Nova Scotia

McNeil to voters: Don’t buy promises of balanced budget

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil says his political rivals should stop saying they can balance the budget.

Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil says his political rivals should stop saying they can balance the budget.

It can't be done this year or the next because of the uncertainty around the economy, he said on the campaign trail Wednesday.

"There isn't a single leader in the province of Nova Scotia that can guarantee Nova Scotians they'll have a balanced budget next year," said McNeil.

"If they're doing that, they're misleading Nova Scotians because they don't know the facts. No one knows how deep a deficit we're in. No one."

McNeil said Nova Scotians should brace for bad news, now that the federal government is admitting to a larger budget deficit and a deeper recession. The same situation should apply here, he said.

On Tuesday, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the Conservative government's shortfall will be more than $16 billion higher in 2009-2010 than he forecast in January's budget.

In Nova Scotia, the promise of a balanced budget has been a keystone promise in elections for more than a decade.

Progressive Conservative Leader Rodney MacDonald said the budget he tabled just before the election was announced on May 4 is balanced. He plans to reintroduce it if re-elected June 9.

Neither McNeil nor NDP Leader Darrell Dexter believe the Tories' claim that their budget is balanced.

Dexter said he'll be forced to live with MacDonald's deficit if elected to govern, but he said he would be able to balance the next budget that would be entirely his own.

now