Free from the restrictions of a minority government, the Tory 2012 budget was an opportunity to remodel the federal government from a “Northern European welfare state” to a limited government, sound-money institution. Of course, Harper's “hidden agenda” has nothing to do with Austrian economics. In the end, the only real bit of news was the scraping of the penny; everything else resembled recycled Liberal budgets circa the 1990's.
Big government is still here. $5.4 billion in federal spending cuts are, even by Flaherty's standards, “modest” especially when compared to the cuts European governments are making. Only 19,000 government jobs are being eliminated, only a fraction, the Toronto Star notes, of those added by the federal government within the last few years. Members of Parliament won't have to worry about cuts to their pensions for another three years (at the very least), but other federal pensions and benefits (those not of MP's) will be cut. A measly $115 million has been cut from the CBC budget when it should have been privatized.
Never a free-market country, the Tories have made no effort to change the status quo. The federal government is continuing (read: attempting) to centrally plan prosperity by squandering over a billion dollars into research and development. However contradictory as this may seem, given that they are also slashing the budget of the National Research Council.
Obviously, the Tories are serving their corporate masters by making resource extraction and exploitation easier than ever. Now my personal views on environmental issues have changed within the last year (don't worry, I'm not a Greenpeace global warming fanatic) but regardless of ones own Avatar opinions, these facts remain: we do not have a free market; no level of Canadian government respects or enforces private property rights; our money is fiat and controlled by a ruling elite; this ruling elite are extracting resources for their own benefit. With that said, I can't see how the benefits of Northern Gateway pipeline are anything but crumbs falling from the table. In addition, as annoying as some of these environmental protest groups can be, using the State's monopoly on force to crack down these dissidents is not exactly pro-liberty.
As for balancing the budget: ... you didn't think they would actually do it, did you? Even if the budget is balanced on paper, the fact remains that without debt there would be no money (fiat money that is, gold and silver will outlast any government).
There are about 500 pages to this budget. If this were a real conservative government, one that actually held to the belief of personal liberty, sound money and respect for private property, this budget would have consisted of two words: