Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Patty Hajdu rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)

Baloney Meter: Did Liberals create 60% more full-time jobs than Tories?

The Canadian Press fact-checks Justin Trudeau’s recent touting of his government’s economic record

“Since we formed government, the Canadian economy has created over 60 per cent more full-time jobs than the Conservatives did over the same time period.” — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Aug. 14, 2018.

___

Hoping to beat back Conservative claims that their environment-friendly agenda is a costly jobs killer, the Liberal government has been burnishing its economic record lately, insisting that it has done better at creating jobs than its Tory predecessor.

It’s an important exercise in spin for a government whose central brand is about convincing Canadians that “the environment and the economy go hand-in-hand” — that fighting climate change, in other words, needn’t come at the expense of economic growth.

Hence the recent message from Trudeau and other cabinet ministers that since being elected in 2015, the Liberal government has created 60 per cent more jobs in Canada than the Conservatives did during the same time period.

Are they telling the truth?

READ MORE: Feds clarify LGBTQ and abortions rights attestation for summer jobs funding

READ MORE: Liberal promise to set strict rules for unpaid interns pushed to 2019

Spoiler alert: The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney” (complete methodology below).

This one earns a rating of “a lot of baloney.” Here’s why.

THE FACTS

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office pointed to Employment Minister Patty Hajdu’s office to provide a breakdown of how Trudeau came up with that 60 per cent figure.

Veronique Simard, a spokeswoman for Hajdu, said the Liberal government created 542,500 full-time jobs in the 33 months since winning the 2015 election, while the Conservatives under former prime minister Stephen Harper “created just 322,300 full-time jobs in its last 33 months in office.”

Trudeau wasn’t the only one spreading the message: in a response to Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre deriding the Liberal carbon plan as a “job killer,” Environment Minister Catherine McKenna tweeted, “Our government has created 60 per cent more jobs than the Harper Conservatives did in the same time period.”

“The Canadian economy is humming,” she wrote. “Our emissions are dropping. We have a plan and it’s working.”

THE NUMBERS

To calculate the number of jobs created over a specific period, The Canadian Press relied on figures from Statistics Canada for full-time jobs each month. The agency reports the total number of people employed monthly, which stood at 15.1 million full-time workers in July.

Calculations by CP confirmed the data provided by Hajdu’s office: 542,500 new full-time jobs between October 2015 and July 2018, and just 322,300 new jobs between January 2013 and October 2015 — a difference, for the record, of 59.4 per cent.

But there’s more to the claim than just the numbers.

THE EXPERTS

For one thing, there’s the familiar political convention of taking credit for economic growth — a practice that brings to mind the old saw about “lies, damned lies and statistics.”

Any suggestion that the Liberals are ”somehow responsible” for those numbers confuses the sequence of events with causality, said Stephen Gordon, an economics professor at Laval University.

“The fact that this is done so often doesn’t make it any less wrong,” said Gordon — no fan, he said, of using such statistics to suggest that the arrival of any new government results in more jobs.

But for the sake of argument, the Liberals should be comparing their first 33 months not with the end of the Harper era, but the beginning — a period that saw 635,400 new jobs between January 2006 and October 2008.

“If you’re going to argue that the arrival of a Liberal government leads to increased employment, you might as well argue that the arrival of a Conservative government has an even stronger effect on employment,” Gordon said.

“It’s a stupid game to be playing, and I wish politicians would stop playing it.”

Governments often “claim credit for — and take blame for — economic performance for which they often have little control,” added Emmett Macfarlane, a political science professor at the University of Waterloo.

“Stephen Harper was no more responsible for the 2008 global recession than Justin Trudeau was for job growth in the month he was elected.”

Using month-by-month statistics to measure performance in the job market can be unreliable, since the story can change dramatically, depending on which months are chosen as reference points, said Sheila Block, senior economist from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

During the Conservative government’s first 33 months in office, the economy was booming, while their last 33 months included a collapse in oil prices, she noted.

THE VERDICT

In truth, governments of all stripes take credit for short-term and medium-term economic indicators that are actually beyond their control. And they are selective about the data they choose to promote, as well as the time frames, to ensure it supports their narrative.

Indeed, by contrasting their first 33 months with the Conservative government’s last 33 months, they are effectively comparing apples and oranges.

METHODOLOGY

The Baloney Meter is a project of The Canadian Press that examines the level of accuracy in statements made by politicians. Each claim is researched and assigned a rating based on the following scale:

No baloney — the statement is completely accurate.

A little baloney — the statement is mostly accurate but more information is required.

Some baloney — the statement is partly accurate but important details are missing.

A lot of baloney — the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth.

Full of baloney — the statement is completely inaccurate.

Janice Dickson, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

South Surrey church members ‘praying for accused mother… for the whole process’

Lisa Batstone’s second-degree murder trial continues this week in B.C. Supreme Court

City will ask Fraser Health to remove pay parking at SMH, Surrey councillor says

Surrey’s new council has already made parking free on neighbouring city streets

Health and Technology District breaks ground on new building

City Centre 3 is the third of eight planned buildings: Lark Group

Spawning salmon returning to North Delta’s Cougar Creek

It’s early in the season, but the streamkeepers are hopeful it could be a good year for returns

Surrey White Rock Ringette Association ‘excited’ about world championships coming to Lower Mainland

Ringette Canada says the sport has reached record registration numbers

Winter weather hits parts of Canada

As some parts of the country brace for cold, parts of B.C. remain warmer than 10 C

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

New chair of Metro Vancouver board is Burnaby councillor

The 40-person board is made up of elected officials from 21 cities and one First Nation

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Saskatchewan college honours memory of Humboldt Broncos coach

Darcy Haugan wore jersey No. 22 when he was a star player with the Briercrest College Clippers

Most Read