- Thomas Walkom highlights the lesson we should draw from the economic devastation caused by the shutdown of an Electro-Motive plant which was supposed to serve as a poster child for corporate giveaways:
Using tax breaks to encourage domestic production is a standard prescription. Yet, ironically, that’s exactly what the Harper government did.- Meanwhile, Erin notes that artificially low royalties are doing nothing at all to spur resource development, but plenty to ensure that the public doesn't benefit when resources are exploited.
In 2008, it offered tax write-offs worth an estimated $5 million annually — not to Electro-Motive (which, at the time, was owned by two hedge funds) but to Canadian railway firms that used locomotives.
The idea was to encourage companies like CN to replace their engine stock more quickly. And if it hadn’t been for globalization, the scheme might have created a few more jobs in London.
But globalization does exist. Canadian railways can still get those tax breaks on new locomotives. It’s just that now they will buy them from Indiana and Mexico.
None of this means that manufacturing has to be doomed. Ottawa could take a leaf from the U.S. and pass Buy Canadian legislation. The province (which is not tightly bound by international trade agreements) could penalize companies that purchase goods from jurisdictions with unfair labour laws.
Governments could even copy the tactic of Trudeau-era trade minister Ed Lumley, who famously threatened to hold up the import of Japanese autos until companies like Honda built assembly plants here.
But Canadian governments don’t do such things. To be seen as anything but avidly free-trade spooks both politicians and business.
- Barbara Yaffe theorizes that the NDP should abandon its environmental principles in order to try to win seats in the West. To which I can only offer a reminder what happened - in Western Canada and elsewhere - to the last official opposition to try to appease the oil sector rather than providing some meaningful alternative to a government which acts as a wholly-owned industry subsidiary.
- pogge wonders whether any self-pronounced speech warriors will take up the cause of environmentalists singled out for silencing by the Con government for the content of their message.
- Finally, Frances Woolley compares the relative effects of RRSPs and TFSAs. But it's worth pointing out that the people who benefit most from the multiplicity of tax-sheltering devices are those who don't have to choose between them, but can instead take advantage of all of them.