The Finance Minister talks to Canadian Business.
OK, you say you’re a fiscal conservative, but I know you’ve heard a lot of criticism from the conservative base. People are starting to say that when the country is running $55-billion deficits, that term “fiscal conservative” has lost its meaning. Does it have any meaning anymore?
It does. I think the key is to have a commitment to a balanced budget and to always be moving in that direction, to have a plan to be there, and to have the discipline to do it. And we will show that discipline. I’ve certainly exercised that kind of discipline before at the provincial level in order to balance budgets, and we’ll do it again federally. But in the past year, we’ve faced the most serious economic crisis globally since the Second World War. The meetings we had in the middle of October last year in Washington were in a time of deep crisis. We weren’t even sure that the markets were going to open on Monday morning. I think there’s a tendency for people to forget very quickly, because we’re out of the time of crisis right now, how deep and dangerous this crisis was for the world economy. And when we made the decision to run large deficits in Canada, we made the decision to save General Motors and Chrysler in Canada at large expense. These decisions were made because of the seriousness of the crisis. That, to me, is being a good conservative economic manager.