NEWS RELEASE · 23rd March 2010
New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston has asked B.C.’s Auditor General to conduct an investigation in light of a continuing effort by the B.C. Liberals to stonewall on what they knew about the 2009 budget deficit and when they knew it.
Ralston pointed to documents received through a Freedom of Information request, which indicate that an updated fiscal forecast analysis was done on the eve of the provincial election. However, the documents received are heavily censored and provide no details on that analysis.
“The B.C. Liberals told voters the 2009 deficit would be $495 million ‘maximum’, but it turned out to be six times that amount,” said Ralston. “At first it wasn’t clear whether the B.C. Liberals lied or were just incompetent.
“The B.C. Liberal claim of ignorance has slowly unraveled however.”
Ralston said it’s almost a year later and there’s no excuse for continuing to hide the information. The Surrey-Whalley MLA is asking the Auditor General to look into whether the B.C. Liberals are abusing the terms of the Freedom of Information Act.
“One page from a March 2009 presentation to the government treasury board titled “Updated fiscal forecast” has been so severely censored that only the title remains,” said Ralston. “It shows the government budget forecast was revised before the election, but voters were kept in the dark.
“We strongly believe the B.C. Liberals are abusing the FOI process in an attempt to hide the information from the public.”
Ralston said another page contains a March 31 email from an energy and mines ministry staffer to the deputy finance minister that flags a $134 million drop from just one natural gas revenue source. Other projections were severed in the document.
“After a 10-month delay in releasing this information, the B.C. Liberals finally coughed up a stack of heavily censored material,” said Ralston. “What they knew and when they knew it goes to the heart of the deficit deception.
“Their excuses for blanking out crucial documents don’t meet even the basic tests of accountability,” said Ralston. "The B.C. Liberals have missed every opportunity to be upfront with the public. At this stage, an independent investigation is required to address these questions.”
· March 23, 2010 letter to the Auditor General from Bruce Ralston, MLA
· Timeline of events
· March 31, 2009 email to the deputy finance minister regarding projected natural gas revenues
· March 24, 2009 presentation to the government Treasury Board
· March 12, 2010 Consent Order, committing to the release of FOI documents
recall the B.C. Liberals
Comment by Ron Savard on 24th March 2010
Further proof that the B.C. Liberal government is criminal in practice and intent. Before they can do any more social and economic damage, they must be recalled.