Trudeau re­veals ex­pen­sive lib­eral plat­form that raises taxes and adds $94B to the deficit over 4 years

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS NEWS - Brian LILLEY

In the lead up to the 2015 elec­tion, Justin Trudeau made two com­ments that were mocked re­lent­lessly. He said “the bud­get will bal­ance it­self,” and that he wanted to grow the econ­omy, “from the heart out.”

Plenty of peo­ple laughed at Trudeau for those com­ments, but the laugh­ing needs to stop now. Re­leas­ing his 2019 elec­tion plat­form, Trudeau showed he ac­tu­ally be­lieves those com­ments.

The Lib­eral four-year plan calls for a deficit of $27.4 bil­lion next year — 2020-21 — in­stead of the promised $19.7 bil­lion.

Dur­ing the last elec­tion, Trudeau promised the bud­get would be bal­anced by this year. Now we are look­ing at an­other four years of deficits with the feds dip­ping into the red ink to the tune of $23.7 bil­lion, $21.8 bil­lion, and $21 bil­lion through to 2023-24.

If you re­mem­ber the days when Lib­er­als, like Jean Chre­tien and Paul Martin, bal­anced the bud­get, for­get about it. Trudeau dis­missed the idea of bal­anced bud­gets as some­thing only Con­ser­va­tives are ob­sessed with.

“We’re mak­ing this year, for the next four years, a very dif­fer­ent choice. We are choos­ing to in­vest in peo­ple and in their com­mu­ni­ties,” Trudeau said.

It’s strange that the Lib­er­als would go this route given that part of their ar­gu­ment for re-elec­tion is that they should be re­turned to of­fice be­cause the econ­omy is do­ing so well. Part of the Key­ne­sian eco­nomic the­ory that the Lib­er­als are fol­low­ing says that gov­ern­ments go into deficit in the bad times to stim­u­late the econ­omy and pay it down in the good times.

If the Cana­dian econ­omy needs $27 bil­lion in stim­u­lus spend­ing in the good times, how much will Trudeau and the Lib­er­als spend if the econ­omy starts to go south?

“Al­though our econ­omy is grow­ing strongly, we need to be pre­pared for what may lie ahead,” Lib­eral MP and plat­form co-chair Ralph Goodale said on Sun­day.

So that means spend­ing $94 bil­lion more than the gov­ern­ment takes in over the next four years if the econ­omy doesn’t go into a re­ces­sion?

That’s the low end of the spend­ing, it could go much higher.

The Lib­eral plat­form doesn’t in­clude cost­ing for ma­jor cam­paign prom­ises like a na­tional phar­ma­care pro­gram, giv­ing a guar­an­teed in­come to new par­ents that don’t qual­ify for em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance and pro­vid­ing flood in­sur­ance to peo­ple liv­ing on flood plains.

Those items could add bil­lions more a year to the deficit with the Lib­er­als own re­port on phar­ma­care say­ing it will cost $15 bil­lion a year while the Par­lia­men­tary Bud­get Of­fice says as much as $24 bil­lion a year.

The Lib­er­als dis­miss any con­cerns about their spend­ing as “investing” in Cana­di­ans as a way to en­sure pros­per­ity. They also say they will keep the debt-to-gdp ra­tio of about 30%.

That’s if they can ac­tu­ally bring in enough ex­tra cash.

The Lib­er­als say they will raise $1.7 bil­lion by clos­ing cor­po­rate loop­holes and $3 bil­lion by en­sur­ing “that wealthy Cana­di­ans do not ben­e­fit from un­fair tax breaks.” Good luck with that, the Trudeau plan to in­crease rev­enue by tax­ing the wealthy in the last elec­tion never ma­te­ri­al­ized as money was moved around.

The plat­form makes some strange prom­ises, like the plan to spend $525 mil­lion on a learn-to-camp pro­gram but just $400 mil­lion on their guns and gangs strat­egy.

It’s of­ten said that pol­i­tics is about try­ing to bribe vot­ers with their own money. While that is some­thing all par­ties in this elec­tion can be ac­cused of, it is es­pe­cially true for the Lib­eral plat­form.

Much has been made about Trudeau’s prom­ise to help low-in­come fam­i­lies go camp­ing by giv­ing them $2,000 a year to do that. I mean, peo­ple who are strug­gling to make ends meet would surely love a va­ca­tion, but they’d also likely have a bet­ter use for that money than a camp­ing trip.

But Trudeau knows best. Well, that same men­tal­ity creeps into his plat­form for small busi­ness. The Lib­er­als have added more than 4,000 reg­u­la­tions for busi­nesses to fol­low since 2015 and each of those reg­u­la­tions comes with a cost.

But don’t worry, if you have a small busi­ness and want to ex­pand your on­line ser­vices, they will give you $250!

This isn’t the plat­form of a gov­ern­ing party con­fi­dent in their abil­ity to seek re-elec­tion. This is the plat­form of a party wor­ried for their fu­ture and will­ing to go on a spenda­palooza to get your vote.

Will all of this spend­ing be enough to see vot­ers for­give bro­ken prom­ises on ev­ery­thing from bal­anced bud­get to elec­toral re­form? Will it be enough for vot­ers to for­get about Snc-lavalin, Jody Wil­son-ray­bould, the In­dia trip and black­face?

The Lib­er­als cer­tainly hope so and we’ll find out on Oct. 21.


Chris helgren/ REUTERS

Lib­eral Leader Justin Trudeau speaks dur­ing a rally in Peter­bor­ough on Sept. 26.

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