Fiscal update may break Alberta law, Taxpayers Federation says
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says the Redford government may be breaking provincial law by not releasing all the usual financial statistics during Thursday's fiscal update.
Scott Hennig, the group's Alberta director, points to legislation first passed in 1993 by the government of Premier Ralph Klein which compels the province to release detailed reports on the province's budget performance every three months.
But Hennig says Finance Minister Doug Horner failed to do that when he delivered his first quarter update. Detailed information about revenue and expenses were not included.
"When governments start hiding their numbers you have to wonder why," he said. "If there's nothing to hide then maybe you should just go ahead and provide the numbers."
Horner said Hennig's contention that he is breaking the law is a serious allegation and disputed that the government was holding back on information.
"He should recognize that's his interpretation of that legislation," Horner told CBC News on Friday.
According to the law, the government is supposed to report on results for the first three months and the accuracy of the consolidated business plan, Horner said.
"Which we've done by saying that, look it, it's not accurate because we're looking at a deficit of between $2.3 to $3 billion."
Horner said the government is focused on expenses because spending data is more important; the revenue information is just an estimate.
Horner claimed that documents included in past quarterly updates were a rehash of budget documents that were outdated by the end of the first quarter.
"I believe we've done a fairly detailed description of what are the impacts that could affect us going forward, and the accuracy of a consolidated plan going forward is going to be affected by these things," he said.
"What Mr. Hennig seems to be looking for is my best guess-timate of what those things might have as an impact."
Hennig says the government still has time to comply with the legislation as long as the information is released before midnight.