Orange prudence


Toby Sanger argues that the NDP has the most fiscally responsible record.

Of the 52 years the NDP has formed governments in Canada since 1980, they’ve run balanced budgets for exactly half of those years and deficits the other half.  This is a better record than both the Conservatives (balanced budgets 37% of years in government) and the Liberals (only 27%), as well as both Social Credit and PQ governments … The average balance (deficit) as a share of provincial GDP for the 52 years of NDP governments in Canada is -0.77%, compared to -1.82% for all Liberal governments and -0.82% for all Conservative governments over the past thirty years.


Orange prudence

  1. Oh that’s not the right narrative. What are these numbers? Departments of finance or something?

  2. Heh. Good ol' "Progressive Economics Forum". Show your work, guys! I suspect Romanow is only reason why the data is skewed in the NDP's favour. That plus the fact that fewer than 15% of provincial governments in the past 30 years have been NDP.

    Take away the prairie NDP governments which were "NDP" in name only (Romanow was essentially a fiscal conservative who eliminated Saskatchewan's deficit by closing hospitals and cutting services) and the data paints a much bleaker picture of the NDP record in the past three decades.

    • My personal suspicion is that Romanow is the real indicator here, not in that he balanced the budget but that he did what was politically expedient given his constituency. Accordingly, I don't expect the federal NDP to rock the boat and break the bank were they in power; it would be decidedly against their interests to do so.

      • I think all bets are off when it comes to what a federal NDP government would do. I don't expect them to follow Romanow as a role model.

        I expect them to pander to various left-wing constituencies, meddle in monetary policy, drive away investment with corporate tax hikes and unreasonable impositions on the financial sector (their credit card rate proposal was particularly ludicrous) and engage in the worst kind of petro-populism.

        Not to mention the possibility of opening Pandora's box with constitutional tinkering to deliver on some of their sillier promises in Quebec, which is the very last thing that Canada needs to worry about right now.

        • In other words, you expect them to do things that would see them immediately tossed straight back into the political wilderness.

          Were they in government, I expect them to do what every good political party does:
          Break their election promises and piss off their base while they tack to the center as quickly as they can.

          • Well, fair enough. If the NDP pisses off their base, reneges on their populist/socialist promises, and tacks to the centre as quickly as possible in the hopes of replacing the Liberals, it would certainly be the best-case scenario for Canada.

            Unfortunately, I'm not sure that the federal NDP, with a very thin bench strength and no experience in government, would have enough common sense to be pragmatic rather than idealistic. Personally, I hope we never have the opportunity to find out how the NDP would really govern this country.

          • Two points:
            1. You're complaining about bench strength while you support the Conservatives, the party where the PMO runs *everything*. Cake and eat it too, etc etc.
            2. While the NDP platform does have measures that are more populist and socialist than other parties, compared to previous years they're significantly scaled back. To me, this signals that they're more than ready to trade principle for votes, just like everyone else.

            I agree with your concerns about bench strength and I share your skepticism to a degree, I just suppose I'm willing to give them the chance to screw up. I really think they'd be hard pressed to do worse than the Liberals (sponsorship etc) or the Conservatives (damage to democracy, playing to emotion rather than evidence in policy). It isn't like we've got ideal choices.

          • You say that, but given how the Conservatives and Liberals HAVE run this country (which morally and socially speaking has been into the ground), I for one fully welcome the opportunity to see the NDP or even someday the Green party form minority governments. Each party needs to start somewhere and I think this is the perfect time for them to wet their feet in the federal pool. After Martin and then Harper I think Layton more then deserves a shot at restoring national identity, balancing our budget, getting our military straightened out and fixing our issues regarding human rights (Aboriginal, womens rights), correcting our stance on immigration and maybe addressing the notion of climate in a productive fashion. None of us NDP expect this first term to suddenly alter the nature of politics in this country. But we do expect some sudden changes in entitlement and hopefully a more balanced system of representation.

          • I suspect you're correct. The NDP have been tacking to the Centre for a little while now, it's just that only recently has anyone paid any attention :)

        • "and engage in the worst kind of petro-populism."

