Mr. Harper was speaking to members of the Union des municipalités du Québec about his government's massive infrastructure program, emphasizing the need to spend the money quickly to fight off the ongoing recession.The deficit assurances from Mr. Harper ring hollow given what independent observers have said. In fact, some reports now contemporaneously counter his disingenuous rhetoric:
“We do not have a minute to waste. You know, time is money,” Mr. Harper said to the crowd of mayors and city councillors from across the province. “The money must be spent quickly, otherwise it will be lost.”
Mr. Harper said his government has accepted short-term deficits, but he added that he will not follow in the footsteps of those who have mused about increased taxes, in a veiled jab at Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.
“Our deficits will be large but they will be temporary,” he said. “And we will not hike taxes like another party in the House of Commons is calling for.”
He said Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio is the envy of other developed countries, and that the nation can afford a flurry of spending to help escape the current economic slump.
The Conservative government has projected a $34-billion deficit for 2009-10 and an $85-billion shortfall by 2013.However, the parliamentary budget officer, Kevin Page, has warned that the Conservative forecast is unduly rosy and that the actual size of the fiscal hole is $9 billion larger than the government forecast. (emphasis added)
That's the PBO, of course, that Harper et al. are desperately seeking to hush.
Note how rich it is for the PM to be talking up how the deficit may need to increase to fight the recession but he refuses to entertain that any of that spending might go toward helping expand EI access as opposition parties are proposing. He prefers to use the issue to mislead the public into believing that a payroll tax will be necessary. His deficit rhetoric today seems to undercut that little payroll tax spin.
In terms of tactics on the tax issue, at some point, this partisan mania will need to be beaten back. Not everyone has time to pore over the litany of misrepresentations and an impression is created. I understand the notion of wanting to fight on your own turf and not let your opponent set the terms of the debate, but unfortunately, they're going to town on it, overtime these days, and if you ignore it, it may take on a life of its own. A few good swats at this approach will need to be taken at some point. Just sayin'...