federal budget

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On Monday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty held his traditional pre-budget consultation with a number of private-sector economists, who all appear to be predicting improved growth in the Canadian economy for the coming year. This no doubt comes as welcome news to the Finance Minister, as he prepares to unveil his next budget on March 29.

But the Finance Minister should not be swayed by these optimistic growth projections; he needs to bring in a budget that will take serious aim at balancing the nation's book.

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When Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced last week that the Conservative government will miss its target for balancing the budget, he confirmed something that should be obvious to all students of recent Canadian economic history: Crossed-finger revenue forecasts and unrealistic spending growth projections are no basis for sound economic policy.

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With the release of its economic and fiscal update, the Conservative government finally confirmed it will not meet its 2014-15 target for balancing the budget.

No surprise here.

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Monday’s federal budget was all political spin. Like in March, when the 2011 budget was first introduced, the Conservatives dubiously titled it: A Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth.

But in reality, the Conservatives’ plan increases the federal tax take, increases government spending, and fails to provide a truly austere plan to balance the budget. It will, therefore, do little to improve economic growth and create jobs.

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All expectations for next week's federal budget are that it will look much like the March version -one that included a substantial $30-billion deficit this year (2011-12) and no credible plan to return to a balanced budget.

Canadians deserve more. The newly minted Conservative majority should seize the opportunity to put forth a truly conservative plan to balance the budget -one that puts federal departmental spending on the chopping block.