What to expect when you're expecting a budget - Macleans.ca

What to expect when you’re expecting a budget


The Canadian Press says the Harper government will cut $7 billion from discretionary spending. But the Conservatives won’t be saying how. At least not yet.

Flaherty will not detail how the cuts will be implemented in the budget, but the sources say most of the reductions will be front-loaded to realize the biggest savings.

Indeed, the Star says silence is the order of the next few days.

Some government departments have been told to throw a 48-hour cone of silence over the impact on federal jobs and programs from spending reductions announced Thursday, officials say.

The budget will apparently promise to overhaul environmental regulations. Those changes won’t be detailed until later, but the legislative amendments will be rolled into the budget bill.

The package will include legislative amendments that are expected to be part of the government’s overall budget implementation act – a prospect that is raising concerns among opposition MPs and environmentalists that the Conservatives intend to ram through the changes with little debate.

The one thing we can know for sure: Jim Flaherty is getting new shoes.


What to expect when you’re expecting a budget

  1. We’ll probably have to guess at MOST of the budget.

    • Or just be patient.

      A budget is a blue print. Its only a couple hundred pages.

      Its followed over the year by actual legislation to enact all the measures involved. Everything will be revealed in the fullness of time.

      •  Mmm no, most of the economy depends on the budget being absolutely clear, not an exercise in stealth.

        • “most of the economy depends” haha no! What tripe.

          Health, education, fisheries, finance, oil and natural gas, mining – in fact most of the economy could care less about Ottawa tinkering with its social programs year after year.

          The corporate tax rate reduction schedule was done over five years. This government doesn’t do surprises.

          Its only Ottawa ‘crats waiting with baited breath. The real economy could care less.

          •  Decision makers in all those areas and more, have to know what to base their decisions on…..as do foreign investors.

          • The budget always includes top line information about growth projections, over all spending, the debt/deficit position, etc.

            If changes to sectoral regulation is hinted at then yes, decision makers will wait several months to see what happens.

            Ex. In the telecom sector everybody is waiting to see what the rules are going to be going forward for foriegn ownership and the wireless spectrum auction.

            But NOBODY and I mean NOBODY cares about how many ‘crats are going to lose their jobs or if OAS is going to be tweaked.

          •  @yahoo-K5XAITELSHKETDEDYIH6U5AF54:disqus

            Actually many people care, and for excellent reasons….way beyond what you cutely like to term….. ‘crats.

          • We all care, its very interesting.

            But sorry your comment that this is life and death and the economy “depends” on knowing every detail of Ottawa’s social spending is utter tripe.

          •  @yahoo-K5XAITELSHKETDEDYIH6U5AF54:disqus

            Since I didn’t make any such comment, your post is irrelevant

  2. Oh good. Everybody loves games. Especially guessing games.
    We can only hope Irish Jim gives his budget speech as a kind
    of Charades.

  3. Another opportunity to reflect back on the good ole days when, out of concern the impact of leaks might have on the capital markets, ministries of finance went to great lengths (publishing the budget documents in secure facilities, financial analysts being given the documents but then “locked up” until the budget was tabled, etc.) to ensure details of a budget weren’t released until the minister stood in the chamber to table the budget bill.

    Now this attempt to maintain the integrity of the process is criticized and denigrated as “refusals to disclose” and “cones of silence”.  I don’t recall learning much about Paul Martin’s budgets in advance, nor that there was any criticism of his failure to leak details in advance.  Wonder why the change?

    • This comment was deleted.

      • Your shtick is getting old, old bean

    •  It was kept quiet years ago until the stock market closed that day.

      Stock markets around the world mean there is no longer any such time.

      And letting it out in bits and pieces ahead of time blunts it’s effect anyway.

    • Uh. The cone of silence is about the 48 hours *after* the budget is released.. ie.. not during the time when everybody’s looking for information about what the document means.

      That is new — and decidedly not transparent.

      • No its not.

        The roll out of cuts has always been handled from a communications perspective. McGuinty is doing this. Martin did this.

        We’re talking about departments doing supplementary briefings about the impact of the budget on their activities.

        Clearly the gov’t likes the idea of this being done on a saturday morning.

        Burying bad news on a weekend is standard operating procedure for the Obama administration.

