Great ideas ? but how are you going to pay for it? Where will the money come from?
That?s a common response from constituents upon hearing the federal policies and legislation I advocate to reform our health care and education systems and to restore Canada?s military capabilities, to name but a few proposals. These are the same questions Canadians ask of my colleagues in the Conservative Party of Canada and of our leader, Stephen Harper.
It?s a good question. How could a Conservative government simultaneously reduce the income tax burden AND find more federal funding to keep hospital beds open, ensure that more young people have access to post-secondary education, and boost troop levels and replace broken-down military equipment?
There are the obvious places to look for some ?spare federal change?. The $2-billion gun registry is a good place to start. That amount could have paid for almost all of the annual costs of the Medical Services Plan which provides medical care to almost all BC residents. Then there?s the $100-million blown on ?Adscam?, the federal sponsorship program, and the $500-million Unity Fund, the federal slush fund dispensed at Jean Chrétien?s discretion.
We can also look to the several federal ?foundations? that are the ongoing recipients of billions in federal tax dollars.
These foundations were the creation of Paul Martin himself. Under his reign as Finance Minister, more than $9-billion of your money was funnelled into ?independent? or ?arms-length? foundations. Actually, they?re beyond ?arms-length? because they?re out of reach!
These foundations, with names like Genome Canada, Canada Health Infoway Inc. and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, are not subject to scrutiny by Parliament. They are exempt from the Access to Information Act and their finances are off limits to the Auditor General. In other words, secret! Once your tax dollars are given to one of these foundations by the federal Liberals ? consider it gone!
Paul Martin likes to portray himself as the slayer of the ?democratic deficit?, but Auditor General Sheila Fraser, has specifically pointed to his invention of independent federal foundations as cause for Canadians to be concerned, ?I am concerned by the limits placed on Parliament?s ability to scrutinize them. The government is disregarding this essential principle with increasing frequency. When Parliament is out of the loop, taxpayers lose their say in how government spends their tax dollars.?
In last month?s budget, the Prime Minister continued his tradition of placing tax dollars out of reach and beyond the scrutiny of Parliament and Canadians. For example, Genome Canada got an additional $60-million of public money. By the way, these independent federal foundations are a rich source of lucrative positions for political patronage appointees.
Sadly, these foundations, the gun registry and adscam are just the tip of the iceberg. Yet, it also demonstrates that there are plenty of shady places within the bureaucratic maze of Ottawa to find the money needed to reduce waiting lists for medical services, bring more doctors to remote, rural areas and provide real investment to the Canadian Forces.
Something to keep in mind next time you?re looking for reassurance that a Conservative government can and will keep its promises!