putting up with all those pundits and their tiresome nattering about “fiscal responsibility”. Don’t they know he has a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics? Luckily summer break is coming up for the MP’s and the minister can book a nice vacation for he and his family to get away from it all. I hear that Arizona is really nice in the middle of July.

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