Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jim Stanford challenges the Cons' spin on how Canada's economy compares to others around the globe:
In reality,...the claim that things may be tough here, but they’re better than anywhere else, has never been statistically valid. And it’s getting increasingly inaccurate, the more it is regurgitated on the hustings.

Among the more than 30 industrial countries that make up the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canada’s performance has been middling at best. In real GDP growth, Canada tied for 10th in 2009, falling to 13th in 2010. As for the unemployment rate, Canada ranked a gloomy 21st in 2009, tying for 18th by 2010.

Since OECD countries account for a declining share of total world output, let’s consider a truly global sample. The International Monetary Fund reports annual real GDP growth rates for 107 countries, and quarterly data for about half of those. In 2009, Canada ranked 61st of 107. Over the first three-quarters of 2010 (year-end figures aren’t ready yet), we ranked 25th out of 53 countries reporting.

In labour-market terms, Canada’s relative performance is no better. The International Labour Organization reports unemployment data for about 70 countries. In 2009, Canada’s unemployment rate jumped 2.2 percentage points. That ranked us 56th (of 72) that year. Over the first three quarters of 2010, Canada ranked 28th by the same measure.

That’s not exactly a gold-medal performance. In fact, it sounds more like our ranking in international soccer (84th in the world, according to FIFA), than our glorious domination of world hockey.
- Fortunately, there are some competing visions on what parts of our economy need to be emphasized. And Andrew Jackson sums up the NDP's economic proposals, including by noting that the job-creation tax credit has been on the radar in the U.S. as well.

- Douglas Bell reminds us of the simple truth behind a possible coalition government:
(John Ibbitson writes) about the dangers lurking should the Liberals having won fewer seats than the Tories buck “the popular will” and form a coalition government with the NDP. But here’s the thing, two out of three Canadians voted against the Tories the last time around (and will again if Nanos the soothsayer proves correct).

The popular will as expressed in one party or another seeking the confidence of the House is clear.
- And finally, Joyce Green and Mike Burton weigh in with their take on the Cons' many displays of contempt for Canadian democracy:
This latest expression of contempt of the government for its parliament and its peoples is an indication of poor democratic health, but it is only one of a number of manifestations of that malaise. The widening gap between the very rich and the working and very poor is another measure of democratic and moral failure. The increase in propaganda at the expense of environmental science is another. The demonization of political opponents is a third. The lack of a serious medium and long term national economic strategy, other than obeisance to "the markets," is a fourth. The lack of policy attention to the social supports we all need, such as childcare, elder care, palliative care, and rational affordable health care is a fifth. Our collective inability to provide appropriate education, from post-secondary education to the trades, is risible. Our national lack of concern for Aboriginal peoples is an international embarrassment. We could go on.
The consequence of toxic levels of anti-democratic contempt has left many Canadians questioning the health of public politics. But they must do more than sit back on the sofa and change the channel. That would be contemptible. As we watch brave people in the Arab Spring risk life and well-being to obtain democratic change, we may want to collectively maintain our own democratic practices with rather more vigour.


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