No normal person pays close attention to who is "in" or "out" as finance minister, and that's a good thing. It means the politician in question has avoided messing up the lives of ordinary Canadians. Still, their actions can and do matter, for better or worse.
With federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty poised to unveil his 2014 budget on February 11th, early signs point to a business-as-usual budget with his government staying focused on eliminating the deficit in 2015 and creating the fiscal room to provide tax relief in next year's budget conveniently right before the 2015 federal election campaign.
Fiscal policy is really about taxes and spending and the federal government recently provided some hints on its plans in these areas.
In the recent Speech from the Throne, the government reaffirmed its commitment to balancing the budget by 2015-16 and providing "greater tax relief for Canadian families" after the budget is balanced. But what form this tax relief may take remains a mystery.
With economic growth slowing and a goal of balancing the budget by 2015, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will have little fiscal room for major new initiatives in Thursday's federal budget. The risk is that the Conservatives continue with their fondness for new and/or expanded tax credits which have been sprinkled through federal budgets over much of the past five or six years (i.e Working Income Tax Credit, and tax credits for family caregivers, children's arts and fitness, and volunteer firefighters to name but a few).