Thursday, January 19, 2006

Harper’s Platform Costing Deceptive
January 13, 2006

Ottawa – Stephen Harper would drive the country into deficit if he honours the $75 billion in promises contained in the Conservative Party platform released today.

“It’s clear at this point that Mr. Harper has been, frankly, dishonest during this campaign about what promises he can and can’t keep,” said Finance Minister Ralph Goodale.

“Mr. Harper needs to come clean and tell the Canadian people how he plans to pay for this get-elected spending spree. His only choice is to run a deficit, make deep cuts into social programs, and raise taxes.”

Mr. Harper has hidden $26 billion in cuts in his campaign platform, which may explain why he has not released costing tables with it.

The Conservative platform rejects the five-year spending forecast of the Liberal government, which was generated by 19 independent private-sector economists.

Their projection for government spending is a total of $920.3 between 2006-07 and 2010-11. In contrast, Mr. Harper’s hidden costs can be found in a five-year cumulative total of $894.4 billion.

The question Canadians have to ask Mr. Harper is where he will find this undisclosed $26 billion, over and above his alleged $23-billion surplus.

Revenue Minister John McCallum, former Chief Economist and Vice President of the Royal Bank, said that Harper’s platform vague and misleading costing calls into question his economic credibility and his political intentions.

“Stephen Harper said in his platform speech that he wants Canadians to trust him with their money. But why would Canadians trust Mr. Harper with their check books when he won’t provide a transparent accounting?”

Under these circumstances, it is clear Harper will be forced to run a deficit and cut government programs – and will force the government to renege on more than a dozen commitments. Harper confirmed that he would raise taxes on middle- and low-income Canadians, withdraw from the Kyoto accord and withdraw from the Kelowna agreement with First Nations and First Ministers.

On top of this Harper’s most expensive campaign promise – to address the “fiscal imbalance” – remains uncosted, and he has said an election campaign is no time to negotiate it.

Skepticism remains about the workability of individual Conservative promises, such as the affordable housing tax credit – which Harper described yesterday as “experimental” – and a foreign-credentialed professionals agency, as well as the federal public prosecutors’ office.

”The platform confirms that Mr. Harper’s government is going follow in step with other right-of-centre governments – racking up huge deficits at the same time as they’re slashing programs,” said McCallum. “It’s in service of a core conservative vision of a much smaller, weaker government.”

In contrast, the Liberal platform builds on 8 consecutive balanced budgets of the Liberal administration and ensures continued balanced budgets, the first time since Confederation this has been achieved.

“The Liberal platform reflects the responsible fiscal management that has produced a string of 8 balanced budgets in a row and demonstrates the same overall discipline that we have shown as a government for the past 12 years,” said Revenue Minister John McCallum.

No comments: