Hundreds turn out to protest B.C. Liberal budget cuts, HST in Vancouver

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      With an anti-HST sign hanging from her neck, Lorrie Forseth declared that she is opposed to “all the cuts” being made by Premier Gordon Campbell’s B.C. Liberal government.

      The Burnaby mother of two told the Straight today (April 10) that she is particularly concerned about funding cuts to education and the effect the harmonized sales tax will have on those already struggling to get by. She’s also not happy about the impact these measures could have on her daughters.

      “Their haircuts, their school supplies, everything’s going to be taxed,” said Forseth, standing next to her 11-year-old, Harmony. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they taxed even little things like bubblegum and stuff like that. I wouldn’t be surprised at all. I don’t think it’s fair. It’s not fair at all.”

      Forseth was one of hundreds of people—many of them also sporting anti-HST signs—who attended a rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

      Organized by the Coalition to Build a Better B.C.—composed of 30 groups, from the Alliance for Arts and Culture to the Wilderness Committee—the protest saw several speakers criticize provincial budget cuts and their effect on the arts, children, education, seniors, women, and other areas.

      Fazeela Jiwa, a 26-year-old rape crisis line and transition house worker with Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, was one of those speakers.

      “Women all, in general, are disproportionately affected by all funding cuts,” Jiwa told the Straight before the rally kicked off. “I think that it’s important for the government, if they plan to be democratic, to fund equality-seeking groups. Otherwise, without equality, you can’t have democracy.”

      Denise Moffatt, president of the Surrey Teachers’ Association, told the Straight she attended the rally to raise awareness of the impact of cuts to the public school system.

      The secondary-school teacher noted the Surrey school district is facing a $12-million deficit while dealing with an increasing student population, and that means cuts to staff and programs are on the way.

      “We’re also seeing cuts to career coordinators in secondary schools, and more students will be in portables because we don’t have money to build new schools,” Moffatt said.

      She carried one of several signs at the rally depicting Campbell riding a zip line and an Olympic cauldron burning money while a crowd of protesters calls for support for schools.

      “When we can replace the roof on B.C. Place Stadium, when we can afford to put on the Olympics, we do have money in B.C. and we’re just not putting it in the right places right now,” Moffatt said. “We need to redirect that money to the people of British Columbia and into our students in particular.”

      At the back of the rally, people signed postcards against education cutbacks and letters demanding action on seniors’ care.

      One protest banner called for a general strike.

      Asked what she thought of that banner, Forseth said, “Go for it. It’s got to wake Gordon Campbell up somehow. He needs to wake up. Enough is enough.”


      Shamus Reid, B.C. chair of the Canadian Federation of Students, tells the crowd about the impact of budget cuts on postsecondary education.


      Adrienne Montani, provincial coordinator of First Call B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, says the province is failing many of its children and families.


      After the rally, Patti Bacchus, chair of the Vancouver school board, calls on the provincial government to take action to prevent education cuts.

      You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.

      Comments

      6 Comments

      Dorothy Fergusson

      Apr 11, 2010 at 10:30pm

      It's about time this government is called to task regarding their failure to address the needs of Joe Average in B.C. Most people feel they are completely disregarded by Gordon Campbell and his gang of henchmen.
      Why is it that we can host the Olympics but children of low income families see nothing but cuts to the lunch programs, band programs not to mention the library. We are falling apart in B.C. and unless the average citizen starts to make a stand there will not be a B.C. that we even recognize before their term is up. Bravo for a General Strike....it's the only way to show them. I'm sure they won't arrest us all. But they probably will try. That's the level of arrogance of this bunch.

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      ds

      Apr 12, 2010 at 10:18am

      I agree whole heartedly with with Dorthy. It is well said. Here we are in a crises mode and our fearless leader is away (likely tipping a few) on holidays. Goes to show the people of this province just how much he really cares. He's hoping he'll go down as the person who showed B.C. to the world but he should go down as the person who broke the bank for his own ends. Imagine a 50% raise and cut everone else to the bone. Not a true leader in my books.

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      to john q

      Apr 14, 2010 at 3:33pm

      the woman up top works for a woman's shelter which is a seething hotbed of radical feminism. they cant make it on their own so they live off tax payer's dollars and use the cash to make men look bad

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      Julie

      May 6, 2010 at 11:43am

      Well, Mr. John Q. You explain how a 5ft 3" woman, can defend herself from, a 6ft 2", 250 pound, body builder? In my day, I had no way to protect my children, nor myself. All I was able to do, was lie and cover up for the kids, to stop them from being beat half to death. I would take the blame, to save them. My oldest boy was beat with a belt buckle, while I was out. His legs were swollen twice their size, and the welts were bleeding. He had wet his pants. He was 9 years old. No need to say, he died from an over dose. He was a kind hearted little boy. His little hands would shake, he would cry and ask me, why does dad hate me mom. The other two were beat as well, however, my oldest boy, was beat the most. Would I have gone to a woman's shelter? You bet your bippy I would. You, sound like the same type of an abuser, to say something that vile. In those days, Social Assistance, was nearly impossible to get, I was refused every time. You, should have, a mental evaluation, there is something sadly, badly wrong with you.

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      Julie

      May 6, 2010 at 1:53pm

      Sorry, John Q. I meant the previous poster.

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