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article imageCanadian employment rate flat-lines

By Stephanie Dearing     Jan 8, 2010 in Politics
Statistics Canada released its unemployment figures for December showing no overall gains in job creation. The unexpected news of job losses has caused downward pressure on the Canadian dollar.
It wasn't that long ago when Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned Canadians the economic recovery following the recession was "extremely fragile." Canada's job creation numbers since then have reflected that fragility: Canada's unemployment rate remains at a high 8.5%. When Harper suspended parliament on December 30th he noted Canadians were concerned about the economy, explaining this concern was behind his decision to prorogue parliament. But the new job numbers might shoot holes in Harper's professed diligence by adding fuel to the groundswell of negative opinion over the suspension that is growing -- and not just in Canada. The British-based Economist criticised Harper's decision to prorogue parliament, saying "Never mind what his spin doctors say: Mr Harper’s move looks like naked self-interest." After the latest Labour Force Survey release, Harper acknowledged Canada's economy is still shaky, but had no reassuring words for Canadians.
December's job numbers had been expected to grow following November's spectacular job growth, with an expectation that 20,000 new jobs would be added. Instead, the Canadian economy shed 2,600 jobs in December, and the national unemployment rate remains unchanged at 8.5%. In contrast, the U.S. economy lost 85,000 jobs in December. Canada achieved a peak in job creation in October, which has not been surpassed since the economic recovery began.
The news of Canada's stagnant job growth in December will lend greater weight to the "Get Back To Work" fire sweeping the nation. The Liberal Party has already confirmed its MPs will return to work in Ottawa on January 25th. Two other government figures have stepped forward saying they will not let the suspension of parliament interfere with their work. Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page will release reports on government business even though there will be no one in government available to receive the reports. Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, who chaired the National Security and Defence Committee has also said he will release a report on the RCMP. Kenny told the press "I guarantee they (the Conservative senators) will not go forward with this report. The only way it will go public is if the Liberals make it public."
Harper told Canadians that he was suspending parliament so that the Conservative Party could "... consult with Canadians, stakeholders and businesses as it moves into the "next phase" of its economic action plan amid signs of economic recovery."
Harper's move was defended by Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber who told the St. Albert Gazette "Democracy and Parliament are not being sidestepped — they are only being suspended." Rathgeber later Tweeted "must clarify---Parliament is being suspended--democracy is much larger and much broader and of course continues everyday in Canada."
After Harper moved to prorogue parliament on December 30 2009, an increasing number of Canadians have been voicing disagreement, with groups forming online. One such group, Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament, which has a membership of over 105,000 people -- and still growing -- is asking MPs to return to work on January 25th. Chapters of Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament are organizing rallies in 30 cities across Canada on January 23.
The Liberal Party of Canada is the only opposition party that has said it will return to Ottawa on January 25th. The NDP posted a statement Thursday saying its MPs would remain in their constituencies during the prorogation period, aside from attending a previously scheduled NDP convention.
More about Canadian economy, Unemployment, Recession, Proroguing parliament, Canadians against proroguing parliament
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