- Andrew Jackson discusses a few of the choices the Trudeau Libs need to get right in order to actually set Canada on a more progressive fiscal path:
Progressives who worry about growing income inequality will note two key features of the new government's tax plans. First, the plan is not quite as redistributive as it looks at first sight since it leaves out below-average income workers. Second, the net effect is not to expand the federal income tax base.- And Frances Woolley uses the example of pumpkin seeds to point out that rhetoric about "waste" is far too easily substituted for genuine value judgments about resource allocation.
True, the Liberal platform talks of examining some loopholes, such as the favourable taxation of stock options, but it rejected major revenue-raising measures – including higher corporate taxes or higher income taxes on anybody except the top 1%. This leaves little fiscal room to fund needed social programs such as child care or pharmacare.
The key problem facing the new government is that its three major short-term promises – child benefits, income tax cuts and infrastructure investment – effectively use up all of the fiscal resources it has at hand, including temporary deficits.
This shows up in the Liberal platform in the very modest amounts allocated to new spending on health care (which goes from just $400 million in year one to $1 billion in year four.) This is far from the amounts needed to offset the Harper government's pending cuts to transfers to the provinces, as the premiers will quickly point out when they meet with the new Prime Minister.
The Liberal platform also allocates very limited new funds to such “priorities” as educational and other programs for indigenous peoples, employment insurance reform, social housing programs, environmental programs, enhanced government regulatory capacity, and the list goes on. Short-term term deficits cannot sustain needed long-term public investments in all of these areas.
We can expect few surprises and some very welcome new policies from the Trudeau government in the next budget. But progressives will have to press hard for broader tax reform to expand the choices at hand.
- Bruce Johnstone summarizes the burgeoning disaster that is the Boundary Dam carbon capture project - featuring Brad Wall regularly misleading the province by substituting hoped-for outcomes for actual ones even as he tries to sell non-functional technology to other gullible buyers. And Murray Mandryk is skeptical as to whether Wall's coal cheerleading and climate inaction will accomplish anything at the upcoming Paris climate change conference.
- Mark Gollom writes that there's little time to waste in ensuring that Canada has a more fair electoral system in place for the next federal election. And Stuart Parker argues that we need to set a higher standard on that front than "anything but first-past-the-post".
- Finally, Renata D'Aliesio exposes the epidemic of suicide among Canadian veterans - along with the Cons' callous attempts to hide the problem while portraying themselves as defenders of the military.