FILE PHOTO Joe Oliver

Cuts damage the federal civil service

My message to Stephen Harper loud and clear is: keep the money! Don’t cut taxes, put that money back where it belongs.

Dear Sir:

Federal finance minister Joe Oliver’s fall economic update will be followed up by an “economic action plan,” which will then be implemented through the use of a bill composed of hundreds of pages which will contain dozens of unrelated regulatory and legislative changes that Stephen Harper does not want you to know about.

That’s just the way the Conservatives do business. That’s not news to anyone who cares or pays attention.

What Joe Oliver wants you to believe is that the government has returned the state to a condition of fiscal surplus.

Like just about everything else that comes out a Conservative’s mouth, that is not exactly true. What he is actually going to release is a report that on the surface looks like a balanced budget.

But you will not have to look very hard to see that what they have done and how they have done it has damaged Canada, not produced wonderful benefits.

Earlier this year, Joe Oliver, in an interview on CBC radio, told the country straight up that cuts to the “bureaucracy” are largely responsible for the fiscal surplus. He didn’t mention the billions of dollars allocated to DND, or foreign mission security but not spent.

The thing is, the Conservatives did not cut the “bureaucracy” so much as they have the civil service. Yes, there is a difference. Conservatives love words that they can spit out with venom, like “bureaucracy” which evokes an image of a clerk uselessly rubber-stamping forms before shuffling the paper along to the next desk.

My first hand experience of what has happened, not to the “bureaucracy,” but to the civil service, is very much different.

I am not a federal civil servant, but by the nature of my industry and role I must work very closely with the regulator. My immediate experience of the effects of Joe Oliver’s “fiscal surplus” is that the federal office that I must deal with on a regular basis, which is Transport Canada Civil Aviation, has effectively lost its ability to function, for the simple reason that there is nobody left to do the work.

Conservative thought says that fewer regulators are a good thing. This is faulty thinking. Industry still has processes and standards to comply with. Some issues we deal with are quite complicated and must have regulatory approval. Even if you want to change a process to improve safety, you can’t implement it until the regulator approves the change. We used to be able to do those things over the phone in an afternoon.

Now you’re lucky to get a request turned around in six months.

Harper can’t wait to crow about his balanced budget and cut taxes to satisfy his mouth-breathing base.

My message to Harper loud and clear is: keep the money! Don’t cut taxes, put that money back where it belongs.

Go ahead and call me a wild-eyed socialist if you want, but I want a competent civil service, and I’m willing to pay for it. I also want the ice breakers Harper promised us. (Still think I’m a socialist?)

And while he’s at it, instead of cutting back the Coast Guard, maybe we should get them a ship that can actually pull.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Gordon Reid gave it a grand try but in the end it couldn’t do what needed doing when that Russian container ship broke down.

Lucky thing for us there was a private commercial American ship nearby who could do what the mighty Canadian Coast Guard couldn’t.

No fault of the Coast Guard; they could do the job very well if the government would buy them the tools. But they would rather give 15 per cent of the population an extra 2 bucks a day.

We don’t need tax cuts; we need a country with the capability to do the things a country should be able to do.

Dismantling the capacity of the state to properly fund its own operations is not how you accomplish that.

Dave Menzies,

Terrace, B.C.