Is Canada ready for an NDP government? Are the NDP ready to govern?
That's really two different questions. If you look at a somewhat-recent column in the Huffington Post, you'll find that Eric Grenier dug as deeply into an Ipsos-Reid poll, and strained the results as finely as he could, to conclude that the answer to each question is "yes."
The answer to both questions, remarkably, is actually "no."
"While a majority (55 per cent) disagreed that 'the NDP is ready to be Canada's next government,' the 45 per cent who did agree are more than enough to give the New Democrats a huge majority government," Grenier insisted. PostMedia's Tabi Cohen breathlessly went a step further than Grenier. "The Ipsos Reid survey, conducted exclusively for Postmedia News and Global TV, reveals that 45 per cent of Canadians agree the official Opposition has earned the right to govern."
The Official Opposition has earned the right to govern? That's pretty amazing considering that the number of voters currently intending to support the NDP lags far, far behind those numbers. Something of which neither news story bothered to note. Most recently, a Forum Poll placed NDP support at 28%. In the same poll, the Prime Minister Stephen Harper-led Conservative Party pulled in the support of 36%.
That's not all. Even an examination of the numbers that Grenier and Cohen handpicked shows a very different tale than the one they chose to spin. As it turns out, only 13% of those who felt the NDP is ready to govern felt so strongly. 31% of them offered little more than a "yeah, sorta."
So in conclusion, the Grenier and Cohen articles amount to some of the most self-humiliating pieces of political journalism seen in Canada for a long, long time.
Speaking of self-humiliation, there's always NDP leader Thomas Mulcair himself. Recently, yet another academic study has refuted his "Dutch Disease" thesis. Yet Mulcair stubbornly clings to his discredited theory. (Peter Julian apparently considers that "leadership.") How many studies is Mulcair relying on to make his case? As it turns out, just one. And he doesn't even have that one right.
"The study by Professor [Serge] Coulombe and his team that was done for Industry Canada shows that of the 600,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs that have been lost in this country over the past seven years, many of them are attributable to the fact that the Canadian dollar is artificially high," Mulcair insisted.
This is actually false. The Coulombe study dealt with the years 2002-07, not 2005-2012.
Not to mention that Coulombe's study was badly flawed. The study started with the assumption that the strengthening Canadian dollar has been hurting Canadian manufacturing, and dispensed with all of the other economic reasons -- such as lagging innovation and lack of competitive advantage -- that has been hurting Canadian manufacturing. Even dispensing with these vital points, the study could only conclude that 50% of the manufacturing job losses were due to the strengthening dollar.
So in other words, the dollar accounts for 50% at best, if you insist on considering nothing else -- including things that are far more relevant. Which just goes to show you that if you design your study to confirm conclusions you've already decided on, you'll at least prove yourself half right, even if you aren't nearly half right.
Now here's where this stubborn insistence on favouring Coulombe over virtually all other economists -- excepting those who have in the past been employed by NDP governments, or who are currently seeking provincial NDP leaderships -- becomes truly damaging to Mulcair and the NDP: the reflection it has on their ability to govern according to evidence.
We've heard all sorts of wailing from the NDP about "evidence-based governance" ever since the Tory decision to make the long-form census voluntary. (It pretty much was already, mind you.) They insist that without such data, the government won't have vital evidence to guide decision-making.
But as it pertains to Thomas Mulcair's "Dutch Disease" thesis, it turns out that the vital evidence is widely available. He just simply refuses to acknowledge it.
So if "evidence-based governance" is a key feature of readiness to govern, is the NDP actually ready to govern Canada? The answer is clearly no. And is Canada really ready for an NDP government?
55% of Canadians say no. It doesn't take a pollster of Nik Nanos' calibre to realize that's a majority of Canadians.