Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fair Vote to “seize the moment” — yet again

According to FVC, the Liberal party is at a “turning point.” Prominent Liberals such as Bob Rae, Stephane Dion and Joyce Murray advocate Proportional Representation. So FVC is targeting the 2014 Liberal Convention hoping PR will be added to the Liberal election platform.

Be careful what you wish for

I think PR best reflects the will of voters. It’s used by 85% of developed countries. But FVC seems to have forgotten the sordid history they have with the Liberal party and electoral reform. Namely, the PR referendums that crashed and burned in BC, Ontario and PEI.

Designed to fail

Although the Liberal party has promised PR in the past, clearly their hearts weren’t in it. In fact, one could only describe the referendums they put in motion as designed-to-fail.

There was an absurd 60% requirement for PR to win — which would’ve killed PR in New Zealand. In BC, the Liberal party legislated a gag law forbidding organizations from campaigning for PR. In Ontario, there was no campaign, just mind-numbing public service announcements (according to one poll, 88% of voters knew little to nothing about the referendum. )

So why on Earth would FVC want to walk into another Liberal referendum buzz saw?

Unrealistic expectations

FVC’s political strategy basically amounts to going “all in” without even looking at their hole cards.

They are fluffy bunnies who have no clue they are surrounded by wolves. They mistake opponents for friends. They ignore the fierce attacks against PR in the corporate media — including the “leftist” Toronto Star. They delude themselves into believing 70% of Canadians support PR, when it was rejected by over 60% in BC, Ontario and PEI.

These people are not going to bring voting reform to Canada — they are going to drive the final nail in the electoral reform coffin!

Change of tack

It’s time to take a practical approach to voting reform. First put out the fire with PV ranked ballot. Then build support for a more proportional system. That way we don’t gamble everything and inevitably lose it all.

Justin Trudeau proposes ranked ballot voting as part of his Democratic Reform platform. If activists hold his feet to the fire, we have a real chance of finally bringing actual democracy to Canada.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The senate: imagined and real

It’s human nature to cling to institutions. They are what stands between us and anarchy.

People tend to think it’s radical to question them. Yet if we didn’t, we never would’ve evolved the great ones like democracy and constitutional rights.

So when it comes to the senate debate, it might be better to suspend one’s instincts on the matter.

Sober second thought

John A. Macdonald’s oft-quoted “sober second thought” had an entirely different meaning back in the 19th century. Back then, democracy was the radical idea.

To prevent the unruly masses from getting out of hand, an upper chamber of upper-class aristocrats was created which could amend or veto democratic legislation. Senators were originally appointed because the senate was an Old Boy’s Club.

Post-war era

Canadians just finished fighting a world war to save democracy. So an Upper House of aristocracy became an affront to our way of life. That’s when senate then took on its modern form: a chamber filled with shameless partisan crony appointments.

Elected senators the norm

In the developed world, countries that have senates elect senators — except for Canada and the UK.

In a democracy, an appointed politician is an oxymoron. The purpose of a politician is to represent people. The purpose of a senate is to provide regional representation at a federal level.

Canadian senators do neither. They are only beholden to the one who appoints them. Since they are appointed for life, they are never held accountable at the ballot box.

Underneath the hood

The real work of reviewing legislation is done in committees by MPs put there by voters. That makes the senate an ornate fifth wheel.

An appointed senate is not any less powerful than an elected one. Whether the Liberals or NDP form the next government, they will find out the hard way how obstinate and activist a Harper Conservative senate can be.


The senate’s meandering course through history has produced an intolerable mess. We should either legitimize it with regular elections like other developed countries. Or just get rid of it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ten point Liberal lead not enough for majority

According to a recent EKOS poll, the Trudeau Liberals have a 10 point lead on Harper. Yet it’s not nearly enough to secure a majority government.

Game changer

Most Canadians probably don’t realize how much a united Conservative party changes the political landscape. Under primitive First-Past-the-Post, the Cons get a huge unearned advantage — all thanks to vote splitting.

Con vote split historically

Over the past 80 years, the conservative vote has usually been split. First between the PCs and Social Credit. Then among PCs and Reformers. This enabled the Liberals to become “Canada’s natural governing party” — even though the center-left vote was split between them and the NDP.

The conservative vote has only been united during two periods. First during the Mulroney era (he won 50% and 43% majority governments.) Now under Harper (he won three elections in a row, including a 40% majority in 2011.)

