Canada's Budget to Boost Border Security
Mar. 24, 2004
TORONTO (AP) _ Canada's governing party presented a budget Tuesday that will increase spending on border security and health care while providing for the sale of the government's stake in oil company Petrocan.
Bolstering security at Canada's ports will be among the priorities for $454 million in new spending over five years on Canada's defenses against terrorism.
The total spending proposal of $183 billion _ an increase of 4.4 percent over the current budget _ must win parliamentary approval, which is likely since the body is controlled by the ruling Liberal Party.
The government said it would sell off Ottawa's final 19 percent holdings in former government-owned Petro-Canada, which should net the federal treasury about $1.5 billion.
The budget was light on spending and focused much more on presenting the Liberal government as careful managers, especially important as it wrestles with a $75 million spending scandal that has rocked the government of Prime Minister Paul Martin.
``Some have suggested we will throw fiscal caution to the wind,'' Finance Minister Ralph Goodale said in his maiden budget speech, coming only weeks before an anticipated spring election call.
``We will not,'' he said in presenting Ottawa's seventh consecutive balanced budget _ the first such string since Canada was formed in 1867.
A promise to re-establish a comptroller general's office to oversee all federal spending was clearly intended to persuade voters that Martin is cleaning things up.
Spending on Canada's universal health care system received another $500 million over two years, including $124 million to establish a national agency to be alert for crises like severe acute respiratory illness.
The budget also earmarks funds to pay down the $383 billion federal debt.