Tuesday February 11, 2014

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday February 11, 2014

Flaherty picks middle of Olympics for date of federal budget

The Conservative government will deliver an earlier-than-normal February budget in an effort to recapture the policy agenda and set the stage for a good-news pre-election budget in 2015.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced Monday afternoon that he will deliver his 2014 budget on Tuesday, Feb. 11, as he continued to play down expectations that it will include major new spending or tax cuts. The timing means the budget will be tabled during the Sochi Olympic Games, leading to opposition criticism that the Conservatives are trying to hide a “do-nothing” budget.

Conservatives stress that a low-key budget this year helps the government move toward its primary political goal, which is to announce a surplus for 2015 that is big enough to accommodate new spending and tax cuts ahead of the next election.

“There will be room for more money in the Government of Canada in the next several years because we’ve been careful,” Mr. Flaherty told reporters earlier in the day Monday. “We’ll have room to move on various issues.”

The Finance Minister repeated his claim that there is “no doubt” the budget will return to balance in the 2015-16 fiscal year and declined to answer when asked whether a surplus might appear one year early. Some private-sector economists have said that a balanced budget in 2014-15 is possible, depending on how the economy performs.

Over the past year, the Conservative government has made several attempts to reset its agenda and move attention away from the continuing Senate scandal. Moves such as a cabinet shuffle last July, a Throne Speech in October and a major trade deal with the European Union all failed to divert the public’s attention. (Source: Globe & Mail) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/flaherty-sets-date-for-federal-budget/article16517950/