Conservatives say promises will cost $6.8 billion, but will still have surpluses

Stephen Harper promises a series of budget surpluses — after money is set aside for contingencies

    RICHMOND, B.C. — The full Conservative party platform says its campaign promises will cost $6.8 billion over four years, with much of the spending coming in the final years of the mandate.

    It says the pledges will cost $590 million next year and gradually rise to $2.9 billion by 2019-20, as about a billion dollars in compensation costs for the TransPacific Partnership trade deal kicks in.

    The party is promising a series of budget surpluses, predicting a $1.7 billion surplus in 2016-17 and $1.4 billion the year after.

    The projected surplus would then dip to $947 million, due mainly to the rising cost of compensating dairy and automotive industries under the trade deal agreement.

    The surpluses would come after money is set aside for contingencies, including emergencies and natural disasters.

    The 159-page document includes costs for programs already announced during the campaign, such as the $1.5 billion home renovation tax credit Stephen Harper proposed in August.

    New programs include a $100 million over three years for a program to support crop science, which was sought by Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

    There is also $3 million a year for a Correctional Service Canada program to have prisoners build homes in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and $10 million a year to fund summer jobs in the trades for high school students.

    However, a re-elected Conservative government would continue a freeze on federal operating budgets, with savings estimated at $565 million next year.

    The freeze was originally to expire this year, but is being extended by a year.

    There is also a plan to bring in legislation that would allow an aboriginal band in British Columbia to begin allowing people to own their own properties on the reserve.

    The law would specifically apply to the Whispering Pine/Clinton Indian Band near Kamloops, but would allow other bands to opt in.