Unless the Wildrose party decides to go federal, the Conservatives are poised to become Canada’s new natural government party — even though the vast majority of Canadians are opposed to them.

Three-way vote splitting

The Green vote of 7% takes a big chunk out of the center-left, making vote splitting even more deadly. Even when the Liberals are riding high in the polls, it’s just not enough to put them in majority territory. ThreeHundredEight.com gives the breakdown:

National Voting Intentions

Here are voting intentions in percentage points:

Here are projected seats (majority 170 of 338):

Trudeau’s 10 point lead leaves him 30 seats short of a majority. And this is on a good day.

Long gone are the days of Chretien when he put together 3 Liberals majorities in a row.

Voting reform or bust

Ranked ballot required to ensure Canadians get a fair fight.

Unless we upgrade our voting system — like 91% of developed nations — the Cons are going to change the country beyond recognition (as promised.)

Justin Trudeau offers the quickest fix: Preferential Voting (ranked ballot.)

This will stop the Cons from winning center-left seats by letting Canadians vote “Anyone But Conservative.” Instead of the 7 points of Green vote being wasted on just one or two seats, the excess will go to the Liberals and NDP in alternative votes.

If we had this system in 2011, Harper would already be gone.

PR voting reform has all the bells and whistles. But considering it was rejected by BC, ON and PEI by over 60%, it’s safer to first fix our existing system with the ranked ballot.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cost of shirt shows zero reason to exploit workers in developing countries

Maclean’s breaks down the costs of bringing a $14 shirt to a retailer near you:

The 12 cents spent on labor in countries like Bangladesh makes up less than 1% of the total cost! The retailer on the other hand enjoys a fat 60% markup — or 78 times what workers are paid.

So the despicable idea that we need slave labor in order to produce affordable clothing is a morally-bankrupt fallacy.

Exploitation self-defeating

Preying on workers is not only a crime against humanity, it is also self-defeating.

The problem with paying workers slave wages is that it destroys customers — literally billions of them who live on $2 or less a day.

If people around the world were paid a living wage this would increase global GDP ten fold. That means Wal-Mart could open up 10 times the number of stores it has now and increase profits by 10 times.

Emerging nowhere fast

The free market approach used in “emerging countries” means they will be emerging forever — forever stuck with deplorable 19th-century living standards.

What created modern living standards in first-world countries? Certainly not free-market ideology that crashed and burned in the Great Depression. It was “big government” involvement in the economy during the post-war era: centrist mixed-market economics.

Untold wasted human potential

If we had a just civilization where modern living standards were common instead of privileged we would be decades, if not centuries, further advanced in science, technology and medicine.

So by indulging in sociopathic economic practices we are only hurting ourselves. In fact we are putting the very survival of humanity at peril with our wanton disregard and recklessness.

In order to stop this evil from flourishing, good people must stand up to the self-aggrandizing con men and bullies at the heart of it and take responsibility for our world.

Trade does not equal jobs

In my last blog, Free trade ideology much ado about nothing, there was a broken link to a blog from Paul Krugman which exposes the fallacy that free trade “creates jobs” and other nonsense con-men use to push their self-serving agenda.

So I thought I'd post the entire article. Definitely a must read!

Just to recap, Krugman is an expert on international trade for which he won a Nobel Prize in economics:

Paul Krugman: Trade does not equal jobs

One thing I’m hearing, now that all hope of useful fiscal policy is gone, is the idea that trade can be a driver of recovery — that stuff like the South Korea trade agreement can serve as a form of macro policy.

Um, no.

Our macro problem is insufficient spending on U.S.-produced goods and services; this spending is defined by

Y = C + I + G + X – M

where C is consumer spending, I investment spending, G government purchases of goods and services, X is exports, and M is imports. Trade agreements raise X — but they also lead to higher M. On average, they’re a wash.

This, by the way, is why claims that the Smoot-Hawley tariff caused the Great Depression are nonsense. Yes, protectionism reduced world exports; it also reduced world imports, by the same amount.

There is a case for freer trade — it may make the world economy more efficient. But it does nothing to increase demand.

And there’s even an argument to the effect that increased trade reduces US employment in the current context; if the jobs we gain are higher value-added per worker, while those we lose are lower value-added, and spending stays the same, that means the same GDP but fewer jobs.

