National Newswatch

Tiny Deficit No Big Deal

Mar 27 2019 — C. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries — The 2018 Economic and Fiscal Fall Update together with Budget 2019 represent the beginning of the 2019 Liberal election platform. It is also the beginning of a major headache for the “deficit elimination” Conservatives. The Harper government, after all, failed to eliminate the deficit over eight years, despite cutting spending in successive budgets. What would […]

Ford’s Deficit (Mis) Calculations

Sep 27 2018 — C. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries — Following the conclusion of the Independent Financial Commission that Ontario’s deficit in 2018-19 could balloon to $15 billion, Premier Ford immediately announced that he would form a special committee of MPPs to further examine the province’s past spending and accounting practices.  He promised with great bravado that he would hold the Liberal government to account […]

Ford’s Budget Dilemna

Sep 17 2018 — C. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries — In the lead up to Ontario’s recent election, the Liberals and the NDP fully costed their election promises on a year-by-year basis. They also provided forecasts of the implied deficits. The Conservatives did neither, stating only that any “deficit would be eliminated over a reasonable period”. Voters should simply “trust” them to do a better […]

Reckless Budget Planning

Jun 2 2018 — C. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries — All three political parties are making expensive promises future generations will have to pay for. The Liberals and the NDP to their credit have put out fully costed policy platforms. The Conservatives have not done so. Based on published data, this is what we know so far.  The starting point for the budget calculations of […]

Criticisms of Changes to Main Estimates by the Opposition Parties and the PBO Are Unfounded

May 4 2018 — C. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries — Recently, changes to the Main Estimates process have come under attack by the federal Opposition parties as well as by both the current and former Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). The criticisms primarily center on the establishment of a new Budget Implementation Vote (BIV) of $7.0 billion for 2018-19, relating to the 247 spending initiatives proposed […]

There is a fiscal crisis confronting Mr. Morneau

Apr 12 2018 — C. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries — There has been lots of hand wringing by fiscal conservatives over the failure of the 2018 federal budget to commit to eliminating the deficit by a fixed date. This, despite the fact that the federal deficit will be less than 0.5% of GDP and the ratio of debt to GDP (the debt burden) will fall […]

Federal “Market Debt” First Exceeded $1 Trillion Six Years Ago Under the Harper Government

Mar 31 2018 — C. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries — The print and TV media recently picked up on a statement in the 2018 Budget that the federal government’s “market” debt would exceed $1 trillion.  They reported this as the tipping point for federal finances, as if the government had hit the proverbial “fiscal wall”. The former Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, observed, “the $1 […]

Planning the 2018 budget

Jan 15 2018 — C. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries — By now the Finance Minister should be close to putting the “finishing touches” on his 2018 budget. He recently presented his updated economic and fiscal outlook to the Cabinet in London, Ontario  and he has finalized his own budget consultations and received the budget recommendations of the House Finance Committee.  Putting “finishing touches” on a […]

Tax Reform Is Never Easy

Oct 12 2017 — C. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries — Finance Minister Bill Morneau did not have a very good summer. So far the fall has also not been good to the Finance Minister and, unfortunately, it is unlikely that the months leading up to the 2018 budget will get any better for him. He has only himself, or perhaps his department, to blame for […]