The Canadian Federal Budget or the Harper Rip-off Plan?

Posted 04.13.11

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Budgets are called a lot of things, some unprintable, but this federal budget had best be called wrapping paper."Distracting wrapping paper," would be more exact.

We've been told for months that the 2012 budget would be ruthless, and, especially here in civil-service-land, we were braced for an assault on the civil service.

It is strange that a budget proposed by a government whose main goal is "economic growth" would start by killing thousands of jobs.

Growth is supposed to create jobs, so why begin by ending tens of thousands of jobs? Do conservatives think civil service jobs are not real jobs? Or do they feel the civil service is the easiest target in the land, given our prejudice against bureaucracy?

The 10,000 jobs cut in Gatineau-Ottawa (closer to 35,000 once last year's cuts are added in) did support families, did create tax-payers, did create consumers and home-buyers, and did add to municipal viability.

We're all aware by now that multinational corporations rarely create long-term jobs. Remember Caterpillar locomotive in London, Ontario, earlier this year? Yes, after accepting our tax money to buy the plant, they did create jobs -- in Illinois and now Georgia.

The Canadian plant was closed, but the tax-dollar assistance wasn't refunded. Dow has just laid off 900 employees. More multinational job-creation. Canadian small business, on the other hand, must continue to live within the economy it creates.

This budget is wrapping paper because its real import are non-budgetary items.

The item which will affect our nation long after the budget of 2012 is forgotten is the gutting of environmental review for multinationals' projects.

Mr. Harper has done more with that single move to reshape our economy and nation than all the other budget items together.

The Finance Minister explained that the government's Action Plan 2012 sees the country's "economic drivers" as "oil and gas, mining, and forestry".; This is the old "hewers of wood, drawers of water" colonial model of development which Harper is reviving.

An alternative is to build, for example, aerospace or automotive industries -- R&D, rather than pipelines to ship our raw resources to other nations. They get the high-paying refining and smelting jobs; we get machine operators and truck driver jobs under the Harper Plan.

The government isn't proposing that the present slow and inadequate regulatory process be revised and updated. No, the Harper solution is to close it down -- make it shorter, cheaper. This budget is for corporations; we merely pay the bills.

What does the dismantling of a regulatory regime have to do with a budget? Very little. Except that the budget is perfect wrapping paper to divert attention from the Harper Plan. This is a trick Harper learned from the US Republicans -- insert all sorts of clauses into any money bill.

We do need a budget. But pass this one as it stands and we'll get a surprise that'll last Canada for its lifetime. For as long as our resources last, anyway.

Copyright © 2012 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/03.12