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In the money
Mar 23, 2007

I’ve got good news

To shout in your ears.

The silver dollar has returned to the 

fold.

With silver you can turn your 

dreams to gold.

Chorus:

We’re in the money, we’re in the 

money.

We’ve got a lot of what it takes to 

get along!

When Ginger Rogers and the Studio Chorus sang this song for the Gold Diggers of 1933, there wasn’t much to cheer about. The song was meant to cheer up people, give them hope and allow them to dream of better times. The Great Depression had put a stop to dreams of prosperity, but there was still that glimmer of hope typified by the song with lyrics by Al Dubin and music by Harry Warren.

Part of the chorus also includes the lines: 

Old man Depression, you are 

through, you done us wrong! 

... We’re in the money, come on, my 

honey. 

Let’s spend it, lend it, send it rolling 

along!

Well, today there is no depression. In fact, we’re merrily “rolling along.” Times are great and the Canadian government is definitely “in the money” — the Conservative government’s budget released last Monday afternoon has proved that. The Tories have wholeheartedly accepted that any surplus dollars  accumulated from taxpayers — a total of $14.1 billion — should fall under the criteria of “spend it ... send it rolling along!”

The Tories have actually out-done the Grits in their recent federal budget, increasing spending by about eight per cent — $2.7 billion in new spending since November 2006 — during its first year in power. 

Fiscally conservative? No way! Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is the biggest spender in Canadian government history.

Forget the promises of fiscal restraint, the government’s budget projects another five per cent increase in spending for the next fiscal year. Total new spending in 2007-08 will increase by a whopping $12 billion to create “a model society — a shining beacon in what can be a dark world,” according to Flaherty.

Flaherty has heard the pleas of “Please sir, I want some more” from the provinces and handed over oodles of cash in order to create his “shining beacon.”

In total, the provinces will receive $37 billion more from Ottawa over the next seven years.

“We’re in the money ... send it rolling along,” premiers from across the land — the exceptions are B.C., Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador — sang in unison.

Premier Gary Doer rubbed his hands in glee. The budget “certainly has positive elements for Manitoba,” he added.

Yes, it has. 

And the provinces should be jumping up and down singing the chorus, “We’re in the money,” especially Quebec, which is the beneficiary of the most money to combat what is euphemistically called the  “fiscal imbalance.” 

But the only fiscal imbalance Quebec is grappling with is how to wrestle more money from heavy-weight spender Ottawa. Quebec already receives $2 billion more than  it contributes to the federal coffers. Quebecers should be happy that Alberta is rich with oil revenue and willing to “send it rolling along.”

No wonder the Bloc Quebecois, the bastion of separatist sentiment in Ottawa, is pleased with the budget and says its MPs will vote in favour of the budget in the House — thus assuring its passage regardless of how the Liberals and NDP vote. If the BQ rejected the budget, the separatists would lose credibility with Quebec voters, who are really pleased to be “in the money.”

“We can’t let $3 billion (for Quebec) get away ... We’ll take the money,” BQ Leader Gilles Duceppe told the media.

Why would Quebec refuse nearly half of all federal transfer and equalization payments to Canada’s provinces and territories? 

“We’re in the money ... send it rolling along,” Duceppe sang.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest, the new bosom buddy of Prime Minister Steven Harper, also sang.” We’re in the money ... send it rolling along.”

With such federal government largess, the Liberal premier should be able to stave off any challenge from the Parti Quebecois and the Action Democratique du Quebec in the coming provincial election.

There is also $137 million in new money for Manitoba, which includes $98 million in additional transfer payments and $39 million for health care. In 2007-08, Manitoba will receive $3.1 billion from Ottawa, fully a third of its entire budget.

“We’re in the money ... send it rolling along,” sang Premier Doer.

Manitoba’s silver dreams have definitely turned to gold.

Winnipeg hasn’t been neglected. The previous commitment of using gas-tax revenues to help Canadian municipalities was confirmed in the budget. As a result, Winnipeg will be receiving $23 million over the next five years.

“We’re in the money, we’re in the money ... send it rolling along,” sang Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz.

Moms and dads are also singing, “We’re in the money ... send it rolling along.”

A single-earner family with two children and $37, 000 in annual income will receive a $620 tax break from Ottawa.

Prime Minister Harper sang, “We’re in the money ... Let’s spend it ... send it rolling along.”

And he has.

The budget may not contain broad-based tax cuts, but it has a little something for everyone, with the exception of single Canadians and childless couples, who are always required to “send it (the money) rolling along” to Ottawa and not vice versa.

“Can I interest you in some of our campaign Literature,” reads a caption for the front page cartoon that appeared in the National Post a day after the federal budget. In the cartoon, a Conservative Party worker is handing out cash to a mom and dad with two children.

“We’re in the money ... Let’s spend it ... send it rolling along,” sang the party worker.