Ontario election: On jobs, leaders offer some good, some bad, but little revolutionary – by David Olive (Toronto Star – May 17, 2014)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion. 

The province that pioneered innovations from insulin to smartphones is falling behind.

In recent years, Nortel Networks Corp., BlackBerry Ltd., the U.S. Steel-owned Stelco Inc., the Caterpillar Inc.-owned Electro-Motive Diesel, Kellogg Co. and H.J. Heinz Co. have laid off more than 100,000 Ontario workers. That’s the short list. No sooner had the current Ontario election campaign begun than Unilever PLC said it would shut down its Brampton plant, maker of Knorr and Lipton foods, at a cost of more than 450 jobs.

Unfortunately, the job-creation centrepieces of the three major parties contesting the June 12 Ontario election would not curb that misery or do much if anything to recapture lost jobs.

Oddly, Hudak’s plan for creating jobs starts with destroying 100,000 of them, held by public servants. That’s 100,000 additional EI recipients draining the federal treasury. (There is only one taxpayer, as Tories like to point out.) Hudak, not gifted with a sense of irony, acknowledges that his own parents and his sister have been employed by government, as indeed Hudak himself has been for the past 19 years.

The evidence of a connection between the balanced books Hudak is fixated on and enhanced job creation is inconclusive; and between his proposed corporate tax cuts and job growth it’s non-existent. Hudak wants a whopping 30 per cent cut to a corporate tax rate already much lower than the U.S. average.

Forfeiting revenue in that way is a peculiar means of cutting the deficit. Ontario’s jobs exodus has everything to do with sweatshop pay in the U.S. south and elsewhere, not tax rates or the largely illusory red tape Hudak expects to save money by slashing. In a report on the Ontario economy for Queen’s Park two years ago, Don Drummond, the former TD Bank chief economist, praised Ontario’s civil service as the country’s most efficient.

As to Hudak’s plan to create 1,030,688 jobs over the next eight years, the Tory leader allows that Ontario will add more than half a million jobs over that span no matter who’s elected.Nice try.

Actually, at April’s rate of Ontario job growth, which was not especially strong, Ontario will add 1,619,200 jobs by 2022 if a tree stump is elected June 12 — without the bigger classroom sizes, cuts to seniors’ benefits, and reduced fire-fighting and other essential services Hudak proposes.

Reviewing the job-creation proposals of the three major parties puts one in mind of an observation by Felix Rohatyn, the legendary investment banker who negotiated New York City’s emergence from bankruptcy in the mid-1970s. “I think there are two areas where new ideas are terribly dangerous,” Rohatyn said, “economics and sex. By and large, it’s all been tried before, and if it’s new it’s probably illegal or dangerous or unhealthy.”

For the rest of this column, click here: http://www.thestar.com/business/economy/2014/05/16/ontario_election_on_jobs_leaders_offer_some_good_some_bad_but_little_revolutionary.html

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