Skip directly to content

Green Party of Canada News

Subscribe to Green Party of Canada News feed
The Green Party of Canada is a Canadian Federal Political Party that advances a broad multi-issue political platform that reflect its core values of ecological wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy and non-violence.
Updated: 2 hours 39 min ago

Easter Message from Elizabeth May

14 hours 47 min ago

On behalf of the GPC, staff and volunteers, I want to wish you and yours a Happy Easter. For those who are not religious, Easter is a great long weekend marking the beginning of a long-awaited spring.

For practicing Christians, Easter marks Christ's resurrection - the foundational event of Christianity and the source of deep faith and trust. To all who observe Easter as the most sacred day in the Christian calendar, Let us raise our voices in a shared "Hallelujah! He is Risen, indeed!" 

- Elizabeth May, O.C., MP
Member of Parliament, Saanich­­–Gulf Islands,
Leader, Green Party of Canada



Nicholas Gall
Communications Officer
Green Party of Canada
(613) 614 4916


#Easter Message from @ElizabethMay

Greens call on Government to Stand Up for BC on Kinder Morgan Pipeline

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 19:32

VICTORIA – Andrew Weaver, Deputy Leader of the BC Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, and Adam Olsen, Interim Leader of the BC Green Party, are calling on the BC Government and Kinder Morgan to request that the National Energy Board introduce cross-examination into the hearing process for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion.

Trans Mountain, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, is applying to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain Pipeline to 890,000 barrels a day. The pipeline transports heavy oil from Alberta to Burnaby for transport by tanker. The expansion would see a drastic increase in the number of heavy oil tankers on the BC coast. Andrew Weaver, Elizabeth May and Adam Olsen have successfully been granted intervenor status in the hearing process.

“I applied for intervenor status so I could stand up for my constituents and offer them a voice in the process,” says Andrew Weaver. “Like others, I applied under the expectation that intervenors would have the right to cross-examine the proponent during the oral hearing process.” 

Cross-examination was an essential part of uncovering serious gaps in Enbridge’s evidence for the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, including evidence surrounding what would happen in the event of an oil spill.

The Province of British Columbia’s final argument on the Northern Gateway pipeline was heavily reliant on evidence that only came out during the oral cross-examination process. This allowed the Government to credibly and transparently assess the available evidence and come to the conclusion that they “were unable to support the project at this time”. In contrast, the Trans Mountain Pipeline hearings currently do not include any oral cross-examination and only offer intervenors two written opportunities to directly ask Trans Mountain for information about its evidence.

“This is a watershed moment for the BC government’s claim that it will stand up for British Columbians,” says Andrew Weaver. “Without oral cross-examination, the government has little ability to credibly and transparently represent the best interests of British Columbians in this process. I am therefore asking the BC Government to call on the National Energy Board to introduce a full oral cross-examination into the hearing process.”

“Having appeared as legal counsel before the National Energy Board over the last 30 years, the right to cross-examine before the National Energy Board has been unquestioned,” says Elizabeth May. “The truncated process imposed due to the 2012 omnibus budget bill is bad enough, these additional changes represent a breach of natural justice and if not corrected will end up before the courts.”

“Without oral cross-examination, Kinder Morgan essentially gets to say ‘trust us’,” says Adam Olsen. “British Columbians made it clear with the Northern Gateway pipeline that ‘trust us’ isn’t good enough. We want a full and transparent review of all of the facts, and that requires oral cross-examination. If Kinder Morgan has nothing to hide, then there should be no problem with them supporting a full oral-cross examination in the hearings.”



Nicholas Gall
Communications Officer
Green Party of Canada
(613) 614 4916

Greens call on Government to Stand Up for BC on #KinderMorgan Pipeline

Save Island Rail Town Hall Event

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 15:33
Event Date:  9 May 2014 - 7:00pm

On May 9, join us for a Town Hall event to discuss the crisis facing Canada's rail system, and what can be done to save Vancouver Island passenger rail. The evening will feature presentations from:

-- Elizabeth May - Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands

-- Harry Gow - Rail transportation expert and founding President of Transport Action Canada

-- Dr. Judith Sayers - National Aboriginal Economic Development chair at the University of Victoria and co-chair of the Island Corridor Foundation 

Date: Friday, May 9, 2014

Time: 7:00 - 9:00 P.M.

