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Eric Grenier August 2, 2012
250,000. Yes, sir: Jean Charest is promising to create 250,000 new jobs. People go, “Wow! He’s generous! He’s going to create 250,000 jobs!”
Or even, “Wow, he’s got a plan for Quebec!”
But don’t get too excited too quickly. That promise combines the sleight of hand of Luc Langevin and the hypnotism of Messmer, with a pinch of Patrick Jane, a.k.a. the Mentalist.
First of all: creating 250,000 jobs is nothing. Economic growth alone, without the help of the government and all its sound and fury, will accomplish this goal — it’s not a tour de force.
Allow me to demonstrate.
Let’s suppose that the Liberal promise is good for one mandate. One mandate is five years. What happened in the first five years of the Charest government, from 2003 - 2008? Quebec added 237,000 jobs between taking power in June 2003 and June 2008, five years later. Jean Charest is almost already at 250,000, just as a consequence of a 1.25% economic growth rate.
To put it another way, his promise is already met. Doubly wow, you say, remarkable!
Not really. Not at all, in fact. During the same period, Ontario created 460,000 jobs, which is two times more. As in, double, with an annual growth rate of 1.43%. What’s more, job creation during this period in Ontario takes the automobile industry crisis into account, which started to make itself felt in 2006 and which the government could do nothing about. For Canada as a whole, the average annual growth rate for that period was 1.71%. And that includes the under-performance of Quebec.
Take Quebec’s numbers out of the picture, to compare the province to the rest of the country, and the score is sad:
Average annual job creation in Quebec from June 2003 to June 2008 (237,000 jobs in 5 years) = 1.25%
Average annual job creation in Canada, excluding Quebec, from June 2003 to June 2008 (1,168,000 jobs in 5 years) = 1.93%
Using today’s totals, a promise to add 250,000 jobs over the next five years translated to an annual growth rate of 1.22%.
In short, this means that Jean Charest promises, over his next mandate, to do worse than he did in his previous five years in power, during which time Quebec was already one of the worst performers in terms of job creation.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
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