Jennifer Robson

Stuff Joe Oliver says

Here's how the numbers stack up against some of Joe Oliver's soundbites from his recent speech on balanced budgets



Five years ago, Justin Halpern started a Twitter account based on quotes from his dad. Some of the quotes were weird. Some were disarming. Some were really funny.

I know Finance Minister Joe Oliver hasn’t been hailed as the government’s best communicator. I kind of think there’s something about his deadpan delivery…  Also, he hasn’t been unwilling to make a grandiloquent statement for the government.

Minister Oliver recently used a speech in front of a Toronto business crowd to announce new balanced budget legislation. You can read about it here, here, and here.

Minister Oliver used the speech to say a lot of things. Inspired by Halpern, here I offer a some pull-quotes from the minister’s speech (which you can read in its entirety here). I also offer a few charts to look at with the quotes.

Decide for yourself what you see.


“Between 1969 and 1979, federal spending tripled”

Figure 1: Federal total program spending and total federal spending, FY 1968-69 to FY 1978-79


Figure 2: Federal total program spending and total federal spending, FY 1966-67 to FY 2013-14 (% of GDP)


“The personal federal tax burden is at its lowest in over 50 years.”

 Figure 3: Federal revenues from personal income taxes, as a % of GDP


Figure 4: Federal revenues from personal income taxes as a share of total federal revenues.


“Chrétien responded to a deficit crisis by hiking taxes.”

Figure 5: Federal personal income tax structure, selected years, 1985 to 2014.


“[Our predecessors in office introduced] some of the biggest tax hikes in Canada’s history, accompanied by unprecedented cuts to programs and transfers.”

Figure 6: Provincial own source and transfer revenues (% of GDP)


“Services like public health care, at the core of what it means to be Canadian, faced a terrible crisis.”

Figure 7: Selected health care indicators, 1990s to present