The past week has been by far the most interesting, shocking, and devastating week in Canadian politics this year. Below we break down the chaotic week and focus on the major events that occurred.
The Budget was Released
As anticipated, all eyes were on Finance Minister Bill Morneau as he released the Liberal's first budget since coming into power. Just as we reported last week, the 2016 Budget calls for a much larger deficit than the $10 Billion promised during the 2015 election. In fact, the deficit is projected to be $29.4 Billion with a new forecast that doesn't see a balanced budget for another 5 years.
The nearly $20 Billion overage caught many by surprise but was the result of several factors including a larger than anticipated national debt as a result of low energy prices. It appears that despite the economic slowdown, the Trudeau Government has decided to follow through with its spending plans which it says will help boost the economy. As a result of this larger deficit, the government is now anticipating it will take until 2021 to reach a balanced budget (one year longer than promised). However, the model used to make this prediction is based off of a 0.4% annual economic growth which is much lower than most economists predict and thus should be considered a worst case scenario. It's possible that the government is purposely using these projections in order to have a surprise balanced budget by the end of 2020 just in time for the next federal election (that's just our take on things.)
To see some of the Federal Budget Highlights Click Here
A Black Tuesday in Belgium
On Tuesday the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephane Dion, joined other world leaders in condemning the attacks in Brussels which saw bombs go off in an airport and metro station. The tragic events killed 31 people and injured another 270. Trudeau was quick to issue a statement where he said: "Like all Canadians, I was outraged when I woke up to the news that so many innocent citizens have been killed and injured... what happened today in Brussels was an act of terror. Its goal was to take lives and instill fear." He then went on to state that Those responsible for the terrorist acts "must be brought to justice." Dion echoed the Prime Minister, calling it a 'Black Tuesday in Belgium' and said the thoughts and prayers of Canadians are with the people of Belgium and its allies.
No announcement was made as to whether the recent terrorist acts would affect Canada's role in fighting ISIS. Earlier this year Canada withdrew its CF-18 fighter jets from the bombing mission in Iraq but has promised to increase aid and the number of trainers it has on the ground.
The Death of Rob Ford
While Canadians were getting word of the unfolding events in Belgium, more shocking news rippled across the country when it was announced that Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford had passed away. Ford had been battling a very rare form of cancer for over a year and had recently been hospitalized following reports he was not responding to treatment. Ford became an international sensation after publicly acknowledging he had smoked crack cocaine while in office and then refused to step down as mayor. After being diagnosed with cancer in 2014, Ford was forced to drop his mayoral re-election bid and instead ran for city council which he won. Ford had been a city councillor for a total of 12 years, not including 4 years as mayor, before he passed away at the age of 46.
Following the news, politicians from all levels of government issued statements expressing their condolences. Toronto's current mayor, John Tory, called Ford a 'profoundly human guy' and said his presence in the city will be missed. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said her thoughts and prayers were with Ford's friends, family and colleagues. Prime Minister Trudeau described the passing of Ford as the "too young age of 46 years" and said his heart goes out to Ford's wife and two children.
The Death of Jim Hillyer
As if Tuesday wasn't dark enough for one week, Wednesday morning was filled with even more grief as news broke of the sudden and unexpected passing of Alberta Conservative MP Jim Hillyer. The 41-year-old cancer survivor was found unresponsive in his Ottawa office early Wednesday where initial reports suggest he succumbed to a heart attack. Hillyer had just returned to Parliament the day before after recovering from a recent leg surgery. Following a skiing accident in 2013, Hillyer received leg surgery which resulted in a subsequent infection that required several additional surgeries over the past 2 years. Parliament delayed the scheduled budget debate on Wednesday and ended its daily session after members of the House had the opportunity to share their condolences. Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose broke into tears as she called Hillyer a dedicated husband and father and said: “When you talked to Jim, it was like talking to a neighbour. It was clear he loved his life, he loved his wife, he loved his community and he loved his job.” Funeral service is set to occur this Friday in Alberta.
Thanks for reading.