Democracy as stimulus - Macleans.ca

Democracy as stimulus

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Canadian Press explains why our fragile recovery depends on a fall election.

Just think of it as a $280-million stimulus package…

Peter Dungan, an economist at the University of Toronto, says the expense amounts to a “drop in a bucket” when set against the national economy. It is, however, targeted, timely and spread locally. “It’s pretty clear that election expenses don’t get spent on imports,” said Dungan. “At least it is localized.”

A look through individual candidates’ 2008 receipts – available by appointment at Elections Canada – reveals the flurry of local largesse: pizza shops, printing houses, bus companies, computer stores, community newspapers, flower shops and a host of other suppliers all cashed in. Elections Canada also hires thousands of temporary workers, Dungan notes, which could prove timely in this autumn of rising unemployment.

“You might say there are more creative ways of doing that, but it does stimulate the economy,” said the professor. “The idea that it’s a complete waste is not true.”