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Tories are getting a free ride on the economy: pundit

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – With a fall election looming, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives have positioned themselves as the strongest stewards of our economy.

But is the Tory track record really that good?

It’s a crucial question, according to Dennis Pilon in the Political Science Department at York University, who suggests Harper has been given an easy ride.

“I think it’s kind of a hangover of this long party that right-wingers have been on where they’ve put forward a view of the economy that just doesn’t work,” he tells us.

“We have the evidence and it’s very stark and clear. Their attitude was they would cut, cut, — we’ll cut services, we’ll cut taxes — and then the economy will take off and everything will be fantastic. Well, that hasn’t happened,” he tells News1130.

Pilon believes the economy is not producing “good jobs” that allow people to establish themselves and build a decent life.

“Why can the Conservatives get away with this? Because other people let them — the other parties and, in part, the media. Both need to start asking more pointed questions. The models upon which the Conservatives are working do not work.”

Pilon asserts that it is only perception that the Harper Conservatives have a strong record on the economy, calling it a function of the absence of any concrete alternative.

“The fact that the Conservatives show up as being the best only means that they are the best of the worst. It shows that there is a lack of imagination and creativity and perhaps a lack of courage on the part of the other parties,” he says.

“They are so terrified — this cabal of economists and right-wing pundits has so bullied people into submission — that it seems folks are not willing to stand up and say we should try something different.”

Pilon says the economy needs to be judged on what he calls its “human output” and the quality of the jobs it produces.

“There’s a considerable amount of evidence that the money [made by] our most profitable industries… is not being reinvested in our economy. If they’re not willing to do that, then we need to come up with some other model to create the jobs and create the economy that will allow people to live the decent lives they want.”

Pilon points out there have been economic highs and lows under all parties in government.

“If we look at the records of different governments, we can find the Conservatives, the New Democrats and the Liberals all have strong track records at different points. There is no reason, empirically or factually, to simply give the Conservatives credit,” he says.

“At the federal level, it makes no sense at all because the Liberals before them were, by any objective measures, much better at managing the inflow and outflow of money than the Conservatives have been. The Conservatives squandered their surplus during the first couple of years they were in power.”

Pilon feels there needs to be better discussion about the economy so the public has more to judge the government against.

“With no facts, it’s all down to branding.”