I do not know why critics find the strategy baffling. Conservatives will do all they can to further their own interests. If this involves departure from parliamentary tradition this makes no difference. The Conservatives did this in getting parliament prorogued to avoid a confidence vote. Now they are releasing bits and pieces of the upcoming budget hoping to buy support or prepare people for what is coming even though budget information particularly details are usually kept secret until the budget is actually tabled. Harper never gives up testing the opposition. He also is surely testing the patience of Canadians who surely will wake up one day to see him for the completely manipulative and untrustworthy leader that he is.
This is from the National Post.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Budget strategy baffles critics
Tories reveal details normally kept secret
James Cowan and David Akin, National Post; Canwest News Service; Canwest News Service Published: Saturday, January 24, 2009
Michael Ignatieff yesterday chastised the Prime Minister's Office for revealing the size of Canada's expected deficit, just as the Conservative government made a string of announcements revealing further details of next week's federal budget.
The Liberal leader said it was "irresponsible" for Stephen Harper's staff to disclose budget information days before the document is released.
"I asked Mr. Harper not to play games like that," Mr. Ignatieff said during a speech in Toronto. "I told him to put the facts and figures on the table, not let them slip out at his convenience. But the guy can't help himself. He thinks it is all some kind of game."
A Conservative official told reporters on Thursday that the upcoming budget would project a $64-billion deficit over the next two years. The early disclosure will prove costly to the Canadian economy, according to Mr. Ignatieff.
"I think it was at the edge of violating budget secrecy," he told reporters after his speech. "It concerned me. It had market impact. I'm a traditionalist about these things. I don't think you let the numbers out before you've read the budget to the people in the House of Commons."
But as Mr. Ignatieff delivered his admonishments, the Conservatives continued with their pre-budget announcements. In an interview on the Global Television program Focus Ontario scheduled to air today, Mr. Harper said the budget will include some "modest" tax measures.
In Edmonton, Gerry Ritz, the Agri-culture Minister, promised $550-million in new spending for farmers. In Sydney, N. S., Lisa Raitt, the Minister of Natural Resources, told a chamber of commerce meeting that the budget would offer $150-million for the forestry sector. In Vancouver, Leona Aglukkaq, the Health Minister, said a new Northern Canada economic development agency would have a budget of $10-million a year. And in Toronto, Diane Finley, the Human Resources Minister, said the federal government would establish a new economic development agency for southern Ontario. While Ms. Finley did not reveal how much the new agency would cost, Canwest News Service has learned it will receive $250-million annually to pump into job creation projects in that part of the country.
There were also reports yesterday of a $1-billion fund for rural, remote or one-industry towns that need financial help to retrain workers.
The Conservatives' decision to reveal budgetary measures before the document is officially released follows a precedent started by Paul Martin when he was Minister of Finance in the previous Liberal government, according to David Docherty, a political scientist at Wilfrid Laurier University.
"[Mr. Martin] would give general, pre-budget senses of where things were going -- there will be cuts here or spending there," Mr. Docherty said. "He was the first to lift the veil and say, 'As long as what we're doing doesn't favour one company over another, or one sector over another, we're fine.' "
Mr. Martin's pronouncements were never as specific as those being made by the current Conservative government, Mr. Docherty said. It is particularly troubling these spending announcements are being made while the House of Commons is prorogued, he added.
"There is no legislature currently sitting and now they're making specific announcements of what they're going to do -- it's an odd one," he said.
Despite the numerous hints at the budget's contents, Mr. Ignatieff told reporters he would not speculate on whether his party will support it until he has seen the document. "What I'm going to look at is the thing in cold type. When I've seen the thing in cold type, I will read the thing from the first page to the last," he said.
However, he told his audience in Toronto that it was not his job to "let Mr. Harper skate by with a passing grade."
Mr. Harper yesterday rejected concerns about his government's plan to run a $34-billion next year and $30-billion the year after that.
"People aren't concerned about the balance sheet of the government," Mr. Harper said in his interview with Global Television.
"They are concerned about their jobs. They're concerned about the future of their businesses. And people are concerned that the government do something to sustain economic activity, and we have to run a deficit to do that."
Ottawa also handed out money for a raft of smaller-ticket items yesterday, ranging from $52-million for several research and development projects in Atlantic Canada, to $1.5-million to refurbish a horse racetrack in Summerside, P. E. I. to $6,400 for a music festival organized by the Medicine Hat (Alta.) Folk Music Club.
SPREADING IT AROUND
The Conservative government made a raft of spending announcements yesterday, including: - a $1-billion fund to be available mostly for rural, remote or one-industry towns that need financial help to retrain workers. - a $500-million Agricultural Flexibility Plan to help farmers develop new technologies and to promote environmental sustainability. - $50-million to improve slaughterhouse capacity. - $150-million in new program spending for the forestry sector. Of that, $100-million will be set aside to help industry develop new products and use new technology, while $50-million will be used to promote Canadian forest products to customers around the world. - The government also announced the creation of two new regional economic development agencies, one for southern Ontario and one for northern Canada. The new Northern Canada economic development agency will have a budget of $10-million a year. In Toronto, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley did not say how much the new southern Ontario economic development agency would get, but Canwest News Service has learned that it could be as much as $250-million a year. - Ottawa also handed out money for a number of smaller-ticket items, ranging from $52-million for several research and development projects in Atlantic Canada, to $1.5-million to refurbish a horse racetrack in Summerside, P. E. I. to $6,400 for a music festival organized by the Medicine Hat (Alta.) Folk Music Club.
© 2008 The National Post Company. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication strictly prohibited.