Location: Ambrosia Event Centre, 638 Fisgard St, Victoria, BC V8W 1R6

This free event is open to media and the public.

To learn more about the crisis in Canadian rail, visit the Green Party's Get Canada Back on Track campaign 

Join @ElizabethMay, @kekinusuqs and @TransportAction for a Save #VanIsland Rail town hall event

Elizabeth May speaking at Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 14:44
Event Date:  27 April 2014 - 9:00am

Elizabeth May, O.C., MP will be speaking at Toronto's Metropolitan United Church as part of the Political Leaders Speaking Series. 

Date: Sunday, April 27, 2014

Time: Both the 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM services

Location: 115 Simpson Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K 1A1

For more information visit the Metropolitan Community Church website 

Elizabeth May speaking at Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto

The Real Issue with the so-called "Fair Elections Act"

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:33

With all the talk about the Conservatives’ so-called “Fair Elections Act,” my mind keeps coming back to what Elizabeth May has said right from the start:

“The crisis in Canadian democracy is not that Canadians are voting more than once, it is that they are voting less than once.”

And that is what this issue is all about.

We see on TV, and we read in the news, strong criticisms of this bill from professional journalists and public commentators.

We hear expert testimony from independent and trusted officials -- like Sheila Fraser and Marc Mayrand -- telling us that this bill is an assault on our democracy.

We talk with our friends and family and we express shock that the Conservatives think they can get away with:

   — Preventing Elections Canada from encouraging youth to vote
   — Letting winning candidates choose the people who run your local voting place
   — Opening loopholes so that they can spend even more during elections
   — Stopping Elections Canada from investigating election fraud like the robocalls scandal or even warning Canadians that such a fraud is taking place
But it comes down to this --  

If this bill passes, hundreds of thousands of Canadians will be prevented from voting.

The good news is that this bill is not yet law. The good news is that Canadians are taking action. The good news is that by coming together we can defend our democracy.

Add your name to our petition today. Show the Harper Conservatives that you are a defender of our democracy.

We set a goal to reach 30,000 signatures by the end of the week. Be a part of this important movement and add your name today:

Defend our democracy -- add your name today

Statement from Elizabeth May on the death of Mi’kmaq leader Noel Knockwood

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 23:17

SIDNEY, BC – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands, has issued the following statement on the death of Mi'kmaq leader Noel Knockwood:

“Noel Knockwood was a community leader, a tireless advocate for Mi’kmaq traditions and culture, and a strong voice for the rights of First Nations peoples in Nova Scotia and across Canada.

A Mi’kmaq spiritual leader, Knockwood worked to establish post-secondary education transition programs for Aboriginal students at Dalhousie University. He served on the Mi’kmaq Grand Council, and as the first Aboriginal Sergeant at Arms in the Nova Scotia Legislature. 

Noel Knockwood was a man of faith, courage and profound wisdom. His lifelong commitment to human rights was an inspiration to so many.

On behalf of the Green Party of Canada, I would like to express my heartfelt sympathy for his family and loved ones at this time. It was an honour to have known him and worked with him. He will be missed."



Nicholas Gall
Communications Officer
Green Party of Canada
(613) 614 4916

Statement from Elizabeth May on the death of Mi’kmaq leader Noel Knockwood

Statement from the Green Party of Canada on anti-Semitic attacks in Kansas City

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 19:59

OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada condemns the tragic anti-Semitic attacks that took place outside Kansas City yesterday.

William Lewis Corporon, 69, and his grandson Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, are dead following a shooting rampage yesterday afternoon at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. Authorities are investigating the attack as a hate crime.

