It's my bet that, when historians look back at this decade, they will point to the temporary workers debacle as the incident which hastened Stephen Harper's exit. They will note that what happened last week crystallized something for Canadians -- the realization that Stephen Harper wasn't working for them.
Not that temporary workers don't have their advantages. But last week clarified who, exactly, were the advantaged. Michael Harris writes that the government program is:
certainly a good thing for multinational corporations, a term Prime Minister Harper often confuses with the Canadian economy. They get cheap labour, malleable governments and a regulatory environment that is simpler than a Hells Angel’s tax return. In the United States, they also get jaw-dropping tax benefits from moving their physical assets, production and jobs overseas.
It's about more than shipping jobs overseas. It's about not paying taxes:
The principle benefit is the ability to ‘defer’ taxes on profits made offshore indefinitely. Once those profits are booked outside the country, they often find their way into tax havens in places like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. As for the taxes the multinationals actually pay offshore, they are 33 per cent less than if they would have been if paid in the United States, according to a 2008 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
And, as the CBC has reported, there is a lot of money sitting in places like the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands. The oligarchs sit on that money and -- contrary to the conventional wisdom -- they don't create jobs:
As for job creation being funded by offshore profits — it just doesn’t happen, here or in the U.S. Between 1998 and 2008, U.S. multinationals shed 1.9 million American jobs and added 2.4 million in the offshore. According to StatsCan, a quarter of a million jobs have been lost in Ontario’s manufacturing sector in the decade since 2002. Offshoring is part of the reason. Its actual effect is not just to get rid of jobs and benefits in costly jurisdictions: It also reduces real wages in the ones that are left.
Then the mantra becomes "we can't afford it" -- it being Medicare, or the Canada Pension Plan or Old Age Security.
Canadians have begun to figure out that Stephen Harper works for multinational corporations -- and that the voters who put him in office are expendable.