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Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable (Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)
Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable (Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)

Norman Spector

Ignatieff's deficit Add to ...

Last week, Michael Ignatieff told Canadians that we'd have to " wait and see" how a Liberal government would "clean up" the deficit without raising taxes. Well, as of today - when the October issue of L'actualité hits the newsstands - the wait will be over.

Le Devoir's Hélène Buzzetti got an early look at an interview with Mr. Ignatieff in the magazine, and she reports that Canada will still be in deficit in five years if the Liberals form government.

Here's how the Liberal Leader puts it, in his own words:

"We will not reduce the deficit to zero, but we will place it on an unequivocal reduction path. … We will propose a 5-year target, a certain percentage of GDP that will represent a threshold that we should not exceed. This will give a clear direction to the fiscal policy of the government. … I think it's unreasonable to predict that the deficit will be eliminated in 5 years. Canadian will accept a deficit if it's to stimulate the economy and if we have a target to eliminate it."

Yesterday, finance minister Jim Flaherty forecast a deficit in 2014-15 of $5.2-billion. Though he insists that's a manageable number from which to restore a balanced budget, he's not telling us how or when he'd do it. As to how Mr. Ignatieff would go about implementing his fiscal plan, here he echoes Mr. Flaherty's clarity on what he wouldn't do, and lack of clarity on what he would do to cut federal expenditures:

"Let's be clear: I don't want to increase taxes for individuals and businesses, particularly when we're trying to get out of an economic crisis. That's crucial. We'll have to examine everything in the federal budget to see where we can make savings. Avoid transferring the burden to the provinces. That's another mistake we made in the 90's and must not repeat."

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