“The horrific attacks that took place yesterday show that anti-Semitism still exists in our society,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands. “This unbelievable tragedy reminds us of the violence and intimidation that the Jewish community continues to face to this day. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families and their loved ones.” 



Nicholas Gall
Communications Officer
Green Party of Canada
(613) 614 4916


Statement from the Green Party of Canada on anti-Semitic attacks in Kansas City

Statement from Elizabeth May for Passover

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 18:31

Passover begins this evening at sunset, and on behalf of the Green Party of Canada I would like to extend holiday greetings to all those across Canada and around the world who will be celebrating.

Passover commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery and oppression in ancient Egypt. It is a time for family and friends to gather together for traditional Seder dinners and to reflect on this important holiday’s themes of peace and freedom. 

At Passover, we join the Jewish Community in celebrating the blessings of a free society, while remembering those who are still not free from discrimination and persecution. 

Chag Sameach.

- Elizabeth May, O.C., MP



Nicholas Gall
Communications Officer
Green Party of Canada
(613) 614 4916


Statement from Elizabeth May for #Passover

Statement from the Green Party of Canada for Vaisakhi

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:16

On the occasion of the 315th Vaisakhi, the Green Party of Canada would like to extend best wishes for a peaceful and joyous holiday season to Canada's Sikh community.

Vaisakhi is a celebration of the anniversary of the inauguration of the Khalsa, the sovereign community of Sikhs, by Guru Gobind Singh. Vaisakhi is also a celebration of thanksgiving for the harvest. Each year, Sikhs around the world observe this holiday with feasts, songs, and processions.

The first Sikhs to immigrate to Canada settled near Vancouver around the turn of the last century. Today, Canada’s 470,000 Sikhs constitute an integral part of our country’s cultural mosaic.

The Green Party of Canada wishes all those celebrating today Khuśa visākhī!



Contact :

Nicholas Gall
Agent de communications
Parti vert du Canada
(613) 614 4916

Statement from the Green Party of Canada for Vaisakhi

Greens celebrate results of Kitimat plebiscite on Northern Gateway

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 12:07

NANAIMO - Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands today congratulates the people of Kitimat, BC on voting No in a plebiscite on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.

The final results of the plebiscite were revealed late yesterday evening, with the No side winning with 58.4% of the vote.

In advance of the vote, Enbridge had spent millions of dollars on local advertising and had brought in numerous lobbyists to build support for the pipeline.

"The people of Kitimat have spoken loud and clear, and they do not want this pipeline," said May. "This vote is an important step in the right direction, because it shows that the people who will be the most directly affected by this project won't accept Enbridge's false promises of jobs as compensation for the risk of a devastating tanker spill."

If completed, the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline would transport dilbit, a toxic mixture of oil sands bitumen and chemical diluent, for 1170 kilometers from northern Alberta to the port of Kitimat. Once in Kitimat, the dilbit would be loaded onto super tankers and shipped through the 260-km Hecate Strait, a narrow channel crowded with islands and prone to storms and thick fog. A 2012 study by a team of UBC researchers found the likelihood of a tanker spill in the channel to be nearly 100%. The cleanup costs for a single spill have been estimated at over $9 billion.



Nicholas Gall
Communications Officer
Green Party of Canada
(613) 614 4916


Greens celebrate results of Kitimat plebiscite on #NorthernGateway

Be Green Globally - Online Live Chat with Elizabeth May and global Green leaders

Sat, 04/12/2014 - 17:48
Event Date:  12 April 2014 - 8:00pm

Join Elizabeth May, O.C., MP and Leader of the Green Party of Canada for an online Live Chat with Christine Milne, Leader of the Australian Greens, Jill Stein, leader of the US Greens, and supporters from around the world. Participants can take part at

Date: Saturday, April 12

Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern

Be Green Globally - Online Live Chat with @ElizabethMay and global Green leaders

Statement by Elizabeth May and Bruce Hyer on the Passing of Jim Flaherty

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 18:49

OTTAWA - On behalf of the Green Party, our members, staff and volunteers, we wish to extend deepest condolences to the family of Jim Flaherty.

