Calling the Liberal deficit budget forecast “reckless” and “irresponsible,” businessman and television celebrity Kevin O’Leary wonders how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sleeps at night when the futures of Canadian children are at stake.
And he’s sure Finance Minster Bill Morneau is not getting much shut-eye, either, after predicting deficits of $18.4 billion in the 2016-17 fiscal year and $15.5 billion in 2017-18 — and that’s without any new spending in next month’s budget.
“I bet he spends half of every night staring at the ceiling asking himself, ‘What the hell did I get myself into?’” said the Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den star of Morneau.
O’Leary predicted that the deficit will be more in the $40-billion range — warning stimulus spending projects typically have large cost overruns.
“He knows this has more than a 50-50 chance of ending very badly for the Canadian people and it’s his name all over it,” he said of Morneau.
Known as Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank, O’Leary has been toying with the idea of running for the Conservative leadership.
“Looks like Trudeau Jr. is taking a page from his father’s playbook. When in doubt, spend.”
The deficits of the 1970s became an addiction for future governments and now Canada’s debt is $615 billion.
“Last year, it cost $26 billion to pay interest,” said Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF). “Just under 10 cents of every tax dollar — and that’s with record-low interest rates. If the rates start to rise, watch out!”
O’Leary said neither Trudeau had the right approach.
“The difference is today’s Canada is no longer growing,” he said. “Blowing through $40 billion of inefficient government spending won’t fix the country’s problems. Instead, it will ensure his legacy will be felt by his children’s children, who will still be paying for this irresponsible waste.”
It might not affect millionaires like Trudeau or Morneau. Not everybody has the taxpayers cover the cost of their nannies.
And before getting into politics, Morneau was earning more than $1 million a year heading up the 4,000-employee Morneau Shepell Inc. With his wife Nancy McCain, of the legendary New Brunswick food packaging family, he has a home in the south of France.
So Trudeau and Morneau’s problems are different.
O’Leary wonders if Morneau’s heart is even in it.
“Finance Minister Morneau has to be the loneliest man in Canada right now,” said O’Leary. “He signed up with a populist newbie prime minister who advertised a $10-billion deficit who then got elected. Six months later, Morneau is about to own a $40-billion deficit laden with risk. He would never spend his own money this way.”
Now Liberal defenders are saying this government’s red ink will be less than the former Conservative government’s $50-billion-plus deficit in 2009. Then-finance minister Jim Flaherty and former prime minister Stephen Harper were trying to insulate Canada from the 2008 worldwide economic collapse.
One difference is that Trudeau promised to cap the 2016-17 deficit at $10 billion.
But, like O’Leary, Wudrick agreed whether it’s 2009 or the upcoming fiscal year, deficit financing is bad.
“The CTF opposed the 2009 ‘stimulus,’ as well. There’s an ongoing debate about the effectiveness of this kind of fiscal stimulus,” Wudrick said. “There’s a Fraser study from 2010 that concludes the recovery was driven by business investment and export growth, while government stimulus only had an impact of 0.1% of GDP. So basically, we added a whole pile of debt — $150 billion — for pretty much no reason at all.”
O’Leary said Trudeau and Morneau should cease and desist.
“This is reckless and will threaten Canada’s credit rating,” said O’Leary. “What a mess!”
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