Deloitte not the choice to balance the federal books

Ella Henry - From College Hill to Parliament Hill (Tom Bateman/AQ)

When a government spends $19.8 million – or $90,000 a day  – in pursuit of cutting costs, I have to wonder whether they’re being honest about their goals.

The federal government has hired Deloitte, a company known for its audit and tax consulting services to advise the federal government on where to cut costs.

Meanwhile, the prime minister seems unconcerned that senior ministers and other government officials are wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars using government jets and helicopters for vacations, or to make trips where they could easily have used commercial flights.

Let’s be clear – Deloitte isn’t an objective expert in the situation. Deloitte’s major clients are financial institutions, multinational corporations and oil and energy companies – to name a few.

When recommending what to cut, Deloitte is likely to be thinking about the interests of large corporations, not Canadians.

Deloitte actively tries to influence public policy, often in the interests of large corporations. For example, Deloitte recently advocated in favour of the harmonized sales tax (HST) in British Columbia, even though the majority of people in British Columbia voted to scrap the HST in a recent referendum.

Every year, before tabling a budget, the federal government holds pre-budget consultations with stakeholders from around the country.

Corporate industry groups, non-profit organizations, unions, professional associations and others all make recommendations about where the government’s revenue should come from and what programs and services the government should spend money on.

Deloitte is one of the stakeholders that made recommendations to the federal government in the last budget.

They recommended “the gradual reduction in the corporate tax rate that is in progress” and “the implementation of the HST in British Columbia and Ontario,” among other things.

In other words, they pushed for corporations to pay less while the rest of us pay more for basic goods.

In the lobbying and public campaigns that attempt to influence the government’s priorities in the budget, it is normal that some stakeholders are listened to more than others.

But until now, none of these stakeholders have been paid by the government to advance their own interests.

If the federal government is serious about cutting the deficit, they could have brought together people with diverse interests from across the country to make recommendations. After all, choosing where to cut, and where to (not) increase taxes are political decisions.

Instead, the federal government hired a company with a clear stake in how the government spends its money.

By claiming to have hired objective experts to cut costs, the federal government is hiding its ideological goals.

We’re already seeing cuts to services the majority of us rely on, coupled with increases in profits for a few already extremely wealthy people.
And my guess is Deloitte will recommend more of the same.

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