He was a rare partisan, able to extend a mischievous twinkle to a rejoinder in Question Period. He was a dedicated public servant and a genuinely kind man. He will be missed.


Debra Eindiguer
Green Party of Canada
(613) 240 8921

Statement by Elizabeth May and Bruce Hyer on the Passing of Jim Flaherty

Greens celebrate diversity on International Day of Pink

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 13:20

OTTAWA – Today on International Day of Pink, the Green Party of Canada joins with millions of Canadians nation-wide in celebrating diversity and calling for an end to homophobic bullying.

This year Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich­­–Gulf Islands will join other progressive leaders from across Canada in participating as an International Day of Pink Ambassador.

“It is a huge honour for me to have been invited to become an Ambassador for Day of Pink,” said May. “This is a day to stand up against bullying, to stand up against homophobia and discrimination of all kinds, and to say to young people who may be victims of bullying: speak up, and reach out.”

International Day of Pink is an anti-bullying initiative that began at a Nova Scotia high school in 2007, when two students were able to get their whole school to wear pink shirts in solidarity with a classmate who was a victim of homophobic bullying. Today, it is celebrated in communities across Canada and around the world.



Nicholas Gall
Communications Officer
Green Party of Canada
(613) 614 4916


Greens celebrate diversity on International Day of Pink #DayofPink

Greens welcome David Robinson as Natural Resources Critic

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 19:00

OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada is pleased to announce that Dr. David Robinson has taken on the Natural Resources portfolio on the Party’s Shadow Cabinet.

A Professor of Economics and the Director of the Institute for Northern Ontario Research and Development (INORD) at Sudbury’s Laurentian University, Robinson is an accomplished academic and longtime advocate for environmentally and socially responsible resource development.

“I am very pleased that Dr. Robinson will be taking on our Natural Resources file,” said Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands. “With the Canadian economy more dependent than ever on reckless and short-sighted resource development, it is absolutely essential that our party remains committed to a profitable and sustainable economy, one based on meaningful employment and wise use of resources, not a race to the bottom in serving as a resource colony for other countries' manufacturing and processing."

“Dr. Robinson has a real first-hand understanding of the issues that Canadians, and Northern Ontarians in particular, are currently facing in terms of our resource economy,” said Bruce Hyer, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North and the Green Party’s Democratic Reform Critic. “He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the mining and forestry sectors, and will be a great addition to our team.”

Dr. Robinson can be reached at



Nicholas Gall
Communications Officer
Green Party of Canada
(613) 614 4916

Greens welcome David Robinson as Natural Resources Critic

Passenger rail in Canada is in crisis

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 20:08

There has been a lot of attention of late to what moves on Canada’s rails. Train derailments, disasters such as Lac-Mégantic and near-disasters, such as the railcars loaded with toxic diluents that were suspended on a crumbling bridge over the Bow River during the June Calgary floods, have focused on the threat of unsafe rail cars and inadequate infrastructure. It really matters to accelerate the complete phase-out of the unsafe DOT-111 cars moving hazardous goods. Tragedies such as Lac-Mégantic must never happen again.

It really matters to ensure that grain farmers can move their harvest and that farmers in British Columbia have that grain as feed for livestock. Back in December 2013, farmers on Vancouver Island were desperate as a mere three-day supply of feed for livestock remained. High-cost and last-minute trucking got grain to the feed mills, but it was a very close call.

With the attention on serious concerns on our freight traffic, it is easy to miss the looming crisis in passenger rail.

VIA Rail is in trouble. While billions have been committed to VIA by the Harper administration, a very welcome investment, the spending has been concentrated in the Windsor-Quebec corridor, leaving the transcontinental, remote and rural rail service at risk.

