The phrase was Pierre Trudeau's, and it caught on. Canadians like to think of themselves as citizens of a Just Society. Certainly, they believe, things are better here than in the United States. But, Carol Goar wrote recently, we have been emulating our southern neighbours. In fact,
Since the mid-1990s, income inequality has been rising faster in Canada than the U.S. They’re still in top spot, but we’re catching up. Our Gini index, which measures income equality, rose by 9 per cent over the last decade. Theirs increased by 4.7 per cent.
And that conclusion is based on old numbers:
It is based on six-year-old statistics. But all of the indicators suggest the trend is accelerating. Since 2005, our tax system has become more regressive, our social services have shrunk, our manufacturing base has deteriorated and we’ve gone through a painful recession that hit the poor hardest.
When Trudeau retired, Canada's tax system became more regressive:
Until 1988, we had 10 income brackets. Then the government of Brian Mulroney “flattened” the tax system, leaving three brackets. It was a welcome change for the rich whose marginal tax rate dropped from 34 per cent to 29 per cent. Everybody else got tax credits to ease the transition. Subsequent prime ministers made the system more regressive by reducing the taxation of capital gains, cutting corporate taxes, offering tax breaks to the wealthy and creating lucrative investment incentives.
And nobody is talking about it. In the last federal election, none of the parties talked about income inequality. They are not talking about it during Ontario's election. It seems to have become a fact of life.
When politicians become courtiers for the wealthy, the poor and the middle class become peons.
This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.