Liberals lay out election platform

Sun Apr 3, 2011 7:19pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada's opposition Liberal Party unveiled a C$8.2 billion election platform on Sunday that promises to cut the government deficit but stops short of saying exactly when the federal budget would be balanced.

The Liberals, who trail Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives in polls ahead of the May 2 election, said they will cut the deficit to 1 percent of gross domestic product in two years, largely by canceling a planned corporate tax cut.

The platform unveiled by Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff in an elaborate webcast townhall presentation pledges to continue the deficit cutting until the budget is balanced but does not specify what year that will happen.

The Conservatives, who have been in power since 2006, have said they can have the budget balanced by the 2015-16 fiscal year, but the Liberals said the economic assumptions used by the government to reach that target were not credible.

"We're not going to play into that game," Ignatieff told reporters in Ottawa.

The budget proposed by the Conservatives on March 22, only days before the government fell and the election campaign began, had projected a C$29.6 billion deficit for the 2011-12 fiscal year, or 1.7 percent of GDP.

The Liberal platform largely repeated promises Ignatieff has already made on the campaign trail, including C$1 billion in education funding and C$1 billion to help families with home health care.

The 94-page platform also included C$400 million in tax credits to promote energy conservation, but has less emphasis on the environment issues than the party's platform in the 2008 election, when they lost ground to the ruling Conservatives.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff announces an election platform during a campaign stop in Ottawa April 3, 2011. REUTERS/Blair Gable</p>