|Common Front for Social Justice|
For Immediate Publication
January 13, 2008.
"The Common Front for Social Justice is simply outraged by the decision to have the public pay to be able to provide its opinion to the provincial government regarding its orientation. " Linda McCaustlin, co-chair of the Common Front for Social Justice
"We are questioning how a government who claims to walk in the footsteps of Louis Robichaud can go as far as requesting that the citizens pay to speak out on a budget which actually is that of all the citizens in the province. " contines Ms McCaustlin
A charge of $15 was indeed levied from those who met with the Minister of Finance, Mr. Victor Boudreau, during his public meeting in Paquetville, on January 10, as part of his pre-budget provincial tour.
This troubling and unhealthy gesture gives a blow to the principles of equity and democracy. Undoubtedly, the Minister of Finance has never given any thought to the impact of such a decision on the low-income earners who do not have the money to spare to pay the entrance fee, let alone find a means of transportation to wherever the consultations take place.
This creates obviously a perception problem. In charging $15 to be able to meet him, it leads to believe that the tour is aimed solely at consulting the elite, e.g. the representatives of the business community, the members of the Chambers of Commerce and the professionals. Worse yet, the scheme gives the impression that the government puts down the citizens who are in the lower bracket as if they have nothing to offer in the budget process. This, by the way, concurs with a statement made recently by the Premier to the effect that he would have liked to lower the corporate taxes to promote the economic development in this province. It makes one believe that the government lends its ear solely to a specific sector of the population.
"The decision of the Minister of Finance to consult only those who can afford to meet with him sends the wrong signal to all those who struggle for more inclusion and democratization in this province. The government decision deserves some explanations on the part of the Premier, otherwise the citizens will stay with the impression that there is little room for inclusion in the policies of the present government." concludes Ms. McCaustlin.
For Information- Linda McCaustlin- 855-7046