While the Conservatives like to talk a big game, Canada's SMEs have received very little attention from the Harper government. Instead, when it comes to making policy, the Conservatives have made their priorities clear: they're on the side of Bay Street -- not Main Street.
Let me be clear: It is our duty to provide services to veterans in need from the time they begin their transition to civilian life until they pass away. And of course this is not just about veterans, but their families. That includes ensuring access to a dignified funeral and burial.
This budget certainly does a lot of things. It ignores struggling families desperately in need of daycare options. In 2006, the Conservatives cancelled the Liberal National Daycare Program, opting instead for a $100/month subsidy. Canadian families know how to stretch a buck, but $100 does not stretch very far.
I'm writing you in hopes that you can step in and stop these three from causing further harm. Is there a group or organization or caucus, say, that you could refer this matter to and come up with a mechanism for stopping these bullies? I'd really appreciate any help you could provide as I'm now even scared to go to my mailbox for fear of what the next letter from the government might bring. Some of my fellow victims are afraid these bullies are going to get meaner and meaner and de-index our pensions or even cut them back. Some are even saying they're going to take away our mailboxes but I can't believe they'd be that cruel.
There is a stark contrast between what Veterans want and need, and what the Harper Government is presenting. Veterans need benefits, pensions, enough money to live on, and assistance accessing programs. Veterans are in crisis across Canada -- mental health crisis, financial crisis, family crisis resulting from both -- and deserve help. Decorated Veterans are suing Canada for not providing for them; a shameful situation which decent people would settle quickly. What has Harper offered? No jobs, more expensive health plans, more emphasis on the depersonalized VAC web service.
This is precisely what happened in Canada in the early 1990s. Indeed, following a steep increase in duties and taxes applicable to tobacco products by the federal government and the provinces, a vast illegal trade in cigarettes sprang up. Contraband's share in the Canadian tobacco market jumped from 1 per cent in 1987 to approximately 31 per cent by the end of 1993.
The 2014 Federal Budget made important investments in Canada's infrastructure, something for which the Harper Government deserves great praise. However, the Government could get a lot more bang for its infrastructure buck if it required open tendering for all projects using federal money.
After running six consecutive deficits totaling $156.5 billion, Flaherty has been clear that balancing the budget in 2015-16 is his top priority. Budget 2014 reaffirms that commitment. Despite risks in Flaherty's plan, his budget signals that a return to surplus may soon be upon us. The next step for the federal government is to enact an ambitious personal tax reform plan.
This year's federal budget was par for the course (read: not very interesting). But of course we have a lot of columnists in this country who need to eat, so the slightly more curious need not fear -- the nation's papers are positively brimming with in-depth insights on precisely how much of a non-event this non-event is.
A few small tax perks were closed this budget time around. But the revenue resulting from tweaking non-resident trusts and a handful of other insider loopholes are estimated at only $50 to $80 million in 2015-16. It makes one wonder if Jim Flaherty is committed to the business of fair taxation.
The conservative approach to seniors over the past few budgets has focused on tax breaks that only the wealthy can afford and raising the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS to 67. Canadian seniors deserve better.
Economic Action Plan 2014 is what Canada needs. It continues to support jobs and growth; supports families and communities; and highlights the road to a balanced budget in 2015 without cutting transfers to individuals or the provinces.
There are many priorities and wish lists for the federal budget, to be presented this Tuesday. For my part, I have modest expectations but, in particular, I will be looking for two things:
Last year's budget included several measures to combat tax haven abuses, including setting up a snitch line and rewards for information on those using tax havens to avoid paying their taxes. Good first steps, but far behind what other countries are doing. Canada has to step up its game.
With federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty poised to unveil his 2014 budget on February 11, early signs point to a business-as-usual budget with his government staying focused on eliminating the deficit in 2015 and creating the fiscal room to provide tax relief in next year's budget. But Flaherty could take a different approach and positively surprise Canadians.
By all accounts, this year's budget is all about "keeping the powder dry" for the "big event" in 2015. Next year's budget will be highly politicized, meant to set the stage for the general election in October. That 2015 budget will offer targeted, carefully designed tax cuts designed to secure electoral victory. Budget 2014 is merely laying the groundwork. But what will this budget direction cost?