Susan Delacourt writes that buried in the Trudeau government's budget is something called "the right to repair." What does that mean?
It is intended to give Canadians another alternative when faced with broken appliances, electronics or machinery. Too often, the government says, people “are pushed to buy new products rather than repairing the ones they have.”
This new right to repair, to be launched after the usual round of consultations and establishment of frameworks and so on, is far from a marquee item in the 2023 budget unveiled on Tuesday.
But it is a tiny, fitting symbol of a larger message that Justin Trudeau’s government is keen to underline in its eighth year in power and definitely in this year’s budget: Canada is not broken. There’s no need to buy something new.
The Right To Repair is Trudeau's counter to Pierre Polievre's claim that "everything is broken" in Canada:
Trudeau’s government will never concede that the nation is broken or breaking, but it could not deliver a budget in 2023 without at least offering some large reassurances that the nation can still function for its citizens.
So amid all of the heady talk of optimism for the future — fully intended to match U.S. President Joe Biden’s rhetoric in Parliament last week — this is a budget aimed at connecting, or maybe reconnecting, with a jaded citizenry, and open to the idea that things feel broken.
Health-care spending is obviously the biggest-ticket item on this front, with billions headed to the provinces and the establishment of a new dental-care program. Everyone has a right to repair, and that includes bodies and teeth.
But that right extends beyond big-ticket items:
There is $7 million sprinkled over five years to improve service at airports and collect data on what’s going right and wrong. There is $156 million to improve services for veterans. Faster service is promised on passports and immigration backlogs; money will be spent to investigate overpayments of COVID-19 relief. More than $17 million will be spent to up the game of 1-800 government information lines.
All of it speaks to a government that feels the need to tell Canadians that the system still works for ordinary people, despite what Poilievre or those so-called “Freedom Convoy” people have been talking about. The Conservative leader was still saying after Tuesday’s budget release that the Liberals are keeping Canada divided into “have-nots and have yachts.”
Conservatives these days are trying to sell the notion that it's better to burn it down and start all over again. Progressives think they have a better idea.
Image: The Toronto Star