Budget priorities out of step with Canadians

OTTAWA

– People throughout the Northwest who are working to recover from the recession got little help from yesterday’s budget, while banks and oil companies were awarded massive tax cuts on their already record profits.

“Budgets are about choices,” said Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.  “Mr. Harper has chosen to enrich oil companies and banks with billions in spending on corporate tax cuts, rather than help regular Canadians get back to work.”

“This government doesn’t seem to understand the reality of many people who are working hard to make ends meet.  We should be helping them to get back on their feet and investing in green jobs to diversify our economy.”

Cullen is also concerned with a plan to strip the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency of its power to license proposed major energy projects. Instead, approvals are to be granted by the National Energy Board and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

“This is fundamentally about stripping environmental protections that Canadians count on. It would put a bunch of former oil executives in charge of deciding whether a new tarsands mine or pipeline gets built. Sounds a bit like asking the fox to guard the hens.”

Cullen welcomed the announcement of first steps towards an independent civilian oversight body for the RCMP, which he had called for last year in Private Member’s bill C-472.

“We’ll have to wait for the details but I’m glad that this Government has finally come around on this issue.  I hope this means we will get real independent oversight for the sake of our citizens and of our police force.”

Cullen is also encouraged that the Government has announced its intention to continue previously announced stimulus spending but has serious concerns about government documents released Wednesday that show much of the money announced last year was never spent.

“They didn’t deliver on their promise. They left half of the Infrastructure Fund on the table rather than getting it to the communities that need it.”

While already profitable businesses will save billions on their taxes, residents of British Columbia will see their taxes go up this summer as the federal government-backed HST kicks in on everything from funerals to vitamins, haircuts and movie tickets.

New Democrats cannot support the budget as it is written. Instead, they have moved an amendment calling for help for seniors, shelving the corporate tax handouts, investing in job creation and strengthening our commitment to a clean-energy future.

“The choices this government is making in the budget are totally out of step with what Canadians want. We’ll give them a chance to improve it next week.”

“I hope they make the right choice.” – 30 –