        • Well, if it’s not new, this is the first time I’ve heard that government departments have been told to keep silent ahead of time — and that includes previous conservative governments.

          I dunno what the hell your red herring about an administration in another country has to do with our budget, however.

          • Every government everywhere controls the timing of the release of information.

            This is not some evil new way for the Conservatives to keep you in the dark.

          • So if everybody jumped off a bridge is it the right thing to do?
            Seriously, appeal to the masses is the best you’ve got?

            Wasn’t the initial pitch from these guys that they would not be the same as everybody else?

      • Individual ministers will still need to come before committee and answer questions about their budgets too you know.

        That’s the people’s house. That’s transparency.

        • Unless the committees goes in camera, which is becoming a standard procedure.

          • I’m calling BS – when was the last time a parliamentary committee discussing a budget measure went in camera?

          • Igarvin was kind enough to point you to the evidence on Finance; my favourite though has to be Procedure and House Affairs: 


            That’s what the people’s house has become under this majority government. We are moving towards a secret government operating with the agreement of a secret parliament, the antithesis of a free and democratic country.

          • @LoraineLamontagne:disqus 

            Wow! Seven consecutive meetings held in-camera and all of them concerned with the report of the Elections Commissioner for the 40th General Election. Two months worth of meetings & not one word is available to the citizens of Canada. 

          • Take 3 more minutes and cite examples where a FINA committee meeting to consider a provision of a yet-to-be-enacted federal budget they were to issue a report on was heard entirely in camera.

            FINA meets in camera when its agenda includes private financial matters, which cannot be disclosed – not because of the evil Harper, but because of privacy laws.

          • Igarvin and LL seem to be confused. GWF was referring to ”  a budget measure “, not Pre-budget consultations.

            Budget measures are soon to be law and will be discussed in public. Pre-budget consultations sometimes need to be discussed in camera.

          • @GreatWallsofFire:disqus  says “
            cite examples where a FINA committee meeting to consider a provision of a yet-to-be-enacted federal budget they were to issue a report on was heard entirely in camera. 
            … held on the third Tuesday of a month, the month with no more than 5 letters, during the full moon, with at least 3 Catholics and 2 Jews present, and no-one wearing a tie… and when it was snowing. C’mon big mouth. Put your money where your mouth is…

          • @9e9b70cd4307992ae101495245180e64:disqus 

            I love when “Guests” show up to offer clarifications and qualifications that aren’t even being put forward by the original poster. Kinda warms the heart like watching a stranger offer assistance to another stranger who’s tripped and fallen in the street. 

          • Igarvin appears to be not only confused but seems to have an anger problem. Settle down and take a break.

          • @9e9b70cd4307992ae101495245180e64:disqus 

            While I’m always willing to cop to confusion, I think you must be “reading-in” the anger. I’m in a surprisingly good mood today considering it’s a Wednesday, overcast, and rather dreary…. Gee, now I’m talking myself out of a good mood. Thanks a lot, Guest49, you rotten SOB. #$*#!!

            But seriously, I understand that you think I’m confused but I’m really not. You think that my citation was responding to what GWF actually said rather than what he really meant (or what you would have said in his position). And you might be right. But it’s clear from his subsequent response (which I then parodied) that no citation would satisfy him because he’s obviously willing to split hairs down to the sub-atomic level. Well, I am not. The Conservatives will go in-camera at the drop of the proverbial hat and it borders on the absurd to argue that they hold budget measures to a loftier standard then anything else. Their record  – and it is a lengthy record – says otherwise.

          •  @Igarvin:disqus actually there is a HUGE difference between a pre-budget consultation (basically just a report Flaherty glances over) and when the actual ministers go before committee to testify about things like their supplimentary budget requests.

      • I stand corrected – the 48 hours is post-budget.  It’s clearly an attempt to delay at least some of the expected weeping and gnashing and grinding of teeth over what everyone expects will be a tough budget until a slow news cycle.

        And what exactly is your issue with that?  The 48 hour measure may succeed in delaying some of the vitriolic response, but there’ll still be plenty offered up Thursday p.m to Saturday.  I’m also not sure how “transparency” figures into it, unless you consider any attempt by a government to control in any way what’s likely to be an unpopular message an affront to “transparency”.

        • Think really hard and you might understand the conflict between transparency and message control.