If you want a trade policy that helps employment, it has to be a policy that induces other countries to run bigger deficits or smaller surpluses. A countervailing duty on Chinese exports would be job-creating; a deal with South Korea, not. If you want the Korea deal, fine; but don’t claim virtues for it that it doesn’t possess.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Free trade ideology much ado about nothing

The idea that free trade deals create wealth and jobs is a fallacy according to Paul Krugman. Who is he? A “leftist” columnist for the New York Times? No, actually he’s an expert in international trade for which he won a Nobel Prize in economics.

In a blog he explains how wealth and jobs created with increased exports are equally destroyed by increased imports.

He also demonstrates how free trade can kill jobs:

“If the jobs we gain are higher value-added per worker, while those we lose are lower value-added, and spending stays the same, that means the same GDP but fewer jobs.”

Mulroney and free trade

While Mulroney believes his Canada-US Free Trade Agreement was the “greatest in the history of the world,” how did we actually fare?

If one compares the 24 years prior to the 1988 deal to the 24 years after, not so good:

Real GDP growth before and after free trade

Period Economic Growth Average growth
1964 - 1988 159% 4.0%
1988 - 2012 72% 2.3%

Mulroney’s claim he created “millions of jobs” is equally ridiculous. Today people are working more for less pay and benefits. Record levels of workers are underemployed or have given up looking for work.

Managed trade better deal for Canadians

Managed trade deals like the Canada–US Auto Pact looked out for Canadians. It ensured Canadian workers made American cars sold to Canadians. This created real good-paying jobs.

Free trade with Europe will cause the opposite to happen. According to the Globe and Mail, “Canada has a large trade deficit in autos with Europe.” Free trade will increase this trade deficit and kill Canadian auto-worker jobs.


Free trade is just one more free-market reform put in place over the past 30 years that has killed wealth and jobs.

Right-wing free-market ideology created towering levels of inequality and debt, downsized and exported jobs, hollowed out the middle class and culminated in a global economic meltdown.

It’s time to return what actually works: the centrist mixed-market system that created a phenomenal economy — from which everyone benefitted — in the post-war era.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The truth about government debt

Jim Stanford writes an enlightening piece about government debt titled, The only thing we have to fear? Fear of debt itself.

Nothing personal

The first mistake people make about government debt is equating it with personal debt. It is actually more like corporate debt.

People have life cycles: they get in debt young buying a house. Then they eventually pay off the house and save money for retirement. Governments don't have life cycles.

Debt burden

A government's debt burden is measured in debt/GDP. (Debt divided by GDP.) The higher the number the worse it is.

This means there are two ways of paying down debt: a) decrease the debt directly by running a budget surplus; or b) increase economic (GDP) growth — grow our way out of debt.

Austerity in a slump

John Maynard Keynes — the father of mixed-market economics which created modern living standards in the post-war era — summed it up best: “the boom, not the slump, is the time for austerity.”

What happens when debt is paid down in a slump? It causes GDP growth to slow — or contract (a recession) — which makes the debt burden worse!

Self-defeating austerity

This is why bond-rating agency Standards & Poor's panned Europe's austerity plan of 2011:

We believe that a reform process based on a pillar of fiscal austerity alone risks becoming self-defeating, as domestic demand falls in line with consumers’ rising concerns about job security and disposable incomes, eroding national tax revenues.

Post-war way

After WW2, governments had far greater debt burdens that we have today. How did they approach the problem? They spent money big time!

“Canada finished the Second World War with public debt equal to over 150 per cent of GDP. But we never obsessed about ‘paying off’ that debt. Instead, policy-makers unleashed decades of vibrant growth — not by cutting public spending but by increasing it, on things like highways, seaways, medicare and pensions.”

This produced unprecedented economic growth — an economic golden age — where all levels of society benefitted — not just the rich (like over the past 30 years.)

Using the mixed-market method we paid down debt to 17% (!) by 1973. It's now back up to 87%.


Thirty years of free-market reforms have caused all the economic problems we face today — including the global economic meltdown of 2008. It's time to abandon failed ideology for what's proven to work wonders: centrist Keynesian economics.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mulcair right on corporate taxes

Greedy businessmen said cut their taxes and they would invest the money to “create jobs” and boost the economy. Harper gladly obliged them.

What was the end result? Job prospects haven’t been this dismal since the Great Depression. Economic and productivity growth are also at historic post-war lows.

Not only that, corporations pocketed the savings. (Say it ain’t so!) Businesses are hoarding $800 billion of “dead money” — which is how Con Finance Minister Jim Flaherty described it.

