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Report & Analysis | Federal Government 2019 Budget: "Investing in the Middle Class"

Published on
March 19, 2019

Finance Minister Bill Morneau today released the federal government’s 2019 Budget in the House of Commons. Titled Investing in the Middle Class, the plan is designed to position the Liberal government ahead of the election currently scheduled for October 21, 2019.

This is the Government’s best opportunity to remind Canadians why they voted Prime Minister Trudeau into office almost four years ago. The stated focus continues to be on support for the middle-class including pharmacare, skills training and home-ownership; targeted investments in innovation including electric vehicles; progressive economic development; and reconciliation with Indigenous people. Priorities that have forced their way onto the Liberal agenda since the last election are also well represented – including social infrastructure, international trade and digital security.

The Liberals are clearly hoping that the Budget will allow them to turn the page on what has been a damaging start to 2019. The Cabinet resignation of former Attorney General / Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould continues to dominate political headlines in Ottawa and across Canada. To the SNC-Lavalin scandal the Prime Minister has lost his Principal Secretary; a very well-respected Minister in Jane Philpott; and, most recently, the seemingly Trudeau-friendly Clerk of the Privy Council. The Liberals now sit behind the Conservatives in most major polls, which is a departure from the norm of the past few years.

For their part, the opposition leaders - Andrew Scheer, Jagmeet Singh, Elizabeth May and Maxime Bernier - want to keep the public focus exactly where it is: on the perceived Liberal propensity to hypocritically cater to special interests. They are working hard to pull attention away from the contents of the Budget and back to the scandal. The Justice Committee may have helped the opposition cause this morning when it signalled that it will not invite Ms. Wilson-Raybould back to testify a second time and will effectively shut down its probe. This gave ammunition to the opposition parties on a day that should have been a win for the Government.

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Brett James
Principal
Brett James has been a partner and principal of Sussex Strategy Group since 2000. Brett provides clients with strategic counsel on major business issues, informed and intelligent guidance on their government interaction and communications advice to leverage public opinion on issues affected by government decisions.
Devin McCarthy
Vice President
Devin McCarthy is a Vice President within the Energy and Environment Practice at Sussex Strategy Group. Devin serves clients in the energy sector domestically and globally by both analyzing and impacting the complex government and regulatory environment. Devin also serves the firm’s broader federal government relations practice and its clients. He is based in the Sussex Ottawa office.
Hugues Théorêt
Senior Associate
Hugues Théorêt is a Senior Associate based in the Ottawa. He has served as a Senior Advisor in the Quebec Government Office in Ottawa for 10 years, and brings a wealth of understanding and experience in government affairs, media relations and federal politics.
Naomi Shuman
Policy and Research Lead
Naomi holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Toronto and a Master of Biomedicine, Bioscience and Society from London School of Economics. She also holds an Honours Bachelor of Science in Genetics from McMaster University. Her research and analysis products have been used to inform government strategy and the decision-making process.
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