Published by Senator Grant Mitchell on 05 April 2012
Here are some of my thoughts about the first Conservative majority budget:
1. It confirms for me that it is very unlikely that they will ever balance the budget, without fudging the figures like they did in their Ontario government in the late 1990s. They are cutting only $5.5 billion while at the same time continuing with a crime agenda that will cost as much as $19 billion over the next 5 to 10 years. And they continue in their commitment to the F35 jets which to this point are literally priceless and are only getting more expensive.
I am convinced that they cannot truly balance the budget because they are driven to spend ideologically. Management is of lesser priority than their ideological impulses and eludes them when the crunch comes.
2. They have literally gutted environmental programs, particularly any directed at climate change. Shockingly, they shut down the National Roundtable on the Economy and the Environment completely. They have laid off upwards of 1000 employees in the Environment Department, many of them scientists. They have shut down pretty much every program designed to help Canadians reduce GHG emissions. They have reneged on Kyoto.
3. And, now they are attacking charities (read environmental groups) for participating in the public policy debate in this country. The Conservatives morph from argument to argument; as one is exposed for the unfounded, biased attack that it is, they move to another. First, it is that charitable groups should not be allowed to take money from foreign sources, implying that somehow this costs taxpayers something because this money is charitable.
But, of course, foreign foundations do not pay taxes in their own countries, let alone in Canada. So, they then morph to the argument that Canadian charities (read environmental groups) should not get the benefit of charitable tax treatment for the money they raise even from Canadian donors and be able to participate in public policy debate (read debate and the environmental review process on oil sands projects).
Now, the budget is calling for charities to be required to give more information about their "political" activities. And, it gives $8.0 million to CRA to review this issue. Let's remember that no charity is allowed to support political parties and maintain their charitable status now.
This will have the effect of creating a chill over environmental groups that have every right to participate in the environmental debate in this country.
Who is to decide which political activity is acceptable and which is not? What about the fundamental groups and churches that have charitable status and certainly engage in "political" debate?
4. They say they are cutting $5.0 billion over 3 years leading people to believe that they are reducing spending. But, in fact spending is going up from $276 billion to $296 billion over that time.