OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau is starting to show some of his economic cards now that the Conservative government has laid its election hand on the table.
The Liberal leader says he’d reverse the Tories’ plan to almost double the maximum amount Canadians can sock away in their tax-free savings accounts.
And he’s promising that the Liberals would balance next year’s budget should they win this fall’s election.
Trudeau disclosed those two details Tuesday, moments after the Conservatives laid out their economic and fiscal blueprint in the Harper government’s 11th federal budget, its last before the election scheduled for October.
And now that the fiscal lay of the land is clear, insiders say Trudeau intends to unveil in the next few weeks at least one major economic plank from the Liberals’ eventual election platform.
Until now, Trudeau has offered sparse details — like promises to scrap the government’s income-splitting measure and to roll back the age of eligibility for old age security to 65 from 67 — while steadily resisting pressure to reveal platform proposals.
“We will be disclosing our program during the election campaign but we will maybe have things to say in the coming weeks and months too,” he hinted Tuesday.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has been steadily unveiling platform planks since last summer, including plans for a national $15-a-day child care program, reinstatement of a $15-per-hour federal minimum wage and promises to hike corporate taxes and cut small business taxes.
In the absence of firm Liberal proposals, Trudeau has been criticized for failing to demonstrate he’s got the policy chops to manage the country’s economy. And the Conservatives have been repeatedly accusing him of planning to hike taxes and run up deficits.
He began to fight back Tuesday.
“It’s a well-established fact. Liberals balance budgets. Conservatives have been running deficits,” Trudeau said.
“Our platform will be fully costed, fiscally responsible and a balanced budget.”
Trudeau said Liberals are committed to helping those who need it most, not padding the purses of the wealthiest Canadians, as he accused the Conservatives of doing.
Boosting the maximum yearly contribution to TFSAs to $10,000 will benefit only the wealthy, he said, just like the Tories’ plan to allow couples to split their income for tax purposes.
“The TFSA itself up to $5,000 is an encouragement to people to save … but the reality is there’s not a lot of people who at the end of the year have $10,000 laying around that they can invest,” Trudeau said.
Experts have estimated that the income-splitting measure will benefit the wealthiest 15 per cent of taxpayers. Both the Liberals and NDP have promised to scrap it.