BRIEF FROM THE ASSOCIATION
FOR REFORMED POLITICAL ACTION
ARPA Canada is a non-profit and non-partisan organization that
strives to equip members of Canada’s Reformed churches to be active
participants in public life. In the last four years we have grown to engage
political action in over 130 church congregations. Eighteen local ARPA groups
are located in towns and cities across the country, promoting a similar goal
through grassroots and volunteer efforts. In this submission we aim to
represent the faith-based perspective that is held to by these, and many more, Canadians.
Why should a Christian organization be addressing Canada’s budget?
We recognize that the budget is a moral document, a testimony to what our
nation values. All policy decisions are based on a worldview that gives
direction and guidance. The budget is no different. It is impossible to make
decisions about where our finances go without a broader understanding of what
the role of the state is, also in relation to the other institutions that
function in society. Our recommendations flow from a belief that the state,
family, business, science, and the arts are distinct spheres within society,
accountable directly to God. The state is not sovereign over all spheres and
should not assume responsibility over all spheres.
In this report, ARPA Canada makes three recommendations. The first
recommendation is to retire the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal.
Reasons are given for the necessity of such a move on public policy and legal
grounds. The fiscal benefit is an annual savings for Canadians of $26,944,000.
The second recommendation focuses on special funding in arts and culture.
Although ARPA Canada would like to draw attention to the funding of many types
of special interest groups, we are limited to focusing on one type. We
recommend a cut to the unnecessary, irresponsible and offensive funding of
certain “arts” projects. As proposed, the fiscal benefit is an annual savings
for Canadians of $183,328,000 in 2012. The third recommendation is to adopt a
policy of promoting civic responsibility in order to alleviate the financial
burden on the federal budget. The government has a long history of taking over
roles and responsibilities that do not fall within the role and jurisdiction of
governments. A policy of returning the responsibility of certain issues to the
civic core could save billions of dollars.
Cut Funding to the Canadian Human Rights Commission
The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and Tribunal (CHRT)
have become a national and international embarrassment. Instead of protecting
human rights they have become a means to intimidate and encroach on the freedom
of speech and the freedom of religion of Canadians. New rights are created and
defended, such as a right for select individuals to not be offended. These so-called
rights are enforced at the expense of our fundamental freedoms, enshrined in
section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which are rooted in a long
Common Law tradition reaching back to the Magna Carta of 1215 and are foundational
to a free democracy.[i]
"As long as the commissions exist, even in skeletal form, the
temptation to rebuild them as agencies of social control will remain and will
almost certainly be too much for some government to resist."[ii] Other commissions, laws, and codes already exist to address genuine violations
of human rights. These institutions include labour relations boards, other
agencies, boards, commissions and tribunals, and, of course the Criminal Code
and the real court system. The CHRC and CHRT are an unnecessary expense in
today’s society; the modern Canadian human rights regime has become a
totalitarian tool and should be done away with.[iii]
It should suffice to mention the opinion of the leading scholar and
academic in human rights law, the giant in the civil liberties movement, Mr.
Alan Borovoy. Canada's legendary civil libertarian was General Counsel for the
Canadian Civil Liberties Association for many years, and is an Officer of the
Order of Canada. Borovoy, who helped establish the commissions in the 1960s to
stop discrimination, has been particularly vocal in denouncing what he views as
misuse of the country's Human Rights Commissions. “We never envisioned that
these laws would be used as an instrument of censorship… This trend… is a very
backward and disquieting step,” he said. “When you look at how broad the law
potentially can be in this area, they could wind up censoring all kinds of
One more reason that the CHRC and the CHRT should be done away with
is the fact that the commissioners and investigators simply do not know the law
or, if they do, they show a total disregard for the highest law in the land,
the Constitution and the Charter. One of the lead investigators for the CHRC
has been infamously quoted for answering the following question thus: when
asked by lawyer Beverley Kulaszka, "What value do you give freedom of
speech when you investigate one of these [hate speech complaints?" the
investigator replied, "freedom of speech is an American concept, so I
don't give it any value. It's not my job to give value to an American
concept."[v] The reality is that freedom
of speech is enshrined in section 2 of the Charter, and is vigorously defended
by the courts.
