Finance minister under fire for bill killing debt ceiling
Wildrose scolds ruling NDP over the amount they want to borrow
A bill allowing Alberta's NDP government to remove its self-imposed debt ceiling was slammed by opposition members in the legislature Tuesday.
Bill 10, the Fiscal Statutes Amendment Act, removes the maximum 15 per cent debt-to-nominal-GDP cap that was passed into legislation last fall.
Finance Minister Joe Ceci cited the dramatic change in Alberta's economy as the reason for the change.
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"Simply put, the economic outlook has changed dramatically over the last six months," Ceci said.
"In these challenging times as a government, we have chosen to respond by investing in jobs and protecting the vital services Albertans rely on."
The Wildrose tore into Ceci for trying to give the government the ability to borrow more.
Finance critic Derek Fildebrandt mocked the bill by calling it "the unlimited debt to infinity and beyond act."
Fildebrandt blamed Ceci for not listening to the Wildrose last fall during debates on the budget and the bill putting the debt ceiling in place.
"We told him over and over and over that it was his responsibility to budget responsibly and that his oil projections were wildly off," Fildebrandt said. "And now he stands in this house and has nothing but excuses. He claims that nobody told him."
The government voted down Wildrose amendments like fining cabinet ministers who exceed the debt ceiling and holding a referendum on extra borrowing, Fildebrandt said.
"Either they intended to repeal their own bill or they weren't paying attention to the facts."
David Hanson, the Wildrose MLA for Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills, read out answers Ceci gave last fall when he was challenged on the debt ceiling, including a statement where he claimed the government would never exceed the cap.
"Clearly, that was a lot of hogwash," Hanson said. "Clearly, the Wildrose was right and is right to be concerned.
- The original version of this story erroneously stated that Bill 10 passed second reading on April 19.Apr 20, 2016 10:07 AM MT