Governments in Canada today are facing a fiscal crisis. In recent years both Ottawa and many of the provinces have undertaken cost-cutting measures, such as reducing program spending and streamlining the public service, in an attempt to get their fiscal houses in order. Yet these efforts have barely even begun to address the problem. Governments still find themselves strapped for cash, struggling to find enough money to keep our most cherished social programs afloat while continuing to make payments on the billions of dollars in debt they owe to the rest of the world.
How did we get to this point? The answer is that for more than thirty years the people we elected to office, and the public servants who ostensibly worked under their direction, essentially squandered our tax dollars. Operating within a political culture that promoted a "spend now, pay later" philosophy, governments across the country embarked on a program of unchecked public spending; they carelessly sank our money into new institutions, typically without any thought to their sustainability in the future.
Why did this recklessness go unchallenged? This is the central question posed in Guardians on Trial, a collection of essays transcribed from interviews gathered for a documentary film. The conversations - with politicians, public servants, academics and business leaders with insiders' knowledge - shine a light on government economic mismanagement and its inevitable consequences.