The House

The NDP's fiscal gamble

NDP candidate Andrew Thomson explains what his party was trying to accomplish by releasing its fiscal plan this week.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, left, announces during a press conference that former Saskatchewan finance minister Andrew Thomson, right, will run as an NDP candidate in the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence against Conservative incumbent Joe Oliver in Toronto on Friday, August 14, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu (Michelle Siu/Canadian Press)

It was a political gamble to release a fiscal plan just days before a debate on the economy, but the NDP's Andrew Thomson says it was essential to show Canadians how the party plans to pay for its promises.

"I think it was important for us to be able to show both the revenue and expenditure envelopes, so people understand it is a balanced program," he tells host Chris Hall on The House

"We're a party ready to govern, and that's an important message for us to get across. The reason we released the numbers was to put some transparency around that, to take away some of the scare-mongering the other parties are doing."

The Eglinton—Lawrence candidate and former Saskatchewan finance minister says judgment on the NDP's commitment to balancing the books — while the Liberals say they will go into deficit spending on infrastructure — has been "curious."

"It would be quite different if we were proposing the same thing [as the Liberals]," he says. "You can just imagine the screams from folks if we were proposing going into a deficit."

Thomson also discusses the NDP's universal childcare program, and what would happen if all of the provinces don't get on board with such a plan.

"I expect we will, in fact, get an agreement," he says. "There's a desire at both the federal and provincial levels for this type of program. We just have to figure out what the delivery mechanism is. We're not going to impose a one-size-fits-all measure onto this."

That could mean different childcare programs for rural and urban communities, he adds. 

"I don't anticipate we will end up with two-tiered child care," Thomson says. "I do think there's a real sense across the country that parents want this program. Now what we need to do is negotiate what that actually looks like. It's cooperative federalism, and it's something we as a country need to commit to."


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