Author: Richard Starr

Good fiscal news comes at the expense of the most vulnerable

The fiscal news just keeps getting better for the Houston government. Three months after releasing an update showing that the deficit projected in the Liberal budget for 2021-22 would be lower than expected, their latest forecast has the operating deficit disappearing altogether. Instead of being in the red by almost $600 million, as per last spring’s budget, we’re looking at a surplus of more than $100 million for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022. A number of things contributed to the fortuitous turnaround but the Conservatives, in power now for four months, can’t claim credit for any of...

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J.L Ilsley and the challenge to ‘build back better’

Although the book doesn’t make the connection, it’s hard to read Barry Cahill’s new biography of mid-twentieth century politician J.L. Ilsley without drawing parallels with events unfolding today.   James Lorimer Ilsley, a Nova Scotia Liberal from the Annapolis Valley, was federal Minister of Finance during World War II. As a powerful member of Mackenzie King’s cabinet he built a reputation as the one responsible for making sure Canada had the financial wherewithal to contribute significantly to the war effort. Just as with the current battle against COVID-19, the federal government of the day pulled out all the fiscal...

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Pandemic bucks flowed disproportionately to wealthier provinces

Jason Kenney just could not resist looking the gift horse in the mouth. The Alberta premier this week greeted his province’s five-year $3.8 billion child care agreement with the federal government by mumbling about getting $3.8 billion “paid by Albertans to Ottawa back to Alberta.” Then he complained about Quebec getting a better child care deal because it came with no strings attached (omitting to mention that no strings were needed because Quebec has already achieved the affordable child care that’s the purpose of the exercise). This display of unneighborliness came after the Prime Minister and a clutch of...

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N.B. and Higgs’ COVID nightmare

For the first time in a while New Brunswick last week reported fewer cases of COVID-19 than in the previous week. The 291 new cases – about twice the number reported by Nova Scotia – brought New Brunswick’s cumulative case numbers to 6,476. That’s a 4.7 percent increase from the previous week and an eye-popping 41.4 percent jump over the last four weeks. Although much of the media’s attention last month was focussed on the pandemic’s impact out west, in October New Brunswick had by far the largest increase in cumulative cases of any province. Increase in cumulative cases...

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Houston government sets sail without the fiscal albatross

It’s interesting to consider how abruptly political fashions can change – how it’s all about balanced budgets until it isn’t. Take for example the recent debut of Nova Scotia’s new Progressive Conservative government. For the first time in more than two decades the new government isn’t putting on a show of recoiling in horror upon discovery of the true state of the province’s finances and issuing dire warnings of the need for urgent spending restraint. In that respect, the new PC government represents a sharp departure from the last Conservative administration that followed the shock and awe script when...

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Richard Starr, The man behind the Point

About Richard

RICHARD STARR has had careers as a journalist, public servant, broadcaster, political staffer and freelance policy adviser. He is author of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, a former radio and TV producer and weekly newspaper editor, and the author of three non-fiction books. Starr has lived in Dartmouth for more than 30 years.

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