Liberal leader Justin Trudeau reportedly had a bad, bad day Monday.
Sun Media’s parliamentary bureau chief David Akin’s report, debunking the myths peddled by Trudeau in his off-the-cuff comments on the economy made during a campaign stop in Toronto, is, in the words of Liberal strategist Warren Kinsella, “uncomfortable reading” (If you’re a Liberal).
As Kinsella, a veteran Liberal war room operative who fancies himself a bon vivant, a punk rocker and the so-called “Prince of Darkness” of Canadian politics, said Tuesday: “In an election where the economy is an issue, you better know your economic facts.”
Being the source of such delightfully insightful economic quips as “we can grow the economy […] from the heart outwards” and “the budget will balance itself”, it is evident that Trudeau does not have a firm grasp of fiscal issues.
According to Akin, the McGill English literature graduate continues to polemicize that the $5 billion federal government surplus so far this year is actually a deficit.
“[Trudeau] continues to insist, despite evidence to the contrary, that the surprise surplus for 2014-2015 that we learned about Monday is bogus because it came from cuts to funds earmarked for veterans, aboriginal Canadians and seniors,” Akin wrote Tuesday.
Almost immediately following the 9 a.m. Monday announcement of the Annual Financial Report (AFR), which includes numbers verified by the Auditor General of Canada, Trudeau, allegedly trying to wing it through a Q&A with reporters, said: “Mr. Harper has put us in deficit this year.”
Is this statement factually correct? Absolutely not, says Akin.
Citing Department of Finance data, the veteran Ottawa-based reporter wrote: “So far this year - FY16 - we have data from three months or the first quarter. After three months, we are in surplus to the tune of $5 billion […] We still have a ways to go but, at least so far, we are in surplus, not deficit.”
Trudeau, with a cross-court volley attempt: “As for last year’s numbers, we know - and we saw Mr. Harper under-spending and making cuts to veterans affairs.”
Firing back retrospectively, referencing yet another government document verified by the Auditor General, the Consolidated Financial Statements of the Government of Canada, Akin wrote: “Nope. Wrong.”
In fact, according to the document (see the table on page 16), the Department of Veterans Affairs spent $1.018 billion in FY15 compared to $897 million in FY14 - a difference of $121 million and an increase of 13.5 per cent.
Trudeau, reaching now: “[Cuts] to aboriginal affairs.”
Akin: “Wrong again. Page 16 again. Aboriginal Affairs spent a whopping $1.986 billion […] more in FY15 than it spent in FY14. That was an increase of nearly 30 per cent.”
Poor ole’ Justin. The former drama teacher really, really struggled - but it wasn’t over. He continued to misinform his audience.
Trudeau: “[Cuts] to seniors.”
Akin: “Strike three.”
Quoting directly from the Annual Financial Report (AFR), Akin continued: “Elderly benefits consist of Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement and Allowance payments. Total benefits were up $2.3 billion, or 5.5 per cent, in 2014–15, reflecting growth in the elderly population and changes in consumer prices, to which benefits are fully indexed. The increase in elderly benefits also reflects the accrual of retroactive payments.”
The rest of Akin’s retrospective analysis is staggering - and can be found by clicking on this link. Crucially, however, will anyone care?
Highlighting the strikingly limited media attention given to Trudeau’s succession of gaffes on Day 43 of the federal campaign, Kinsella noted on his blog: “It came to my attention late, around bed time, and from only one media source. As such, [Trudeau] may have dodged a bullet - most of the media didn’t notice.”
CBC polls analyst and ThreeHundredEight.com founder Éric Grenier puts the Liberals in second place with 30 per cent, up one point from yesterday, with the NDP in first on 31.5 per cent, having risen by 0.3 per cent compared to the previous day. The Conservatives slipped by 0.7 per cent over night and currently sit at 29.3 per cent.
In terms of seat projections, however, Grenier predicts the Conservatives to win the most seats with 116, 54 short of an outright majority, closely followed by the NDP with 114. The Liberals are predicted to finish with 107 seats following the Oct. 19 vote.
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