For years, the Liberals have been telling Canadians that they’re the fiscally responsible party. They’ve been telling Canadians that Conservatives run up the debt, while they pay it off.
I have just completed a detailed analysis of the governments by every Prime Minister since Sir John A. Macdonald. In doing so, I discovered some very telling information.
I looked at the political party each prime minister belonged to, their fiscal record over each year they were in office, and how the numbers played out. I didn’t attach any ideology or partisan interest to my research. I looked solely at their spending habits.
Canada’s state broadcaster, the CBC, leads the field in disseminating this misinformation: The CBC has a graph which shows the annual deficit of each Prime Minster. This graph shows Mulroney’s government running large deficits, Chretien running big surpluses, and Harper’s governments running large deficits again.
To be fair, they do accurately report the massive deficits of Trudeau’s regime, however deficits alone do not tell the whole story, because they hide some very critical information.
For anyone living under a rock, a deficit occurs when a government spends more money than it takes in as revenue. This means it must borrow the difference: if, for example, you earn $100 in a month, and spend $150, you need to borrow $50. That is $50 that you must, at some point in the future, pay back to whomever lent it to you. Usually with interest.
If you earn $100 the following month and spend $150 again, you have now accumulated a debt of $100, and, over time, those monthly deficits add up.
When Canada became a country in 1867, the government was already in debt $93 million. In the 147 years since, Canada, through year after year of deficit financing, has accumulated a national debt of over $600 billion dollars.
Liberals will tell you this is the fault of Conservative governments. They like to blame Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper for failing to keep federal spending under control. Stephen Harper is particular demonized because it was his government which took Canada back into a deficit situation in 2009. What Liberals conveniently forget when they tell you this is they, along with their socialist allies, the New Democratic Party, forced the Conservatives to do this. Remember the constitutional dispute at the end of November 2008? The Liberals and NDP, working with the separatist Bloc Quebecois, formed a backroom deal to overturn the results of an election just a few short weeks before.
Nevertheless, Stephen Harper is blamed for the ensuing federal deficit, despite capitulating to the demands of this coalition to spend a very large amount of money – financed by borrowing – on economic stimulus.
The Liberals are lying to you.
When a government comes to an end, subsequent governments must deal with whatever financial mess gets left behind. Over time, the mess gets bigger and bigger as governments borrow more and more money. The situation becomes more drastic when a government starts borrowing money to pay the interest on money prior governments have borrowed.
When I ran through these numbers, I spent a lot of time determining the legacy of each Prime Minister’s government. I applied any surplus generated by subsequent governments to the oldest balance owing. I also worked out how much interest was payable to each government’s outstanding balance, and applied it accordingly. If a government spent a surplus on programs rather than applied it to the debt, the amount they spent shows on their own spending record, so is automatically taken into account, by transferring any equivalent older debt to them.
(For example, if Jean Chretien’s government ran a $10 million surplus in one year, that $10 million was applied to the debt accumulated by prior governments. If, in the following year, Jean Chretien’s government spent that $10 million on programs rather than debt retirement, then that $10 million would be showing in their own spending record, so their new spending ends up balancing out against what was applied to the older debt.)
On the following graphs, for clarity, I’ve left off any Prime Minister who did not borrow money for their own program spending. If they were forced to borrow money for interest payments, the interest borrowed was added to the former Prime Minister’s balance owing, since we cannot blame a subsequent government for the debts of their predecessors.
This first graph shows how our national debt grew. By holding the mouse pointer over the various bars, you will see how much of the national debt is attributed to each Prime Minister over the years. Since it is a little difficult to see, I’ve split the graph out into intervals, each covering approximately 50 years.
This graph shows how Robert Borden’s debt, most of which was accumulated during the First Word War, wasn’t paid off until the year 2000! It gets worse…
We are still paying for Mackenzie King’s spending habits, despite the fact that King left office in 1948! This is the impact of our government’s failure to pay off his debt in a timely manner. Instead, government after government borrowed money to pay the interest on King’s spending during the second world war.
Which party was in office the longest between 1948 and the present? The Liberal Party of Canada.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s spending habits were particularly disastrous. First, he borrowed massive amounts for his own program spending, and in doing so, completely neglected King’s spending. When Mulroney assumed office in 1984, Trudeau’s financial legacy was spiralling out of control, forcing Mulroney’s government to borrow money to cover the interest payments.
Mulroney did borrow some money for his own program spending, however, all in all, if you exclude the interest payments on Trudeau’s debt, you will discover that Mulroney ran a surplus.
I think I should repeat that:
Mulroney ran budgetary surplus.
Who has been telling us, repeatedly, that Mulroney’s governments ran massive, unacceptable and irresponsible deficits?
The Liberal Party of Canada.
Here are two more graphs, showing the debt accumulated first by Conservative governments, and second, by Liberal governments. The numbers are shocking:
I’ll finish up with one last graph – showing how much of the 2013 national debt belongs to each Prime Minister.
Out of the national debt at the end of the 2013 fiscal year, Pierre Trudeau is responsible for a whopping 42%! Mackenzie King is responsible for 36%! Mackenzie King’s massive portion can be directly attributed to Pierre Trudeau’s failure to control spending, while Trudeau’s portion can be directly attributed to exactly the same thing: his failure to control spending, leaving a disastrous financial legacy – a financial albatross hanging around the government’s neck which will remain for generations to come.
We can’t hold Justin Trudeau personally responsible for his father’s actions; but we can suppose that Justin Trudeau’s biggest ideological influence was his father. After all, Pierre Elliott Trudeau was Prime Minister during Justin Trudeau’s most formative years.
If Pierre Elliott Trudeau wasn’t fiscally responsible, what evidence do we have that Justin Trudeau would be?
And that’s terrifying.
Justin Trudeau: Like Father, Like Son.