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> Monday, April 9th, 2012 > Opinion > Where do their (your) priorities lie?
Where do their (your) priorities lie?
Victor De Jong
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Published: Monday, April 9th, 2012
After much eager anticipation, Budget 2012 is finally upon us! Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tried to offset concerns about the budget’s content in the weeks leading up to its release, but that hasn’t prevented harsh criticism.
The budget scales back and eliminates many government organizations and federal jobs. It eliminates just fewer than 20,000 federal jobs, with 7,000 of those expected to occur through retirement. The CBC also takes a cut to their budget: $115 million over three years. Elizabeth May was quoted by the CBC as saying that “this is a budget for people who are so out of touch with reality they are unfit to govern.” This scathing comment particularly regards the fact that the 2012 budget doesn’t mention ‘climate change’ even once.
The further reaching effects are costing many others Canadians their jobs at offices that received federal dollars, like the local Salvation Army. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency also felt the axe of the budget. As a result, the Agency will no longer verify claims on nutrition labels. A new process that involves customers reporting misleading labels online was described by a representative for CFIA’s food inspectors as a “total farce.” This cutback is a major cause of concern for individuals with diabetes, Crohn’s Disease or gluten allergies because they now have no way of knowing if a product is safe for them to consume.
It seems morally reprehensible that the government is eliminating what constitutes an essential service for literally thousands of Canadians while simultaneously shortening the period of environmental review for major “resource project” undertakings. The change will see the review process shortened from up to six years to a maximum of two. If environmental reviews take as long as political ones, these projects will be underway before the first test result is back. Hyperbole aside, it’s troubling that Flaherty openly states that the policy will apply to the Northern Gateway pipeline. This is a major undertaking involving hundreds of variables, and the budget has limited the opportunity for legitimate review to determine environmental effect. Even if the pipeline project does not have the potential to exceed the 24- month allowable period, inevitably there will be a project that does. This will turn the policy into one more piece of archaic red tape that nobody understands and only exists to ease the burden on developers for creating environmentally responsible projects.
Regardless of the ins and outs of Budget 2012, there’s an overbearing sense that it doesn’t bode well for Canadians. Cuts to services and job centres for youth, as well as the CFIA’s inability to verify food labels, are all objectively bad for Canadians. Shortening the environmental review process is good for business. The Harper government relies on a middle class of ‘drone’ workers to support the major earners in Canada. The evidence for this is well documented in almost any press release by the ‘Occupy’ movement. I want my kids to grow up in the Canada I know, not in the industrialized wasteland that capitalism will inevitably create.