Cherry-pick­ing will get you cher­ries

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Rus­sell Wanger­sky is TC Media’s At­lantic Re­gional colum­nist. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­; his col­umn ap­pears on Tues­days, Thurs­days and Satur­days in TC Media’s daily pa­pers.

Oh, thank good­ness for poll­sters who are all geared up to tell us what we al­ready know, for what would we do with­out them?

Tues­day, Cor­po­rate Re­search As­so­ci­ates re­leased its polling on the last fed­eral bud­get, polling which it says shows that “At­lantic Cana­di­ans sup­port key fed­eral bud­get mea­sures.”

Now, only four mea­sures ac­tu­ally got ex­am­ined by the poll­sters, but it’s worth look­ing the num­bers, just the same.

In to­tal, 74 per cent in­di­cated that they sup­ported in­creas­ing the fed­eral child tax credit — why don’t we just say it like it is, that 74 per cent ap­proved of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment giv­ing them a cookie.

Another 73 per cent sup­ported the fed­eral plan to re­duce the small busi­ness tax rate. We could call that one ap­prov­ing cook­ies for your lo­cal shop- keeper in the hopes that they will pass a bit of that free cookie on to you.

Some 63 per cent sup­ported in­creases to the an­nual amount that taxpayers can put in a tax free sav­ings ac­count — tax-free cook­ies in the fu­ture, ev­ery­one!

And, last but not least, around 47 per cent sup­ported the min­i­mum amount that hold­ers will be al­lowed to re­move from reg­is­tered re­tire­ment in­come funds, mean­ing taxpayers with big re­tire­ment sav­ings will be able to keep cook­ies they might have lost to the tax man. (This, of course, was the wild card in the poll be­cause 21 per cent of At­lantic Cana­di­ans didn’t know what the heck the bud­get mea­sure was about, pre­sum­ably be­cause, come re­tire­ment, they won’t have an RRIF to rub to­gether to pay for even one sin­gle cookie.) The long and short of it? The poll sug­gests peo­ple like the parts of this pre-elec­tion bud­get that gives them stuff. Holy moly in a bowl­ing al­ley! That kind of con­clu­sion just blows my socks off.

Of course, we all know the only mea­sures that mat­ter in the bud­get are the ones that give us things, right?

That part of bud­get leg­is­la­tion that en­ables the RCMP to turn back the clock and gets them out of a jam for de­stroy­ing in­for­ma­tion they promised to save? The strange sit­u­a­tion where Canada’s high­est up­hold­ers of the law ap­par­ently broke the law they are sworn to up­hold, ex­cept their po­lit­i­cal mas­ters de­cided to give them a bye? We don’t care about that. No cook­ies hid­ing any­where there.

What about the part of the bud­get act that al­lows the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to uni­lat­er­ally change ne­go­ti­ated sick leave clauses for fed­eral civil ser­vants — and, in the process, al­low the gov­ern­ment to skirt por­tions of leg­is­la­tion that ex­am­ine whether sim­ply over­rid­ing the ne­go­ti­at­ing process is a vi­o­la­tion of the Cana­dian Rights and Free­doms? Those are civil ser­vice cook­ies — we can’t have them, so the civil ser­vants shouldn’t ei­ther, right?

What about the $292 mil­lion in new an­nual prison and se­cu­rity spend­ing? Now, there’s a lot of cook­ies. Or the multi-bil­lion­dol­lar short­fall for health care af­ter the ex­piry of the fed­eral Health Ac­cord? Maybe Granny can’t get an MRI un­til next No- vem­ber, but hey — cho­co­late chip. Yummy.

We love, love, love the bud­get. We’d tell you if we weren’t so de­lighted about stuff­ing our mouths with all the good­ies we’re go­ing to get.

When the met­rics you use to mea­sure some­thing are en­tirely — en­tirely — based on ask­ing peo­ple about the ben­e­fits they stand to gain, the re­sults are noth­ing short of tau­tol­ogy. Do you like what you like? You do? Quelle sur­prise!

Eight-two per cent would like frost­ing with that. Sixty-three per cent might pre­fer bread and cir­cuses.

And that’s not un­ex­pected, ei­ther.

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