Edited excerpts of editorial comment about this week's federal budget:
Vancouver Sun: One thing is clear from Monday's budget: The Conservatives are wooing Quebec with the rest of Canada's tax dollars ...
Calgary Herald: The Conservatives' family values budget contained very little for aboriginal families. ...
There is no new infusion of cash to ease the shortage of homes or repair dilapidated housing, and much less money for job training initiatives than Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine had hoped for.
Nor are the persistent problems with potable water, infectious diseases and education issues going to receive any extra fiscal attention.
It's a depressing scenario.
Lethbridge Herald: The Conservative party, which made much hay last year of its plan to cut federal spending by $1 billion over two years, increased program spending by 10 times that amount in a budget that hardly felt conservative at all. ...
For every dollar of tax relief in the budget, there was another $3 of spending. And many Canadians, particularly working stiffs with no children, will see no break at all.
Winnipeg Free Press: The risk for the government is that this budget, for the most part, was written strategically to win an election sooner rather than later. But with the Bloc Quebecois's decision to back the budget rather than deny Quebec $8 billion of new funding, the likelihood is that an election will now come later. ...
If the election is delayed for long, the strategy of this budget might seem less compelling and the fiscal discipline that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his party have projected might seem awfully hollow.
Kingston Whig-Standard: The federal Conservatives have finally evolved - into their own worst enemies.
Not that there is anything gravely wrong with the budget Flaherty delivered. It's just that it isn't a Conservative template; it's a Liberal one. The Tories' fiscal offering shows they have become what they once despised: true Grits.
Consider: There is more than $10 billion in new spending in Flaherty's proposals. Program spending, specifically, increases by 5.6 per cent from 2007 to 2008, even though real GDP growth is projected at only 2.9 per cent in 2008.
Sudbury Star: There's the $39 billion offered to the provinces over seven years to "end the era of bickering" among the provinces over the so-called fiscal imbalance issue. ... Much of that money goes to Quebec - 40 per cent, or $2.3 billion in the first year - which is intended to help Premier Jean Charest get re-elected March 26 and team up with the Conservatives afterwards to help deliver a federal majority government.
Shameless, but effective.
Peterborough Examiner: The truly disturbing element is the role of the Bloc Quebecois. Gilles Duceppe is happy. Between the budget measures and previous health-care and environmental funding announcements, Quebec will get at least $2.3 billion more in the coming year. To a degree that was inevitable. As the have-not province with by far the biggest population, Quebec cashed in on both the new equalization formula and the richer per-capita transfer payments.
Politically, however, it means this budget and the Conservative minority government will likely survive only through the support of a party dedicated to breaking up the country. That's a disturbing state of affairs ...
Montreal Gazette: Opposition parties might bluster, and some provinces might still moan a little, but this budget demonstrates two axioms: that politics is the art of the possible, and that with a fat surplus you can please almost all of the people, at least one time.
Halifax Chronicle Herald: Just like his first budget, Flaherty's second effort was more the product of fine demographics than sound economics. The lavish spending, in the form of targeted tax cuts and credits aimed at every swayable voter, continued apace. The focus on the family remained the main theme. Parents with kids under 18 will save $310 per child thanks to a new child tax benefit. They'll also be able to sock away more for their kids' education in RESPs. Seniors, meanwhile, will be allowed to wait an extra two years before their RRSPs convert into taxable payments.
St. John's Telegram: The poorest kids at the table got the smallest serving of seconds, while the healthy kids, like Quebec and Ontario, got extra goodies.
It means things break down pretty much as they always have, evenly along the lines of who's got the most electoral seats.
And that's not the kind of fairness that Stephen Harper promised voters in Newfoundland and Labrador, or in Canada as a whole.