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The Progressive Economics Forum

Poilievre promoted to employment minister

Jason Kenney has been promoted to Minister of National Defence, and Pierre Poilievre has been tapped to replace him at Employment and Social Development Canada.

Sigh. It seems like such a short time ago that I railed against Jason Kenney’s first tweet as Minister of ESDC. At least Kenney’s tweet had something to do with employment and jobs.

Pierre Poilievre, for those of you who do not follow Question Period, has a penchant for absurdly working government talking points into conversation. His first tweet as employment minister does just that, and foreshadows what we might expect from him over the next few months.

“My new role will allow me to advance our low-tax plan for families. Lower taxes create jobs and help families get ahead.” - @ , 9 Feb 2015.

I can see why the junior minister would want to stick to his strengths, since lowering taxes is just about the only policy where the federal conservatives have any credibility, skill, or appetite for action. But it’s probably the last thing we need a minister of employment and social development suggesting.

The Conference Board of Canada recently forecast GDP growth below 2% for 2015, and many economists think that the low price of oil will be a negative shock for Canada’s already stagnant labour market. Thousands of workers have been laid off in the retail sector beyond the 17,600 at Target, and far too many will go without any kind of safety net as they don’t qualify for Employment Insurance.

In times like these we need a national jobs & training strategy, something that Jason Kenney took seriously. I’m afraid that Pierre Poilievre’s appointment signals inaction on the employment and training front, and should be a significant cause for concern among workers.

I would add, as the incomparable Lana Payne has noted, that this shuffle is part of a decoy strategy, focusing on (in)security and downplaying the domestic economy and labour market. We know which issue Stephen Harper would rather fight the next election on.

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