• Ottawa’s tax reforms don’t go far enough

    Tax expenditures now account for upwards of $100 billion of forgone revenue annually, about a quarter of all government spending. Yet, unlike other government outlays, they are not subject to significant parliamentary scrutiny or even government study. No one seems to know exactly how much is lost through these loopholes, or whether they achieve their stated objectives… these tax breaks… too often benefit most those who need help least, deepening rather than mitigating economic inequality.

  • Ottawa targets income ‘sprinkling’ loophole that lets wealthy Canadians reduce tax bill

    Wealthy Canadians can now legally reduce their tax obligations by routing their incomes through private corporations. They then pay salaries to family members, such as their children, who are subject to lower personal tax rates or none at all. The government is working on new rules that would “help to determine whether compensation is reasonable, based on the family member’s contribution of value and financial resources to the private corporation,”

  • In praise of the income tax, on its 100th birthday

    The income tax made it possible for Canada to develop into the advanced society that we are today, enabling us to raise the revenue to fight the Second World War and then create strong public programs in health care, education and social insurance that have pushed us toward the top of every global index of human development.

  • Knowledge Gap on Taxes Wide and Costly

    This knowledge gap lessens take-up of government social programming, particularly among low-income earners. Lack of knowledge is also associated with lower trust levels in the tax system, which in turn leads to higher rates of tax evasion or avoidance. This can raise the cost of taxation for everyone… “Policies that use the tax administrative apparatus as a delivery system cannot reach their full potential if citizens don’t understand how taxes work in general and how they are affected specifically.”

  • PBO costing of election platforms a boost for democracy

    Thanks to Parliament’s recent passage of the 2017 Budget Implementation Act, the legislative footing of the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) has been strengthened. The provisions around the independence of the work and the appointment, qualifications and tenure of the officer have been enhanced. In addition, the mandate for the PBO has been expanded to cost political party platforms.

  • Canada keeps the populist forces at bay

    The Canadian public’s level of confidence in its country’s democracy and system of government has remained remarkably stable since 2014, and largely consistent with results dating back to at least 2010. Across more than three dozen measures, public trust levels have either held steady or showed modest improvement in comparison with three years ago.

  • If we’re serious about reconciliation, here’s some better ideas than wallowing in shame

    … maybe it’s time for some new ideas, to get us beyond the cycles of grievance-reiteration and epochs of national amnesia. Like reconfiguring the Office of Canada’s Governor-General as a permanent indigenous appointment. Like adding a fifth “region” to the Senate, in addition to Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and the West, to represent the First Nations, Metis and Inuit… At the very least, we might start by recovering Canada’s forgotten history as a country that was being built long before Confederation by indigenous people along with the English and the French…

  • Quebec, Canada and the national unity crisis we outgrew

    … the formerly dominant fault-line in the province’s politics – sovereignty vs. federalism – has become increasingly over-shadowed by rural-urban questions, divergent regional interests and a more typical ideological divide between conservatives and social democrats… Greater provincial autonomy; more control over taxation, international relations, immigration and cultural policy; opting out from federal programs with full compensation – all are a fait accompli.

  • Welcome to the new and improved Senate

    They sit as independents, and act like it. They and other like-minded senators have improved more than one piece of legislation by sending it back to the House with recommended revisions. Sometimes the House has accepted their recommendations, sometimes it hasn’t. In all cases, the Senate has deferred to the final will of the Commons, as it did, ultimately, with the budget… We should think of this new, improved Senate as a jury, another institution of our democracy…

  • Justin Trudeau goes halfway on access to information

    The new legislation, the first major update to the act since it was passed more than 30 years ago, does offer a number of welcome and significant improvements to the current system… What the legislation doesn’t do, however, is extend the disclosure rules to PMO or cabinet documents… Instead, the Liberals have tried to placate the public and transparency advocates by including a measure that would force ministerial offices to “proactively disclose” certain information.