It's Raining Money In Ottawa
At first glance, it would appear as though the Feds increased their credit limit last week and decided to max it out. On Monday the Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, announced that the federal government would likely run a deficit in 2016 that totals over $20 Billion. This essentially means that the government is going to spent $20 Billion more than it actually has in the bank, an amount that is $10 Billion greater than Trudeau promised to spend during the election.
Why The Overspend?
Asides from wanting to collect Air Miles, Morneau said that the large deficit was the result of the recent economic downturn including the current low oil prices. Morneau further stated that delaying spending plans would simply be a kneejerk reaction and that the government would move forward with its infrastructure plans which will hopefully help boost the economy.
More For You, More For Me
As the government announced its nation-wide spending plans, the Board of Internal Economy (a fairly secretive group that controls the spending of Parliament) also decided that lawmakers should get a little extra cash too. Starting April 1st, Members of Parliament will receive a 20% increase to office budgets, meaning they will each be allowed to spend an additional $57,690 a year on top of the current $288,450 allotment. Each member will also get a 5% increase to their travel expenses, allowing them to spend $30,000 a year on travel instead of the current $28,600. The spending increases may seem steep but it's important to note that a budget freeze had been in place since 2010.
Thank God It's Thursday?
Not just money was getting thrown around the House of Commons last week, a number of ideas aimed at making Parliament more family-friendly were also discussed. In fact, a committee has even been set up to specifically explore such ideas and will look at such things as allowing breastfeeding in the House of Commons, voting over Skype, and no work on Fridays. Now, before you say "OMG I want to be a politician and only work four days a week," remember that most Members of Parliament travel back to their home ridings every weekend. This travel can include over 20 hours of flying every week and crossing numerous time zones just to be home for 2 days before returning to Ottawa every Sunday night. Suddenly having Fridays off seems more like a necessity rather than a bonus.
In Other News...
Canada Is Looking To Buy Some Drones!
Just because Canada is known for being a peaceful nation doesn't mean it can't blow shit up when push comes to shove. In recent weeks, the federal government has been looking to buy some drones to be used by the Royal Canadian Air Force. It has reached out to manufacturers and expects to see expressions of interest from members of the defence industry by mid-April. However, the actual purchasing of drones is likely still a long way off since the government has yet to establish a comprehensive strategy for the use of drones.
New Bill Aims To Protect The Pre-Born
Bill C-225 (also known as Cassie and Molly's law) was tabled in the House of Commons and aims to make it a separate criminal offence to cause injury or death to a "pre-born child during the commission of an offence against the child's mother." Conservative MP, Cathay Wagantall, brought the bill forward after hearing of an ongoing criminal case that involves the death of a mother (named Cassandra) who died in an arson fire which also claimed her unborn child (who was to be named Molly.) The accused is currently facing a first-degree murder charge for the death of Cassie but Wagantall hopes to ensure that future cases also include an additional charge if the woman was pregnant at the time of the offense. A previous bill attempted to accomplish similar outcomes but was unsuccessful.
Thanks for reading.
Dedicated to former Alberta Premier Don Getty (1933-2016)
“There were ups and downs all right. But you wake up or go to bed at night with a tremendous feeling of satisfaction, being content that I had done everything possible to make Alberta a great place in the future."