The true state of the middle class

Trudeau wants to make the next election about helping average folk, but some argue there’s nothing that needs fixing

by John Geddes

Adam Scotti

To hear the talk about federal politics these days, one sad truth of economic life in Canada would seem beyond dispute: Times have never been so tough for the middle class. The Liberal party’s newly announced candidate for an upcoming Toronto by-election, Chrystia Freeland, award-winning author of Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, bemoans the “relentless squeeze” on those average folks. Justin Trudeau, the Liberal leader who lured her home from a career as a New York business journalist to try her hand at politics, has gone so far as to declare that the woes of the middle class are so apparent that no disagreement is possible. “This is not a political argument,” he says, “but a fact.”

Trudeau relies on a 30-year view to back his claim that there’s no room for debating the middle-class malaise. Indeed, incomes of families in the middle of the pack—those earning the median, where half the population makes more and half less—grew by just 13 per cent over three decades. According to Statistics Canada, the after-tax median income for families of two or more, linked by blood, marriage or common law, was $65,500 in 2010, up from 1980’s $57,900, adjusted for inflation. Vowing to do something about that stagnation, although he hasn’t yet said exactly what, is the basis for Trudeau’s challenge to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s dominance of middle-class, suburban votes over the past three federal elections.

Among economists who study incomes, though, the notion of a moribund middle in Canada is far from universally accepted. In fact, there’s sharp disagreement over what to make of those 30-year figures. Stephen Gordon, an economics professor at Quebec City’s Université Laval (and a blogger for Maclean’s), says simply comparing incomes now with those of the late 1970s misses everything that happened in between. “In the first half of that period, incomes weren’t stagnating, they were declining. In the 1980s and early 1990s, we had two recessions, public finances were out of control and we had high and variable inflation. These were not good times,” he says. “Sometime around the mid-1990s, things turned around. Public finances got under control, inflation got under control, we got lucky with oil prices and, since that time, incomes have increased.”

Gordon is far from alone in the way he interprets the decline and rise of the past few decades. In a study last year, TD Bank Group economists also emphasized the rebound in Canadian median incomes since the late 1990s. And they pointed out, in an analysis of income inequality, that just when Canada’s median incomes were recovering, America’s middle class hit two very rough patches—the 2001 technology stock bust and the 2008 financial crisis. Both hurt the U.S. worse than Canada, and so American median incomes deteriorated as Canada’s improved. Despite that clear contrast, the U.S. experience, amplified through American media, has spilled over and influenced Canadian politics.

Nowhere has the U.S. perspective more powerfully shaped Canadian debate than when it comes to the top strata of the income scale. Starting with protests in New York’s Zuccotti Park two years ago, what became known as the Occupy Movement spread internationally, pushing the issue of income inequality—cast as the one per cent versus the 99 per cent—onto political agendas everywhere. Again, though, the Canadian and American situations aren’t really the same. In the U.S., the top one per cent took home 17 per cent of all national income in 2010, compared to 10.6 per cent in Canada. And while inequality worsened in Canada through the 1990s, it stabilized after about 2000. And those who start out lower on the income ladder tend to climb more easily in Canada. In his widely cited studies of social mobility, University of Ottawa economics professor Miles Corak has shown that the link between what a son earns and how much his father made is about twice as strong in the U.S. as it is in Canada.

Still, Corak is far from complacent about the Canadian situation. In an interview, he said his upbeat findings on social mobility show how Canadians born in the late ’60s fared well, after being raised and educated in the ’70s and ’80s and settling into careers in the strong, late-’90s economy. But he worries their success will be hard to duplicate for the so-called “millennials,” those born after about 1980, who grew up in an era of greater family economic stress, took on higher student debt loads and are entering a tougher job market. Corak also argues against Gordon’s view that the rise of median incomes since the late 1990s is evidence of reassuring middle-class strength. Corak suspects high prices for Canadian natural resources have masked the underlying, downward pressures of globalization and technological change. “This commodity-price boom might go on forever, but I doubt it,” he says.

