1. Charge the real G20 criminals
Chaos, brutality and waste marked the brutal repression during the G20 Summit last June in Toronto. Over 1100 people were arrested, for the “crime” of peacefully demonstrating for affordable housing, workers’ rights, an end to war and occupation, and environmental justice. This “security” operation cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion. Nearly all charges were dropped, and many police officers have been accused of violent assaults. The federal and Ontario governments refuse to call an independent inquiry into this massive and illegal attack on democratic rights.
2. Child care produces benefits
Public spending on child care and early education services in Canada is below one per cent of GDP, compared to nearly 2% in the United States and 5-6% in the Scandinavian countries. A 2009 report by economist Robert Fairholm found that every dollar the government invests in child care has the potential to return $2.54 in long-term net benefits such as lower social costs and improved access to education and employment.
3. Equal opportunity a Tory target
The Harper Conservatives want to repeal the federal Employment Equity Act, starting with a review of employment equity policies and practices. Federal legislation already requires that all hiring be based on merit and qualifications. Less than two per cent of job competitions in the federal public service are designated for equity group members, in sectors showing large gaps in workforce representation.
4. Canada abstains on water rights
The United Nations General Assembly has declared “safe and clean drinking water and sanitation” to be a human right. The resolution had 122 countries in favour, while 41 countries (including Canada) abstained. Nearly two billion people live in water-stressed areas of the world and three billion have no running water within a kilometre of home. In Canada, over 100 First Nations reserves and other Aboriginal communities lacked access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
5. Tar Sands equal cancer
For decades, Aboriginal people in northern Alberta have warned about the impacts of oil sands development on health, water and air quality, and wildlife populations. The Assembly of First Nations (AFN), representing over 630 First Nation communities across Canada, has raised concerns about the high rates of cancer. The Alberta Cancer Board has released a study finding find the overall cancer rate is about 30% higher than expected in the community of Fort Chipewyan.
6. The deadly, expensive war in Afghanistan
Canada has spent some $20 billion on the war in Afghanistan, at a cost of 153 Canadian lives. But this imperialist war has also caused about 1.2 million violent deaths and another 3.7 million deaths from the effects of deprivation during the occupation. Afghan refugees total 3.2 million in Iran and Pakistan.
7. Living payday to payday
Six in ten Canadians survive from paycheque to paycheque. A survey last summer by the Canadian Payroll Association found that 59% of employees would be in financial trouble if their paycheque were delayed by just one week. Among younger workers, this figure rises to 66%, and for single parents, it hits 75 per cent.
8. Turning Parliament into a rubber-stamp
Signs that the Harper Tories are undermining the authority of the House of Commons over the Prime Minister’s office: the anti-democratic prorogations in 2008 and 2009; the constant criticism of any form of coalition government; the refusal to allow Parliamentary Committees to see uncensored documents; attacks on the Chief Electoral Officer, the Access to Information Commissioner, and the Parliamentary Budget Officer; the tendency to announce economic and budgetary statements outside parliament; and the refusal to allow political staffers to appear before parliamentary committees.
9. Student debt tops $15 billion
More than 90 per cent of university students paid higher tuition fees during 2010-11, according to Statistics Canada. Total federal student debt will soon surpass $15 billion. Tuition fees average $5,138, the single largest expense for most students.
10. The truth about public health care
Medicare was set up to remove the financial barrier for access to health care. Despite propaganda to the contrary, medicare is neither in crisis nor unsustainable. Since 1975 the cost of public health care has remained relatively stable at between four and five per cent of the GDP. Medicare spending comprises the same proportion of provincial revenues 20 years ago, but tax cuts have eaten away public budgets.
11. Scientists muzzled by Harper
Climate scientists in Environment Canada have been prevented from sharing their work at conferences or giving interviews. Under the Harper Tories, federal scientists must get approval from their minister’s office before speaking to journalists. The process requires drafting questions and answers which are scrutinized by as many as seven people, before a scientist can be given approval for an interview.
