Reid Southwick, Calgary Herald
The Conservative government’s record of managing the country’s books came under fire at a debate in a west Calgary riding Monday, but the Liberal challenger also faced questions for her party’s plans to run deficits.
Kerry Cundal, the Liberal candidate in Calgary Signal Hill, accused the Tory government of having the worst financial record in decades.
Responding to a question from a Grade 9 student, who wondered whether deficit spending would overburden future generations, Cundal said her party wants to increase spending on infrastructure to create jobs and leave a legacy of capital assets. She said her party would run several deficits but vows to balance the budget in 2019.
“If you want to stimulate the economy, we need jobs, we need people with money in their pockets; we need people able to make ends meet,” she said.
Conservative Ron Liepert said the Harper government brought in stimulus spending following the worldwide financial crisis in 2008, but balanced the budget with a $1.9-billion surplus for 2014-2015.
“We did it with tax cuts to families,” he said to a roar of applause.
Six candidates are vying to represent Calgary-Signal Hill, a reliably Conservative riding that covers a swath of the city’s east side where challengers are hoping to make a breakthrough.
Liepert won the Conservative nomination last spring after defeating the long-time, controversial MP Rob Anders, who represented the former Calgary West riding for 17 years.
More than 260 people turned out at a southwest community hall for an-all candidates debate after organizers expected just 40.
On the question of stimulating the economy, Tim Moen, leader of the Libertarian party, said governments don’t create jobs but “take money from productive Canadians who would otherwise create jobs.”
“This idea that we have to spend out way out of an economic crisis I think is fundamentally flawed,” said Moen, who believes the provinces should be in charge of running their respective economies.
New Democrat Khalis Ahmed said his party wants to cut taxes for small businesses while balancing the budget.
“A balanced budget is how we survive,” Ahmed said.
Green party candidate Taryn Knorren said the next federal government should get the country’s books in order so that it’s able to pay down the national debt.
Jesse Rau, who represents the Christian Heritage Party, drew boos from the crowd after making incendiary comments, including that the Canadian government is “fostering an environment that is emboldening pedophilia.”