Skip to main content

Ralph Goodale, MP

Search ralphgoodale.ca

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

The statistical argument about middle class Canada

Posted on April 22, 2014

There was a big fuss today about a New York Times article reporting that middle class America is no longer substantially better off than median income earners in many other countries.

Right-wing apologists for the Harper Conservatives were quick to claim that this means big gains have been made by middle class Canadians. A more sober reading of the data suggests that the narrowing of the gap between middle class Americans and their Canadian counterparts is as much due to the US falling-back as it is to Canadians leaping forward.

And in reality, the issue for Canadians is not whether we are doing better or worse than the US. It’s how well (or poorly) we are doing in absolute terms. Compared to a few years ago, are we making enough progress? Is the Canadian middle class substantially better off?

The hard arithmetic is not encouraging. According to Statistics Canada data — accumulated before that agency was mangled by the Harper government’s war on facts and evidence — median after-tax family incomes in Canada in 1980 were $59,600. By 2011, they had risen to $68,000. That’s a gain of just 14% — 14% spread over 30 years!

Mr. Harper and Jason Kenney say that’s good enough for them. They proclaim the Canadian middle class is doing very well, any alleged angst is a myth and those who call for a better performance are just a bunch of whiners.

Really? Is income growth of LESS THAN HALF A PERCENTAGE POINT PER YEAR good enough for you?

The Conservative position is smug and complacent. They’re in rampant denial.

Feeble income growth among middle class Canadians is why more than three-quarters have no decent retirement security. It’s why two-thirds worry about being able to afford post-secondary education for their kids. It’s why more than half think their children may not have the chance to do as well in life as their parents.

None of these real life challenges is met by a statistical comparison to a middle class in America that has declined in relative terms. What’s needed is a new Canadian government that makes lifting the well-being of our middle class — and all those who are working so hard just to get there — an immediate Canadian priority.

We can do so much better than Mr. Harper’s grinding mediocrity.

Common sense, not ideology, best for economy

Posted on April 21, 2014

At a meeting last week of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce, I was asked about the single most pressing priority for Canada’s economy. In my opinion, that priority is sustained and sustainable economic growth.

More than anything else, growth is what’s needed to lift the fortunes of the middle-class and all those who are working so hard just to get there. And growth is an absolute imperative in balancing the federal budget on a secure foundation, and keeping it balanced.

But growth has been missing from most of Canada since the 2008 recession. In fact, during Stephen Harper’s tenure in office, economic growth has averaged barely 1.5% per year. That’s the worst performance of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett in the 1930′s.

Looking forward, the Bank of Canada has just down-graded its growth forecast for the coming year. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is projecting 138 other countries will grow faster this year than will Canada, including Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and our two NAFTA partners, Mexico and the United States. And according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), among G-7 countries, both the US and the UK will out-grow Canada in 2014.

So, despite all Mr. Harper’s boasting, Canada is not leading the pack. Month-by-month, our trade balance is mostly in deficit. Consumer demand is weak, over-burdened by record levels of household debt. Businesses lack sufficient confidence to invest significantly in new expansions, training or technology.

Mr. Harper argues that the best thing he can do — indeed, the only thing he should do — is to keep cutting the Government of Canada to make it as small and irrelevant as possible. But with all due respect, he’s wrong. You cannot hack-and-slash your way to economic growth. Grinding austerity, driven by ideology, is no guarantee of prosperity.

Yes, Canada needs strong, disciplined management. You have to be prudent. You can’t afford waste — like half-a-billion-dollars squandered on self-serving, tax-paid government advertising. But you also need smart investments in the underpinnings of future growth.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. An immediate reduction in Employment Insurance payroll taxes which the Harper government has hiked to entirely excessive levels, raking in more than $5-billion over and above what’s required to cover benefits.
  2. For start-up enterprises and those with limited cash-flows, a new Refundable Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance to trigger timely investments in growth and innovation.
  3. Make family Tax Credits for such things as enrolling kids in sports and arts programs equally available to lower-income families, and not just higher-income earners only.
  4. Accelerate federal investments in municipal infrastructure projects (instead of cutting-back by 87%) because this type of federal spending is the most cost-effective way to foster more jobs and growth, while converting the temporary advantage of low interest rates into durable, long-term capital assets.
  5. Consistent and increasing federal support for science, research and innovation, including partnerships with the private sector to advance applied science and strong support for curiosity-based, pure science.
  6. Better access to all forms of post-secondary education, including universities, colleges, technical schools, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, etc. Higher learning and skills are the key to successful living, and also key to a more prosperous, competitive, productive and growing economy.

Taken together, ideas like these will do far more than Mr. Harper’s austerity to build a more prosperous middle-class and more securely balanced budgets.

A year of growing momemtum and substance

Posted on April 14, 2014

P1000222cropIt was exactly one year ago today that Justin Trudeau was elected Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Following a campaign that opened the Party to greater public involvement than ever before, more than 105,000 Canadians cast leadership ballots.  Justin earned an overwhelming 80% of that support, igniting a fresh sense of excitement and rejuvenation in Liberal ranks.

