Federal government economic fumbling

Tories Economic Update shows they’re out of touch with middle class

To the editor:

The federal government’s recent Economic Update proves once again that MP Cathy McLeod and the Conservatives are out-of-touch with the challenges facing middle class Canadians.

It didn’t include anything for middle class families that are struggling under record levels of household debt. The average Canadian household now owes $1.66 for every dollar of disposable income.

It didn’t include anything to help young Canadians, or the parents who are financially supporting them. Today, there are still 225,400 fewer jobs for young Canadians than before the downturn.

And it didn’t include anything to help kick start the economy. The Conservatives are sitting back and defending the status quo, despite the fact Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s growth record is the worst of any prime minister since R.B. Bennett in the 1930s.

Instead, the Tories chose to concoct a budgetary surplus on the eve of the next election. But almost half of that surplus comes from asset sales that have not taken place.

It’s a little bit like selling the furniture to pay for the groceries.

They also imposed countless tax hikes on the middle class over the past three years, raising taxes on everything from credit unions to employment insurance (EI). In fact, the Economic Update inadvertently revealed the Tories are keeping EI premiums artificially high in order to further pad their numbers – the same EI taxes that are, in the words of the finance minister, “direct job killers.”

Canada can do better. The recession ended more than four years ago, but Mrs. McLeod’s economic message has been that Canadians should be happy that we’re not Spain.

That’s just not good enough.

Scott Brison, MP

Liberal Finance critic

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