Liberals meeting fiscal goals, but inherited $18B baseline deficit, Trudeau says – Politics

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisted Tuesday that his Liberal government has been keeping its promise to be fiscally responsible and blamed the previous Conservative administration for being at least partly responsible for higher-than-expected deficits.

Trudeau maintained the Liberals remained consistent with their 2015 election commitment to add about $10 billion in new spending for 2016-17, their first full year in office.

He argued, however, that the Liberals had to deal with a baseline deficit of $18 billion after coming to power, even though their Tory predecessors had predicted a balanced budget.

The Tories have long disputed Liberal claims that they left the country in the red at the time of their electoral defeat, which came part way through the 2015-16 fiscal year.

In trying to make his case Tuesday, Trudeau re-ignited the bitter political debate over the post-election state of the public books that raged between Liberals and Tories long after the election.

“We just went from a floor where the budget was balanced, because supposedly the Conservatives had balanced the budget, to what was the reality of our budget of being at about $18 billion in deficit at the end of that first year,” Trudeau told a news conference.

“So, we’ve been consistent with our plan and our approach.”

When asked about Trudeau’s comments, a spokeswoman for Finance Minister Bill Morneau later said that, when the Liberals formed government, Ottawa’s books were facing a baseline deficit of $18.4 billion for 2016-17.

The fiscal impact left behind by the Tories was a $1-billion deficit that affected the bottom line in 2015-16, Chloe Luciani-Girouard wrote in an email.

‘This is all wrong’: Conservative MP

Earlier this month, Trudeau told Global’s West Block that a combination of low oil prices and the “economic situation the Conservatives left us” left the Liberals facing a bigger shortfall than anticipated.

Each party held power for several months in 2015-16, a year…

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