EDITORIAL: This election Trudeau is the best choice for Canadian prosperity

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Age has never stopped me from trying something new. I quit my relatively secure job with one of Canada's largest pension fund managers in my 40s to start up INK Research, an internet based independent research firm. The odds were against my business partner and me, but we did it. After more than 10 years of ups and downs associated with that decision, I am still not afraid to do something new when a business case is strong. Next Monday, I will be doing just that. For the first time in my life I will be voting for the Liberal Party of Canada.
I have always voted for conservative-oriented parties, of which there have been a few over the years. Conservatives had always managed to provide a sensible approach to the economy and fundamental freedoms. Unfortunately, such is not the case now with the Harper conservatives. Instead of governing for the benefit of all Canadians as they did when they first arrived in government, the Harper conservatives have been increasingly writing policy to appeal to a narrow political base, leaving behind a number of traditional Conservative Party supporters.
In particular, for free-market conservatives the recent performance of the Harper conservatives is a disappointment. The Harper conservatives are fond of touting their record of boutique tax cuts which tend to be targeted towards groups likely to vote for them. But in reality, you cannot promote sustainable wealth creation for our children through tax measures like the home renovation tax credit. More importantly, job creators need to operate in an environment where government red tape is kept to a minimum. On that front, the Harper conservatives have failed.
The government's assault on small business with Bill C-28, which gives the CRTC the power to regulate commercial electronic communications, has inflicted millions of dollars in costs on entrepreneurs while boosting the role of the state in the economy. Large firms have also not escaped the clutches of Harper interventionism. There is no juicier example than the merger between Burger King and Tim Hortons. The Harper conservatives eventually allowed the deal, but not before the Industry Minister effectively rewrote the company's business plan.
With Industry Canada busy building roadblocks for small business and meddling in corporate mergers, Mr. Harper essentially relieved his industry minister of the duties of implementing industrial policy in 2013 by handing that job to his hand-picked central bank governor Stephen Poloz. With oil flying high around the $100 per barrel level, Mr. Poloz proceeded to loosen monetary conditions in order to "rebalance the economy." Instead, his premature devaluation of the loonie led to overinvestment in the oil patch and a subsequent recession. Our economy is now potentially on the cusp of stagflation.
The Harper conservatives gambled that by devaluing the loonie in 2013, the economy would be strong in time for the election. It is a bet they lost. Meanwhile, our global competitiveness languishes at number 13 in the World Economic Forum's annual rankings.
Moreover, the Harper conservative claim that they have balanced the books leaves a lot of question marks. According to the Parliament Budget Officer, the reported surplus last year was accompanied by a staggering $407 billion in off-balance sheet loan guarantees. These are what the IMF terms "hidden deficits," and Canada has one of the highest in the world at about 20% of GDP.
In contrast, Justin Trudeau is offering a more transparent approach that can help strengthen our competitiveness, further invigorate economic activity, while uniting Canadians. His bold plan to invest in infrastructure will help us get our goods and ideas to market more effectively. The associated deficits pale in comparison to the hidden deficits that the Harper conservatives have racked up. Importantly, the business case to make infrastructure investments now is strong. The government of Canada can borrow at about 1.5% for 10 years. Such rates are unlikely to last. If we do not act, future generations will rightly ask why we were not astute enough to take advantage of the opportunity.
For sound money conservatives, the Trudeau plan has the benefit of helping to put more of our industrial capacity to use which will make it harder for the Bank of Canada to embark on non-conventional monetary policy such as asset purchases. Such policy measures tend to distort capital markets. Indeed, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) may well breathe a small sigh of relief if the Trudeau Liberals win. The BIS has admonished governments around the world not to rely so much on central banks to support the economy. It is a warning that the Harper conservatives have ignored.
The Trudeau plan should also provide the benefit of boosting economic activity by lowering tax rates for those most likely to spend the money. That will also make it even harder for the Bank of Canada to justify undertaking non-conventional monetary policy. Justin Trudeau's approach offers the best chance to avoid a similar fate as we have seen in the United States where the central bank has been unable to return to "business-as-usual" despite years of trying.
Encouragingly, the Trudeau Liberals won't raise corporate taxes. In the last French debate, the Liberal leader went as far as to acknowledge that companies like INK Canadian Index member RONA (RON) are job creators and need a competitive tax structure.
Furthermore, the Trudeau plan to welcome thousands of Syrian refugees is an ambitious move that will pay dividends for the economy for years to come.
Probably the most compelling argument in favour of Mr. Trudeau is his positive approach to tricky cultural and social issues. As Prime Minister, his values would support the unity of Canada. In contrast, the Harper conservatives have made a sad turn into the dark alley of negative cultural and religious identity politics. This is not the conservative party to which I once belonged. Fortunately, in this election there is a more positive, pro-growth alternative for uncomfortable conservatives. That alternative is Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada.
This election Liberals are the best choice for Richmond, British Columbia
In my constituency of Steveston-Richmond East, I will be voting for Liberal Party candidate Joe Peschisolido. Joe was a former MP of Richmond from 2000-2004 and understands the needs of the business community, and where government should and shouldn't get involved. Across town in Richmond Centre, Conservative Party candidate Alice Wong was wrong to back the discriminatory changes to the Citizenship Act (Bill C-24) which treats Stephen Harper's children differently under the law than many of the children in her riding. Richmond residents would be better served by replacing her with Liberal Party candidate Lawrence Woo.
Ted Dixon is the CEO of INK Research. He has been ministerial assistant to a number of Progressive Conservative cabinet ministers including the Right Honourable Kim Campbell and the Honourable Tom Siddon. Most recently, he was the policy chair for the BC Liberal Party (no relation to the Federal Liberal Party of Canada) between 2011 and 2013. He has worked as a policy analyst at the Fraser Institute, and is a Chartered Financial Analyst with an MBA from the University of Chicago. His views are his own.

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