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NEWS: Harper budget cuts coming on June 6

The Montreal Gazette reports, “The Harper government will table its post election budget in Parliament on June 6 (likely in the late afternoon) — setting the stage for MPs to debate and pass the measures within just a few weeks. …(Flaherty) has already publicly signalled that it will be ‘fundamentally’ identical to the one he tabled on March 22… It’s expected, however, that there will be some slight modifications to reflect promises made by the Tories during the election campaign — such as a pledge to end public subsidies for political parties.”

CUTTING $11 BILLION: Reuters adds, “A well-placed source said on Wednesday, and the plan will likely show the deficit being eliminated within four years. …The original budget projected a return to surplus as of 2015-16 by withdrawing extraordinary fiscal stimulus and curbing the pace of growth in spending. But during the election campaign, the government promised more aggressive spending restraint to balance the books a year earlier, in 2014-15.” The Globe and Mail reported in early-May, “The Conservatives project the deficit will drop to $29.6-billion this fiscal year and will become a surplus by 2014-15. …The government’s March budget outlined a process in which a new cabinet committee chaired by the President of the Treasury Board would be in charge of cutting 5 per cent from across-the-board program spending – or $4-billion a year – by 2014-15. Every department will have to submit two plans to cabinet: a 5-per-cent cut and a 10-per-cent cut. Cabinet will make the final decision.”

CUTTING PARTY SUBSIDIES: Reuters also notes, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives may also include other election promises such as an end to political party subsidies and compensation to the province of Quebec for harmonizing its sales tax with that levied by the federal government. The Toronto Star reported the budget will include a proposal to scrap the $2-a-vote annual subsidy for political parties, a controversial move that could create serious financial problems for the battered Liberal Party and others that fared poorly in the polls. Flaherty spokesman Chisholm Pothier would not confirm whether that initiative would be in the budget but did say the government would act ‘fairly quickly’ to end the subsidy.” At about $2.00 per vote, the subsidies cost $27.4 million in 2010. The Vancouver Sun has reported, “NDP leader Jack Layton said his party supports government subsidies because it keeps ‘big money’ out of politics. ‘If it passes, we will adapt to the reality (and) we will reorganize accordingly, but it does make it more difficult for the democratic process really to thrive and puts money at the forefront of politics, where it should not be,’ Layton said.”

CUTTING THOUSANDS OF PUBLIC SERVICE JOBS: The Globe and Mail has reported, “Baird says about 80,000 public servants are expected to leave within the next five to seven years, meaning attrition could be a source of savings. He said the government hasn’t set a target, though.” Last week, the Ottawa Citizen reported, “Treasury Board president Tony Clement says he is committed to reducing the size of government and says he can’t take public service job cuts off the table. …Clement restated the Harper Conservatives’ campaign promise to cut costs mainly through attrition, but won’t rule out axing entire programs if they’re no longer effective. …He declined to identify which programs might be targeted. …Clement, however, said he remains confident he can meet his targets ‘mainly’ by not replacing the approximately 11,000 public servants who leave or retire each year.”

More soon.