Passenger rail in Canada is in crisis. The long-standing service The Ocean between Montreal and Halifax has lost half of its service in VIA cuts, from six days a week to only three. This route has existed since 1875, built as part of the Intercolonial Railway. Meanwhile, CN Rail has put 70 km of track between Bathurst and Miramichi, N.B., up for sale. It no longer uses that stretch for freight. The remaining user is VIA. Leaders from municipal governments, CUPE, local NGOs, Green MPs, and New Democrats have been pressing to keep the trains rolling from Montreal to Halifax.

Can we afford $10-million for this track? Considering that the February 2014 budget document (which I will insist we should call the “annual thick brochure” since it does not actually include a budget), committed $10-million to two years’ worth of snowmobile trails, I don’t know how the Harper Administration can credibly say “no.” I don’t think they want New Brunswickers imagining the 70 km passenger rail gap being handled by snowmobile relays.

At the other end of Canada, on Vancouver Island, rail service between Courtenay and Victoria is desperately in need of a new agreement, investment in rails and a new station in Victoria. The Island Corridor Foundation claims a tentative agreement has been reached with VIA Rail and the Southern Railway of B.C. to resume vital daily service on the E and N Corridor Railway, a claim VIA denies. With a growing population on southern Vancouver Island and the potential for properly scheduled passenger rail taking thousands of commuter vehicles off the road, this link is essential. We need the minister to ensure parties reach a firm agreement.

As the Toronto-Vancouver Transcontinental The Canadian snakes its breathtaking way across Canada, it must not be forgotten that just as is the case with The Ocean, while wealthier tourists love the bedroom and dining car service, lower-income Canadians need the economy train. Linking the country from coast to coast (sadly missing Newfoundland and Labrador at this point) is part of the national identity.

It could be improved by adjusting the route along the Great Lakes. One of the world’s most spectacular and popular scenic rail rides was the run from Sudbury to Thunder Bay. It was also profitable. Restoring it would add to the sustainability of VIA, and help boost Canada’s flagging tourism.

As VIA faces financial and ridership targets, the cutbacks inevitably cause a drop in passenger miles. The Ocean dropped four per cent last year, but its service was also cut in half. If its route through New Brunswick is not secured quickly, The Ocean could lose a whole season of tour operators and travellers—a disaster from which it would be unlikely to recover.

Unlike Amtrak, south of the border, VIA has no enabling legislation, no statutory mandate. Just before resigning her seat, Olivia Chow put forward a private member’s bill to establish such a legislative mandate. That bill should be taken up by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and used as a way to put her stamp on the sustainability of rail in Canada.

We need to overhaul the system for rail travel in Canada. We need to stop sabotaging VIA by the historical mistake of giving freight the ownership of tracks built through public investment. We need to update and modernize track to allow for high-speed rail along those routes where it would be profitable, starting with Edmonton to Calgary.

It is a feeble excuse to abandon passenger rail claiming our geography works against it. Why then do we maintain, at public expense, a vast highway system? Why do cars and trucks travel for free on our highways, when rail is stigmatized for requiring subsidies to operate? It’s time to get Canada’s rail, for freight and people, back on track.

Originally published in The Hill Times 

New article in @TheHillTimes by @ElizabethMay on the crisis in Canadian #rail

Statement for National Volunteer Week 2014

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 17:26

OTTAWA – On the occasion of the 11th annual National Volunteer Week, the Green Party of Canada acknowledges and celebrates the important work of Canada’s 13.3 million volunteers.

Every day, volunteers from coast to coast to coast are working hard and making invaluable contributions to their communities and to Canadian society.

Volunteers play an integral role in every aspect of the Green Party, and we are immensely grateful for their energy, their talents and their dedication.

To all our volunteers, we say thank you for all that you do.

Statement for National Volunteer Week 2014 @volunteercanada #volunteer

Doing Politics Differently: In Conversation with Elizabeth May and Alberta Green Party Leader Janet Keeping

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 15:16
Event Date:  12 April 2014 - 2:30pm

Join Elizabeth May, MP and Leader of the Green Party of Canada, and Janet Keeping, Leader of the Alberta Green Party in a discussion of it means to do politics differently and why it is important for Greens to practice politics in a different way. 

