"The weak fiscal performance to date is largely attributable to previous policy decisions as opposed to weakened economic conditions," the report says.
There it is, the "independent" analysis that confirms a "made in Canada" deficit, not simply a result of circumstances elsewhere, the buck stops with the Harper government and their poor choices. This analysis has added weight, when one considers the Harper argument, that being his government foresaw the challenges ahead, a full year in advance, prudent decisions were made. There is no way to reconcile the contradictions, Harper can't claim to be a steady hand that planned ahead, when the Budget Officer highlights the same policies as directly responsible for a coming deficit.
The above statement is a smoking gun of sorts for the Liberals, because it comes from a non-partisan source, it puts the blame directly at the feet of bad policy decisions, not the global economic slowdown. Harper's entire strategy, to frame the challenges as largely out of control, our government merely reactive to foreign developments. If Harper is successful in this strategy, then he largely absolves the Conservatives from responsibility, Canadians will accept a deficit as inevitable. It is CRITICAL that the Liberals seize upon this analysis from Page to hold the Conservatives to account, to ensure they can't take cover because of developments abroad. If Harper did see the looming crisis on the horizon, then it acknowledges that policy was developed within this consideration, a fact that either suggests gross incompetence or revisionist proclamations.
Whether this report fades into background noise, will largely be determined by how well the Liberals use it to bolster their case. We should hear this quote over and over again, until it imprints in the minds of Canadians, until it establishes a clear starting point as we move into a deficit position.