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Mulcair talks deficits, Islamic State and heartbreaking election loss

Canada should not be running “huge balloon deficits” over the next several years in order to kick-start a fledgling economy, according to NDP leader Tom Mulcair.

Joining The West Block’s Tom Clark in studio this weekend for a feature interview, Mulcair was asked about the Liberal plan to run deficits in order to pay for infrastructure stimulus plans and tax breaks. During the election campaign, The NDP had promised to balance the federal budget immediately and keep Canada out of the red entirely.

“We’re not in a recession now,” Mulcair said of the Liberal strategy. “We just got the most recent figures for the past quarter which shows that Canada is actually growing despite the problems in the oil sector. So no, I don’t think that as a matter of course we should be running huge balloon deficits with nothing to show for it.”

What the government should be considering, he added, is upping revenues through a major corporate tax hike.

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“We left a big hole on the revenue side by giving these massive tax breaks to Canada’s corporations,” Mulcair said.

No boots on the ground

The NDP leader maintained that his party does not support ongoing Canadian military involvement in the fight against the so-called Islamic State – even in a training capacity. Canada is expected to pull its bombers out of the skies over Iraq and Syria in the coming weeks, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to increase humanitarian and training initiatives in the region.

“This is a question of cross allegiances and interests. Canada, as far as the NDP is concerned, has no interest in sending our troops in that fight,” Mulcair said.

“Cut off the flow of money. Cut off the flow of arms. Cut off the flow of foreign fighters, that’s the approach that we would take.”

A disappointing result

Mulcair was also asked about his party’s unsuccessful bid to form government and the personal impact it had on him.

“Well it hurt because I was very concerned for the people who didn’t make it through,” he said. “We lost some sterling NDP MPs in different regions of the country. So that is a sadness, but it’s also a determination to make sure that we learn the lessons from this campaign, and there are lots of lessons to be learned.”

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Mulcair said he will continue to serve as NDP leader for as long as the party’s membership wishes it. He is expected to face a leadership review in the coming months.