Canada

Ignatieff won't speculate on acceptable size of deficit

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said any deficits incurred in the upcoming budget must be temporary, but refused to put a dollar figure on what he would consider too large.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said any deficits incurred in the upcoming budget must be temporary, but refused to put a dollar figure on what he would consider too large.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, speaking after a Liberal caucus meeting in Ottawa on Monday, said he's 'not going to be boxed into a particular figure" when asked what he would consider to be a modest deficit. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa after a caucus meeting Monday, Ignatieff said Canadians are allergic to deficits and that any deficit in the budget set to be tabled Jan. 27 should be temporary, modest and moderate.

But Ignatieff would not get specific when asked what he would consider to be a modest deficit.

"I know one when I see one, and I will know one when I see it next week. I’m not going to be boxed into a particular figure," Ignatieff told reporters.

There have been reports that the next budget could run a deficit in the $30- billion range.

"I take a view of the ensemble of this budget. Does it protect the vulnerable? Does it save jobs today? Does it create jobs tomorrow? Those are three things I’m looking for.

"I’ve also made it clear that I’m very concerned about the size of the federal deficit that’s projected because I do not want to burden your children and mine with repayment," Ignatieff said.

Liberal leader opposed broad-based tax cuts

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said middle-income earners can expect some relief in the next budget.

Fearing permanent deficits, Ignatieff has said he opposes broad-based tax cuts, a possible stumbling block in getting Liberal support for the budget.

"We have concerns about broad-based middle-class tax cuts because we worry this will pitch the country into a deficit," Ignatieff said Monday. "So there’s a clear difference of view between our view of this and the Conservatives."

Ignatieff and Harper held a "cordial and business-like" meeting Monday at the prime minister's office in Ottawa, Harper's officials said without providing any further details about the half-hour discussion.

Harper said Monday that he too shares Ignatieff's concerns about long-term deficits.

"It's important to stimulate the economy now and it's important to include the middle class in any plan to strengthen the economy. We're all on the same page."

He said the Liberal party has been "very general" in its budget demands, but that there "are certainly broad aspects of what the Liberal party is saying that we can agree with."

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