Saturday, May 2, 2009

BC election: Which leader is more believable?

Reading this article it would seem that both leader spin numbers somewhat but that they have some basis for what they say. For politicians neither of them seem to be out in left field even the NDP leader!

This is from the Vancouver Sun.

Which leader is more believable?

The Sun compares facts to the claims ahead of Sunday’s provincial party leaders debate

By Jonathan Fowlie, Vancouver SunMay 1, 2009

The three main provincial party leaders will face off in the only televised debate of the 2009 election campaign at 5 p.m. on Sunday.
For almost three weeks, the the leaders — particularly New Democrat Carole James and Liberal Gordon Campbell — have crisscrossed the province, trying to make the case as to why their party would be the best choice to form B.C.’s next government.
Campbell and James have made many promises and claims throughout the campaign, and many are likely to be repeated in the debate with Green leader Jane Sterk.
The Vancouver Sun has dissected some of those claims, to provide the basis for the numbers, and to let voters decide who is more believable.
1. Carole James says B.C. has lost 80,000 jobs in the last three months:
A Statistics Canada report issued in early April said B.C. lost a total of 62,600 jobs between December 2008 and March 2009, a drop of 2.7 per cent. That number includes both part-time and full-time jobs.
The report shows that in that time period, B.C. lost 79,600 full-time jobs, a decline of 4.3 per cent since December, while the number of part-time jobs rose.
The difference: The report says full-time work is considered to be 30 or more hours a week at a person’s main job. Fewer than 30 hours is considered to be part-time work.
As a result, the reduction of full-time jobs, and the corresponding rise in part-time workers, could partially be due to people whose hours have been cut back.
The NDP said this week that it quotes the full-time number because it gives a more accurate picture of the downturn in the economy.
B.C.’s unemployment rate at the time of the report was 7.4 per cent.
2. The NDP says B.C.’s minimum wage is the lowest in Canada and needs to be increased. Liberals say that would cost $450 million a year and 50,000 jobs:
British Columbia’s minimum wage is $8 an hour, which, according to the Retail Council of Canada, is currently tied with New Brunswick as Canada’s lowest. B.C. also has a training wage of $6 an hour for people with no paid work experience.
According to StatsCan, just under 50,800 British Columbians received the minimum wage in 2008, or 2.7 per cent of the workforce.
The NDP wants to raise the minimum wage 25 per cent to $10 an hour. Pointing to a Fraser Institute study, the party says that will affect 293,100 people who all made $10 an hour or less in 2007.
The Liberals point to research that says a 25-per-cent increase in the minimum wage would translate into a 7.5-per-cent to 15-per-cent loss in employment for teens and youths.
That reference is contained in a report written by Dr. Morley Gunderson, who holds the CIBC Chair in Youth Employment at the University of Toronto.
Given that the total teen and youth employment was 329,900 in March, the estimated loss in employment equates to about 25,000 to 49,500 jobs.
The NDP refutes that claim using a 1994 study by David Card and Alan Krueger, which compared New Jersey (which raised the minimum wage) to Pennsylvania (which did not).
“We found that the increase in the minimum wage seemed to occur with no loss in employment,” the NDP quotes Card and Krueger as saying.
The Liberals attribute the estimated cost of $450 million a year to the B.C. Chamber of Commerce. On Friday, Jon Garson at the Chamber confirmed this estimate came from his organization.
3. The NDP and Liberals both claim to have better economic credentials during their recent respective times in government, with each side pointing to GDP as the most reliable indicator:
On this one, the difference is a matter of interpretation. Both sides are using the same number, real GDP.
The one difference with the NDP’s numbers is that they include the ministry of finance projection that the economy will shrink by 0.9 per cent in 2009, which helps to drag down the average.
The Liberals don’t include this, because it is only a projection.
But that’s not all.
When the Liberals compute the numbers, they look at 1991 to 2001 when the New Democrats were in power to reach an average 2.5-per-cent growth, and 2001 to 2008 to get an average of 2.7 per cent growth for themselves.
The NDP compute 1992 to 2001 to get 2.8-per-cent growth for their government, and 2002 to 2009 to get 2.5 for the Liberals.
Left out of all of this is an ongoing debate as to whether GDP tells enough of a story to judge a government’s economic record.
4. Premier Gordon Campbell says the NDP platform underestimates how much it will cost to eliminate the carbon tax:
The Liberal budget estimates the carbon tax will bring in $2.268 billion over the next three years, which the government has promised will all be returned through tax cuts and rebates. In its platform, the NDP estimates the cost of getting rid of the carbon tax will be $1.795 billion over three years.
The party explains the $473- million difference by saying it will not go ahead with additional cuts to corporate taxes that the Liberals had announced for 2010 and 2011.
The government’s budget included a 0.5-per-cent cut to the general corporate tax on Jan. 1, 2010, and then another 0.5-per-cent on Jan. 1, 2011. The NDP says keeping the tax at 11 per cent will lead to an estimated extra $229 million in revenue over three years.
The NDP has also included in its estimate the revenue collected through the carbon tax from the beginning of the year to the point where the party could take power and repeal the measure, likely about Sept. 1.
The government’s most recent budget estimated the carbon tax will bring in $546 million in 2009-10. Pro-rated evenly across five months from the beginning of the fiscal year on April 1 — including the increase planned for July 1, which the NDP say they won’t be able to change — the carbon tax will have brought in about $228 million by the end of August. The tax generally brings in more revenue during the summer than the fall, however, so the number should be larger.
5. Carole James has repeatedly said that last fall Premier Gordon Campbell gave a 43-per-cent pay increase to his top advisers.
Effective Aug. 1, 2008, Campbell did increase the maximum amount that top bureaucrats could earn. The maximum for his deputy minister, Jessica McDonald, increased 43 per cent to $348,600 from $243,936. Maximums for deputy ministers increased 35 per cent, to $299,215 from $221,760, and for assistant deputy ministers, 22 per cent to $195,000 from $160,000.
While the maximums increased by that much, actual salaries did not necessarily rise in tandem. McDonald, for instance, did not take any increase. Deputy ministers, on average, received an increase of just over seven per cent.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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