Over the past six years under the Conservative government led by Stephen Harper, we have seen a relentless transformation of our country to one that is more closely aligned with the ‘corporate business agenda’ than ever before. This shift is taking place against a backdrop that has seen a progressive loss of investment in our country by the same corporate sector that has reaped the benefits of massive tax breaks, set to reach a staggering $220 billion by 2013-14.
Amidst this decline in federal revenues there have been outrageous spending increases in our military budget to finance the war in Afghanistan and to purchase F-35 stealth bombers. Inexplicably, and for the first time in history, the Conservatives are spending $30 million to commemorate the war of 1812. At the same time, the 2012 budget has cut $66.7 million to Veteran’s Affairs. It is shameful that a government so eager to send young people to war is shirking its responsibility to provide the care they and their families need at the end of their service. With many veterans of the Balkan and Afghanistan wars needing help the Conservative government is shutting down veterans hospitals and downloading costs to the provinces.
Seeking to emulate the failed US justice system, the Harper government’s crime legislation, Bill C-10, will result in billions being wasted to build super prisons at a time when the national crime rate has been decreasing for years.
To further Canada’s dismal performance on the international stage, the government has cut $377 million out of Budget 2012 to international aid and effectively ended our country’s participation in a number of international organizations. I find this embarrassing as Canada is already among the lowest international aid donor as a percentage of gross national income.
The Prime Minister has also decided to raise the Old Age Security (OAS) eligibility from 65 to 67 even though experts are advising that this move is unnecessary as the current plan is entirely sustainable.
The CBC is also being targeted with a $115 million cut over the next three years as has the National Film Board which will lose $6.7 million and Telefilm $10.6 million.
I find it reprehensible that the government has withdrawn its funding commitment to Katimavik. A number of communities in our riding have benefited from this nation-building program. What better way can there be for young people to get to know their own country than to live and work together on community projects and helping people in need right across Canada. I will bet that a lot of those young people from Quebec, who had a chance to live and work in Trail, Castlegar or Nelson under this program, will think twice before succumbing to separatist propaganda.
In the face of so many of the government’s outrageous and wrong-headed spending and policy priorities, I am inclined to believe there is something ‘sinister’ going on in our country. Our government is giving the rich and powerful money to play with while gradually cutting all the threads of our caring and compassionate society. Those of us in all the opposition parties are doing our best to push back against this assault but it is not enough. We need your help!
Alex Atamanenko, MP
BC Southern Interior