June 18, 2017 10:30 am

Justin Trudeau refuses to set date for balancing the budget

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not tell Canadians when – or even if – he will bring Canada’s books back to the black.

WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tells Vassy Kapelos his government campaigned on a promise to invest in jobs and economic growth but would not commit to a date for balancing the books.

Given several opportunities in a one-on-one interview, Trudeau chose to justify the Liberal government’s spending rather than say whether he has a plan to eliminate Canada’s growing deficit.

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“The problem remains, this country needs growth after 10 years of sluggish growth under [former Prime Minister Stephen] Harper,” Trudeau said in an interview with The West Block’s Vassy Kapelos.

“We need to put money back in the pockets of the middle class and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.”

Asked how investing in infrastructure, for example, precludes him from saying when the books will be balanced, Trudeau suggested the investments create a lot of moving parts but will, inevitably, grow the economy “in a significant way.”

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“We know that that’s what it’s going to do. How long that’s going to take? What kind of trajectory that is? We’ve made strong projections around that, but that’s exactly what we’re trying to do better than, and that’s our focus.”

As opposition MPs often remind the prime minister, Trudeau had little trouble setting a timeline for spending and balancing during the 2015 election campaign.

The Liberals won a majority, leapfrogging the NDP and overtaking Harper’s Conservatives, on a platform vowing to invest billions in measures like infrastructure and child benefits as a means to re-energize Canadian growth.

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Trudeau assured Canadians a Liberal government would run deficits of no more than $10 billion to finance the investments – and that they would return to balanced books by 2019-20.

Since taking office, however, it’s been a different story. The plan they were elected on was quickly abandoned, the Liberals citing a weaker-than-expected economy.

In its most recent budget, the Trudeau government projected a $28.5-billion deficit in 2017-18.

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Though the policy- and spending-planning document projected slightly leaner deficits than previous forecasts, the government once again failed to outline a plan to return the books to balance.

“The fact is, Canada needs investment, particularly in infrastructure,” Trudeau said. “Now other governments and other political parties proposed to cure their way to balance. We know that in order for Canada to succeed, Canadians need to success… Those are the investments that are going to grow the economy. “

With a file from The Canadian Press

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