Economists will go on arguing about the true state of the middle class. Politicians are only competing to establish who’s got the better plan to help them. The Harper government’s playbook has always emphasized niche policies. For instance, a recent federal government “back to school” news release listed Tory measures such as tax credits that offset part of the costs of kids’ sports and arts activities, monthly public transit passes, tuition and textbooks, and the interest on student loans. Along with reminding Canadians about those targeted measures, the government’s “Canada’s Economic Action Plan” ad campaign continues to tout the strength of the recovery since the 2009 recession.

But Abacus Data pollster David Coletto says the Conservatives have lost some of their edge in selling that economic message. “Since 2006, they’ve been very effective at speaking to the aspirational values of the middle class,” he says. “But recently, all their talk about how Canada’s Economic Action Plan is continuing to improve prosperity is starting to fall on deaf ears.” A serious problem for Harper, Coletto says, is that middle-class voters now in their 50s might feel secure enough about their own jobs and savings, but worry about their children—a lot. “You’ve got a generation coming out of post-secondary education whose parents love them dearly, and realize these kids can’t find good work,” he says.

According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate among those 24 and younger was 14.3 per cent last year, or 2.4 times the rate among workers 25 and older—the biggest gap since 1977 between youth unemployment and joblessness for older Canadians. When young people find jobs, they often find their way deep into debt, partly because house prices have soared. Between 1999 and 2010, the average debt of Canadians aged 31 to 35 grew by more than 60 per cent—enough to make many younger people, at least, feel poorer.

Even teenagers seeking part-time work in restaurants and stores are struggling. A report earlier this month from CIBC World Markets said the number of 15- to 18-year-old students unable to find after-school jobs climbed to a record of over 20 per cent, as more older workers take even those relatively low-wage positions. “I don’t think the government cares about those millennials, and I don’t think most parties do, because they don’t vote,” says Coletto. “But it’s the parents of a 22-year-old coming out of university—that’s the key voter group the Conservatives are going after, and the Liberals and NDP, too.”

There’s nothing new about all parties seeking middle-class support, of course. Launching the NDP’s 2011 election campaign, Jack Layton, the party’s late leader, accused Harper of failing to “give middle-class families a break.” For his part, Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal leader during that election, tried to peddle what he called a “family pack” platform—including grants for students, funding for child care spaces, help for those who stay home to care for old or ill family members and a tax credit for energy-saving home renovations—meant to compete head-on with Harper’s precisely targeted policies. Layton scored a historic NDP breakthrough, but mainly in Quebec. Ignatieff failed miserably. Harper won his majority while expanding Conservative dominance of suburban, middle-class ridings, particularly around Toronto.

The next test of his ability to maintain that crucial advantage will come with the return of Parliament on Oct. 16 for a Throne Speech, a fresh government agenda that some Ottawa insiders expect will highlight pocketbook issues such as cellphone costs, airline services and perhaps financial-institution fees. Flagging such common areas of annoyance for middle-class consumers might well be smart politics. But Trudeau is betting that middle-class discontent runs deeper, and has appointed Freeland to co-chair his new economic advisory committee, which is tasked with coming up with ideas for, among other things, “how to raise incomes for the middle class.” Unless Freeland’s committee is converted to the view that those incomes are actually already rising, their answer could form the heart of the next Liberal platform, and maybe even the prime target for Harper in the 2015 federal election.




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The true state of the middle class

  1. That’s a great picture. JT, open pink shirt and surrounded by the “boys.” Could be an Italian sports bar, a union hall. Anywhere you wouldn’t normally associate with a liberal leader. The boys look like they might be in the natural constituency of Mulcair or Harper, anyone but a liberal leader. Strange days.

    • I agree with you — and nobody in the shot is smiling, not even JT. I see crossed arms and grimaces.

      • Italy was losing and JT was telling them they had to listen to him now if they wanted to come back.

    • Your pepsi vs coke retarded mindset is certainly NOT going to expose any real problems. Go learn the difference between a democracy and a republic, then, when you have actually grown up, you can play with the big kids. youtube.com/watch?v=JdS6fyUIklI

      • Who Pissed in your soup today? Being hit on the head lessons is next door on Ezra’s blog.

