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Council of Canadians responds to Harper’s “Economic Distraction Plan”

The Council of Canadians is responding to today’s federal budget, which the organization argues is being used to distract public attention from the government’s negative activities in relation to trade, water, climate and energy, mining, health care, and democracy.

“The Harper government has just delivered another austerity budget that hurts us all. The Finance Department is now projecting a surplus of $6.4 billion next year, but the federal government remains on track to cut $90 billion in federal spending by 2017. This hurts our public health care system, it denies help for seniors and veterans, it withholds needed funding for the Great Lakes, and it fails to invest in clean water for First Nations and a renewable energy future for all of us. This is not a ‘do-nothing budget’, it's an intentional assault on the public interest.” – Brent Patterson, Political Director

“The 2014 budget will create a Made-in-Canada labelling scheme, but the government is signing a trade deal with Europe that will ban actual Made-in-Canada policies at the provincial and municipal level. The Conservatives are giving temporary financial support to North American automakers while undercutting the entire industry trade negotiations with the EU, Japan and Korea. They’re celebrating a new bridge connection between Windsor and Detroit but have no plan for strengthening Canada’s hurting manufacturing sector. And they’re making changes to Canada’s patent and intellectual property regime to bring us in line with a Trans-Pacific Partnership that isn’t finished and no one has seen. When will this government wake up to the reality that their trade agenda is anti-democratic, kills jobs and undermines communities across this country?” – Stuart Trew, Trade Campaigner

“This budget is an Economic Distraction Plan, to divert public attention from the negative impacts of Harper’s cuts to public services, including water protections. What Canada needs is a bold national water policy – one that prioritizes community water and wastewater, Great Lakes protection and clean drinking water in First Nation communities. But it is sad and yet unsurprising that the Harper government did not deliver on this. There is not a single mention of funding for the Great Lakes and funding for drinking water in First Nation communities has even dropped by $6.6 million over two years when it should be increased by over $300 million per year. It’s alarming to see the federal government continue to push a corporate agenda by funding controversial Public-Private Partnerships while failing to adequately invest in water research and protection of one of our most precious resources.” – Emma Lui, Water Campaigner

“As we’re one year closer to a budget surplus, it’s important to look at where this money is coming from. This budget isn’t being used to create economic growth in Canada, it’s being used to cut public services to give corporations a break in their taxes. Health care has been cut so dramatically in Canada that it actually denies people services. We’re balancing the budget at the expense of health care for refugees, veterans, seniors, and those needing palliative care, mental health care, and prescription drugs. We’re hurting small and poorer provinces across the country by jettisoning federal responsibilities onto them. This budget does not reflect the Canada that Canadians are trying to build. The federal government is turning its back on our most vulnerable and waking away from health care.” – Adrienne Silnicki, Health Care Campaigner