What’s worse is that we’re borrowing $15 billion a year to pay out to these grifters!

We’re #1

According to KPMG, which writes a guide for international businesses, Canada has the lowest effective corporate tax rate among ALL major economies:

“Corporate income taxes are lowest in Canada (7.3 per cent effective corporate income tax rate), France (14.7 per cent), and China (14.8 per cent).
“At the other end of the scale, effective corporate income taxes exceed 30 per cent in Japan (31.5 per cent), Brazil (36.1 per cent), and Italy (37.6 per cent).”

Mulcair promises to end Harper’s failed corporate tax cuts.

Common sense from Mulcair

Mulcair promises to reverse these tax cuts, which is obviously the smart thing to do. When it comes to very costly government policy that fails to get results, one doesn’t continue to throw good money after bad.

Free market train wreck

Corrupt plutocrats have made a huge mess of the global economy with 30 years of self-serving free-market reforms. These trickle-up economics created towering levels of inequality and debt, hollowed out the middle class and culminated in a global economic meltdown.

When are we going to come to our senses and tell these “Masters of the Universe” to go to hell? Civilization won’t survive much more the likes of them…

Thursday, October 10, 2013

NDP got hosed in Nova Scotia

With 46% of the vote, the Liberals probably deserved an outright majority in Tuesday's election. But a landslide majority where they win almost two-thirds of the legislature? I don’t think so.

The NDP, in turn, only received half the seats they would’ve got under a proportional system.

Here are the stats:

2013 Nova Scotia election

Party Vote Seats Seats % Seats PR Gain
(Majority: 26 seats of 51)
Liberal 46% 33 65% 23 41%
NDP 27% 7 14% 14 -48%
PC 26% 11 22% 13 -15%

One can see that primitive FPP gave the Liberals a huge gain in seats over what they would’ve got in proportion to the vote — a whopping 41%.

Compare this to the distorted results of the 2011 federal election:

2011 Federal election: FPP

Party Vote Seats Seats % Seats PR Gain
(Majority: 155 seats of 308)
Conservatives 40% 166 54% 123 35%
NDP 31% 103 33% 95 8%
Liberals 19% 34 11% 59 -42%

The Nova Scotia Liberals gain of 41% was even greater than Harper’s gain of 35%.

Now look at what Harper would’ve got under ranked ballot voting:

2011 Election: Preferential Voting

Party Vote Seats Seats % Seats PR Gain
(Majority: 155 seats of 308)
Conservatives 40% 142 46% 123 15%
NDP 31% 118 38% 95 24%
Liberals 19% 46 15% 59 -22%

Harper’s gain in seats would’ve been reduced from 35% to a moderate 15%.

That would’ve turned a fake majority into a minority government. It also would’ve allowed the NDP and Liberals to form the government with 50% of the vote and 53% of the seats.

PV in NS

So if we apply a 15% gain to the NS Liberals (as a rough estimate,) they would’ve got about 27 seats or 53% of total seats using the ranked ballot.


Some people believe a landslide victory like this somehow reflects of the will of the people. But in reality it’s a huge exaggeration of what the people voted for.

PR will certainly yield the most accurate election results. But PV ranked ballot will keep things from getting out of hand. Either option is better than the nonsense we have now.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ranked ballot voting is automatic electoral cooperation

Thanks to opposition party vote splitting, Harper weaseled dozens of center-left seats in 2011 allowing him to win 100% of the power on 40% of the vote.

One idea has been put forward to prevent a repeat in 2015: electoral cooperation. It has been advocated by notable Canadians like Elizabeth May, Joyce Murray, Nathan Cullen and even Andrew Coyne.

The premise is that in key ridings opposition parties only run one opposition candidate. Then immediately after the election, electoral reform is put in place to stop the perverse election outcome from happening again.

Cooperation is harder than it looks

There are a few problems with this approach. For one, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for parties to agree on which party runs a candidate in which riding.

Second, the media would call this move “undemocratic” because it takes away the choice of voters.

Third, Canadians are divided on the kind of electoral reform they support.

Fourth, Liberal and NDP party leaders have outright rejected electoral cooperation.

Plan B

Odds are electoral cooperation won’t be needed to stop Harper in 2015. Voters will be begging for change by then. If Harper doesn’t win a majority, opposition parties are going to oust him with some form of alternative government.

The real problem is what comes after. Since minority governments don’t last long, the Cons could be back in power for another decade as soon as 2017.

