Spring is upon us and Canada’s ministers of Finance should be out walking their dogs in their new shoes by now. But in Ottawa, Joe Oliver is still ‘doodling’ the calendar and consulting his ouija board to find a suitable day in April. In Manitoba, Greg Dewar is waiting until April 30th, maybe hoping people will be busy getting their tax returns finished. It will be the latest budget in the Keystone province in decades, but Greg Selinger’s New Democrats have been a bit pre-occupied in recent months.
In Saskatchewan, Ken Kravetz was sporting a pair of brown shoes when he tabled what may be Canada’s only balanced budget the other day. I remind you again that budget-making is a truly creative art, especially in places that depend on the riches in the ground, but the finance minister in Rider Nation should win some kind of prize if he pulls this one off.
The province’s revenue from oil is down more than $660 million from what it was a year ago when the black gold was selling for more than $100 U.S. per barrel. To meet the government’s projections, the price will have to average $53 this year and $67 in 2016. Right now the world price is not much more than $40 U.S. and some Wall street types who are paid a lot more than Ken Kravetz are predicting that prices will fall below $40, well before the Labour Day Classic.
Hey, that must mean we’ll be paying a lot less at the gas pump, right ? Not so far I’m afraid. The price of regular, in both Winnipeg and Regina dropped briefly below 80 cents a litre around Christmas and New Year’s. Since then, it’s been a lot higher. At a majority of the outlets in both provinces, the price is now higher than a loonie. Other than my old standby – Because They Can – there is absolutely no reason for this that makes any sense.
Welcome to spring.
I’m Roger Currie