The austerity that dare not speak its name

The Finance Minister might be ready to cut some departmental budgets by more than 10%, but he’s not ready to say this has anything to do with “austerity.”

As he did last week, Flaherty bristled at the suggestion he is preparing to table a so-called “austerity budget” that will slash departmental spending beyond the previously announced $4 billion. Instead, Flaherty said he will seek to strike a balance between the need to restrain spending while at the same time supporting growth.

“The budget is about economic growth and jobs,” he said. “If you want to see an austerity budget go to the United Kingdom … with hundreds of thousands of people being laid off. That’s not Canada. Our purpose is to ensure that we have a balanced budget in the medium term and that we have long-term stable, solid fiscal realities.”

Indeed, one wonders if the Conservatives have decided to avoid the a-word altogether. A search of Hansard shows just two Conservative MPs have uttered the word in the last three years and both of those (Cathy McLeod and James Rajotte) did so to refute the suggestion that the government was engaged in any such thing.