Globe and Mail Debate: A Recap and In-Depth Analysis

Rahman Mohamed

With a concentration on the economy, the MacLean’s National Leaders’ Debate on 6 August was broken into 4 parts: economy, environment, security, and democracy.  In the 17 September debate hosted by the Globe and Mail, “the economy is the most critical issue ballot box facing voters in this federal election making it the sole topic of the 2015 Globe and Mail debate”.  Though she played an influential role on 6 August, Elizabeth May was left out as Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, and Thomas Mulcair squared off.

Moderated by Globe and Mail EIC David Walmsley the debate was in Calgary.  With questions directed to leaders the first half dealt with jobs, energy and the environment, infrastructure, immigration, housing, and taxation.

The first question of the night went to Stephen Harper, about jobs, asking “Canada is facing a structural, rather than cyclical change.  Do you have a jobs plan, beyond taking things out of the ground?”

Before answering Harper expressed condolences.  In a vague manner he then spoke about actions the government was taking at this time ending with a goal of balanced budgets.  He also spoke about current training processes.  Together he spoke of investing in the labour force to prepare workers for entry into new industries while keeping taxes down.

Thomas Mulcair said “Mr. Harper put all his eggs in one basket and then he dropped the basket,” saying Harper had only been investing in the energy and manufacturing sectors which has at this time collapsed.  In terms of his plan Mulcair said the NDP is planning to drop taxes on small and medium sized businesses because they create most of Canada’s jobs.  In regards to family balance, off topic from the present question, Mulcair spoke of the NDP plan to bring affordable childcare, saying it would be good for the economy and good for women.  He did not explain why it would be good for the economy.

When asked to begin the open round on the issue of jobs, Justin Trudeau began by stating that Canada had declined and Canadians were living at a lower standard since the Conservatives had taken through questions to the audience, adding that that he was in touch with Canadians as well as aware of the government’s actions while Harper was aware of the government but unaware of its effect on Canadians.  When asked about his plan Trudeau said “We have a plan.  A strong and clear plan to invest in our middle-class, to grow the economy, to give it the kick-start it needs, and put more money in Canadians’ pockets.”  He said it would mean “raising taxes on the wealthiest 1%” while lowering taxes on the middle-class together with investing in infrastructure.  To do this Trudeau said “We are going to run three modest deficits in order to pay for it” adding that “these are the kind of investments Mr. Harper hasn’t made”.

In response Harper said that today Canada was “in an unstable world economy” adding the Trudeau was opposed to cuts against small businesses because they were the wealthy putting their money where they wouldn’t be taxed and was committed to running “permanent deficits”.  Trudeau immediately defended himself, interrupting Harper to say that Harper knows the Liberals are planning to lower small business taxes from 11% to 9% and assist them with their necessary costs such as transportation.  After saying “Mr. Harper has not only the worst record on jobs, job creation record since World War 2, he has the worst record on economic growth since the Great Depression” Trudeau said we have to grow the economy.

When asked for his response Mulcair said “While Mr. Harper thinks everything is just fine the way it is, Mr. Trudeau is proposing to dump tens of millions of dollars of new debt on future generations of Canadians.  The Prime Minister wants to hit the snooze button while Mr. Trudeau is hitting the panic button.” He added that the NDP had released numbers referring to the NDP fiscal policy released on 16 September and the voting public should be respected.  In defence Harper said both Mulcair and Trudeau proposed cuts to small business taxes, what the Conservatives were already doing, while increasing payroll taxes and the CPP, “which are 10 times bigger than the tax cuts they are proposing” and referred to the Independent Federation of Small Businesses views against the NDP and Liberal fiscal plans saying they would lead to a loss of jobs.  In turn Trudeau defended saying pensions aren’t taxes because upon retirement persons get their money back.  With the final say on the topic Mulcair defended an increase to the CPP.