Numbers just don’t add up in Conservative pass the buck economy

Gas prices went through the roof in the last ten days.  In the north we need no lessons about the fickle nature of gas pricing and the havoc it plays on household budgets.  This might be a little easier to take if we were burning Canadian fuel that had been domestically refined as part of a strategy to maximize jobs, energy security, environmental integrity and innovation.    But those are not the priorities of our government.  In the Conservatives’ view those are fighting words.

As it stands, the majority of Canadian oil production is ear-marked for export with next to no value-added jobs attached.  Foreign ownership is only increasing and profit is simply leaving the country.   We continue to hand the oil and gas sector billions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks and to top it off, the Conservatives insist we must saddle future generations with the cost of environmental clean-up.

The insistence that the economy is at risk if we include environmental mitigation into the cost of our current production is absurd at best.  It is not as if Canadians want to have the country pock-marked with environmental sores.  We are currently paying hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up just one site in Cape Breton which was created in the 1950s and 60s when we understood much less about environmental science.  

It is certainly a given that no parent wants less for their children, but that is the upshot of the message at the heart of Conservative economic agenda.   When they refuse to make the polluter pay they are only dumping the problem on the future in a take-the-money-and-run style.   They are ideologically opposed to government regulation in any form and the results in this case are tragic and not limited to our environment.

In the brief period since the Conservatives came to power  50 years of economic growth has been traded for $50 billion in corporate tax breaks, weakened public pensions, diminished employment insurance, endangered universal health care and that massive cleanup bill for future generations.   We have a diminished fiscal capacity from those corporate tax cuts that were supposed to create jobs – yet the jobs just aren’t there.   When pressed in Question Period the only job growth the Prime Minister could point to was for temporary foreign workers.

In fact, in 6 short years they have presided over the loss of 316,000 manufacturing jobs. Those are jobs with good pensions and benefits. In their place we have more low-paying, temporary and part-time jobs; the kind that set the stage for more Canadians without adequate pensions and requiring a robust government response.  Just like the refusal to make polluters pay, it is a trend that increases social debt and passes the buck.  That is not the kind of Canada I was born into and not the one I want my grandchildren to inherit.