Robyn Benson, PSAC

What's $3.1 billion?


“What’s a million?” the Liberal cabinet minister C.D. Howe once allegedly asked. Well, even allowing for inflation, the Harper government has done him several times better.

Somehow, in the press of things, the government has managed to lose track of $3.1 billion. That’s not something you’d easily recover from under the couch cushions, and it’s a darn sight more than you’d need for an over-priced glass of orange juice, or, for that matter, a bunch of new gazebos and parks in Tony Clement’s riding. But, as Lawrence Martin noted recently, there hardly seems to be a squeak of outrage about it. It’s almost if that sort of thing is now business as usual.

Is it that the amount is simply too large to comprehend? Too big a sum to worry about? Or do we comfort ourselves by imagining that there must be a good explanation, so no big worry? After all, the cost overruns for the F-35 bomber dwarf those missing billions by quite a bit. And the government has so far weathered all the outrage over that, and moved on to the squalid realm of good old-fashioned scandal.

Well, I’m not an economist by any means, but I have my own theory. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty recently announced, with much fanfare, that our deficit problem would be history in 2015, which, by no coincidence, is the year of the next federal election. Not only will he have slain the deficit dragon, in fact, but we are promised a surplus—of $3.7 billion. Hmm, says I, scratching my head. That amount seems suspiciously similar to the mislaid amount.

Could it be…no, surely not.

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This page contains a single entry by Robyn Benson, PSAC published on November 22, 2013 8:30 AM.

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