Once upon a time, the economic update was presented to Parliament - Macleans.ca

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

A short history of the fall update

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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.