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Jim Flaherty backs away from campaign pledge to run a surplus in 2014


Whatever the Prime Minister said about new savings during the election, the Finance Minister apparently isn’t quite ready to commit to returning to a surplus in 2014.

When asked directly during an appearance on CTV’s Power Play whether he was committing to eliminating the deficit one year earlier, Mr. Flaherty responded that he was not. “No. I think we have to look at all of the data,” he replied. “We use an average of the private sector forecasters, as we have done for years now, to make sure that we’re on the right track, and in sync with the view of the private sector on the economy, so we’ll look at all these things, there’s a couple of platform commitments too that we’ll look at as well, but fundamentally it will be the same budget that was introduced on March 22.”

Whether this is Mr. Flaherty backing off or merely putting off this election pledge, it has already lasted longer than Mr. Harper’s 2008 election deficit pledge, which survived just three days after that year’s vote.


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  1. MmmmHmmm Colour me surprised.

  2. LOL….
    Let the Broken Promises begin…
    You people didn’t really believe any of these guys were going to follow through with anything they said they’d do for you, did you ??

  3. It would be much easier if they’d just post the formula for how they calculated their deficit-cutting measures, such as the assumed price-per-barrel of oil, currency exchange rate, unemployment rates, interest rates, housing prices, and income tax revenue. Then we could plug in numbers, like the current $15/barrel drop in the price of oil, and make our own estimate for how much time that will add to slashing the deficit.

    It’d save us bugging them all the time.

  4. Read in the G&M on May 4 — (Majority man: Harper gets more ambitious, relaxed and mainstream)
    “The third priority will be slaying the deficit – embarking on operational spending cuts to help reduce the deficit by 2014-15 as promised during the campaign. ”
    There is a world of difference between Harper’s forecast on April 8 of a 1.8 billion dollar suplus for 2014-2015 and a reduced deficit. I actually bet a while ago that by the time we kick out Harper he will have doubled the debt. He’s on course.

  5. Flaherty’s turnaround was completely expected by the majority voters, but I hope some people who voted Conservative will post and say whether this surprises them or not or whether they even care.

  6. Remarkably, I am impressed at how honestly Flaherty is approaching this. (my saying anything positive about Flaherty is a very rare occurance) I suspect even partisan Conservatives understood that the $4 billion put beside the outcome of the review process was bs. (Not to say they would not defend that bs to the bitter end)Since the economic downturn, Harper has been promising a pain-free recovery presumably based on the commodity market. I don’t think that is going to happen and frankly I don’t think Harper will make the tough choices necessary to eliminate the deficit. On political issues, he has always been a stud; on governance issues he has always been a wuss.

  7. Fiscal conservatism does not exist within the federal Conservative party; I don’t know what people who vote for them think they are but their track record and back-tracking on the economy tell a different story than what others like to project on them.

  8. Harper Haters are pleased.

    • No, not pleased. More resigned. We already knew stuff like this was going to happen, so it’s not really news when it does.

  9. I think Mr Wherry needs to read the Globe and Mail’s article more thoroughly. My reading of the Globe’s article makes it seem that the plan is still to try to cut the defecit by 2014-2015, but Minister Flaherty’s upcoming budget won’t outline the measures necessary to do so. This doesn’t mean that the Conservatives have abandoned this platform pledge. Rather, it seems the Finance Department is going to study the issue in greater depth in order to determine the best way of reducing departmental spending. According to the Globe, the Conservative platform states that they will conduct a comprehensive budgetary review within a year of the election – this sounds exactly like what Mr Flaherty is doing. Mind you, the Globe’s headline doesn’t convey any of this. Alas, creating the news is much more lucrative than reporting the facts in a neutral fashion.

    Quotes from the Globe’s article:

    ‘ “We will do the strategic and operating review and we will book [those savings] once the review is done. That will get us to balance a year earlier, but is not part of the upcoming budget,” Chisholm Pothier, Mr. Flaherty’s spokesperson, said on Wednesday.’

    ‘The platform said this would be achieved by ending stimulus spending, continuing existing restraint measures, and completing, within one year, a comprehensive review of government spending.’

    Link to G&M’s article:

    • Their campaign platform also booked a billion dollars in savings THIS year. Now Flaherty is saying, “Ain’t gonna happen.”

      • Do you have a link where he says this isn’t going to happen? All I read was that it’s not in this upcoming budget. Nothing is preventing Minister Flaherty from producing a budget update (or ‘mini-budget’ as they’ve been called in the past) this upcoming autumn once some of the findings are in from the budgetary review.

        • If he knew the budgetary review process would find a billion dollars in savings, he could say he intended that. He didn’t. He said he needs to hold the review to find out *what* they can save.

          Either way, it still means they made a campaign promise they had no real intention of being able to keep — at best a hope and a prayer.

  10. And now we know why so many of the CPC supporters went into hiding immediately following the election. Folks like @Atchinson:disqus, @JamesHalifax:disqus, @chet:disqus, et al probably didn’t want to be called out on what they knew the CPC behavior would be post-election.