Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s spending is projected increase debt by five per cent

According to the federal government’s projections, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will increase per-person federal debt by five per cent from 2015 to 2019—the largest increase of any prime minister whose time in office didn’t include a world war or economic recession. The other two prime ministers who also increased federal spending while in office were John Abbott and Mackenzie Bowell.

The study tracks how much they increased or decreased total federal debt (which includes all federal financial liabilities) during their time in office, after accounting for both inflation and population changes.

“Government debt matters—higher debt means more tax dollars are diverted away from important public programs in order to pay interest, and it leaves future generations on the hook to pay for today’s spending through higher taxes,” said Charles Lammam, director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of An Analysis of Federal Debt in Canada by Prime Ministers Since Confederation.

Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien cut per-person debt by 13 per cent while Paul Martin cut per-person debt by eight per cent. And Pearson reduced debt by 6 per cent.

Prime Minister Robert Borden, who governed during the First World War and four years of economic downturns, increased per-person debt levels the most (188 per cent). Louis St. Laurent lowered the federal per-person debt the most (34 per cent), even though his tenure included two recessions.

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