Canadian Values Under Attack

(Posted January 16, 2012

In the spring of 2011 the Conservatives were elected by 39% of Canadians who voted. As a result the Stephen Harper government now has a majority and the responsibility to make key decisions which affect all Canadians. This is the way our political system functions and that is the result which we as Canadians must respect.

But following electoral victories, all governments in turn should respect the values of the majority of Canadians. Governments must govern, not only on their platform, and the concerns of those who voted for them, but also in accordance with the values of our nation. These values include public health care, a safe, healthy and clean environment, and the existence of a social safety net including employment insurance and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). A majority of Canadians love their country in part because we have established and enjoy these programs.

The expression of these values is largely achieved through the provision of public services. That is reality, and that is what makes the federal government's drastic cuts to the public service misguided and dangerous. The plan to reduce 10% of federal program spending across the board is producing social disharmony and will damage the economy. Furthermore, the reason for the cuts is to make up for the shortfall of revenue available to government after reducing the GST in 2006 and implementing a continuous series of tax cuts for large corporations that as of January 1, 2012 gives Canada the dubious distinction of having the lowest rate in the G7. Canada will have lost $220 billion by 2013 because of tax cuts, largely for the rich, introduced since Harper came to power in 2006. This was no accident, and is the main reason why our shared values are under attack from coast to coast.

We have already witnessed this attack in PEI through cuts to the EI claims processing jobs, ACOA and upcoming cuts to DVA that will result in 500-800 Islanders losing their positions. As pointed out by local business leaders and public officials, this type of impact will have a devastating effect on our local business and economy, the people who depend on the service, and the employees who will lose their livelihoods. This is not a measured or prudent fiscal approach.

Finally, the federal Conservatives dealt the Canadian health care system a blow at the finance ministers' meeting on December 19 in Victoria B.C. Minister Flaherty announced, without any negotiation or consultation with provincial finance ministers, that federal transfers for health care will only continue to grow at 6% per year until 2016-17, after which they will be tied to growth related to nominal gross domestic product. This unilateral announcement means federal funding for health care will be reduced by billions of dollars in the near future. Again, the majority of Canadians do not want this. In a recent Nanos poll, 88% of Canadians said we need to invest more in public health care - they want the Canada Health Transfer to remain stable and sufficient.

Let's be clear, Stephen Harper is catering to the 39% of voters who turned out to vote for him. The values, programs and services that Islanders and Canadians cherish are under attack.