New Democrats have best fiscal record
Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 06:00 am
Brian McLeod remarks in his Aug. 23 column in the St. Albert Gazette, “In defence of the Tories,” on what he calls “the dismal results achieved whenever New Democrats decide to run a provincial economy.”
I am assuming that Mr. McLeod understands that it is voters, not New Democrats, who do the deciding about who gets to run a Canadian economy, and that this was an attempt at humour. Nevertheless, the remainder of Mr. McLeod’s comment is a testament more to his prejudices than his research capabilities.
A simple Google search would have shown him in less than half a second that New Democrats have the best fiscal record of any political party to form provincial or federal governments in Canada by the measures most often touted by conservative politicians and their supporters.
Economist Toby Sanger crunched the numbers in 2011 and showed that of the 52 years New Democrats had formed governments in various Canadian provinces between 1980 and 2011, they ran balanced budgets for exactly half those years and deficits the other half.
This compared to balanced budgets for only 37 per cent of the years Conservatives were in power and 27 per cent of the years Liberals were in power in the same time frame. The NDP also had a better record according to this measure than Social Credit and Parti Quebecois governments.
Moreover, when NDP governments ran deficits, they were smaller as a percentage of GDP. The average deficit as a share of GDP for the 52 years of NDP governments in Canada was 0.77 per cent, compared with 0.82 per cent for Conservative governments and 1.82 per cent for Liberal governments over the three decades.
We have never had an NDP federal government. So we can’t compare the NDP’s success in Ottawa with that of the Conservatives, whose governments were in deficit 11 of the 14 years they ran the federal government between 1980 and 2011, and Liberals, whose governments were in deficit for 9 of 17 years in the same period.
Note that, while promising surplus budgets in the future, the Conservatives under Prime Minister Stephen Harper have continued to post deficits since Mr. Sanger compiled those figures from Finance Canada’s Fiscal Reference Tables, Royal Bank of Canada statistics and Statistics Canada’s calculations of provincial GDP.
We can argue about the reasons, but these are hard facts. Mr. McLeod should take the time to check “factual” statements he thinks might be true before including them with such confidence in his columns.
David J. Climenhaga, St. Albert