JUSTIN TRUDEAU has been Canada’s prime minister since November, but it was only on March 22nd that he showed the country in detail how he intends to lead it. His government’s first budget, presented by the finance minister, Bill Morneau, broke decisively with the austerity of the previous Conservative administration. Faced with an economy weakened by low commodity prices, Mr Trudeau and his finance minister had no hesitation in keeping the lavish promises of extra spending made by their Liberal Party during the election campaign.
Federal spending is projected to rise from 13.6% of GDP in the last fiscal year to 14.6% in 2016-17. The Liberals had promised a big programme of spending on infrastructure to repair the country’s creaking transport systems and invest in green technology. Their first budget wisely does this by boosting maintenance spending on existing facilities while they ponder backing bigger projects, perhaps including oil pipelines and LNG facilities, later on. The deficit is set to rise this fiscal year to C$29.4 billion ($22.5 billion), about 1.5% of GDP, from C$5.4 billion. Mr Trudeau seems to have given up on his goal to balance the budget by 2019.