Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stephen Harper and the War on the Unemployed

You don't have to be a weatherman, or an economist, to know that a cold wind is blowing in Harperland, and that a recession could be just around the corner.

So what are the Cons doing? Answer: Planning to cut corporate taxes even more, and taxing our paycheques.

Canadians will see the biggest increase in payroll taxes in a decade next year, according to a Canadian Taxpayers Federation analysis of how many of your dollars will go to federal government coffers.The combined net increase of 4.84 per cent is the highest since 2002.

Even though businesses are just sitting on their money, instead of creating jobs. And if you miraculously manage to qualify for employment insurance, good luck collecting any benefits. 

Hundreds of thousands of unemployed Canadians are waiting for the federal government to process their claims for employment insurance – a queue that newly released documents show has doubled since 2007 as Services Canada reduces its staff.

Many of the unemployed are turning up at Service Canada centres instead and are extremely frustrated. Service Canada workers in a number of cities are reporting receiving threats of violence.

And even if you do receive some benefits they don't last long.

Across the country, he said, less than 40 per cent of unemployed Canadians are drawing benefits from the fund they’re forced to pay into. In Ontario, the figure is less than 30 per cent. As the number of those receiving benefits falls, both the number of unemployed and the number of new claims filed rises...In Ontario, only 159,630 were getting benefits out of 592,700 unemployed workers.

So what are the Cons planning to do? Answer: Cut government departments by ten percent, which along with other job losses in the private sector, will almost certainly tip us into a full blown recession and make the E.I. lines even longer.

And why do they want to make those lines longer? Because the E.I. system is broken, but they've done nothing to fix it, and prepare us for a possible recession.

We have less manoeuvring room today than we did three years ago. Our budget is $30 billion in deficit, our employment insurance account has a $10.4 billion shortfall and we have the highest level of household debt in our history.

If Canada falls back into a recession — or if we’re already in one that hasn’t shown up in the statistics — millions of families will have no cushion.

But why would any Canadian government risk inflicting such suffering on its own people? Answer: Because Stephen Harper believes the unemployed should be shown no mercy... 

"In terms of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance."

Stephen Harper 1997

And because, knowing him, he has probably calculated the more people he can force onto the welfare rolls, the poorer the provinces will be, and the easier it will be to privatize medicare.

Great eh? The chickens vultures have come home to roost.

So what do we say to the cretins who voted for the Harper Cons thinking they were good money managers?

See you at the food bank. Suckers.

Don't forget to take your credit card, or your welfare cheque to the hospital.

And of course, now that you're finally ready to join The Great Canadian Resistance.

Please sing along with John...


  1. Anonymous2:50 PM

    Idiots. Demand creates jobs. Do they believe that corporations will invest in more efficient equipment and hire more people simply in order to drain their own bank accounts and out of the goodness of their hearts? If the current product is stocked up in the warehouse, why would they want to produce more? Canadian CEOs say they want more efficiencies, more research, more government investment, but most of them won't pay for it themselves even after getting their taxes slashed.

    Our economies have been hollowed out by decreasing real wages and increasing corporate profits. Money streams uphill and pools at the top.

    If the goal is for the economy to be a tool to bring greater prosperity to all, then right now it's sick and broken. But if the goal is for a very rich few to sit on top of giant piles of idle money, then our economy is actually working quite well.

  2. Great post as always Simon Here's to a 2012 where social justice makes a comeback

    Happy New Year Simon

  3. By Harper's standards, the economy is working very well... especially for the 1%.

    I'm with Kev, let's hope social justice makes a comeback, especially now that more people recognize we are part of the vast majority that is being screwed.

    Happy New Year, Simon.

  4. hi are right to point out that this approach makes no economic sense. Reducing the purchasing power of people in a consumer society can only hurt more small businesses and make matters worse. But what bothers me the most is the cruelty of it all. For most people losing their jobs is a devastating blow, and humiliating them by making them jump through hoops to collect such a small amount of money, and for such a short time, is simply unforgivable. Happy 2012 and may it be a better year for all Canadians...

  5. hi Kev...thank you. I wanted to write something a bit cheerier, but I'm just shocked at how we have allowed our social safety net to deteriorate so much. Because right now it's just a joke. I know a lady in my neighbourhood who just lost her job, but even though she has paid into the system forever, because she was forced to work part time, like so many do these days, it turns out she doesn't qualify. I know the Cons have managed to convince many Canadians that paying out benefits makes people lazy, but I've never met a person who would prefer being on E.I. or welfare to having a real job. But it's the same everywhere. In the U.S. the RepubliCons are trying to reduce unemployment payments, and in Britain the Cameron Cons are trying to force the terminally ill to work or lose their benefits. Can you believe that?
    Oh well, hopefully next year more Canadians will try to do more to try to get our country back on course. And although I must admit that my optimism has taken a real beating this year, I remain hopeful that if we unite we still can create a better world. All the best to you and yours in 2012 !!!!

  6. hi Beijing...It has been a very depressing year hasn't it? But I'm with you and Kev, we have learned some valuable lessons,and I know that thanks to Jack Layton and the occupy movement I will never look at the world the same way again. And despite the many disappointments, my commitment to social justice is stronger than ever.
    Happy New Year to you and yours Beijing, and may 2012 be your happiest year ever ...

