Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Continuing the misery 

Please! Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who.
Finance minister Flaherty thinks its time to put bickering aside:
The federal budget has now restored fiscal balance and the "discussion is over," Flaherty said during a breakfast speech in this city east of Toronto. "We brought forward yesterday the resolution to that issue. It's been met with substantial approval by the provinces," Flaherty said.
"Now we can get over the bickering and now the federal government can concentrate on our constitutional responsibilities."

But Saskatchewan got screwed.
And the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation are annoyed.
And most important of all, Aboriginal people got nothing in this budget.
I heard on the radio coming home that the chiefs are pissed, and are warning that confrontations will increase if Aboriginal people don't feel their concerns are being taken seriously. Here's Phil Fontaine describing the reaction of Aboriginal people to this budget:

Canadians believe in fairness, and trust that no one should be left behind in prosperous times. Some Canadians will welcome this budget, but many more would be alarmed if they knew about the devastating consequences for First Nations given the lack of attention that First Nations have received in this budget. The frustration of First Nations people is only growing, and this budget does nothing to allay their concerns.
It is clear that the circumstances of First Nations peoples remain a black mark on Canada. It’s an enormous burden, not just on First Nations people, but the whole country. We want to turn this situation around so that First Nations are more effective contributors to Canada’s prosperity. First Nations need to be able create opportunities, not continue to miss out on them.
Nowhere is the fiscal imbalance more apparent than in the critical under-funding of First Nations health, child welfare, education, housing and infrastructure. No other Canadian citizen has had to endure a two-percent cap on funding that has now lasted for over a decade. Our population continues to grow and the poverty gap continues to widen.
. . .
Minister Prentice committed to the process established under the Accord at a meeting of BC First Nations last year. I call upon him to act in accordance with the provisions of the Accord as a way to replace fundamentally flawed government processes and policies.
We have patiently waited a long time for action. This budget only allows for enough money to continue the management of misery.
Is it too cynical of me to think that the Harper government does not care -- would a few high-profile confrontations this summer with Aboriginal protesters play into the political and ideological right-wing agenda?

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