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A kick in the pants

The federal budget is only helping the one per cent

Last year we saw an unprecedented uprising against economic inequality. Suddenly people woke up to the fact that the wealthy were getting much wealthier, while the rest of us struggled.

But for many, it was like railing against the tide: inequality and lack seem to be one of those hidden forces that just happen. But they don’t. The Conservative government’s new EI bill is another example of how government has undermined equality in the name of fiscal prudence.

Over and again the same pattern is repeated: Cut back taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and then use the resulting budget shortfall as excuse to cut social spending.

Yet social programs are government’s most powerful tool for addressing inequality. When EI is hard to qualify for, more people slip economically and the gap widens.

The federal government always resorts to the easy rhetoric of blame, implying that recipients of social programs are lazy bums, don’t want to work, and undeserving.

What is also implied is that the ongoing tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations (another kind of social program) are somehow merited.

The latest federal budget proves the Tories believe that the one per cent deserve economic assistance, while the rest of us just need a kick in the pants. And so inequality in Canada deepens.

Nathaniel Poole