The Canadian Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, dsimissed the Parliamentary Budget Officer's report, which warned of a structural deficit for Canada.
Toronto, Ontario - Jim Flaherty, crossing the country in pre-budget consultations, was in Toronto Friday, where he met with reporters. Flaherty panned the report from Kevin Page saying“I see speculation. I don't see a lot of evidence. I see editorial comment without numbers, without analysis. I don't get to speculate. I get to deal with budget-making." Flaherty also reiterated what is quickly becoming his mantra: the deficit will be balanced by the Conservatives without raising taxes. Flaherty and Page have been at odds with each other over the deficit since Page put forth the idea of the deficit being structural.
On Wednesday, Page released a report that pointed to a growing deficit created in part by a decrease in tax revenues. The Conservatives cut the tax rate, but Page also pointed to an aging population as an exacerbating factor for Canada's fiscal fortunes. Both men believe there will be a deficit that will linger into 2013-2014. However, Page's estimates for the future deficit are higher than what Flaherty has pegged, as well as longer-lived. Flaherty told reporters Friday that his "... fiscal forecasts are based on careful analysis using information from private sector economists and business executives."
Flaherty has promised to reveal how the Conservatives will achieve fiscal balance when the new budget is presented on March 4th.
Flaherty blamed a weak American dollar for the surprise trade deficit Canada posted for November 2009.
Last spring, Flaherty shocked the nation when he announced Canada's deficit for 2009-2010 would be around $50 billion -- higher than what Flaherty had predicted in his budget. The deficit currently sits at approximately $56 billion.
Since the Conservatives cut two major programs recently, some economists say Canadians should expect more -- and deeper cuts as the Conservatives strive to reduce the deficit.
Flaherty has been criticized for withholding the calculations for Canada's fiscal updates and budgets.