The last-minute election fear-mongering has started. This time it’s mostly directed at Jack Layton and the NDP. With all the recent news stories — as well as alarm raised by other leaders — about the fiscal and economic impact and record of NDP governments, I decided to take a look at and review the fiscal record of all federal and provincial governments in Canada for the past three decades.
These results may be surprising to some: they show that NDP governments have the best fiscal record of all political parties that have formed federal or provincial government in Canada.
Of the 52 years the NDP has formed governments in Canada since 1980, they’ve run balanced budgets for exactly half of those years and deficits the other half. This is a better record than both the Conservatives (balanced budgets 37% of years in government) and the Liberals (only 27%), as well as both Social Credit and PQ governments.
It’s not just the number of years of balance that is relevant: it’s also the size of the deficits or surpluses that are important. For this, the most important figure is the size of deficits as a share of GDP.
For this measure as well, NDP governments have the best record. The average balance (deficit) as a share of provincial GDP for the 52 years of NDP governments in Canada is -0.77%, compared to -1.82% for all Liberal governments and -0.82% for all Conservative governments over the past thirty years.
I have some colourful charts that illustrate these records, but haven’t been able to upload them onto this blog. They and more background details on these numbers are available at: