Canada's Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks following the delivery of the budget on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 11, 2014.
Credits: REUTERS/Blair Gable
OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper mocked Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on Wednesday for what Harper said was "magical" thinking about the budget deficit.
Trudeau, in an apparent reversal of longstanding Liberal fiscal policy of balanced budgets, told the media Tuesday that governments should focus on growing the economy "and the budget will balance itself."
The Liberal leader was unclear if he would be committed to deficit elimination if elected.
The Conservatives jumped on the comment Wednesday afternoon in the House of Commons, with MP Chris Warkentin saying Trudeau's comments show the Liberal leader "is in over his head."
Harper said the Liberals "will never balance the budget when (Trudeau) says it will balance magically on its own."
The Conservatives announced Tuesday the budget will be balanced by fiscal year 2015.
Trudeau didn't defend himself in the House on Wednesday, but Liberal MP John McCallum tried to explain his leader's comments after question period.
McCallum said the idea Trudeau expressed on Tuesday was "entirely consistent" with the past fiscal policies of the Jean Chretien or Paul Martin Liberal governments.
McCallum, former minister of National Revenue under Martin, said a focus on the economy is, in essence, a focus on eliminating the budget deficit.
"More economic growth is more revenue and that means lower deficits," he said.
McCallum confirmed the Liberals would be "committed" to balancing the books and paying down debt.
"(The Liberals) inherited a $43 billion deficit when we first came to power in 1993," he said. "We paid down debt for 10 years; it's in our DNA to balance the books."