Tories break election promise in lead-up to 2014 budget

James McLeod
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For the third straight year, the Progressive Conservative government is breaking an election promise in the lead-up to the spring budget.

Charlene Johnson. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram


Finance Minister Charlene Johnson refused to speak to The Telegram about a promise made during the 2011 election campaign, but an emailed statement confirmed that the government isn’t sticking to its commitment to restrict government spending.

In the 2011 PC party campaign platform, the Tories promised: “Each year, in choosing budget initiatives, we will establish a ceiling for new spending growth and make our choices accordingly.”

But in the two years since then, the government has not publicly announced a ceiling for new spending ahead of the budget, and this year, as Johnson finalizes the budget, the government is once again failing to place a limit on new spending.

A spokeswoman for Johnson issued a statement on the minister’s behalf, saying that the government hasn’t publicly placed a hard ceiling on new spending.

“While no spending ceiling is announced in advance of budget, throughout the budget process the provincial government makes every attempt to keep new spending as low as possible,” the statement said. “While spending requests for new programs and services can be controlled, other items are costs that government must absorb (i.e. – salary increases, program growth, inflation). The provincial government will announce its new spending growth on budget day.”

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball said  the government has always taken a laissez-faire attitude to budgeting.

“It just goes to show that this government does a poor job of planning, especially when it comes to making budget decisions,” he said. “If you’re talking about changing a program or introducing a program, the financing to support that program has to be sustainable. This is where they let us down as a province.”

Ball pointed to the government’s adult dental program, which faced major cutbacks just one year after it was introduced because the program spiralled wildly over-budget.

New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael said the broken election promise is further evidence that the Tories don’t take responsibility for what they say.

“I think it just shows that this government continues to consider it not necessary to be accountable to the people for what they’re doing,” she said.

“If you put something in your platform, you then need to be accountable for its being there.”

Over a decade in government, the Progressive Conservatives hugely increased government spending — from around $4.2 billion back in 2004 to $7.8 billion in last year’s budget.

Michael said that’s the hallmark of the government’s attitude towards spending.

“This government has never presented a plan that shows us what the priorities are for their spending,” she said. “For me, a plan means setting your goals, setting timelines and showing the money that’s going to be spent. And we certainly have never seen a plan from them.”

The 2014 budget is expected to be tabled in the House of Assembly some time in late March or April. Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Progressive Conservatives

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Recent comments

  • Harold
    February 21, 2014 - 06:34

    I think the liberals wrote the book on this one, And they are still carrying on the tradition today.

  • Corporate Psycho
    February 20, 2014 - 18:58

    Dear in the headlights.

  • Crazy
    February 20, 2014 - 17:46

    Lets me get some understanding here, Concerning MR Ball, so far he going to repeal Bill 29, He also said he would put a new PET Scanner in the new hospital in corner brook, Now he planning on bring back the Adult dental program, He also said the PC's were doing the right thing when its come to CBPP, Mr Ball that sound like spending to me, I guess its true about the liberal, anything for a vote..

  • Ed
    February 20, 2014 - 17:45

    The budget has gone from $4.2B to $7.8B since the PC's were elected. The civil service pensions are still unfunded and the provincial debt is growing again. This is good government? So much for oil revenues being a solution to our provinces problems. Those revenues will end and we will be worse off than ever before.

  • Duffy
    February 20, 2014 - 13:03

    We have NO MHA's. We have Party Cheerleaders who dress up and go out and Rah Rah the Party with no concern of the people they represent. Those that complain about one party and support another are in LaLa Land. Why Vote ? It matters not which useless party is in power!

  • EDfromRED
    February 20, 2014 - 12:43

    Nalcor calls the shots when the PC's spend the public's money. They should call themselves the Nalcor Party.

  • Not surprised
    February 20, 2014 - 10:57

    Broken election promises - it's the CONservative way!

    • Not Surprised Also
      February 20, 2014 - 12:06

      And the LIEbral way also.

  • Randy
    February 20, 2014 - 10:48

    Lorraine Michaels platform didn't say anything about income tax increases. That hasn't stopped her from always talking about increasing income tax

  • sc
    February 20, 2014 - 10:45

    This is news? Politicians will say anything to get elected and then do whatever they want once they form the government. That's the way Cdn politics 'works'. I can't believe that any rational Canadian voter would believe anything that any politician says. As for the government's absence of a plan on how to spend its revenues, the absence of a plan IS the default 'plan' for everything done here.

  • Joe
    February 20, 2014 - 10:34

    Goes to show it was a stupid commitment in the first place. If you keep giving tax breaks and not investing in the economy, you won't get anywhere. See your editorial of yesterday.

  • joebennett
    February 20, 2014 - 10:09

    It's hard to believe that we could have so much oil money coming in and yet we find ourselves with no money in the bank. If I ran my household like that, I would have to apply for bankruptcy.

    • David Wilson
      February 20, 2014 - 10:30

      joebennett, I'd like to see you operate your household with 500,000 youngsters pulling on you coat tails for more allowance. Oil revenues is not a blank check there pal.

    • Derek Nowk
      February 20, 2014 - 11:14

      What does it mean to be a supposedly Conservative government? To spend without restricting one's self? Integrity means reflecting what one purports oneself to be.

    • Kevin
      February 20, 2014 - 13:48

      DAVID WILSON - You need to get your head out of those BLUE CLOUDS like the PC party and understand what the hell they are doing with all that oil revenue. Just remember it was only a couple years ago they were quoted as saying that the oil revenue was going to be the thing to get us out of this DEBT that we are in. We will never be a HAVE PROVINCE under those idiots up on the hill......PAL !!!!!!!