What amount of money will disbanding the CHRC and the CHRT save
Canadians? The latest numbers from Public Accounts shows that the CHRC receives
a budgeted amount of $22,629,000 to investigate and mediate complaints and
conduct human rights awareness campaigns. The CHRT receives $4,315,000.
Removing both organizations could save the Canadian people a total of
$26,944,000 in 2012.
Cut Funding to Special Arts and Culture Groups
The budget gives a good glimpse into what Canada’s government sees
as its role. Token spending is provided to appease interest groups, at the
expense of the public good. We look to you to change this. The government’s
role does not include creating or sustaining a Canadian culture i that is a
nebulous reality that remains and changes with the people. There are many
examples in which the federal government provides funding to organizations and
agencies that have narrow ideological agendas that run counter to a large
number of Canadians or whose goals should be carried out by the general
population rather than by our government. Our parents and teachers have taught
us that in order to properly save thousands of dollars in our personal budgets,
we need to account for the pennies. For our federal government, the same rule
applies. Finance Minister Flaherty has been speaking of ways to save $4 billion
a year. It seems very clear to us that there is a huge amount of saving to be
found in the Heritage Ministry portfolio especially.
Grants are handed out time and time again in amounts of thousands
and millions of dollars to fund projects that most Canadians would find
offensive at best. This past year, one particularly offensive project was an
album titled “Holy shit” with cover art that replicates the Bible. The inner
notes are titled “a poo testament” and has an image of Jesus ascending to heaven
as a piece of feces. This is objectionable to most Canadians regardless of
one’s religious views, particularly when we consider the Canadian taxpayer
helped fund the project.
Telefilm receives $105,667,000 of taxpayer’s money to fund a wide
variety of projects.[vi] Many of the projects that
Telefilm funded have never been heard of. A number of the projects are highly
controversial, offensive and may even contain images of child pornography. In
2009, a movie called “TheYear of the CARNIVORE” was funded to the tune of 1.2
million dollars. At one point in the film the main character uses a vibrator to
masturbate in the presence of children. Performing a sexual act when in the
presence of children and recording that act may fall under the definition Child
Pornography under section 163.1 of the Criminal Code and such an act certainly
offends section 173.(2) of the Code. Other examples of funding from Telefilm
are movies such as “Young People F***ing”, “Suck” and “Masturbators”, and a
website called “Bitching Lifestyle”.
Telefilm not only funds objectionable projects but also projects
that do not need extra funds at all. An example of this is a science fiction
movie called “Splice”. This movie was the top grossing Canadian film in 2010.
It grossed $26.9 million worldwide. Despite these profits, Telefilm used tax
dollars to award the director $40,000 for being the top grossing film. This
organization needs to have its budget cut in half from $105,667,000 to
$50,000,000 in 2012 and further reduced by 20% in the two subsequent years.
This will force the organization to be properly selective in its funding
decisions and will help prevent the funding of lewd and crude material.[vii]
The Canadian Council for the Arts receives $183,116,000 and the
National Film Board receives $69,545,000 a year. Both of these organizations
should have their budgets cut in half in 2012 to $90,000,000 and $35,000,000
and further reduced by 20n a year in the two subsequent years.
The free market is the best arbiter of which music groups or works
of art should succeed: If no one wants to purchase the art or listen to the
music, then it is not worthy of public support either. The arts industry should
just like any other trade. ARPA Canada, a strong defender of the freedom of
expression, requests this government to immediately stop the practice of
forcing taxpayers to pay for “art” that they find distasteful and offensive.
This amounts to cultural coercion.
The National Film Board, Canadian Council for the Arts and Telefilm
receive a total of $358,328,000. Our proposed cuts would save the Canadian
taxpayer $183,328,000 in 2012 and an additional saving of $35,000,000 in 2013
and $28,000,000 in 2014.[viii]
Promote Civic Responsibility in Order to Reduce the Debt
The state is entrusted with public money and has a responsibility
to act as stewards. The rule of law applies equally to financial stewardship.