Date: Saturday, April 12

Time: 2:30 – 4:00 pm, 

Location: Alexandra Centre (in the “Dance Hall”), 922 - 9 Ave SE, Inglewood, Calgary

This event is open to the public; Admission: $ 10 (please plan to pay in cash)

For more information, visit the event Facebook page

Doing Politics Differently: In Conversation with @ElizabethMay and Janet Keeping of @GreenPartyAB

Green Sanctuary Special Event: Connecting Spirituality and Environmental Action

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 14:57
Event Date:  12 April 2014 - 7:00pm

Join Elizabeth May and friends for an evening of dialogue, centered on the relationship between spiritual practice and environmental action.

Green Sanctuary Special Event: Connecting Spirituality and Environmental Action

Date: Saturday, April 12

Time: Doors open at 7:00; Special presentation at 7:30;  Informal gathering from 8:30 to 10:00.

Location: The Unitarian Church of Calgary - 1703 1 Street NW. 

Free Admission (donations at the door will be accepted to support the continuance of the Green Sanctuary program)  

This is a non-partisan, non-denominational event, intended to support a wide-ranging expression of opinions and perspectives.  

The presentation will include: 

  • Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament, Green Party of Canada
  • Dr. Mishka Lysack, University of Calgary 
  • Rev. Debra Faulk, Minister, Unitarian Church of Calgary
  • Bernie Amell, Green Sanctuary member and Moderator

Space is limited to 200 people.  If you register now, but cannot attend, we would appreciate cancellation so that we can offer the space to other attendees.

For more information, contact the Green Sanctuary Committee at

Join @ElizabethMay in #Calgary on Saturday, April 12#yyc

NEB grants Intervenor status to federal Green Party Leader ‎and BC Greens

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 21:16

OTTAWA – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands has been granted Intervenor status in the upcoming National Energy Board (NEB) hearings on the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project.

May will join fellow Intervenors Adam Olsen, BC Green Party Leader, and Green MLA Andrew Weaver. Adriane Carr, Green City Councilor for Vancouver, will be attending the NEB hearings as a Commenter.

As an Intervenor, May will provide expert input at the NEB hearings both in her capacity as an environmental lawyer and a leader of the Canadian environmental movement, and on behalf of her constituents in Saanich­–Gulf Islands, who stand to be significantly affected by the proposed pipeline. 

“Saanich-Gulf Islands lies directly in the route of the bitumen-loaded tankers that would service the proposed projects,” said the Green Leader. “As such, my constituents are deeply concerned about this project and expect me to represent their concerns in this process.”

Kinder Morgan has applied to the National Energy Board to triple the current capacity of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which carries crude oil from northern Alberta to Burnaby, BC where it will be loaded onto tankers for export to foreign markets. This proposed expansion carries a number of significant risks, including the increased likelihood of a devastating tanker spill on the BC coast. 

“I have worked in the environmental movement in Canada as a volunteer, staff, expert and environmental lawyer since 1975, I have extensive experience working with small communities dependent on natural resources, such as fishing, forestry and tourism, and I have participated in dozens of environmental impact reviews,” said May. “I think it is absolutely necessary that my constituents have a voice at the table, but I also look forward to speaking on behalf of all British Columbians and all Canadians who are fighting to stop this pipeline.”



Nicholas Gall
Communications Officer
Green Party of Canada
(613) 614 4916


NEB grants Intervenor status to federal Green Party Leader @ElizabethMay ‎and BC Greens

Finance, Budgets And Shuffles

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 20:52

In the last few weeks, there were a few shake-ups on the Canadian political scene. Allison Redford resigned as Premier of Alberta, the Supreme Court ruled that Stephen Harper’s new Quebec appointee did not meet the requirements of the Constitution, and his long-serving Finance Minister, playing that role since 2006, Jim Flaherty resigned.

