Budget deficit, economic growth in focus as election kicks off

Finance Minister Bill Morneau

Yuri Bilinsky, New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

During the initial period of the federal election campaign, which was formally announced on September 11, the two major parties continued trading jabs and making proposals in the area of budget cuts and economy as a whole.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau stirred some controversy last week when he posted a clip from the leader of Conservatives Andrew Scheer’s comments made at the Conservative Party’s meeting in Sherwood Park – Fort Saskatchewan, SK on September 7 with quotes like “When it comes [to] making tough decisions and cuts, I do agree that it’s very important. But we also have to be very, very careful how we communicate that to people.”

In his tweet that followed the video, Bill Morneau said “This is what Conservative politicians do. It’s what Doug Ford did in Ontario. Conservatives say they’re for the people during the election, then they cut taxes for the wealthy and cut services for everybody else.”

Garnett Genuis, MP for Sherwood Park – Fort Saskatchewan

Garnett Genuis, MP for Sherwood Park – Fort Saskatchewan told NP-UN that a new Conservative government would look for “efficiencies in areas where the Liberals are spending money that don’t reflect the priorities of Canadians.”

But spending will be maintained on the frontline services like healthcare, education and social transfers to the provinces, he added.

“We are committed to balancing the budget in five years which is a prudent and not too aggressive timeline,” he said.

Genuis criticized spending money on overseas projects “that don’t even necessarily reflect our values or interests,” for example on Canadian membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which will cost $256 million over five years. Genuis called the bank “a vehicle for promoting Chinese foreign policy interests.”

Among the examples of the current government’s “undisciplined, unfocused and wasteful” spending initiatives he named the Supercluster program “for big corporations, which are already doing well, to supposedly stimulate economic activity.”

The Liberal government, which launched the Supercluster program in 2018, expects that the superclusters will add more than $50 billion dollars to the Canadian GDP over the next ten years. The government’s investment will amount to $950 million while superclusters are supposed to work in such spheres as ocean-based industries, Artificial Intelligence, advanced manufacturing, protein industries and digital technology.

When asked about the ways a Conservative government would tackle the problem of low economic growth rates in Canada, which on average amounted to just 1.6% over the past decade, Genuis said that, to create the opportunity for growth, the government has to put in place strong economic fundamentals – low taxes, predictable and reasonable regulation, and remove obstacles for bigger projects, like major pipelines, and smaller projects.

Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada Andrew Scheer

One of the issues that the Conservative Party is campaigning on during this election is creating a dedicated, coast-to-coast right-of-way for energy infrastructure projects like pipelines which would create an east-west energy corridor.

The Liberal government last week announced an initiative aimed at “making it easier to start and grow a business.” “After a decade of stalled economic growth and unemployment under the Conservatives, Canada’s economy has rebounded,” said Leader of the Liberal Party, Justin Trudeau. “To keep that momentum moving forward”, in addition to cutting the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%, the lowest rate in the G7, a re-elected Liberal government would remove barriers to start and grow a business by cutting fees, reducing red tape and creating funds for new business owners.

Liberal Party plans such steps as providing up to 2,000 entrepreneurs a year with as much as $50,000 to launch a new business; giving $250 to every new business looking to expand their online services; eliminating all fees from the Business Development Bank of Canada, Export Development Canada and Farm Credit Canada, for business advisory services; cutting the cost of federal incorporation by 75%; and eliminating the “swipe fee” on HST and GST for credit transactions.