The Conservative party and the economy: Not as great as they say they are.
There’s a big belief going around that the Conservatives saved the economy from the recession, and they’ve managed it well since. It’s true that we’ve done well, in the grand scheme of things, but it’s not true that their policy is at fault.
We weathered the recession (where other countries failed) because of our more regulated banking sector, our strong resource base, and our largely self-sufficient economy. Year after year, the Tories come out with policy which chips away at these vital stabilizing factors. If we’re not careful, in the long run, they will erode entirely.
Let’s talk about resources. Overinvestment in oil helped improve Alberta’s boom, but it’s made our economy lopsided. 1/3 of our net exports are now petrolium products and while that doesn’t make us a petro-state, it does mean that our country is deeply influenced by the oil market.
It means that holy grail which is job creation has grown reliant on our continued ability to extract oil, because industry grows where export revenue is present, and oil is the single largest source of growth in our export market.
It’s also made our economy lopsided - in large part, everyone relies on the continued success of Alberta in order to guarantee their prosperity. In short, overinvestment through tax breaks, trade agreements, and industry promotion has made one province very happy, and created a concentrated point of failure in one industry, in one province.
But take it over to something more vital. Canada is the world’s largest single supplier of medical isotopes, but an unwillingness to invest directly, coupled with the sale of the government-owned company producing the isotopes to a foreign buyer has led to halts in global supply and shrinkage of the industry. The government has planned to decommission our reactor in Chalk River, which will create a shortage of medical isotopes, interfering with doctors’ ability to diagnose and treat disease on a global scale, and making it more expensive where they can.
Or move to the fundamental - disempowering and selling the wheat board will cause instability in the agriculture industry, and a failure to adequately protect our environment, especially where it comes to ground and water pollution, will cause massive damage in the long term.
The economy and the environment aren’t separate issues. In reality, the economy is the environment, because the environment means our continued access to food and clean water. Fully 20% of the world’s freshwater is here, and as climate change causes drought in other countries, it will be increasingly dependent on us to supply it. For that sake, and for the sake of agriculture, which also depends on clean water, we cannot afford to pollute it.
Putting our most important natural resources at risk - freshwater and food - is not good for the economy. Deregulation of our banks is not good for the economy. Weakening industry the world depends on us to run is not good for the economy. Letting our exports live and die on one industry is not good for the economy.
These are just examples. Methodically, Tory policy has crated instability and risk, and sacrificed our sovereignty. It’s a myth that Harper’s Conservative government has been good for the economy. The reality is that outside of the very short term, it’s been a disaster.