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Indeed, why have they not responded with the emprically supportable claim, that the last time the PCs were in power, they "created" 1 million jobs in 8 years (well, it's empircally supportable that 1 million jobs were created, at least). It would be a great rebutal to the Liberal/NDP attempts to tar Hudak with the Harris legacy. I'm not sure the Liberals would want to respond to that by saying, sure, but that is in an economic boom, since it opens to obvious rebuttal that, sure, because there was tax cutting, small government Conservative government in power. That response may or may not be economically valid, but it would be political gold.

"The other important question is why the Ontario PCs are not able to respond to this issue in a manner that both disarms it and allows them to go on the offensive?"

Adam Radwanski already answered that one.


Livio - excellent post.

I was in banking in the 1970s when every August, each dept manager eg Loans, Mortgages, FX, Personal Banking, had to generate the following fiscal year's (Nov 1 to Oct 30) business plan of units booked projections by month(!!!) eg loans written, accounts opened, FX contracts booked.

Of course, the performance of EVERY financial product is heavily dependent on knowing future interest rates, future economic growth rates, future unemployment rates in Canada and the US(and Europe) and all the secondary variables that fed into the top line variables. But we did not know the values of these future economic variables.

From that experience, I realized that ANY numerical statement concerning the future is a "wish list", an "aspirational goal", or manufactured data.

Thus, in Jim Stanford's original piece in Progressive Economics, Jim stated he was using "forensic accounting principles" to deconstruct the Hudak plan.

In the Lansdowne "Park" redevelopment debacle (billionaires and millionaires being subsidized by non billionaire city taxpayers), when the City Auditor General claimed to have "audited" the proposed Lansdowne project 30 year proposal, I had to publicly tell the auditor that no one - not even Auditors General - can audit the future - because the future has not yet arrived.

Sorry Jim - you cannot apply forensic accounting to the future to deconstruct political platform promises, for accounting audits and forensic audits audit - major revelation - the PAST - not the future.

This applies to ALL forecasts, all proposed budgets, ALL political promises, all political platforms.

(see Aaron Wildavsky, If planning is everything, maybe its nothing, Policy Sciences, 1973, 4-2)

Indeed, this was exactly and precisely the core argument by Andrew Coyne Thursday when he stated:

"Of course, no one should have attached any weight to them before this, either. All we have really learned from this episode is what we knew before: that the number, one million, was made up. All right: suppose, rather than hire Jethro Bodine to do their figures, the Tories had employed a competent economist, or at least a high-school graduate. They would then have had a nice, tidy column of made-up numbers, called projections: calculations, based on assumptions about future events no one can possibly predict, but that they could pay their economist to say came out of his computer. It would have been just as bogus, but not so demonstrably inept — in other words, like every party’s job claims ever".

To all the clever people who believe they have "proved" they have demonstrated the impossibility of the Hudak plan, no one can prove or disprove the future - for the future has not yet arrived.

One can enter data into rows and columns - month by month - years into the future - as I did completing my annual business plan, but the numbers entered were and always are purely manufactured and arbitrary - whether added up accurately or completely inaccurately.

It is a distinction without a difference.

But these critics - who are each highly competent - understand this. Is this then simply a diversion to change the subject away from what can be known and can be audited - even forensically - recent past expenditures, past deficits, past decisions, past policies of the Govt of Ontario?

I am not sure whether ianlee is calling me out here or not. But nothing I have written claims to prove "the impossibility of the Hudak plan". I have only pointed out the plan's internal inconsistencies and that some of the commissioned research it uses has serious flaws.

And I bet ianlee's annual business plan added up accurately.

Mike - yes, you are correct - my plan added up - all bank plans did (or we would have been exiled to Siberia or maybe Chelsea, Quebec) - and that was before Lotus and Excel:)

BTW you should have seen my ("oh so elegant") BMO Mortgage Dept business plan created shortly before interest rates soared to 21%. We (OK - me) forecast booking a record number of mortgages the following year. Alas, reality - Governor Volker - intervened, drove the central bank rate through the roof in 1980-81, mortgages written collapsed and my elegant, arithmetically perfect plan was consigned to the "dustbin of history".

The experience produced such trauma, anguish and despair, I applied to graduate school, left the bank and eventually became a professor in a business school:)

The moral of the story is use other professors' data eg Stephen Gordon or Mike Veall, or Stats Can or OECD data so that if there is an error, you blame the "blankety-blank professor" that produced the data:)

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