  2. One week we’re supposedly drowning in unemployed liberal arts grads and the killing of the Canadian dream….. and the next week everything is hunky dory. LOL

  3. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could raise the incomes of the M/C without invoking a full throated US recovery and a return to historical normalized interest rates. All the parties seem to be offering variations on the same theme – managing costs that can be managed for the M/C and families in general.
    What might help about now would be some of those M/C and working class jobs in the manufacturing sector, for the kids, jobs that Mulroney helped send south and now off shore. Jobs in the pulp mill and paper plant.. All gone now, gone for good seemingly. Ah, those were the days when you could head over to the mill and make a decent M/C working wage , pick up your pogey and get a bit of skiing in in the spring, afford to stay drunk for a week…and know you still had a job to go back to.
    Oddly enough some of that was back in the day when median incomes for the M/C were pretty much where they are today. I wonder what they thought needed changing so bad. Pointless to ask now – you might as well try changing the weather. They’ll tell you you’re living in a dream world, no way we could go on living like that. We need to think big boys. Expand our horizons. I guess we had it too good for some tastes. I’m sure the economists have a chart for that too.

  4. Why just campaign for the middle class? What about those below it? Does our new playboy only relate to the middle as he looks down upon them?

    • Most Canadians regard themselves as middle class.

      Justin btw is a married man with 3 kids….and he’s never looked down on people. Don’t ‘read in’ what doesn’t exist.

      • How would you know? Justin Trudeau has no idea what the middle-class is because he was never raised to be part of it. It’s not because you shake hands with middle-class people that it makes you part of it. I am pretty sure he doesn’t even live in his own riding!

        • Again you are ‘reading in’ what doesn’t exist.

          Justin’s grandfather ran gas stations. Justin is a teacher. He’s lived in his riding…and it’s a very poor one….all this time. He only recently moved to Ottawa when he became leader. He was raised to be at home in the wilderness.

          Harp’s dad was an oil executive, and Harp’s only job outside politics was in the mail room.

          They are both pretty much on the same level.

          • Wow, talk about “reading in”. The story of Harper and the mail room is a canard. He may have started there as a student, but he certainly didn’t stay at that level. I doubt very much Trudeau lived in his riding. I’m from Montreal and I can tell you Westmount isn’t Papineau.

          • No, it’s factual. Daddy got him the job, and that’s where he worked…the mail room. He went into politics after that.

            As to Justin, yes he’s been living in Papineau since being elected as MP.

            Look if you dislike someones policies, say so. But don’t attack them on goofy stuff.

          • The “mail room” argument requires rebuttal. Harper has an M.A. In Economics and was head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Some of his views are too right wing, but he has credibility in economic matters which Justin does not. Justin’s disingenuous concern for the middle class might gain some traction if he could offer practical ideas about how to improve the lot for struggling Canadians, young and old. Just “listening” doesn’t cut it.

          • Yes, everyone knows that….but he worked in the mail room at Imperial Oil all the same.

            And since Harp was left a huge surplus by the Libs….and has now given us the biggest deficit in our history I’d suggest you don’t mention ‘credibility’ in economic matters. Harp has none whatever.

            It is two years before an election….patience is a virtue.

          • That’s one thing about Pierre Trudeau, he had his economics down pat.

            He was a student at the London School of Economics, a haven of communist economic thinking. And while there, Trudeau was a great favourite and student of Professor Harold Laski a famous promoter of Marxist Stalinism and of the communist butcher Stalin himself

            So I’m prepared to put forward the ugly proposition that when Trudeau gifted Canada with the highest per capita debt in its history, he knew exactly what he was doing.

            The last thing we need as Prime Minister is a personally tutored whelp of Harold Laski look alike, Pierre Trudeau.

          • That’s right. Harper started in the mailroom which was common procedure back then but was working in the IT department when he left. The whole mailroom thing is a canard. Back in the day it was common practice to start young people in the mailroom so that they could learn who was who and where things were. Then as jobs opened up, they moved up the ladder learning all the intricacies of the company. Today, they parachute in “know nothings” into positions of power and responsibility and look at the results. They may have MBA’s but no sense other than their own sense of importance. As for daddy getting Harper the job, who do you think got Trudeau the job or Paul Martin?

