May 26th, 2018

Questioning PM Harper’s ‘fiscally prudent eye’

By Letter to the Editor on February 3, 2018.

In his Jan. 19 MLA Report in the News, Drew Barnes states that former PM Stephen Harper had “a steady fiscally prudent eye on our hard-earned tax dollars” and he provided “less debt liability for future generations.” The facts seem to indicate otherwise.

Over PM Harper’s 10 years in office (Feb./06 to Nov./15) the federal debt increased $134.5 billion from $481.5 billion (March 31, 2006) to $616 billion (March 31, 2016) (refer to Fiscal Reference Tables — 2017 — Department of Finance). This included a record $55.6 billion for end of fiscal year March 31, 2010.

Program expenses also increased during this time from $177.3 billion (March 31, 2006) to $271 billion (March 31, 2016) or about 53 per cent.

The Fraser Institute also has concerns with debt accumulated since 2008/09. In their Fraser Research Bulletin 2 they state “in 2008/09, the federal government began running budget deficits contributing to the $211.2 billion in added debt” (includes debt for all levels of government). They also state that government debt is an “ongoing fiscal issue in Canada.”

Also, in his column, Barnes commends Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall for achieving a balance in his last budget. But it should be noted that Wall did increase the PST and broadened the number of goods/services to which it applies. This shows that raising taxes may be necessary to address a deficit, particularly if revenue sources are declining.

Barnes also presents Jason Kenney as a someone who has provided “incredibly scrupulous attention to the economic well being of the next generation” due to Kenney being part of Harper’s government. This claim is questionable based on the facts presented above.

There is no doubt that governments cannot continually run deficits but dealing with a deficit too fast can harm the economy. This happened in 2015 when Harper made a concerted effort to eliminate the deficit but GDP growth was only 0.9 per cent in 2015, down from 2.6 per cent in 2014. For comparison, growth in 2017 was about 3 per cent and this was after the federal government operated with a deficit in 2016 and 2017 with the intent of stimulating the economy.

Lastly, Barnes has overlooked one accomplishment of Harper (and by association Mr. Kenney) that does have a positive impact on future generations. This was Harper’s proposal in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 emissions by 2030. This was the target Canada committed to at the 2016 Paris Climate Accord. Albertans are eager to see what actions Mr. Kenney will propose for Alberta to ensure Canada reaches this target.

Denis Hoffman

Medicine Hat

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One Response to “Questioning PM Harper’s ‘fiscally prudent eye’”

  1. Fedup Conservative says:

    It doesn’t make Jason Kenney, from Harper’s Reform Party, look very smart when he is ignoring what Harper tried to create by promising the elimination of the Carbon Tax that was created to help us get to Harper’s targets, does it?

    Denis has nailed it. While Harper slashed taxes for his rich friends , helping create the huge debt, he promised to cut $36 billion off of the provincial governments health care funding deliberately trying to force us into a privatized health care system, like Klein tried to do.with his Third-Way. As we know it will only benefit the rich. I think it was the main reason why these reformers were voted out in the last election.That along with treating our veterans very poorly.

    Having watched their reform party politics destroyed at the federal level Jason Kenney and Brian Jean have brought them to Alberta and hope we will be dumb enough to let them ram them down our throats. Once again privatization of our health care system is their mandate, while they promise to continue to allow their rich friends to clean us out of our oil wealth, while enjoying huge tax breaks while they do it. Doctors say it would be a major disaster for all those that can’t afford it and us seniors will be the biggest losers. Apparently they’ve forgotten that Albertans forced Ralph Klein into early retirement for trying to do it to us in 2006. I suggest we force them into retirement before they get started. I don’t know anyone who is going to support them, do you?

    Even the former PC MLAs are criticizing them. They are nothing like the conservatives we proudly supported under Lougheed and Getty, they cared about the well being of all Albertans, not just themselves and there rich friends.


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