Alternative cooperation

Justin Trudeau’s idea of ranked ballot voting offers the perfect stopgap solution. It’s a minor change to our existing system that puts in place automatic electoral cooperation.

Instead of parties deciding which candidate to run, voters decide which center-left candidate they like best by ranking choices. This allows one to vote “Anyone But Conservative.”

Since this stops vote splitting, the Cons will never again get their hands on center-left ridings.

Progressive voting reform

Since the ranked ballot is only a small change, it’s not the final word on voting reform. Proportional Representation supporters could still continue with their fight for fair voting.

What’s best is that this would cut corrupt First-Past-the-Post out of the picture — only democratic voting systems would be on the table.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Canada needs ranked ballot voting in federal elections

An editorial in the Toronto Star says Toronto needs a ranked ballot voting system in city elections. It says ensuring a candidate wins with over 50% of the vote is a “far better way to proceed”:

“The first-past-the-post method used in general elections simply awards victory to whoever attracts the most ballots, regardless of how low this support might be. That lets people squeak into office with minimal backing.”

Think federal

Clearly the same is true of federal elections.

In the 2011 election, Harper won dozens of center-left ridings due to vote splitting. According to a recent poll, Harper would still win the election even though he is 5 points behind the Liberals — thanks to our primitive voting system.

The Star has made itself clear it hates Proportional Representation with a passion. But there's no reason they should not get behind Justin Trudeau's proposal to bring PV ranked ballot to federal elections.

How it works

“Here’s how it works: Instead of selecting just one candidate for office electors mark their top choice but also their second, third and fourth preference, and so on. If nobody achieves an immediate majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is struck off and second-choices on that person’s ballots are issued to remaining contenders. Eliminations and transfers continue until one person emerges with more than 50 per cent.”


It's time we embrace real democracy. That means an actual majority of voters is represented in government — not a 39% minority the vast majority is opposed to.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Ranked ballot will end Harper’s “vote marketing”

In today’s Globe and Mail, Jeffrey Simpson laments the sad state of Canadian politics since Harper came on the scene.

The era of big-tent parties — who tried to win over the people by widening their appeal — appears to be over. We have now entered “the stage of non-stop marketing (and campaigning), wherein political parties find out what a particular slice of the electorate wants” and zero in on it.

Constant war (campaign) mode

Simpson describes the modus operandi of Harper’s Ministry of Truth:

“Mr. Harper directs the marketing, involving himself in all aspects of it, presiding over a huge staff who do nothing but focus on communications, event-planning and, at central party headquarters, organize a massive information-collection effort on citizens in every corner of Canada so as to better identify which voters will be most influenced by which message.”

Shopping For Votes

Simpson’s column is a book review of Susan Delacourt’s Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them. This quote sums up the insanity:

“In a nation of consumer-citizens, the customer is always right. It is not the politician’s job to change people’s minds or prejudices, but to confirm them or play to them, to seal the deal of support.
“Speeches are not made to educate or inform the audience but to serve up marketing slogans. Political parties become ‘brands’ and political announcements become product launches.”

The antidote

Harper’s sleazy practice of building Orwellian voter databases and micro-targeting Canadians only works under corrupt First-Past-the-Post where a party needs just 39% of the vote to get 100% of the power.

If we implement ranked ballot voting, the entire dynamic changes.

FPP rewards polarizing politics which help a party lock down its base support. Preferential voting, on the other hand, moderates the debate. Parties must reach outside their base for alternative votes, which extremists lose out on.


Justin Trudeau is championing ranked ballot voting reform.

It is imperative we get this done after the 2015 election. Odds are an alternative government will replace Harper. But it will likely be a minority government that won’t last long.

Due to three-way center-left vote splitting, the Cons could be back in power for another decade as soon as 2017.

We need to ensure an actual majority is represented in government to stop the Cons from destroying the country against the will of Canadians.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Harper would win election on less votes than Liberals

According to a poll from Forum Research, the Cons would win the election even though the Liberals have a 5 point lead!

ThreeHundredEight.com gives the breakdown.

National voting intentions

Here’s the way Canadians would vote in percentage:

Projected seats

Here’s how seats would be divvied up (majority: 169 of 338.)


Due to center-left vote splitting, Harper would weasel dozens of center-left ridings, pulling ahead of Justin Trudeau who has more of the popular vote.

This shows how our primitive voting system, First-Past-the-Post, can saddle voters with politicians and governments they don’t want and didn’t vote for.

