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Paper cuts


 

Stephen Harper says it will be easy to find $11-billion in cuts, he just can’t say what those cuts will be right now.

But asked three times Sunday to offer more details, Mr. Harper declined to elaborate. “The operational savings we’re looking for are modest,” he told reporters at a campaign stop at a farm in Quebec.

“Anybody who says that you can’t find money in Ottawa without cutting vital services to people, simply is living in a fantasy world,” Mr. Harper continued. “That’s not how government works. There are inefficiencies, and it is your job to constantly find them. That’s what we have been doing and that’s what we will continue to do, and as I say, unlike the Liberals, we have a pretty good record of doing that, while increasing the amount of money we spend on vital services like health care, pensions and education.”


 

Paper cuts

  1. Breaking News — Tories misled Parliament re: Tony Clement's pork barreling for the G8.

  2. Breaking News — Tories misled Parliament re: Tony Clement's pork barreling for the G8.

  3. So if the press asks the same question and he refuses to answer it each time, does that count for three of the four questions the press is allowed to ask? Doesn't seem right.

  4. So if the press asks the same question and he refuses to answer it each time, does that count for three of the four questions the press is allowed to ask? Doesn't seem right.

    • That's one.

  5. I noticed one of the commenters on the NatPost article accused the reporter of "left-wing bias."

    Apparently expecting the government to actually account for its spending, and a "conservative" party to account for its proposals is now a socialist plot.

  6. I noticed one of the commenters on the NatPost article accused the reporter of "left-wing bias."

    Apparently expecting the government to actually account for its spending, and a "conservative" party to account for its proposals is now a socialist plot.

  7. I suggest reducing the number of political staff on the rolls, and rolling back the wage increases scheduled to take effect during the election. That ought to save a few million before the government even starts its review. Keeping ministerial travel in ministerial budgets instead of shifting it to departmnets will also have the wonderful effect of limiting that travel, saving millions more.

    Like the Prime Minister said – it's easy!

  8. I suggest reducing the number of political staff on the rolls, and rolling back the wage increases scheduled to take effect during the election. That ought to save a few million before the government even starts its review. Keeping ministerial travel in ministerial budgets instead of shifting it to departmnets will also have the wonderful effect of limiting that travel, saving millions more.

    Like the Prime Minister said – it's easy!

    • Thent he prime minister should have an easy time providing figures and examples to back up his assertions.

      • and Ministerial travel is being taken out of their budgets and shifted to the departments. Shocking? I would say not, conservative… definitely not but true.

        Why would a transparent conservative government make such a move? My guess, it will be very hard to pull out inappropriate travel costs from the massive budgets of the departments.

        On the plus side…. this was all put in place April 1! Who says SH has no sense of humour!

  9. Thent he prime minister should have an easy time providing figures and examples to back up his assertions.

  10. Well if the first bottle of snake oil didn't work, and the second bottle of snake oil didn't work, buy a third and fourth bottle, right?

    Even the AG Sheila Fraser has called Harper a liar, and suggests he also broke the law.

  11. Well if the first bottle of snake oil didn't work, and the second bottle of snake oil didn't work, buy a third and fourth bottle, right?

    Even the AG Sheila Fraser has called Harper a liar, and suggests he also broke the law.

  12. On a bit of a side not…the NP mentioned that the Harper gov't did manage to save 2.8 billion through these types of cuts in the past four years….not that I necessarily believe the current claim to find another 4 billion…, however I still think 2.8B is very significant and for the first time…kudos, kudos Mr. PM.

    Too bad all those savings were blown with the G8/G20 fiasco, the structural deficit created by the GST slashes, and rest of the pork-barreling.

  13. On a bit of a side not…the NP mentioned that the Harper gov't did manage to save 2.8 billion through these types of cuts in the past four years….not that I necessarily believe the current claim to find another 4 billion…, however I still think 2.8B is very significant and for the first time…kudos, kudos Mr. PM.

    Too bad all those savings were blown with the G8/G20 fiasco, the structural deficit created by the GST slashes, and rest of the pork-barreling.

    • Diminishing returns take hold – each year less and less should be available as you make what cuts you deem the easiest and most necessary.

