The new Harper cabinet has been announced, all 39 members of it. So I decided to play with MS Excel a bit and compare how the size of the Federal Cabinet is correlated to spending, debt, and deficit.
The graph on the left is mine (from this data) and shows how Cabinets have grown throughout the history of Canada, up to and including Harper's new cabinet today. If you click on the graph it enlarges, but even at this size it is clear that the size of the Federal Cabinet has grown more in the last 50 years (where the black arrow is located) than in the previous 90 years. The most significant dip in the size of the cabinet occurred during the term of Liberal Jean Chretien, but while Stephen Harper has been Prime Minister, the Cabinet has returned to its former bloated size of 39 members, last seen during the term of Brian Mulroney (also a Conservative).
Now compare that graph to the one on the right (supplied by John Shaw President of the LPC). It shows the last 50 years of government; notice the relatively flat green line (program spending) during Chretien's term in office, and the dip in the red total debt line. Now I'm not saying that the countries' debt is directly correlated to the size of the Cabinet, but it is oddly similar to the other graph isn't it?
So what does this mean? It may mean nothing, or as I suspect, it may mean that Mr. Harper will not deliver the small more limited government he has promised, but rather, he will continue on the road to more of the same. Unless he pares down the budget's of each of the now more numerous ministers (almost impossible), then his promise to balance the budget in 3 or 4 years is just idle chit-chat. Either that, or he expects rapid, solid growth, in the economy real soon, which I think is equally unlikely. Place your bets now.