A couple weeks back, Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) introduced a bill in the House of Commons calling for a 1% wealth tax on Canadians. The bill also included an excess profit tax for those currently enriching themselves over Covid-19. Canada’s top billionaires have seen their wealth grow by $40 billion since the pandemic started.
The name “wealth tax” is a little misleading as it is not a tax on wealth already accumulated, but a tax on income earned over $20 million per year. A threshold that only ten thousand Canadians can claim to have reached.
The NDP’s motion in the House of Commons is extremely popular across the country. A wealth tax is supported by nearly 80 percent of all Canadians. 86 percent of self-identified Liberals, 87 percent of NDP supporters, 93 percent of Bloc Quebecois supporters and even 64 percent of Conservatives who typically oppose tax hikes.
The annual wealth tax would generate a much needed $5.6 billion to federal coffers. After decades of low federal tax rates on individuals and corporations, the money is needed first and foremost to help pay for the cost of the pandemic and our underfunded healthcare system. The only debate here is whether the wealth tax goes far enough.
Why then did the ruling minority government of the Liberal Party join forces with the Conservatives and Quebec separatists to vote the bill down? A few reasons. First, since neo-liberalism took over our politics in the 1980’s, The Liberal and Conservative parties have been austerity driven, preferring to cut programs rather than tax people and corporations to fund them. Those individual and corporate tax rates are currently at their lowest point in a generation.
Second, the Liberal Party and Conservative Party are the only two political factions to have been elected at the national level in over 150 years. There are no consequences for either party when they vote together against public interest.
Of course, we can’t forget good ole self interest. 56 of Canada’s top 100 wealthy donors are Liberal Party Donors. Conservatives also benefit greatly from rich donors of course, at around the same level. I’m not sure why the Bloc Quebecois voted against the bill, perhaps they just want to see Canadians suffer.
Sometimes it’s just plain greed, with a hint of stupidity. Liberal MP Maryam Monsef, the minister for women and gender equality and for rural economic development, got caught on a hot mic discussing her own salary following her vote against the wealth tax motion. Her salary of $250,000 would not have been impacted by the new wealth tax.
Just like in the United States, Canada’s major parties side with the wealthy instead of Canadian families. The NDP are responsible for most of the progressive change in this country thanks to holding the balance of power at key moments in history. That includes during the pandemic when the Liberal Party got credit for what was essentially an NDP response. Most of what the New Democratic Party does is routinely ignored by the press and/or swept aside. Try googling “Canada wealth tax vote” and see what little comes up.
There will be a time, not too long from now, when Canadians are called upon to pay up for the huge amount of debt the country has accumulated during the pandemic. If Liberals and Conservatives don’t want to back a wealth tax to help pay for it, the burden will once again fall on the average middle-class and poor Canadian citizen. In a pandemic, they are known as the victims.