It usually takes a couple days before you can pass any judgement on how well a federal budget has been received. I would describe overall reaction to be mixed at best, with a lean to the negative, as people digest the fallout. The general theme, which is hardly attractive, this budget is a vote buying exercise, with a distinct bias towards Quebec. I would argue that the budget, which had the intention of moving the Conservatives toward majority, will be a failure on that score. In fact, when you balance out the winners and losers, it would appear that the Conservatives haven’t helped their electoral chances at all.
The key point, how is the budget being received across the country? Obviously, Quebec is happy and it isn’t unreasonable to conclude it will help Tory fortunes next election. That being said, no one would expect a blue wave to sweep across Quebec. If someone said the Tories could pickup 10 seats, doubling their total in the province, that would be an optimistic scenario.
The trouble for the Conservatives, this budget curries some favor, while simultaneously alienating others. This budget will cost the Conservatives in eastern Canada. I could very well see the Conservatives loss all 3 seats in Newfoundland, now that you have the Premier actively promising to work against the party. I could also see potential erosion in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where the Tories have 6 seats at stake. All the pre-budget polling showed the Tories fading in eastern Canada, this budget will only continue that slide, as the consensus seems to build. This was a bad budget for the Atlantic provinces, that’s the theme, there should be consequence.
Another potential weakness, Saskatchewan, where the Tories virtually own the playing field. The budget reception has been completely negative, a “big fat zero” as the Premier puts it. Will the hostility translate at the voter booth? I don’t think it crazy to suggest a potential lose of a couple seats.
Having lived in British Columbia, any talk of the budget favoring central Canada, at the expense of the west coast, is an electoral loser. The Campbell government has made rumblings about subsidizing Quebec, while ignoring British Columbia. I doubt this framing does the Conservatives any favors, in a province that is always competitive.
With regard to Ontario, I suppose you could argue that this budget helps the Tories, but the reaction is still mixed, so I don’t see any big momentum here. In addition, Charest’s taxbreak move has completely re-focused the debate over the budget, and only a fool would suggest that it hasn’t left a bad taste with many people. The optics, Ontario received something, but relatively less, as usual.
Alberta is apparently happy, but in terms of seats, it’s irrelevant. The Conservative maintain their seat totals, did anyone expect anything less?
I realize there is quite a lot of speculation in the above, but really the budget was crafted with electoral possibility in mind, based on current assumptions. Given the reaction, some of it vicious, for every potential gain I see, it is met with an equally plausible loss. If the goal was a move toward majority, I would say the Conservatives have failed. This budget gets them no closer to their goal, despite having billions at their disposal.