          • It was the 80s….there was no IT dept, and anybody could ‘work on’ a computer.

          • I worked at Confederation Life in the 1970′s and I can assure you there was an IT Department. Gad. I broke my own rule by replying to a ‘bot.

          • If you think I’m a ‘bot’….you know nothing about computers much less IT depts.

          • I dunno. It has come a long way since the 1970′s. The amount of time you spend on these boards, the ridiculous comments and the fact we can get you arguing against yourself indicate you are a bot.

          • This is why I say you’re totally confused.

            I run a business online….so I am online most of the time. I pop in here on break, or when things are slow…..although I don’t spend anymore time here than anyone else. That’s just a Con meme.

            A ‘bot does automated tasks.

            I have never argued against myself….that’s not even possible….again you’re fantasizing

          • I’m confused? You argued against yourself with me several months ago. At that point, I stopped responding to any of your comments and I am doing so now.

          • Yes you’re confused. Probably age-related.

            I have never argued against myself with you or anyone else….you are simply mixed up.

            What you’re saying is that you never know who you’re talking to, and can’t follow an argument, and somehow think you’re in a sci-fi movie….so you quit and run away.

          • Emily, you’ve now insulted me. I do not have age related confusion. I am still working and my training is in computer animation. IT. Why don’t you go get a real job before you lose what’s left of your mind.

          • I was being kind….you are past retirement age and it shows, but I was trying to avoid the use of ‘old codger’. You have no idea what bots are, when companies got computers, or anything else.

            Just saying ‘real job’ gives away the fact you’re not in the computer field.

            Probably out in a wheat field.

          • My dear, I am not past retirement age, I’m still working and not at Walmart, unlike you who are sitting here day after day, hour after hour giving your pathetic comments to anyone who will listen. If you truly have a business and it doesn’t revolve around getting 5 cents a comment, you can’t be doing very well for the amount of time you are on these boards.

          • Well now I couldn’t be sitting here if I worked at Walmart could I….and I’ve told you why I’m online. It’s your confusion that’s the problem.

            Yes, I’m doing very well….have been for years, thank you. Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean they’re involved in some scheme to ‘get you’. That’s paranoia crossed with a god syndrome for goodness sakes.

          • Online business, now isn’t that fascinating.
            You must know Eliot Spitzer

          • I know plenty about them

            We could call you bot fly and have a nice bit of wordplay.

          • That’s a good one Emily, this bit about Justine and the wilderness.

            He’s a sort of Romulus and Remus then, Justine the Wolfe Man. Or let’s cut down on the cost of “hate” advertising and simply call him Wolfe Man Justine, how’s that?

            And Emily, you remember the CBC always preaching how handsome was old Trudeau Pierre. That wasn’t even a myth, it was an outright lie. Anyone looking at an old photo of him even today would be hard pressed to believe they weren’t looking at Freddie the Sturgeon.

            And this gas station business and all the money, that’s a load of BS. Trudeau’s old man died in 1935 when Trudeau was 16 years old, so his gas stations got sold out sometime before that right in the middle of the great depression. I’ll guess that a gas station in the middle of the depression with everyone out of work, and no cars on the road would have brought $3,500 max.

            And if you want further proof they were likely broke, in 1968 when Trudeau was about 48 years old he didn’t even own his own home, he was still living with his mother at her place.

            There are plenty of things to criticize Harper for but comparing he and his family negatively with la Trudeau is nothing but another Load of Liberal Party Toilet. LOL

    • I agree to some extent. No political party campaigns for the poor. I suspect that is because not a lot of poor people vote.

  5. Your photo of Justin Trudeau surrounded by earnest average Canadian men projects an image of Trudau as some sage who is inspring the masses. It seems that the media too is awed by Trudeau and is unwilling to admit the shallow resume that he brings to the table.

    • You know, you are totally right. What the media should do is parrot the conservative talking points about Trudeau. That would prove they are not biased.

