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Taxpayers group highlights provincial debt ahead of budget

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Colin Craig, with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and the limo with the $30-billion debt threshold, recently crossed by the provincial government, plastered on its side in front of the Legislative Building this morning.

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Colin Craig, with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and the limo with the $30-billion debt threshold, recently crossed by the provincial government, plastered on its side in front of the Legislative Building this morning. Photo Store

Employing a stretch limo with the number $30,000,000,000 written across the side, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation bemoaned the size of the provincial debt this morning in front of the Legislative Building.

The CTF, known for using visual gimmicks to attract media attention, timed its latest government-spending critique on the eve of the provincial budget.

Finance Minister Jennifer Howard unveils her financial blueprint Thursday afternoon.

Colin Craig, the CTF’s Prairie director, said gross provincial debt by the end of the current fiscal year March 31 is expected to reach $30.3 billion.

Currently, Craig said, the provincial debt is increasing by $6.78 million per day or $78 per second, and the NDP government has shown little willingness to get it under control.

"The government isn’t taking the debt problem seriously," he said.

"You’ll hear them say they’re clamping down on spending. It’s true that they have made some progress, but when you look at the big-picture numbers they’re not taking the situation seriously enough."

Greg Selinger should "lead by example," and reduce the size of cabinet, which is now larger than it was when he took over as premier from Gary Doer, Craig said.

The CTF has been critical in the past of government investments in a new football stadium, an expanded convention centre and the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which is set to open in September.

The government’s net debt, which takes into account the value of public assets, stands at $17.3 billion, according to the province’s latest estimates.

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