Kathleen Wynne challenges Tim Hudak over his alleged fuzzy math jobs plan

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Ontario Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne is challenging Tim Hudak to provide proof that his job plan -- the central theme of the Progressive Conservative campaign -- is legitimate.

The PC leader has been under fire for days over allegations that his plan to create a million jobs over eight years was created using fuzzy math.

Learned economists, published in MacLean's, the Globe and Mail and other outlets, have suggested that Hudak's job claims are inflated; some have opined that the PCs are attributing person years of employment to permanent jobs while others suggest that their economist doesn't take into account the detrimental affects of Hudak's pledge to cut 100,000 public sector jobs.

In a statement released Thursday, Wynne challenged Hudak to "produce one qualified, independent economist who agrees" with the PC math.

As you are aware, a number of the most respected economists in the country, including Paul Boothe, Jim Stanford, Mike Moffatt, Scott Clark and Peter DeVries, upon close analysis of your platform, have noted that your calculations for job creation are grossly inflated by a basic arithmetic error.

These economists all note that by mistakenly counting person-years of employment as permanent jobs, your platform claims to create eight-times the number of jobs than is mathematically possible – even accepting some or all of your basic economic assumptions. Indeed, the Conference Board of Canada, an organization your party consulted in drafting your platform, confirmed your miscalculation yesterday with The Globe and Mail.

It is troubling that, when confronted with these facts, rather than acknowledge the mistake, and take measures to correct it, you have denied that there is even a problem.

Mr. Hudak, this is a serious matter. An honest mistake – even one as fundamental as this one – is one thing. But the refusal to correct that mistake, even when confronted with overwhelming and, frankly, irrefutable evidence is more deeply troubling.

The problem for Hudak is that it's not only economists that are weary of his numbers -- the public doesn't buy it either.

According to an Ipsos Reid survey from last week, only 33 per cent of those surveyed believe the goal of creating one million jobs is credible.

[ Related: Memories of premiers past continue to haunt the Ontario election campaign ]

For their part, the PCs claim their math is solid arguing that it comes from an economist, a Californian by the name of Benjamin Zycher.

Press Progress — an arm of the left-leaning Broadbent Institute — recently outed Zycher as working for an American "Tea Party think-tank funded by the Koch brothers."

Moreover, as the Ottawa Citizen's David Reevely points out, Zycher's analysis isn't as in-depth as you would think.

"Zycher didn’t study [the Tories' specific policy plans]. His work was done months before the current election campaign and it’s not based on the specifics of what Hudak says he would do as premier," Reevely wrote.

"It’s a more philosophical take on eliminating regulations, giving up on green energy, cutting corporate taxes, and reducing trade barriers with other provinces."

[ Related: Hudak following footsteps of former premier Mike Harris in new platform ]

The thing about credibility is this: if your story isn't believable, it doesn't matter whether you're telling the truth or not.

Therein lies the problem for the Ontario Progressive Conservatives: at this point, Hudak's job plan — the central theme of his campaign — just isn't believable.

And it's pretty tough to win an election if people don't think you're credible. Isn't it?

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