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Ralph Goodale, MP

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Dear friends,

Thank you for visiting my website. I hope this offers you useful information on the work I am doing as Wascana’s Member of Parliament and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Opposition in the House of Commons.

If you have any questions or comments about any federal program or service, or need help dealing with any department or agency of the Government of Canada, please don’t hesitate to contact my Constituency Office. It is an honour to serve our community.

Ralph
ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca

Temper tantrums in Question Period

Posted on February 27, 2015

HarperEarlier this week, Social Development Minister Candice Bergen went off on a flight of fancy with false accusations about the economic record of previous Liberal governments. She was wrong about transfer payments, wrong about deficits, wrong about taxes and wrong about services.

I wondered at the time how she could be so fundamentally mistaken about such important things. As it turns out, she must have been getting her cues from Stephen Harper — as evidenced by his deceitful and erroneous tirade in the House of Commons yesterday.

Perhaps not quite as juvenile as his Resources Minister, Greg Rickford, who was caught on camera sticking out his tongue at Liberal Geoff Regan (for asking Rickford why the Harper government was such a failure at getting pipelines approved and built), Mr. Harper was equally delinquent in failing to account for his pathetically weak performance on job creation.

Here are the indisputable facts that I put before Parliament:

  • During the 9 years that Mr. Harper has been in office, the economy has generated only half the jobs that were produced in the 9 years immediately before he took power.
  • The recession (which he blames for everything) lasted less than one year and ended nearly 6 years ago, but still his jobs record is anemic.
  • Last year, Mr. Harper bragged about creating 186,000 new jobs, but when the real figures were published he had to slash that boast by one-third — barely 120,000 jobs were generated in all of 2014.
  • That poor jobs number for 2014 was down from the year before, which was also down from the year before that. The country is drifting in the wrong direction and that’s even before the “unambiguously negative” consequences of the slump in the energy sector.
  • There are 140,000 MORE jobless Canadians today than before the recession, particularly young people.
  • According to a study at York University, low-wage employment in Ontario has jumped by 50%.
  • An analysis by the OECD says Canada is among the three worst countries in the world right now for producing low-quality “crappy” jobs.
  • This government’s own former Employment Minister (Jason Kenney) has loudly asserted that Canadian wage rates are barely keeping pace with inflation.
  • Part-time work is increasing — all of it involuntarily.
  • The Bank of Canada says 200,000 young Canadians are now jobless or under-employed and likely “living in the basement”.

To these 10 pointed, factual criticisms, Mr. Harper had no reply but bluster and invective. I asked him directly if he thinks this record is good enough for Canada. He wouldn’t answer.

Mr. Harper’s refusal to respond in any substantive way is an insult to all those hard-working Canadians who are trying their best to make a better living for themselves and their families. He’s clearly not there for them. And voters will remember!

Canadian middle class disappointed, frustrated

Posted on February 23, 2015

Family_MG_9602_300dpiI asked several questions in Parliament last week about the economic concerns of Canada’s middle-class. The Harper government just brushed them aside, asserting middle-class Canadians have no cause for complaint. They’ve never had it so good – according to Stephen Harper.

This will come as “news” to millions of Canadians who are having a tough time coping with the cost of living and just getting by, let alone getting ahead. Over the past 30 years, median after-tax family incomes in Canada have increased by a mediocre 14% – that’s less than half a percentage point per year on average.

The stagnation of Canadian earnings has been confirmed repeatedly by none other than former Employment Minister, Jason Kenney. Before he was shuffled to the Defence portfolio, he frequently noted that wage rates in Canada have been seriously disappointing for at least six years because they’ve barely kept pace with inflation.

At the same time, household debt has ballooned to a weighty burden of 164% of disposable incomes. And there is growing concern in the Bank of Canada and among international financial observers about our housing market becoming unsustainable.

Middle-class families worry about affording the post-secondary education their kids are going to need to get started on good careers. Youth unemployment and under-employment is stuck at double-digit levels. Opportunities are limited. Job quality is poor. In 40% of empty-nester households, their adult children have moved back home (or never left) because they couldn’t yet make a go it on their own.

From the Pew Institute to the Conference Board of Canada, there are escalating worries about this “younger” generation not being able to do as well as their parents did. The expectation of progress – of upward mobility from one generation to the next – can no longer be taken for granted.

Neither can we automatically count on secure retirements. Three-quarters of those working in the private sector don’t have a decent company pension plan. For most in the middle-class, there’s little room for private savings. The typical 35-year old today is saving less than half of what his/her parents did at that age. Among those who are already within a decade of likely retirement, a majority have less than a couple of years of income set aside.

And still, Mr. Harper killed Income Trusts which vaporized $25-billion from the savings accounts of some two million Canadians. He postponed the eligibility age for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement, taking close to $30,000 from the most vulnerable elderly. And he staunchly vetoes any proposed improvements in the Canada Pension Plan.

Mr. Harper’s economic growth record is the worst of any Prime Minister in 80 years. In his nine years in office, the economy has generated fewer than half the jobs that Canada created in the nine years before him. His trade “balance” has mostly been in deficit. He has increased taxes in each of his last five budgets. And still he’s saddled every man, woman and child in Canada with nearly $5,000 in new federal government debt.

