restricted access Revisiting Post-Confederation Fiscal Policy: Liberal Dissent from Conservative Deficits

The leading studies of post-Confederation fiscal policy (Perry 1955; Gillespie 1991) have assumed that both political parties favoured deficits to build public works, notably railroads, but these studies’ research, which looked only at selected budget speeches, was inconclusive and misleading. This essay analyzes Liberal and Conservative budget speeches as well as the Opposition responses for the entire period of 1867-1903; this more complete historical record shows that the Liberals consistently opposed the Conservative reliance on deficit financing and public indebtedness.