Dissecting the Liberal’s economic record

The CBC did a piece last night on the nationals that looked more deeply at the Liberal’s economic track record since coming to power in 1993.

The reporter concluded that the two main strikes against the Liberal economic record are: productivity and trade. We have dropped to 13 for productivity in the OECD and we are too dependent on US trade which has been stagnant since 2000.

Now, my point is this. Did Atlantic Canada just drop off Mike Hornbrook’s map of Canada? Because I would say that a third chink in the Liberal armour would be regional economic development (unless the 2.1 million people and shrinking in this region don’t count).

Atlantic Canada’s population growth (the ultimately proxy for economic growth) throughout the 50s and 60s was below the national average but not by much. In the 1980s, our population growth tempered but was relatively stable. But it peaked in 1993 and has been declining since. Well, 1993 was the year the Liberals took power.

Now, you can argue that it was the cuts to social programs to beat the deficit that led to this. You can argue many points.

But my point today to Mike Hornbrook, et. al. is this is a national story. It’s a national story because it continues today. It’s a national story because Liberal economic policy was biased towards a small handful of urban areas. While the EU was dumping billions into the Irish turnaround, Ottawa was dumping billions into Ontario and Quebec and slowly but steadily increasing Atlantic Canada’s dependence on Equalization.

I wonder would things have been different if Ottawa had dumped billions in Equalization and EI into Ontario and billions into auto plants, aerospace plants, high tech firms, etc. in Atlantic Canada.

I wonder. I wa wa wa wa wonder…. (pop quiz what song?).

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0 Responses to Dissecting the Liberal’s economic record

  1. The Virginian says:

    First things first: Pop quiz:
    Del Shannon-Runaway-early ’60’s I believe. Great song.
    On the economic story I agree 100%, but in Atlantic Canada we have had an addiction to the color red (as in Liberal red). And guess what, from an economic developement and all its drivers that is exactly what we have seen, red with losses. Decrease in population, jobs lost, whole industry sectors being lost, lost generations. Now I see that the MOncton area is being promised jobs in translation and aerospace industry, but only if we elect the liberals… here we go again.

  2. David Campbell says:

    I wish I knew our economic development history a bit better. I was wallowing around in the US for most of the Mulroney years. By the time I made it back to Canada, he was already the most reviled Prime Minister in history.

    But I heard from a couple of old timers that the Liberals in 1993 said they were going to put a stop to large scale handouts to corporations. I can’t confirm this from Web-based research but if anyone knows, please blog it.

    If that is/was true, then it would explain maybe why there have not been any Michelin projects since well before the Liberals came to power. But, it doesn’t explain the billions put into the auto, aero and high tech sectors in Ontario and Montreal.

    Maybe the crafters of the original Red Book (Martin jr himself) had a bias for urban Canada. Maybe they wanted to limit corporate financial incentives but broke down under political pressure.

    I have another theory. Just a theory. I remember hearing the bitterness in Doug Young’s voice after he was trounced for tinkering with the EI system in the early 1990s. In Young, Bathurst had one of the most powerful Cabinet ministers in government. Yet he was trounced in 1997 as were almost all Liberals in this region (the region went back Liberal a big way in the next election as they restored most of the EI cuts). I also remember Cretien’s offhand comments also laced with bitterness and I thought at the time the region had completely burned any capital it had with that edition of the Liberals. Jean had ‘shook the dust off his feet’ to use a biblical reference.

    And population started declining and hasn’t stopped since.

    Remember, this is just a theory. But I can’t help thinking that Jean, Jr., et. al. could have done a lot more to support positive economic development and the attraction of large industry here than they did.

    But we chose EI and Equalization.