Jim Flaherty's Olympic budget - Macleans.ca

Jim Flaherty’s Olympic budget

The finance minister apparently plans a low-key budget.


Blair Gable/Reuters

“Basically, they’re keeping their powder dry for 2015.” —Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets

Jim Flaherty has tried to bury budgets before, and it always works until it doesn’t. When the government won its majority mandate in 2011, the finance minister launched a new tradition: on budget day, reveal to the world a document that includes all kinds of shiny goodies and happy language, and a future that is always brighter, and a few annexes of financial tables. Then, under cover of legislative darkness, sneak an omnibus bill into Parliament. The budget bill is never only about a budget. Among hundreds of pages of proposed legislative change are some budgetary measures, to be sure, but also plenty of other things. People always notice, eventually. About a year ago, a sustained protest, partly aimed at the government’s penchant for the omnibus, caught everyone’s attention.

This morning, The Globe and Mail‘s Bill Curry launched a season of budget speculation by predicting the finance minister’s new approach to fiscal planning: bury it from day one. The theory goes that Flaherty will table his 2014 budget in the House of Commons during the week of Feb. 10. The Sochi Olympics open on Feb. 7. With the nation consumed by dreams of Olympic glory and, if they’re lucky, a renewed claim to global hockey supremacy, the government can safely table what’s apparently going to be a rather boring document.

So, yes, a low-key budget day this year. Next year, when an election is on the way and budget surpluses are on the way and a new mandate beckons? That’s when the government will pull out all the fireworks and doodads and bells and whistles it can muster, all in hopes of whipping the public into a frenzy of appreciation for their Conservative masters.

Then again, budget day is never really the main event anymore. The potemkin document paraded around Parliament by the finance minister is only useful insofar as it launches a year’s worth of rhetoric. Budget bills, which always follow, aren’t really about budgets. They’re about broader legislative change. Flaherty may deliver a low-key budget speech focused on slashing whatever remains of the federal deficit, but don’t think that’s the end of it. Watch for the omnibus. Don’t miss it.


Globe: Jim Flaherty might table his annual budget during the Sochi Olympics.

Post: Former Miss Universe Monica Spear was murdered in Venezuela this week.

Star: Canada wants to lure American tech giants to servers north of the border.

Citizen: Canada’s the second-safest country in the world to store nuclear material.

CBC: Several car buyers say TD fooled them into paying higher interest rates.

CTV: A female soldier died of suicide on Christmas Day, on a highway in Alberta.

NNW: Nigel Wright could avoid criminal charges for his role in the Wright-Duffy affair.


Near: Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions will rise after 2020, unless the feds take action.

Far: China will move to ban its 300 million smokers from lighting up in public places this year.


Jim Flaherty’s Olympic budget

  1. I’m sure Canadians are able to understand more than one media story at a time….although offhand I don’t know anybody who actually watches the Olympics.

    • Totally agree with you this time Emily. Personally during this time of economic restraint with federal budgeting, I think funding Olympic athletes should receive zero funding.

      • Well we can’t fund or not fund depending on passing phases…..we are either in or out of the olympics.

        • Being out of the Olympics wouldn’t bother me at all.

          • It would if you were an athlete, or the parent of one, after all the years spent training and the money it cost.

            And the purpose of the Olympics….to compete on the playing field rather than on the battlefield is a good one.

          • Then let the parents pay, not the gov’t. The Olympics didn’t stop two world wars and they were used as a political football during the Cold War. These games have cost the Russians $57B that could have been spent on improving the lives of the Russian people instead of lining the pockets of the Russian mafia.

          • It’s not for individuals….it’s country against country.

            Pity you’re not this cheap when it comes to war.

          • Oh I don’t know about that since I’ve participated in the “wars” Canada has contributed to since 1990.

          • The money would have been better spent on sports.

    • I have to admit, I wont be watching, and I didn’t watch the summer games. I think Canada is going to flounder in these Olympics, like they did in the summer games.

    • Yes, Canadians are able to understand more than one media story at a time. Did you read the rest of the post?

      • Ahhh you do listen. Good. Stop using cliches then.

    • Canada’s unionized journos are always looking for a reason to not write stories, they prefer to stand around with thumbs up their bums and minds in neutral.

      • That might explain why you feel compelled to fill the gap with your entertaining cut and paste dog and pony show.

      • I see you’ve graduated from regurgitating completely irrelevant quotes from Bartlett’s to issuing gratuitous, completely unfounded, drive-by smears of an entire profession.

      • Well it’s aggravating when they tell us how sad it is we are so easily conned, and how they can’t tell us more than one item at a time, and how we’ll never notice other things going on…..and lay on the cliches.

  2. And to think the MSM still believes this bunch of carpetbaggers, although I can understand that some of the MSM has to hold their noses when printing crap like this. Why aren’t the government turning over the real set of books to explain this new found surplus.

  3. “Jim Flaherty might table his annual budget during the Sochi Olympics.”

    I shouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t AT the Sochi Olympics…centre ice in fact.

  4. A political “Where’s Waldo”. The “budget” in an omnibus bill.

  5. Canadians are easily duped. Harper has us figured out to the dot. Come 2015, Harper will still be in government, albeit a minority, unless the NDP and Liberals can cooperate to avoid splitting the progressive vote. It is time for the two parties to put national interests ahead of party’s interests. Show the country that they care about national interests first.

    • Not going to happen – each has said they will WIN on their own. Which only means Harper gets another run. I personally wish they were both a little smarter.