March 1, 2012

Drummond - No way, buddy!

Mr. Drummond smirks

Statement by the Executive of the Communist Party of Canada (Ontario)

     The Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) is demanding the provincial government shelve the Drummond Report, warning that the province will be unrecognizable if its recommendations are implemented. Instead the Party says the government should invest in health, education and social programs, create jobs, and introduce progressive tax reform based on ability to pay, which would address the revenue crisis caused by three decades of regressive tax shifts from the corporations and the wealthy onto the working class and the unemployed.

     If the Drummond Report is implemented, tens of thousands will lose their jobs, and wages and living standards ‑ and purchasing power ‑ will fall dramatically for millions of Ontarians. Public services will be privatized and public assets sold off, while spending on health and education will be cut so deep as to turn the clock back 50 years. Property taxes and user fees (a hidden consumption tax) will rise while services fall.

     The spending cuts described by Drummond as "unprecedented in the postwar period in Canada" are so great that implementation could trigger a full‑blown recession, or worse, in Ontario.

     Drummond's report is the prescription from the bankers and the biggest national and transnational corporations for felling universal social programs, public healthcare and public and post-secondary education in Ontario. If implemented, the recommendations will open up Ontario like a sardine can for the biggest corporations to walk in and devour the choicest pieces.

     This is the austerity plan that the right‑wing parties and the corporations they speak for want to impose on Ontario, as Tory leader Tim Hudak's whole‑hearted embrace of the Report proves. The Liberals with a minority government are more circumspect, but they too will embrace the recommendations unless there is an immediate and massive response from the labour and people's movements opposing the Report as a whole.

     The response of NDP leader Andrea Horvath that the report is not balanced, suggests that the NDP might find it supportable if this year's corporate tax cuts were scuttled.

     But it's the Report as a whole that must be scuttled, not just this year's corporate tax cuts.

     Failing to grasp this is a failure to grasp that the Liberals' austerity plan is contained within the Drummond Report. The government will reveal its austerity agenda in a publicity campaign of rejecting various recommendations, and gauging public reaction to others before the budget is unveiled in early March. The Liberals hope to be remembered for what they reject, not for what they will adopt. This is their strategy for austerity with a minority government. It can and must be rejected with urgency, breadth and heft.

     The CPC (Ontario) calls on the labour and democratic movements to demand the government shelve the Drummond Report, and act to protect Ontario's valuable social programs, public healthcare and education with an injection of new funds. What we face now is a revenue crisis (not a spending crisis) caused by a sharp decline in corporate tax revenues, and inadequate social transfers.

     It's a crisis caused by corporate greed and by right‑wing Big Business governments unwilling to put people's needs ahead of corporate greed. Bailing out the banks and the corporations in 2008, combined with changes to the tax system that shifted billions out of the public purse and into the pockets of the corporations and the wealthy, is what created the deficit. Reversing those measures, introducing a progressive tax system based on ability to pay, creating jobs, raising wages and living standards, expanding social spending on healthcare, education, social housing, childcare, and social programs, investing in infrastructure, and value‑added manufacturing and secondary industry, and converting military to civilian spending, is what will turn the situation around.

     This is a prescription to put people's needs before corporate greed, and to put the public interest before business interests and the drive for private profits.

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