Not even the state may steal. The state may not take from private citizens what
it does not have the authority to take. On the flip side, Canadians do need to
entrust the state with the funds necessary for it to fulfill its role. Debt has
become so normal that there is little need for the federal government to even
legitimize it anymore. let this is a serious moral problem. When we borrow
money not only do we end up forfeiting our responsibilities (by transferring
them to the state), we also incur a huge public debt, plus the interest burden,
that our children and grandchildren will have to bear. In effect we are
stealing from future generations to pay for what we want today. When private
citizens adopt this approach to personal finances it is rightfully seen as
There is no reason why it should be condoned when our civil
governments do the same thing, for their own political advantage.
It is necessary for this government to not only project a balanced
budget within four years, but also to commit to an aggressive plan to pay down
the debt within the following two decades. Paying $0.14 of every tax dollar to
debt interest alone is unacceptable.[ix] To imagine a universal 14%
tax decrease in 20 years due to the savings on the debt payments could do
wonders for the Canadian economy.
One step our government must take toward attaining this goal is to
defer to the institutions of the civic core. The family, churches, charitable
organizations, economic entities, and others have an important role in caring
for the different needs within society. Indeed, every individual Canadian is
entrusted with not only the rights that come from being a citizen, but also the
responsibilities necessary to make this country flourish. Human nature is such
that we want to maximize our rights and privileges and relinquish our
responsibilities. Many are happy when the federal government decides to provide
childcare, social assistance, welfare, and many other services that individual
Canadians should be primarily responsible for decreasing the role of the
government in public life will not only lead to a return of fiscal integrity,
it will also put more responsibility on those who are best suited for it. studies
show that the private sector and charitable sector in particular are much more
efficient than government agencies. In order to seriously save money, our
officials should defer to and enable our charitable institutions.
Currently the Canadian tax structure is punitive towards those
families who determine that the parent is best suited to raising the children.
family pays significantly more taxes than a two-income
family with the same income and number of children. A report by the Institute
of Marriage and Family Canada noted that: joint filing and income splitting
would result in lower taxes for families generally and help to raise after-tax incomes among the
lowest income bracket. According to research from the Library of Parliament, 31
per cent of two-parent
families below $30,000 in annual income would benefit from income splitting.
The average benefit would be $215 annually (Library of Parliament, 2006). As
with the EITC’s marriage bonus, the size of the benefit might be considered of
secondary importance. Of greater significance is the fact that married couples
are being explicitly recognized by their government. This would once again send
an important message to Canadian families about the benefits of marriage. And
marriage, we repeat, is a proven poverty fighter.[x]
Of course this is just one example. But it illustrates the broader
principle of saving money by returning responsibilities to individuals and
institutions that are best suited, even if they may prefer otherwise.
Some might read these suggestions and write them off as a “right-wing Christian” perspective.
But consider carefully what is being advocated. We are not asking that Christian
organizations and efforts be funded. We are not trying to advance the agenda of
a narrow segment of the Canadian public. The reality is that the current budget
is biased and ideological. The federal government will continue to struggle with
this as long as it is involved in parts of public life that are outside of its basic
role. Maintain a strong system of justice, keep our infrastructure current and in
good repair, and do everything possible to keep taxes as low as possible. These
are some examples of very simple principles that are for the people’s good. If individuals
believe strongly about a particular cause they should have the freedom to put their
time and resources to advance that cause. It should not be our tax dollars that
The cuts that we suggest in recommendations #1 and #2 would save Canada
almost a quarter of a billion dollars in 2012: $210,272,000.00 to be exact. This
number does not include the potential billions of dollars that can be saved should
the federal bureaucrats adopt a policy as suggested in recommendation m3 of abdicating
their control of so many aspects of Canadian life and properly returning that responsibility
to the civic core.