We're officially in a recession. And, next month, we may be officially out of it. But that doesn't mean, Jim Stanford writes, that the Canadian economy is in good shape. In three specific areas, the economy has been limping along for years:
Investment: For years Canada relied on energy megaprojects to lead business investment. But that engine is now sputtering badly, for the foreseeable future. Expensive corporate tax cuts didn't produce any measurable uptick in investment. We need new strategies to elicit badly needed capital spending -- both private and public.
Exports: This government's trade strategy consists almost exclusively of signing lots of free trade deals. They've inked six, and are negotiating several more (including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which might be concluded before Canadians go to the polls). Yet Canada's actual exports hardly grew at all under Conservative rule -- by far the worst record in post-war history. It turns out that producing valuable goods and services that foreigners actually want to buy, is a lot more complicated than signing trade deals and waving them about.
Productivity: Free markets and low taxes are supposed to automatically spur efficiency. But Canada's measured productivity performance has been abysmal: growing less than 1 per cent per year, badly lagging previous governments and most of our trading partners. Upgrading, innovation, and investment are the prerequisites for productivity -- yet we've gone backward in every area.
Mr. Harper's policy prescriptions have done nothing to improve any of these three economic measures. In fact, they have made each measure worse. For nearly ten years, his "steady hand" at the helm have left the economy gasping for air.
Simply put: Mr. Harper's economic record is abysmal.