Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Finance minister wiggles on budget promise, confirms observers' predictions

VICTORIA - With the election over, Finance Minister Colin Hansen appears to be looking for wriggle room on the B.C. Liberal government's pre-election budget, the CBC reported today. The admission confirms what observers have said for months.

“I don't have the magic crystal ball that's going to tell me what we're looking at a couple of months from now when we lock in revenue figures for the new budget," he said, according to the report. Revenues for forestry and natural gas are deteriorating, he said.

Premier Gordon Campbell said during the campaign when he promised the Liberals would stick to the $495-million deficit for fiscal 2009-2010 that was forecast in February. “Finance Minister Colin Hansen said Monday he 'just can't' guarantee the figures will be honoured, although they are still his expectation,” the CBC said.

As recently as April 27, 15 days before the election, Hansen himself told the Tyee the budget was sound. "There's a lot of prudence built in to all levels of those revenue forecasts," he said. "At this point I'm not anticipating any dramatic departure from what we tabled in February."

Hansen argued that the economy was much better through the start of 2009 than it had been at the end of 2008. "We haven't seen the kind of deterioration in the economy that we were seeing in the last months of 2008."

Hansen's admission today that the budget may need to be reworked confirms what observers have expected since February.

The day Hansen presented the budget the Hook reported that it had little room for error and that Green Party leader Jane Sterk predicted a deficit three times as large as the one in the budget.

The following day the Tyee's Will McMartin called Hansen's budget “toxic fudge” and demonstrated how the document low-balled expense expectations and inflated revenue projections.

A few days later Helmut Pastrick, the chief economist for Central 1 Credit Union and a member of the Economic Forecast Council that advises Hansen, assessed the budget and found, the Tyee reported, “A deficit of $1 to $1.5 billion or 0.6 percent of GDP in 2009/10 is the more likely outcome due to revenue shortfalls.”

Then in early April, the Tyee reported the Dominion Bond Rating Service had grave doubts about the budget and predicted it would likely be redrawn: “There is a risk that the post-election budget could significantly deviate from the one recently introduced, due to either further measures aimed at addressing a deteriorating economic outlook or a shift in priorities created by a potential change in government.”

If Hansen didn't see a budget problem coming, he should have.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus