Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer blamed rising protectionism around the world — including the approach of the Trump administration — for creating the “troubling signs” faced by the Canadian and global economies.
Scheer insisted that as prime minister he would help Canada deal with any global downturn by cutting taxes, working to attract more investment and balancing the federal books.
He made the comments Tuesday as he brought his tour through suburban Toronto for the seventh time since the start of the election campaign.
Scheer argued that several years of budgetary shortfalls posted by the Trudeau government have put Canada in a difficult spot to deal with an economic downturn.
“Obviously, there are a lot of troubling signs around the world. Any time you see a streak of protectionism go through the world, as we saw with the United States and other countries as well, that always has a negative impact on global growth,” Scheer told reporters in the Toronto suburb of Markham.
“There are certainly troubling signs on the horizon, which is once again a reason for Canadians to be very concerned about the massive deficits that Justin Trudeau has been running.”
The global economy has been slowing down, in large part due to the U.S.-China trade war.
Shortfalls in recent years, Scheer added, have taken away the flexibility for Canada to react in the event of a downturn.
The Liberals won the 2015 election on a platform to run deficits as a way to lift the economy by funding major infrastructure investments and tax reductions.
However, they broke their promises to return Canada to balanced budgets by the end of their mandate and to run annual deficits of no more than $10 billion. Their shortfalls ultimately swelled to almost double that size.
The Liberals’ 2019 platform has no timeline to eliminate the deficits. It projects another four years of red ink: $27.4 billion next year, falling to $21 billion by the fourth year of a new mandate.
The Conservatives have vowed to balance the budget in five years, but they have yet to release a full campaign platform.
The Liberals have maintained their shortfalls have been small enough to continue to lower Canada’s debt burden, as measured by debt-to-GDP.
During his tour of Toronto’s suburbs, Scheer promised to ease traffic congestion and shorten commute times with funding for a pair of projects to expand Toronto’s subway system: the Ontario Line and the Yonge Subway Extension.
The Conservatives almost surely have to pick up new seats in the critical region, known as the “905,” if they hope to defeat Justin Trudeau’s Liberals on Oct. 21. Much of the region’s map was painted red in 2015.
Scheer said he would work with the provinces on transit projects to get them done “at the right price, and on time,” but had no other details.
He insisted Trudeau had failed to deliver on his promised infrastructure spending of $187 billion that would have eased the woes of commuters.
Scheer held an evening rally in the riding of Mississauga-Lakeshore, where four years ago Liberal Sven Spengemann edged out then-incumbent Conservative Stella Ambler. Spengemann and Ambler are running against each other again.