I'm so inspired that I'm going to take a page out of Jack's book and take Harper on on the economy myself. Conservatives think that they can hit the panic button in a time of economic crisis and call all other people fiscally irresponsible and we are just supposed buy that. Harper wants us to believe that since he and his friends all look like a bunch of bankers, that they are unquestionably the best equipped to manage the economy.
It's late as I write, so I will keep this short, but here are a couple of points that I have to make on the subject before I can sleep tonight (new levels of nerdiness, I know). I will leave it to you readers to comment with other examples of Conservative mismanagement.
Point #1. Harper's record is not super. A recent study by economist Jim Stanford done for the CCPA shows that "the Harper government has become the first elected federal administration to experience a decline in average national productivity during its entire term in office since Statistics Canada began gathering productivity data in 1961." The study points to three major reasons for the decline:
1. The energy and commodity boom, which has undermined productivity in resource industries by luring companies to exploit increasingly marginal deposits.
2. The negative impact of the high Canadian dollar (which tends to follow oil prices) on high-productivity manufacturing jobs.
3. The importance of low-productivity service sectors (such as retail and hospitality) in new job creation. These are the only sectors relatively immune from the negative effects of the high dollar.
“We’ve had three strikes against our national productivity, and they’re all related to the Harper government’s acceptance of Canada’s new status as an energy ‘superpower.’ By endorsing the high dollar and abandoning Canadian manufacturing, this government has done more damage to our national productivity than any other government in our postwar history,” Stanford concludes.
Point#2- Stephen Harper spends like a drunken sailor when it comes to dishing out to his friends. Harper gave away $50 billion in the form of corporate tax cuts. $50 billion. Here are a couple of interesting posts from The Progressive Economics Forum about the cost of Conservative tax cuts. In discussing the tax cuts for 2006 and 2007 alone, Erin Weir points out that:
Had the federal government not adopted these tax cuts, it could instead have doubled its support for healthcare, post-secondary education, and social assistance. This point would be worth remembering next time someone claims that medicare is inherently unsustainable.
Point #3- Stephen Harper resorts to gimmicks instead of revealing a real plan. From a great article in the Ottawa Citizen (featured in my earlier post):
Yesterday, Harper said that Layton's plan to expand medical schools was unaffordable, but the cost is $200 million a year. Harper is prepared to spend $600 million a year to reduce the price of diesel and aviation fuels by two cents a litre. Which plan offers the bigger benefit to Canadians? Layton also wants to forgive the student loans of doctors who choose the vital, but less remunerative, area of family medicine. It's the sort of incentive that should have already been enacted by a thinking Conservative government.
Now, Harper has promised $750 to first-time home-buyers. Since there were an estimated 30o,ooo first-time home-buyers last year, Harper's plan works out to $225 million a year. More than Layton's health proposal and arguably not as useful; the decline of the manufacturing sector, and the effect that it has on other Canadian jobs, has placed and will continue to place a large segment of potential first-time home-buyers in a financial situation that frankly, $750 isn't going to do much for. People need to be able to afford to buy a home before they can reap the benefits of a tax credit.
Bottom line is that people need jobs, and we need a plan to create sustainable jobs to weather this storm. Not a bunch of gimmicky tax cuts.
Canadians need real economic leadership and I only see it coming from one place.