With Canada’s national debt nearing $628 billion, a taxpayer advocacy group brought a visual reminder of the country’s financial situation to London Wednesday, as part of a cross-country campaign to “shock” Canadians into paying attention.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s national debt clock tour stopped in London today as the group travels the latest leg of the tour–the 401 corridor–spreading its message that the government needs to reign in spending and lower the debt.
While the main number increases by nearly $1,000 per second, the display–made from a converted scoreboard mounted inside a retrofitted horse trailer–also shows the per capita debt share that each Canadian holds, which sits at just over $17,400.
“We know debt’s not a sexy issue. We know it’s not something people are talking about every day. We wanted to find a sort of in-your-face symbol,” said Aaron Wudrick, the CTF’s federal director, speaking on the Andrew Lawton Show Wednesday afternoon. “It is really about shock value. People see this (and they) are surprised at how big it is (and) how fast it’s going up.”
Because of the size of the debt, Wudrick pointed out how much money Canadians spend each year just on interest payments to service the debt.
“This really, wherever you sit on the political spectrum, has to matter–the interest payments,” he said. “When we pay our taxes, we expect that (money) to go towards programs and services that we value. Last year we spent $26 billion just on interest: that’s more than we spend on the Canadian Armed Forces. So you can see that the size of the debt has an impact on the ability for us to fund other things that we want, like roads and hospitals and schools.”
Though the debt clock boasts a running tally of Canada’s national debt, accompanying Wudrick and the clock on the trip was CTF’s Ontario director, Christine Van Geyn who stressed that Ontarians’ debt burdens exist above and beyond the national debt with Ontario’s balance owing.
“It’s not one level of government,” Van Geyn said. “The provincial debt in Ontario is almost half of (the federal debt). It’s approaching $300 billion–it’s going to hit it this year. That’s the largest amount of debt of any sub-national government in the entire world…. Bigger than California, bigger than any province, and it’s growing incredibly rapidly. So this part of the tour is dedicated to the federal debt, but we are going to be having a special event related to the provincial debt later this summer.”
After London, the debt clock headed to Sarnia, with stops heading east of the city during the rest of the week.