Yesterday after work I picked up our boys and hit the Hill for the late afternoon budget presentation.
Yes it was uber nerdy but, since their school is only minutes away, I thought it might be an interesting thing for the boys to one day reflect on – seeing the pomp and ceremony surrounding the federal budget. However, as expected, to them it was a snooze-fest – quite literally.
Within 15 minutes Fin crashed out and I had to hold him from tumbling off his chair and falling down the steep stairs interrupting the finance minister and his carefully crafted message to Canadians.
Not surprisingly, Alistair also showed signs of extreme boredom and he too was lulled to sleep by the 40 min speech.
There were moments of relative excitement however, early in the proceeding a staged protest of peaceful activists rose en masse in the various galleries and chanted that this is not a budget for them. The students and seniors were clearly not impressed with the first 5 minutes of the speech. There were other moments of alternating ovations and cheesy heckling, especially during the short question period, but by and large the affair was largely as you would expect a budget speech to be – high on self-praise and full of grand visions for the future.
Aside from perhaps the axing of the penny, which my son Alistair thought was quite funny, there were not a
lot of surprises. The downsizing was smaller than expected and the various pension reforms were also reasonable. However it likely would have been a bit raunchier if it were not for the Robocall issue and how the Conservatives are in a mood to play it safe, afterall the budget was delayed for a reason i.e to tame it down.
Personally, as is always the case, I was disappointed with the over emphasize (if not obsession) with the economy and the relative disdain for the environment, however, again, no surprises there.
On the whole, the budget proceedings are more than a mapping out of the governments fiscal plans, the somewhat cynical side of me sees that they are also an exercise in propaganda and partisan gamesmanship – it is cheesy and a tad insulting, but also a fact of life in the world of politics. Nonetheless it was interesting to see the budget drop in person and to see the related buzz on the Hill rather than watch clips on the news.
Thanks to Linda Duncan’s staff for scoring us some passes at the last minute. Here is a shot of the rotunda outside the House of Commons.