Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ideology behind budgetary cuts

Jim Flaherty (the Minister of Finances) and Jason Baird (the President of the Treasury Board) both announced that Canadians must expect to see a few budgetary cuts in the budget that will be adopted in May. Given the things that can be seen in the announcement made by Jim Flaherty and John Baird, the budget is not likely to be adopted in the House of Commons. Therefore, in the next month, there will certainly be an election, because Stephen Harper is at the head of a minority government.

The surplus that was recorded on the 31st of March in our financial books was $13.2 billion. Prime minister Stephen Harper used this surplus to reimburse the national debt, which is now at $481.5 billion according to an article written by Joël-Denis Bellavance in La Presse on Wednesday. In Harper’s opinion, some federal programs are useless and that explains why certain programs got abolished.

In fact, the Tories are willing to abolish “useless programs” such as the Medical Marijuana Research Program ($4 million), the Funding for First Nations and Inuit Tobacco Control Strategy ($10.8 million), the Youth International Internship Program ($10.2 million) and most of all, the Court Challenges Program ($5.6 million). Furthermore, let it be said that the Canadian government will cease to reimburse the Good and Services Taxes (GST) to foreign visitors (a saving of $79 million per year).

With a perfunctory calculation, the Canadian government will make savings of more than $1 billion after two years. However, some of the scrapings were a result of the Tories’ ideology. For example, the Harper government preposterously undermined its popularity by stabbing the Court Challenges Program. This stabbing will give to the Francophone minority living outside Quebec many reasons to hate Stephen Harper. The presence of this judiciary program allowed the French-speaking Ontarians to defend their right by putting a stop to the closing of the Montford Hospital.

Moreover, it’s the Court Challenges Program that brought the legalization of same sex marriages. When he was in the National Citizen Coalition (NCC), a Canadian right-wing think-tank, Stephen Harper openly denounced the Court Challenges Program by stating that Canadians must not pay with their taxes something that is only accessible to ethnic minorities.

The condition of women has stunningly gotten to a better level in Canada, but there are still some rooms for improvement. Is $5 million too much to finance the improvement of the condition of Canadian women? Some cuts are quite condemnable, but others were done smartly since they don’t correspond to Canadians’ interest. For instance, we can applause Harper for abolishing the Medical Marijuana Research Program and the Visitor Rebate Program.

Canada doesn’t need the Medical Marijuana Research Program because it’s up to private scientific companies to make some research about marijuana if they feel like doing it. After all, Canadians are not willing to see their taxes being used to make some research on a drug that is still not recognized for having medical virtues and besides, no country has legalized the use of marijuana. As for the Visitor Rebate Program, Stephen Harper understood that tourism is definitely a good source of revenue for this country. By reimbursing the GST to foreign visitors, an important amount of money is getting out of our country.

On the other hand, what was the point to reduce the Museums Assistance Program’s fund of $4 630 000? Are we so poor to finance the preservation of our national culture’s heritage? The answer is no. Most of the cuts that you can see on the web site of the Treasurey Board of Canada Secretariat are hard to digest when you look at them.

Stephen Harper could hardly be able to divide left-wing Canadian voters if Bob Rae, one of the front-runners in the leadership race of the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC), wins. This can be said, because the LPC have always managed to absorb left-wing Canadians, but let it be said that the next federal election will be tighter and more unpredictable than the previous one. All in all, cleaning up Canada’s finances is important, but Stephen Harper is supposed to know that playing with the taxpayers’ money is like walking on a minefield 24/7; the way you play with the finances can also make you lose some votes. Moreover, if no solution is proposed in the next budget to tackle the fiscal imbalance once and for all, be sure that the Bloc Québécois might not support it.

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