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Conservatives: dire economic data undermine Liberal promises of growth

Last Updated Aug 31, 2016 at 6:09 pm EDT

OTTAWA – The Opposition Conservatives and the NDP seized on Wednesday’s news of grim second-quarter economic growth as evidence that the Liberal government’s election promises of jobs and prosperity are falling well short of expectations.

The economy recorded its worst performance in seven years during the quarter, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

Real gross domestic product fell at an annualized rate of 1.6 per cent in the quarter, largely because of the huge wildfires that levelled parts of Fort McMurray, Alta.

It’s bad news for a government that campaigned on growing the economy with deficit spending and boosting the middle class. That prescription isn’t working, the Tories say.

“This is the biggest drop in GDP since the end of the Great Recession,” said Phil McColeman, Conservative deputy finance critic.

“The Liberal government promised Canadians that if it borrowed tens of billions of dollars, it could grow the economy and create jobs. In reality, the Liberals have failed to deliver results for middle-class families, who instead are left with higher-taxes, fewer job opportunities and a shrinking economy.”

NDP finance critic Guy Caron said he is worried that people most in need will suffer from the economic slump, and suggested the government look at increased access to employment insurance.

“Bad news for growth and jobs are adding up and the government should react with swift actions rather than standing on the sidelines,” Caron said.

Randy Hoback, the Conservative vice-chair of the Commons international trade committee, complained that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on a state visit to China that seems more style than substance.

“On a day where we learn that the economy is performing worse than it has since the Great Recession, this Liberal government is more interested in photo ops than Canadian jobs and the middle class,” Hoback said in a statement.

The second-quarter result was worse than what the Bank of Canada forecast in its July monetary policy report, which predicted a contraction of just one per cent.

However, the bank of Canada has also predicted that growth will pick up in the third quarter to an annual pace of 3.5 per cent as oil production ramps up and reconstruction efforts take hold in Fort McMurray.

It also expects the Liberal government’s election promises — a new Canada child benefit and a boost to infrastructure spending — will also spur the economy.