POLITICS

Mulcair 'Not Entertaining Any Thought' Of Running A Deficit

08/26/2015 10:47 EDT | Updated 08/26/2016 05:59 EDT

LONDON, Ont. — An NDP pledge to end income splitting won't be enough to balance the budget, Tom Mulcair conceded Wednesday, though he would not talk about spending cuts.

The Liberals pounced on Mulcair's insistence this week that an NDP budget would stay in the black as proof of an "austerity'' agenda, but Mulcair doubled down Wednesday, saying even if market forces change he will not run a deficit.

"We are not entertaining any thought of that,'' the NDP leader said.

He toured a small manufacturing business in London, Ont., to highlight a proposed tax credit for businesses that invest in machinery, equipment and property used in innovative research and development. It would cost $40 million a year.

Mulcair has also promised to lower the small business tax rate to nine per cent from 11 per cent.

His big-ticket promise, to create one million $15-a-day child-care spaces, would cost $5 billion annually once fully implemented in eight years.

Mulcair said he will use money from eliminating Stephen Harper's $2-billion income-splitting plan to fund his own priorities, such as child care and the innovation tax credit.

But he has not yet released the full costing details of his platform and isn't talking about what spending cuts would be needed to ensure a balanced budget.

"Every time we do talk about something, whether it's quality $15-a-day child care or this tax credit, we're always going to show where the money's going to come from,'' Mulcair said.

"We're going to have a fully costed program. Everybody will get to see what the NDP plan is every step of the way.''

Raising the 15 per cent corporate tax rate _ the NDP has not yet specified by how much _ would provide another revenue stream, Mulcair said. And eliminating a tax credit for stock options would provide money to help lift children out of poverty, he said.

When asked about the possibility of spending cuts, he alluded to making "difficult decisions'' around the cabinet table, but said his platform is about the "opposite'' of that.

Star NDP candidate Andrew Thomson, a former Saskatchewan finance minister, said in a CBC interview Tuesday that some cuts are "inevitable'' to balance the budget.

The Liberals pointed out that the next government would already be starting from the position of a deficit, citing an analysis by the parliamentary budget office. Based on Bank of Canada projections it showed that Ottawa is headed for a $1-billion shortfall in 2015-16, despite a projected surplus in the 2015 budget and a long-standing Conservative promise to balance the books.

"Even a combination of the NDP's job-killing corporate tax hike and cancelling income splitting won't be enough to fill Mulcair's budget hole in just one year,'' the Liberals said in a news release.

Because the Liberals were accusing him of austerity and Harper has warned an NDP government would pile on debt, perhaps he has found the right balance, Mulcair joked.

Mulcair had previously urged Harper to put any budget surplus toward restoring the annual six-per-cent increase in health care transfer payments to the provinces, but that is not written into his election platform.

All of Mulcair's public events Tuesday and Wednesday have taken place in Conservative ridings as the NDP targets Tory strongholds.

Despite visiting areas with historically low NDP support, however, Mulcair has nonetheless been drawing sizeable crowds.

About 200 people showed up at what was supposed to be a small coffee shop photo-op in Stratford, Ont., cramming into the cafe and spilling out down the sidewalk.

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