All three events seemed to catch pundits by surprise. Regrouping, the commentaries poured in for Mr Flaherty’s ‘steady hand’ over the last eight years. It made me reflect on the nature of budgets and the real bottomline of Canada’s finances.

It was a rare privilege to hear Canada’s first Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page speaking March 13, hosted by Salt Spring Forum. His commitment to public service, to evidence-based decision-making and to the institutions of Westminster Parliamentary democracy is unparalleled. He has sacrificed for these principles, in particular for his commitment to the principle that Parliament must control the public purse.

That principle is simply no longer respected. Parliament is marginalized as the Prime Minister’s Office pushes through fiscal decisions for which Parliamentarians have inadequate information.

As Parliamentary Budget Officer, Page went to court to obtain information to which Parliamentarians are entitled. He went to court to obtain the details of where cuts had been made throughout the Government of Canada and how those cuts had affected public service.

Even after the court ruled that the PBO had the right to such information, over a year later and despite continued efforts from Page’s successor at PBO, the information is still being denied.

On February 11, 2014, Jim Flaherty brought down what will be his last ‘budget’. However, that document should not be described as a budget. It did not contain the basic elements of a budget. There was no statement of total revenue, of expenditures, and no bottom-line. There was no breakdown, department by department of how the money is to be spent.

Here’s a pretty standard definition of a budget, as related to government spending:

A ‘budget’ is a plan for the accomplishment of programs related to objectives and goals within a definite time period, including an estimate of resources required, together with an estimate of resources available, usually compared with one or more past periods and showing future requirements. (Smith, Robert W. and Thomas D Lynch. (2004) Public Budgeting in America. 5th Edition. Pearson; Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. 37.)

Years ago, I used to go to the budget lock-ups and read budgets that did include such information, but no longer. I have suggested, and not lightly, that we should stop calling the spring economic propaganda device a ‘budget’. It should be called the seasonal ‘thick brochure’.

The only news media to make note of these new-style budgets was The Economist (February 15, 2014) in its editorial, ‘Canada’s budget: Something doesn’t add up.’

It opened with this sentence, ‘Central to the sovereignty of parliament is that it, not the executive, should ultimately control the public purse. It ends with this: ‘So much for sovereignty.’

The Economist quoted Kevin Page: ‘the system is broken,’ a point Mr Page made in spades in his comments on Salt Spring.

While we have ‘budgets’ that no longer meet the definition, Mr Flaherty has re-organized the revenue flow to Canada’s Consolidated Revenue accounts. Dramatically reduced have been the revenues from corporate taxation. Slashing the corporate tax rate is something about which Conservatives boast, but it has been so steeply reduced that Canada now has the lowest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. Some may recall Mr Flaherty’s framing of these cuts as liberating the ‘job creators’. But Canada’s unemployment rate remains rather flat, at 7 %, (and twice that level for youth).

Meanwhile, corporate bank accounts are awash in so much cash that it is now labeled ‘dead money’. The term, first used by the former Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney, described over $600 billion worth of cash—equal to an astonishing 32% of our GDP. It isn’t creating jobs. It isn’t being invested in research and development. It is doing nothing.

Cutting the GST and dozens of other boutique tax-cuts have been criticised by even conservative economists. Flaherty and Harper have vastly complicated the tax code, serving up highly specific pandering cuts, eliminating what had been budgetary surpluses even before we hit the 2008 financial crisis.

There will be debates about the legacy of Mr Flaherty as Finance Minister. Largely, as is the case for all ministers in this administration, his freedom of action was severely limited by the tightly centralized PMO operation under Stephen Harper. Still, it is my hope that we can focus attention on the fundamentals. We need to return to fiscal decisions supported by evidence. Parliament must control the public purse. And we need a budget that actually allows Parliament to understand what is being planned with the nation’s finances.

Originally published in Island Tides

New @IslandTides article from @ElizabethMay - Finance, Budgets And Shuffles #cdnpoli