      • The remark about the scimpy resume comes not from a conservative, but from someone who has voted liberal for many elections. Canadians deserve to hear what Justin’s views are – not just about marijuana – to hear him weigh in on policy issues, not absent himself from current debate by saying that he’s “listening to Canadians”. I guess he plans to “listen” for the next two years. Let’s face it, he has generated popular support because of his pedigree, certainly not because of his accomplishments. His short tenure as a teacher in a private school, as an inspirational guest speaker at the expense of charitable orgaizations and school boards and as an MP who has said little of substance, does not inspire confidence. We expect more from an individual who seeks the position of PM.

        • People buy tickets to hear Justin speak…charities and school boards don’t pay him.

          Libs just had two PhDs as leaders….so don’t tell us you ‘want more’

        • Our best PM’s and that includes Liberal ones have fought their way up through the ranks. The current Liberal brain trust only wants back into power. Period. They will say anything and use anyone as Dion, Ignatieff and probably Trudeau will attest. They want a quick way back to the top. They are so divorced from the average Canadian they keep putting forth people “they think” will wow our socks off only to have them splutter out during and election. Justin will do the same. He has never held a responsible job in his life and is only where he is because the same Liberal brain trust thinks he is going to wow our socks off.

          • That would make more sense if the liberals had not been leading the polls since Trudeau became leader. I realize that polls are meaningless 2 years away from an election, but they do not support your assertion that Trudeau and the LPC are “divorced” from the average Canadian. In fact I would say that Trudeau has done an excellent job connecting with the “average” Canadian – in a way Harper never has.

          • Yes, it probably does in your downtown T.O. opinion. Trudeau hasn’t connecting anything…particularly the dots.

          • How about my suburban Edmonton opinion?

            Or better yet, why don’t I ignore all the evidence and just go with what I really want to be true. Why bother with facts when you have hopes and dreams.

        • Ya ya ya. Everyone wants Trudeau to tell us, NOW, about his economic plan. This whine is so transparent it is almost comical. Do you really think liberal supporters are going to read comments like yours and start panicking? Because they are not…

          Trudeau is doing exactly what he should do – he is attracting and recruiting people who are experts in their fields, and drawing on that expertise to create a plan.

          He has generated popular support because he has earned it. His pedigree did not get him the nomination in Papineau, nor did it win the election for him. Many people, myself included, were totally cynical about his move into politics. He impressed us by not taking anything for granted, and working for everything he has accomplished.

          Now he leads the third party, and he has been successful in keeping that party on the front pages. Everyone expected him to be tripped up, and it has not happened. He inspires confidence because he is confident.

          • Oh how easily some are impressed. We want to know what he truly believes in. What does he see as Canada’s role in the world community? What does he suggest would create jobs for the young? The renewed liberal party dreams of reassuming power without a clue as to the direction it should take. We are to follow Justin’s new movement – whatever it is. Send $5 blindly so one can have a chance to have dinner with Justin – what a thrill that would be. Go to TIFF so we can see him do politics differently on the red carpet. He needs to speak and write some articles about important issues – demonstrate that he is more than a cheerleader and a celebrity. Yes, he won his seat in Papineau and yes he has won the leadership of his party; it’s time now to show that he truly is a leader, worthy of assuming the position of Prime Minister.

          • Actually, the time for that is during the next election.

            In any event it is my opinion that Trudeau is not trying to win the next election, but rather regain official opposition, increase the LPC seat count and maybe hold Harper to a minority.

            I get that the conservative online community feels it is necessary to continue to sow this seed of “Trudeau must lay out all his plans now otherwise we cannot trust him”. I am sure that doing that does give the “he’s not ready to lead/he has no substance” meme some traction, yet I think Trudeau is doing the right thing by not falling into that trap. Nor does it seem to really be hurting him at this juncture. He is doing a good job – why would he change what he is doing just to satisfy a group of people who will not vote for him anyway?

