The Canadian government has been running deficits since the Trudeau years, except for a few years under Paul Martin when it was finally, painfully, able to move back into a surplus. But even when running a surplus, the government is still paying down the debt accumulated over those decades – debt which is composed of principal, interest, and interest on interest. And interest on interest is by far the largest portion of that debt. A 1993 Auditor General report said that of the accumulated net debt of $423 billion, only $37 billion was principal – the rest was due to the ‘magic’ of compound interest.

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