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Reality Check: Is Canada’s projected growth really the best in the G7?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made his electoral pitch to Canadians Sunday morning: Stability and experience, or “risky,” untested platforms and plans?

He touted his government’s economic record, noting Canada’s financial outlook is the best in the G7, over the long haul.

But is it?

Sorry, Canada, but according to the IMF yours isn’t as big as you think.

Your economic growth, that is: The International Monetary Fund’s July World Economic Outlook pegs Canada’s year-over-year growth for this year at a projected 1.5 per cent — well below the United States, at 2.5 per cent, and the United Kingdom, at 2.4 per cent.

imfgrowthprojections

The outlook cited “an unexpected output contraction in the United States, with attendant spillovers to Canada and Mexico.”

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The federal Conservatives have burnished their reputation as a steady hand in turbulent economic times, especially given Canada’s relatively rapid recovery in the wake of the 2008 global recession.

And Canada’s post-recession GDP growth has made it one of the G7’s top performers, according to the OECD:

oecdgdpgrowth

But swooning oil prices and job market jitters have made that a tougher political sell: Canada’s economy looks shakier this year, and months-long contractions in growth have some economists saying the country’s in a recession.

“I was a little bit surprised to see the PM mention that,” said Mike Moffatt, an economist with the Ivey School of Business and the Mowat Centre.

“We’re in the middle of the pack, at best.”

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Same goes for our unemployment rate, the OECD stats indicate:

oecdg7unemployment

But to be fair, Moffatt noted, many of the economic factors buffeting Canada are outside Harper’s control.

“I don’t think anyone can take credit or blame,” for the economy’s wellbeing, Moffatt said.

“The problem the government’s gotten into is that over the past few years they’ve been talking about nothing but the economy. …

“Now, if you stop talking about that, that looks really strange.”

And as much as elections can be a “referendum on performance,” he added, “I think the most important thing from any of the leaders is, ‘Okay, what would you do going forward?'”

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