Parliament has been dominated by the March 29 Budget and the April 26 budget implementation bill, Bill C-38. The first set out the fiscal plan with a heavy dose of promised laws to reduce/fast-track environmental assessment; the second went far beyond the words of the budget itself, to deal stunning blows to the foundational laws to protect nature.
Given limitations of words and space, let me cover some of the main points.
Budget 2012 cuts government spending, overall, by about $5 billion for next year. (Green Scissors, my submission to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, cut by $6 billion, but went after very different things—like government advertising and the Prime Minister’s Office budget.)
Budget 2012 delivers the expected news of increasing the age of entitlement to Old Age Security to 67, while deeply cutting CIDA, CBC, Environment Canada, Statistics Canada, Parks Canada, Library and Archives, and DND (cuts there largely due to the end of involvement in Afghanistan). It also cuts $7.5 million from Elections Canada, $14 million from tourism, and over $50 million from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (leading to the announced closing of the Canada Plant Health Centre on East Saanich Road). It also did away with the youth volunteer-service program, Katimavik.
There is no mention of climate change. The hoped for extension of the eco-Energy home energy retrofit programme was not to be, ditto hopes for funding to keep the Polar Environmental Arctic Research Laboratory–Canada’s critical research lab on Ellesmere Island and the world’s closest to the North Pole–from closing. No reprieve there, nor for funding of climate science. Scientific research through the National Research Council is now directed to focus on work that is ‘business-led and industry-relevant.’ (I can just imagine what Einstein would have said about that.)
Also announced in the budget was the surprise termination of the National Round Table on Environment and Economy– the only effort remaining within the government to develop consensus between industry and environmentalists to pursue sustainable development.
Elizabeth May, MP, Green Party
Reprinted from Island Tides, May 17, 2012