Cameron Wigmore, Green Party Member: Spring Federal Budget Gets Thumbs Down

March 23, 2007

Spring Federal Budget Gets Thumbs Down

Green Party gives thumbs down to “bits and pieces” budget

Harper budget heavy on PR but lacking in substance.

Ottawa – The Green Party has rejected the federal budget brought down today by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. “This is a budget that is heavy on public relations but lacking any real substance when it comes to the key issues,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

“The government has included lots of small goodies for just about everyone but all those bits and pieces don’t add up to much,” she said. “It’s a most unimpressive budget and the Green Party would certainly join with the Liberal Party and the NDP in voting against it.”

Ms. May singled out the budget’s climate change initiatives for particular criticism, calling them piecemeal and, in the final analysis, insignificant.

“There is no way this government will ever be able to deliver credible climate policy while it insists on adhering to the regressive greenhouse gas reduction targets of 45-60% below 2003 levels by 2050,” she said. “That translates to about 30% below 1990 levels and we need to reach that by 2020. These targets are a formula for disaster.”

Ms. May did welcome Mr. Flaherty’s decision to borrow a plank from the Green Party platform by introducing a “feebate” tax incentive to shift drivers out of gas guzzlers and into fuel-efficient vehicles but said that one eye-catching initiative did not constitute effective climate policy.

“If this was part of an overall strategy that included a suite of similar initiatives, we could actually look forward to significant progress on climate change,” she said. “By itself, it will hardly make a dent in Canada’s emissions.”

She also criticized the budget’s weak response in the areas of child care, support for aboriginal communities and tax relief for poor and middle class families. “They included some personal finance breaks but exclude broad-based income splitting,” she said. “In almost every area, Mr. Flaherty has chosen to tinker around the edges rather than take substantive action.”

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Canadian Conference of the Arts

Thursday, March 22 2007

Deconstructing the Federal Budget 2007 from a cultural point of view

...What then do this year’s current Main Estimates tell us at first look?

First, they confirm the first impression that if the government has a strategy for the cultural sector in Canada, it has not started to implement it. While there are laudable items in the budget concerning culture in the broadest sense of the word, and while there is a concern for grassroot financing and for involving the private sector, there is no obvious plan or policy the announced expenditures can be linked to, nor any long term commitment to anything, all allocations having a maximum lifespan of two years...

A friend of mine had this to say on the Harper budget:

I'm glad to see they are finally enacting the long-time Green Party policy of a feebate on new cars, although it is too little too late and not enough by itself to reduce our wasteful fuel use - we need a more comprehensive program, and something that influences everyone's habits, not just the lucky new car buyers. A new carbon tax balanced by a labour/income tax cut would be more effective, as would stricter emissions standards for all cars.

They are cutting some tarsands subsidies, but waiting 8 years to do so! Not sure why they feel they have to wait so long to stop subsidizing Canada's most profitable billion-dollar industry.

(RRSP extension to 71) Their approach to seniors [is to say] “hey, you can work a few more years before you retire.”

There is no plan to end poverty, no real plan to address child poverty (instead, the same old overstatement of benefits - the $2000 tax credit is only $301 in your pocket, even worse than last year's $1200 universal child care that meant as little as $360 take-home cash)

There is no sign of a shift away from taxing what we want (goods) to what we don't want (bads)

There is no focus on preventive health care - instead of money to wait in a shorter line when I'm sick, I'd rather just not get sick! Knowing how to prevent 50% of what makes us sick, why are we still spending pennies on the dollar on prevention?

In general, they are tinkering around the edges of business as usual. Canadians have given Harper the gift of a huge surplus, but rather than use it on a vision to transform Canada to a more sustainable economy, Harper is squandering it on pre-election goodies.

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I noticed that a lot of the environmental programs to be funded by the Harper government are just the 'regifting' of previous programs that were in existence before but cut last year by Harper.

The amount of spending has been criticized by a great many political analysts as being far more Liberal and spend thrifty that previous governments. It seems clear to me that the Green Party of Canada would be a more fiscally responsible party.

Perhaps the Harper government feels confident in the thought that voters who are somewhat on the right ('red tories', 'Green conservatives' & 'blue conservationists') have nowhere else to go, but they should think again. The Greens did very well in Alberta in the last federal election, and this is because we draw votes from across the political spectrum. Many ex-PCers are not happy with this new Harper government and they are taking a serious look at the Green Party.

Does anyone else get the sense that this government is not actually governing our country, but rather they are positioning themselves for the next election? Buying votes in Quebec and Ottawa with massive amounts of spending, providing band-aid solutions for issues in Alberta and the rest of Canada where long term plans are deserved, and ingnoring our Native communities is not what I call good government.

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