From the House – Canada’s economy shifted into reverse

Parliament Hill

John Rafferty MP
John Rafferty MP
THUNDER BAY – POLITICS – This past week Canada’s economy shifted into reverse, new details on the Senate Expense Scandal emerged, and Canada Post notified the public that it was preparing eliminate home mail delivery in our region early next year.

Canada is on the verge of a new recession. The first quarter GDP numbers were released by the Bank of Canada and they showed that the economy shrank by 0.6% between January and April. The report was full of bad news and showed that economic growth in March was weaker than February and growth in February was weaker than January. This shows that the negative effects of the oil price collapse are accelerating and voiding any positive benefit we may be seeing from lower gas prices. The official definition of a ‘recession’ is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. With negative growth in the first quarter Canada could be in another recession by the end of June.

What’s worse is that with the collapse of oil there are no possible new drivers for our economy. As the price of crude soared over the past decade and drove our dollar higher, the Conservatives were pumping $2 billion of our money each year into the oil patch to help those poor cash starved energy companies. They did this while our forestry and manufacturing sectors shed hundreds of thousands of jobs across Canada as their products became more expensive to export as result of the higher dollar. Some of that $2 billion could have been used to help the struggling sectors of the economy, but it’s too late now. Mills and factories that have been shuttered just don’t re-open because the dollar ticks down a bit. We are up the economic creek and Stephen Harper has thrown away Canada’s paddles.

While the Bank of Canada report came as a bit of a shock to some, the Senate Expense Scandal revelations did not. This week, someone inside the Senate began to leak to details of the Auditor General’s report, which is due to be released next week, and the details are not pretty. CTV reported that 30 Senators (out of 100) are likely to have their reports referred directly to the RCMP for criminal investigation. Included among those 30 Senators are the current Speaker of the Senate (Conservative), the current Government Leader in the Senate (Conservative), and the current Opposition Leader in the Senate (Liberal).

We will know more about which Senators will be facing possible criminal charges next week, but now is as good as time as ever to remind people that New Democrats support abolishing our unelected and unaccountable Senate. If Canada is truly capable of functioning as a modern democratic society then we should ditch this body that is stuffed with Liberal and Conservative fundraisers and defeated candidates who have been given six-figure jobs for life, and who can – and have – overruled legislative decisions made by the democratically House of Commons. It is time to ‘roll up the red carpet’ once and for all, and only Tom Mulcair and Canada’s New Democrats will work to do just that should you elect us to govern.

Finally, the massive cuts to Canada Post are set to hit home as the Crown Corporation has announced plans to end home mail delivery to all residences and businesses with postal codes beginning with P7A, P7B, P7C and P7E early in 2016. As I’ve outlined in past columns, and will update in future columns, Canada Post is a national institution that has generated a profit of $951 million for the federal government between 2005 and 2014. Yet, for some reason, and in spite of its significant yearly profits, the Harper Conservatives plan to make Canada the only G7 country without home mail delivery. As with abolishing the Senate, Canada’s New Democrats are the only federal party to commit to restoring home delivery should you elect us to govern in October.

In the end, it was just another week in Stephen Harper’s Canada; the economy shrank, 30 cases of fraud and breach of trust were found in the Senate, and Canada Post pushed ahead with unnecessary and ill-advised cuts to home mail delivery. It’s time for a change wouldn’t you say?

John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River

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John Rafferty is the current Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay – Rainy River and a member of the New Democratic Party caucus in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Ontario. John was first elected to serve as MP in the 2008 federal election and was subsequently re-elected on May 2, 2011 with 48.1% of the vote.