The following appeared on the Telegraph Journal website on August 28, 2014:
ADAM HURAS Legislature Bureau
SAINT JOHN – New Democrat Leader Dominic Cardy has revealed several new planks of his party’s election platform aimed at strengthening the provincial economy.
In a speech to business leaders in the Port City on Thursday, Cardy also spent nearly a quarter of his time at the podium discrediting Brian Gallant and a proposed Liberal economic strategy – suggesting it comes from “an inexperienced leader listening uncritically to the backrooms of his party.”
Cardy told a Saint John chamber crowd that an NDP government would introduce a research and development tax credit to promote business growth.
It would also increase the New Brunswick Investment Tax Credit cap to $500,000, making it the highest on the eastern seaboard, and establish regionally competitive tax credits for angel investors, “encouraging them to give New Brunswick start-ups a helping hand.”
The NDP would also create a Tourism Marketing Fund, to be collected via a hotel levy.
The moves are in addition to a previously-released pledge to eliminate the small business tax.
Cardy also announced on Thursday that the New Democrats will end the over $150 million the province spends annually on corporate bailouts in the form of grants and non-repayable loans.
The NDP has also pitched to close the Department of Economic Development, only keeping elements of the existing framework – such as the offices coordinating trade missions and investment opportunities, but now under the Department of Finance.
Cardy then provided new details of a jobs tax credit to reward companies that create new jobs.
“This tax credit will be available to any employer who creates a new job: no politics, no complicated bureaucracy,” Cardy said. “The new jobs tax credit works.
“Six of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates used a jobs tax credit to jump-start their economies.”
Cardy said economists predict that the jobs tax credit will create between 15,000 and 20,000 jobs within four years.
The speech also included a commitment to allow more advertising opportunities on our province’s highways – “giving great New Brunswick businesses a critical tool to reach new customers,” Cardy said.
The New Democrat leader said the addition of a Tourism Marketing Fund – to be collected through a hotel levy – represents a community-based and self-supporting approach to economic development that sees local stakeholders take responsibility for fund management and investment decision-making.
“It’s an idea that has been endorsed by the province’s tourism associations – we need to make it happen,” Cardy said.
Despite being in Saint John, the speech focused little on energy development projects.
“Here in Saint John we are excited about the possibilities of new projects, from the pipeline to the new export terminal,” Cardy said. “We support the development of the new barge terminal, to open our markets to the world.”
He then spoke at great length about the Liberal’s economic development plan to date – taking direct aim at a pitch to spend $900-million on infrastructure over six years.
“Mr. Gallant says that after he borrows nearly a billion dollars, we will have 1,700 jobs for people to build infrastructure,” Cardy said. “The math is straight forward, and it is devastating. That means government is spending $88,000 per job, per year.
“By the end government will have spent $529,000, over half a million dollars, per job. And that doesn’t take into account the interest.”
He added: “This is not a stimulus program. No government today would propose a six year stimulus plan, because if you still need it six years later, it isn’t stimulating anything.”
For the first time on the campaign trail, Cardy then took aim at Gallant himself.
“Only an inexperienced leader listening uncritically to the backrooms of his party could sign off on this plan,” Cardy said. “If an opposition leader does that, it’s embarrassing for him. But of a premier signs off on this plan, it’s devastating for us all.”
Cardy continued, suggesting the Liberals will raise the HST to afford its promises.
“I detest stupid spending that gives government a bad name,” he said. “So when I hear Mr. Gallant muse about increasing the HST, to pay for programs that benefit his supporters, it is a reminder to all politicians of the work we have to do to regain the public’s trust.”
Cardy’s remarks at the Delta Brunswick Hotel were the first from the three major provincial party leaders.
The Saint John chamber will host Liberal Leader Brian Gallant next week and Progressive Conservative leader David Alward in mid-September.
Cardy continues to frame the New Democrats as the electorate’s most fiscally responsible option.
“This is not a question just of spending, or just of revenue, or of right or of left,” Cardy said.
“It’s a question of governance.
“We offer clear policies to balance the books, to create jobs, to save our healthcare and education systems.”