A New Idea From Quebec

March 2nd, 2013 | J. Hodgson 

"One of the chief dangers to the success of popular government is that it will throw away self-restraint and self-control and adopt laws which, being without sound economic foundation, bring on such a financial distress as to result in want, misery, disorder, and the dissolution of society." - Calvin Coolidge, U.S. President 1923-1929


One of the biggest problems “Big Government” routinely runs into in the real world is math. Regardless of ideology or polarized politics, at some point “Big Government” runs out of other people’s money and when they do...pain.

Stephen Harper from the 90’s knew all about these problems and advocated for libertarian styled fiscal conservatism. ‘Minority government Prime Minister Stephen Harper’ ran into some problems with the whole Layton-Dion-Duceppe coalition coup attempt in 2008 and as a result, allowed short term strategy to override good fiscal policy. This situation is changing...slowly. New developments are brewing...

Delegates from across the country will be convening in Calgary this June for the 2013 Conservative Party of Canada convention. This is an opportunity for policy to be introduced and voted on by Electoral Districts from coast to coast.

One interesting proposal has been announced by everyone’s favourite libertarian MP, Maxime Bernier. The proposal reads as such;

Proposal:

1. Until a balanced budget (predicted for 2015-2016) is achieved, the government respect the objectives for spending cuts set out in the March 2012 budget;

2. The government freeze budget spending at 300 billion dollars in the year following the achievement of a balanced budget in the 2016-2017 financial exercise (the 300 billion dollar amount will correspond to the approximate level that spending will have reached if the projections of the March budget are realized, in comparison with 276 billion dollars for the current financial exercise);

3. That after the 2016-2017 budget, and for the four subsequent years (thus until 2020-2021), the federal government freeze spending at 300 billion dollars per year in current dollars.

If this proposal is passed, we’d be looking at a spending freeze in absolute terms for four years. This would solidify a widely held goal that is so often neglected by conservatives once in power. The actual halt of progressively bigger government.

In 2006, Ottawa sucked in $236 billion in tax revenue. They then spent $222 billion on government services. This restraint allowed for a $14 billion surplus to throw against a $467.3 billion total debt. Got all that?

In 2012, Ottawa sucked in $255 billion in tax revenue. They then spent $276.1 billion on government services. This largesse allowed for a $21.1 billion deficit to add against a $607 billion dollar total debt.

In 6 years spending has increased by 20%. If you take 2% annual inflation into account, the rate of spending increases isn’t really that outrageous, but for fiscal conservatives, good is never good enough.

Most of us don’t want Harper to simply ease off the accelerator of fiscal liberalism...we want the foot stamped hard on the breaks. If Bernier’s proposal is passed, then Canada will be locking in a financial plan that will force government efficiency and prioritize necessity. We will quickly be back to budget surpluses and the promise of fiscal conservatism, an area Harper critics are rightfully disappointed with, will finally be delivered. 

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