This blogpost appeared in the Globe and Mail on February 18th.
By now, everybody is surely aware that the core commitments of the Liberal federal government are to “build a strong middle-class” and “help those working hard to join it.” But economic progress and social progress over the past three years seems to have been very limited, and it is far from clear that the government is pursuing the best overall strategy to promote higher living standards and greater income equality.
This blogpost originally appeared in the Globe and Mail.
Partly fuelled by reports from conservative think-tanks such as the Fraser Institute, many Canadians believe that they are taxed far too heavily and that the tax “burden” has been rising over time. Recently published Statistics Canada data show, in fact, that most individual Canadians pay very low effective rates of personal income tax, and that the tax “burden” has been falling.
Adam Tooze. Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World. Viking. New York. 2018
The global economic crisis is now more than a decade old, and is far from definitively behind us. Indeed, many fear, with good reason, that the recent, uneven and lethargic global recovery may soon come to an end, and that the next crisis of global capitalism could be even worse than that of 2008.
The Trudeau government has said that the new USMC agreement continues to give us an effective means of resolving bilateral disputes with the United States, allowing us to appeal to a special tribunal if that country (or Mexico) has, in our view, violated the agreement.
The federal government is widely expected to announce a new competitiveness strategy as part of its Fall Economic Statement. Corporate Canada has been lobbying hard for a new round of corporate-tax cuts in response to recent tax “reform” under President Donald Trump in the United States.
The Poverty Reduction Strategy announced by the federal government at the end of August proposes that an official Canadian poverty line be set for the first time and enshrined in legislation; and that official targets be set to reduce the poverty rate by 20% by 2020, and by 50% by 2030.
Though not a complete solution, the Poverty Reduction Strategy announced by the federal government at the end of August marks a step forward in Canadian social policy. It is proposed that an official Canadian poverty line be set for the first time and enshrined in legislation; that official targets be set to reduce the poverty rate by 20% by 2020, and by 50% by 2030; and that there be annual monitoring of progress towards the target.
There is a lot of talk these days about the end of jobs and the decimation of traditional employment due to rapid technological change, the much feared rise of the robots, and the emergence of new and more insecure forms of work in the so-called gig economy. But the statistics suggest that the extent of real change in the job market to date has been greatly exaggerated by many pundits.
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.