Posted by: Alvin | June 3, 2009

Turns out the BC Liberals Make Fudge Too!

Gordon's Fudge!If people haven’t read Bill Tieleman’s post in the Tyee yesterday, check it out. While much of it is based on numbers that are estimates from fiscal commentators and economists, the overall message is bleak but not shocking: Gordon Campbell’s promise that the budget would be no more than $495 million is fudge, pure and simple.

It’s funny that Campbell was simply taken at his word though, given that many doubted Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty when he said in October: “We’re sure not going to run a deficit,” or when he said in November: “[We] may…run a deficit next year,” or when he said in December as the deficit hit $30 billion that the “deficit is temporary.” Now we know we’re going to see the federal deficit exceed $50 billion, and even now there are still doubts as to whether there needs to be more revision. So why is it that no one bothered to wonder if Campbell was also holding back, or at the very least woefully underestimating how big the provincial deficit would be?

Wouldn’t one expect that the news media, given the Flaherty example and given we were in the middle of an election, would do some more follow up, maybe let the Premier know the estimate seemed a bit low? Nah. It’s only now, as the global crisis gets even worse and BC employment figures continue to decline (the increase reported for April is due to more people reporting themselves as self employed, which is a traditional response to a prolonged downturn and doesn’t necessarily mean people are making enough to survive, the real test will be the numbers for May that will be shortly released) does the mainstream media start to ask these questions.

So what’s going to happen when Colin Hansen announces the actual numbers? Well, before we talk about that, it should be noted that actual numbers might not be presented until the fall because all signs point to yet another summer without a sitting of the Legislature. But whenever the Leg does resume, we’re going to see a deficit that is much, much larger than $495 million. What will happen then? My guess is nothing. The mainstream media, led by Canwest (unless they go bankrupt like a lot of people who care about journalism are hoping for) and CKNW (now trailing CBC Radio One in Vancouver for two straight months), won’t make this an issue. They will position the story as something the BC Liberals could never have guessed, that it’s the global financial crisis’ fault, and that in the grand scheme of things, BC is still better off with the Liberals.

This is exactly what happened when the NDP forecast a surplus during the election, only to revise downwards afterwards right? Uhh, no. If you remember the mainstream media, along with right wing think tanks and pro-business groups, were clamouring for criminal investigations citing electoral and financial fraud. So how is this any different? It isn’t.

Well, wait, I guess it kind of is. This time, it’s going to be a way, way larger number.


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