          • There is no conflict as long as everything is revealed in the fullness of time.

            Transparency doesn’t mean gov’ts just dump all the info as it becomes available out to the public without context or comment.

          • Nor does it mean they hide information when people ask for it.

  4. The hard working Canadian  will want to see a real cut to MPs lucrative salaries ,pensions and expenses along with civil service reduction and pension changes including the removal of accumulation of holiday time and contracts to retirees who never even change offices at retirement. We also expect to see the CBC wings clipped by about 20% .We will want to see Special Interest Groups funding eliminated. Without some of these changes the Conservatives will prove to be as hypocritical as the opposition.

    •  Most Canadians are interested in growth and jobs, not punishment.

      • Great. Start spending all the money wasted on Ottawa ‘crats and the CBC on job creating mega infrastructure projects.

        •  DO stop playing with words…..’crats’ are experienced project managers, and we need them.

          • We “need” them for what exactly ? Fire ’em all and hire some people who do actual work to repair all the crumbling bridges in Canada.

          •  This is the Con view, that only physical work is ‘real’ work.

            Guess where that leaves Harper.

        • So fire people to hire people?

          Because that’s got no overhead at all, is that it?

  5. So they pushed back the budget date so that they could deliver an outline of what they might do, sometime down the road, maybe.

    Love that stable, solid, majority governance.  

    • What makes you think the budget will contain nothing more than “…what they might do, sometime down the road, maybe”, rather than the typical voluminous package of specific measures, notices of ways and means motions and explanatory notes?

      Love that glib, unthinking, reactionary anti-Harper poster.

      • Are you even aware of what we’re talking about? The Conservatives are planning to deliver a “Budget” that contains no specifics on how they are going to achieve the targets they are announcing. It’s precisely the lack of specific measures that’s the issue. 

        You did read the article under discussion, right? This part? “Flaherty will not detail how the cuts will be implemented in the budget.”  That’s actually the opposite of a voluminous  package of specific measures. 

        • And the source for this nugget is….who exactly?  Flaherty himself?

          I grow weary of responding to your baseless knee jerk verbal ejaculations.  Let’s you and I make a gentlewoman’s bet:  if Flaherty’s budget does, in fact, detail “how the cuts will be implemented”, you agree to take a week off from posting and I’ll do the same if they don’t.

          • If you’re weary, take a break. Don’t try to enlist me as your co-dependant.  

            I’m afraid I’ll have to decline your rather odd unilateral offer to stop posting for a week. You don’t need my permission or my encouragement to stop posting if that’s what you want to do. Nor do you need my permission or encouragement to stop reading my posts. Exercise one of your few remaining freedoms. 


        • The budget is always and has always been an overview. It’ll show where the savings are. IE. which departments are spending less.

          What it won’t show is the actual department budgets.  

          Individual ministers are responsible for reporting about their individual ministries.

          At which time they’ll detail what cuts have been made and where specifically.

          That happens later. There is a process. There is no story here. Get over it. 

  6. So I see that Maclean’s is of the same political stripe as the National Post… Hmmm…. Why do you only have comments from the same old national policy think-tanks and bank officials? Where are the comments from groups concerned for the interests of children and seniors and students and why do you only represent the views of corporations?

  7. Thwim wrote:

    “Think really hard and you might understand the conflict between transparency and message control.”

    Nope, can’t think of the conflict – controlling the message doesn’t mean one isn’t being transparent, especially when it comes to bad news.  I like to think that the policemen who show up at the door bearing bad news understand this very well.

    Here’s one for you – what lack of transparency exists with respect to a message that is in the form of 500+ pages of highly detailed documents presented in front of a national TV audience, the contents of which are immediately available to all media and every citizen with internet access?  And where the person presenting the message will then spend the next 48 hours in hour after hour after hour of press conferences and interviews?

    • Actually, when you’re government, that’s exactly what it means. It means allowing the public to see the information when it wants to see the information, warts and all.

      500 pages of self-aggrandizing crap isn’t transparency.

      • “500 pages of self-aggrandizing crap isn’t transparency.”
        My apologies – I’d assumed you’d actually read one.  Can’t say I’ve ever heard notices of ways and means motions and explanatory notes for amendments to tax statutes described as “self-aggrandizing” before.