Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dear Canada, you're not as rich as you think

Earlier today the Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, let us know that (a) we will be in deficit longer than expected and (b) that our deficits are going to be much higher than expected. Not to worry, as there is a plan (not shared) to get us out. That plan will apparently not involve cuts to individual transfers (OAP, for example) or higher taxes.

So what will it involve? That old favourite, cuts to government spending. Now government spending as been increasing for some time and there are big ticket bills yet to come (e.g. a new health care accord with the provinces). So what is left that hasn't been looked at through several years of various spending reviews? And what savings are truly out there without introducing cuts to services?

This is the sort of topic that I hope the other parties will pursue. In the same way they will be challenged (accused?) on tax increases, they should be challenging the government on where it wants to cut spending.

The size of the deficit presents an opportunity for parties to present their views on how to address it. As voters, we should take the time to consider these different plans as, like it or not, deficits will be with us for some time. This should be part of our public discourse over the foreseeable future. We'll see.

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