Bill Morneau Says Tories Left Deficit, Despite PBO's Surplus Projection

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Finance Minister Bill Morneau doggedly refused to concede Tuesday that Liberals inherited a surplus, even though a new report from Canada's budget watchdog states otherwise.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) projects that Ottawa will run a $700-million surplus in 2015-2016, and not the $5.4-billion deficit Liberals projected last month.

For months now, Tories have argued that they did not, as Liberals claim, leave the new government in the red.

rona ambrose bill morneau
Interim Tory Leader Rona Ambrose, Finance Minister Bill Morneau speak in the House of Commons in April 2016. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

In question period, Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's "commitment to transparency has gone from a principle to a buzzword."

The PBO has made clear the "Liberal budget doesn't add up," Ambrose said, and that Tories did indeed leave a surplus. The remark sparked applause from the Tory bench.

"My question to the prime minister is why does he insist on this continuation of misleading Canadians on these basic facts?" Ambrose said.

Morneau answered on his boss' behalf — and doubled down.

"In the last month of the year, revenues go down, expenses go up," he said. "The Conservatives left us with a deficit, as we will see."

The more pressing question, Morneau said, was what Liberals are going to do about the "era of low growth" from the past government.

"The PBO has independently confirmed that they agree that our investments in the economy will grow the economy for the long term," he said. "That's what we're trying to do."

While the full PBO report can be read online, the chart below shows the estimates of budgetary balances.

pbo

Annie Donolo, Morneau's press secretary, told The Huffington Post Canada via email that the Liberals' assertion of a deficit is based on numbers Finance Canada released in February projecting a deficit of $2.3 billion for 2015-16 "before any new measures proposed by the current Government."

With a file from The Canadian Press

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