Canadian Gov Plans Austerity and North American Security Perimeter

Canadian Gov Plans Austerity and North American Security Perimeter


PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to
The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington. And in Ottawa, Canada, on Friday, the governor
general, David Johnston, delivered the speech from the throne. Of course, one of the things
that happened during the speech was not normal pomp and ceremony. A young page named Brigette
DePape broke with the somber ceremony, and displaying a stop sign saying “stop Harper”,
and then was ushered out rather quickly from the chambers. But the speech from the throne
laid out what the new Harper majority government plans to do. Now joining us to help deconstruct
this speech is David Macdonald. He’s a research associate at the Canadian Centre for Policy
Alternatives, and he joins us from Ottawa. Thanks for joining us, David. DAVID MACDONALD, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, CCPA:
Thanks for having me. JAY: Here’s a little clip from the speech. ~~~ DAVID JOHNSTON, GOVERNOR GENERAL OF CANADA:
The United States is our most important trading partner, ally, and friend. Our government
will work with President Obama and his administration to deliver on the shared vision for perimeter
security and economic competitiveness. ~~~ JAY: David, that language has often been code
word for a kind of North American integration. Is this–this in itself is not new that they’re
carrying on these talks. The Liberals before them, in fact, apparently, had a secret committee
working on projecting how this all might look. But the fact that it shows up in the throne
speech again, does this show that during Harper’s majority government they might actually try
to get this done? MACDONALD: Yeah. And there’s various degrees
of this. You know, the long-term problem with Canada is that our major trading partner is
the US. And the fact is, despite agreements like the Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, and
so on, if the US doesn’t want our softwood lumber, they will continue to obfuscate the
process and not allow, you know, access to our goods to the US market. And so, you know,
the endless compromise from Canadian politicians is that, you know, if we integrate slightly
further with the US, we’ll finally get access to these markets. The fact is, if American
politicians are not interested in us having access to those markets, it doesn’t matter
what a free trade deal says or what sort of a security perimeter says; we aren’t going
to get access to those markets. But in the meantime what we’ve done is we’ve traded away
our own independence in terms of deciding what should our refugee policy be, what should
our regulation policy be, and so on, and we become much more tied to accepting whatever
the American policies are, which may not be in keeping with what Canadian values are. JAY: Well, it also–if you really have an
integration on security issues, it starts to suggest: how could you have a Patriot Act
operated on one side of the border and not something similar on the other side of the
border, especially if they want to get to this state, which has been the dream of at
least a section of the Canadian business elite, to have no borders at all, have a European
style, just free flow back and forth between the two countries, which means you’re going
to have to have similar mirrored security legislation in both countries? MACDONALD: Yeah. And, again, I don’t think
a lot of Canadians are particularly interested in that kind of regulatory harmonization,
quote-unquote, where, you know, their personal information’s now accessible to the CIA and
the FBI, more so than it is today–and in some cases it is. And so we can continue to
want more open borders for trade, but the problem is is that to get those, we always
have to put up our independence in trade. And the fact is is that when push comes to
shove, the US will invoke protectionism on key industries, and there’s very little that
we can do to stop it, irrespective of whether we have a common perimeter or whether we have
a Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA or whatnot. JAY: Now, the other thing I think is important
in this economic competitiveness concept actually showed up in the NDP platform, where the NDP,
in their election platform, when it came to climate change issues, said they would work
with the Obama administration to make sure that there was a coordination or harmonization
in a cap-and-trade program on both sides of the border, which means, number one, that
the NDP was willing to accept an American-style cap-and-trade program and, number two, given
that even the cap-and-trade program, which many environmentalists have been very critical
of because many people don’t think it actually leads to real controls on carbon emissions,
but the NDP itself committed to not doing something that would make Canadian businesses,
quote, uncompetitive. So you have the NDP and the conservatives kind of on the same
path when it comes to this kind of issue. MACDONALD: Well, I’m not against, particularly,
working with the US on issues that make sense for us to work together on. [crosstalk] JAY: Well, what I’m saying is that nothing’s
going to get done in the US. So if you use that as the bar, the bar is zero. MACDONALD: Fair enough [crosstalk] JAY: It’s completely paralyzed here, cap and
trade and climate change. The words “climate change” did not–not did it not only cross
Prime Minister Harper’s lips; it has not crossed President Obama’s lips in months and months. MACDONALD: Fair enough, fair enough. And maybe
that’s it, placing so much emphasis on waiting for the US to take action, although it would
certainly make sense for us to coordinate as a recipe for endless [incompr.] I mean,
the fact is is that in Canada there has been movement on carbon taxes. There’s a carbon
tax in BC. There’s the start of a carbon tax in Quebec, and some pushes as well in Ontario.
I mean, there are movements in Canada on the environmental front. I mean, it also makes
sense to note that in the throne speech, for instance, there was no mention whatsoever
of climate change, very little mention whatsoever of the environment. This is clearly not a
priority for the Harper government. JAY: Okay. Well, let’s talk about the bigger
issue of all of them, I suppose, and that is Prime Minister Harper’s pledge to balance
the budget, pay off the deficit by 2014. How’s he going to do that? MACDONALD: Yeah. You know, the throne speech
was really interesting in that the Harper government–or the throne speech acknowledged
that stimulus spending in 2009 and ’10 did create jobs and did drive economic growth.
