Let the election campaign begin. Considering the political landscape in this province, it wasn’t difficult to predict what kind of budget would be presented in the House of Assembly Thursday by newly minted Finance Minister Charlene Johnson.
The ruling Tories were castigated last year for spending cuts, program eliminations and sweeping layoffs in Budget 2013.
That onerous action, orchestrated by then premier Kathy Dunderdale, was taken with two years until the next designated general election in 2015.
Skipping ahead to this spring, Dunderdale is but a memory and the ruling Tories are looking at fighting a general election soon — likely in the fall. The PCs will elect a new leader in early July, and regardless of the winner, they won’t be calling a vote in the middle of the summer if they have any grain of political savvy.
Thursday’s budget has no service cuts, no fee hikes, threatens no layoffs and includes a little good news for most parts of the province without driving the deficit to alarming levels.
It is meant to pave the way for the new Tory leader when they go looking for votes. To say it is unremarkable would be an understatement.
Interim Premier Tom Marshall is an old hand at crafting budgets and he knows what is expected of him and his short-lived administration. The Tories are low in the polls and he has done his best to put a new face on an old government.
He is succeeding where Dunderdale failed badly by doing some spring renovations on a government that lost its way after more than 10 years in power and seemed headed for certain defeat.
This voter-friendly budget and some of the U-turns in policy Marshall has instituted might give the next PC leader a fighting chance of clinging to power.
Stranger things have happened.