Ambrose to meet PM to discuss 'deteriorating economy'
Published Monday, January 18, 2016 1:38PM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 18, 2016 6:31PM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has agreed to sit down with interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, after she wrote him a letter requesting a meeting to discuss the “rapidly deteriorating economy.”
In a publicly-released letter, Ambrose wrote that, “with markets tumbling, the oil price remaining depressed and the dollar weakening, the time is now for the government to demonstrate leadership.”
Ambrose said she wants Trudeau to make “three key economic commitments”: limit additional debts, sign and ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal and scrap the Liberals’ promise to cancel income splitting for families.
In her letter, Ambrose had said she’s concerned that the Liberals’ campaign promise to run modest deficits of around $10 billion a year will be broken. “Your government has taken almost no time to turn a surplus (as indicated by the Parliamentary Budget Officer) into a deficit,” she added.
Ambrose later told CTV’s Power Play that she wanted the meeting in part so that she can urge Trudeau “to be clear about the level of debt and deficit he’s going to burden Canadians with.”
Ambrose said the Liberals’ first budget should come out sooner than later, adding that the Conservatives’ 2009 budget was released on Jan. 27 that year, in response to the global economic crisis.
“We worked very quickly, over the Christmas holidays, to get that budget done but we needed it because we had to send that signal to markets, we had to send that signal to Canadians businesses that they had support,” she said.
In other years, the Conservatives released their budgets much later. Last year, then Finance Minister Joe Oliver delayed his budget until April 21, citing uncertainty over oil prices.
Ambrose also criticized the Liberals for a “lack of certainty” about environmental approvals that she said is scaring away capital from Canada’s oil sands at a time when she thinks a low loonie could attract foreign investment.
“Investors are saying that Alberta is not a place to invest anymore,” she added. On Monday, the credit rating agency Moody's shifted its outlook to negative from stable, although Alberta retains a triple-A rating.
Earlier in the day, Trudeau told reporters in Saint Andrews, N.B., that he “looks forward” to meeting with Ambrose and discussing any concerns she may have.
However, the prime minister would not directly answer questions about whether his planned deficit could grow into the $30 to $40 billion range.
He also dodged questions about the possibility of releasing an early budget.
Trudeau said that the Canadian economy has “underperformed” in the last decade, and blamed the lack of growth on the previous Conservative government.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said, that while “these are tough times,” the slumping economy does not give the Liberal government an excuse to back away from its election promises, especially when it comes to deficits and stimulus spending.
Mulcair said the government has “an obligation” to deliver the budget as soon as possible, but said that Trudeau should hold all-party consultations before setting a budget date.