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Harper’s federal budget is a ‘vote-buying’ document that fails the public interest

The Harper government delivered the federal budget yesterday afternoon.

Toronto Star national affairs columnist Thomas Walkom notes, “With help from the wizards of his Conservative Party, the federal finance minister has crafted a document that the government thinks will appeal to key voting blocs across the land — from seniors, to families with children to veterans. …The biggest spending item in this budget is the $4.4 billion Ottawa plans to spend this year on direct subsidies to families with children. The biggest tax break this year is the almost $2 billion derived from so-called income-splitting by families with children.”

He comments, “The polite word for these particular goodies is entitlements. The impolite word is bribe, as in bribing voters with their own money.”

Walkom concludes, “In the end, this budget is 518 pages of mainly nothing. There are some issues, such as climate change, that are not addressed at all. There are others, such as aid to manufacturing, that evaporate under scrutiny. …None of this should be a surprise. The Harper Conservatives don’t approve of government. In their heart of hearts, they would prefer that it do nothing. Which, except for vote-buying, is largely what this budget does.”

Toronto Star national affairs columnist Tim Harper comments, “If there is any chance at all that you may decide to hand Stephen Harper four more years on Sussex Drive, there is something in budget 2015 for you. Nothing much, mind you, and in many cases, nothing immediately — vote for us and you’ll get it — but many voters will find cheques in the mailbox this summer or feel a little more secure at night, or feel a little less anxious about their retirement years.”

He adds, “If you believe your government should do something about income inequality, or child poverty or climate change — well, you weren’t going to vote Conservative anyway, so you would read this document in despair.” And there’s nothing in it, he says, that “creates jobs for youth, improves bridges and roads sooner or brings potable water to First Nations communities.”

Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui will have a fuller analysis of the budget’s implications for water soon, but notes it allocates:

  • $750 million to the public-private partnership (P3) privatization fund

  • $45 million of tax breaks for the development of the water-intensive liquefied natural gas industry

  • $35 million in tax breaks for junior mining companies

  • no funding for Great Lakes

  • no funding for First Nations water and wastewater infrastructure

Comments by our allies include:

  • “The Conservatives’ 2015 federal budget may balance the books, but it is highly unbalanced in its impact on Canadians. It puts millions of seniors at risk of poverty, abandons families in need of affordable child care and quality public health care, and doesn’t help Canadians workers who need better jobs.” – the Canadian Union of Public Employees


  • “Rather than prioritizing the creation of good jobs, health care, retirement security and the massive infrastructure needs across the country, today’s federal budget confirmed that the Harper Conservatives are out of touch with the needs of working families. ….[And] despite recent concern about the Conservatives’ closure of coast guard monitoring stations, concern which escalated after a fuel spill in Vancouver earlier this month, there was not a restoration of the $5.5 million/year required to keep the stations open.” – Unifor


  • “[This] federal budget will do little to revitalize Canada’s sluggish job market and slow economic growth due to collapsing corporate investment in the tar sands.” – the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives


  • “For Canadians across this country access to quality public health care is a priority. But the 2015 budget shows once again that this priority is not shared by this Federal Government. …Beginning in 2017, the six percent annual increase for the health transfer will be replaced with a formula that links the health transfer to economic growth. This measure alone will result in a $36 billion cut in federal funding for health care over the next decade.” – Canadian Health Coalition


  • “Changes to the Canada Student Loans Program proposed in today’s federal budget will leave almost 200,000 students with more debt upon graduation.” – the Canadian Federation of Students

As the October 19 federal election looms, the Council of Canadians will be in communities across Canada encouraging people to “Go vote!” We will hold town hall meetings, distribute thousands of Voter’s Guides and give people the tools and information they need to mark their ballots in the federal election. Our goal is for Canadians to elect a government committed to fair trade deals, strengthened public health care, clean water for everyone, and strong environmental stewardship.

For more on our democracy campaign, please click here.