Opposition Motion (CPC) Department of Finance
We did what past and future generations would want us to do. We ran timely, targeted, and temporary deficits, stimulating the economy and preserving vital Canadian industries, while also seeking efficiencies and bringing the budget back to balance one year ahead of schedule.
We did this while increasing transfers to the provinces for vital public services, and we did while further cutting taxes. According to every credible authority, we ended our mandate in surplus. We had the best job creation record, the best GDP growth record, and we have by far the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio anywhere in the G7. We led Canada through challenging economic circumstances; we preserved strong economic fundamentals.
Still today, when the Liberals look back on the global financial crisis, they insist on having their cake and eating it, too. Some of the time they tell us that Canada fared poorly during the financial crisis despite obvious facts to the contrary, and some of the time they tell us that Canada did well in the financial crisis but it was only because of Liberal governments of the 1990s.
Other times they criticize the deficits we used to stimulate the economy, and the rest of the time they criticize the spending controls we imposed on the federal bureaucracy as if it were possible to balance the budget without controlling spending in certain areas.
Here is our position with respect to fiscal policy. A government should run timely, targeted, and temporary deficits only in the face of significant declining revenues or in response to major crises like war or natural disasters. There is no need to cut during these periods provided that the same government can make up the difference during good years. To do this in a timely, targeted, and temporary way is not a betrayal of future generations, rather it is prudent and responsible, because it is a way for the present generation to both create debt when necessary and also to do the work to pay it off.
However, to capriciously run structural deficits far beyond the scope which Canadians were led to believe would occur during the election, to do so in response to no significant decline in revenue or major financial event, to do this is a betrayal of our obligations to our children. It is, in effect, a demand that our children and grandchildren pay in the future for what we do not want to do without today.
Our children do not have a choice in this matter. Profligate deficit spending today robs future generations of citizens and policy makers of the ability to enact their own ambitious plans. It saddles them with debt that will limit their dreams long after ours have faded.
This is the reality in many countries around the world, countries were the financial crisis was followed by a debt crisis because they had used up all the room they had to bail themselves out. We do not have to go down this road in Canada. That is certainly not where we started from. It certainly is not inevitable.
If we are to now run up large new deficits, it will only be because of an irresponsible political choice, one that the government could have decided not to make and one which the government must take responsibility for.
If members of the government wish to be generous to its friends, let it do so with its own money. However, the government has no money of its own, it only has the ability to spend the money earned by Canadian taxpayers. As such, it should adopt the requisite humility that normally comes with being entrusted to discharge someone else's property.
It is not too late. I say to the government, “Do not capriciously run massive, totally unnecessary deficits. Do not saddle my daughter with debt, she does not deserve it. Do not distort the facts to obscure responsibility. Take responsibility. Look squarely on the numbers given to it by the finance department and the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Take responsibility, and do right by present and future taxpayers.”