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Things that make you go hmmm…

Stuff like this:

If we were going to have some kind of big crash or recession, we probably would have it by now, a year into the crisis …We are in fact ahead of our budget forecast but there’s no risk of deficit. We intend to maintain a surplus in the budget.

That would be Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Sept 15, 2008 in an interview to Forbes Magazine. Of course, that claim of “no risk of deficit” crumbled long ago, and as Jim Flaherty revealed yesterday, they not only have been running a deficit, but they were way off their predictions on how much it was going to reach on the Conservatives and Flaherty’s watch:

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s startling revelation that the federal budget deficit has skyrocketed beyond $50 billion has deepened opposition impatience over the Harper government’s handling of the economy and the country’s crumbling finances…The latest estimate for Ottawa’s budgetary shortfall is $16 billion higher than Flaherty forecast in the budget only four months ago, when he predicted the government would spend $33.7 billion more than it takes in this year. Previously, the worst yearly budget deficit was $39 billion, recorded by the Mulroney Tories in 1992-93.

This of course led to some heated exchanges in the Commons, with Harper rising to say this little bit of unexpected news:

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada: Mr. Speaker, let’s be clear: When we did our pre-budget consultations, the Liberal Party wanted two more weeks of employment insurance. So, Mr. Speaker, we gave five more weeks of employment insurance, plus all kinds of additional money for training for people both on EI and not on EI. These are measures to help the unemployed in this recession. What we’re not going to do is every two or three months come up with another economic policy, another budget until we need to go into — until we need to raise taxes. Our deficits are affordable, but they will remain short-term.

Really? What taxes are you going to be raising?

All of that leads to this rather creative video by Jeff: He’s not quite up to Gritgirl standards (where has she been of late anyhow? This news should surely bring her out of hiding) but it’s still an amusing “remix”; good enough to go into my video collection.

3 comments to Things that make you go hmmm…

  • kwittet

    Toronto Dominion Bank senior economist Derek Burleton said the ballooning deficit is no real surprise because most economists thought Flaherty’s January deficit forecasts were unduly optimistic.

  • Mannt

    Scott,

    Further to my comment above, I should clarify that the $330b debt of Mulroney’s refers to that incurred during his years in power and does not include the $110b left by Trudeau. I have based my figures on the following:

    http://blogs.usask.ca/the_bolt/archive/2008/01/canadas_national_debt_gdp.html

  • Mannt

    Scott,

    This development is very disappointing to those Canadians who had wanted Iggy and the Libs to vote against the last budget and send Harper and Flaherty packing, albeit with a lot of expected protests and misinformation about the coalition being illegitimate. A previous Cons government (Mulroney), had already been responsible for leaving Canadians with the highest gross national debt at about $330b when he left office. Trudeau, blamed by many Cons supporters as a big spender, in contrast left us with about $110b national debt, only a third of Mulroney’s. Maybe Harper will now beat Mulroney’s record — remember Harper has in addition proposed to spend $490b on the military over the next 10-15 years.

    The Libs would undoubtedly, IMHO, have done a significantly better job at handling the economic crisis with the strength of the people that they have (Paul Martin, Maccallum, Goodale, etc). Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Iggy and the Libs had decided to stick the Cons with the biggest deficit label, again (after Mulroney, that is), apparently hoping that this will bring them back to power. Question is how can you claim that this is all the fault of Harper/Flaherty when you have voted in support of the budget that has led to this? Remember, Iggy himself eloquently innumerated the various concerns that he had with the budget and then let it through without a single amendment.

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