What is the true nature of the Liberal Party of Canada? Is it a genuinely progressive party of the centre-left, worthy of the support of those pushing for a more equal and inclusive society? Or is it essentially a party of the status quo which campaigns from the left but generally governs from the right? These questions have a rich historical dimension which remains relevant today.
The future of the neo liberal global economic order is seemingly in play. Brexit, President Trump's “America First” threat to both the NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the growing strength of the anti European Union right pose a threat to business as usual. However, there is room for doubt over the staying power of right-wing populism, which owes more to racism than to economic nationalism per se. And corporate interests are mobilizing to preserve the very real gains they secured for themselves under the the current global trade regime, including NAFTA.
This blog post is part of a series of posts that will be focusing on the tax avoidance by Canada’s most wealthy. This series was sparked by findings in the Paradise Papers — the latest leak that revealed the offshore tax haven activities of former Canadian elected officials and political insiders. Tax avoidance is wrong. It robs the Canadian government from paying for and maintaining our health and social programs; ones that work to improve the lives of all Canadians. A government crackdown on offshore tax havens is urgent and necessary.
There has been surprisingly little critical commentary on the 2018 federal Budget legislative proposals regarding the taxation of passive investment income in private corporations. This sorry saga has now come to an end, but with very little progress made in terms of gains in public revenues and the promotion of greater tax fairness.
The German election results mark a major set back for progressives in that country, with serious implications for the European Union and for global economic governance.
Note that German voters elect a candidate in each constituency and also vote for a party. The final distribution of seats in the Parliament closely reflects the share of the national vote won by each party, with a 5% of the vote threshold to gain representation.
The election of President Trump and the potential imposition of border taxes and other protectionist measures is clearly of great concern to Canadian exporters, the workers they employ and the communities they support. This underlines just how much NAFTA and the wider liberalization of trade with rising economic powers such as China have shaped our economy and made us highly vulnerable to forces outside our control.
Economists and pundits are at odds over medium term prospects for the global economy. Pessimists see stagnant growth, rising inequality and growing unemployment and underemployment, widely held to be responsible for the rise of right-wing populists such as US President elect Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, techno optimists such as Erik Bryjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, the authors of The Second Machine Age, argue that the digital economy will drive rapid productivity growth and underpin the gradual emergence of a post scarcity economy capable of providing prosperity for all.
The federal government heeded the advice of the business dominated Economic Advisory Council and set out a new welcome mat for foreign investors in the recent Economic Statement . The threshold for review of foreign take-overs of Canadian companies will be raised from $600 Million to $1 Billion (up from just $369 Million in 2015); a new agency, the Invest in Canada Hub, will be set up with a mandate to woo foreign corporations; and reviews of the security implications of foreign take-overs are likely to be limited.
The Advisory Council on Economic Growth chaired by Domenic Barton has proposed to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau the creation of an independent Canadian Infrastructure Development Bank (CIDB) to help finance $200 billion of public infrastructure projects over the next decade. There is an argument for improved financing tools, but no case for such a lever for massive and costly privatization.
The report of the Council reiterates the consensus view that investment in public infrastructure such as roads, mass transit, railways, ports, water and waste water treatment, clean energy and power grids has been too low, and that a major increase could drive immediate job creation while also boosting longer term economic growth.
With the global economy mired in slow growth and right-wing, nationalist populism in the ascendant in many of the advanced industrial countries, one might have hoped that the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China would have come up with a real plan to promote a sustainable, shared recovery.
If so, one would be very disappointed since the final communique consisted mainly of empty rhetoric and evaded the key issues of competitive fiscal austerity and increasing income inequality.