Looking at our enormous deficit and news that our debt has now reached half a trillion dollars, has me wondering where the money went. Few jobs have been created, and in fact the government can't even provide us with those figures.
They tell us that the stimulus plan is working but Canadians are still losing their jobs and bankruptcies are on the rise. It's looking more and more like the Canada Action Plan was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
Tories blow billions with no plan
By JOHN MCCALLUM, GUEST COLUMNIST
November 27, 2009
During the last election campaign one year ago, the Harper Conservatives promised Canadians there would be no recession or deficit.
One year later, 1.6 million Canadians are out of work and our economy has shed half-a-million employee jobs. Personal bankruptcies have increased by 47% since last year.
With our first trade deficit in 30 years, our economic growth lags behind G7 peers like Japan, Germany and France who exited their recessions last spring. Canada lags behind even the U.S., whose downturn was supposed to be deeper and longer.
Conservative mismanagement took Canada into deficit before a dime of stimulus spending was spent. Recall that in 2006, the Liberals left office with a $13-billion surplus. It only took two budgets before Jim Flaherty had Canada back into the red.
By cutting revenues and increasing spending at an unsustainable pace, the Conservatives drove the nation's finances into structural deficit before the recession and the last election.
At the onset of the recession, Canada's Conservative government was last among the G7 countries to propose a stimulus plan, acting only after sparking a parliamentary crisis.
January's budget estimated a $34-billion deficit. By spring, it grew to $50 billion, before ballooning to a record $56 billion.
Canadians are asking what lasting benefit they're getting in return for this record deficit. The Conservatives had the opportunity of a generation to invest in Canada's future economic growth. What legacy has been left behind to bring back the jobs we've lost or create the jobs of tomorrow?
As it turns out, the Conservatives spent the cupboard bare while times were good, and didn't invest in the future when times were tough. Despite billions in deficit spending, they have no plan for a healthy, smart, clean and compassionate Canada of tomorrow.
Instead of investing in Canada's clean energy future, Conservatives wasted billions in public funds on advertising, signage and pork-barrel projects -- buying votes with government cheques signed by Conservative MPs.
Instead of rebuilding our manufacturing sector, the Harper government spent $3 billion annually on consultants for part-time contract work and public relations advice.
Instead of making Canada a leader in science, research and development, they cut scientific funding to our research granting councils, sparking an exodus of our brightest minds to other countries.
Never has so much been spent to achieve so little.
This government failed to make investments Canada needs to compete in the new economy.
Consider that for every dollar invested in clean jobs, the economy gets four times more return than for a dollar invested in traditional industries. Yet Canada is being out-paced 13-to-one by the United States when it comes to investments in renewable and environmental technologies.
The race is underway to compete in the new economy, but Stephen Harper has failed to even get us to the starting line.
Compare this with the Liberal track record. After erasing a $42-billion deficit, Canada thrived in an unprecedented period of economic growth. We kept Canada in surplus for a decade by growing revenues while lowering taxes, without borrowing from our children's futures to finance it.
Canadians deserve sound fiscal management and a clear plan for future growth in return for Canada's record deficit.
Instead, all we get is more Conservative financial fiction.
(McCallum is the Liberal finance critic and MP for Markham-Unionville)