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article imageOp-Ed: Harper lies or spins the facts during recent debate

By Ken Hanly     Aug 10, 2015 in Politics
Ottawa - As usual in political debates, participants often spin the facts in their favour or even lie, always with serious straight faces. This was true of the debate on Thursday August 6 among leaders of the three main parties and the Green Party.
This op-ed will concentrate on the performance of Stephen Harper. During the debate Harper twice claimed that Canada has a balanced budget: "We have a budget that is balanced now and other countries don't....the reality is the figures out of the Department of Finance show that so far this year we are substantially in surplus." The figures that Harper uses to make his case refer only to April and May this year. The Parliamentary Budget Officer(PBO) issued a report that projects Canada over this year will run a budget deficit of $1.5 billion:Using the Bank of Canada’s July projection of real GDP growth, PBO estimates that an updated. Budget 2015 outlook would show deficits of $1.5 billion in 2015‐16 and $0.1 billion in 2016‐17, and a surplus of $1.5 billion in 2017‐18.   This may be a case of spinning the facts rather than an outright lie. It is misleading especially in the context that Harper has already run seven deficits in a row.
Although to his credit Harper admits Canada may be in a recession, he claimed the economic contraction is "exclusively" or "almost exclusively" in the energy sector but the "rest of the economy is growing." Actually the largest contraction is not in the energy sector but the manufacturing sector according to the latest data issued by Statistics Canada: "Manufacturing output contracted 1.7 percent in May, following no growth in April." In May, there were also declines in utilities, and wholesale trade, with only construction, retail, and "others" showing growth.
Harper also noted that greenhouse gas(GHG) emissions in Canada have actually gone down in Canada while defending Canada's environmental record . Many analysts see Canada's environmental record as among the worst in the industrialized world. Harper is correct in that after the 2008 recession GHG emissions did go down but as the recovery set in they have begun to rise again. This is a case of spinning the facts. Harper's own data show that Canada is still far from meeting the Copenhagen Accord target agreed to by Harper back in 2009.
Sometimes Harper just comes out with an outright lie. He claimed that Canada has "the strongest employment growth in the G7". A chart from Harper's own budget documents make it clear that the U.S. has stronger employment growth than Canada. These are just a sample of Harper's misleading claims. More can be found here. The appended video also discusses some Harper statements and also a promise by Thomas Mulcair of the NDP.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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