The Globe and Mail today ran a story detailing Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's $2B in budget cuts the Conservatives intend to go ahead with even in light of a $13B budget surplus. Now I am all for cutting redundant, wastefull on ineffective programs - but let's have a look at some of the cuts.
- $50-million: unused funding for NW Territories devolution.
- $4-million: medical-marijuana science funding
meh - IMO this program has more to do with a vocal advocacy agenda than with meeting a health need with the most effective medical intervention
- $78.8-million: End to program that gave GST rebates to tourists
I guess there are not a lot of tourists in Alberta. I know in BC the Cruise Ship industry is facing fierce competition from American ports and has already been hurt by the surging Canadian dollar. This is certainly not going to help.
- $11.7-million: Removal of unused funds for mountain pine beetle initiative
I guess I would start with why are there "unused" funds in any program to combat an infestation that some project could wipe out most of BC's pine forests. This scourge is already spreading into the northern boreal pine forests and steadily moving into Alberta. Given that the seriousness of this problem and that in the Conservative's 2006 fiscal plan they promised an additional $500 million in funding to programs to combat pine beetle infestation, I am baffled as to why they are now cutting "unused" funding from this program. Clearly the Conservatives have no appeal to urban Canadians outside of Calgary and Edmonton - but are they abandoning rural British Columbians too?
- $46.8-million: Smaller cabinet announced in February
- $45-million: "Efficiencies" in Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
- $4.25-million: Consolidation of foreign missions
- $13.9-million: Cancellation of National Defence High-Frequency Surface Wave Radar Project
Okay - this one makes no sense at all. When small leaky boats laden with Chinese refugees were appearing off the coast of BC several years back, the Conservatives were screaming about our permissive refugee evaluation programs that allowed these people to stay in Canada while their status was adjudicated. In the post 9-11 world, we are spending millions if not billions on beefing up security at airports, ports, borders, etc. Every year or so we are embarrased by foreign fishing vessels flaunting our econmic exclusion zone (EEZ) and illegally stripping our coastal waters of fish. So why are we cancelling a promising program that is already deployed in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia that if fully deployed could detect and track small ships approaching our coasts while they are still outside our EEZ?
- $6.5-million: Elimination of funding for the Centre for Research and Information on Canada
- $4.6-million: Cuts to museum assistance
Conservatives don't think much of arts or culture
- $5-million: Administrative reductions to Status of Women Canada
- $6-million: Operational efficiencies at the Canada Firearms Centre
We knew this was coming but interesting timing.
- $4.2-million: Cuts to Law Commission of Canada
- $15-million Elimination of residual funding for softwood-lumber trade litigation
- $4.6-million: Elimination of the RCMP drug-impaired-driving program's training budget
meh, meh and meh
- $5.6-million: Elimination of Court Challenges Program
Conservatives have never liked this program, but most fail to understand why with a relatively young constitution it is important to have key test case issues litigated before the Supreme Court to establish a body of Canadian constitutional law.