Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - AARON Wudrick AND JAS­MINE Pickel Aaron Wudrick is fed­eral direc­tor of On­tario Tax­pay­ers Fed­er­a­tion and Jas­mine Pickel is the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s in­terim On­tario direc­tor.

It’s strange to watch Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau fo­cus his cam­paign at­tacks on On­tario Premier Doug Ford, in­stead of his true elec­toral op­po­nent, Con­ser­va­tive Party leader An­drew Scheer. De­spite Ford in­creas­ing spend­ing to the high­est level in On­tario’s his­tory, and Scheer promis­ing four more years of deficit spend­ing, it seems the Lib­er­als will con­tinue to fear­mon­ger about neb­u­lous cuts.

But the Lib­er­als ought to be care­ful. If Trudeau wants to com­pare Scheer to Ford, he’s invit­ing com­par­isons be­tween his gov­ern­ment and its pro­vin­cial coun­ter­part in On­tario.

Let’s con­sider the On­tario Lib­eral legacy.

Dur­ing the 15-year reign of the Mcguinty-wynne Lib­er­als, On­tario’s spend­ing sky­rock­eted by 57 per cent, far out­pac­ing in­fla­tion and pop­u­la­tion growth. The for­mer On­tario gov­ern­ment paid lip ser­vice to the im­por­tance of balanced bud­gets, but ran deficits over 80 per cent of the time. Pub­lic debt more than dou­bled, earn­ing On­tario the in­fa­mous dis­tinc­tion as the most in­debted sub-sov­er­eign ju­ris­dic­tion on earth.

And the out­come?

In the 2018 elec­tion, the num­ber of Lib­er­als at Queen’s Park was re­duced from 55 to just seven and it lost of­fi­cial party sta­tus in the On­tario Leg­is­la­ture. The five re­main­ing Lib­eral MPPS (two have since re­signed) can car­pool to work in a sedan.

In­stead of crit­i­ciz­ing Ford’s at­tempts to save money, Trudeau should con­sider how badly On­tario vot­ers have pun­ished Lib­er­als for dis­as­trous fis­cal man­age­ment. Will he learn from oth­ers’ mis­takes?

Dur­ing the last cam­paign, the fed­eral Lib­er­als fol­lowed their On­tario coun­ter­parts’ lead with a deficit-based plat­form, but it came with an im­por­tant caveat.

“What Cana­di­ans need are lead­ers who will tell them the truth and that’s ex­actly what I’m go­ing to do: we are com­mit­ted to bal­anc­ing the bud­get in 2019,” promised Trudeau dur­ing the 2015 elec­tion.

Trudeau broke that prom­ise with a deficit in 2019 and pro­vided no real­is­tic plan to re­turn to bal­ance.

The re­cently re­leased fed­eral Lib­eral elec­tion plat­form is as­tound­ing in its brazen and un­apolo­getic aban­don­ment of any at­tempt to bal­ance the bud­get in the next five years, or ever. Even ex­clud­ing their ob­vi­ously ex­pen­sive, yet un-costed, plan for uni­ver­sal pharma-care, the Lib­er­als will add a min­i­mum of $114 bil­lion in deficit spend­ing to the debt over the next five years from the start of this fis­cal year.

The fed­eral debt is al­ready near­ing $700 bil­lion and the gov­ern­ment cur­rently spends $54 mil­lion more than it brings in every day. It’s spend­ing $26 bil­lion just to cover in­ter­est charges on the debt, which will only grow larger as the debt bal­loons.

It’s as­ton­ish­ing to see the fed­eral Lib­eral plat­form copy­ing the On­tario Lib­er­als’ record. It’s a record that ul­ti­mately re­sulted in elec­toral ruin. Much worse, it left a crush­ing debt for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

There is, how­ever, one im­por­tant point of di­ver­gence to high­light be­tween Wynne and Trudeau: Wynne at least pre­tended to have a plan to bal­ance the bud­get even­tu­ally. Trudeau’s plan is large deficit spend­ing in per­pe­tu­ity.

It’s worth not­ing that this gen­er­a­tion of big-spend­ing Lib­er­als marks a stark de­par­ture from for­mer prime min­is­ters Jean Chre­tien and Paul Martin who val­ued re­spon­si­ble fis­cal man­age­ment.

Ford is premier to­day be­cause On­tar­i­ans were fed up with big-spend­ing, scan­dal-plagued Lib­er­als. Given Trudeau’s track record, the last thing he should be do­ing is re­mind­ing vot­ers that the best way to avoid fis­cal hang­overs is to stop the spend­ing binges in the first place.

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