And, in fact, they were positive means of doing so. So we know how to create jobs. The
Harper government knows how to create jobs. It’s engaging, you know, employing Canadians
to fix infrastructure, or, you know, employing Canadians to work in hospitals, or so on.
And so what’s interesting is that we’ve got this mechanism to create jobs. Now, unemployment
isn’t dramatically lower today than it was in 2009, when the financial crisis hit Canada,
in terms of the unemployment numbers. So I think what’s interesting is that despite that
working as a prescription in 2009, it’s no longer applicable today. And so the question,
despite the fact that jobs and growth were mentioned, you know, 100 times or many times,
anyway, in the throne speech, unemployment was not mentioned once. And so the actual
measure of how many jobs you’re creating was not mentioned. JAY: You know, I think it’s important if for–I
mean, for Canadians, but also for our American viewers, you know, the unemployment rate in
the US is about 9.9. The national average in Canada is lower than 9. But if you actually
go into various provinces, like Ontario, if I–last numbers I looked at, it was 9.1 percent
unemployment in Ontario, in the Maritimes it’s somewhere between 12, 13, 14 percent,
British Columbia hovers around 9, which are not that far from the American numbers. And
in the US, people are up in arms about unemployment, and in Canada, for some reason, it doesn’t
get talked about very much. MACDONALD: Yeah, and it actually received
very little attention from the opposition party as well. I mean, I’m from Windsor originally.
And people who know the area, Windsor’s right across the river from Detroit. Detroit’s gone
through a real tough time, and so has Windsor, which is one of those places that have been
hard hit by the collapse of manufacturing in the US and in Canada in that whole area.
And the fact is unemployment is much higher in Windsor, as it is in many areas in Canada.
And so, while I think the Harper government realizes that talking about jobs and talking
about growth is what concerns Canadians, and so they mention it and it’s part of the rhetoric,
the fact is is that actively committing to creating jobs through government spending
is just not on the agenda. And so I think [crosstalk] JAY: Yeah, so he’s not going to create jobs
through government spending, but he’s going to cut the deficit. So you’ve been predicting
what that means now is a massive cut in jobs in the federal civil service. So you’re actually
not creating jobs over here, but you’re actually creating less jobs over there. But what do
you make of what he’s going to do to the civil service? MACDONALD: Yeah. And so this was amusing,
if you will, in the March 22 budget that didn’t pass, that failed. And so the idea was is
that, well, we could balance the budget one year earlier if we engage in $11 billion in
cuts. The president of the Treasury Board at the time, John Baird, said that instead
of cutting transfer payments to people or transfer payments to provinces, they would
cut staff positions and they’d cut 80,000 staff positions, which represent about a third
of the entire public service, federal public service in Canada. And so that’s how they
would balance the books a year early. And there’s actually no–I mean, you know, your
American viewers should understand that there’s–in contrast to the US, the debt levels, the federal
debt level in Canada is dramatically lower. We’re actually the lowest in the G8 by a long
shot. And so there’s actually no pressing need to balance the deficit a year earlier.
In fact, we could continue to let it run. We could run up, actually, $500 billion in
additional debt–this is the actual number, $500 billion, half a trillion dollars in additional
debt–and we’d still be tied for first place with Germany in terms of the debt ratio. So,
I mean, there’s no pressing need to balance the deficit right now. There is a pressing
need to reduce unemployment. But the move to deficit reduction instead of job creation,
which is signaled through this throne speech, means that we’ll actually cut about 80,000
positions over the next four years. And we’ll see more detail, I think, with this in the
budget on Monday. JAY: And we saw a little bit. These were layoffs,
I guess, that were already planned before this. But we just saw, I think, 50 people
laid off from Environment Canada. There was, I think–what is it?–half a dozen people
laid off at the National Archives. And people are suggesting this is just the beginning. MACDONALD: Well, I mean, there were actually–I
mean, one of the big figures was there’s 2,000 people being laid off at DND, and so–Department
of National Defence, rather. But this doesn’t include the 80,000 positions. I mean, this
is already budgets that have already been passed. These are cuts that have already been
passed in budgets. What I’m talking about here is future cuts [crosstalk] JAY: But Harper campaigned in the recent election
saying that cuts in the civil service would only take place through retirement and attrition.
Could he get–if the number’s 80,000, can he get there through that process? MACDONALD: Oh, that’s a total fantasy. I mean,
they’re living in total fantasy land if they think they’re going to get to 80,000 positions
through attrition alone. Currently in the civil service, about 6,000 people are retiring
a year. That’s definitely going to go up. But you might get to 40,000, might get to
40,000, if you had an aggressive buyout package, which again is going to cost money. The other
40,000’s going to be in layoffs. But, I mean, the fact remains that even if you weren’t
going to lay those people, even if you were going to have 80,000 people retire in the
next four years, a cut of a third in terms of civil service staffing levels simply means
that, I mean, you have to see an effect on service levels. I mean, there’s no way to
avoid that. So if you’ve got a problem with your tax form, you’re trying to get your EI
check, your grandmother’s trying to get her CPP, her pension check, or some of the income
support programs for older [incompr.] there’s a problem with it. The mantra of the next
four years is going to be “get in line”, because there’s not enough people to actually deal
with your issue. JAY: [inaudible] joining us, David. MACDONALD: Thanks for having me. JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real
News Network. And if you want to see more coverage about Canada on The Real News–and
we would like to have a full-time person in Ottawa, coming in the fall–we need you to
click the donate button, ’cause if you don’t do that, we can’t do this.

