Well, first things first: Happy New Year; I hope the holiday season gave everyone a good chance to spend time with family and friends, and that good times were had.
Now, moving right along and into the heart of the issues.
I know I promised to focus on Saskatchewan in my first post of the New Year, and I shall indeed cover that, but I must say that a few Federal issues have popped up that are worth talking about. As such, we're going to have a bit of a double post.
So, let's start with what's been going on around Saskatchewan.
Primarily, the peak of my interest, has been focused on the eminent ruling coming on Saskatchewan's same-sex marriage laws. I've spoken about this before on the blog, so brief recap:
The Saskatchewan Government, led by Minister Don Morgan, issued a court challenge in regards to Saskatchewan's marriage laws. Effectively, the Saskatchewan Government wanted to know whether or not they could arrange for marriage commissioners to have the right to refuse to marry a couple based on their own personal beliefs. This stems from the case of Orville Nichols, who lost a Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal case, when he refused to wed a same-sex couple.
Well, come Monday morning, Saskatchewan will have it's answer.
As I've said, I've talked about this in length before. This proposal seems to be stuck a few centuries back, and really, I don't understand why our government is wasting tax dollars on legal fees to determine a case like this.
The bulk of the matter is this: Marriage commissioners are not religious in nature; they are civil servants who are responsible for upholding the laws of the province they serve. As such, since same-sex marriage is the law of the land in Saskatchewan, marriage commissioners are responsible for upholding this law and officiating over same-sex marriages, if a same-sex couple comes to them to be married.
It's pretty clear cut, I think, yet it would seem that the Saskatchewan Government doesn't see it that way...That or they're just being blinded by ideological standpoints and biases which have no place in attempting to change Saskatchewan law.
That being said, I can only hope that Saskatchewan's judges are able to see it this clearly as well, and uphold Saskatchewan law; and uphold the rights of same-sex couples throughout Saskatchewan, by rejecting this proposal and ensuring that marriage commissioners fulfill the office they've sworn to uphold.
Well, for the moment, that's all I have that's Saskatchewan based. So, let's move on to the Federal scene.
We'll start with what I think was important, though not necessarily shocking, in that Canada is falling behind in Access to Information requests; and when compared to other Parliamentary Democracies (UK, New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland) Canada ranks dead last.
The reasoning for this is a bit two-fold:
1.) Canada's access to information requests still exist in a paper system, as opposed to one which can be accessed electronically. As such, people who request information must still submit paper payment (cheque, money order, etc.) and wait, with shipping time added into that wait time.
2.) As I've mentioned before, the Harper Government seems to be doing everything possible to avoid access to information requests.
The study found that of the 35,000 requests made in 2010, only 16% (5,600) those requests were actually given full disclosure, as opposed to 40% of requests receiving full disclosure ten years ago.
Furthermore, only about 56% of requests are fulfilled within the legislated 30 day time period, as opposed to 70% ten years ago.
Despite being elected on a platform of transparency; (And I covered this extensively on my last post before this one) the Harper Government has failed massively in regards to access to information. It is true they expanded the number of institutions which fell under the act, and opened up more access to information attempts, but they have done nothing to decrease delays in the system and they have taken censorship to the extreme when they have released documents.
Afghanistan is a particular example when it comes to Access of Information requests, given the Conservative's poor track record in releasing information on this issue.
And now, a bit of a budget update.
Word is buzzing that the Harper Government's coming spring budget is going to be a source of contention, and may indeed bring down the Harper Government and launch us into an election. And when you get snippets like this, you begin to understand why.
Word is out that the Harper Government is dead set on pursuing corporate tax cuts in their budget.
Now, Harper is taking the general Conservative quote: That lower corporate tax rates mean more foreign investment, which in turn creates more jobs, and which in turn means higher times of prosperity for the nation.
Effectively, trickle-down economics in work.
However, let's take a moment and think this true.
Look at Saskatchewan, where we have been bleeding full time jobs, but gaining part-time jobs. And this is going on in a time when Saskatchewan politicians, and some Federal ones, are claiming that we're in a good financial period, sound economic footing, and any other platitude you want to say 'we're doing good'.
The Federal Government is running a massive deficit, and this is predicted to continue for a very long time. And yet, despite saying they're going to work towards canceling the deficit and running back on a surplus, they are taking no real action to do this; and corporate tax cuts show that.
By cutting corporate taxes, the Harper Government is robbing Canada of income that we desperately need. So, what happens if the corporate tax cuts go through?
Well, that's a tricky question.
Conservative history suggests that we give tax breaks to people and organizations that don't need them; then we cut services that we think are a waste of money, but that Canadians actually use and need, in order to balance the books.
So, a cut in service is one option.
The other option, which is less likely because it's vastly unpopular, would be a slight raise in the tax on middle-class/lower-class earners, in hopes of financing the cuts for the upper-class earners.
That's more of an American solution, but that doesn't mean we couldn't see something like that here...Though it would likely be the death knell of the Harper Government; so I don't think we'll see that.
Effectively, we're not seeing sound and prudent financial management. Rather, we're seeing financial policy blindly dictated by ideological preference. In other words, we're not getting the policies we need for the times we exist in.
And hopefully, Parliament grows a backbone and stands up against measures in the upcoming budget that will weaken Canada's position both nationally and internationally, and then gives the people a chance to 'throw the blighters out'.