Trudeau should take his focus off spending

Two & Out
By James Peters
February 26, 2016 - 3:32pm Updated: February 26, 2016 - 6:09pm

KAMLOOPS — Let's be clear.

There was no way any of the three potential governments we could have elected last year would have delivered good economic news this week.

The Liberals said they would run deficits of no more than $10 billion, and now are faced with breaking that promise.

But both the Conservatives and the NDP had promised to balance the budget, and those promises seem laughable now.

Even without the lavish spending commitments announced by the Liberals so far, the decrease in oil revenues has been cataclysmic.

Regardless, Justin Trudeau has interpreted his victory in October as a mandate to follow through on his election platform of trying to spend Canada back into the black.

Now, though, is the time to lightly apply the brakes on new programs.

If the government wants to roll out another round of infrastructure programs like we saw seven years ago, that's one thing.

Adding to permanent programs that may have to be cut some time in the future is pretty risky right now.

What Trudeau should be focusing on right now is the mandate Canadians gave him to create legislation that aligns with social change.

Some of that has already happened, as the government has been tasked with crafting laws that will respond to successful Supreme Court challenges against Harper legislation.

A new physician-assisted dying framework is imminent, and medical marijuana growing laws will have to be brought forward as well.

Maybe, now is the time for Trudeau to bring forward that much-talked about pot legalisation many are awaiting.

It's going to take a lot of legwork before anything comes before the House of Commons.

And it's clear that the Liberals are moving very slowly on legalisation.

But a framework to regulate and tax pot will add another revenue source to the government's coffers in a time when it's much needed.

The Liberals will definitely spend money, but they should think about spending time moving our society forward after a decade of stalled progress.