Policy In Public / Feature

The Party Line: Responses From Canada's Major Political Parties

Official Party responses to the 2010 Canadian Federal Budget, compiled by Cardus Policy in Public.

THE LIBERAL PARTY

The Liberal party criticized the 2010 budget for lacking ambition. Said party leader Michael Ignatieff, “This budget leaves too many Canadians to fend for themselves, and can’t hide the laissez-faire approach of a government that doesn’t believe in government.”

Said Mr. Ignatieff,  “We will vote against it, but we’re not going to cause an election. Since Canadians don’t want an election and it’s not in the national interest, we’ll register our opposition responsibly.”

On jobs and innovation, the Liberals said the budget came up short with plans for more job losses:

  • job creation targets don’t make up for the 300,000 jobs already lost, or for the rise in unemployment forecasted in the budget;
  • small business growth is hurt by bringing in a $13 billion payroll tax hike that will undermine 220,000 small business jobs.

The Liberals said the 2010 budget was stacked with “gimmicks,” including:

  • $10 million to encourage volunteerism for seniors, but nothing concrete to fix pensions;
  • $1 million for community war memorials, instead of helping veterans recover from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; and
  • superficial tax changes to the universal child benefit, changes from which low-income families and single parents will not benefit;

Liberals also cited cuts to research, innovation and clean energy:

  • $148 million from Canada’s research councils in the last budget, with only a $32 million reinvestment this year;
  • the cancellation of the EcoEnergy program for renewable power production;
  • Only $25 million on clean energy, with 93% of the Green Infrastructure Fund unspent last year.; and
  • refusing to let the Canada Space Agency spend $160 million in approved spending over the past two years, while adding only $23 million in this budget.

They expressed disappointment with freezes:

  • Cancelling $4.5 billion in planned Overseas Development Assistance when Canada is focused on development in Afghanistan and Haiti; and
  • freezing all government operating budgets across the board without any indication for how this will affect the programs and services Canadians rely on.

Finally Liberals argued the budget offered no action on Canadian’s most pressing concerns:

  • nothing on pensions;
  • nothing on climate change or creating clean energy jobs;
  • nothing on health care and our aging demographics;
  • nothing on culture;
  • nothing on helping veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • nothing on the future of our digital economy; and
  • nothing for new Canadians caught in the immigrant success gap.

Read the full response from the Liberal Party here.


THE BLOC QUÉBÉCOIS


The Bloc Québécois argued that the Conservative budget failed to deliver for Québec. “In presenting a budget this empty, the Conservative government gives us another illustration that federalism is simply not profitable for Québec. The Conservatives once again missed an opportunity to respond adequately to the economic, social, environmental and financial needs of Québec. They show again that for Canada, it is as if Québec does not exist. Unless substantial amendments are made, the Bloc Québécois will vote against this budget,” said the spokesman for the Bloc Québécois, Daniel Paille.

The Bloc argued that this budget had policies geared toward the needs of Ontario and Alberta, while forecasters agree that economic recovery will proceed more slowly in Québec than in the rest of Canada. In particular, the Conservatives’ silence on the environment was roundly criticized, compared to the billions of dollars the budget plans to spend on the nuclear and oil industries. The lack of funding for the cultural sector was also criticized.

Deputy spokesman Robert Carrier noted a variety of other concerns:

  • the need to improve Employment Insurance;
  • the need to improve the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors;
  • homelessness and housing; and
  • poverty, but especially women in poverty who are disproportionately affected.

Paille further criticized:

  • the continued cap on equalization payments;
  • the lack of compensation for the harmonization of sales tax; and
  • a tax system which supports the wealthy, but offers little for the marginalized.

Said Daniel Paille: ““Overall, we cannot help noting that this budget in its current form completely misses the economic reality of Québecers.”

Read the full response from the Bloc Québécois here.

 

THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY

The New Democratic Party was critical of the federal budget, saying it did nothing for the victims of the recession. Instead, the NDP argued that the 2010 budget contained hidden taxes, particularly in the area of E.I. from which will come $19 billion in new taxes. They compared this to $5 billion in corporate tax cuts.

The NDP cited disturbing trends in the doubling of seniors’ poverty and the failure of workplace pension plans—specifically, the failure to raise the Guaranteed Income Supplement for Canada’s poorest seniors and measures to protect workers’ benefits and pensions in the event of employer bankruptcy.

They criticized the federal budget as further weakening environmental protection by:

  • taking authority from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and giving it to federal departments;
  • ending funding to the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science; and
  • cutting $43 million from the Ministry of Natural Resources for environmental protection.

Public safety was also targeted by this budget, the NDP argued. Said NDP Public Safety Critic Don David, “The Conservative plan is to spend 43% more on building prisons. They are pushing a U.S.-style approach that is expensive and totally ineffective at bringing down the crime rate.” The NDP called for preventative over punitive measures.

Finally, the NDP’s Olivia Chow criticized this budget for doing nothing to change Canada’s last place ranking in investment in child care. Of particular note was the challenge of childhood obesity in Canada, which the budget did not address.

Read the full responses from the New Democratic Party here.

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