The honour of your presence is requested at what could be a make or break test of the New New New Spirit of Cooperation between the government and the opposition.
From the letter sent to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty by Liberal MPs Scott Brison and John McCallum on December 12, 2008 (emphasis added):
Few economists believe the numbers in the Statement. In particular, growth forecasts are already much worse than when the document was written. Accordingly, we would like to see updated economic forecasts and their implications for the fiscal plan as well as a detailed reconciliation of national and public accounts projections.
We would also like to see substantially more detail on the government’s plan to generate savings of $10.1 billion over five years from the Strategic Review exercise and the Corporate Asset Reviews. We do not consider it fiscally prudent or credible to break generally accepted accounting principles and book asset sales before the sales have occurred. We also question the logic of selling government assets in a buyers’ market.
With these concerns in mind, we require a detailed plan of which non-financial assets the government plans to sell and at what price. If this information is not available, we request that you remove the Corporate Asset Management Review from the Government of Canada’s fiscal framework.
In addition, we would like you to provide us with the information requested of your Deputy Minister by the Parliamentary Budget Officer on December 1, 2008 and December 3, 2008. We also request a full briefing from senior Finance Canada officials at which the Parliamentary Budget Officer would be allowed to attend.
The deadline for ministerial RSVP? December 19th – and if I were a Prime Minister hoping to extricate myself from a crisis of confidence that is largely my own making, I’d be crossing my fingers that my finance minister’s most recent economic and fiscal update didn’t contain any accounting jiggery pokery to paint a slightly rosier picture of the country’s financial wellbeing.
UPDATE: Too bad Flaherty’s fellow finance ministers didn’t have time to invite Page out to Sasakatoon for tomorrow’s pre-budget confab:
Finance Ministers Meeting in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
As part of his national consultation in advance of the upcoming budget, the Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, will meet with provincial and territorial ministers of finance and treasurers on Wednesday, December 17.
The meeting will provide ministers an opportunity to discuss the current economic situation and budget priorities.
The meeting will take place at the Delta Bessborough Hotel, 601 Spadina Crescent East, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.