Saxton: Conservative Fundamentals the Way Forward

The fall sitting of Parliament will bring with it a fall economic update. The Liberal government is hinting that this update will bring new measures to boost a sluggish economy. A series of economic downgrades, new warnings from the Bank of Canada, and stagnant job growth have Canadians concerned about the short- and long-term horizon. People are hopeful that Ottawa will respond with a bold plan to support economic growth, job creation, and middle-class opportunity.

Unfortunately, the Trudeau government’s economic agenda is much to blame for the country’s economic doldrums and there is little reason to believe that the Liberals are about to have a change of heart. Quite the contrary. Early evidence suggests that the government will continue on its destructive path of hiking payroll taxes, enacting new carbon taxes, and imposing more red tape on small businesses and resources companies.

The question is what should Conservatives say in response? The short answer is to return to basics. The foundational building blocks of a pro-growth agenda is less taxation, sound public finances, limited regulation, and support for hard-working families. These ideas are not only the right ones for Canada’s economy, but they are also the ones that will ultimately return the Conservative Party of Canada to office.

The Liberals came to power nearly one year ago with the stated goal of reversing its predecessor’s record. Their rhetoric was about evidence-based policy but their actions have been intensely partisan seemingly more focused on repealing the Harper government’s accomplishments than creating the conditions for economic growth, job creation, and middle-class opportunity.

The result is that we have witnessed a frenetic agenda comprised of plunging the federal government into deficit, raising taxes and cutting benefits for Canadian families, and planning new tax hikes in the form of higher CPP payroll taxes and a national carbon tax. No wonder the Canadian economy is sputtering.

The onus is on us Conservatives to set out a positive vision that charts a better economic path for Canada. It is not sufficient to be the opposition party. We must be a proposition party.

Fortunately, we are aided in this effort by the right ideas – economic freedom, equality-of-opportunity, upward mobility, and an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. These are the principles that have built this country and have sustained us for nearly 150 years.

The key is that we now apply them to the present challenges facing the Canadian economy and in turn put forward a concrete plan that stands as an alternative to the stale and ineffective economic policies of the Trudeau government.

The upshot would be a positive economic vision that diverges from Ottawa’s present agenda in virtually every way.

We should simplify the federal tax code and in turn lower the tax burden on Canadian families and small businesses, not hike them. We should restore a balanced budget and exercise fiscal discipline, not spend irresponsibly and run up debts and deficits. We should cut red tape and create the conditions for businesses to invest and hire, not tie them up in burdensome regulations and higher taxes. And we should support Canadian families with lower taxes and targeted investments, not reduce their take home pay with greater payroll taxes.

Canadians can and should expect better than stagnant economic growth and it is up to Conservatives to be part of the solution. This must entail drawing on our best ideas and principles, and applying them to present-day challenges in order to put forward a positive vision for our country. Not only will Canada’s economy be better for it, but so will the political fortunes of the Conservative Party.

Andrew Saxton is former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for North Vancouver.

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