• 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.

  • 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.

  • The other Canadian anniversary: 100 years of income tax

    The one constant in all of this change is growing revenue from the personal income tax. In terms of per-person federal personal income taxes, the burden has increased from roughly $14 a person in 1918 (in 2016 dollars) to roughly $4,120 in 2017, an almost 300-fold increase.

  • A short (surprising) history of democratic reform

    The problem with electoral reform, then and now, is that it’s such a hard sell, and most people aren’t buying — federally, provincially, even internationally: In the UK, a 2011 referendum on an AV (ranked ballot) system failed miserably despite the support of many influential leaders. Our own politicians remain bitterly divided because electoral reform means different things to different parties — and meets with indifference from most people.

  • Canadians giveth, the taxman taketh away

    Taxes, and taxes alone, take more of our income than they used to. Canadians’ taxes, including business taxes hidden in the price of goods and services, have increased almost 2,000 per cent, nearly three times the rate of inflation. From a third of our income in 1961, all taxes combined now take more than 40 per cent. Why? … the list of things Canadians were presumed unable to do for themselves, or do well, has expanded on many fronts, from health care to charity. And so the state has expanded dramatically as it takes on added tasks.

  • Stephen Harper, Canada’s true father of federation

    … when money became tighter in the 1980s and Ottawa pulled back funding for existing programs, only to propose new ones, provinces fought back, vowing not to be fooled again… [Harper] reshaped the federation by refusing to intrude in health care, education or other areas of social policy that properly belong to the provinces… For many, it is a cramped, meagre federalism. For others it is a recipe for harmony in a large, thinly populated and diverse country.

  • Sanders at fulcrum of debate on progressives

    For most of the 20th century, left politics centred on economic justice… By the 1980s, it was clear that the right, the capitalist side, was going to “win.” Their world view would become the world’s. Many on the left made a strategic shift, from an economic focus to other issues: race, gender, human rights, identity politics… [But] if you awake each morning with a sick feeling because you’ve lost or might lose your job, your wage is declining, you have to cut back and back… it only works so far.

  • When women got the vote

    From our perspective, her views were just as prejudiced as her male counterparts. She worried about the negative impact “foreigners” would have on the country and could not fathom how men who could barely speak English were given the right to vote, while white Anglo women were not. Together with several other leading female members of the so-called “Famous Five” — the women who fought the Persons Case in the late 1920s, which established that women under the law were “persons” and therefore eligible for appointment to the Canadian Senate — she was an advocate for eugenics and sterilization of the “feeble-minded.”

  • A tale of two Canadas

    … it was an engagement of emotions and values transcending feelings from previous elections and transcending generations — providing the first hint that the divide between older Canada and Next Canada may not be as deep and wide as previously thought. Old and young Canada together, along with much of the previously Conservative-blue suburban and new Canadian vote, became an awakened progressive majority who declared they had simply had enough… Harper’s absolutist approach to government with the backing of not much more than one-third of ballots cast (and the support of only 24 per cent of all Canadian voters) was branded a debasement of democracy.

  • Trudeau’s Liberals a government without excuses

    Besides a budget close to balance, Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals have low interest rates, low inflation and manageable unemployment. They have a country which finds itself, despite the divide-and-conquer politics of Stephen Harper, in an unusual state of harmony… Justin Trudeau has a low-growth economy, a low revenue stream, depressed commodity prices. No cakewalk is in store, but compared to the others, he has so little to lament, so much to build on.