This week, a few of us liberals and Liberals at Daisy were confronted on-air with a clip of Justin Trudeau on CPAC saying (apparently) “the deficit will take care of itself.” Stephen Harper and the Conservatives seized on that, in Question Period and elsewhere. They mocked him for what he (allegedly) said.
When we were permitted to see Trudeau’s full statement, it was apparent he didn’t say that. In fact, he said that – with significant economic growth (and, impliedly, with program review and healthy revenue streams) – the deficit will, in fact, be taken care of. Worked for Chrétien.
In this Globe quote, below, he further fleshes out his deficit observation. Personally – and not just because I’ve been hammering away at this fact in Sun columns – I think he has identified the fiscal dilemma of the coming decade: a federal government with a structural surplus, and everyone else – provincial governments, municipal governments – being in a structural deficit.
“Canadians are tapped out, provinces are tapped out,” Mr. Trudeau said. “The federal government, because of smart decisions taken in the 1990s, has a little more leeway. Our debt-to-GDP ratio is great. So what we need to be looking at is how we can leverage the fact that we do have a little more wiggle room on the federal side to actually get our economy growing the right way.”
We are heading into a period with a tremendous number of money demands being made of the federal government which Trudeau hopes to lead. The provinces and the cities will be (and are) desperate. For the separatists, in particular, it’s a very helpful circumstance.
I write more about this tremendous challenge in the Sun this weekend. But I’m glad Trudeau is talking about it.