In Budget 2013, the Conservatives claim they'll eliminate their deficit by 2015. Isn't that convenient -- just on the eve of the next federal election! A close look at their financial plans provides ample reason to be suspicious. Here are seven of their fiscal tricks:
The Harper government would do well to learn from the approach of the Conservative government in the United Kingdom which, in a difficult economic situation, has made the laudable commitment not to cut its aid budget. Scaling back our development assistance is, frankly, out of step with Canadian values.
Don Cherry's regressive rhetoric betrays Canada's reputation as a nation of inclusiveness and cultural tolerance. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has tolerated this treatment for too long. Don Cherry's distasteful diatribes belong in hockey's past, not in the Canadian national pastime's present or future.
January 23 marks seven years since Stephen Harper was first elected Prime Minister of Canada. As the PM took the opportunity to pat himself on the back in tweeting his self-assessed greatest accomplishments, perhaps the seven-year itch is the right time to recognize PM Harper's biggest blunders.
Why has Canada's federal debt jumped over 30 per cent since 2008, to over $600 billion? Why did the government miss its deficit target by $1.4 billion last year, and what is pushing this year's deficit forecast higher by more than $5 billion to $26 billion? Figures released by the PBO show that, contrary to all the talk we've been hearing about cutbacks, Ottawa's payroll is getting out of control.
The Harper Conservatives will force another odious "Omnibus Budget Bill" through the House of Commons this week. For all the verbiage in this budget legislation, the Conservatives are doing little of consequence to deliver what Canadians really need -- i.e., more economic growth and less inequality.
Last week, Canadian Mennonite magazine revealed that it had been threatened by the government. A Canada Revenue audit team the magazine that it could lose its charitable status because of what it published. CRA found some 2011 articles to be in violation of the Income Tax Act which forbids "the direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, any political party or candidate for public office." Where is this taking Canada? Will we be a nation without dissent, without criticism, without discourse? A nation where even the most well-meaning and well-respected charities must keep silent on everything or risk the wrath of government?
When Canada's annual budget deficit came in bigger than expected at $26.2 billion recently, the news didn't spark a sell-off in the markets or an emergency debate in parliament. But that doesn't mean Canadians should be complacent about balancing the budget. As taxpayers, we need to keep our politicians focused controlling costs, keeping taxes affordable, and balancing budgets -- the straight and narrow path that leads us far away from the fiscal cliff.
The Harper Conservatives are ramming another "omnibus" budget Bill (C-45) through Parliament. Coupled with "closure" to kill debate, it's all designed to be so humongous, convoluted and fast that no Parliament could possibly scrutinize the details and expose all the mistakes. (Sort of like the inspection system the Conservatives are responsible for at XL Foods -- a lot of contamination got through.)
The gap between rich and poor is widening, which is one of the key points highlighted in a recent publication by the Broadbent Institute. The policy paper entitled "Towards A More Equal Canada," highlights the problems of inequality in Canada, how we got to where we are, and how we can move forward.
Most areas of government funding are being trimmed, so why not arts grants too? A probable reason why the arts program escapes the Finance Minister's knife is because any cuts to the artsy set, results in a nation-wide howl that the Philistines are taking over. But to some, that's seen as public money funding someone's hobby.
Far-right Sun TV invited me to debate "whether or not Canada's main stream media has a left-leaning bias." Then warning flags went up. What if they wanted to tar and feather me for some of the nasty things I've written about them? Or for being soft on the CBC? Or less-than-reverent to the Queen? I accepted.
Canadian citizens may be shocked to learn that the Canadian Forces do not have the same Charter Rights as the rest of us. They give up those rights when they enlist. Maybe this law makes sense for the military -- it is used to suppress mutiny and rebellion, but at the same time, these are the people who are risking their lives for our freedom. Don't they deserve better?
Nearly half of Bill C-38 is directed at rewriting Canada's foundational environmental laws. Putting all this in a fast-track budget bill, with time allocation on debate, and heading to the Finance Committee, is a direct assault on the principles of parliamentary democracy.
I went to the Toronto Star's vapid "Whither the CBC" discussion this week. Apparently, the corporation's enemies are right-wing conservatives who ask "Why should CBC get more than $1-billion a year in public money?" Unfortunately, in 2012, it's a valid question, not entirely based on politics and/or greed.
On a day when many were celebrating the 30th anniversary of the signing of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Stephen Harper's government announced legislation that will drastically reduce the number of regulatory agencies that exist to protect the environment in which individual Canadians enjoy their rights and freedoms.