McCallum strikes back

(Canscene) — The following op-ed is from the Honourable John McCallum, a former federal Liberal cabinet minister and before that a vice president and chief economist of the Royal Bank of Canada. He writes:

A new Conservative attack on the Liberals’ spending priorities is nothing more than a $62-billion Conservative lie. The claim that Liberal election promises would return Canada to deficits is simply false.

The fact is the glossy 67-page booklet accompanying the Conservative attack ad makes more than 50 questionable assumptions to come to this false conclusion. It uses the phrase “it is assumed” more than 50 times, in a series of misleading statements and calculations. If this is what counts as sound financial analysis, then Canadians have every right to be worried about the Conservatives’ ability to manage our country’s finances.


The truth is, the Liberal Party has a stellar economic and fiscal record. During the mid 1990s, it was the Liberal Party that eliminated the $42-billion deficit left to Canadians by Brian Mulroney’s Conservatives.

When I left my job as Chief Economist of the Royal Bank to run as a Liberal MP seven years ago, I was astounded to find that my new Liberal colleagues were even more opposed to running deficits than were my former colleagues on Bay Street.

There is a very good reason for that. After the Liberals had eliminated Brian Mulroney’s $42-billion annual deficit in 1997, they quickly discovered they were in no mood to return to deficit ever again. Canadians had worked too hard and sacrificed too much to help clean up the last mess.

That same mood still prevails today in the Liberal caucus meetings and it is personified by our party’s leader who sat at the cabinet table while the previous Liberal government delivered balanced budget after balanced budget.

Contrast that to the record of Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who, in 2003, sat quietly at the cabinet table of the Government of Ontario while his colleagues hid a $5.6-billion deficit from the voting public.

Canadians can count on the fact that when the next election comes, they will be able to read a fully-costed Liberal platform that will leave the books in this country balanced. In the meantime, the Conservatives should stop their fear-mongering and stop begging the Liberal Party to release its next election platform before an election has even begun. If they really need some new ideas for initiatives, they should be honest and just say so.


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