With an election call set for this morning, Jean Charest's Liberal government tabled a budget yesterday that was nostalgic rather than forward- looking, hoping to persuade Quebecers that its four years in power have seen more promises kept than broken.
"The government's achievements have given us better health care, a better education system, infrastructures in better condition, a lighter tax burden, a more prosperous economy, a better quality of life for families and a positive environmental record," Finance Minister Michel Audet told the National Assembly. "This progress must continue."
Liberal ministers boasted that they avoided the temptation to ramp up spending to win over voters. "We didn't try to give a show that we could cut right after being elected," Monique Jerome- Forget, the Treasury Board President, said of the budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year. "We told our story of the past four years. We are very proud of our story."
Still, with an eye to writing another chapter in that story, they found enough money to fund a modest personal income tax cut, a 6% increase in health spending, an additional 4.4% for education and hundreds of millions for Quebec's resource regions, which are sparsely populated but can swing an election.
Ultimately, it could be the budget tabled next month in Ottawa that has a bigger impact on what is shaping up to be a tight three-way election race between the Liberals, Parti Quebecois and Action Democratique du Quebec. Continued...