12. Conservatives shrug off poverty plan
The Harper government has ignored a comprehensive Senate program aimed at dealing with poverty and homelessness. The report In From the Margins, initiated by a Senate sub-committee, offered 74 recommendations, including the establishment of a core poverty eradication goal, an increase to the National Child Benefit, a boost to the Working Income Tax Benefit and a federal minimum wage increase to $10/hour. The Conservative government only offered to take the recommendations “under advisement.”
13. Canadians want climate action
An Environics survey last November found that 87% of Canadians agree that economic growth and consumerism are a root cause of climate change, and 85% think that industrialized (i.e. major capitalist) countries bear the most responsibility for reducing emissions. Over 70% agreed that “the money spent on wars and the military would all be better spent on efforts that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change.” 83% want the government to invest in “green jobs” and transition programs for workers and communities negatively affected by a shift away from fossil fuels.
14. Hunger stalks Canadians
Despite the “economic recovery,” the HungerCount 2010 report, based on surveys of food banks across Canada, showed a huge jump in food bank visits, with nearly half of all users either children or pensioners. In March 2010, 80,150 people accessed a food bank for the first time. During that month, 867,948 individuals were assisted by a food bank, an increase of 28% over March 2008. The number of food banks users who identify as First Nations, Métis, or Inuit rose from 10.8% of the total in 2008, to 12% in 2010. The number of low-income people in Canada has not dropped below 2.7 million in many years.
15. Jobless benefits denied for majority
Less than half of Canada’s 1.5 million unemployed workers can collect EI benefits. Special EI measures introduced as part of the 2009 Budget, notably an extra five weeks of benefits for all claimants, expired last fall. While overall employment numbers have returned to pre-recession levels, full-time jobs remain below the former peak, and the number of part-time workers has grown.
16. Reorienting Canadian foreign policy
The Canada First Defence Strategy (CFDS) is the Harper government’s blueprint for military and foreign policy. According to the Canadian Peace Congress, “CFDS is the manifesto of the most aggressive circles of Canadian finance capital seeking a bigger military budget to strengthen its influence at the round tables in Washington and Brussels… CFDS is profoundly undemocratic and was implemented without seeking Parliamentary approval and commits $492 billion over 20 years… all to guarantee the profits of defence contractors and investors.”
17. CEOs are “recession-proof”
Canada’s highest-paid 100 CEOs took home an average of $6.6 million during 2009, 155 times higher than the average Canadian income of $42,988. These elite CEOs are also sitting on $1.3 billion of stock options, which are taxed at a lower rate when cashed in. One-third of all income growth in Canada in the past 20 years went to the richest 1% of Canadians.
18. Sinking deeper in debt
While corporate profits recover from the economic crash to climb past the $250 billion level, most Canadians keep sinking deeper into debt. Household debt in Canada reached $1.41 trillion in December 2009, an average of $41,740 per individual, 2.5 times greater than in 1989. The debt-to-income ratio in Canada reached a record of 144.4% at the end of 2009. Bankruptcies have skyrocketed from 20.5 per 10,000 adults in 1990 to 39.0 in 2007, and then higher during the economic crash.
19. A $187 billion revenue gap
Net corporate profits in Canada in 2003 reached an all-time record of $102 billion. This figure jumped to $168 billion in 2006, and past $250 billion in 2008. If corporate profits held at this level over the next five years, the 30% tax rate advocated by the Communist Party would bring in $375 billion in total revenue. The 15% rate set to take effect next year would mean just $188 billion. That’s a gap of $187 billion over the lifetime of one government – enough to lift millions of Canadians out of poverty, build homes for all, dramatically upgrade transit systems, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and make post-secondary education and apprenticeship programs free for young Canadians.
20. The rich get richer….
Corporate profits before taxes were 4.7% of GDP in 1992. By 2006, they hit 13.9% of GDP. Wages in 1992 were 55.2% of GDP. By 2005, they had fallen to only 50.2%. That difference represented a decline of $71.3 billion in the share of GDP represented by wages.
21. Gender gap remains
Canada lags behind Sri Lanka, Lesotho and Latvia at No. 20 in a global ranking of gender equality, according to a World Economic Forum study. Canada lags when it comes to the earning gap between men and women, placing 33rd overall.