MP Report by Jay Hill

He?s been vying for the top job in the country for over a decade and this is the best he can do? Where?s the vision Paul Martin has been so anxious to share with Canadians?

It?s no exaggeration to say the vast majority of the budget released this week was either related to Liberal attempts at damage control on the sponsorship scandal, or ?re-announcements? of spending schemes previously publicized by Mr. Martin throughout the past few months. Canadians deserved, and expected, much better than an hour-long ?rerun? in the form of a televised budget speech. Normally TV reruns don?t start until the summer!

The so-called centrepiece of the budget, delivered by Finance Minister Ralph Goodale, was a plan to appease Canadians following months of scandalous revelations that exposed the Liberals? complete lack of regard or control over the spending of tax dollars. So Mr. Martin will re-instate the Office of the Comptroller General and install ?professional? auditors within federal departments to sign-off on all spending. Was no one overseeing or monitoring the spending of your hard-earned tax dollars for the past decade?

And while Mr. Goodale ?talked? of ?accepting responsibility? for Adscam and the disappearance of hundreds of millions of tax dollars in his speech on Tuesday, later that night on national television, he pointed the finger at Kim Campbell for scrapping the Comptroller General?s Office back when she was Prime Minister for a few minutes back in 1993. That?s a very weak explanation for why Liberal-friendly ad firms were able to profit from the laundering of federal cash!

As for the repeats ? the Canadian Public Health Agency and infrastructure assistance for municipalities had already been announced in February. The Liberals had no choice but to fund the Afghanistan and Haiti missions which are already underway. Military equipment purchases announced in the budget are actually very old news. They were already made by the previous Chr├ętien administration last Fall.

The $995-million for the cattle industry was announced the day before the budget. The budget speech offered no explanation on why it took the Liberals so long to recognize that beef producers have been on the verge of bankruptcy for the past 10 months.

So was there any real ?news? in budget 2004? Here?s all you need to know about the 400-page document:

?There will be absolutely no personal tax cuts for this year or for the foreseeable future under a Paul Martin government.

?Government spending will jump 7.6 percent to a record $143.3-billion! If the Liberals have their way, within two years they will have increased spending by a whopping 40 percent!!!

?The Employment Insurance surplus ? built upon premiums deducted from employers and your pay cheque ? will balloon to $48.1-billion.

?There will be no major initiatives to save tax dollars, meaning that boondoggles like the gun registry will carry on as usual.

I wasn?t particularly fond of Paul Martin?s eight budgets as Finance Minister, but this ? his ninth ? was by far the most flat, unimaginative filler that clearly demonstrates it?s just the same old tired Liberal government!