Economist warns that politicians ignore deficits in elections

A public policy economist warns provincial voters to be ware of politicians promising balancing budgets with service cuts.

On Tuesday evening, the South Riverdale Community Health Centre held a forum on some of the issues that it would like addressed in the current provincial election. Toronto-based economist Hugh Mackenzie, of Mackenzie and Associates, was one of three speakers.

“Rob Ford said, ‘Don’t worry; we can get the city’s finances under control. There won’t be any effect on services. We won’t have to raise taxes and there won’t be any effect on anybody’s job working for the city.’ It was all a lie; it was just another part of this conspiracy that politicians indulge themselves in during an election campaigns,” Mackenzie said.

He spoke mainly about health-care funding, the deficit and how the three major provincial parties behave during elections.

He said that when the election campaign begins, the parties call a truce on the war over the deficit.

“If you want to do something about the deficit, you’ve got to one of two things. You’ve got to either raise revenue, which is raising taxes… or we are going to cut expenditures and nobody wants to talk about cutting expenditures,” Mackenzie said. “So what they do is they agree for the thirty-five days of the election campaign suddenly they’re not going to talk about it.”

Mackenzie explained that during election campaigns candidates typically avoid discussing difficult issues. If they discussed one difficult issue, they would have to discuss another.

“When you look at the parties’ platforms you discover that there are some really big holes. That’s true of all three parties,” he said. “Everybody’s coming to the same conclusion during the election campaign, but don’t trust them. Don’t trust them because that’s exactly what Rob Ford said a year ago.”