Volume 93, Issue 42

Friday, November 12, 1999


A surplus of priorities

The Gazette spoon-feeds pablum

One really expensive utensil

"Roller" vandalism saddening

EsseX-Files getting out of hand

Centre Spot in search of G-spot?

Gazette columnists need help

Walden's comments audacious

Dialogue needed for diversity

Sacrifices have been forgotten

A surplus of priorities

Re: "Martin talks money" Nov. 4

To the Editor:

We must take a "balanced" and "moderate" approach. So said Canada's Finance Minister to virtually every question thrown in his direction in Nov. 3 forum at Western.

Paul Martin, who is happily sitting on a growing budget surplus, came to Western – ostensibly to ask our opinion on how to spend it (only a Liberal would think of a tax cut as a "spending" priority). Of course, Mr. Martin agrees that tax cuts are "extremely important." He also happens to think that paying down the debt is, of course, a "top priority."

Wait a minute – spending on health care and education is also a "huge priority." Mr. Martin has so many "priorities," it's difficult to see what he actually thinks. One thing for sure, he'll agree with you no matter what you say.

So where does Mr. Martin stand on taxes, spending and debt reduction? On the personal side, we know that he doesn't like Canada's high taxes since his multi-million dollar shipping company has a tendency to register its ships in off-shore tax havens. But even on the policy side, he's playing games.

Martin likes to rattle off stats claiming that he has cut taxes by $16 billion in the last two years. He fails to mention how bracket creep (in which people quietly slide into higher tax brackets even though their real income hasn't increased) and Canadian Pension Plan increases have more than wiped out any of his meagre tax cuts. Oh, by the way, get ready for another huge tax hike this January as CPP premiums go up yet again.

On debt reduction, Martin is willing to make a $3 billion contribution every year, but only if it isn't wiped out by some "emergency" spending, such as a nasty pay equity ruling or a Millennium Scholarship Fund. In reality, not a whole lot is going towards paying down interest-bearing debt. Last year, for instance, interest payments actually went up! Of course, Liberals are Liberals which means spending, spending, spending!

Martin claims to believe in the "balanced" and "moderate" approach which he sums up with his 50/50 plan (50 per cent to spending, 50 per cent to everything else). However, even Mr. Martin admits that so far, about 70 per cent of the surpluses have gone to new spending but hey, what's a few broken promises?

Fundamentally, this is the issue facing Canadians as the "era of surplus" begins. How do Canadians want their money spent? Do we return to the 1970s where every problem is dealt with by a brand new government program? Don't feel like looking after the kids? Don't worry, the government will look after them for you. Don't want to pay to keep your hockey team in Canada? No problem, here's a sports lottery just for you.

Maybe, it's time Canadians looked at how the existing money is spent. It's interesting that all Mr. Martin wants to talk about is how to spend the surplus. If you ask about the existing budget, you're accused of being anti-healthcare and anti-education. But government doesn't just spend money on those two popular programs. There's a plethora of existing programs on which the government continues to lavish money.

Should government continue to fund golf courses and canoe museums in a certain Prime Minister's riding? Does it make sense that a government which taxes businesses so heavily should then turn around and provide billions in corporate welfare to their favourite companies? For crying out loud, the government can't even make decent porn (ever seen Bubbles Galore?)!

Martin wants us to give him our priorities. The bottom line, Mr. Martin, is that it's our money. Give it back – and then learn what it is to prioritize.

Pablo Frank
UWO Reform Club

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Copyright The Gazette 1999