  14. I don't disagree with Harper that it shouldn't be too hard to find areas to find savings, even the amount savings he's talking about. I'd still like to know where he's going to find the money. Further, I've heard that promise at different levels of government, 'We're going to find the savings, just you watch.' And they they don't. If you're going to set targets on how much money you'd like to save, you damn well better show us how you're going to do it.

    Second, Harper talks about the government's record to date in finding savings. Didn't the PBO say that the government's money-saving projections were off? Also, hasn't the size of the federal government increased over the last five years? Correct me, please, if I'm wrong. It's great that they want to save money, but they don't have any track record to boast about, that I know of.

  15. I don't disagree with Harper that it shouldn't be too hard to find areas to find savings, even the amount savings he's talking about. I'd still like to know where he's going to find the money. Further, I've heard that promise at different levels of government, 'We're going to find the savings, just you watch.' And they they don't. If you're going to set targets on how much money you'd like to save, you damn well better show us how you're going to do it.

    Second, Harper talks about the government's record to date in finding savings. Didn't the PBO say that the government's money-saving projections were off? Also, hasn't the size of the federal government increased over the last five years? Correct me, please, if I'm wrong. It's great that they want to save money, but they don't have any track record to boast about, that I know of.

    • You can always eliminate things or spend less on them, but really it's only a "savings" if there is demonstrably clearly no benefit to it or if it will still be getting done only cheaper.

      so while one may reduce expenditures, without ane xplanation of their nature I don't think it's fair to call it a "savings". More like a few billion in unspecified cuts, or lies.

      • It's like the boob Ralph Klein who cut services in Alberta so drastically in the 1990s that they have not recovered yet.

      • A very important and under-discussed distinction.

  16. You can always eliminate things or spend less on them, but really it's only a "savings" if there is demonstrably clearly no benefit to it or if it will still be getting done only cheaper.

    so while one may reduce expenditures, without ane xplanation of their nature I don't think it's fair to call it a "savings". More like a few billion in unspecified cuts, or lies.

  17. There are inefficiencies, and it is your job to constantly find them.

    The problem is that, in the real world, there always comes a point where you're at the bone already or the costs of correcting the "inefficiency" are greater than the costs of leaving it where it is. So, instead it's easier to just say: "come up with a way to not spend X amount", which frequently results in service and staffing cuts regardless of whether or not a department is already "efficient" or facing increased demand or not.

    Which is why the reality is that "inefficiency" has largely become pol speak for: "I'm going to wack things I don't like or understand". Just ask Rob Ford.

  18. There are inefficiencies, and it is your job to constantly find them.

    The problem is that, in the real world, there always comes a point where you're at the bone already or the costs of correcting the "inefficiency" are greater than the costs of leaving it where it is. So, instead it's easier to just say: "come up with a way to not spend X amount", which frequently results in service and staffing cuts regardless of whether or not a department is already "efficient" or facing increased demand or not.

    Which is why the reality is that "inefficiency" has largely become pol speak for: "I'm going to wack things I don't like or understand". Just ask Rob Ford.

  19. Diminishing returns take hold – each year less and less should be available as you make what cuts you deem the easiest and most necessary.

  20. The non-partisan Canadian voter will have to decide between two options:

    Does the voter believe that Canadian Companies can withstand an increase in taxes and if that increase in Corp. taxes does not result in an overall increase in gov`t revenues, how much will personal taxes have to be increased to offset the decrease in Corp. tax revenues and the resulting unemployment ? Deficit control will not be a priority.

    Is the voter willing to accept that the road back to surplus Budgets is through a healthy private sector providing tax revenues from good paying jobs in healthy companies. As part of eliminating the deficit the Gov`t will streamline Depts. and there will be a decrease in gov`t jobs–mostly through attrition. The voter will have to trust that this is an important measure to avoid the economic disasters taking place in some European countries and the USA.

    So, with the first option you vote for one of the opp. parties and hope we don`t go spiralling into a permanent deficit caused by decreased tax revenues and unrealistic promises.
    With the second option you vote Conservative, expect less gov`t spending on itself, more jobs in the private sector, and return to surplus in 3 or 4 years.

