By Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday August 29, 2015
Justin Trudeau alters election equation with deficit-spending gamble
Justin Trudeau has just broken this election campaign wide open. His Liberals have chucked the balanced-budget pledge, at least in the short term, to promise economic growth instead. And now Mr. Trudeau gets to offer a different economic policy.
It makes the Liberals the interventionist party, the only party willing to tell voters they’d spend substantially more in the short term in a bid to get a slow economy rolling.
It’s in part an effort to outflank NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, who won’t make those kinds of promises. Many Canadians want a more interventionist approach: A Nanos Research poll released Wednesday found 54 per cent say they support a new round of deficit spending to boost the economy.
But it is a big gamble with a charged political symbol, the deficit. Mr. Trudeau is walking right into Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s accusation that he’d increase the national debt. Still, the economy is the issue, and the Liberal Leader has altered the election equation.
Until now, all parties had accepted they were constrained by more or less the same shackles: balanced budgets, and roughly the same tax rates, give or take a small shift of the burden toward one group or another.
That meant big money wasn’t available. Parties could shift a few billion dollars around, and then claim their child benefits or child care or tax breaks were the best plan. But one major option – using the federal treasury in a bid to boost economic growth – was more or less off the table. It takes billions and billions to have any real hope of nudging growth in an economy the size of Canada’s.
Now, Mr. Trudeau has thrown off the restraints and said he’ll run deficits of up to $10-billion a year for three years in order to allow for a multibillion-dollar increase in spending on infrastructure, raising it from $5.1-billion to $10.2-billion next year. He’s gone where no other leader will go. (Source: Globe & Mail)