Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister James Flaherty had been reassuring the citizenry in the same way that Senator John McCain had said that the fundamentals of the U.S. economy were strong, a statement credited with mightily assisting Barack Obama to victory last November.
The stunning element is how closely the statistics of the two nations mirror each other based on this week's reports.
Les Whittington of the Ottawa Bureau of the Toronto Star stated regarding the February 6 announcement, "In the worst employment showing in decades, the Canadian economy shed 129,000 jobs in January as the unemployment rate shot up to 7.2 per cent from 6.6 per cent the previous months, Statistics Canada said. Nearly all the jobs lost were full-time positions."-
In the U.S. 598,000 jobs were slashed, the worst showing since the end of 1974. The U.S. unemployment figure was just a tick higher than the 7.2 reading in Canada, reaching 7.6 percent.
Liberal finance critic John McCallum stated that if current negative trends in employment persist that more fiscal action would be needed before the Canadian Parliament adjourns for the summer.
"It's only a few short months ago,"- McCallum said, "that they were saying the Canadian economy was as strong as the Canadian Shield and we would have nothing but budget surpluses."-
Prime Minister Harper delivered assurance that his government "won't be blown off course every time there is some bad news."-
Stephen Harper might not be President Herbert Hoover in 1932, but he appears to be somewhere in the same ideological neighborhood. In 1932 Hoover declared "prosperity is just around the corner"- and that there would be "a chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage."-
The good news in Canada is that Liberals have been making rising strides in latest national polling under the fresh new leadership of Michael Ignatieff. To the south, the good news came when Barack Obama was elected and took office January 20.
Obama needs to use his presidency as a "bully pulpit"- and make his case for robust government action to revive an economy devastated by a "floating crap game"- sub-prime mortgage strategy gone sour along with a massive debt that soared past the $10 trillion mark before George Bush left town.
The Canadian response to the growing crisis is the Conservative majority's plan to inject a $40 billion stimulus into the economy over two years, which Liberal spokesperson McCallum and others clearly believe is insufficient to meet the mounting crisis.
Statistics back up McCallum and others seeking bolder action. Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said "we expected this"- and the numbers bear him out. Statistics Canada reported that the manufacturing sector centered in Ontario and Quebec dropped 101,000 jobs, which the Toronto Star called "the worst decline ever recorded."-
In terms of the entire nation, Canada has lost 213,000 jobs since October.