A year later, the positive mood continues.  Membership sales and fund-raising have never been better.  Thousands of new volunteers are being recruited and trained in local constituency associations from coast to coast.  Excellent candidates are contesting nominations.  Platform ideas are being refined, most especially at a vigorous national policy convention in February.  The shape and depth of a potential new government are becoming more evident.

Public polling over the past year shows Liberals have moved from third place to first in popular support.  Most important are the numbers indicating lots of growth potential still to be realized.  In recent by-elections, Liberals have done consistently well — including encouraging outcomes across the West in places like Calgary-Centre, Provencher and Brandon-Souris.

Justin Trudeau has been front-and-centre driving this momentum.  He has devoted an important amount of his time to meeting face-to-face with Canadians in their home communities, outside of Ottawa’s artificial political “bubble”.  Since last April, he has attended nearly 500 events in hundreds of different places, touching every corner of Canada.

Smart and tough, he is showing remarkable stamina and the capacity for hard work.  He’s also durable enough to withstand the worst attack-ads and personal abuse thrown at him incessantly by Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair.  The petty vitriol flowing from both the Conservatives and the NDP is actually a great tribute to Justin’s strength and standing.  He has them spooked.

More than any other contemporary Leader, Justin Trudeau is able to engage and motivate Canadians.  He rallies people to reach beyond the grinding mediocrity of the past eight years — to strive for excellence around an exciting new vision of what this country has the capacity to become.

One branch of that vision is sharply focused on sustained and sustainable economic growth to bolster the well-being of the middle-class and all those who are working so hard just to get there.

Their incomes have been stagnant for far too long.  Three-quarters don’t have access to employer-sponsored pension plans.  Two-thirds of middle-class parents worry that they won’t be able to afford post-secondary education for their children, and their kids may not be able to do as well as they did.  For young Canadians, there are 200,000 fewer jobs today than before the recession, five long years ago.   That’s just not good enough for Canada’s future.

Another branch of Justin’s vision is about a thriving democracy.

That’s why he’s fighting Stephen Harper’s “Unfair” Elections Act — because it will disenfranchise thousands of voters, suppress others, muzzle the ability of Elections Canada to promote democracy, and cripple the investigation and prosecution of electoral fraud.

Strengthening democracy is also the reason why Justin set the template for pro-actively disclosing MP expenses (which other political Parties and even the House of Commons administration have since adopted).  And his non-partisan approach to the Senate actually accomplished more genuine Senate reform in one morning than anyone else has been able to achieve in their entire careers.

And one final point, in dealing with all these issues, Justin is consistently hopeful, positive and optimistic.

Politics shouldn’t be a sour competition among unhappy people about who can make voters angrier.  It should, instead, be about who and what to vote FOR, and the greater country we can build together for our children.

That attitude is Justin Trudeau’s greatest advantage.

Yogi Berra, Albert Einstein & moving grain

Posted on April 8, 2014

As I watched the workings of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture yesterday — going clause-by-clause through the Harper government’s “emergency” legislation on grain […]

Read more

New elections law smacks of vote rigging

Posted on April 7, 2014

More and more Canadians are deeply suspicious of Stephen Harper’s so-called “Fair Elections Act”, known as Bill C-23.  On the surface, it sounds like a lot […]

Read more

March 31st – not a good day for Canada

Posted on March 31, 2014

So it’s the last day of March.  Temperatures in Saskatchewan reached a brutal 51-below on the day this month began, so we’re all hoping it will […]

Read more

Harper government admits grain crisis is costing $8 billion

Posted on March 27, 2014

In the new grain handling and transportation legislation unveiled yesterday by the Harper government (Bill C-30), there is nothing to provide immediate help to long-suffering prairie […]

Read more

Time to push for more community infrastructure, not less!

Posted on March 23, 2014

Last Friday was the first full day of spring in Regina. A bit of the winter’s Arctic vortex returned. It was snowing with a nasty wind-chill. […]

Read more

Farmers deserve an honest & level playing field

Posted on March 17, 2014

Fifteen hundred rural reeves and councillors from across Saskatchewan held their annual meeting in Regina last week. No topic was hotter than grain handling and transportation. […]

Read more

CP Rail says there’s nothing to complain about!

Posted on March 10, 2014

Over the past several weeks, I’ve frequently called on the Harper government to take emergency action to ease this winter’s massive backlog in grain transportation and […]

Read more

m446--250 weblogo

Subscribe to Goodale Commentaries

For a weekly commentary on important public issues, order "Ralph Goodale's Report," sent to you directly by email

Contact us

REGINA
310 University Park Drive
Regina, SK S4V 0Y8
(306) 585-2202
goodale@sasktel.net

MEDIA
(613) 295-1761
scott.bardsley@parl.gc.ca