Canada's left-leaning NDP seeks to allay fiscal fears as support surges

Thu Jun 18, 2015 4:19pm EDT
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By Leah Schnurr and Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's left-of-center New Democratic Party, which is leading opinion polls ahead of October's election, would not enact surprise corporate tax hikes if it takes power and has "great confidence" in Bank of Canada policies, its finance critic said.

The NDP, viewed as the furthest left among major political parties, is suddenly the center of attention as its tops the polls, opening the possibility that it could form a federal government for the first time.

With that in mind, Nathan Cullen, 42, who would be a candidate for finance minister in an NDP government, said in an interview that his party realizes its views leave it with a higher bar to meet to persuade voters it will be fiscally responsible.

Party leader Thomas Mulcair took the same tack as he laid out the NDP's economic platform on Wednesday, pledging more support for the middle class and manufacturing.

"We, in a sense, think we have to do better than the other parties when it comes to costing and the veracity of our offering, and that's fine," Cullen said.

The former small business owner said the NDP would institute corporate tax hikes, but stressed "there won't be any surprises", though he declined to give a figure.

The NDP said in the 2011 election campaign that it would raise the federal corporate tax rate to 19.5 percent. It is now 15 percent.

Mulcair has said the party would bring corporate taxes closer to the average of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations, while keeping them competitive.   Continued...

New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Thomas Mulcair reacts to applause during a rally in Ottawa, Canada, June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie