Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Trudeau Liberals Link 'Reckless' Ontario Budget with Scheer's Conservatives

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Trudeau Liberals Link 'Reckless' Ontario Budget with Scheer's Conservatives

Article excerpt

Federal Liberals call Ontario budget 'cruel'

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OTTAWA - The federal Liberals are attacking the Ontario Progressive Conservative government's first budget since Doug Ford was elected premier, hoping voters across the country will connect the document's cuts to social spending and the yet-to-be-announced policy leanings of Andrew Scheer's Conservatives.

The provincial budget proposes cuts in post-secondary education and social services, scaling back the growth in spending projected by Ontario's former Liberal government.

Federal Employment Minister Patty Hajdu, an MP from Thunder Bay in northern Ontario, called the budget "reckless" in how it takes a knife to programs that affect everything from social security and job creation to northern development and the province's ability to fight forest fires.

At almost every turn at a news conference Friday, Hajdu told reporters in Ottawa that voters across the country can expect the same kind of "cruel" fiscal slashing from the federal Conservatives under Scheer's leadership, should they choose him to govern the nation in the October election.

"From my perspective, Doug Ford and his cronies are trying to pull a fast one on Ontarians," Hajdu said. "It's quite clear that Andrew Scheer would take exactly the same tactic."

Much as the federal Liberals did in 2015, the Ford government is pledging to balance Ontario's books several years down the road.

Justin Trudeau didn't deliver on his campaign pledge of "modest" deficit spending with a plan to balance the federal budget by 2019. Every year, his government has produced bigger deficits than it promised, and this year's is nearly $20 billion.

Balancing the provincial budget was a key election promise for the Ontario Tories. Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said Thursday he expected the province would eliminate its budget deficit by the 2023-24 fiscal year, two years beyond the end of their term.

"We have developed a reasonable path to balance," Fedeli said. "Our path to balance in five years is a thoughtful and a measured approach to take. …

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