January 17, 2016 12:13 pm

Is the Liberal economic plan a ‘hollow’ one?

: Two opposing members of the federal finance committee talk to Tom Clark about the slowing economy and what the government role should be during this economic downturn.

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Two members of the House of Commons Finance Committee squared off on the West Block this weekend, presenting conflicting views of how well the federal government is handling the current economic crisis.

Liberal Steve MacKinnon and Conservative Ron Liepert joined Tom Clark to discuss stimulus spending, deficits and the increasingly bleak outlook in Alberta. Liepert said that, in his opinion, the Liberal plan to get the economy back on track is a “hollow” one.

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“It’s numbers that were picked out of the air, whether it’s Syrian refugees, whether it’s the revenue neutral tax cuts,” he said. “You know, I’m a skeptic.”

READ MORE: Cities clamour for speedier federal infrastructure cash from feds

The Liberal government has promised to inject money into the economy by way of infrastructure spending, and has recently pushed through new tax cuts for so-called middle class Canadian households. When asked what the Conservatives might do differently, Liepert suggested less interference from Ottawa and an increased reliance on the private sector to boost the country’s fortunes is one avenue.

“I’m not suggesting it has to be less infrastructure spending, but if the Liberal government thinks that it can solve the majority of problems that this economy is going to be facing over the next number of months they’re in for a rude awakening.”

MacKinnon had a different view, however, arguing that his government recognizes that things are not going well, but is steering Canada down the right path.

“We’re obviously very sensitive to what’s going on in the commodity sector generally, obviously in the oil patch being hit by that,” he said.

“Now is the time for government to play a role in the economy. We have historically low interest rates. We do have, unfortunately, unemployment. Now is the time to put people back to work by building infrastructure.”

Watch the full debate above.

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