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Budget 2012

By: 
Chris Burke

April 5, 2012

“We will eliminate the penny.” In a tactical move that was beautiful in its simplicity and admirable in its brilliance, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty set the tone of conversation amongst the corporate-media in Canada. What better distraction from the assault on the environment, workers, youth, elderly, and anyone not part of the ruling-class than to announce a plan to scrap the penny?

‘Well it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be’, will be the other story Canadians can expect to hear from the mainstream voices. The predicted $8-billion in cuts never materialized, instead the country will see $5.2-billion in spending cuts. Another tactical ploy. Drum up anticipation over what this budget—sorry, that’s ‘Economic Action Plan 2012’ according to the Tories—will contain and then give the public something that is not the worst-case scenario. It’s not as bad as the cuts in the 1990s, Flaherty gleefully pointed out. That is until we start examining exactly what this budget means for us. Austerity: when the ruling-class forces the rest of us to pay for their mistakes.

Austerity

Make no mistake, that’s what this budget is. Austerity: the 99% being punished for the failures of the capitalist system. An estimated 19,000 job cuts are coming for the public sector over the next three years. This is an odd way for a government claiming to support job creation to show its commitment. The eligibility age for Old Age Security will gradually be moved from 65 to 67, likely forcing many more seniors into poverty.

Katimavik—a volunteer service organization—was axed by the government, a decision that stunned the organization. They never saw it coming. Need proof this government despises youth? Here it is. An organization that provides an opportunity to build a sense of community has been wiped out. Apparently, there’s no place for the fostering of independence, community service, civic engagement, and leadership skills in Harper’s world.

War on the planet

A continued commitment to support the oil and gas, and mining industries guarantees the continued fast-tracking of utter-environmental destruction. This government is cementing Canada’s place in history as one of the nations that will lead the charge to do away with the last remnants of a sustainable climate. The streamlining of the environmental assessment process turns a legislation that was already without teeth into something less harmful than a child’s plush toy.

An industry that is in dire need of more regulation has been handed an early Christmas-gift as promises to “reduce red tape” have been made.

Aside from some token gestures such as investments into the development of clean-energy technology, or what capitalists tend to believe is the key to environmental salvation, there was scant mention of the environment or climate change in this budget.

Priorities

What this government has done is made it clear that environmentalists, and anyone opposed to environmental destruction for that matter, are the new, radical enemy.

A plan to silence critics of the industrial assault on our planet has been laid out: $8-million dollars, that could perhaps be used to invest in renewable energy, will instead be allocated to crack down on conservation groups. The Canada Revenue Agency will receive resources to take action such as restricting environmental groups from sending out e-mails considered to be political in nature. There was also mention of the supposedly evil “foreign sources” that may be funding these organizations. To the capitalists, climate change is something that apparently follows the law of borders. Environment Canada, like every federal department, will also be facing cuts with the most severe being imposed on the climate change sector. We’ve only scratched the surface but, if all of this is not indicative of an all-out attack on the environment, then nothing is.

Build resistance

Harper is planning on attacking the environment and the public sector to protect the riches of the one per cent. It’s up to the 99 per cent to stop him. Across Canada there have been rallies demanding by-elections in response to the robocalls scandal. The billions planned for unneeded fighter jets, and the corruption surrounding the procurement process are stirring up anger everywhere. These are just the most recent scandals in a long list and more scandals are sure to come. Teachers in BC are holding a vote on defying legislation limiting their right to strike.

Hundreds of thousands of students in Quebec have taken strike action against plans to increase tuition fees. The occupy movement is regrouping as spring approaches.

Every week the Tories look worse and all kinds of resistance is springing up. This government and its priories of war and austerity can be defeated. Let’s all build the movements that will do that.

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