The PM As Leaf’s Coach

The meme where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau becomes the new coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who lost in the NHL playoffs to Boston May 4th, has far more depth […]

The meme where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau becomes the new coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who lost in the NHL playoffs to Boston May 4th, has far more depth than people realize.

Previous head coach Sheldon Keefe was fired, leaving a prime job open.

“With my unique coaching style, the cup will win itself,” was Trudeau’s quote in the meme, his fictional words matched by a fake picture of him in a Leafs jacket.

The woes of both Canada and the Maple Leafs involve leadership and economics.

In the Leafs’ case, the players salary cap is $83.5 million. Last year, the team paid four players $11 million each, leaving fiscal scraps for the other 16 players.

Prior to becoming prime minister, Trudeau was asked how committed he would be to a balanced budget.

“The commitment needs to be a commitment to grow the economy, and the budget will balance itself,” Trudeau said, on February 11, 2014, as he criticized the Harper government approach.

“They’re artificially fixing a target of a balanced budget in an election year,” Trudeau explained.

“And that’s irresponsible. What you need to do is create an economy that works for Canadians, works for middle class Canadians, allows young people to find a job, allows seniors to feel secure in their retirement.”

Trudeau pledged to run modest deficits and a return to balance in the final year of his majority term, which, ironically, was what he condemned Conservatives of doing in the interview. We are still waiting for that balanced budget, of course.

The budget had a $7.5 billion surplus when the Trudeau Liberals were sworn into power on November 4, 2016 and they turned it into a $5.4 billion deficit by the end of March.

Prior to taking power, Trudeau argued that historically low interest rates were a good reason to borrow and spend on nation-building infrastructure. If the debt-to-GDP ratio kept dropping, good enough.

That excuse of low interest rates is gone, yet the deficits remain. When this fiscal year ends next March, the federal debt will be double what it was when the Trudeau Liberals took power. Deep deficits and higher lending rates have made debt servicing costs nearly double in the past two years alone.

Among the 38 nations in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, Canada’s growth in real GDP per capita was the fifth-weakest over 2019-22. Last November, Canada was named as one of only eight advanced countries where real incomes were lower than before the pandemic, as inflation outpaces growth.

Worse, the OECD projects Canada will be the worst performing economy among the 38 advanced economies over both 2020-30 and 2030-60.

Even before capital gains taxes were hiked in the recent budget, investors knew Canada wasn’t a good place to grow wealth. The country lost $225 billion in capital investment from 2016 through 2022.

Whether it’s a winning team or a winning economy, ignoring financial realities steals success.

Trudeau’s economic plan has relied on a burgeoning, high-paid public sector, almost limitless immigration, carbon taxes, and green spending. He has put all the money on the wrong players.

Canada was altogether different in 1967, the last time the Leafs won a cup. Since then, the first and second prime ministers Trudeau have eroded this country’s social and fiscal moorings, leaving us conflicted and financially burdened instead of celebrating our success.

So, when will Canada get a new coach?


Lee Harding is a Research Fellow for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.


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