Finance Minister Jim Flaherty warned Tuesday that it's too early to declare the recession over, despite a recent Bank of Canada forecast that the economy stopped shrinking this quarter.
His comments came on the same day that the number of people on employment insurance benefits surged to its highest level in more than a decade.
But on Wednesday, Liberal finance critic John McCallum drew attention to a column written by International Trade Minister Stockwell Day in which Day contradicted his cabinet colleague.
``I'm not kidding. The recession is over,'' Day wrote the Penticton Western News, noting the rosier outlook recently put forward by Canada's central bank. In a quarterly outlook released last week, the bank raised its forecast for GDP growth in the current quarter to 1.3 per cent on an annualized basis, after three straight quarters of decline.
Whether or not the recession is technically, statistically, over is irrelevant to the Conservatives. What does matter is not letting people get too excited about the prospects for recovery. While the worst may be behind us, and the maddening "shoots" talk finds worth, the government MUST remain cautious- a balancing act that highlights brighter days, but doesn't seem to be ahead of itself. Flaherty's dampening language provides cover for the Conservatives, it's actually quite shrewd. Too bad then that Day is planning the parade route, because that over zealous proclamation can come back and bite you in the ass. Flahery looks like he's FINALLY learned the lesson, but that's undermined by this conflicting optimism from Day. Not a good day, for a party that prides itself on tight message control.