A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Balanced-Budget Law, fiscal or political?

With Canadians still waiting to see whats in the much delayed budget Finance Minister Joe Oliver has just announced plans for a balanced-budget law (as promised by the Conservatives in the 2013 throne speech). Call me a cynic but after having inherited a 13.8 Billion surplus from the Liberals and having then spent it all BEFORE the recession hit and then produced 7 consecutive budget deficits is this more about handcuffing any incoming government from fixing their mess than concern about the national debt?

"The only acceptable deficit would be one that responds to a recession or to an 'extraordinary' circumstance -- that is war or a natural disaster with a cost exceeding $3 billion in one year," Oliver told the Economic Club.........
Cabinet ministers would see their pay docked five per cent if the federal government fails to balance its books under proposed legislation critics denounced Wednesday as symbolic at best, hypocrisy at worst.

Given the difficulty experienced by the Parliamentary Budget Officer and others in determining the true state of this government finances and expenditures one must wonder if the much flaunted 'balanced budget' that we have yet to see is factual or just creative accounting. When they are tossed from power will the incoming government find that in actual fact after all the tax breaks, mostly for the more affluent, and the spending commitments spread over future years that without severe cuts to services they are already in debt before they start.

"The proposed bill would acknowledge the potential need for deficits to counter economic decline." In addition to the ministerial pay cut, a deficit would spark an automatic operating freeze, Oliver said. Observers, however, suggested the Tories were looking to score political points by appealing to their constituents.

It will be difficult for opposition partys to vote against this legislation is it, as is almost all of the Con Regimes legislation, a political trap and being proposed at this moment purely for political reasons? Balanced budgets should indeed be a priority of all governments and hitting them in the pocket book may give them some incentive, possibly to hit US in the pocket book instead, but the timing of this is deeply suspect.

Both Opposition parties were scornful of what they called a death-bed repentance from a government that has racked up seven straight budget deficits since Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised in 2008 he would never run a shortfall.

The Liberal leader, who refused to say whether his party would oppose the legislation, called it "fairly ridiculous" the government would now be talking about balanced budgets -- five years after the recession and just before an election.

Watch for this to be rammed through quickly with limited debate (as is now the norm for all such legislation) so that the incoming government is backed in a corner ..... and if, God help us, the Cons get back in watch them ignore it and / or lie about expenditures and income!

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Unknown said...

You've summed it up nicely Rural. The concervatives putting forth a balance budget law after they never ever balanced a budget is like Obama putting forth legislation that they could call the No Interference law, which would mean that the US will never interfere with another countries democratic elections or with another countries government. Harper and his puppets must really, really think Canadians are stupid. I'm starting to feel wearied by them.

Rural said...

I also am getting very weary of both the Cons and the stupid Canadians who continue to support them, Pamela