Budget day and everything after

Our annual test of parliamentary democracy

The Star attaches some numbers to the budget’s big promises and the Globe previews the Finance Minister’s signature commitment to cheaper hockey gear. Earlier this week, Scott Clark and Peter DeVries advised caution and scrutiny.

The Government is conditioning everyone to expect very little in the budget. Our experience is that when a government does this, you should start to be concerned with the fine print in the budget. Look what happened with the 2012 budget. The actual budget was vague, obtuse, and lacked substance. Then came the budget Omnibus Bill. A two part Omnibus Bill with over 1000 pages, which included legislative changes, only remotely referred to in the budget or not at all. Hopefully, this will not happen again, but the reality now is that the budget runs from the day of delivery (March 21st this year) to the tabling and passing of the budget bills by June 30. Minister Flaherty may deliver his budget March 21st but we may not know what is actually in it until he tables the budget omnibus bill(s). The media should be reading budget documents a lot more carefully than in the past. They should take advantage of Finance and Treasury Board officials and other government officials in the budget lock-up to explain “vague” drafting in the budget.

As I wrote for our preview, the budget has become an annual test of parliamentary democracy.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.