Just as I predicted, the Tories had fudged the books leading in to the 2006 election, just like they did leading into the 2003 election.
This is now two different Auditors General on two different elections going into which Bernard Lord misled the province about the state of the finances of New Brunswick.
Fredericton Fudge Fest '03
In February 2004, the CBC reported that "Premier Bernard Lord claimed the province had a $1-million surplus last November when it was running a deficit. (Then Auditor General Daryl) Wilson said New Brunswick recorded a shortfall of $109.4 million for 2002-2003."
It went on to quote Wilson directly who said, "it trivializes the value of audited financial statements when a news release can convey a message which is entirely different from what is disclosed in the statements."
Hillariously, Lord tried to claim that "there's no disagreement; this is all about semantics. Is this really a surplus for fiscal policy purposes; should we just call it a deficit? I think both are right."
That is to say the premier of the day figured that it was a surplus in his mind, though the Auditor General said it was a deficit. But that's ok, they can both be right. What!?
It is no wonder with that sort of logic, that the legislature had to pass a ridiculous motion which read in its entirety, "BE IT RESOLVED that this Legislature affirm that a deficit occurs when expenditures in a fiscal year are greater than its revenues."
Fredericton Fudge Fest '06
Now today it is revealed that the new Auditor General, former Comptroller Mike Ferguson, who was appointed AG by Bernard Lord, has found the same problem with this year's election budget.
I quote CBC: "New Brunswick Auditor General Mike Ferguson says the former Conservative government moved money around to avoid forecasting a deficit ... Their spring budget ran a large surplus, allowing the government to table a generous budget with increased spending in virtually every government department, tax cuts and $100 million in energy relief. The Tories wanted support for their budget to preserve the life of their government in the legislature, and knew they would be heading to the polls in the months to come ... Feguson says if the accounting had been done properly, the Tories would have been running a deficit going into the election. Ferguson says that kind of accounting makes it difficult to keep track of the province's finances. 'That's the concern for us: is it masking a trend towards lower and lower surpluses, and possibly deficits, into the future?'"
What a disgrace. I hope that the current audit being undertaken by the Graham Government clears up any other remaining messes and we can move forward with restored fiscal responsibility in Fredericton.
In other completely unrelated news, this piece by the federal NDP is a disgrace. The idea of doing a scorecard for the Harper Government is a good one and could have been handled well. However, they have gone way over the top, talking about "Harper High" and sounding really childish in their analyses. If the NDP wants to be taken seriously, this is not the way to go.