Befuddled by numbers

What is it with opposition parties and budgets? Federally and territorially, they can’t seem to handle the numbers game.

What is it with opposition parties and budgets?

Federally and territorially, they can’t seem to handle the numbers game.

In the recent sitting of the Yukon legislature, budget debate ended with the Education ledger lying on the table, unopened.

That means more than $125 million in government spending wasn’t vetted by the opposition.

That’s a lot of money.

Nevertheless, because of a deal cooked up between the parties years ago, budget debate was restricted to 30 days.

And, when that timer sounded, the political game was called.

It didn’t matter that the job wasn’t done — summer break began.

But budget politics gets sillier.

This session saw all-party agreement that further pinched the hours for budget debate in the Yukon legislature.

So, though Yukon politicians didn’t finish the job this year, they decided to work less next year.

Make sense? Nope.

Federally, things aren’t much better.

On Tuesday, Stephen Harper’s much-criticized budget was passed unanimously through Parliament.

Why?

Because opposition politicians forgot their rules of order.

Justice minister Vic Toews rose before scheduled debate and asked that it receive third and final reading.

Peter Milliken, the Speaker, asked if there were any objections.

Inexplicably befuddled, the opposition Liberals and New Democrats didn’t voice any objection.

So the budget passed.

“It’s not a serious matter,” New Democrat leader Jack Layton, is quoted in the Globe and Mail.

Really?

Both federal and territorial examples suggest the opposition is unable to manage proper oversight of a budget.

Despite assertions to the contrary, that’s pretty serious.

And, if they want to be taken seriously, they better raise their game. (RM)

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