I wrote yesterday that, when it comes to the economy, Stephen Harper takes his cue from the 19th century. And that perspective, Lawrence Martin writes, should make the economy Mr. Harper's Achilles heel. Ralph Goodale certainly thinks so:
A more partisan view came this week from Ralph Goodale, Paul Martin’s former finance minister, who with charts and graphs argued that Stephen Harper “has the poorest economic growth record since R.B. Bennett.” That may be partisan — it’s also quite an indictment, since Bennett was in office during the deepest trough of the Great Depression.
[And] an overall growth record that, as Goodale claims, is worse than that of any government in eight decades still has a powerful ring to it — and it’s something on which the Liberals should be blasting Harper daily. If the Conservatives were in opposition and the Grits were putting up those numbers, you can be sure the Tories wouldn’t be letting them off the hook with talk of ‘global conditions’.
And therein lies the problem. The Liberals and the New Democrats have not taken on Harper's claim to fame -- that he is a competent steward of the economy. Having a Master's Degree in Economics doesn't make it so:
Another point Goodale’s been hammering home is the spike in our national debt under the Tories: the figure he cites is $169 billion. There’s been a lot of talk about the deficit, a problem which was worsened by the government’s two per cent decrease in the GST. But the debt hike has not received the attention it’s due. Under Chretien and Martin, as Goodale noted, the debt-to-GDP ratio was cut by more than half. Under the Tories there’s been no reduction in that ratio.
Some other statistics of recent vintage are hardly flattering. Newly released global competitiveness rankings from the World Economic Forum place Canada at a dreary 14th. On the trade front Canada now has a billion-dollar deficit. Our current account deficit of three per cent of GDP makes Canada the worst performer in the G8 in that category.
Harper's record is at odds with who and what he claims to be. That is more than an Achilles heel. It's a travesty.