Sunday, 5 June 2011

Harper's Throne Speech delays dealing with hard decisions

Jeffrey Simpson: Harper's Throne Speech delays dealing with hard decisions
Financial crises are a real drag. They pull down economies very quickly, but recovery is prolonged, tough and uncertain.

That tough recovery provides the context for Friday’s Speech from the Throne and, more important, Monday’s budget. The economic picture has soured from the pre-election budget to today, especially the economic news from the United States. The souring will mean much harder decisions for Stephen Harper’s government than it appeared would be necessary a few months ago.

... This summer, a subcommittee under Treasury Board President Tony Clement will begin reviewing government spending, with cuts presumably to be contained in the budget of 2012. These cutting exercises have failed more often than not in Ottawa. The Conservatives now have a majority government that should steel their resolve, but they have also been a party that let spending rip before the recession.

Hard spending decisions have never been a hallmark of Mr. Harper’s governments, which have cut taxes, dramatically increased the number of civil servants, driven up spending, eliminated the surplus and produced big deficits, but will now be preaching restraint and cutbacks.

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