OTTAWA – The new budget has failed to impress either Thunder Bay MP. “The Harper Government is starting to flex its majority muscle in the new Budget by taking the country down a distinctly Conservative path”, say Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty and Thunder-Bay Superior North MP Bruce Hyer, “Despite the fact that more than 60% of electors voted against Harper in the last election”.
“I’m disappointed, but not surprised by Harper’s budget today,” said Hyer. “On election night, Mr Harper promised his majority government would represent all Canadians, not just the 39% who voted for him. His budget does not match his platitudes. It does not do what over 60% of Canadians asked for, and voted for, in the last election.”
“They asked for a strengthened and improved public pensions, but instead they got a Pooled private plan designed to enrich market speculators and stockbrokers,” Hyer said. “They asked for tax reduction for small business, but Harper’s favoured friends in big business with billions in across-the-board tax handouts to the largest and most profitable corporations. They asked for home heating costs to be reduced, and an end to massive subsidies for fossil fuel giants. They asked for timely and effective E.I. assistance, but instead they got increased E.I. premiums that both workers and employers alike have to pay. They asked for controls on credit card fees, but didn’t get any.”
Rafferty expressed his disappointment at the Harper Government’s continued unwillingness to act on protecting pensions and severance pay for workers. “I sincerely hoped that after the election we just had that Mr. Harper would be willing to step up and tackle important issues like retirement security, protecting severance pay, improving our healthcare system and making everyday life more affordable,” said Rafferty. “Instead, he has brought back a carbon copy of his proposed budget from March, one that was mute on all of those issues that the people of Northwestern Ontario have told me they care so much about.”
“The Harper Government has managed to lift a couple of good ideas from other parties and put halfway measures in, such as part of a New Democrat initiative to increase to GIS for poor seniors, and $4 million for the local cyclotron,” added Hyer. “But by and large there is little to make life more affordable for Canadian families or to reverse the decline of health care.”
Both local MPs noted they would study the budget in detail over the next week, and consider the entire document as a whole when weighing their support. Hyer and Rafferty remained hopeful that Stephen Harper would be open to co-operation and improvements on the budget.