Budget full of gimmicks: Ignatieff

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff blasted the federal budget for being a document full of "gimmicks" that ignores important issues, but reaffirmed he won't bring the government down over it.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff slammed the federal budget for being full of gimmicks but said he will not trigger an election over it. ((Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press))

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff blasted the federal budget for being a document full of "gimmicks" that ignores important issues, but reaffirmed he won't bring the government down over it.

"The throne speech and the budget let Canadians down. They expected vision and got gimmicks. They deserved ambition and got drift," Ignatieff told the House of Commons Friday, a day after the release of the budget.

"This is a tired government, falling back on its laissez-faire instincts, leaving Canadians to fend for themselves."

Ignatieff accused the Tories of ignoring the pension crisis, doing nothing for child care and freezing foreign aid at a time when the mission in Afghanistan is shifting from military to humanitarian engagement.

"The Conservatives are ignoring the major issues that matter to Canada. Pensions? Nothing. Health care? Nothing. Climate change? Nothing. Culture? Nothing."

Instead of measures to create jobs, the budget has only "freezes, cuts and gimmicks," Ignatieff said.

He slammed the government over the $56-billion budget deficit, saying they cannot be trusted to get it under control.

"They inherited a $13-billion surplus. They spent at record levels in 2006-2007. They were on the edge of deficit before the recession started."

The government said it will freeze departmental spending, it won't say which programs they will cut, what services Canadians will lose and where the Conservatives will find the necessary savings.

"This isn't a plan. It’s very large empty promise."

Despite his list of grievances, Ignatieff repeated what he said on Thursday, that his party will not trigger an election over the budget.

"We will vote against the budget motion now before us — but we, unlike other parties in this House, will do so responsibly. We will not cause an election. Canadians don't want an election."

On Thursday, Ignatieff explained that they will not vote in sufficient numbers to defeat the government.

NDP Leader Jack Layton said his party could not support the budget as it is currently written, claiming it would leave millions of people by the wayside, offer nothing for job creation or for seniors living in poverty.

Corporate tax plan slammed

Layton listed changes that could garner NDP support including extending the home renovation tax credit with new emphasis on energy efficiency, building affordable housing and creating green jobs for the future.

Layton said the budget will not extend Employment Insurance benefits for almost one million jobless Canadians who are victims of the recession.

Layton also slammed Ottawa's plan to make Canada the country with the lowest corporate income tax rate in the G8 by 2012.

At 22 per cent in 2007, Canada's corporate tax rate is on pace to fall to 15 per cent by 2012. With the overall decline in corporate profitability last year, Ottawa will take in 24 per cent less in corporate taxes this fiscal year.

"Instead of putting working Canadians first, this budget squanders literally billions of dollars on more tax cuts for banks and big oil companies," Layton said.

"Don't tell us about competitiveness. Our corporate rates are now well below our competitors in the U.S. and the G8. So now we're talking about ideology. Not good sense."

Layton said that instead, lost revenue could go to seniors living in poverty, extending EI or improving health care.