I can't make it to Dundas Square this morning, and chances are, you can't, either. But we all need to rally, in every way we can. We need to write letters, speak to our friends and co-workers, speak out to the government. We need to take to the streets, both physically and virtually. We have to stand up for the kind of Canada we want to live in.
Even if you don't care about good jobs in your community - which you should - you probably care about decent public services. In Toronto, misplaced public anger over the 2009 sanitation strike has allowed mayor Rob Ford to leverage his plan to privatize trash collection.
Now, instead of taxes being put back in the City, Toronto taxpayers' money will disappear into the pockets of private companies. Taxes won't decrease and promised cost-savings will vanish, along with accountability and environmental mandates. Because, contrary to myth, public services are cheaper, more efficient and more accountable than privately contracted services. That's how services came to be public in the first place: to clean up corrupt private services that drained public coffers and held cities hostage.
Cutting public sector jobs means cutting public services. On the federal level, the Harper Government has no right to talk about belt-tightening when it found $50 million in pork-barrel G8 gifts for Tony Clement's riding. More importantly, we must recognize "austerity" for what it is. In response to the global economic crisis, the Harper government created a deficit. Now they use that as an excuse for ideologically-driven budget cuts.
A couple of weeks ago, Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom pointed out that the Harper Government is still downplaying, double-talking and lying about its own budget. If the federal budget wasn't such an affront to Canadians, if it isn't going to hurt us, why do they continue to lie about it?
The curious contradiction of HarpernomicsAs Walkom writes, now that the Conservatives have their majority,
By Thomas Walkom
There is a curious disjunction between the rhetoric and reality of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s economic policy. Call it the contradiction of Harpernomics.
On the one hand, the language is moderate and soothing: Keep a firm hand on the tiller; avoid sudden movements; given that the world is a scary and unsettled place, prudence is best.
When Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled his budget this week, he used precisely these kinds of calming words.
Sure, we’ll be doing a bit of cutting here and there, he said. But don’t sweat it. We’re only talking about trimming up to $4 billion a year from $80 billion worth of direct program spending. That’s just 5 per cent. Chill out.
Yet the reality of his plan is quite different.
First, he’s not planning to cut just $4 billion. He’s planning to cut up to $4 billion every year for four years. As his budget document points out, the cumulative total of these as-yet-unspecified cuts is $11 billion.
But that’s on top of the cuts that the government announced in past budgets but that have not yet kicked in. The cumulative total of these, according to Flaherty’s own figures, is at least $9.7 billion.
Add the two together and you get more than $20 billion in planned cutbacks between now and 2015. That’s not 5 per cent of federal direct program spending. It’s closer to 25 per cent.
Which is radical surgery.
So what gives?
The most obvious explanation is that the government is being dishonest....
...the Conservatives are using the deficit as an excuse to continue dismantling the parts of government they’ve already signalled they don’t like — such as health and safety regulation, veterans’ disability pensions and job training."using the deficit as an excuse to continue dismantling the parts of government they’ve already signalled they don’t like — such as health and safety regulation, veterans’ disability pensions and job training.In Greece, citizens are continuing to fight, thousands taking to the streets daily, refusing to passively accept economic policies that make ordinary working people pay for the profit-making disasters of a few. Sadly, we won't see that kind of push-back in Canada, but we have to do what we can.
This would move Canada in the direction Harper wants it to go. But I suspect the Prime Minister knows his cuts could also threaten jobs and income should the world economy take another turn for the worse.
Tell Stephen Harper you oppose the anti-labour "back-to-work" legislation and the anti-people budget.
Tell Jack Layton you applaud him for speaking out against both, and you expect him to continue to oppose this budget at every turn.
Tell Canada Post to bargain fairly with CUPW.
Support locked-out postal workers in every way you can.