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NDP government wouldn’t run a deficit to finance spending plan: Mulcair

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair speaks during a campaign stop at Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds in Dundas, Ont., on Tuesday, August 25, 2015.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

An NDP government would not need to run a deficit to finance its promises, leader Thomas Mulcair said Tuesday.

Despite the low price of oil and Monday's tumultuous day on the markets, Mr. Mulcair said he does not foresee having to go into the red.

"We're of course going to finish the fiscal year on Mr. Harper's watch — 2015-16 is his budget, but our first budget will be a balanced budget," he said, speaking at a small business that makes natural playground equipment.

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"We know because we've got a lot of experienced people that governing is about priorities. Our priorities are not the same as Mr. Harper's."

Mr. Mulcair has not yet released the full costing details of his platform.

He blamed Mr. Harper for manufacturing job losses and a less diversified economy.

The parliamentary budget office released an analysis last month based on downgraded Bank of Canada projections that showed Ottawa is headed for a $1-billion shortfall in 2015-16, despite the long-standing Conservative promise to balance the books.

If the bank's growth forecast is right, the $1.4-billion surplus the Conservatives projected in the 2015 budget could become a deficit, since federal coffers would be $4.1 billion slimmer, according to an analysis in the April budget.

Mr. Mulcair touted his plan to cut the small business tax rate from 11 per cent to nine per cent, which he says would be fully implemented in the first two years of an NDP government, as a job creation tool.

It would cut small business taxes by almost 20 per cent and save small business owners about $1.2 billion each year, the NDP said.

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Mr. Mulcair has said he will raise taxes for larger corporations, but he has been adamant that he won't increase other taxes or impose a wealth tax.

He hasn't yet said how high he would raise the rate — currently at 15 per cent — but said it will be "reasonable" and will be below the American rate and the average rate under the Conservatives, which is 17.5 per cent.

"Mr. Harper has taken an approach, he's following in the footsteps of the Paul Martin Liberals and it's the same mistake," Mr. Mulcair said.

"Giving tens of billions of dollars in tax reductions to Canada's richest corporations didn't create jobs."

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