Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Budgetary Concerns

Yesterday the Conservative Government announced their budget, and boy what an interesting one that was. In my various political rants, I think that I have made my opinions/biases to be perfectly clear. I am on the left side of things, and as a result I tend to disagree with just about everything that the ruling party does, yesterday was no exception.

Before I get too critical, I need to say that there are some things about this budget that I do like. The first being the tax break for hybrid cars and the tax hike for fuel inefficient vehicles. Although one must be cynical as to why pickup trucks are immune to this...funny from a party that draws a lot of support from rural voters. I do also like the $1 million set aside for heritage sports, one of those nice little things that can do a bit to help our culture and our health. And I do like increase in scholarships for graduate students.

There I was positive, can I move on now?

While the "green levy" is a great step it is not nearly enough. In recent months Harper has talked a really good game about the environment, but once again he showed his true colours on the issue and they certainly are not green.

There was $4 billion promised for environmental issues including ethanol production. That sounds all well and good, but the government also got rid of a tax break for ethanol that was costing them $2 billion. Sounds like a lot more Harper smoke and mirrors.

Most importantly there is no targets for reducing green house gases. I don't know if any of you know this, but that is kind of a big deal right now. There really was no "massive scale-up" as called for by Johanne Gelinas (the former environmental commissioner who was fired without a real reason by the Conservatives a few months ago). This both scares and saddens me. As a world leader we have a huge chance to set the stage and at least keep pace with our European Allies if not set the standard, but alas here we are.

I still don't like this cash in hand for anyone with a kid business. I would much rather see the money go towards a nationalized day care program. Why you ask? Because I worry about the bad parents out there. While I do not doubt that the vast majority of parents out there will spent this money on their children in some capacity, whether it is feeding them, clothing them, hiring a babysitter, or even sending them to day care, but there are those out there that will not. Bad parents will more than likely spend that money on themselves, leaving their children alone. In the case of drug addicted parents, this extra money can fuel their addiction even more and in fact make the lives of their children even worse.

I know, I know, that is only a small minority and many of you are probably saying "Why should good parents suffer for the bad ones?", well if you have worked with enough children of bad parents like I have than you will understand that answer to that one.

A full comprehensive and effective day care strategy is the best answer. Sure it is not perfect, sure there is a lot of work that needs to be done, including a proper training program, but it is what is needed.

My last major concern with the budget is the Aboriginal Issue. The Conservative Government has MASSIVELY failed the Aboriginal Community. One of Paul Martin's last acts as PM was to pledge $5 billion to relieving Native poverty, something that hasn't quite fit into the Conservative vision of the country.

They have set out a "new approach" to help the Aboriginal Population. That is to encourage them to get out of poverty by offering job training and providing financial incentives for home ownership. I have a real problem with this. For starters, to "encourage" people to get out of poverty makes it sound like people choose to be poor, I don't know if I can even comment on that one without going off on a serious rant so I will bite my tongue (or is it hold my fingers?). Secondly, home ownership doesn't really work on reserves. Remember in many native ideologies the people do not own the land. It is all collective property of the reserves stemming from the ancient beliefs that people can not own land, it belong to everyone. So how exactly is this going to work?

We Canadians need to realize something. We are one of the richest countries in the world and yet a sizable portion of our population lives in third world conditions. We need to do something about it, soon. This is not the answer, it is not nearly enough. It is a huge black eye for all Canadians but is constantly swept under the rug and just plain accepted. Shame on all of us for allowing it to get to this stage.

But anyway, despite the problems that the Liberals and NDP have with this budget it will still pass. The Conservatives also changed the equalization formula which will really hurt Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, the two poorest provinces in Confederation. But they managed to find an extra $9 billion for Quebec. Funny that they need the support of the Bloc to avoid an election...and they call the Liberals crooked.

Until next time,


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