Unlike previous Prime Ministers who oversaw an increase in Canada’s per-person federal debt, Justin Trudeau is massively running up the red ink despite being handed a balanced budget and the absence of a war.
That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Fraser Institute.
“Government debt matters—higher debt means more tax dollars are diverted away from important public programs in order to pay interest, and it leaves future generations on the hook to pay for today’s spending through higher taxes,” says Charles Lammam, director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of An Analysis of Federal Debt in Canada by Prime Ministers Since Confederation.
Here are some of the key points from the report:
- Debt figures per-person in the study were adjusted for inflation, to give full context to historical and current trends in debt accumulation.
- Among the largest debt per person increases came under Sir Robert Borden (188%) and William Lyon Mackenzie King (145%), both of whom faced a severe economic downturn and global wars.
- Justin Trudeau is expected to oversee a 5% increase in the federal debt on a per-person basis by 2019. This will make him the “largest debt accumulator” of any PM who did not face an economic downturn or war.
Debt by choice
Stephen Harper faced the continuation of the war in Afghanistan, and then faced the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression. Understandably, the debt increased under his watch. However, whatever mistakes the Harper government may have made, they deserve credit for diligently working to get the budget under control, and even back into balance despite such a severe downturn.
As a result, Justin Trudeau was handed an economy that – despite some serious flaws – was relatively stable. The budget was balanced, and Canada’s overseas military commitments were mostly winding down. As if that wasn’t enough for him, Canada’s population continues to increase, so even modest deficits (which is what Trudeau promised in the campaign), would not have increased the per-person federal debt level.
Yet, Trudeau decided instead to break his promise to Canadians, and ran up massive budget deficits. Even worse, Canada’s economy is now slowing down anyway, so we are left with more debt, numerous unsolved problems, and a weak economic outlook.
It’s a clear indictment of Justin Trudeau’s terrible governing choices and the negative impact on Canada’s future.
Photo – Fraser Institute Graphic