Harper’s Conservatives plan national budget tour to listen to Canadians—but will Toronto get a date?

Harper’s Conservatives plan national budget tour to listen to Canadians—but will Toronto get a date?

Most national tours make some room in their calendars for Toronto, whether it’s Justin Bieber or Conan O’Brien. In fact, we usually wouldn’t bother asking if the latest grand spectacle would stop here, except that in this case, the show in question is the Conservative Party of Canada, which has found any number of reasons in the past to pass us by. The National Post reports that before they come out with what’s expected to be a punishing budget, the Ottawa Tories are going to do a cross-country gab session first.

This would be on top of the pre-budget hearings conducted by the all-party House of Commons finance committee, which has travelled from British Columbia to Newfoundland seeking Canadians’ thoughts on next year’s budget — widely expected to craft a path toward a balanced budget by mid-decade and potentially spark a new round of election speculation.

Informed sources indicate the process, as envisaged by the Prime Minister’s Office, would see Conservative cabinet ministers and MPs spread out to visit small towns to hear from households, entrepreneurs and small business on the challenges ahead for Canada. Through feedback, the government can get a better sense of what should be incorporated into a longer-term economic plan that makes up part of the budget.

Of course, Toronto is represented in Ottawa by exactly zero Conservatives—totally our fault for not being grateful about all that money the feds spent on the city last summer—which makes us wonder if maybe Toronto’s conserva-philes will have to catch a show in Hamilton or Whitby instead of seeing, perhaps, Tony Clement at the Horseshoe.

But hope is not lost: our mayor-elect, Rob Ford, has bragged repeatedly about how close he is to Jim Flaherty, who happens to be the finance minister. Flaherty actually endorsed Ford in the election. Maybe, with that kind of pull, a Conservative MP (dare we hope for a cabinet minister?) could make a stop in Toronto to be pelted with fruit listen to our concerns.

• Tory tour will ask Canadians for advice [National Post]
• PM plans cross-country listening tour ahead of tough-love budget [Globe and Mail]