By Dennis Howlett, C4TF Executive Director
Ottawa - Sept. 17, 2012: I was invited to speak at an Occupy rally today on Parliament Hill on the one year anniversary of the beginning for the Occupy movement.
I reminded the several hundred activists who had gathered from Vancouver, Sarnia, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax that the Harper government had begun its project of dismantling Canada's social programs with its omnibus budget bill it passed before the summer. Tens of billions of dollars in cuts were made to our social programs including pensions, funding for social housing, aboriginal health and other social programs as well as hundreds of thousands of job cuts.
And if that was not bad enough, with parliament reconvening, they are planning to introduce another undemocratic omnibus budget bill that will mean even more cuts to our social programs and government services.
Harper's goal is the dismantling of what he calls the "Canadian welfare state."
Harper uses the deficit as the excuse for bringing in these spending cuts.
But when he became Prime Minister there was a $13 billion budget surplus.
He deliberately created the deficit with tax cuts, especially tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate tax cuts.
But these spending cuts are not necessary.
All we need to do to get rid of the deficit is to reverse the corporate tax cuts, raise taxes on the rich and go after tax cheats who are hiding billions of dollars in tax havens.
Tax fairness policies are key, not only to reducing the deficit, but to re-building Canada.
We can begin closing the gap between rich and poor and begin re-building social programs by ensuring tax fariness.
Following speeches, the participants shared their ideas for what Parliament should be doing in a People's Parliament excercise that involved people discussing what their priorities were in different areas including tax fairness and writing these down on large sheets of paper spread out on the ground on Parliament Hill.