          How do you characterize reducing the GST, a consumption tax, rather than reducing an personal income taxes? I'm far from convinced that the NDP are good stewards of the economy but I am not in favour of a Conservative government that trumpets a GST reduction and does nothing about personal income taxes and at the same time reduces corporate taxes as fast as they can get away with.

          • Don't forget the home-improvement tax credit, the childs fitness tax credit, the volunteer firefighter tax credit, the transit pass tax credit, children arts tax credit, adult fitness tax credit.. phew… am I missing any? I think most economists would trade the lot for a 0.5 percent reduction in the personal income tax rate. Oh and remember how they would NOT tax income trusts (not that I agree with that position, but they said it, not me).

            To their credit, the TFSA is a good idea.

        • nobody believes cons when they say what they "expect" from the NDP.

          • Now, now … don't diss the amphibian Minister of Defence. He intermittently emerges
            from the swamp to perform his self-appointed task. And does it well.

          • Since I'm already here and commenting:

            That's completely the wrong response. Here is someone listing exactly why they have issues with a particular party, by listing things that they've put on their platform, backed up with reasonable arguments. Writing that off as "oh you stupid conbot" or whatever misses the opportunity to engage and perhaps persuade them. When you write people off, you're basically reinforcing their currently held beliefs and helping to close the door to any chance that they might vote for your party of preference.

            This is what I hate most about party partisans on the 'net:
            The need to be more right than someone else apparently outweighs their desire to see their party win and change things for the better.

          • All I saw was a bunch of received wisdom that cater d to common caricatures of party platforms rather than addressing them. May as well have said "I expect the sky to rain blood and every single employer in the country to shut down their business"

          • So what? :P

            Seriously, if you want to stop that kind of stuff you have to engage rather than doing something that reinforces those beliefs.

            Besides, even if those concerns are overblown it doesn't mean there isn't some legitimacy in there somewhere. The NDP occasionally scares *me*, and I say this as someone who consistently votes for them (admittedly, I do so safe in the knowledge that my vote has no impact — regardless of who I vote for, Rona Ambrose will be my MP as sure as the sun will rise). Catching bits of the last NDP convention was disturbing, hearing "brother" or "sister" all over the place is certainly not mainstream.

          • Seriously, if you want to stop that kind of stuff you have to engage rather than doing something that reinforces those beliefs.


            Are you new to the internet?

          • To be fair, I think Iccyh is talking about engaging with normal conservatives, not with Dennis.

          • Indeed, some are best ignored.

          • Oh, that's cute

            Let's take that idea and run with it, shall we? 20 years on down the road, I'll bet that more and more of our political discourse will be happening online and that it'll simply be considered part of life rather than anything separate; actions on the internet and actions in real life will be equivalent, there'll be no more "on the internet" and posting on a blog (or whatever equivalent action exists) will be as good as writing a column or giving a speech or whatever.

            If we decide now that just 'cause something is on the 'net it means we can all be asses, rather than treating this more seriously, it could easily poison all political discourse and dialogue in the future. Which viewpoint leads to a better future, yours or mine?

            You talk about received wisdom and rail against that when you see anti-NDP messaging, then you go and spit out your own when you imply that being an ass is fine on the 'net, 'cause it's the 'net.

            I don't mean for any of this to be personal, I am just commenting on this since this style of behaviour frustrates me generally and 'cause I'm already here since I thought Crit_Reasoning said something interesting and worth replying to. Since you asked, I've got about 15 years experience ignoring internet stupidity. I'd have put it to use ignoring your first comment, but replying was low-cost since I was already here.

          • I submit we may easily have reached that point already, but if you give everyone with an opinion 100 posts of your time you will never accomplish anything (and this is coming from someone who spends an inordinate of time on the internet!)

          • Ignoring low-hanging fruit that is right in front of you is dumb. Ignoring a chance to learn is also dumb. Articulate, reasonable posters with opposing viewpoints arguably represent both of these things (if you've identified them as reasonable and articulate then they're obviously in front of you, and there's tons to be learned both about your position and theirs in discussion), depending on how willing they are to be persuaded.

