Newspaper article The Canadian Press

What's Behind the Curtain? Nitty Gritty Budget Details an Unknown

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

What's Behind the Curtain? Nitty Gritty Budget Details an Unknown

Article excerpt

Cabinet begins sales pitch on federal budget

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OTTAWA - Coming to a chamber of commerce or board of trade near you -- a Conservative cabinet minister hawking the 2013 federal budget.

The customary, post-budget day sales pitch begins in earnest today, including a lunchtime speech by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in Vancouver.

But the nitty gritty details behind some of the measures announced Thursday -- and how Parliament will get to evaluate them -- are not likely to emerge for some time. Flaherty himself will be away from the House of Commons for the better part of a week in Asia, promoting Canadian trade and investment.

"We will not back away from our steadfast commitment to fiscal responsibility," Flaherty said in his speech Thursday.

"We will not balance the budget on the backs of hard-working Canadian families or those in need. But we will balance the budget. And we will do it in 2015."

Flaherty's office won't say yet whether the budget proposals will be stuffed into another omnibus bill, an unpopular tactic with opposition parties and Canadians who want MPs to spend more time reviewing key measures separately.

Highly controversial changes to how bodies of water are regulated, for example, did not come to light until the actual budget bill was tabled last year.

"I'm getting used to the modus operandi of Stephen Harper and it makes me feel that nothing can be said about this budget until we see this implementing legislation," said Green party Leader Elizabeth May.

"Until we see if we're facing another omnibus bill, one that we fear will take an axe to the Species at Risk Act, we have to wait and see."

Exactly how government programs and services will be affected by continuing belt-tightening is also not clear. Direct program expenses -- which exclude major transfers to other levels of government -- are projected to plunge almost $4 billion this year and another $2. …

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