Roundup: Another year of deficits

Jim Flaherty delivered his fiscal update yesterday, and what do you know? All of that global economic uncertainty and lowered commodity prices means that we’ll be in deficit for an additional year. Looks like all of those “wait until the budget is balanced” promises from the last election won’t happen before the next one. Meanwhile,’s Econowatch explains the difference between the $5 billion and $7 billion deficit figures (which boils down to choosing optimistic or pessimistic forecasts), while economist Stephen Gordon says that Flaherty should pretty much stay the course (thanks in large part to the thicker cushion left to him by the debt reduction efforts of Paul Martin and company).

Embattled minister Peter Penashue didn’t hold a meeting yesterday as promised to explain the irregularities with his campaign spending and donations. Constituents were told they could write him if they have questions, while a one-question phone survey has been going around the riding about whether or not people would vote for him again. It’s all a bit odd. Penashue did put out a letter on his website, in which he pretty much blames his former Official Agent for everything, which is convenient, and would show negligence on his own part for not keeping an eye on things as the candidate who is ultimately accountable.

It seems that Jason Kenney was using his department to contract media monitoring services for the ethnic press, but rather than just tracking discussions on relevant public policy, he also wanted them to track the perception of him, as well as Harper. The fact that this extended into an election is part of the more troubling aspects of this story because that would be using department resources for partisan reasons – bad enough at the best of times, but even more inexcusable during an election. And if I could add, Kenney does seem pretty…preoccupied with how he is portrayed. He seemed fairly concerned about anything we said about him back in my days writing for Xtra, and would tweet or write if when we didn’t swallow his lines.

It looks like we’re going to make some intellectual property concessions – particularly around pharmaceuticals – in order to finalise the free trade agreement with the European Union, though the agreed-to changes apparently aren’t quite as far as the original proposal would have seen.

What’s that? Vic Toews has pretty much ignored memos warning him about not implementing regulations around police notification when gun shows take place? You don’t say!

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson expresses a bit of frustration about how his first year on the job was overshadowed by the constant harassment cases and needing to react to them.

Conservative MP Michael Chong believes the sports betting bill needs to be defeated in the Senate, and points to the fact that it never actually got a standing vote in the Commons when it was passed. The plot thickens (a bit) and validates my own post about why it deserves to be voted down.

The Coast Guard is unveiling the second of its nine mid-shore patrol vessels currently under construction.

It looks like Martha Hall Findlay will be positioning her leadership bid from more of a Western perspective, now that she’s an executive fellow at the University of Calgary. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau supports the decriminalisation of marijuana as a first step to legalisation, in case you were wondering.

Here is your recap of last night’s political shows.

And Andrew Potter writes about how fact checking in political campaigns has pretty much no chance against the truthiness spun by candidates.