Harper Conservatives’ ‘obsession’ with balanced budgets hurts Canadian economy: Ralph Goodale

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Former Finance Minister Says Households Have Record Debt, Country Has Chronic Trade Deficit And Businesses Are Not Increasing Investment

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OTTAWA – Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party Ralph Goodale is urging the federal Conservatives to drop what he calls their austerity obsession in Tuesday’s budget.

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The former finance minister said it was bad policy when households have record debt levels, the country has a chronic trade deficit and businesses do not increase their investments.

Goodale says the government should allocate more money for infrastructure and access to post-secondary education, while eliminating tariffs on consumer goods and reducing the burden of higher insurance payroll taxes. use.

He says the Conservatives should also stop spending millions of taxpayer dollars on advertising unless there is some accountability over how that money is spent.

Goodale says he’s unsure whether the Tories should delay their self-imposed 2015 deadline to balance the books because he doesn’t have access to all the financial information they do.

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But he says he’s skeptical of the Conservatives’ calculations because they plan to balance the books, in part, by simply not spending the money they pledged in the budget.

“On one page of the budget plan, you announce big spending in areas like infrastructure or national defense, for example,” he said.

A few pages later, however, the government says it ultimately will not spend that money.

“It’s a big sleight of hand that really raises serious doubts about the arithmetic of government.”

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty insists he will not balance the books on the backs of the provinces, but he does not, Liberal MP John McCallum said.

Ontario has already complained about cuts to its equalization payments and Prime Minister Stephen Harper is trying to claw back money Ottawa is giving provinces for a controversial new federal skills training program that has yet to be released. created.

“I think he is showing signs of contempt for the provinces in his efforts to balance the federal books as quickly as possible,” McCallum said.

The Canadian Press

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