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People’s Voice Editorial
It has been said that government budgets are a form of congealed class war between workers and bosses. In recent years, governments have squeezed working people to pay for an economic crisis worsened by corporate greed. The result in all capitalist countries has been a wider gap between rich and poor, and a devastating attack on labour rights, social programs and pensions.
Canada has been no exception, starting with the Chretien/Martin assault on social spending in the mid-1990s. That round of fiscal “austerity” has been escalated by the Harper Tories in their March 29 federal budget.
The Tories prepared the ground with alarming hints of draconian measures. But the reality presented by Finance Minister Flaherty is far worse than the “moderate” tag given by pro-business media pundits. This budget, the first under a Tory majority, marks a new stage in the right-wing drive to slash jobs and services while expanding the military, police, and prisons.
The claim that the defence budget was cut is a deliberate lie. The smaller Canadian military role in the occupation of Afghanistan does mean a temporary saving, but the Tories remain on track to pour some $500 billion into the military over the next two decades. A second critical point is that the federal job cuts and the higher pension eligibility age will increase the pool of exploitable labour. That means more downward pressure on wages and working conditions – and higher corporate profits.
Make no mistake – the Flaherty budget is a declaration of war by the bosses against the working class. Mass popular resistance will be needed to turn back this attack. That’s why we renew our call on the Canadian Labour Congress to convene an emergency summit of the labour movement and its allies, to unite around a fightback plan and a genuine People’s Alternative to Tory austerity.