Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Michael Babad takes a look at Bureau of Labor Statistics data on wages and employment levels - reaching the conclusion that the corporatist effort to drive wages down does nothing to improve employment prospects. But the absence of any remotely plausible policy justification hasn't stopped the Sask Party from "modernizing" the province's rules governing work by setting them back upwards of half a century.

- Meanwhile, Pat Atkinson rightly notes that the most important problem with the Cons' push for temporary foreign workers is the "temporary" part. And Nicholas Keung and Dana Flavelle report on the start of an investigation into the permit granted to convert RBC jobs in Canada into outsourced jobs overseas (with the "temporary" part consisting only of the transition period).

- The Star takes aim at the Cons' attempt to posture against tax evasion while slashing the resources the Canada Revenue Agency needs to do something about it:
Revenue Minister Gail Shea warns that miscreants with undeclared taxable assets offshore should come clean and “declare all their assets now before the agency (Canada Revenue Agency) comes after them.” Her colleague Max Bernier, minister for small business, boasts that a “SWAT team” is being readied to chase them down. Certainly, that’s what hardworking, taxpaying Canadians might hope. There’s nothing more demoralizing than seeing people scam the system.

But for all that, Ottawa’s crackdown looks to be more bark than bite. The opposition New Democrats and Liberals have ridiculed it as “window dressing” and a “shell game” designed to defuse public criticism more than anything else.

While that may be harsh, the Conservative government does appear to be trying to spook wealthy tax dodgers into voluntarily declaring their assets with a crackdown on the cheap. Of the $30 million Shea announced for new measures to track down tax evaders and aggressive avoiders — spread over five years, no less — just $15 million is new money; the rest is recycled. And the so-called SWAT team is shaping up to be a 10-person outfit at best. Meanwhile, the CRA is expected to trim $300 million from its budget in the next three years and cut 3,000 jobs, a prime victim of federal deficit-cutting.

While it’s good to see Ottawa taking some action, it’s hard to believe this modest initiative can have much impact on a hugely complex offshore tax-dodging industry. Canadians for Tax Fairness, a group that campaigns for sharing the burden more equitably, estimates that affluent Canadians have put $160 billion into offshore havens, costing us nearly $8 billion a year in foregone tax revenues. The scofflaws among them have a lot invested in not being easily rattled into declaring their assets.
(G)lobally, offshore tax havens have burgeoned into a $20-trillion business that in the government’s own words encompasses everything from “complex corporate schemes, individuals using offshore jurisdictions of concern, ‘tax havens,’ or tax shelter schemes that are used to avoid or evade tax.” Are we to believe that a small CRA team is going to be able to police so wide a waterfront? That’s a stretch.
- Chris Plecash writes about the Cons' choice to slash public and social services based on nothing more than blind faith in the free market. And Frances Russell is right to point out that social impact bonds look to make for a particularly toxic mix of corporatism and laissez-faire social policy - though I do have to wonder why she thinks for a second that the Libs are part of the solution rather than the problem given their own corporatist positioning.

- Finally, I'll have a bit more to say later on about B.C.'s alarming election results. But Bill Tieleman offers an overview of the lessons to be learned from yesterday's election.


  1. Anonymous10:18 a.m.

    [cynicism on]
    The CRA will not be given the proper tools to go after offshore tax evasion in any serious way. After all, the largest supporters of the Conservatives probably have offshore accounts. And I doubt that the situation would be much different under a Liberal government.
    [cynicism off]

  2. Supporters, hell. Most of the Con cabinet ministers probably have offshore accounts.

    On the BC election, I'm feeling very tired and cynical about it today. I'm afraid my initial post is rather despairing.

  3. Anonymous3:31 p.m.


    Tieleman has the right attitude.

    The Manitoba NDP (especially Selinger's 2011 campaign) represented the right approach.

    Also, Greg, recall our conversation from last year:

    Much of the same could have been said of Adrian Dix's recent campaign.

    Theo Fleury was right about the fundamentals,
    Dan Tan



    Those teenage emotions will subside within a week.

    Then, embrace the restlessness and rage. If more NDP members do, the party will think twice before indulging in such arrogance & self-sabotage.

    Dan Tan

  4. Anonymous5:59 p.m.

    "...I'm feeling very tired and cynical about it today...."

    It's alright to feel 'tired and cynical' for a day or two. But that's it. The struggle continues, and you must remain positive and carry on.