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Evan Saugstad: Just’a Jagmeet budget

Canada’s fossil-fuelled economy has, once again, bailed out Justin Trudeau, and Canada cannot ignore that.

Justin’s Jagmeet-inspired budget: did you get what you wanted? Is Canada headed in the right direction? Some say that it only cost Justin $10 billion to buy Jagmeet and have him prop up government for another year. Some say we needed what Jagmeet demanded; that it’s time has come. Others just shake their heads at the folly of running big deficits when the goal is to tame inflation and bring down our cost of living.

At 300-plus pages, I did not read Canada Budget 2022: A Plan to Grow Our Economy and Make Life More Affordable, didn’t even try. Instead, I relied on what others had to say in their reviews.

A poll of Canadians prior to the release of the April 7 budget clearly indicated that our three main priorities were, and still are: 1) lower the cost of living; 2) lower taxes; and 3) more dollars for better health care. Interesting that climate change, a greener economy, and stop everything for the environment weren’t even on the radar. Amazing what one thinks is important when the bank account is at a buck, the wallet empty and gas tank dry.

Yes, addressing our environment and working towards cleaner air, cleaner dirt, and cleaner water is important, but that survey brings us back to what make us all tick – enough money in our pocket to look after, feed, and house oneself and one’s family. Don’t have that, then not much else matters.

On summary, most everyone seems a bit upset at something that is either in this budget or should have been. Though it does dole out a few more billion dollars to select interest groups, the general concession is that continuing to run huge deficits won’t help reduce inflation and won’t lower the cost of living.

Although some thought this budget was “OK” as it was not as big as last year’s, that is only the Liberal spin. Leak that the 2022 budget could be another $100-billion deficit, then bring it in at $53 billion and tell us how wonderful they are and how much money they saved us. Justin economics, I guess, but he does have those that fall for his spin hook, line, and sinker, every time.  

Despite the rhetoric, this budget and the accompanying spin does have some good news for the west and our local economy. Justin, despite arm twisting from his ultra left-leaning anti-fossil-fuel friends, including Jagmeet, reluctantly admitted that Canada’s fossil-fuelled economy has, once again, bailed him out, and Canada cannot ignore that.

Yes, Justin did something for Canada’s number one industry and thought that we might not notice. He ignored the latest dire warnings from yet another Climate Change report, and despite the protestations from his anti-fossil-fuel Climate Change Minister, approved an offshore fossil fuel project for Newfoundland.

On this subject, I will digress for a bit. This approval only cost him a few bucks to buy Newfoundlander votes for another couple decades, and while he did this, let it slip they were not likely to approve another project for the oil sands, as carbon in Alberta is much more dangerous than that which comes from the east coast (will see how long that lasts). I will go out on an oil covered limb and say that the Newfoundland project will not proceed, not until the proponents get better assurances about the Environmental Certificate approval clause stating that Justin or his Minster can, at any time, order the project to stop or be put on hold until it meets any new definition or requirements for emission reductions as they so direct. The project is legally required to consider and incorporate the best available options for reducing emissions, at any time.

Back to the budget and the win. Yes, sounds good Justin and Jagmeet magnanimously agreed to give oil and gas companies refundable tax credits for carbon capture and storage, mind you, not for enhancing existing production, and not likely for new production… but yes for Newfoundland, as that project was approved before the budget.

Despite all, Justin had no choice but to cave and begin paying for his carbon capture dreams, as industry would, under no circumstances, pay for it on their own, and may, in fact, not even be willing to pay half. Seems that gas and oil production has been so profitable for the federal budget this past year that Justin rediscovered it can pay for dental plans, day care, electric cars, clean water on reserves, new mines for metals now redefined as critical… wasn’t Justin laughing at Donald a couple years ago when the U.S. began talking about the importance of minerals and supply chains, and to the stability and security of one’s country?

Yes, might have taken another war in Europe, or not, but Justin finally realized that gasoline, diesel, coal and all the other good things in fossil fuels are essential to Canadian life; that we demand them, that they are here to stay, at least for a few more decades. Yes, he had an awakening and realized that high energy costs lead to higher prices and upset people, which could lead to another convoy to Ottawa to remind him of that, so he buckled and recommitted Canada to retuning our country back to one known for its ethically and environmentally sourced petroleum products.

Now, before you think I am going soft on him, not for a moment. Justin and his sidekick would jump at the chance to rid us of essential oils and gases, even coal mines and all other fossil fuel productions at the first opportunity they have. But for today, that opportunity does not exist, and hopefully that will not happen before we get the satisfaction of seeing them both exit stage left after the next election.

And just in case you hadn’t noticed, this budget has lots of money to build things called batteries, but crickets on where that energy will come from to make them work.

Evan Saugstad lives and writes in Fort St. John

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