The same is true of the 2011 election. Harper got 100% of the power on 40% of the vote excluding the vast majority from government. (The literal opposite of democracy.)

Voting reform fix required

Trudeau offers a simple but effective fix that will stop these absurd election outcomes: Preferential Voting (ranked ballot.)

This upgrades our existing system by changing the voter’s ballot from single choice to ranked — making MPs earn their seats with a majority.

This ends vote splitting and would’ve stopped Harper in 2011.

Although Proportional Representation has more benefits, it’s a major change that’s harder to bring about (it was rejected in 4 provincial referendums.)

Step-by-step reform

The safest bet is incremental voting reform: first put out the fire with PV ranked ballot; then build support for a fully proportional system.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Coalition of losers? Hardly

This week, the proposed Liberal/NDP coalition of 2008 is back in the news.

Andrew Coyne claims the idea was “even crazier” than the US government shutdown.

Ignatieff, promoting a book on his brief tenure as Liberal leader, called it a “coalition of losers.”

But given coalitions are the norm in the rest of the developed world, how crazy could the idea be?

2008 Fall Economic Update

First to put the coalition in context: back in the fall of 2008 (shortly after the election,) Harper put forward an economic update outlining an agenda of austerity measures.

What made this action completely absurd was the recent global economic meltdown which caused the “Great Recession.” Governments around the world were implementing stimulus spending to cushion the blow. Harper appeared oblivious to the crisis.

So the Liberals and NDP (with support from the Bloc — which Harper himself relied on during his first 18 months in power) decided to vote down the government and form a coalition in its place.

In order to avoid defeat, Harper put the new session of Parliament to an end with an opportunistic prorogue to buy some time.

Iggy rejects coalition

By the time Parliament re-opened, Ignatieff was crowned Liberal leader and dumped the coalition idea. Instead he told Canadians he was putting the Harper Government “on notice.”

Harper complied by introducing a $40B stimulus package (over 2 years) which he named the “Economic Action Plan.” (Years after the funding ran out, Harper is still polluting the airwaves with Action Plan ads at a cost of $100M to taxpayers.)

Recovery better than most

The Liberal/NDP stimulus package did the job. Add to it: Liberal banking regulation (that prevented a finance meltdown here,) sound Liberal finances and a resource boom, and our country weathered the recession better than most developed nations.

Harper left to his own devices

If Harper had been allowed to implement right-wing austerity, however, things would’ve turned out very differently. David Cameron took the “expansionary austerity” route which made the current UK slump worse than what it suffered during the Great Depression.

Backwards democracy

Only in Canada would a coalition that has 54% of the vote and 53% of the seats be considered extreme and undemocratic.

Compare this to Harper’s right-leaning coalition in 2011 which awarded him absolute power on 40% of the vote. In the rest of the developed world — where an actual majority of voters is represented in government — that would be considered a coalition of losers.

Until we upgrade our primitive voting system, Canadians are the real losers.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Harper's empty boast on job creation

Harper brags his government created 750,000 jobs. But an analysis from the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab shows this focus on total employment is misplaced.

Employment rate

Most of the job creation has been the result of population growth. The real number that shows how well the economy is performing is the employment rate: that is, the percent of people employed compared to the population.

This number includes people who have given up looking for work and are not counted in the unemployment rate.

Employment rate stuck

Our employment rate before the 2008 recession was 63.7% of the population. It dropped two points during the recession, but only recovered to 62% “where it has flat-lined for more than two years”:

“So, while Canada’s economy is indeed producing more jobs every year, it isn’t producing enough to adequately absorb the natural expansion in Canada’s labour force. The result is that a growing number of Canadians who want jobs must search longer to get them, and many are unable to find them at all.”

Alternative unemployment rate

Statistics Canada produces an alternative unemployment rate which counts discouraged workers and workers stuck in part-time jobs. This rate is still above 10%. Among young workers it’s above 14%.

Long term jobless rate higher

Before the 2008 recession, 12% of unemployed workers were jobless for 6 months; 4% for over a year. Today, 20% have been jobless for 6 months; 7% over a year.


“Much of the country’s resilience stems from policies—such as bank regulation and sound public finances—which predate Mr Harper.“ — The Economist 2010

All Harper has managed to do on the economy is take credit for the work of others and squander the advantages he inherited. When one looks at the real picture, it’s clear Harper is in way over his head.