It was like backwards day – an NDP leader getting warm applause from business leaders for a speech on tax breaks and fighting deficits.

Darrell Dexter chose a Halifax Chamber of Commerce luncheon to announce a 10 per cent manufacturing tax credit if the NDP wins the next election.

Dexter expects the credit to cost between $20 million and $25 million and create over 2,000 jobs.

“This tax credit would be a vote of confidence in the industries that will be part of the future economic successes that is there for the taking,” said Dexter.

The 10 per cent credit would be 75 per cent refundable, so for every million dollars invested a company would save $75,000. Dexter predicted the economic growth spurred by the credit would yield a 10 per cent return in economic activity in the first year alone.

Dexter implied the money for the credit could come from the industrial expansion fund. He said that fund didn’t have enough accountability measures. But he ruled out going into deficit.

“We have to balance the budget. We can’t add to the debt. We can’t afford to do that,” he said.

Conservative MLA Jamie Muir seemed to welcome the idea, but he said it all comes down to finding the money for it.

“Certainly, it would be a good thing if it would help business grow in this province and if the province could afford it,” said Muir.

“It’s all about being able to afford these things.”

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