By Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday September 16, 2015
Harper riding high on surprise surplus
Stephen Harper was hanging 10 on the crest of a surprise budget surplus Tuesday, showing off his fiscal bona fides as the federal election campaign prepared to convene in Calgary to debate the state of the Canadian economy.
In British Columbia, the Conservative leader boasted about the latest Finance Department numbers, which show a $1.9-billion surplus for 2014-15 instead of a predicted $2-billion shortfall.
At an event in North Vancouver, Harper wasted no time using the opportunity to mock the money-management skills of both Rachel Notley, Alberta’s new NDP premier, and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
“We know why there’s a recession (in Alberta) — it’s not because the government ran a $2-billion surplus,” Harper said.
“There’s a recession because oil prices have fallen by half, and the recession has been made worse because the NDP government came in and followed up by raising taxes on everybody.”
Trudeau — who has linked the economic slowdown to the government’s relentless pursuit of a pre-election balanced budget — seems to think that $2-billion surplus provoked a worldwide fall in oil prices, Harper continued.
“I mean, seriously,” an animated Conservative leader said to laughter from the partisan crowd.
“They think that somehow under these conditions, plunging the country back into deficit for years to come would be a good thing. Canadians get that, given the turmoil in the world, the fact that we have a budget balanced — and we’re going to keep that balanced — is a good thing for this country.”
Trudeau has criticized the surplus as a product of underspending on vulnerable Canadians — an accusation the Conservatives deny. A Liberal government would stick with its plan to run deficits for the first three years in office, making investments in infrastructure and seniors despite the surplus, Trudeau has said.
Monday’s surplus news couldn’t have come at a better time for Harper, who will join his NDP and Liberal counterparts Thursday in Calgary for a debate on economic issues, sponsored by the Globe and Mail and Google Canada. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)