Jason Clemens, MLI Fellow and co-author along with Niels Veldhuis and Brian Lee Crowley of MLI’s best-selling The Canadian Century, has an article in today’s Wall Street Journal. In the piece titled Canada, Land of Smaller Government, Clemens makes the case for Canadian fiscal actions as a guide for Americans. From the outset, he eloquently echoes the arguments put forth in Canadian Century.
When Americans look to Canada, they generally think of an ally, though one dominated by socialist economic policies. But the Canada of the 1970s and early 1980s—the era of left-wing Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau—no longer exists. America’s northern neighbor has transformed itself economically over the last 20 years.
The Canadian reforms began in 1988 with a U.S. free trade pact that would lead to the North American Free Trade Agreement. But change really began to take off in 1993. A socialist-leaning government in Saskatchewan started by reducing spending and moving towards a balanced budget. This was followed by historic reforms by the Conservatives in Alberta, who relied on spending reductions to balance their budget quickly.
In 1995, the federal government, led by the Liberal Party, passed the most important budget in three generations. Federal spending was reduced almost 10% over two years and federal employment was slashed 14%. By 1998, the federal government was in surplus and reducing the nearly $650 billion national debt. Provincial governments similarly focused on eliminating deficits by paring spending and reducing debt, and then they started to offer tax relief.