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Steven Chase

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Slaying the monstrous deficit in the mid-1990s was impressive enough -- but Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff made his party's 12-year-old achievement sound even better last week.

Not only the former Liberal government balance Ottawa's books -- but it did so without raising taxes, he told reporters on Sept. 4.

"All I can tell you about our plan on the deficit is we have got credibility. We inherited a $42-billion deficit from Brian Mulroney, the last Conservative government. We dug the country out of it without raising taxes ... We did it before. We'll do it again."

Unfortunately, pesky facts get in the way of this retelling of history.

A re-reading of dusty Finance Canada budget documents will show that the Liberals in fact hiked taxes in the early years of their fight against the deficit.

The 1995 budget raised the federal excise tax on gasoline by 1.5 cents a litre as a deficit elimination measure. In fact, the Liberals upped taxes by a total of $2.6-billion over three years betwen 1995-96 and 1997-98.

Levies included a tax on banks that at the time was projected to reap $65-million over two years.

 

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