Harper government’s economic record worst in Canada’s post-war history, new report shows
By Mary Simpson
As Canada slips into a recession with real gross domestic product falling in May for the fifth consecutive month, a new review of the economic record of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government paints a damning portrait of nearly a decade of economic failure.
“Rhetoric and Reality: Evaluating Canada’s Economic Record Under the Harper Government,” authored by Unifor Economists Jim Stanford and Jordan Brennan, tracks the performance of nine federal governments from 1946 through 2014.
“Canada’s economy has never performed worse, since the end of World War II, than under the present Conservative government,” the authors wrote. “The Harper government ranks last among the nine post-ward governments, and by a wide margin – falling well behind the second worst government, which was the Mulroney government of 1984-93.”
The report also shows that the poor economic results of the Stephen Harper Conservative government cannot be blamed on the 2008-09 recession – Canada experienced a total of 10 recessions since 1946, with some Prime Ministers contending with more than one during their tenures. The recovery from the 2008-09 downturn has been the weakest of any recovery since 1946.
Stanford and Brennan compare annual data from Statistics Canada and other publicly available sources regarding 16 key conventionally used indicators of economic progress and well-being. These indicators include:
Work: Job-creation, employment rate, unemployment rate, labour force participation, youth employment, and job quality.
Production: Real GDP growth (absolute and per capita), business investment, exports, and productivity growth.
Distribution and Debt: Real personal incomes, inequality, federal public services, personal debt, and government debt.
For 13 of the 16 indicators, the Stephen Harper Conservative government ranks last or second last among all postwar Prime Ministers. And its average ranking across all 16 indicators is by far the worst.
Even internationally, Canada ranks much more poorly than previously claimed. Canada’s economy falls in the lower half of all OECD countries under the Harper government, according to population-adjusted indicators of job-creation and GDP growth.
“Given the negative growth data recorded so far for 2015, Canada’s standing among industrial countries will slip further this year,” the report concludes. “Prime Minister Harper’s claim that Canada’s economy is ‘the envy of the entire world’ is sharply at odds with the international data.”