Stephen Gordon considers how much credit the government can take for our relatively good economic situation.
What of the role of the federal government? The proper way to evaluate policy is to consider the counterfactual: what would have happened if the federal government had behaved differently? I can think of many ways that the government could have made things much worse — the spending cuts that were its initial reaction were certainly ill-conceived. But since that austerity program was abandoned, it’s hard to point to a serious error that significantly deepened and/or prolonged the recession.
So the Conservatives cannot claim all the credit for those cross-country differences: Canada was luckier than the United States and the other G7 countries. The best it can say is that it didn’t make any serious mistakes that made the recession significantly worse.