Unidentified fiscal objects

by Aaron Wherry

Tony Clement says—while participating in an open government conference—that the Harper government won’t be able to detail the latest round of budget cuts until next year. Readers of Macleans.ca might remember Paul’s attempts last year to convince the Harper government to explain what was cut as a result of the 2011 budget. As it turns out, it is presently unclear whether some of the cuts coming to light now are the result of the latest budget or previous budgets.

In the wake of last year’s mystery, I launched something of a series about those uncelebrated cuts, which you can follow herehere, here, here, here, herehere, here and here.




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Unidentified fiscal objects

  1. Well why should WE get to know where our money is going?  We’re only the voters.

    • You will get to know. You’ll just have to wait a maximum of 12 months.

      •  Oh, so it’s no longer a democracy?

        • The difference between finding out about something in 12 months or right away doesn’t have anything to do with democracy.

          If it were up to me every cent the government spent, down to the last paper clip, would be updated in real time on a website including wages for the ‘crats.

          Call it the sunshine list on steroids. True open government.

          It would be nice. But the fact that we don’t have it doesn’t mean we’re not a democracy.

          •  Yeah, in a democracy people know right away what is being done and spent.

            So we’re not anymore

          • Haha that is the most bizzare defintion of a democracy i’ve ever heard.

            Good god what did people do before the internet ? We don’t even know what is being done or spent right away NOW.

            Nor have we ever ! Things have never worked like that. These are the rules. You don’t get a full accounting summary until the budget.

            Good to know that we have never lived in a democracy EVER.

          • In a democracy our representatives would be able to ask the government for the cost implications of legislation, inlcuding the budget, in committee and get answers from the government before the decisioins are taken,

            It shouldn’t be difficult to answer: “What cuts are you planning to make and when? How much do you project we will save?”

            If the government can’t answer those questions it isn’t ready to take action. And if it can answer those questions it should do so publicly as a basic requirement of parliamentary democracy.

            Telling us to wait 12 months after they decide is at best a dark parody of democracy. You’re either fundamentally opposed to democractic decision making or you’re so partisan you will let your team get away with anything.

          • MPs can already do that. Every piece of the budget needs to go through committee and the ministers always testify.

            The problem has always been (I guess we’ve always been a dark parody of democracy for hundreds of years !!) that MPs have nowhere near enough time to properly study the documents.

          •  @yahoo-K5XAITELSHKETDEDYIH6U5AF54:disqus

            Um….we just HAD a budget.

      • Read more carefully. Specifically ”
        As it turns out, it is presently unclear whether some of the cuts coming to light now are the result of the latest budget or previous budgets.”

        ie.. we’re over 12 months for last years budget. What on earth makes you think we’ll have any answers any sooner for this one?

        • You’ve made an error. Last year’s budget wasn’t passed until AFTER the election in may. So we’re less than 12 months out.

          We have rolling expenditure reviews with multiyear cuts. The fact is though that every 12 months we get a full accounting of program spending. By next year you’ll be able to compared to the differences in spending and know instantly where the cuts have hit.  

          We get interim updates every supply cycle as well.

          • So why bother with the budget at all then? If they’re just going to cut away without actually telling anybody ahead of time how they’re going to do it, what on earth is the point of presenting a budget? Certainly not so that anybody can have reasoned debate about the pros and cons of it before it goes into effect.

            Funny, I would have thought that be a fairly conservative thing to do. Don’t take action without thinking about it first.

          • There’s been complaints about how budgeting works in this country for years, including from Jim Flaherty.

            I believe a committee is looking at fixing it.

            The budget is always a broad outline. So MPs know the size of the reductions but now how they specifically translate into program/staff reductions.

            Committees are supposed to call witnesses and all the cabinet ministers testify.

            As I said, i’d prefer some kind of instant updating website

  2. If, as the Cons often claim, Canada is becoming increasingly sympathetic with conservative values, why do they persist in governing by stealth? Aren’t they at all confident we’d embrace what they’re really up to, if only we knew?

    • Maybe the problem is that they don’t know what they are really up to. I don’t think they have any serious degree of tracking in place – and I’m not sure if that’s incompetence or for untraceability purposes.

      • Glad to see someone detecting the sour smell of incompetence in the air
        rather than assuming a wizard behind the curtain.

  3. Last year, around this time, the neo-Cons were charged with contempt of Parliament because they refused to hand over public budget documents to the Budget Officer they appointed (Kevin Page.) 

    Then they claimed it was a matter of “cabinet confidence.” This year the confidence game they are playing is even more absurd. 

    When Flaherty was minister of book-cooking in ON he claimed a $5.6B deficit was a balanced budget. This time around the secrecy likely involves trying to cover up a $20B structural deficit. Given they cut taxes by $30B/yr and increased spending by 40% they can’t be close to a balanced budget unless they have a secret farm of money trees.

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