Budget undermines equality, communities and the environment

18 MARCH 2009

The provincial budget received a failing grade from New Brunswick’s newest political party, the Greens.  According to party president Janice Harvey, it will take the province in exactly the opposite direction from that set by the party’s Charter of Principles, which includes a commitment to equality, social justice and ecological sustainability.

According to Harvey, the government is still clinging to the discredited theory marketed by the Fraser Institute and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies that lowering taxes on corporations and upper income earners will stimulate investment and attract workers.  On the contrary,” she said, “this worn-out model of trickle-down economics has only resulted in widening inequality between rich and poor, a shrinking middle class, and a deterioration of public services.”

Harvey predicts the tax cuts will do nothing to stimulate the economy in this recession, but instead will result in huge deficits with no plan to compensate for the lost revenue other than throwing hundreds more people out of work and cutting back on services.  “It will deliver a body blow to the whole concept of equal opportunity which fuelled New Brunswick’s coming of age by reducing our ability to pay for already-deficient education, health and social services.  This government is using the cover of the recession and the public’s willingness to accept big deficits in the name of economic stimulus to deliver a huge wealth transfer from the public to the private sector through regressive tax changes.”

Interim party leader Mike Milligan added, “This budget does nothing to put our economy on a more ecologically sustainability footing.  Instead, it puts more discretionary money in the pockets of those who need it least and whose spending already creates the greatest ecological footprint.  Meanwhile, it does nothing for people who barely have enough to make ends meet, and whose additional spending would increase personal and family security while having minimal ecological impact.”

He also criticized promised “incentives” to the energy hub in Saint John.  “To underwrite with tax dollars the most ecologically damaging economic development strategy one could imagine is the height of folly.  This oil-gas-nuclear hub is New Brunswick’s version of the tar sands.  We should be investing in efforts to reduce our economic dependence on non-renewables, not increase it.  Every dollar spent on ecologically destructive projects is a dollar not spent on moving towards real sustainability.”

The Green Party begins a series of policy forums this Saturday in Fredericton to develop policies for a sustainable, socially just economy.  These will be approved by the members at a future policy convention.

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Our Principles

> Non-Violence

A culture of cooperation, caring and understanding is essential to ending violence in our society. Rehabilitation rather than vengeance must be the goal of our justice system.

> Self-Determination and Citizenship

We must have the opportunity and the responsibility as citizens to contribute to the common good, which requires that all have the capacity to participate in community life.

> Social Justice and Equality

Everyone must have equal access to the necessities of life and be treated with dignity and respect. Treaties with First Nations must be honoured.

> Participatory Democracy

We must be able to participate in decisions that affect our lives and be guaranteed that our votes are reflected in the make-up of the Legislative Assembly.

> Local Self-Reliance

Our communities should be in control of their own destinies, supported by strong local economies, and sustained by local sources of food and renewable energy.

> Living within Our Ecological Means

We must live within the ecological limits of the Earth, while meeting our needs without threatening our children's future or the survival of other species.

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