Balanced budget claims misleading

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To the editor,

Three articles in this newspaper on March 19 and 20, praised former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty for having “balanced the books” or “virtually” having produced a balanced budget.

In fact, he did no such thing. What he did do is this: Having inherited a sizable surplus from the defeated liberal government, he ran up a succession of sizable deficits, increased the national debt to astronomical heights and left behind another budget deficit.

If he did all that in order to prevent worse to come (like living within our means) he did it by borrowing more. That debt will have to be serviced or paid for by future generations of Canadians.

It is unlikely that they will be grateful for such a legacy.

As The Canadian Press so eloquently expressed it, Flaherty also announced changes to the rules governing income trust, which sparked anger.

As a result the valuation of income trusts collapsed and the Toronto Stock Exchange dropped, I believe, by billions of dollars, the largest drop ever in a single day.

The real losers were the investors in income trusts: Small businesses, retirees, farmers, self-employed tradesmen, etc. They did not have gold-plated pension plans, had lived within their means and invested in income trusts because it guaranteed them a steady monthly income.

When the last liberal government raised the specter of changing such tax rules Flaherty and Stephen Harper, then still in opposition, soundly condemned the plans and solemnly promised that they would never change the rules if and when elected.

They were elected, broke their promise and damaged the taxation rules which resulted in the loss of much, if not all, their invested savings for the investor.

 

Bert R. Langer

Truro

Organizations: Canadian Press, Toronto Stock Exchange

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