There has been a lot of chatter recently about whether or not Kevin O'Leary should make a bid for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Linda McQuaig thinks it's a good idea -- because it would put inequality squarely on the Canadian political map:
What perhaps distinguishes O’Leary from Rob Ford, Stephen Harper and Tim Hudak is the sheer openness with which he advocates greed and making Canada safe for billionaires.
Ironically, if O’Leary enters the federal Conservative leadership race, his candidacy could shine light on inequality and the emergence of a class of billionaires in Canada — although not likely in the way the bombastic businessman wants.
The number of billionaires in this country has risen more rapidly than the average Canadian salary:
In 1999, Canadian Business magazine reported 31 billionaires in Canada (in inflation-adjusted dollars). By 2015, only a decade and a half later, the number of billionaires here had almost tripled to 89, according to the magazine.
South of the border, U.S. Democratic contender Bernie Sanders is surging in the polls as he denounces the wealth and power of billionaires. Meanwhile, in Canada, the subject of concentrated wealth and excessive corporate power is rarely mentioned in political debate.
Certainly there’s no talk of taxing it or reining it in.
And that kind of talk should be taking place -- particularly as the deadline for sign the Trans Pacific Partnership looms. But domestically there is good reason to raises taxes on billionaires:
Canada could certainly use the extra revenue. The right argues that raising taxes on the very rich wouldn’t make much of a difference. But it would. Even the $3 billion extra in corporate taxes advocated by the NDP would have gone a long way toward paying for a national child-care program or reducing homelessness across the country.
Just as important, higher taxes would help curb the political power of the corporate elite, which effectively holds veto power over our economic policies, undermining our democracy.
The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis noted: “We can have democracy … or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of the few. We cannot have both.”
Brandeis was right. We can't have both. O'Leary could force us to make a decision.