Laying the groundwork

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Interim Premier Tom Marshall said last week the provincial budget will be presented in the House of Assembly later this month or early next.

Marshall handed off the task of finishing the budget to Finance Minister Charlene Johnson after he agreed to take on for a short time the job of premier, following the sudden resignation of Kathy Dunderdale. Though the Tory government is in transition waiting for a permanent leader to be elected in July, this budget will be an important one for the party that blundered through last spring’s document.

The budget contained severe cutbacks in government spending because of reduced royalties from oil, and the money saving included laying off hundreds of civil servants and reduced services.

Despite some pre-budget warnings, the severity of the cutbacks caught taxpayers off guard and led to a firestorm of criticism among voters.

The result was months of bitter attacks on unprepared ministers who seemed to be at a loss to explain why they had made the cuts where they did.

This budget will give this government under Marshall a chance to hit the reset button ... and it needs a fresh beginning.

The PCs are low in the polls, without a permanent leader, short on leadership candidates and facing a general election in about a year. This budget presents a rare opportunity for the Tories to heal some of the distrust and anger they brought upon themselves with Budget 2013.

Marshall may be long retired from public life when we go to the polls in the next general election, but he and Johnson will be launching the PC campaign for re-election with this spring’s budget.

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