            If you want to give up on 'net discussion and live in an echo chamber or just be constantly shouting at people who disagree I suppose that's your choice, but I'll pass. I'd hate for that to be the future.

          • I will consider new and engaging information from any source. More of the same old stuff I could have predicted before finishing the paragraph? Forgive me if I don't rush to the keyboard.

          • Get over yourself, Iccyh. It's a little much to ask for civility from those who are under constant
            Con talking point bombardment.

          • Because obviously, when idiots disagree with you on the internet that's a perfectly valid reason for throwing civility and courtesy out the window when talking to reasonable people. Right?

            Is asking for politeness somehow a bad thing, Jan? Does my desire for politeness somehow mean that I'm full of myself as far as you're concerned? Does this say something about me, or perhaps does it say something about you?

          • Why should any of us suffer fools gladly?

          • Someone who holds an opposing viewpoint is a fool?

        • I expect them to pander to various left-wing constituencies, meddle in monetary policy, drive away investment with corporate tax hikes and unreasonable impositions on the financial sector (their credit card rate proposal was particularly ludicrous) and engage in the worst kind of petro-populism.

          I expect them to do no more than the Liberals and/or Tories will let them. You don't think that Layton's actually going to win a MAJORITY do you?

    • Shouldn't Doer in MB also get some credit for padding those stats?

  3. Elections don't change fundamental economics. IF (and that's a big "IF") the NDP were elected, especially to a minority government, the sun would still set in the west, the sky would still be blue, and the NDP would have to deal with fiscal and economic realities.____It's likely that there would be fairly significant "capital flight" in the short-term, as corporate interests would seek to impose their interests on the government. In the longer term(six months to a year), however, it's likely that they would come back…because the fundamentals, in Canada, are still sound. If there's money to be made, capital interests will be here to make it. They've done so in any number of far less stable (or palatable, for that matter) regimes

    • Business would be more likely to threaten flight than to actually do it. Some taxes may very well be higher under an NDP government, but they'll be within well acceptable ranges. Hopefully they would prudently spend extra revenues on delivery of important services and universal social programs which have been slowly eroding under other governments.

      • acceptable to who? there will be a capital flight if the NDP gets anywhere near the helm. Business capital is easily moved to protect shareholder value. They will move, your wishful thinking notwithstanding

        • Anyone who is stupid enough to flee because of an NDP minority government is not worth keeping.

          • Right on Holly. Are you going to provide jobs for the people who lose theirs?jobs

        • QED, sigh.

        • Will Shell and Encana take the oil out of the ground and move it with them?

          • They've been in the process of doing that for a long, long time.

        • One of the few good things about being a primarily resource export driven economy… moving isn't that easy to do.

          • It's easy to move money. If Jack, or is it John get involved you can kiss a lot of it goodbye.

          • Not if you intend to do work in the area.

  4. IF that number for the NDP includes all of the Doer/Selinger "balanced budgets" in Manitoba, I suspect there is some fuzzy math going on. The NDP "balances budgets" in Manitoba by raiding the rainy day fund and levering up the balance sheets of crown corps.

    • And the Klein and Stelmach governments in Alberta gutted our Heritage Savings Trust Fund.

  5. Yes by all means,

    lets stay safely away from actually scrutinizing Jack's wacky numbers,

    and use decades old tangential references to groups that have zero relationship with Jack's proposals (other than the color of the banner) instead.

    The media's efforts to not actually examine the feasability of what Jack's proposing continue unabated.

    But hey, he smiles alot and has this neveaux chique quasi disabled thing going, so….cool man!!

    • has this neveaux chique quasi disabled thing going

      Ladies and gentlemen, I give you today's "tolerant, progressive" right!

    • what on earth is "neveaux chique"?
      do you mean "nouveau chic"? is that a thing? at the very least, it sounds redundant.

  6. Please also tell us what bob Rae did to Ontario

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