Wishing you a Happy Easter and a Happy Passover – Joyeux Paques et Pesach!
And Happy 30th anniversary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on April 17! Thirty years ago Liberal Prime Minister Trudeau enshrined Canada’s most cherished values in the Charter, and made Canada a beacon of hope and the envy of the world.
I invite you to drop by after work and celebrate this remarkable achievement with me on Tuesday April 17th from 4:30 – 6 PM at my office. Please check here on my website for information about other upcoming MP events.
The Liberals in Parliament are committed to an approach that balances opportunity, fairness, justice and sustainability. Permit me to share with you a few comments about the federal Budget 2012.
The good news is that the cuts presented in the budget will be less draconian than the government suggested, and at a time of fragile, jobless recovery – that’s positive. I am also happy to see funds for aboriginal education, although the amount is less than a third of the money dedicated to that purpose through the Kelowna Accord in former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin’s last Budget. However the bad news is plentiful!
- Provisions to weaken the environment ministry and regulatory processes take Canada backwards several decades. The only mention of the word ‘climate’ refers to ‘investment climate’; and Revenue Canada gets an added $8million to audit environmental groups – what a bizarre intimidation measure!
- The word inequality is not mentioned, though the extra two-year wait for OAS and GIS will hurt the poorest Canadians, increasing seniors’ poverty levels – especially women, and will certainly increase income inequality in Canada.
- The $115 million (plus severance pay) reduction to the CBC means significant cuts to people, programs, services – at the cost of Canadian culture and identity.
- $7.5 million in cuts to Elections Canada (EC) – just when they need more $ to get to the bottom of alleged systemic Conservative election fraud during the 2011 election. EC is currently investigating 200 cases in 18 ridings in which callers pretending to be EC staff misdirected voters, plus other infringements of Canadians’ democratic right to vote.
- Small business loses out in the $600 million EI payroll tax increase; the ‘hiring tax credit’ helps some but far from all. Rural small business and entrepreneurs will be hit by the $30 million budget cut to Western Economic Diversification, and funding drawing international tourists to Canada has been chopped by 20%. During a jobless recovery with the highest youth unemployment rates in a decade I expected a job-friendly budget, not the elimination of Katimavik!