Photo: Heather (flickr).
Faced with criticism that Finance Minister Joe Oliver used ‘financial sleight-of-hand’ to balance the federal budget by reducing the size of the annual contingency fund from $3-billion to a mere $1-billion per year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke out today in defense of the strategy.
“The contingency fund is intended as a safety net to reduce risk . . . to protect Canadians from the consequences of unforeseen events,” Harper said. “While it is unlikely that I will not be returned to power in the coming election, it would be foolish to gamble the future of the nation by allowing it to fall into the wrong hands. We must spend now . . . before it’s too late.”
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, who witnessed the PM’s remarks, did not comment but is said to have flashed an unspecified hand gesture in response. Various observers agreed it was not a wave, but could, under certain circumstances, be considered a ‘salute’. A spokesperson for the New Democrats suggested it was probably a scratch as Muclair has been experiencing dry skin recently, particularly on his face. Historically, his beard has inspired both public confidence and private irritation. “It’s itchy. Really itchy. Even itchier than it looks,” he explained to a curious press scrum late last year.
Canadians can expect to receive their share of the Conservative windfall by way of a cheque in the mail, timed to arrive shortly before the polls open this fall.