Wednesday November 7, 2001

Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday November 7, 2001

Low Key Budget

It’s a far cry from the pot of gold his predecessor had at his disposal. For Ontario Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who will provide an update on the province’s finances Tuesday, the choice is no longer how to divvy up a huge budget surplus but how to deal with a sharply shrivelled economy.

While former finance minister Ernie Eves had the almost unprecedented luxury of cutting taxes, raising spending, paying down the debt and running a surplus, Flaherty’s choices are a lot starker.

He can slash spending, raise taxes or run a deficit.

Given the situation, some analysts suggest Flaherty’s wisest course of action would be to wait to see which way the chilly economic winds will blow.

Flaherty seems inclined to agree with that advice, suggesting the economic update will clearly lay out the bad news but offer no major changes to the province’s fiscal strategy.

“I want to see how things go over the course of the next few months,” he said. “It’s a time of caution.”

But analysts say doing nothing may not go over well politically. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)