In the 2015 federal election campaign, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau promised to balance the budget in 2019. The Liberals would run annual deficits of less than $10 billion for three years, and then balance the budget in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.1 This was a bold strategy, to borrow money in order to “invest” in infrastructure. Trudeau’s deficit plan set him apart from Tom Mulcair, the NDP leader, who promised four years of balanced budgets.2 After Mulcair’s announcement, Trudeau told his wife Sophie Grégoire, “I’m pretty sure we just won the election.”3 Trudeau believed that his short-term deficit plan made the Liberals more attractive to voters than the NDP.
Two months after winning the election, Justin Trudeau still planned to balance the budget in 2019.4 However, when the Liberal government unveiled its first budget on March 22, 2016, the balanced budget promise was abandoned. Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced a $29.4 billion dollar deficit for 2016-2017, $29 billion for the following year, $22.8 billion for 2018-2019, and $17.7 billion for 2019-20 with no plan to balance the budget in subsequent years.5
The reason Justin Trudeau broke his balanced budget promise is because the Liberal fiscal plan did not add up. The Liberal plan included $146.5 billion in new spending and tax cuts over four years.6 If Trudeau kept the 2016-2017 deficit to less than $10 billion, he would not be able to keep all the spending promises he made during the election. He broke his balanced budget promise so that he could keep his spending plans intact.
Justin Trudeau’s promise of a balanced budget by 2019 was a clever deception to win the election. If he told Canadians that he would not balance the budget, it is unlikely he would have won a majority government. Trudeau promised three years of deficits totaling $25.1 billion.7 Now, with their first budget, the Liberals plan to increase the federal debt by more than $100 billion in their four-year term. Justin Trudeau deceived voters during the 2015 election, and he should apologize to the nation. The Liberal fiscal plan was a fraud.
- “Justin Trudeau says Liberals plan 3 years of deficits to push infrastructure,“ CBC News, August 27, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-election-2015-liberals-infrastructure-deficits-1.3205535
- “Tom Mulcair says NDP’s balanced budget commitment was his idea,” CBC News, October 11, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/tom-mulcair-says-ndp-s-balanced-budget-commitment-was-his-idea-1.3266310
- Ryan Maloney, “Trudeau: NDP’s Balanced Budget Pledge Was Moment I Became ‘Pretty Sure’ Liberals Would Win,” Huffington Post, March 17, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/03/17/justin-trudeau-ndp-balance-budget-pledge_n_9486576.html
- Andy Blatchford, “Justin Trudeau says vow to balance budget in 4 years is ‘very’ cast in stone,” CBC News, December 17, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-budget-deficit-1.3369459
- Pete Evans, “Ottawa forecasts $29.4B deficit — with lots more red ink to come,” CBC News, March 22, 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/budget-deficit-infrastructure-1.3502940
- “Liberal fiscal plan outlines $146.5B in spending, tax cuts over next 4 years,” CBC News, September 26, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-election-2015-liberal-fiscal-plan-1.3245239
- “The Liberal Fiscal Plan and Costing,” http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2434195-the-liberal-fiscal-plan-and-costing.html#document/p7