Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Ralph Goodale now, explaining the suddenly-reduced surplus:
Goodale said he had no other option...

"If you look at the factors that we had to take into account at the end of the year, they were factors that were absolutely compelling and unavoidable," he said.

Billions were set aside to settle an offshore energy dispute in Atlantic Canada, aid for cattle producers hurt by mad cow and environment problems at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. which all had to be dealt with from last year's revenues, Goodale said.

Ralph Goodale this spring, answering a question on why the budget should be allowed to pass:
Mr. Speaker, this deal is hugely important to Newfoundland and Labrador and to Nova Scotia. The two premiers of those provinces have told me how very important it is for the opposition to support the government on this measure and get this passed at the earliest possible moment.

The measure is before the House at this very moment. It is called the budget, and it can be passed today.

And sure enough, there it is in part 12 of bill C-43. From the bill's official summary:
Part 12 enacts the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador Additional Fiscal Equalization Offset Payments Act. The legislation will implement the arrangements of February 14, 2005 reached with Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia on offshore revenues.

Now, I'm sympathetic to the fact that some factors may legitimately change a government's financial situation. And the other two factors cited probably qualify (though they should at least have been on the radar at the start of the budgeting process).

But the Atlantic accord was agreed to in February and included as part of the budget in Parliament. It's not plausible for Goodale to now claim that one of the central features of the Liberals' budget managed to turn into an unexpected, "last minute" expense which blew a hole in a well-planned federal surplus. Rather than being a reasonable explanation, that's what's known as a "blatant lie".

This will be particularly egregious if the claim is used as a rationale to try to break the terms of the NDP budget deal. And from the article, it isn't clear whether the remaining surplus takes the deal into account or will serve to undermine the NDP's priorities. But regardless of the impact on C-48, Goodale's duplicity demands some serious attention when Parliament goes back to work next week.

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