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Our man-child (sorry, person-child) PM, like most men-children (sorry people-children), Mr Trudeau wants to have his cake and eat it to. He wanted to do business with India AND show off his cultural sensitivity. But he ended up looking like Mr Dressup on vacation (to coin a Conservative critique). Meanwhile, he and his team missed two key meetings that foreign business people attended, one with PM Modi to discuss India's $4.5 trillion infrastructure initiative, and another to discuss partnerships in quantum-computing.

On climate change, he wants to meet his government's (actually Mr Harper's) emission goals AND get Alberta bitumen to foreign markets. He wants reconciliation with First Nations AND he wants the final say on projects that extraction industries would drive through their traditional territories.

Liberals do not know how to move to the left because their feet (and their fund raising) are stuck in the muck of the monied elites. So they talk like New Democrats but walk like Tories.

There is no better illustration of this than watching the Finance Minister try to stuff Trudeau-speak into a Liberal budget ... like pounding a square peg into a round hole. First of all, the progressive initiatives they have seized on are not theirs. They are the NDP's.

About 20 odd years ago, Liberals showed their true colours when, to balance the books, Paul Martin and Jean Chretien chose to cut spending on health care, education and social programs by some 40% rather than raise revenues by increase the tax-rate for corporations (in fact, he lowered it) and going after tax evaders.

Stephen Harper's Tories doubled down on reducing the business tax-rate by driving it to the lowest in the G7 while increasing tax breaks for the wealthy. It used to be that corporations paid more in taxes than working folks. By the end of Mr Harper's reign, we were paying a lot more than corporations. Voting Liberal or Conservative was like flipping a coin – if Tweedledum doesn't pick your pocket, Tweedledumber will.

Much of the social licence for Justin Trudeau's government comes from putting back what the Martin/Chretien Liberals took out – money for public housing for example, for health care and for unemployment insurance. Now look at a couple of cornerstones of their current budget – childcare and pharmacare. Along with parental leave for the second parent, they've been in the NDP policy book for years.

Mr Morneau's version of childcare will be magically realized by giving families more money after taxes. I say 'magically' because I don't know how a single parent with kids can pay for childcare now if she has to wait for tax returns to roll around. I guess the Liberals don't want to disturb the patchwork of for-profit day cares (some dangerous, all expensive) that now exists.

Women tell us that the single most effective program for getting women into the workforce is access to affordable childcare. If PM Trudeau were truly a feminist he would steal the whole NDP program, not just the words. That means a national day care program that not only gets women into the workforce but creates new jobs and stimulates the economy, as Canadian Business magazine pointed out in 2015.

That kind of program would easily be funded with revenue from some of the $10-15 billion dollars of taxes owed to Canadians on income stashed in off-shore tax havens. Speaking of which, I see nothing in Mr Morneau's budget that tells me the Liberals are serious about repatriating our money.

Mr Morneau created some buzz when he announced a pharmacare plan for Canada. That's something that's been long promised by Liberals and urgently needed by Canadians. And now, finally, they are delivering. Well, sort of.

The devil's always in the details. It turns out the Liberals have no intention of disturbing the private insurance schemes (like the ones marketed by the Finance Minister's former company, Morneau Shepell) that have helped drive up the cost of prescription drugs. The Liberal national 'plan' turns out to be only a twinkle in Mr Morneau's eye. So, they have hired Dr Eric Hoskins away from Premier Wynn's cabinet to think about it. The thing is, pharmacare has already been studied to death. The most cost-effective program with the best health bang for the buck is a single-payer, national plan. But that won't be the Liberal plan.

My advice? Don't hold your breath for real change and keep your wallet handy.

David McLaren
Neyaashiinigmiing, ON


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