When an Economic Update Becomes a Platform

I have to talk about the political scandal that the results of the Gomery report have unleashed in Canada. However, I’m not going to talk about politics — I’m going to talk about how next Monday’s economic update for Canada will become more of an election platform than an economy report.

 As it stands right now, the update will estimate the budget surplus the government is facing, in addition to a new economic outlook for the country. However, with the threat of an election spurred by scandal, the Liberals have some thinking to do.

 Just this week, Prime Minister Paul Martin told NDP Leader Jack Layton that he wanted to protect health care in Canada, but was not prepared to revamp any previous offers on health care or play a political game with Layton.

 “I’m not going to join the opposition in playing a lot of political games,” Martin said today. “I made it very clear to Mr. Layton that proposal is now government policy and we’re proceeding with it and if Jack Layton wants to join with us to protect health care, he is more than welcome. Until such time as an election is called, I want to govern and that’s what the economic update will be all about.”

 According to a spokesperson for Finance Minister Ralph Goodale things will stay as they had previously been planned, but a federal source noted that the government can change fiscal measure quickly if need be.

 There is always the chance that the Finance Minister will talk about tax cuts and various expenditures for longer than previously anticipated, tabling out suggestions for future Liberal commitments which could be used in an upcoming election.

 Monday’s economic update will also come with a prosperity plan, which is not a budget document, but rather a list of economic threats and ways to improve growth for the upcoming seasons. This will take a look at items such as the standard of living in Canada.

 The economic update will serve nicely as a background for future election platforms if Canada is forced to the polls before Christmas, as many are predicting. It would lay out where the Liberals stand and ideally strengthen their numbers in the polls, showing Prime Minister Paul Martin as a leader and further able to strengthen Canada’s economy as a whole.

 While the Gomery report — which will likely tarnish the reputation of the Liberals for quite some time — is still the hot topic for many who follow Canadian politics, Canadians are sitting quite comfortably, comparatively speaking, when it comes to trade surplus and housing markets, not to mention that the unemployment rate is lower than it has been since Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister.

 I, for one, am quite interested to see specifically how the economic update becomes a party platform for the Liberals come Monday, and I’m curious to see what economic promises are made in the prosperity plan to garner votes. I’ll certainly leave politics up to the politicians, but you can bet I’ll be back to talk about what Canada’s economic update reveals for this country.