          • Do you define doing a good job as doing wel in the polls? He needs to do more than that. He has to define himself, not because the conservatives want him to, but because it is important to find out who he really is. So far, he appears to be more interested in being a celebrity, rather than an impressive spokeperson for a thinking new government. He has to be willing to stick his neck out and risk judgment and evaluation. If he’s not willing to do that, he doesn’t merit anyone’s vote. Developing an image that highlights his principles is essential.

          • I define a good job as rebuilding the LPC, which he is doing. Fundraising is up, people are becoming more engaged, and he is attracting talent. The problem with the last leader is that he did not rebuild (though in fairness to him Harper had a minority so he did not have a lot of breathing room).

            For years the media was focused on the demise of the LPC. Now, to the extent they are focused on the liberals, they are focused on the rebuild, and the man who is doing that. The first step is stop the bleeding, and I think Trudeau has done that.

            I also think conservatives know this, which is why the histrionics every time Trudeau gets a positive mention.

    • So you prefer the resume of a mail room clerk to a teacher? Why? What is it about delivering mail to offices that impresses you so much?

  6. I’d like to know what they’re talking about….obviously something very serious.

  7. Who the heck is worried about the middle class? Nobody cares about the poor people? You people need major help. youtube.com/watch?v=yT1GavDtiwM

    • Define “the poor”. I get so tired of hearing about them and yet nobody can actually say who is poor.

  8. What a staged picture. Trudeau wouldn’t be caught dead with greying old men in a pub drinking beer if his life depended on it. He has no idea what the middle-class is.

    • You know that simply stating something does not make it true, right?

      • I’ll back that one up. Trudeau has no idea what the middle class is. The middle class, to Trudeau is formed by public servants.

        • Cool. So the way we back up stuff here is to simply state more things we want to be true as if they are facts.

          That is a very unique debating style you have there.

          • And I’m tired of the snippy little comments right after mine. Gayle, Obama is pushing the same garbage in the US. Who are Obama’s biggest supporters? The big unions. Who is running Trudeau’s campaign? The Democrats. Who has Trudeau just brought on board his team? Chrystia Freeland, Miss talking head on US TV who is pushing her book on the gutting of the middle class. Both Obama and Trudeau think this is a winner and their union base is right on board as they are all white collared endangered civil servants. This has nothing to do with the non-aligned middle class. This is getting the unions more money in exchange for votes. That is why Trudeau is sitting around the table with a bunch of white guys wearing t-shirts and baseball caps. This is a bunch of union guys he’s talking to.

          • Ah, it’s not about the middle class because those “endangered civil servants” in t-shirts and baseball caps should be squeezed out of it?

          • You don’t get it. The middle class was never unionized. It was bank clerks, insurance people, and office people. Thanks to the economy those people are suffering but that’s not who the Trudeau/Obama message is aimed at. It is aimed at the unionized civil service who can deliver the votes and the funds for their campaigns. The unorganized real middle class can’t.

          • I do get it. Unionization has allowed many workers to reach the middle class. Are you suggesting they should be squeezed out of it?

          • If you do not like the snippy comments, maybe stop making bald assertions that mean nothing.

            Anyone can say stuff. Does not mean what they say is true.

          • Prove what I have just said is wrong.

          • Actually, it is your point. Why don’t you prove it is right.

            If you can.

    • Trudeau is middle-class. Those men are working class.

  9. All this fancy statistical analysis of median incomes adjusted for inflation, looking at how much they went up or down, and comparing them to the US data doesn’t even begin to paint the entire picture. You would think leading economists would know that.
    For the average person, the issue is not simply a matter of how many dollars they’re earning. It’s about what does it take to earn that income, how much training and education did it take, what’s the opportunity to rise above the average, and how secure is the job, the income, and the retirement that’s supposed to follow.
    For the average person, it takes a lot more education and training, and more hours of work to earn that same middle class income. For example, 40 years ago, both my parents were blue collar workers (mom earned minimum wage). Yet, we owned our own house (in the city, no less), had a car, a country home, plenty of food on the table, money in the bank, no debt, and a secure retirement, all without even a high school education.
    If my parents were starting off today, there’s no way they would ever be able to duplicate what they did back then. Today, you need a much better education, work longer hours (how many people now bring their work home with them?), and have little job security, less opportunity to move up to better employment, and little or no pension to look forward to.
    Whether or not this gets analyzed in statistics by economists, middle-class people understand this reality implicitly. That’s because they live it every day. And that’s what the politicians need to address.

