OTTAWA – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, panned Harper’s 2014 budget as a re-hash of mediocre measures and old messaging.
“Starting with the positives, a gold medal is deserved for finally bringing in ‘Lindsey’s Law’ – the long awaited DNA data bank for missing persons, for extending loans to young people, along the lines of student loans, to help pay for apprenticeships, for new funding to support internship programmes, and for money to Parks Canada for its own crumbling infrastructure,” noted May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands.
The Green Party notes that totally missing from the budget is any reference to the urgent need for investment in rail infrastructure, and tighter regulation of the freight rail sector, nor is there any reference to the looming crisis in passenger rail across Canada.
Bruce Hyer, MP Thunder Bay-Superior North and Deputy Green Leader said: “This budget continues to over-tax small businesses and families, while grossly under-taxing large corporations like Big Banks and Big Oil. It’s a deliberate programme to do away with the services that Canadians need by reducing large corporate taxes to half the rate of the United States, with no requirement that these corporations invest here or create jobs.”
The Green Party noted that the Harper administration has, as many feared, set its sights on attacking charities, most particularly environmental groups that, in the Conservatives’ view, “are not operating in the manner intended.” This new focus on CRA investigations was buried on page 259, far from the budget’s main chapter on charities found on pages 212-215.
“The galling thing about a 2014 budget from any modern government is that only in Canada is the threat of the climate crisis never mentioned. Ironically, a lot of new money – approximately $300 million over 5 years – is directed to dealing with floods, droughts, fires and other extreme weather events, increasing due to climate change,” said Ms. May. “Meanwhile, the drive to increase greenhouse gases through untrammelled growth in fossil fuel production continues full bore: drilling off-shore, for which tariffs on equipment are removed, increased oil spill response, and more pipelines, for which the budget appears to pre-approve the Energy East pipeline to increase export of unprocessed bitumen.”
“Overall, this budget’s largest environmental feature is the pretty picture on the cover of bicyclists enjoying our spectacular wilderness,” said Ms. May.
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Note to press release:
The Green Party notes that while the following climate-related measures are funded, the fact that climate change is already causing serious losses to the Canadian economy is never mentioned:
- Tax deferral for farmers who must sell breeding livestock due to extreme “drought or excess moisture conditions” (p.149);
- National Disaster Mitigation Programme ($200 million over 5 years, p. 231);
- On Reserve Emergency Management to assist First Nations faced with floods and fires ($40 million over 5 years, p. 231);
- Investigating a national approach to deal with flood insurance for home-owners (p. 232);
- Investing in maintenance of small craft harbours, which, while not mentioned in the budget, need increasingly large investment in repairs due to sea level rise and storm surges ($40 million over 2 years, p. 167).