In the Chamber -- Grant Mitchell's Blog

Budget 2012

Posted 4/5/2012 by Grant Mitchell


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 everbalance the budget, without fudging the figures like they did in theirOntario government in the late 1990s. They are cutting only $5.5 billionwhile at the same time continuing with a crime agenda that will cost asmuch as $19 billion over the next 5 to 10 years. And they continue intheir commitment to the F35 jets which to this point are literallypriceless and are only getting more expensive.

I am convinced that they cannot truly balance the budget because theyare driven to spend ideologically. Management is of lesser prioritythan their ideological impulses and eludes them when the crunch comes.

2. They have literally gutted environmental programs, particularlyany directed at climate change. Shockingly, they shut down the NationalRoundtable on the Economy and the Environment completely. They have laidoff upwards of 1000 employees in the Environment Department, many ofthem scientists. They have shut down pretty much every program designedto 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. TheConservatives morph from argument to argument; as one is exposed for theunfounded, biased attack that it is, they move to another. First, it isthat charitable groups should not be allowed to take money from foreignsources, implying that somehow this costs taxpayers something becausethis money is charitable.

But, of course, foreign foundations do not pay taxes in their owncountries, let alone in Canada. So, they then morph to the argument thatCanadian charities (read environmental groups) should not get thebenefit of charitable tax treatment for the money they raise even fromCanadian donors and be able to participate in public policy debate (readdebate and the environmental review process on oil sands projects).

Now, the budget is calling for charities to be required to give moreinformation about their "political" activities. And, it gives $8.0million to CRA to review this issue. Let's remember that no charity isallowed to support political parties and maintain their charitablestatus now.

This will have the effect of creating a chill over environmentalgroups that have every right to participate in the environmental debatein this country.

Who is to decide which political activity is acceptable and which isnot? What about the fundamental groups and churches that have charitablestatus and certainly engage in "political" debate?

4. They say they are cutting $5.0 billion over 3 years leading peopleto believe that they are reducing spending. But, in fact spending isgoing up from $276 billion to $296 billion over that time.

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