It’s been an interesting week if not due to a record number of Senators appointed (including Fabian Manning – a Conservative MP defeated in the recent election and Michel Rivard – a former Quebec MNA and Parti Quebecois who also ran as Canadian Alliance who wont be thinking too hard about Quebec separation now that he has a salary to age 75), $4 billion worth of public loans for the auto industry, and the Finance Minister naming an advisory council to advise him on an economic plan.
Not that Toronto is much of a stranger to a Board of Directors meeting but federal politics hits close to home again today with Mr. Flaherty’s council members meeting here in the city. The Board members read like a big business all-star team. The problem is this measure gain expert opinion is too little and too late. If these high profile respected business minds were already on speed dial, they were likely already considered respected council and resources.
Sad that Mr. Flaherty refused to listen to prominent economists from the Centre of Policy Alternatives or to the Independent Budget Officer in the first place. Public image was key so PR came before the public’s interest. Considering the passing of the Accountability Act was meant to put “truth in budgeting” and make ruling government’s more accountable for their actions is more than a bit ironic. There have been no federal deficits in over a decade and truth in budgeting has not come more into question than in recent days! Underestimating how well the economy is doing and posting surpluses is far less suspect. Underestimating a crisis, cutting government resources, selling assets off and still failing to break even is way too reminiscent of a Mr. Flaherty at Queen’s Park. The advisory council (scapegoat?) perhaps will abate anger over inaction and the momentum of the proposed coalition.
Anxious to see what the $1 Board accomplishes. The $2 billion plus worth of assets Flaherty has tabled to sell in the future have not been named or segregated out of his forecasts. Very creative accounting. These proceeds will hardly put a dent in a $30 billion deficit so why further cripple a government with limited resources? It hardly makes business sense to sell assets in a severaly depressed market so I would hope the council would push for scratching that plan. As for The Independent Budget Officer? He is getting his budget cut by a third. So Kevin Page has been rewarded for his Parliamentary Budget reports, especially the one that blew the whistle on the Conservative’s policy that would cause a deficit (despite advertising paid for to dispel any of these “rumours”). Happy Holidays, hoping for the best in the New Year.