With a strong plan to invest in jobs and economic growth, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has boldly distinguished himself from both Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair.
Canada is on the brink of a second recession under Mr. Harper. His growth record is the worst of any Prime Minister in eight decades. There are 160,000 more jobless Canadians today than before he took office. Participation in the labour market has been dropping. Job quality is at a 25-year low. Household debt is near a record high. The country has suffered its worst trade deficits in history. And Mr. Harper is headed towards his eighth consecutive budgetary deficit, with nothing much to show for it.
Compared to other countries, Canada's growth hasn't topped the G7 since 2009. Among 34 economies in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 24 will grow faster this year than will Canada, and in the International Monetary Fund, more than 130 will do better.
Clearly Mr. Harper's trickle-down theories have failed. So has his ideology of eviscerating the federal government. In this election, he's promising only more of the same. Why should Canadians be stuck with proven failure? As Albert Einstein once said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
So the choice is clear -- between more Harper cuts, austerity, unfairness and stagnation, or Justin Trudeau's plan to:
- bolster the spending power of the middle-class (and all those working hard to get there), and
- invest in the most effective drivers of greater economic growth and jobs, most especially public infrastructure like transit and transportation, water systems, housing and environmental integrity.
You can read the full details of the Trudeau plan here.
It's aimed at three prime objectives -- generating stronger economic growth and more employment, lifting the wellbeing of Canadians, and balancing the federal books in the third year of a new Liberal government on a lasting basis (with a declining debt-to-GDP ratio all the way through).
The key pro-growth principle of investing in infrastructure has been embraced internationally by the G20 and the IMF . Here in Canada it has the vigorous support of the premiers and mayors, reeves and municipalities from coast-to-coast, plus the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Council of Chief Executives, the labour movement, professional engineers, the Canada-West Foundation, the C.D. Howe Institute, the Conference Board, the Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canada 2020 -- the list goes on.
In the late Jim Flaherty's budgets, the Finance department depicted infrastructure investments as the single most cost-effective way to drive immediate jobs and growth, while also laying the foundation for a stronger, more prosperous, more productive economy for generations to come. And especially now, the economic value of historically low interest rates can be captured and converted into long-term capital assets.
Former Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, has made these same strong points. So have the former Clerk of the Privy Council, Kevin Lynch, Canada's former Chief Statistician, Munir Sheikh, and former Bank of Canada Governor, David Dodge.
Only Stephen Harper remains oblivious and off-side. And one other -- Thomas Mulcair.
Mr. Mulcair has strangely sided with the Harper austerity agenda, meaning billions of dollars in program cuts and/or broken promises to concoct the appearance of a balanced budget next year. By rejecting growth, he has made the wrong choice.
Mr. Mulcair also refuses to ask the wealthiest one per cent of Canadians to pay a bit more so our middle-class can pay less. He insists on sending Harper's child care cheques to millionaires. He's promising every minimum wage worker $15/hour, but 99% of them won't benefit. And his child care scheme depends on the provinces first paying billions of dollars up-front which they don't have.
The Mulcair plan and the Harper plan are formulae for going nowhere.
Backed by a highly qualified team and reinforced by independent endorsements, Justin Trudeau is offering the only agenda for real change -- to move Canadians successfully into the future with greater growth, more jobs, a better quality of life, and a durable foundation for balancing the books.
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