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Building in Bob’s name

In spite of the $40-billion budget he brought down yesterday Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, is not the man of the hour.

In spite of the $40-billion budget he brought down yesterday Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, is not the man of the hour.

Neither is opposition leader Michael Ignatieff, on whose shoulders the fate of this borrowed stimulus now rests. Nope.

It isn’t even U.S. President Barack Obama as he leans on Washington lawmakers to pass his trillion dollar spending plan.

The man who defines our time is Bob the Builder, the children’s cartoon character.

Governments across the western world, and now including our own, have stolen the little fella’s show: building houses, roads, bridges, schools, you get the idea.

The Conservatives says they’re putting shovels and hammers to work across the country, in order to make work, and lift a flagging economy.

All told new federal infrastructure spending will top $11 billion.

Mr. Flaherty even filched the little guy’s tradesman look when he donned steel-toed boots to fulfil the tradition of launching a budget in a pair of new shoes.

In fact, the only thing Mr. Flaherty didn't rip off was Bob’s slogan: Can we fix it?

To which his crew of animated bulldozers responds ... Yes we can.

Mr. Obama already filched it for his presidential campaign.

But all of this “shovel ready” business isn’t the only expensive measure in this budget.

There are several billion dollars for re-training the unemployed.

Billions more in tax credits for everything from home renos to computers.

There are income tax reductions and help for small businesses.

Aimed at the very special of special interests is the money to increase slaughterhouse square-footage, and the help for lumber mills to expand their sales in Timbuktu.

There are also more sensible measures to help thaw tightening credit.

For example, there is more than $60 billion available to buy loans from the balance sheets of banks and other lenders.

That might not have much curb appeal, but it may just mean cheaper and more ready mortgages and car loans for consumers.

Canada is well positioned in the face of a looming recession.

We are returning to deficit spending after 12 years of surpluses.

But Mr. Flaherty said yesterday he doesn’t expect the government to return to balanced budgets until 2013.

The interceding years, he estimated, would heap a further $85-billlion on the national debt.

That leaves the question Bob’s pint sized audience can afford to ignore — can we afford it?

 
 
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