12 comments

  1. Climate Change is a Fraud, a corrupt fraud to get a Carbon Tax that would fuel Political Corruption and under the table agreements, Im glad the Harper Gov has not made it a priority and corrupt Prov have supported the tax, Yes, it is good to protect the environment but history proves the planet goes through warming periods, believe it or not but the medieval period was the last warming phase and it was more humid then our current time, it is just the natural cycle of the planet,

  2. its a good idea, get rid of government, and give the money back to the ppl, harper all the way—–this guy sounds like a fucking idiot—, its ok to let the deficit run over? what a goof. its all a lie ppl. fuck this, im out BANG

  3. [1] This is all bullshit. They are doing world government incrementally and have been ever since they began the EEC on the other side of the ocean. The key players are not the nations and our governments, but a seditious alliance of secret society branches all hubbed out of Chatham House in London, with Soviet communists, Israel, the international Banks and Big Business.

  4. [2] Those are the real "terrorists", warring on us with lies, big money, conscription and false news to force us to fight their bloody wars in which the same Banks finance both sides to profit while they mass-murder us by obliging us to kill one another for "patriotism" in conflicts contrived precisely so they can falsely say, you people all make war, patriotism is poison, give us your national sovereignty, you all need a world government!

  5. [3] They bend us to their satanic will with media control (they own it), they orchestrate false-flag attacks from their psyop headquarters in our own governments to terrify us into accepting it. There is no holy "democracy" and freedom is purely incidental and residual. These conditions will remain until the last drop of freedom dries up completely, because the lazy masses are willingly naive! They will walk into eternal slavery head-first.

  6. A slip-of-the-tongue which takes for granted that powers exist which control who is elected and what views he holds: "Fortunately, the views of the leadership can be more easily changed than those of the public, even if it involves changing the leaders themselves, at convenient elections." By Gordon Gibson, former assistant to PM Pierre Elliott Trudeau, writing in "A Sensible Solution for Saving Canada" published as a “Feature Article” in the June 1996 Fraser Forum of the Fraser Institute.

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