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POSTED AT 8:53 PM EST    Monday, December 10
Public: Budget gets negative review
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Globe and Mail Update

The $24 round-trip surcharge travellers will soon see on their airline tickets to help fund a new airport security agency proved to be a thorny issue for readers.

The early reactions were largely negative, ranging from criticisms of the new surcharge to the lack of spending in heath care and the military.

"I'm also disappointed that the new air security program, while necessary, is being put on the backs of travelling Canadians. The government counts the air security program as additional spending but collects the money back from travellers with a user fee. This is tantamount to a tax hike. Exactly what we don't need at this point in a recession," Howard Cadinha wrote.

Gord Drimmie wrote: "A decent balance . . . but the $12-a-fare surcharge for airline security should not affect all fares equally. Short hop city-to-city flights are penalized proportionately more."

Al Hall echoed that concern. He wrote: "Adding $12 to short-haul domestic Canadian flights costs for security shows that the average cabinet minister has never been to airports like Leaf Rapids, Man. and is very happy to have the taxpayer pay for their taxes on flights to Toronto and Montreal from Ottawa."

Other writers to focused on the lack of spending on health care and education in the budget.

"Insufficient health care funding. Insufficient military spending. The proposed funds will barely allow the military to maintain a status quo with outdated equipment let alone increase recruitment and purchase modern equipment," Jim Rawluk wrote.

"There was no mention of taking the Auditor-General's report seriously and eliminating huge waste of taxpayers dollars in various departments. It's our money not the government bureaucrats to pour down the drain on wasteful spending."

Paul Connor also had criticisms insufficient military spending in the budget: "The new money to be spent on the military is a joke. There is no money, so far as I can tell, to improve unit readiness (which I understand to mean supplies, constant training and the ability to get from A to B in a timely manner)."

Mr. Connor added: "There is no evidence that the Finance Minister took the Auditor-General's recent report into account. It does no good to add nuclear-biological-chemical defence capabilities, expand JTF2, or fund Operation Apollo, if any new facilities or operations have to beg for batteries from Allied forces! I understand that the government is faced with many competing priorities, but to call this a 'security budget' is stretching the truth considerably."

Kerry McCuaig wrote to that the budget was not for Canadians. "This was a budget dictated by Washington, not by the people of Canada.

"A Canadian response would be to focus on the kind of country we want to secure. We can not be secure in a country where thousands sleep on the streets, one in five children live below the poverty line and middle income Canadians feel insecure about their future as we face another recession."

Glen MacVichie, president of Peter Robinson College at Trent University, focused his criticism on the lack of attention paid of post-secondary education in the budget.

"At Trent University, we are facing an impending tuition rise, undoubtedly due to the lack of investment by the federal government. It would have been nice to see some movement to finance new and much needed equipment for post-secondary institutions. This would have been a convenient way for the government to provide needed capital to students, bringing down universities' debt. Unfortunately, our post-secondary institutions are becoming a club for the upper class, with the wealth and ability to support academic studies. Thanks for nothing Paul Martin!"

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