Throne speech exposes Trudeau government’s economic ignorance
On Tuesday, Mary Simon, the new Governor General of Canada, delivered the federal government’s throne speech. Most of the analysis and commentary has been on the Trudeau government’s focus on Indigenous reconciliation, climate change and an active role for Ottawa in the economy. What’s most telling, though, is what was missing from the speech.
According to the formal text available from the Government of Canada, the throne speech totalled 2,777 words. Yet there was not a single mention of “entrepreneurs” or “entrepreneurship” and their role in economic growth or recovery.
There was a single reference to “business,” but it was with respect to the benefits of government subsidies keeping “businesses” afloat during the pandemic. And there was only mention of “investment” but it too referred to the government’s “investment” that stabilized families and businesses during the COVID lockdowns. In other words, there was not a single reference to businesses or private-sector investment and their importance in growing the economy.
This is obviously worrying given how recent research has shown a decline in entrepreneurship and collapse in business investment, which are both widely accepted as being necessary for economic growth and prosperity.
The speech also completely ignored the dismal state of federal government finances. The terms “deficit” and “debt” weren’t mentioned once despite a recent analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, which estimated that Ottawa would not balance its budget until 2070.
Contrast the lack of references to entrepreneurs, businesses and investment to the 35 references to the “government.” There’s a clear implication from the speech’s text—the Trudeau government sees a more active role for politicians and bureaucrats in the economy as key to prosperity rather than a larger role for entrepreneurs and businesses. Indeed, one could argue that entrepreneurs and businesses remain an afterthought in Trudeau’s Ottawa.
There’s another omission worthy of note, which is that “inflation” was only mentioned once in the speech despite it polling as one of the largest concerns for Canadians. The speech acknowledged inflation as a “challenge” but then offered two non-solutions—specifically, that investments in housing and child care will mitigate the cost of living.
Here, the government’s approach is incorrect for a number of reasons. First, spending in the future on housing and child care does nothing today (or in the immediate future) to stem inflation. Moreover, the government’s proposed policies on housing, which include increasing the First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit and introducing a tax-free First Home Savings Account, will stimulate demand—which ultimately means more upward pressure on housing prices. And finally, as the government’s deficit-spending is currently financed by the Bank of Canada, this additional spending will cause more inflation as the money supply expands.
Unfortunately for Canadians, Tuesday’s throne speech confirms that the Trudeau government plans to continue on the same path it’s been on since first elected in 2015, which has led to slower economic growth, weak private-sector job creation, declining entrepreneurship and a collapse in business investment. All these trends must be reversed for the economy to improve.
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