  21. What increase in taxes?

  22. What increase in taxes?

    • The Corporate tax rate is 16.5% now.
      The Liberal Platform says they will increase the Corp. tax rate to 18% in the vain hope that will increase gov`t tax revenues.

      !8% is an increase from 16.5% no matter how you spin it.

  23. That's one.

  24. Mr. Harper is not wrong. If he gets a majority government, it will be even easier than it was to make cuts to funding for things like literacy programs, the Court Challenges program…

  25. Mr. Harper is not wrong. If he gets a majority government, it will be even easier than it was to make cuts to funding for things like literacy programs, the Court Challenges program…

  26. and Ministerial travel is being taken out of their budgets and shifted to the departments. Shocking? I would say not, conservative… definitely not but true.

    Why would a transparent conservative government make such a move? My guess, it will be very hard to pull out inappropriate travel costs from the massive budgets of the departments.

    On the plus side…. this was all put in place April 1! Who says SH has no sense of humour!

  27. The Conservative talk about this review as if the plan is to change processes rather than institute cuts. I think the one concrete example SH gave was changing platforms across programs to make them compatible. Changing your process to one that is ultimately more efficient is commendable, however such changes virtually always involve significant up-front one-time investments. If the Conservatives were serious about this process, an envelope for those one-time costs would have to be included.

  28. The Conservative talk about this review as if the plan is to change processes rather than institute cuts. I think the one concrete example SH gave was changing platforms across programs to make them compatible. Changing your process to one that is ultimately more efficient is commendable, however such changes virtually always involve significant up-front one-time investments. If the Conservatives were serious about this process, an envelope for those one-time costs would have to be included.

  29. "Program Review was generally seen as a success. The government was able to achieve the significant expenditure reductions it estimated were required, and considerable rethinking and realignment of government programs helped to ensure the greater relevance and affordability of programs and to enable work force adjustments without major work disruptions. According to Peter Aucoin and Donald Savoie, “a world class professional public service emerged” from the Program Review experience. Program Review also showed that the government can revamp its expenditure budget and reduce spending without resorting to wide, across-the-board cuts.

    According to Budget 2010, the government plans to eliminate the deficit by restraining growth in federal spending and by reviewing government administrative functions and overhead costs and will not raise taxes or cut transfers to persons or other levels of government. Given the freeze on departmental operating budgets at the 2010–2011 level, it is likely that the size of the public service will be reduced. The experience gained through the Program Review of the 1990s can help to inform current approaches to public service reductions."

  30. "Program Review was generally seen as a success. The government was able to achieve the significant expenditure reductions it estimated were required, and considerable rethinking and realignment of government programs helped to ensure the greater relevance and affordability of programs and to enable work force adjustments without major work disruptions. According to Peter Aucoin and Donald Savoie, “a world class professional public service emerged” from the Program Review experience. Program Review also showed that the government can revamp its expenditure budget and reduce spending without resorting to wide, across-the-board cuts.

    According to Budget 2010, the government plans to eliminate the deficit by restraining growth in federal spending and by reviewing government administrative functions and overhead costs and will not raise taxes or cut transfers to persons or other levels of government. Given the freeze on departmental operating budgets at the 2010–2011 level, it is likely that the size of the public service will be reduced. The experience gained through the Program Review of the 1990s can help to inform current approaches to public service reductions."

    • "restraining growth in federal spending" as in not wasting it on F35s and lying about having a contract for them.

  31. Leaving aside all your other shameful blather, the level that corporate tax rates were at before Harper's planned reduction were hardly punishing or even unreasonable. it is unlikely the rate that a Liberal government would return them to would result in any real negative effects.

  32. Leaving aside all your other shameful blather, the level that corporate tax rates were at before Harper's planned reduction were hardly punishing or even unreasonable. it is unlikely the rate that a Liberal government would return them to would result in any real negative effects.

    • Any increase in corp. tax rate accompanied by an unstable Lib-coalition gov`t, and a higher Canadian Dollar would be the signal for increasingly mobile global companies to move operations elsewhere, especially to the USA.

      • no.

