This week, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives put out a media release in which they insisted that their taxes were not too low. Linda McQuaig writes:
This defensive posture — who mentioned murder? — reveals they fear others may be slowly catching on to the massive transfer of wealth to the richest Canadians that’s been going on for the past 14 years due to the systematic cutting of corporate tax rates.
After all, if corporate taxes were where they were fourteen years ago,
we’d be collecting roughly an extra $20 billion a year in taxes — enough to fund national child care, free university tuition, children’s dental care or other
programsthat have long existed in other advanced countries but that no one here, in these lean and mean times, dares to be caught dreaming about anymore, let alone advocating out loud.
During those fourteen years, corporations controlled the debate -- and the government:
For years now, all the oxygen in public commentary about taxes has been sucked up by a rabid anti-tax movement, funded by corporate and wealthy interests. Organizations like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the National Citizens Coalition have been allowed to hold court in the media as if they were simply disinterested outfits representing ordinary people. Their huge anti-tax bullhorn has been amplified by in-house commentators from the business press and then reiterated by Harper government spokespeople, all within the closed echo chamber known as “public debate.”
But now the public mood seems to be shifting with news that Canadian corporations have been shifting profits to international jurisdictions with lower tax regimes. Consider the case of Cameco:
which sold uranium at very low prices to its Swiss-based subsidiary, which then sold the uranium to customers at much higher prices, thereby accumulating huge profits — $4.3 billion in six years — in the subsidiary, located in a particularly low-taw tax district in Switzerland.
Because of this, Cameco may have deprived the Canadian and Saskatchewan governments of some $850 million in taxes, obliging other taxpayers to make up the difference or governments to cut programs.
Those Tim Horton types -- who the Harper government claims is its base -- don't get that kind of consideration. Revolt is in the air. And the rich are getting nervous.
Just a few words about Jim Flaherty. I was never a fan. He promoted and implemented the kinds of policies McQuaig excoriates. And his proposed solution to homelessness -- sweeping the homeless off the streets and carting them off to jail -- struck me as a particularly stupid solution to a problem. Nonetheless, he died too soon. The days ahead will be difficult for Christine Elliott and their sons. They deserve our kind thoughts and deep sympathy.