Politics

NDP fiscal plan short on details and big on promises, critics say

The New Democrats vow they can deliver four years of budget surpluses and still pay for billions in campaign promises, but the Conservatives and Liberals say the party's fiscal plan is big on spending and short on details.

Economist Jack Mintz says corporate tax hike will cost 150,000 jobs

Candidates Michelle Rempel, Andrew Thomson and John McCallum discuss the NDP's fiscal plan 16:33

The New Democrats vow they can deliver four years of budget surpluses and still pay for billions in campaign promises, but the Conservatives and Liberals say the party's fiscal plan is big on spending and short on details.

Andrew Thomson, a former Saskatchewan finance minister and the NDP's candidate in the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence, presented the party's broad fiscal plan in Ottawa on Wednesday — a day ahead of the federal leaders' debate on the economy.

While the NDP's seven-page document provides a general overview of its fiscal framework, it falls short of a detailed election platform.

Signature promises were not individually itemized and instead lumped into broad spending categories. Also missing from the document was a pledge to increase foreign aid.

Thomson, who is running to unseat Joe Oliver, the finance minister, defended the NDP plan "as economically and fiscally sound" during a panel on CBC News Network's Power & Politics.

"Obviously, this is the framework," Thomson told host Rosemary Barton. "As the election moves on, people will see the line-by-line detail and what the programs are costing."

'Light on specifics'

Conservative Michelle Rempel, who appeared on the same panel as Thomson, criticized the NDP plan as "light on specifics and very heavy on buzzwords."

"Canadians won't be fooled by this," she said.

Liberal John McCallum took aim at the NDP's plan, calling it a "flimsy piece of paper which tells you nothing." He said the only thing it showed was that the New Democrats had "thrown in the towel on jobs and growth."

Pressed for details, Thomson said he did not have all of the specifics with him, but insisted the NDP plan took into account figures contained in the Conservative government's 2015 budget and was consistent with figures made public by the parliamentary budget officer. 

"We have 100 per cent of our commitments funded here. As we go through the campaign, you'll be able to tick off exactly where they fit," Thomson told Barton.

Corporate tax hike

The NDP claims it would pay for the bulk of its campaign promises by raising the corporate tax rate to 17 per cent from 15 per cent, which the party said would increase revenue by $3.7 billion annually.

Jack Mintz, economist with the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, said the NDP's proposed increase in the corporate tax rate would cost Canada 150,000 jobs.

"We don't believe there will be those kinds of job losses," Thomson said, adding that an NDP government would make additional investments in manufacturing and other sectors of the economy.

On health care, Thomson said the NDP would negotiate a new health accord with the provinces.

His colleague Peggy Nash told reporters the six per cent annual increase in health-care spending the party has vowed beyond 2017-18 would also include funding for other NDP promises.

"I do want to be clear that some of that six per cent will include announcements on health care that our leader Tom Mulcair has already made this week," Nash said.

The Liberals, who have yet to release their own fully costed platform, have said they would go into deficit for the first three years of their mandate in order to pay for a $125-billion, 10-year infrastructure plan.

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