Hicks: Conservatives don’t have to cut, they want to

Thirty-five years after David Searle described the Northwest Territories as “a sick, sick society,” our Nunavut political correspondent, Jack Hicks, discusses the federal budget, its meaning for northerners, and the cost of dissent.

 
I would like to begin by thanking the creators of Northern Public Affairs, both for starting a northern public policy website at such an important moment in northern history and for inviting me to blog here.


 
The key elements of the federal budget unveiled on March 29 will have come as no surprise to Canadians who have been listening to what Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been saying, and campaigning on, in recent years.
 
If you heard Harper talk about the emerging energy superpower our government intends to build:

[w]e will make it a national priority to ensure we have the capacity to export our energy products beyond the United States and specifically to Asia. In this regard, we will soon take action to ensure that major energy and mining projects are not subject to unnecessary regulatory delays – that is, delay merely for the sake of delay.

then you might have predicted that the Budget Implementation Act would dramatically weaken the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Fisheries Act, and other legislation which safeguards and protects the environment. In a very tough article in the National Post, columnist Andrew Coyne called these “the most extraordinary chapters” of what is in fact an omnibus bill – “the sort of thing people used to make quite a fuss over.”
 
And you were likely not surprised when hundreds of scientists and researchers at Environment Canada were laid off, and when those who remain are gagged from talking to the press.
 
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