Balanced budget legislation?
That’s so 2001. Just ask the B.C. Liberals.
The federal Conservative government’s throne speech this week included a promise to ban
budget deficits in the future through legislation. This comes at a time when the federal deficit is at nearly $19 billion annually.
The Conservatives may have talked about fiscal responsibility, but have added nearly $170 billion to our debt since the 2008 recession.
More than a decade ago, when the B.C. Liberals took power, the province brought in balanced budget legislation. It was part of the election agenda that swept the party into power, winning all but two seats.
But British Columbians found out the legislation lasted only as long as it was convenient for government. In 2009, in the wake of what was dubbed the Great Recession, the B.C. Liberal government amended the legislation to allow deficits.
Only this year is the province again expected to be in the black, albeit narrowly.
Kamloops MP Cathy McLeod explained to The Daily News the new federal law foresees allowing wiggle room. The budget would be balanced during what the government called “normal economic times” but would allow deficits during downturns.
This is what governments ought to do. But the Conservatives are taking good practice and putting it into law, a fuzzy law.
In reality, the move is a political ploy being used to give credentials to a federal government with poor credibility on matters of balancing budgets.
The former Liberal government under Finance Minister Paul Martin began to change the way we think about budgets in 1997 by banishing deficits in the real world, not through phoney legislation.
The Conservatives should focus on actually balancing the books rather than trying to shore up strained credibility on money matters.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.