08/13/2015 02:25 EDT | Updated 08/13/2015 05:59 EDT

Joe Ceci Says Stephen Harper's Criticism Of Alberta's Finances Are Baseless


EDMONTON — Alberta's finance minister has fired back at criticisms made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at and Edmonton campaign stop.

Harper said at a Wednesday rally that the province's new government — which doesn't plan to table a budget until the fall — is drifting through the current economic downturn.

"We know the NDP has already started raising taxes, because raising taxes is in the DNA of the NDP,'' Harper told supporters.

Thursday, New Democrat Finance Minister Joe Ceci questioned what's in Harper's genes.

He pointed out the federal Tories haven't balanced a budget since 2008, added $150 billion in debt, and cited research from the union Unifor that suggested the Conservatives have the worst job creation record since the Second World War.

"These kinds of results seem to be in their DNA,'' Ceci said in a release.

While legislation has passed that would increase business taxes by two percentage points and increase levies on high-income earners, Ceci said a health surcharge has been scrapped and now most Albertans are paying less in taxes.

"Those are the priorities the people of Alberta voted for last spring, whether the Conservative campaign likes it or not.''

To reporters, Ceci painted Harper's remarks as an attack against Albertans.

"What I will continue to do is stand up for Albertans and clarify the record whenever anybody tries to muddy the water about our successes as a government and of Albertans in general. Our government is what they voted for and we're following through with that.''

Ceci said the government will deliver a third-quarter economic update on Aug. 31.

He said his department continues to work hard on a budget. Despite continuing bad news in the energy sector, Ceci returned to a campaign promise to deliver a balanced budget in a couple years.

"We are working to bring forward a budget that is aiming to balance in the year 2018-19,'' he said.

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