Hey, remember the early 80s?

Back to yesterday’s QP. Specifically this answer of the Prime Minister’s.

Mr. Speaker, the record of the Liberal Party is this: Liberals got this country into deficits when borrowing was at record levels, and then when recession came, they were cutting the unemployed and raising taxes right in the middle of a recession, something this party will never do.

For as long as the current Conservative government has been in power, it has found convenient excuse in the various failings of the “previous Liberal government.” But here is an entirely new standard for historical reference.

It would not seem possible for this to be a reference to the governments of either Jean Chretien or Paul Martin. The recession of the early 90s was over when Chretien took power in November 1993. While the United States fell into recession in 2001, Canada appears to have escaped that distinction.

Indeed, to find a case of a Liberal government in power during a recession, you have to go back to the early 1980s, when Pierre Trudeau’s government presided during a downturn that lasted from July 1981 to October 1982. Did Trudeau actually raise taxes during that period? I’m still sorting that out. But, assuming he did, the Prime Minister is referring here to something that happened 27 years, three governments and six prime ministers ago. There is just one current MP who was in office at the time. And Bob Rae was with the NDP then. (There are, on the other hand, four Conservative MPs—Greg Thompson, Rob Nicholson, Jean-Pierre Blackburn and Lee Richardson—who were with the Mulroney government that oversaw the early 90s recession.) 

The onus now, obviously, is on the Liberals to mount a coherent campaign against the policies of the Diefenbaker administration.

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