Taxpayer group says spending cuts
could go further
[PoliticsWatch updated 5:50 p.m. September 26, 2006]
OTTAWA — All
three opposition parties ganged up on the Conservatives on Tuesday and
spent most of question period berating the government for Monday's
announcement of $1 billion in spending cuts.
But the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says that $1 billion is
just a drop in the bucket and the government could have gone
In question period on Tuesday, Interim Liberal leader Bill Graham
used language that Prime Minister Stephen Harper described as
false and an exaggeration.
"The vindictive, mean-spirited cuts targeted at the weak, the needy, the vulnerable, and the marginalized in Canada could only have been dreamt up by the insider group of Conservative Mike Harris holdover ministers in the
government," Graham said in the House.
Former Harris cabinet ministers Jim Flaherty and John
Baird announced the cuts during a press conference late on
About one-third of the figure came from what the government calls
non-core programs and value for money reasons.
This included the elimination of federal funding for 10 programs or
groups, including the Court Challenges Program, the Canadian Policy
Research Networks, medical marijuana research and an Aboriginal
tobacco control strategy.
"This government has reviewed government expenditures to ensure we are getting value for money and that we fulfil the commitments we made in the budget to reduce expenditures and bring the growth of expenditures under
control," Harper said during question period.
"The previous government did that in its last several budgets and did not deliver. This government has delivered."
While the opposition parties wailed and gnashed their teeth over the
cuts, John Williamson of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation was
quietly applauding the government for what he considers a good first
"The spending announcements yesterday are not going to change or impact services or programs that Canadians
receive," Williamson told PoliticsWatch. "By that I mean old age entitlement wasn't cut, health-care wasn't cut, the armed forces budget wasn't cut."
Williamson estimates that there is much as $4
billion in corporate welfare and $8 billion in transfers to special
interest groups that should be further examined for future
"There's approximately six to eight billion dollars that goes to fund interest groups, NGOs, third-party groups in this country and I think what we saw yesterday was just a drop in the
budget," he said.
"I don't see why taxpayers should be funding advocates for daycare. It's a political decision and each group should be out raising its own money. But it particularly seems odd the
government would fund any group that is challenging its own legislation."
Williamson said he was especially pleased to see the government
reducing funding for the controversial Technology Partnerships
Program and the Court Challenges Program.
He said the Court Challenges Program "tended to fund left-wing ideology or left-wing agendas and that was problematic for the federal
While the program is being credited with prevention of the Montfort
Hospital closure in Ottawa it also led the charge to give federal
prisoners the right to vote.
The prime minister is also well aware of the program.
His chief of staff, Ian Brodie, authored a paper
critical of the program in 2002 and Harper himself saw the
program fund Democracy Watch's intervention against the National
Citizen Coalition's challenge of third-party advertising laws when
Harper headed up the group.
Williamson said the government should not be funding any special
interest groups or think tanks with taxpayer money.
He noted that one representative from a think tank that saw its
funding eliminated this week said in an interview that it provide
services to 1.6 million Canadians.
What Williamson would tell that person is: "Great. You'll have no problem turning to your supporters and asking them for donations to continue your operations."
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