OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau is poised to nail down the last major plank in the Liberal election platform: a multibillion-dollar plan to stimulate economic growth by investing in public infrastructure.
The Liberal leader's infrastructure policy, to be unveiled Thursday in Oakville, Ont., is expected to include significant new funding for:
— Public transit and transportation;
— Affordable housing;
— Helping communities adapt to climate change, which has been blamed for billions in damage from flooding, wildfires and hailstorms.
Trudeau's infrastructure announcement goes hand in hand with his refusal to commit to immediately balancing the federal budget, should he win the Oct. 19 election.
And it's a big part of Trudeau's attempt to position the Liberals as the only party willing to run short-term deficits to goose the stagnant economy.
By contrast, he maintains the Conservatives and New Democrats would have to make deep spending cuts to deliver on their promises to balance the budget even though the country is teetering on the brink of — or already in — a recession.
The Liberals see the deficit issue as a wedge that sets Trudeau apart from his main rivals, particularly NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, with whom he's competing for the so-called progressive vote. Mulcair is vowing that an NDP government would balance the budget next year, regardless of economic conditions.
However, the gamble could backfire, actually helping Mulcair portray himself as a cautious, prudent economic manager and helping Trudeau's opponents paint the Liberal leader as a reckless big spender who can't be trusted to manage the economy.
Both Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and NDP star candidate Andrew Thomson, a former Saskatchewan finance minister, have accused the Liberal leader of planning to run deficits in perpetuity.
Trudeau is expected to make clear Thursday that he'd balance the budget within the first term of a Liberal government.
Liberal strategists maintain Trudeau is being more honest with Canadians than either of his main opponents.
Despite Harper's insistence that the federal budget will be balanced this year, the parliamentary budget officer and numerous economists have predicted the government is headed for its eighth consecutive deficit due to plunging oil prices and stagnant economic growth.
Many economists have also argued that another year or two of small deficits is preferable to cutting spending when the economy is shrinking.
The Canadian Press
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