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Liberal's top priority is job creation, not deficit cutting

Canada needs more government measures to create jobs, even if they lead to a higher budget deficit, John McCallum, a lawmaker with the main opposition Liberal Party, said.

McCallum, the Liberal spokesman for finance issues, told reporters today his party’s top priority is job creation, not deficit cutting. The current recovery will likely be a “jobless” one, McCallum said, citing unemployment figures.

“What we’re definitely calling for is additional measures to create and promote and save jobs,” said McCallum. New measures “could conceivably lead to a higher deficit because we say for all the reasons I’ve given that jobs are priority number one.”

The comments by McCallum, who was chief economist for Royal Bank of Canada before entering politics, come as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government turns more of its attention to cutting the deficit.

Harper last week made changes to his cabinet that included placing a veteran party official to help battle the budget deficit and prepare the country for the end of stimulus spending. Canada will post a record C$55.9 billion ($53 billion) budget deficit for the current fiscal year.

McCallum said the opposition Liberals will have their own plan to bring the country out of deficit “at the appropriate time”, citing his party’s budget record.

“Now is not that time,” McCallum said.

According to the finance department’s Sep. 10 fiscal update, the country’s unemployment rate will average 9 percent in 2010, up from 8.5 percent in 2009.

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