When it comes to job losses, politicians can be counted upon to emphasize the numbers – and the root causes – that best fit their own messaging.
With news that Canada shed 54,000 jobs last month, the opposition wants to talk about the hundreds of thousands of jobs that have disappeared since the 2008 recession. They blame the problem on Conservative government inaction.
The Tories, on the other hand, prefer to highlight the number of jobs that have been created since the recession hit its deepest trough. As bad as the economy might be, they say that other countries have it worse and attribute the downturn in employment to the turbulence abroad.
NDP Whip Chris Charlton stood first in the daily Question Period Friday to lament what she said is the government's failure to come up with a job plan.
"With the devastating job loss numbers announced today, maybe now the government will finally listen," the MP from hard-hit Hamilton said. "Canada lost 72,000 jobs in October alone, most of them from the high-value-added manufacturing sector."
That means are almost 300,000 more unemployed Canadians today than in July 2008, Ms. Charlton said, "and that was just before the recession that this government couldn't even see coming."
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird replied that job creation and economic growth continue to be the Conservative government's top priority.
"We're pleased with the 600,000 jobs that have been created since the bottom of the recession in 2009 but we deeply sympathize with anyone who lost their job this past month," Mr. Baird said. "As we said all along, Canada is not immune from the economic turbulence in the United States and Europe, but this House can know that this government will maintain its focus on jobs and economic growth."
Asked about the job figures at the conclusion of G20 meetings in France, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was "disappointed with the numbers and concerned about them."
Liberal MP Scott Brison said Canada now has 600,000 fewer full-time jobs than in August 2008 – double the number cited by Ms. Charlton and equal to the number of jobs that Mr. Baird said had been created. "When will the Conservatives invest in a real plan and help Canadians to get back to work?"
Shelly Glover, the parliamentary secretary to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, told the House that it was important to note that Canada is in a very good position compared to other countries across the world.
"The IMF and the OECD said that we would be the fastest-growing G7 economy in the next couple of years," Ms. Glover noted. And, she said, a recent poll of 350 economists said Canada should see some of the strongest rates of growth compared to its G7 peers this year and next.