  33. The Corporate tax rate is 16.5% now.
    The Liberal Platform says they will increase the Corp. tax rate to 18% in the vain hope that will increase gov`t tax revenues.

    !8% is an increase from 16.5% no matter how you spin it.

  34. Any increase in corp. tax rate accompanied by an unstable Lib-coalition gov`t, and a higher Canadian Dollar would be the signal for increasingly mobile global companies to move operations elsewhere, especially to the USA.

  35. "As part of eliminating the deficit the Gov`t will streamline Depts. and there will be a decrease in gov`t jobs–mostly through attrition."

    I'm all for streamlining government, I am, but you're making this sound like it's doable — achieving savings through attrition — when there are some serious questions about this method and whether it will be sufficient. PBO Kevin Page outlined those concerns earlier this year.
    http://ipolitics.ca/2011/01/21/feds-vow-not-to-ba

    In this story, Page suggests that to achieve the kind of savings they're aiming for, there will be more needed besides just attrition. He also mentions that the government wasn't forthcoming with how it planned to save money in other ways… is this not disconcerting? Anyway, you're making it sound like a Liberal government will be a disaster (even though they were the ones who were actually able to achieve a surplus… they actually have a track record they can point to), and the Conservatives will offer a painless, cheaper alternative without massive cuts. I don't think you're presenting the choices accurately.

  36. "As part of eliminating the deficit the Gov`t will streamline Depts. and there will be a decrease in gov`t jobs–mostly through attrition."

    I'm all for streamlining government, I am, but you're making this sound like it's doable — achieving savings through attrition — when there are some serious questions about this method and whether it will be sufficient. PBO Kevin Page outlined those concerns earlier this year.
    http://ipolitics.ca/2011/01/21/feds-vow-not-to-ba

    In this story, Page suggests that to achieve the kind of savings they're aiming for, there will be more needed besides just attrition. He also mentions that the government wasn't forthcoming with how it planned to save money in other ways… is this not disconcerting? Anyway, you're making it sound like a Liberal government will be a disaster (even though they were the ones who were actually able to achieve a surplus… they actually have a track record they can point to), and the Conservatives will offer a painless, cheaper alternative without massive cuts. I don't think you're presenting the choices accurately.

    • The Conservatives have had 5 years to streamline and all that BS and they have failed miserably to cut the deficit, but increased it. Too busy stealing our tax dollars to buy election ads with.

    • I like the idea that you are in favour of streamlining gov`t, and you may be right—savings through attrition may not be sufficient, but at least the Conservatives are the Party that is at least willing to talk about the fact that increasing gov`t efficiences are a part of balancing the budget.

      I do give the Liberals credit for achieving a surplus in the 90`s, but even Paul Martin would admit that the job was made much easier with a Stephen Harper in opposition and a Mike Harris as premier in Ontario, then it would ever be now with Layton and Duceppe mulling over the pre-release of the Budget.

  37. How would an unstable government lead to a higher dollar?

  38. …………sorry for the misunderstanding—the Canadian Dollar is already at close to all-time highs ( $1.05, US ) . this is already putting a strain on Canadian exporting companies.

  39. …………sorry for the misunderstanding—the Canadian Dollar is already at close to all-time highs ( $1.05, US ) . this is already putting a strain on Canadian exporting companies.

  40. Yeah, expecting honesty is "left-wing bias."

  41. To quote from Babiak at the lin:

    "…Why was the most important and exciting scientific and economic issue of our time led, in Alberta, by a self-described political fixer? I've spoken to many people this week who were involved with Carson, off the record, who seemed surprised by the naivete of the question. There were feelings of near-universal "ickiness" about Carson and his role in Alberta, but his references were, to put it mildly, strong…"

    Read more: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/technology/answers

  42. It's like the boob Ralph Klein who cut services in Alberta so drastically in the 1990s that they have not recovered yet.

  43. The Conservatives have had 5 years to streamline and all that BS and they have failed miserably to cut the deficit, but increased it. Too busy stealing our tax dollars to buy election ads with.

  44. "restraining growth in federal spending" as in not wasting it on F35s and lying about having a contract for them.