It’s for reasons like these that a great many middle-class Canadians are disappointed in Mr. Harper’s performance. And for the future, all they hear is more of the same. That’s not good enough.

To rebuild a sense of hope and momentum once again, Canada urgently needs a fresh, energized government that will invest in the drivers of economic growth and always strive to be transparent and fair.

A powerful message about growth and fairness

Posted on February 16, 2015

graph on chalk board with child - deficitWhile Stephen Harper revs up his election themes about fear, insecurity and lower expectations, Justin Trudeau’s core message is about economic growth, fairness and better opportunities. The contrast is powerful — in Mr. Trudeau’s favour.

Mr. Harper is saying that Canadians need to settle for mediocrity. He’s been in office for more than nine years now. Nearly six years have passed since the end of the 2008 recession. And most people are still struggling.

On Mr. Harper’s watch, annual economic growth has averaged just 1.7%, the worst record of any Prime Minister in 80 years. Job creation is anemic. Job quality is declining. Middle-class earnings are flat, and for every dollar of disposable income, the average household is carrying $1.64 in debt.

Three-quarters of those working in the private sector don’t have a company pension. Of those within 10-years of retirement, the vast majority have savings of less than $100,000. The average 35-year old today is able to save only about half of what their parents did.

A majority of parents are worried about affording post-secondary education for their kids, whether that’s at university, college, technical school or apprenticeships. Many also have significant family care expenses, either for young children, elderly relatives, or both.

In 40% of “empty-nester” households, their adult children have moved back home (or never left) because they haven’t been able to make a go of it on their own. The Bank of Canada says more than 200,000 young Canadians are jobless or under-employed.

According to the Conference Board, a majority of Canadians believe the younger generation today will not be able to do as well as their parents. The expectation of progress — of upward mobility — from one generation to the next cannot be taken for granted anymore.

So for most Canadians, much of the past decade has been disappointing. And the same is true of Mr. Harper’s reaction. He denies the realities confronting the middle-class and all those working so hard just to get there. He shirks federal responsibilities in such serious fields as health care, pensions, services to veterans and public safety. And he contrives special tax breaks skewed for the wealthy.

That’s just not good enough. Canada needs a plan to drive greater growth and fairness.

That means investments in better access to higher learning, science and innovation, effective trade and marketing, the smartest possible intersection between energy development and the environment, and truly transformative public infrastructure.

Who says so? The G-20, the International Monetary Fund, the Bank of Canada, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Premiers, Municipalities, every major think-tank from the C.D. Howe Institute to the Canada-West Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, the Council of Chief Executives, the Canadian Labour Congress … the list goes on.

They all identify investments in public infrastructure as crucial. With interest rates so low, former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge says this is an historic opportunity to convert that unique cost advantage into long-term capital assets — stimulating good jobs today and laying the foundation for a better economy tomorrow.

Statistics Canada says whenever investments in public infrastructure go up, so does Canadian productivity. Even the federal Department of Finance has identified building essential infrastructure as the single most cost-effective way to drive jobs and growth.

And for fairness, a good start would be dropping Mr. Harper’s ill-conceived Income Splitting scheme that will provide it’s biggest $2000/year tax break to those earning $233,000.

Only 14% of Canadian households can ever qualify for Mr. Harper’s scheme. But Income Splitting will cost all other taxpayers more than $12-billion over this government’s planning cycle.

As the late Jim Flaherty said, it is far too expensive and grossly unfair. And it does nothing for greater growth.

It’s not a “crisis”, but it’s certainly a mess

Posted on February 9, 2015

To reinforce his obvious campaign themes about fear and insecurity, Stephen Harper has taken to describing Canada’s current economic situation as a “crisis”. If that’s his […]

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Security & freedom: treat both seriously

Posted on February 6, 2015

The prime responsibility of any government in a free democracy is to look after the safety and security of the people it serves, while equally safeguarding […]

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Comparing fiscal competence: bring it on!

Posted on February 2, 2015

With Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) actually shrinking and despite having the worst economic growth record of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett, Stephen Harper seems […]

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Harper government takes railway view on transport services

Posted on January 29, 2015

After a disastrous grain handling and transportation season in 2013-14 which cost prairie producers some $5-billion in losses, it’s been quieter this winter. But things may […]

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If nothing is going to change, why delay the budget?

Posted on January 27, 2015

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) today released his first public analysis of the impact of plunging oil prices on federal government revenues. Those prices have dropped […]

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Bank of Canada contradicts Harper Government

Posted on January 26, 2015

Stephen Harper’s vaunted “management” of the Canadian economy is bedevilled by serious contradictions and mediocre results. Mr. Harper once spoke enthusiastically, at home and abroad, about […]

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Federal budget delay exposes fear, incompetence

Posted on January 19, 2015

Sharply dropping oil prices and a weakened Canadian energy sector are revealing the limited, ineffectual nature of Stephen Harper’s economic policies. Those policies, focused almost exclusively […]

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