It turns out the emperor has no clothes after all.
Not only does a recent poll suggest Harper’s reputation as a competent manager of the economy has plummeted, a new analysis shows Harper with the worst economic record of any Canadian Prime Minister since the end of the Second World War.
The report, authored by Unifor economists Jim Stanford and Jordan Brennan, crunches the numbers on Canada’s nine Prime Ministers between 1946 and today on issues relating to work, production, distribution and debt, and ranks each according to 16 economic indicators.
The results? On 13 of the 16 indicators, Harper ranks dead last or second last. In fact, Harper does not rank higher than sixth on any single indicator.
Here are six examples of what these data show:
1. Stephen Harper has steered Canada’s economy to its lowest levels of growth in 69 years
With an average annual real GDP growth rate of 1.6%, under Stephen Harper’s tenure the Canadian economy grew by nearly half the rate it did for his predecessors in the decade before he took office. It was nearly three times worse than Canada’s growth rate during the 1950s and 1960s.
Under Harper, real GDP grew “barely enough to keep up with population growth,” says Stanford. “And by early 2015, real GDP actually began shrinking.”
2. Harper has the worst job creation record of any Prime Minister since 1946
Harper’s 1% annual average growth in employment is “significantly slower than the rate of population growth,” Stanford says, adding it is “the slowest job creation of any Prime Ministers since World War II.”
3. Harper is the first Prime Minister since the 1950s to oversee a decline in the employment rate
Remember Louis St. Laurent?
As job creation failed to keep pace with population growth, for the very first time since St. Laurent left office in 1957, Canada saw the employment rate decline under Harper.
4. Stephen Harper is kind of a lousy salesman
Since being elected in 2006, Canada’s exports have grown by a measly 0.3%, “by far the worst in post-war history.”
No wonder Canada keeps experiencing huge trade deficits.
5. It has been good times for Canada’s richest 1% under Stephen Harper
Not as good as the days under Paul Martin when the share of total income for the top 1% of earners was 12.9%, but Harper places just behind his predecessor at a 12.7% share.
6. Meanwhile, the standard of living of everyone else has never risen so slowly
As Stanford explains, assuming wealth is distributed fairly, when GDP grows faster than population growth, then GDP per capita increases and, in theory, that increases everyone’s living standards.
Not so much under Harper. On 14 separate occasions since the end of the Second World War, real GDP per capita grew more in one single year than it has during Harper’s entire time as Prime Minister.
According to Stanford, Lester B. Pearson’s economic performance (1963-68) ranks highest while Canada’s three Conservative Prime Ministers in the postwar era (Harper, Mulroney and Diefenbaker) ranked among the four lowest.
Canada’s economic growth under a long list of former Prime Ministers; which clearly shows that Harper has the worst record of all of them (even worst then Bennett during the great depression):
R. B. Bennett, 1930-1935. Average economic growth rate: -2.34 per cent.
William Lyon MacKenzie King, 1935-1948: 6.24 per cent.
Louis St. Laurent, 1948-1957: 5.20 per cent.
John Diefenbaker, 1957-1963: 3.78 per cent.
Lester Pearson, 1963-1968: 5.43 per cent.
Pierre Trudeau, 1968-1979: 4.28 per cent.
Pierre Trudeau, 1980-1984: 2.16 per cent.
Brian Mulroney, 1984-1993: 2.51 per cent.
Jean Chretien, 1993-2003: 3.32 per cent
Paul Martin, 2003-2006: 2.71 per cent.
Stephen Harper, 2006-present: 1.77 per cent.