Fact check on our national debt

Amongst the political parties, there is always much said and written about fiscal competency and who is to blame or to be credited for the Nation’s economic health. This is particularly true during budget time.

This week there was a great deal of banter about deficits and debt. The Conservatives wanted to crow about their efforts to balance the budget. The Liberals screamed foul and recounted that their Party’s recent history with tackling deficits is proof that they are better money managers.

Thankfully, we have financial-minded, media columnists like Terence Corcoran who is doing fact checks and setting the record straight. In a Financial Post article entitled “Oliver has it right”, Corcoran does the math.

   Between 1968 and 1984 – the first and last years of Pierre Trudeau’s almost uninterrupted Liberal government – Ottawa ran $140 million in accumulated deficits, or about $6,000 for every man, woman and child. But those are old pre-inflation dollars. In today’s currency, Trudeau Liberals deficits per capita exceeded approximately $14,000. Compare that with the Harper Conservative record of $4,400.

     The Harper deficit of 2010 was 3.5 per cent of GDP – for one year. Then it tapered off to 2 per cent of GDP, then 1 per cent and now zero. Compare that to the Trudeau Liberals, which started deficits at 1.5 per cent of GDP in 1969 and lunched a continuous escalation up to 7.7% of GDP in 1983-84.

Corcoran recounts that the Trudeau Liberals launched a steep fiscal slide and a debt build-up that escalated into a national debt crisis.

And, so, thank you Terence Corcoran for cutting through the political rhetoric and making the numbers add up.

(ed. – Check comments below over the next few weeks for links to articles about the debt and the arguments re balancing the budget.)

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