Stewardship of the land and people is central to good government

To the Expositor:

Indigenous cultures traditionally believed that everything in nature is alive. They organized communities around something they considered sacred: the stewardship of the land and the people. 

Governments have now become a mundane market place, concerned only with the plunder of natural resources to sustain endless corporate profit. This corporate “legal fiction” has now become more important than the reality of nature. 

Thanks to corruption by corporate lobbyists, our mainstream political parties have also become a legal fiction. Doug Ford and his Conservative Party Ontario government minions (please don’t call them “Progressive”), seem to have been empowered by the political swamp south of the border, to completely disregard the concerns of the citizens. However, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party federal government also learned a thing or two from Donald Trump about running for election on progressive promises that are quickly forgotten once elected. To quote Linda McQuaig from her recent article ‘Ford fakes deficit concerns to justify brutal spending cuts’ in the May 9 issue of rabble.ca. 

The Ford government wants us to believe that Ontario’s deficit is caused by too much spending. After years of stagnant social spending in Ontario, that’s a hard case to make. As Ontario’s non-partisan Financial Accountability Office (FAO) notes, Ontario already has the lowest program spending among Canada’s 10 provinces—before Ford’s spending cuts click in. 

So, pointing to Ontario’s ultra-low social spending as the cause of Ontario’s deficit is about as credible as Donald Trump’s claim that his inaugural crowd was bigger than Obama’s.

The FAO provides some revealing clues, noting that Ontario also has the lowest revenue of any of the provinces. While the provincial average for revenue is $12,373, Ontario only collects $10,415 (per capita)—a significantly smaller amount. Therein lies the dirty secret of Ontario’s deficit—too little revenue. Ford is making the problem worse by cutting taxes a further $3.6 billion a year, notes Sheila Block, senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). Even Moody’s, the Wall Street credit rating agency, pointed to Ontario’s low revenue—and Ford’s tax cuts driving it lower—as the main deficit culprit when it downgraded the province’s credit rating last December. 

All this suggests Ford is faking his concern about the deficit. He harps on it to justify his spending cuts, but actually makes it worse by collecting less tax revenue. (Sadly, the media rarely focus on the province’s revenue shortfall, helping Ford perpetuate the myth that deficits are always a spending problem.) Ford’s measures, despite his claim to be acting for the people, redirect resources from ordinary people to corporations and the rich. 

The CCPA shows how this could be done—by cancelling Ford’s tax cuts, adding a very small increase in corporate and personal taxes (excluding those with taxable incomes below $50,000). The result would be a declining deficit, and the restoration—even expansion—of our social programs. It could be called a budget ‘for the people,’ but in this case, it would actually be true.

Derek Stephen McPhail

Providence Bay

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