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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

The imperative of economic growth

Posted on March 2, 2015

shutterstock_34476379Middle-class Canadians and all those working so hard just to get to the middle-class have been waiting a long time for some buoyancy in the economy to lift their prospects.

Stephen Harper says it’s all the fault of that nasty recession that sideswiped our economy and messed up all his government’s plans. But consider these facts:

  • That recession arrived in late 2008 and lasted less than a year. But Canadians are still struggling – nearly six years now after the recession ended.
  • When first elected in 2006, the Harper government inherited a large surplus, but quickly squandered Canada’s fiscal strength, putting the country back into deficit again BEFORE the recession;
  • The recession made it worse, but it was Mr. Harper’s reckless government that put Canada in a weakened and vulnerable position;
  • On Mr. Harper’s watch we’ve suffered poor economic growth, tepid job creation, faltering job quality, stagnant incomes and ballooning household debt.
  • And now there’s a major downturn in the energy sector with more lost investment, jobs and exports – so much so that Mr. Harper has actually punted the entire federal budget into the next fiscal year.

This government has no credible agenda to drive greater economic growth. Growth is what’s needed to bolster the well-being of the middle-class. It’s also a key factor in balancing the government’s books.

But with an average annual growth rate of barely 1.7% (the worst of any Prime Minister in 80 years), Mr. Harper is forced to resort to a grab-bag of gimmicks to concoct the appearance of “balance” – especially since he has already pre-spent any margin he may have had on his ill-advised Income Splitting scheme for the wealthy.

So he lapses funding previously committed to veterans, security services and the fight against child pornography. He slashes environmental protection and other public safety programming. He sells off federal assets. He delays major investments in community infrastructure and new equipment for the military. He hikes taxes for five years in a row and rakes in an extra $5-billion from excessive Employment Insurance premiums.

None of these gimmicks are sustainable. Neither do they contribute to meaningful growth.

To truly deliver on the imperative of economic growth, the government should be increasing and accelerating federal support for community infrastructure. It should be tearing down barriers to all forms of post-secondary education and skills training. It should be investing in scientific research and innovation. It should be aggressively branding and marketing Canadian goods and services in global markets. And it should be working with provincial governments to reach a smart intersection between economic success and environmental integrity – because the latter is often the key to the former.

But there’s no such leadership from this threadbare government.

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

While 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. […]

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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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