It’s safe to say that taxes aren’t everyone’s favourite subject. Canadians are usually confronted with the idea during tax season: as we frantically get our financial documents in order, while tempering our slight annoyance with the government for peering into our pockets. But we need to have more comprehensive conversations on how taxes affect our lives on a daily basis; because the fight for a fairer tax system is real and urgent.
Posted by Martin Adelaar, Roger Peters and Geoff Stiles · December 08, 2017 11:02 AM
The Broadbent Institute's new project, Change the Game, takes a critical look at the history of social democracy in Canada, with the intention of learning from the successes and challenges of the past in order to build the best possible path forward. We invite you to join us in rethinking and renewing social democracy by reading other entries in this series.
In his reflections on the social democratic tradition Andrew Jackson argued that we need to democratize the Canadian economy by increasing social ownership of capital.In the energy sector this means identifying mechanisms such as community ownership and a greater role for the public sector, ensuring that the corporate assets associated with energy production “flow to all citizens”, and are not monopolised by large private or public organisations – in short, energy democracy. Following Jackson, we believe that the expected de-carbonization of energy production can facilitate such a transition.
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.
A particularly scathing criticism came from a Globe and Mail editorial that suggests the government could have “simply brought in a carbon price and stopped there”. The Globe claims that price signals could have done the job and left more up to “individual choice”, while achieving emissions reductions at minimum cost. This is a policy based on a narrow and ultra-orthodox reading of neoclassical economics, and it is good that Ontario did not limit itself to carbon pricing.
It is now often said, with reason, that the environment and the economy are not in conflict. But it is even more true to say that seriously addressing the crisis of global climate change could revive a moribund global economy.
The World Economic Outlook (WEO) released by the International Monetary Fund in April of this year once again forecast very slow growth, and argued that economic stagnation is likely to be self-sustaining. This is due to very low levels of business investment, combined with high levels of household and public debt which constrain household and government spending.
Recent events have triggered an important discussion on the Left’s approach to climate change policy. The Leap Manifesto is one expression of the desire to transition to a carbon neutral economy while creating a more just and “caring” society.
The new Canadian government has certainly shot off the starting blocks at breakneck speed on climate policy. Catherine McKenna was more or less packing for a ministerial meeting in Paris while swearing her oath to become Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
Justin Trudeau has announced that the Liberals “won’t set a specific emissions target” for greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change. His reasoning is that, “what we need is not ambitious political targets. What we need is an ambitious plan to reduce our emissions in the country.”
There has been a lot of talk during the federal election campaign about how to create more good, “middle-class” jobs. But there has been only limited recognition of the need for a much more active government role if we are to build the more innovative and sustainable economy we need to create such jobs.