Too often in politics, particularly during election campaigns, citizens conflate political brands with policy. That is, too often we make assumptions about the policies of political parties based on a perception rather than the reality of experience. Many assume, for example, that Conservatives care deeply about and pursue policies based on tradition, balancing budgets, and competitiveness while the NDP focus more on the poor and disadvantaged, strengthening unions, and restricting trade. The reality, however, is that policies are never that tightly woven with specific parties.
With the Ontario government expected to soon introduce a new budget and the province continuing to head towards its own fiscal cliff, Premier Kathleen Wynne has a chance to make a clean break from the fiscal mismanagement of her predecessor, former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. To stem the tide of rising debt, Premier Wynne needs to initiate a radical re-think of current spending and put forth a credible plan to balance the budget in the short term. Lets hope she understands and embraces the need for change.
In 1987, the value of Albertas Heritage Savings and Trust Fund stood at $12.7 billion. That year, the province faced a massive budget deficit and transfers to the fund from resource revenues were suspended. Such deposits did not resume again until almost two decades later and only lasted two years before being suspended again.
As many students enrolled in algebra class are likely discovering, numbers can be rather dry. But a proper understanding of them is indispensable to modern life. Without hard, reliable numbers regularly checked, much personal, business, and government planning would be akin to gambling: throw the dice, risk the cash and hope for the best.
I digress on the importance of numbers because as arid as they are, its always curious when governments go to great efforts to avoid discussing them.
Back in the mid-1990s, British Columbias New Democratic government published a pre-election budget that forecast a balanced ledger for the then-ending fiscal year. The Glen Clark government quickly dropped the writ and narrowly won re-election.
But soon after the election, the government revised its forecast. A deficit of almost $400-million was predicted, about what some private forecasters predicted back when the original budget was released.
Fraser Forum - May/June 2012: Canada's 2012 budget: A lack of leadership in tacling deficits and debt
That said, Canadians should not get too complacent. With growing concerns about a slowing global economy, Canadian politicians should put forth genuine plans to restore balance to the nations finances.
All expectations for next week's federal budget are that it will look much like the March version -one that included a substantial $30-billion deficit this year (2011-12) and no credible plan to return to a balanced budget.
Canadians deserve more. The newly minted Conservative majority should seize the opportunity to put forth a truly conservative plan to balance the budget -one that puts federal departmental spending on the chopping block.
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