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Finance minister 'guarantees' a credit downgrade for B.C. if NDP win
It's not on par with Joe Namath's famous guarantee that his underdog New York Jets would win the 1969 Super Bowl or Mark Messier's guarantee that his New York Rangers would win game seven of the 1994 Stanley Cup final, but the B.C. election has its first "guarantee."
Finance Minister Mike de Jong, boldly said in Kelowna Wednesday that if the NDP wins the May 14 provincial election, forms the government and implements the platform it has presented in this campaign, B.C. will have its AAA credit rating downgraded "within six months."
"I guarantee it," said de Jong."You can print that."
The Liberal incumbent in the Fraser Valley riding of Abbotsford West was in Kelowna to support local candidates and cabinet colleagues Norm Letnick and Steve Thomson.
He accused the NDP of planning to spend billions of dollars the province doesn't have, hike taxes on individuals and businesses and increase the province's debt in a similar way to the last NDP government in the late 1990s.
"In this campaign, we have a clear choice between (NDP leader Adrian) Dix and the NDP, which wants to spend the money, raise taxes and drive us into deficit and debt and the fiscally prudent Liberal Party that wants to control spending, tackle the debt and let the private sector crete jobs," said de Jong.
His said his answer to critics who say the B.C. budget is not balanced as the Liberals claim, is to talk to the credit rating agencies that have awarded B.C. a top AAA credit rating, higher than many other provinces in Canada and even higher than the federal government's rating.
He said the budget he introduced as finance minister shortly before the election was called, was reviewed by a neutral third party and found to be balanced with the exception of "a feeling that predicted natural gas revenues were a tad high.
"So we adjusted them down," said de Jong.
He also dismissed criticism that that despite campaigning on a balanced budget and debt elimination, the Liberals are saying one thing having done the other because successive Liberal government have not been successful in bringing in balanced budgets during their 12 years in power—despite legislation requiring it.
In fact, it was the Liberals who introduced balanced budget legislation in B.C. shorty after taking power in 2001.
Under the law, cabinet ministers lose 10 per cent of their annual salary if the budget is not balanced.
De Jong said the NDP would repeal the balanced budget legislation, along with the penalty for ministers, which would, in effect, give all new cabinet ministers a 10 per cent pay raise.
He also also accused the NDP of planning to include credit unions in its plan to increase taxes on banks and said that will hurt some credit union customers' ability to get loans.