Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

BC government holding back pre-election fiscal updates

Heavily censored documents show premier Gordon Campbell and finance minister Colin Hansen likely knew more about the province's finances than they admitted during the election, said New Democratic Party finance critic Bruce Ralston.

“There's very little information being released and most of it is blank,” said Ralston, showing reporters hundreds of pages the NDP received in response to a freedom of information request.

The documents include slides from a March 24, 2009, monthly finance meeting with titles “updated fiscal forecast” and “risks to forecast.”

“As of March 24, 2009, the government knew, the premier knew, the finance minister knew, and had in their possession an updated fiscal forecast with risks to that forecast,” said Ralston.

In the month ahead of the May 12 election Campbell and Hansen said the February, 2009 budget, with a $495-million deficit for 2009-2010, was on target. The updated budget released in September, less than four months after the election, showed the projected deficit for the year had grown to $2.8 billion.

“In good times or in bad times the public should be able to rely on representations made by a finance minister or a premier, regardless of whether its in the middle of the term or whether we're leading to an election,” said Ralston. “My sense is the public no longer has confidence in the minister of finance.”

Ralston said the NDP is appealing to the information and privacy commissioner to order uncensored copies of the documents to be released. The party has also asked auditor general John Doyle to investigate whether the government has met its responsibility to the public to be “open and truthful regarding deficits and spending.”

Update, 3:25 p.m.: Hansen said he reviewed the document and found it was an update on the 2008-2009 fiscal year, not 2009-2010. He refused to release an uncensored version.

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

Find more in:

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