Minority governments achieve progress for people, says Alternative Federal Budget

January 5, 2006

OTTAWA—Today the Alternative Federal Budget released a detailed report card on the achievements of the 2004-05 Minority Parliament and awarded the Martin Minority an overall C grade for “some progress.”

Minority Report: A Report Card on the 2004-05 Minority Government outlines the problems, grades the efforts, and outlines an unfinished People’s Agenda for the next government. The report, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, was put together with input from numerous civil society organizations representing millions of Canadians.

“One of Canada’s most persistent political myths is that only majority governments are able to make meaningful change. The reality is frequently the reverse,” explains AFB Coordinator Judy Randall. “Minority Parliaments have often been the most effective in terms of achieving real progress for people.

Two decades of back-to-back majorities under successive Conservative and Liberal governments delivered largely on the demands of corporate Canada, not the broader electorate. That agenda was stalled, at least temporarily, under the minority Parliament of 2004-05.

This minority Parliament made progress on many policy fronts that put people first:

  • Negotiations to maintain support from the NDP forced the Martin government to put a brake on its rush to cut corporate taxes and redirect that money to reducing tuition fees, building affordable housing, improving energy efficiency, and improving protection for workers.
  • Forceful opposition in the House and on the ground prompted Paul Martin to reject participation in the U.S. ballistic missile defence program and to modestly increase foreign aid.
  • The promise of a national child care program gained new life. And new hope is on the horizon for Aboriginal Peoples via a landmark agreement to close the gap between Aboriginal Peoples and other Canadians in health, education, housing, and economic opportunities.

But much more needs to be done—Canada’s poor keep falling further below the poverty line, Medicare is increasingly threatened, and inequality soars as incomes become more polarized and tax cuts widen the gap.

Instead of addressing these issues the Liberal government wants to divert $39 billion of projected ‘surplus’ revenues over upcoming years to tax cuts that will go primarily to the well-off and to corporations already wallowing in record profits.

And the Conservatives, who have never seen a tax cut they didn’t like, are fully supportive of this agenda.

“Canada does not need another government bent on helping people that don’t need help. What is needed is a counterweight in Parliament to remind them that government is there to work for the people,” says the AFB report.

The Alternative Budget has demonstrated that a People’s Agenda is doable and affordable. “But it requires the collective resources of Canadians, and a government committed to putting our money to work for all of us,” Randall concludes.


Minority Report: A Report Card on the 2004-05 Minority Government is available on the CCPA web site at http://www.policyalternatives.ca

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.