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Letter on Federal Budget

In his media release on the recent federal budget, the Conservative candidate seems proud of his party’s “balanced” budget.  This budget was only balanced by raiding the EI fund (which belongs to the workers who paid dues into it) for $1.8 billion, taking $2 billion out of the $3-billion contingency fund (good fiscal managers should know that contingency funds are for year-end spending in extraordinary circumstances, not for spending at the start of the year for political reasons), and selling our GM shares at below-market prices. 

Readers should be aware that this is the first balanced budget the Conservatives have tabled in the last seven years.  They might also be interested to note that, according to Statistics Canada, the party with the best record of balancing provincial budgets in Canada over the past 35 years is—wait for it—the NDP.

The Conservative budget rewards the wealthy and does little or nothing for lower and middle income Canadians.  The doubling of the Tax Free Savings Account maximum to $10,000 is only useful for individuals with $10,000 in the bank at the end of the year.  Harper’s new income-splitting provision will only benefit the top 15 percent of income earners and will cost all taxpayers $2.2 billion. 

The NDP proposal for a $15/day childcare plan will, on the other hand, directly benefit working families that need two incomes to get by.  This program will create jobs and generate salaries that will be spent in our communities.

The NDP is happy to see some of the parts of the Conservative’s budget—the parts that were lifted directly out of the NDP platform.  These include the reduction of the Small Business tax from 11% to 9%, the reduction of the minimum withdrawal amounts for Registered Retirement Income Funds, and protection for unpaid interns.

Finally, there is no mention of climate change in this budget.  Canadians demand action on this front and the Conservatives continue to bury their heads in the sand.  Harper could have taken bold steps to move subsidies now paid to the oil and gas industry to fund new initiatives in solar power and other renewable energy industries, creating good, well-paying jobs to replace those lost in the petroleum sector.  But instead we get no action at all.

Canadians deserve better.

Richard Cannings

NDP federal candidate, South Okanagan-West Kootenay