  45. Whoever leaked that report: I Heart You!

  46. Places we could have looked for inefficiency for five years:

    Government Advertising
    Size of PMO/PMO budget
    Ministerial travel
    Ministers of State
    Single source procurement (esp. military)

  47. I like the idea that you are in favour of streamlining gov`t, and you may be right—savings through attrition may not be sufficient, but at least the Conservatives are the Party that is at least willing to talk about the fact that increasing gov`t efficiences are a part of balancing the budget.

    I do give the Liberals credit for achieving a surplus in the 90`s, but even Paul Martin would admit that the job was made much easier with a Stephen Harper in opposition and a Mike Harris as premier in Ontario, then it would ever be now with Layton and Duceppe mulling over the pre-release of the Budget.

  48. Places we could have looked for inefficiency for five years:

    Government Advertising
    Size of PMO/PMO budget
    Ministerial travel
    Ministers of State
    Single source procurement (esp. military)

  49. "STOP THE GRAVY TRAIN!"

    It's more pithy, and just as credible, when Rob Ford says it.

  50. "STOP THE GRAVY TRAIN!"

    It's more pithy, and just as credible, when Rob Ford says it.

  51. Harper's right about it being easy to get rid of waste . . . he can start with demoting Tony to the backbenches where he will have much less taxpayers money to spend.

  52. Harper's right about it being easy to get rid of waste . . . he can start with demoting Tony to the backbenches where he will have much less taxpayers money to spend.

  53. Being sentient is evidence of left wing bias

  54. Being sentient is evidence of left wing bias

  55. Suggesting that they can save $11 billion by looking for inefficiencies is ludicrous.

    It took 4 years for the Harper Government to find $1.6 billion in savings, much of which was not from cutting fat but from slowing defence spending. Moreover, they've not been able to detail exactly what has been cut or streamlined in the $1.6 billion they've already booked — and it's important to note that these are projected savings that may be achieved in 2013-2014.

    Now they say they can increase their efficiencies 10-fold and slay the deficit early — all while cutting taxes, losing revenue through income splitting, not cutting services or transfers to provinces AND increasing spending on healthcare?

    Flaherty's simply not credible on this point.

    "In 2010, the last year of the first four-year cycle of strategic reviews, 12 organizations undertook strategic reviews of their programs and spending. In addition, the Department of National Defence used the strategic review process to identify the savings required to restrain the growth in its spending as mandated in Budget 2010. This round of strategic reviews, combined with targeted restraint in the growth of National Defence spending, has yielded savings of close to $1.6 billion in 2013–14, amounting to 4.9 per cent of the review base on an ongoing basis."
    http://www.budget.gc.ca/2011/plan/anx1-eng.html

  56. Suggesting that they can save $11 billion by looking for inefficiencies is ludicrous.

    It took 4 years for the Harper Government to find $1.6 billion in savings, much of which was not from cutting fat but from slowing defence spending. Moreover, they've not been able to detail exactly what has been cut or streamlined in the $1.6 billion they've already booked — and it's important to note that these are projected savings that may be achieved in 2013-2014.

    Now they say they can increase their efficiencies 10-fold and slay the deficit early — all while cutting taxes, losing revenue through income splitting, not cutting services or transfers to provinces AND increasing spending on healthcare?

    Flaherty's simply not credible on this point.

    "In 2010, the last year of the first four-year cycle of strategic reviews, 12 organizations undertook strategic reviews of their programs and spending. In addition, the Department of National Defence used the strategic review process to identify the savings required to restrain the growth in its spending as mandated in Budget 2010. This round of strategic reviews, combined with targeted restraint in the growth of National Defence spending, has yielded savings of close to $1.6 billion in 2013–14, amounting to 4.9 per cent of the review base on an ongoing basis."
    http://www.budget.gc.ca/2011/plan/anx1-eng.html

  57. A very important and under-discussed distinction.

  58. Kevin Page has calculated the structural deficit that Harper created is about $14 billion. So, to balance the books by 2014 will actually require $18 billion in found efficiencies, cuts or raised taxes.

  59. Kevin Page has calculated the structural deficit that Harper created is about $14 billion. So, to balance the books by 2014 will actually require $18 billion in found efficiencies, cuts or raised taxes.

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