“Who has time to think about where the money is going at a time like this?”
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty acknowledged that Ottawa will foul up as it rushes to dole out $40-billion of stimulus spending, but said the potential for gaffes is acceptable because aid must be expedited to counter the economic downturn.
“There will be some mistakes made. But it’s worth that risk to help the majority of Canadians during what is a serious recession,” he said yesterday following a weekly meeting of Conservative MPs.
It was a remarkably frank admission from the Tories, a party that prides itself on fiscal rectitude and campaigned on a pledge to safeguard coffers.
Toronto Dominion Bank chief economist Don Drummond, a former senior Finance official, said Mr. Flaherty’s comments seem to be aimed at inoculating the Tories against future stimulus snafus.
“I guess it’s preconditioning for the inevitable,” he said.
He said he fears the imperative to speed up infrastructure spending will result in unnecessary construction, such as Quebec’s underused Mirabel airport. “Even with the best intentions, there just hasn’t been sufficient planning,” he said.