NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has been showcasing former Saskatchewan finance minister Andrew Thomson as proof that New Democrats know how to balance budgets; trouble is, the province's auditor said he didn't.
In a 2013 special report, Saskatchewan's then auditor, Bonnie Lysyk, said the province's budget was actually in deficit for nine out of the previous 10 years, despite government claims to have balanced the books each year.
That included the 2006 and 2007 budgets presided over by Thomson, who is now running for the federal NDP against Conservative finance minister Joe Oliver in the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence. The Liberals are fielding Marco Mendicino in the riding after a high-profile nomination race against floor-crosser Eve Adams.
Lysyk's report has resurfaced as New Democrats and Liberals snipe at one another over the quality of economic advice their respective leaders are receiving in preparation for tonight's debate on economic issues.
According to Lysyk, who is now Ontario's auditor general, successive Saskatchewan governments of varying party stripes have made it a practice to issue two sets of books each year. While both are publicly available, she said the government focuses on the one that includes only a portion of the government's financial activities and which can easily be manipulated "to portray whichever financial picture the government would like."
If Saskatchewan issued only one set of books that included the entire government's financial activities — following the same accounting procedure that is "standard" in every other province and the federal government — Lysyk said, "It would actually have presented deficit budgets instead of 'balanced budgets' in nine out of the last 10 years."...