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GUEST COLUMN: Trudeau failed to prep Canada for the economic storm clouds

By Pierre Poilievre, Special to Postmedia Network

When Justin Trudeau became the captain of Canada’s economic ship, the sun was shining. An accelerating world economy led by our biggest trading partner’s roaring recovery, a booming Canadian residential market and a 70% increase in oil prices to boost our resource-driven economy made for smooth sailing. Not to mention Trudeau inherited steady economic growth and a balanced budget from the previous Conservative government.

But despite Trudeau’s claim of “sunny ways”, storm clouds were gathering. Our largest customer, the United States, was talking protectionist tariffs. In turn, Trudeau offered to renegotiate NAFTA – our most important trade deal.

To prepare for the rainy days ahead, Trudeau needed to do three things. One, pay down debt. Two, allow new pipelines to ship oil to markets outside the United States. Three, lower taxes for workers and businesses. These efforts would have kept the ship’s bow above water and put wind in the sails of the Canadian economy.

Trudeau did exactly the opposite. He spent every penny in new revenues, by increasing the cost of government at almost three times the combined rate of inflation and population growth. Trudeau’s promise of three “small” $10 billion dollar deficits quickly became $66 billion of new debt to pay for his big-government fancies.

Even worse, there is no end in sight. Under Mr. Trudeau’s plan, Canadians will not see pay-as-you-go government until 2045 –and that was Finance Canada’s projection before the trade war began.

Meanwhile, Trudeau made us even more dependent on the United States; by arbitrarily deep-sixing a duly authorized pipeline, Northern Gateway, which would have taken our oil to the Pacific. He then erected so many barriers to TransCanada’s Energy East project that the company abandoned its plan to build a pipeline from Alberta to the Atlantic (and invested in Mexico instead).

Investors received the signals: ‘In Mr. Trudeau’s Canada, your money’s not safe.’ That is why Kinder Morgan recently decided that the best, safest choice was to sell the Trans Mountain pipeline to Canadian taxpayers, and join the exodus.

In sum, Trudeau blocked our oil from the Pacific and the Atlantic. This cemented American control of 99% of our oil exports – allowing the U.S. to underpay us by billions of dollars for our product. Then he gave $4.5 billion to a Texas company for a 65-year-old pipeline we already had. That company is now using Canadian tax dollars to build pipelines in the United States that will compete with Canadian industry.

You can almost see the champagne flowing at Trump Tower.

Justin Trudeau has become the captain of taxes, debt, and misadministration. If Mr. Trudeau wanted to help President Trump move Canadian jobs south, he has succeeded. Foreign investment in Canada is down by half over the last two years. Canadian investors are now taking their money south of the border where there’s less red tape, lower taxes and friendly waters for investors.

As tariff waves come crashing into us, our ship is leaking, weighed down by debt, and empty of supplies. Time for a new captain.


Pierre Poilievre is the Official Opposition Shadow Finance Minister and MP for Carleton.