Saturday, August 07, 2010

Canada Rocks

Canada a big player in UN aid  see below

The opposition parties and the national news organizations may not be interested in talking up the good news of Canada leading the world in the global economic recovery.

Note: The audio does NOT match the video. Read the posts for deprogramming and historical context.

This blogger believes the next century will belong to Canada. Our priorities have changed and the government is pushing for accountability in our tax dollars.

United Nations C-130 Hercules transports deliv...
Once seen as stingy on the world stage, Canada has become one of the most generous donors to the United Nations, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars each year to promote peace, fight child poverty and advance human rights.
From hefty donations like the $305 million to the World Food Program to a more modest $2-million flip to the International Potato Center in Peru, we are now one of the biggest contributors among the UN's 192 members.
Canada cuts a $68-million annual cheque just to help run the UN's massive bureaucratic operations — a 3.2% share that makes us the seventh largest contributor in the world.
 "There were major cutbacks in the 1990s and we were seen as being less than generous for a country our size, but I think it's fair to say in the last 10 years under a succession of both Liberal and Conservative governments we've increased our development assistance programming — and quite substantially."
United Nations Security Council Resolution 666
Peter Miller, VP Programs at the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, said this tells only a small part of Canada's contribution to global peace and security, pointing to the military and police professionals deployed around the world.
"I can't think of many countries that have a greater reputation than Canada in terms of the quality of people that we send," he said. "We're a country of 34 million. We don't have a large military compared to other countries. But our reputation is right up there with the best in the world."
Paul Martin - World Economic Forum Annual Meet...
PM Paul Martin

The Canadians hit hardest from the cuts of the mid 1990s were the unemployed, the ill, vulnerable children, students in the post-secondary system, immigrants and women.  The burden fell heaviest on women because 1) they picked up the slack in unpaid labour for services that were cut (for example, people released from hospital earlier to recuperate at home, or people waiting at home for hospital care longer than previously because of cutbacks);  2) they increased their educational attainment so they could get paid more in the labour market, just as tuitions were de-regulated and more than doubled in cost, leading to unprecedented levels of student debt for many; and 3) they just kept working more to make ends meet as fewer services were publicly funded, and basics grew more costly – like the rising costs of housing, transit, health care, and education.
Those who were most insulated from the cuts were the rich.  They were the least affected by the service cuts, and the primary beneficiaries of the era of tax cuts.- Message to Britain: Don’t Follow Our Lead on Austerity

Another strategy was to radically restricted unemployment insurance. The taxes to pay for unemployment insurance were kept at the same level, but benefits to laid-off workers were cut, moving Canada toward one of the least generous schemes in the OECD. So, a huge amount of government revenue was maintained while now only one-half of unemployed workers get benefits.
Third, the Liberals also completely eliminated any ambitions they had about further social spending. They had pledged from the late 1980s on to fund a national child care system. On coming into government, they eliminated those plans, so Canada today still has no national child care programme.
Finally, the economic recovery through the late 1990s, and particularly the so-called Clinton boom, raised growth levels and government revenues. Strikingly, many economists think the economic recovery and the lowering of interest rates alone would have eliminated the deficit. The cuts and the austerity were much more about power and neoliberalism than economic necessity.
Other dimensions of the Liberal deficit strategy also need to be noted. For example, the Liberals focused on eliminating the budget deficit by expenditure cuts and not by raising taxes. In fact, they cut taxes at the same time, and they did so in a way that shifted the tax burden onto average working-class people.
They cut corporate taxes. They shifted away from progressive income taxes and moved towards value-added taxes and taxes on payrolls.
Overall, wages were held back. In particular, public sector wages had a decade of austerity from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s.
With the tax shifts, the cuts in transfers, and the holding back of wages, income inequalities increased a lot. Notably, the incomes of the top 20 percent of earners went up, especially the top one percent earning income from capitalist enterprises, and the bottom 80 percent went down, especially the bottom 20 percent dependent on income transfers from governments.
With the federal government cutting back fiscal transfers to the provinces, a whole set of programmes were hit by restraint – notably, welfare rates, funds for higher education and support for hospitals and healthcare.

The provinces then dumped expenditures and responsibilities onto the cities. So cities in Canada have now been in a spiral of major fiscal problems for the last two decades. For example, there is now a shortfall of the order of $200 billion in spending on infrastructure maintenance in Canada at the city level. Much of the road, sewer, school and other public infrastructure is crumbling.- The lesson from Canada's cuts battle: politics are central
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