Federal opposition members are calling out the federal Conservatives for announcing that they would be releasing the federal the budget one month after budgets are usually tabled.
In a Calgary meeting, federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver said that the budget will not be tabled until April.
“Given the current market instability, I will not bring forward our budget earlier than April,” Oliver said in his prepared speech. “We need all the information we can obtain before finalizing our decisions.”
Opposition members jumped over the comments, saying that the finance minister and the prime minster had no clear direction when it comes to the finances in the country.
“I’m struck (by the announcement), because it’s really deja-vu for me personally, in 2008 when the government was at first in complete denial when a recession was about to occur,” Liberal MP Marc Garneau said in a teleconference last week. “We went from a slight surplus to a slight deficit, and then it ballooned to $53 million.”
Garneau said that the government is acting as though it is caught in the headlights of the dropping oil prices.
“I’m having that same feeling today, that the government is like a deer caught in the headlights. (The government) has been really thrown off, and it really doesn’t know what to tell Canadians,” he said.
Garneau said that the government’s silence is the greatest concern for him and the Liberal party, and should be for all Canadians too.
“The messaging that should be given to the people of Canada, by the government, is totally absent,” he said.
He added that the government looks as though it has lost control on the issue, and doesn’t know what to do anymore.
NDP finance critic Nathan Cullen called on the government and finance minister to stop stalling and get to work on the budget.
“It’s time for the minister of finance to stop panicking and get to work on a budget that makes the economy work for Canadians, not another Conservative budget focused on helping the privileged few,” said Cullen in a letter written to Oliver.
The exact timing of the budget is still up in the air. Oliver said that all information is needed before a proper budget can be tabled.
“As the great Yogi Berra once said, ‘I wish I had an answer, because I’m tired of answering the question.’” he said. “That said, given the current market instability, I will not bring forward our budget earlier than April. We need all the information we can obtain before finalizing our decisions,” Oliver said at the Chamber event.