Skip to main content

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair addresses party members at a national caucus strategy session on Sept. 11, 2013, in Saskatoon.

LIAM RICHARDS/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Thomas Mulcair's latest effort to demonstrate that his NDP would handle Canada's economy better than Justin Trudeau's Liberals is impeded by the fact some of his own economic polices are still under wraps or have yet to be developed.

Mr. Mulcair, meeting with his caucus in Saskatoon this week, warned middle-income Canadians on Wednesday to ignore Mr. Trudeau's political overtures, saying the policies of past Liberal governments created gross income disparities and left families buried under mounting debt.

The NDP caucus is in Saskatoon to plot strategy for the fall session, and the Liberals, who are enjoying a surge in popular support under Mr. Trudeau, have become a regular focus of attack for Mr. Mulcair. In a campaign-style speech on Wednesday morning, Mr. Mulcair told his MPs that Canada's economy grew by 147 per cent over the past 35 years, while the average Canadian family's income fell by 7 per cent.

Story continues below advertisement

"The Liberals may hope that Canadians forget their record, they may hope that enough time has passed," Mr. Mulcair said. "But over those same 35 years, 94 per cent of the income inequality that we've experienced in Canada has happened under Liberal governments, not Conservative."

When asked later how he would address that, Mr. Mulcair was clear about what he would not do: He categorically ruled out raising personal taxes.

"In Canada, now we've got several provinces where we are at 50 per cent," he said, and "contrary to our American neighbours, Canadians actually have very few tax shelters …"

Nor would an NDP government raise the goods and services tax, he said.

He reminded reporters his party has promised to eliminate $50-billion in corporate tax cuts and require Canadian corporations to pay something close to the U.S. rate. His predecessor Jack Layton introduced that policy years ago.

The NDP has a laundry list of things to do with that money should it form the next government. It includes a universal childcare program, equal funding for First Nations education, reversing the Conservatives' plan to raise the age at which Canadians can claim Old Age Security benefits to 67 from 65, tax incentives for job creation, increasing supervision of transportation and the food supply, and lifting poor seniors out of poverty.

"I do have a track record of good public administration," Mr. Mulcair said. "And I have a front bench that's capable of providing really good management for Canada. We'll have the monies to do the types of things we're talking about."

Story continues below advertisement

But other elements of the NDP fiscal plan remain unclear. When asked when an NDP government would get around to reducing the federal debt, for instance, Mr. Mulcair had no answer.

"We have, of course, every intention of providing before the next election a fully constituted program," he said. "This fall, we're going to be moving forward, for example, in the area of energy. That's what we started here today. We're going to be proposing those things concretely step by step and this is just the start of it now."

Conservative Labour Minister Kellie Leitch issued a statement on Wednesday saying any NDP economic plan would be "devastating" and increase the cost of living.

New Democrats say they want Canadians to know what they stand for and will be unveiling new policy over the coming months. That contrasts with Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Mulcair said, who "has already advised you that he won't have much to say before the next election."

Releasing elements of a platform before a campaign is risky because it gives the other parties time to find fault with it or adopt its popular elements as their own. And while he can point to the inadequacies of past Liberal governments, Mr. Mulcair cannot boast about successes the NDP have had in power, because it has never won a federal election.

So, while he negatively brands Mr. Trudeau for the actions – or inactions – of his Liberal predecessors, the NDP Leader must point to the track records of New Democratic provincial governments to demonstrate that politicians of his stripe can be good economic managers.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Mulcair said his efforts would be aided by having his economic policies – when they are eventually rolled out – scrutinized by independent experts.

"My tendency is to say we should be able to get something out there well in advance of the next campaign," he said. "And it's always very helpful when you've got people whose opinion on this is respected saying, 'We've run these numbers, it does look like that, these are plausible scenarios.'"

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter