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Dear Jim… (the Liberals write the Finance Minister a letter).

An interesting piece of email dropped into my mailbox this AM.  In advance of an apparent meeting with him today, John Mccallum and Scott Brison released an open letter they have written to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty,  which was sent to him on Friday, giving some hints as to what they’re looking for in the January Budget.

The first thing that’s apparent is they’re demanding that Flaherty produce “real” budgetary #’s, rather then the ones everyone felt were being fudged in the now infamous economic update:

If the Liberal Party is to be actively involved in the budget process, the first thing the Liberal Caucus and all Canadians need to know is the true state of the government’s books. Meaningful discussion and input requires honest budgetary numbers. The government’s recent Economic and Fiscal Statement has presented many questions for which we need answers in order to proceed further.  Few economists believe the numbers in the Statement. In particular, growth forecasts are already much worse than when the document was written. Accordingly, we would like to see updated economic forecasts and their implications for the fiscal plan as well as a detailed reconciliation of national and public accounts projections.

Secondly, they’re looking for what government assets exactly the Conservatives are proposing to sell:

We would also like to see substantially more detail on the government’s plan to generate savings of $10.1 billion over five years from the Strategic Review exercise and the Corporate Asset Reviews. We do not consider it fiscally prudent or credible to break generally accepted accounting principles and book asset sales before the sales have occurred. We also question the logic of selling government assets in a buyers’ market. With these concerns in mind, we require a detailed plan of which non-financial assets the government plans to sell and at what price.  If this information is not available, we request that you remove the Corporate Asset Management Review from the Government of Canada’s fiscal framework.

Next, some INDEPENDENT financial accountability/auditing is asked for:

…we would like you to provide us with the information requested of your Deputy Minister by the Parliamentary Budget Officer on December 1, 2008 and December 3, 2008. We also request a full briefing from senior Finance Canada officials at which the Parliamentary Budget Officer would be allowed to attend.

Lastly, we again see what the Liberals are looking for in this Budget and specifically any stimulus plan:

The Liberal Caucus supports the implementation of an economic stimulus package over the next two years that would make sensible investments in infrastructure, key industries (like manufacturing, forestry and automotive), housing, and skills training. If we are to enter into greater detail on this issue, we need to know more about the scale and composition of the fiscal stimulus you are preparing for Budget 2009. More specifically, what scale of economic stimulus are you considering, and over what timeframe? And what specific measures are you considering in terms of new infrastructure investment, modifications to employment insurance and new tax measures?

That list doesn’t really appear much different then the one the Liberal/NDP coalition produced, so its just a reiteration of what was produced a couple of weeks ago.  They’re giving Mr. Flaherty until the 19th of December to produce the information they’ve requested. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Flaherty complies with those requests, and how the meeting between the 3 of them go today. If there is a reluctance on Flaherty’s part to do so (or Harper’s, since if one were to read the first part of this article, it would suggest Flaherty is merely there passing along the wishes of his boss, and really isn’t a true Finance Minister), then one might question just how serious the Conservatives are going to be in addressing these concerns in the January Budget.


3 comments to Dear Jim… (the Liberals write the Finance Minister a letter).

  • rolltide


    There will be a stimulus.
    I cannot see the Liberals re-join a coalition that does not recognise Quebecers as Canadians. It is unbelievable that they would sign this.
    They were willing to sign away their federalist soul for a taste of power.

  • janfromthebruce

    Well Mark, in some ways the deficit and overspending by the Harper cons can already be pinned on the Liberals, as the libs abstained or didn’t show up and vote down their previous budgets, so when they were giving the money away, the libs let them. Yes, I know that is harsh but factual.
    I agree, Harper will pin the “further deficit” on a majority who “made him do it,” so if the majority are going to end up wearing it, we’d be better off in govt, so we get the good optics of responding to Canadians needs and wants, rather than Harper getting the glory.

  • So goes the dance.

    Harper wants to peg this deficit on someone, anyone, but himself. What are we in for? Lies and attack ads? Or is he going to keep the numbers hidden, claim the Libs are part of a “dysfunctional parliament” and that there’s a deficit because he was cornered by an “undemocratic” majority and forced to run one?

    Oh, sorry. He’ll likely do both.

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