Some Key Areas Where Neoliberal Policy Undermines both the Industrial Economy and Canadian Democracy
Under the Harper Regime, the investor class is constantly being protected at the expense of the real industrial economy, for just about all policy decisions privilege both the financial sector, with its market-driven initiatives and debt-driven growth strategies, and of course corporations - in particular resource corporations in oil, gas, and mining, all of which combined have a heavily weighted presence on the TSX and, in fact, together with financials drive the TSX index. The obsession with deficit reduction and austerity are part of this process in order to maintain socalled “market confidence,” played off ironically, as they always are around the world, against sustainable growth. And do I need to mention successive corporate tax cuts presumably designed to attract investment, but the success of which no economist has ever measured accurately? Much if not all of the financial sector is, of course, composed of corporations.
Foreign worker policy is designed both to drive wages down with differential pay scales, and targeted immigrant recruitment is designed to enhance a neoliberal policy of economic growth in the sectors the Regime favours as being in “Canada’s national interest.”
Anti-labour, anti-union, policies and back-to-work legislation are obviously designed to suppress wages and erode workers’ benefits. Throw the newly proposed changes in EI into the mix here too, and it’s a war on the majority of Canada’s very own citizenry.
Reducing in effect government financial participation, pension reforms clearly favour the financial class because of the profit possibilities of the Pooled Registered Pension Plan proposal, as do the OAS changes that will force many to seek private pension arrangements if they can afford it or otherwise to stay in the workforce for longer than planned. Add the corporate management shift to defined contribution plans, which also obviously aid corporate bottom lines and, in turn, shareholders and the investor class, and we see another neoliberal triumph.
Gutting of a myriad of regulations and other laws and policies wherever and whenever possible to allow corporations to exploit both people and the planet at will for profit is now commonplace for the Regime. The legislative assault on long-standing environmental regulations is only the latest, but countless not-so-subtle manoeuvres in foreign policy, whereby Foreign Affair diplomats become sales people, so-called shifts in foreign aid such as the new CEDA relationship with mining companies, and the assault on charities through the CRA also come readily to mind.
All the free trade agreements negotiated by the Regime serve a neo-liberal agenda, as they did, to be fair, under Liberal rule as well. Even as we can’t change NAFTA through parliamentary process, we will not be able to change any of these other, more recent international trade agreements, including CETA, simply because they’re international. We lack the power nationally in law to do so, though there are costly international mechanisms we could avail ourselves of but, it would seem, never do.
Gutting expenditures and a host of smaller programs for Social Services, including limited Health transfers to the provinces, wherever possible is de rigueur in such neoliberal driven government such as ours.
This is a mere but, alas, sad glimpse into some of the ways our government serves the corporate and financial world, not the people of Canada.