We have to start putting the brakes on government spending: Magna CEO
Will the government look to tax its way out of a record budget deficit? The prime minister gave the question a flat ‘no.’
Speaking to reporters alongside newly-minted Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland in Ottawa Tuesday afternoon, Justin Trudeau was asked directly if taxes would rise to help offset the mounting costs of pandemic relief; a question to which he offered no hesitation.
“No. The last thing Canadians need is to see a rise in taxes right now,” Trudeau said. “Millions of Canadians are out of work and looking for work; the economy is still nowhere near where we need it to be.”
“We have work to do and we are not going to be saddling Canadians with extra costs,” he added. “We are going to be investing in the kinds of things that are going to grow our economy.”
Trudeau’s comments should go a long way to easing the mind of Magna International Inc.’s chief executive, who earlier warned Canada’s new finance minister against trying to tax her way out of Canada’s record deficit.
“I know it’s popular (when trying) to get elected to say: ‘We’re going to tax the wealthy more. We’re going to tax companies more,’” Magna CEO Don Walker told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Tuesday before Trudeau’s remarks.
“You can’t just keep doing that because you’ll eventually lose the companies and lose the high-income people.”
Walker was offering his thoughts on how Freeland should deal with an estimated $343.2-billion spending hole created by stimulus and benefits the federal government has put forward to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hopefully [there] will be well-thought-through, intelligent decisions made,” Walker said.
“We’re going to have a deficit issue to deal with, so we’ve got to figure out how to handle that. But, the best way to do it is by being productive, not through taxation.”
Walker offered praise for Freeland, particularly for her role in defending Canada’s economic interests in the process of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement in 2017 and 2018.“I have a lot of respect for her,” Walker said. “I’ve dealt with her a lot, specifically through the [new NAFTA], so I’m sure whatever she takes on, she’s going to do a good job.”