Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Balancing Act: Federal Leaders Trade Barbs over Fitness as Fiscal Managers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Balancing Act: Federal Leaders Trade Barbs over Fitness as Fiscal Managers

Article excerpt

Budget, economy dominates on campaign trail

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OTTAWA - Canada's three main political leaders traded accusations of fiscal recklessness and promises of budget prudence Wednesday as the health of the economy dominated the federal election campaign for a third straight day.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, trying to carve out a place for his party on the mantle of economic management, promised that a New Democrat government would deliver a balanced budget next year, no matter what.

Easier said than done, countered Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who suggested -- even as he billed his party as a champion of fiscal responsibility -- that balancing the books would likely be a matter of years.

All of which left Conservative Leader Stephen Harper saying what he's been saying all along: the budget is balanced now, but won't be for long if either the NDP or the Liberals form the next federal government.

Asked during a campaign event in London, Ont., whether an NDP government would run a deficit, Mulcair was unequivocal: "We are not entertaining any thought of that," he said.

However, doing away with the Conservative income-splitting measure won't produce enough extra revenue to cover his spending promises, Mulcair conceded.

He said he will soon detail how he will stay in the black while implementing new programs, including an ambitious promise of a million child-care spaces within eight years.

"We're going to have a fully costed program," Mulcair said. "Everybody will get to see what the NDP plan is every step of the way."

His details will also have to cover a new promise of a $40-million tax credit for businesses investing in innovative research, which he promised Wednesday.

He will also have to fend off accusations that he'll cut existing programs to pay for his campaign largesse -- flames Andrew Thomson, a former Saskatchewan finance minister and a star NDP candidate running against Finance Minister Joe Oliver,fanned in a broadcast interview on Tuesday when he said spending cuts would be inevitable. …

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