The May 2 minority Liberal budget is a politically expedient document that likely avoids an election but unfortunately fails to tackle Ontario's looming fiscal crisis. The longer the province waits, the more difficult and painful the reforms will be when the inevitable day of reckoning arrives.
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.
The recent death of Margaret Thatcher provoked a plethora of analysis and emotion about the late British prime minister. That was predictable given how the much-needed reforms of the British economy upset the turgid status quo; that was bound to produce admirers and critics.
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.
The key litmus test for the Harper governments 2013 budget was always going to be how realistic it was with respect to achieving a balanced budget by 2015-16. The governing Tories have staked both their economic and political credibility on being able to balance the budget. The current plan, which mirrors previous budgets, relies on controlling the growth in spending and hoping revenues increase sufficiently to balance the budget.
For those who dont normally read budget documents, heres what the Alberta government just did in its 2013 budget: they abandoned the sensible budget and financial framework that former Progressive Conservative Finance Minister Jim Dinning introduced in 1993.
Going by Finance Minister Mike de Jong's public comments, Tuesday's provincial budget is supposed to present a plan to finally balance the books. But after four consecutive years in the red, British Columbians can't yet breathe a collective sigh of relief. Critically important is how Minister de Jong plans to eliminate the deficit. Will he take the path of tax increases or spending reductions?
All politics is local, said Tip ONeill, the 1980s-era leader in the U.S. House of Representatives.
That may be true, but government budgetsespecially in Albertaare increasingly anything but local. International events and economic developments regularly affect economies and government finances on the other side of the planet.
One century ago, few would have wondered how a sovereign debt default by a Greek government might affect British, American and Canadian economies.
Thus, when David From wrote, in his Saturday National Post column, that under Stephen Harper, Canada can fairly claim to be the best-governed country among advanced democracies in the world, he was not far off the mark.
There it was on the front page of The Globe and Mail: $5.2-billion [in] total spending cuts. The Toronto Star screamed: Tories slash spending in fiscal overhaul, while CTV proclaimed: Budget to cut spending nearly $6-billion.
Perhaps they read a different budget than the one we found on the Department of Finance's website. Here's what the Conservatives' budget actually stated: The results of the government's review of departmental spending amount to roughly $5.2-billion in ongoing savings.
That's savings, folks, not cuts.