  7. Rev Effect7:28 PM

    We (progressives) won't create sh!t until we put aside minor differences and start focusing on how to unite and make ourselves a real force, not just a bunch of idealists with good intentions. Just spending any amount of time on progressive forums these days often annoys to me the point where I have little interest in being part of the discussion. There's just so much squabbling with everyone playing "leftier-than-thou". I read a great article recently about how the right can easily unite behind a few simple ideals, flawed ideals, but it gives them unity and power regardless of how ignorant.

    Just look at the NDP leadership candidates, I don't think there's one who is open to discussing a merge, or even co-operation, with the Libs. probably for fear of looking like they're not dedicated to the party. Personally I wish Pat Martin would run for leader, he's open to co-operation, and he'd have my vote. I can take or leave the Liberals, some are decent, others aren't much different than gentler versions of Cons. I could live under an NDP-Lib coalition though, I think it would build a platform for some real social change.

    Feels like I'm ranting, I'm not though. Frustrating to see what's happening in Canada right now, that crime bill is gonna be a nightmare once it's imposed.

  8. So far I like Niki Ashton and Nathan Cullen for leader, but I know that both of them are pipe dreams. I know who I don't like and that's Brian Topp. It annoys me that Ed Broadbent came out so quickly and endorsed Topp. It makes me question Broadbent's political cunning and maybe his political marbles given the foe the untested Mr Topp would be facing. But hey, what the fuck do I know, right?

  9. hi Rev Effect...In my first draft of this post after I wrote this:

    So what do we say to the cretins who voted for the Harper Cons thinking they were good money managers?

    I went on to say something like this:

    Or the progressives who still cling to the belief that a divided, feuding centre-left can beat a united right-wing one, with a fascist-like iron discipline, and a massive propaganda machine.

    But I didn't have the heart. I'm saving that one for when I've recovered from the holiday period, and I've reinforced my bunker. ;)
    I suppose I should wait and see who wins the NDP and Liberal leadership races. Maybe a miracle will happen. The new leader will capture the hearts of Canadians, lead a strong and inspiring resistance to the Harper regime, and eventually sweep the Cons from power.
    I'd love that. It would be better than Cinderella. But when I look at the reality of this country I have trouble believing that could happen.
    And at a time when this country is being dragged into the nether world of an alien right-wing one man cult, I expect progressives to rally around the values that define this country, and present a united front.
    But hey, more about that next year. Right now I'm just glad I survived this one. Maybe what the Mayas were trying to say in their 2012 prediction was: Get it together or watch your country crumble. And they should know eh?
    Happy 2012 to you and yours Rev !!!

    P.S. Please don't hesitate to rant, your heart and your head are both in the right place. Which is unusual in Canada, so I always enjoy them... ;)

  10. hi Omar...I have my sentimental favourites too, but considering the dire circumstances I have a very unsentimental view of what that leader should be. He or she must be strong, have the ability to stand up to the Cons and give back as good as he or she gets. Because we simply can't have another decent person who is pushed around by the Harper thugs. Also I would like that leader to be able to inspire young people to vote, and be open to a coalition or a merger if that's what is required to win.
    But like you what do I know eh? Except that the time has really come to put aside partisan considerations and do whatever is necessary to defeat those ghastly Cons.
    Happy New Year to you and yours !!!!

  11. 26% of voters wanted these morons and our voting system is stupid enough to have given them a majority.

    The Liberals helped pave the way for this with all their deficit hysteria and austerity back in the 1990s.

    The NDP needs to get serious about standing up to neoliberalism, otherwise anti-socialists like Pat Martin and Thomas Mulcair will just pull a Bob Rae at the first sign of trouble and embrace all the garbage thinking that brought us to this crisis in the first place.

    Our whole culture needs to smarten the hell up.

  12. Sigh, sometimes this gets depressing.

    I've just been reading "Death of the Liberal Class" and it suggests to me that we need to do more than grump on our blogs.

    Drop by, give me some ideas. How do we get liberalism back on track (changes are/were needed) and how do we stop going down the road of becoming USA junior?

  13. hi Thwap...There are so many reasons we find ourselves in this dire situation, the Americanization of our culture, demographic and regional divides, the fragmentation of the internet that prevents us from seeing the forest for the trees, excessive partisanship among progressives, the kind of immigrants the Cons are bringing in, etc etc.
    What we need to do is boil everything down and reduce it to two simple questions: Do you want to defeat those alien Cons? And if so how do we do it? In the times we live in only those two questions demand an answer...

  14. hi AMS...I couldn't agree with you more. I think we can all agree on what we don't like, and the only real question is how can we change things and make them better?
    One of the problems of course is that we are far down the road to becoming a Junior USA. At least English Canada is.
    I come from Quebec and I notice that a lot. Why do you think that province is the last bastion of so-called Canadian values? It's because of their history of course, but also because they are partially shielded from the relentless Americanization we are exposed to every day.
    I'll be happy to add your blog to my blogroll and contribute a comment now and then. But we all need to get off our behinds, and contribute ideas about what we need to do to get to the promised land...