NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's scrum from earlier this afternoon now showing.
Now we're on to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and his scrum from earlier this afternoon.
Canada’s first federal budget was delivered by Finance Minister John Rose over several hours on December 7, 1867. Revenue and expenses at the time totalled less than $20 million.
The longest British budget speech — without a break — was 4 hours and 45 minutes by William Gladstone in 1853. Benjamin Disraeli‘s 1867 speech was the shortest, at 45 minutes.
No comparable list exists for Canadian budgets.
Why late in the afternoon? So that financial markets have already closed for the day. The budget’s content is kept secret (aside from a media lock-up) for the same reason.
Watch now for a panel with Government House Leader Peter Van Loan, Opposition House Leader Nathan Cullen, and Liberal House Leader Dominic LeBlanc.
Mulcair: Conservatives don't think that government can be a good thing. Patting themselves on the back for restoring cuts to services like CFIA inspections that should have never been cut.
Mulcair: apprenticeship plan will lead to a "battle royale" with the provinces, especially since the prime minister has not met regularly with the provinces.
Mulcair does, however, support the funding for rural and northern broadband.
Trudeau: budget about making Conservatives look good in an election year, but Canadians are seeing past that.
Trudeau: with a growing economy, the budget will balance itself.
Martin Stringer has reaction from two finance critics: Peggy Nash (NDP) and Scott Brison (Liberal).
Now we have reaction from the Retail Council of Canada on the Canada-U.S. price gap and promised legislation.
Today’s budget predicts a $6.4-billion surplus by 2015-2016, though next year’s books are nearly balanced after accounting for money set aside for contingency planning.
The 2014-15 deficit is estimated at $2.9 billion, while $3 billion has been set aside to adjust for potential economic risk.
“We always planned to get to balanced budgets in the medium term,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said today.
“This is the medium term.”
As for why the government held back on reporting a balanced budget, Flaherty said he prefers a more comfortable surplus in 2015, taking the rainy-day funds into account.
That will be likely be the final budget before Canadians vote in the next federal election.
The government projects the 2014 budget will save $9.1 billion over six years, largely due to reduced program spending and “managing compensation costs” for the public service.
Flaherty: instead of a $100K-surplus, I would prefer to have a nice, clean surplus next year. (On why he didn't claim a surplus this year, not counting $3 billion set aside for risk planning)
Budget day has traditions of its own, though less resplendent than the pomp of a Speech from the Throne.
British custom dictates that the chancellor/finance minister can break the rules and drink alcohol inside the House of Commons while delivering the budget speech. Everything from whisky and wine to brandy and sherry has been spotted alongside the customary red despatch box carrying the budget speech — yet another Westminster routine.
Neither of these practices became commonplace in Ottawa. But there has been a unique Canadian contribution to the list of budgetary rituals: the finance minister donning a new pair of shoes before giving his speech. And only men’s shoes so far, since no woman has held the position.
According to the Library of Parliament, no one knows how or why this practice began. The first recorded instance of new footwear was Mitchell Sharp‘s 1966 budget. And there have been variations. John Crosbie wore mukluks. Paul Martin modelled work boots. Jim Flaherty instead bought Canadian-made skates for his son in 2007.
Stay tuned for more coverage with Pierre Donais and the "Revue politique" team....