POLITICS

Ontario leaders slammed in duelling reports

09/13/2011 09:16 EDT | Updated 11/13/2011 05:12 EST

The McGuinty Liberals are ranked in one new report as the second-worst fiscal managers among Canada's 10 provincial governments, while another analysis slams the Progressive Conservative platform for its "systematic dishonesty."

The two reports, put out Tuesday by the Fraser Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives respectively, have plenty of criticisms for the frontrunners in the Oct. 6 election.

The Fraser Institute report, titled Measuring the Fiscal Performance of Canada’s Premiers, takes the Liberal government to task for what it deems high spending and a large debt and deficit. But it says McGuinty's record on taxes is mixed — cuts to business taxes in 2009 are lauded, although personal income taxes "remain high" compared with the other provinces.

"For Ontario to regain its position as an economic powerhouse within Canada, Premier McGuinty needs to curtail spending increases, quickly balance the provincial budget, and lower taxes on personal income," said Charles Lammam, co-author of the study in a release.

Former British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell is ranked as having the best fiscal record. Prince Edward Island's Robert Ghiz — who, like the Ontario Liberal leader, is in the middle of a re-election campaign — is the only leader to fare worse than McGuinty in the Fraser Institute's rankings.

The rankings were based on provincial fiscal records up to the 2010/2011 fiscal year. The periods evaluated were different depending on the premier.

Provincial governments were given a composite score based on three components — spending, debt and deficit and taxes. The scores were weighted equally and aggregated to form the final score.

Graphs for dummies?

Meanwhile, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives finds Changebook, the Ontario Progressive Conservative platform, contains "consistently misleading and inaccurate statistical representations."

While the report released Tuesday examines only the presentation of data in Changebook and not the policy content, it says, "the pattern of systematic dishonesty which is visible in that presentation should give Ontarians ample reason to question the integrity and goals of the group that designed and published it."

Titled Graphs For Dummies: The Troubled Geometry of Tim Hudak’s changebook, the report authored by Canadian Auto Workers union economist Jim Stanford reviews 13 graphs presented in the platform.

The report singles out a number of issues that consistently appear in the graphs, including inconsistent scaling, inadequate or incorrect sourcing and a lack of proportions.

The report found none of the graphs were appropriately labelled and are "clearly unacceptable in normal academic or professional practice."