  10. Trudeau is pandering to the very group Kathleen Wynn has supporting her – teachers, civil servants and auto workers. Union members no longer consider themselves to be “working class” but “middle class”. Trudeau doesn’t give a fig for the non-unionized middle class because he cannot collect them into an advocacy group like Working Families.

  11. This is getting to be fun. Latest Ipsos- Reid Polls say 3 main parties are in a statistical tie. I know they don’t count according to those whose ox is being gored, but still all indications are that Trudeau’s honeymoon is over. If it holds, it means the usual Lib – NDP fight and according to some even a resurgence in Quebec by the Bloc. If so, look for another Harper majority. On top of that Financial Analysts say Harper will fulfill his campaign promise of slaying the defecit by 2015. Washington insiders are saying Obama will approve Keystone, the oil will continue to flow West & now East, creating jobs and boosting the economy, there will be an EU trade deal before 2015 and new markets opening to China and India. Even the most anti-Harper pundit agrees that the top vote getter is a solid economic performance and faith in the person creating it. The polls also say routinely that Harper is the man for that in the view of the electorate. The Opposition parties, the Media party supporting them and those on the left of the political spectrum can hope for all the bad news they want, even to the detriment of their own country – to date it’s not happening. What to do, what to do?
    And BTW – the rantings by political junkies on these comment boards, even my own obviously, count little on Main Street Canada, which rarely if ever sees them. The Polls also prove that!

  12. “U.S. middle class incomes down over six per cent since 2000″
    Mac Leans 29 Oct 2013. I guess they suck and blow at the same time.
    The middle class has been , down sized, right sized, off shored and taxed almost out of existence. this is a piece of garbage fronted as reporting.

  13. I make 100010 thousand a year i am not bragging i live in nb and away 10 mnths of the year from the people that mean the most but i say thank yound god bless alberta these polaticians take 47 thousand in income tax right of the bat and whar are they nothing but paricites that do not contribute but take and they take with an arogant way oh you owe us how dare the lot of them we need small gov with accountability not political corectness if treaudea gets in he will be after albertas oil just like his father so there will not be any middel class to care mark my words i do nt wish to slander but history has a way of repeating itself

  14. Seems like the article writer and most respondents are Conservative cronies testing the upcoming attack ads.

  15. I appreciate that politics is a business onto itself, but it’s business is to look after the major needs of their constituants, all of their constituants. Right now the main thrust of their work should be directed where the need is greatest, towards the elderly on low income (the average for a widow on low income is 1,400 dollars a month)and families that have both parents working for a minimum wage just to be able to dress and feed their kids to go to public school, never mind even considering the posibility of going to college or university. Rent on a tiny wee apartment is approximately 800 dollars a month before any heat or hydro is added on. Consider that annual income for your elderly and needy parents. That comes to less than 18,000 dollars a year. Oh that poor middle class that has to live on 65,000 dollars! Now it is true that the middle class are a working class, but they have the choice to decide where they want to spend their hard earned money. The low income people are trapped in a system that keeps them poor and hungry. If the politicians would do more for the low income population to bring them into a higher income bracket they could bring in more positive actions to benefit themselves (the low income population)and cause less strain on the general population both in the legal area as well as the physical and mental medical areas where our tax dollars are being drained.

  16. If Justin Trudeau is really concerned about the state of the middle class, he can prove it by calling for an end to unnecessary mass immigration. Mass immigration is causing the most harm to the children of average Canadians by flooding the market for the entry-level jobs that they need to start their careers. This is in addition to flooding the market for service-sector jobs that young Canadians need in order to earn money while they are still students. Middle class Canadians who are concerned about the economic future of their children should be raising hell about mass immigration. Trudeau, Harper, Mulcair or the rest of them can choose between helping average Canadians or pleasing pro-immigration activists. It can’t be both.

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