Once upon a time, the economic update was presented to Parliament

A short history of the fall update


On Tuesday of next week, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will present the fall economic and fiscal update. To a luncheon crowd at the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. This will be the fifth consecutive year Mr. Flaherty has delivered the economic update to an audience other than Parliament.

Paul Martin created the economic and fiscal update in 1994, when he appeared before the finance committee. After he was done with his presentation, he would take questions from the committee—see, for instance, his appearances in 1995, 1996 and 1998.

In 1997 and 1999, the update was presented outside of Ottawa, but both times at meetings of the finance committee.

In 2000, Mr. Martin presented something of a mini-budget to the House a few days before an election call. He then appeared before the finance committee with an update in May 2001.

In 2002, John Manley presented the update at a meeting of the finance committee in Halifax. In 2003, Mr. Manley appeared before the committee in Ottawa. In 2004 and 2005, Ralph Goodale presented the update to the finance committee.

In 2006, Jim Flaherty picked up the tradition and appeared before the finance committee. In 2007, he apparently intended to deliver the update to the House, but did not announce his intention to do so until the day before and then failed to get the opposition’s approval to proceed. Mr. Flaherty was thus apparently compelled to deliver his speech to a news conference at the National Press Theatre (the speech is archived with the references to “Mr. Speaker” still included).

In 2008, he successfully delivered the update to the House (only the government was then nearly defeated and replaced by a coalition as a result of what he had to say).

Since then, Mr. Flaherty has felt no need to appear before MPs. In 2009, he presented it the Thursday before the House of Commons was due to return for the fall. And in each of the last four years he’s picked weeks when the House was on break to deliver the update. Mr. Flaherty appeared before the finance committee in the fall of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 to discuss each year’s second budget implementation bill—the Harper government starting, in 2006, to move two budget bills each year. In 2006, he managed to do both: appearing before the finance committee to both discuss a budget bill and, later, provide an economic update.

In Britain, the autumn statement is presented to the House of Commons.


Once upon a time, the economic update was presented to Parliament

  1. Exactly.
    Parliament has been sitting for a few weeks now. The content and tone of the questions there has been about the state of the Nation`s economy.
    Liberals and NDP are concerned about jobs and economic prospects. They often devote entire Question Period to those subjects, ignoring completely the state of Nigel Wright`s finances.
    Definitely should be given the Update.

    • Oh I get it – that’s sarcasm. What you’re really saying is that Parliament is unworthy of an economic update.

      Which seems undemocratic to me. Perfectly in line with this government.

      • Those who are critical of the government for not presenting the economic update in Parliament should also be critical of those political parties who control the subject of conversation in Question Period and choose not to speak about the economy.

        • Harper to Opposition in QP: “Go ahead…ask us anything. As long as it’s about the economy.”

          • Yup – Conservative supporters get to decide which topics are legitimate (improving the economy for hard-working Canadian families!) and what is not (the PM potentially lying about malfeasance taking place in his office).

            I’m sure they will be just as circumspect when another party takes power and tries to limit what debates are considered legit.

          • How about 20% of the QP be about the economy ?
            Too much ? OK 10%.

          • Um…I think you’re missing the point. QP is the one hour of the day when the opposition gets to ask the government of the day whatever questions it deems appropriate. Now you want the government to dictate the lines of inquiry there, too?

            Does this little suggestion of yours only apply as long as your Cons are in power? As it is, the compliant little sock puppets in Harper’s backbenches already waste a good part of the period lobbing ridiculously inane soft ball questions to his ministers.

          • So 10% is too high.
            OK wizz, tell us what percentage of Question Period should be devoted to the Canadian economy, particularly since we just signed a Free Trade agreement with the EU.

          • No percentage of QP should be devoted to the Canadian economy, if the opposition chooses not to ask any questions about it.

            This is too hard for you, isn’t it?

          • I think we will pencil you in as one who sees no purpose in talking about the economy. Based on the performance of the opposition in QP for the past month, even in the midst of the largest free trade agreement ever signed they seem to either believe that the Conservatives have a good handle on the economy, or the opposition do not have the desire or the ability to ask useful questions concerning it.

            Good luck, with that track record. running in the next election.

          • Where, exactly, did I say I “[see] no purpose in talking about the economy”?

            It’s up to the opposition parties to decide what questions they wish to pursue in QP. In the current session, they obviously believe it’s in their partisan interests to use that parliamentary privilege to expose allegedly criminal conduct and concealment in the PMO. That choice has little or nothing to do with their views on the Cons’ performance on economic matters. (As a complete aside, the Cons have already proven reluctant to discuss any, you know, actual details of the trade agreement, beyond their idiotic description of it as the Wayne Gretsky of such deals).

            Your apparent displeasure with the opposition’s strategic choices betrays a rather abysmal understanding of long-established parliamentary procedures.

          • I’d bet the opposition would be more than willing to change the questions they’re asking in Parliament every day if the government would deign to actually answer any of them.

          • Which questions regarding the recent free trade agreement were not answered by the government ?

          • I thought the opposition wasn’t asking questions about the economy.

            Regardless, while it’s hardly new, I don’t at all like this notion of the government answering the questions in QP that they want to, and not answering the one’s that they don’t. Honestly, with the way governments treat QP these days we might as well just save some time and money and shut down the House, and rent out the Commons for parties or something.

          • Don’t worry, I’m sure soon Harper will be requiring questions be cleared by his Speaker. We’re dangerously close to that now.

          • Great – that guarantees 20% of the answers will include the words ‘job killing carbon tax’. How long have you been a masochist?

          • Yes, he’s totally open to the opposition parties congratulating on him on doing such a kick ass job of the nation’s finances.

        • Harper’s dying for questions about the structural deficit.

      • Un-democratic? Like the Chinese government that Justin Trudeau admires so much?

  2. It’s ironic that the host organization is charging $69.95 for non-members and $49.95 for members given the gov’ts railing against the elite.

    • Oh, those Conservatives. Their Evil knows no bounds!

      • Why do you only chime in here to state the obvious?

        • He’s our in house greek chorus.

  3. So, instead of simply trying to “change the channel”, the Cons are taking the TV and leaving the room.

  4. Once upon a time a leader of a federal political party wouldn’t be caught dead “admiring” the Chinese for their form of dictatorship.

    Once upon a time, that sort of thing would have been condemned by members of the media, and rightfully ridiculed. Nowadays it’s ignored, and we’re supposed to care about where the economic update is delivered.

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