The Harper government proclaimed itself Lean and Fit at an Ottawa fitness club of the same name 18 months ago. Stockwell Day, the then Treasury Board president, released the government’s 2011-12 spending plans — the Main Estimates — that suggested the Conservatives would spend $10-billion less than in the previous year.
Later that day, reporters cornered Peter Kent, the Environment Minister, about 20% cuts to climate change programs the Estimates suggested the government was planning to make.
Ah, he explained, those are not real cuts, merely the sun-setting of programs that had come to the end of their funding life. He suggested the Estimates were hardly worth the paper they were written on and the real action would be in the Budget, where he expected Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to reinstate the lost money.
The budget, when it arrived, offered few clues to suggest that was the case, but…
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