• A buck-a-beer: the symbol of Ontario populism

    Populist politicians use sentimental yearnings for times past to strike a chord with people who are unsure about how to confront today’s intricate problems. Voters are discouraged by complexities and fearful about the future. The past seems like a safer place to be… Current models offer a more indirect and restrained form of governance, away from the bans and prohibitions of the past and toward more subtle incentives to encourage the right type of behaviour, from environmental compliance to health promotion.

  • Notes on a Butter Republic [Social Democracy]

    … a country can produce agricultural products, be “dependent” by most definitions, yet use that as the basis for permanent elevation into the first world. And in today’s world, Denmark manages to be very open to world trade, while having very low levels of inequality both before and after redistribution. Globalization need not be in conflict with social justice… Denmark, where tax receipts are 46 percent of GDP compared with 26 percent in the U.S., is arguably the most social-democratic country in the world.

  • What Are Capitalists Thinking?

    Back in the days when our economy just grew and grew, we had a government and a capitalist class that invested in our people and their future… And, funny thing, during all this time, socialism didn’t have much appeal. But ever since, the median income picture has been much spottier, hardly increasing at all in inflation-adjusted dollars over 18 long years. And those incomes at the top have shot to the heavens.

  • Predicting Hurricane Doug’s path of destruction

    aving analyzed the fallout from the province’s last right-wing government, I expect the damage wrought by Hurricane Doug will be particularly harsh for two specific and often intersecting constituencies: urban progressives and women… Hurricane Doug begins with a simple, brazen focus on streamlining debate out of the political calculus. Urban citizens with a democratic vision live in the eye of a very dangerous storm.

  • Who really rides the gravy train? Not those who were on basic income

    The same week that the basic income project was scuttled, a new report outlined how wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few Canadians, how those fortunes are amassed over generations, and how the country’s tax system helps protect and enlarge those fortunes… “In general, Canada’s tax system is set up to encourage concentration of wealth at the very top,” the report says. That includes a lack of tax on inheritances, low taxes on capital gains and an acceptance of tax-avoiding loopholes. These too are government handouts; we’re just trained not to think of them that way.

  • Why I love paying taxes

    Canadians have been trained to demonize tax in all its forms… Taxation gets things done… Taxes pay for an organized, rules-based pleasant city for nearly three million people. It works. And if it doesn’t work, you have someone to complain to. If you want nicer things, for instance a downtown relief line or greater population density and homes people can afford, taxes will have to rise… Jennifer Keesmaat wants nicer things. I’m not sure if John Tory does. But can they both finally talk about taxes with candour and realism?

  • Why Canada’s employers should back national pharmacare

    Canadians could save $7.3-billion to $10.7-billion (42.8 per cent) a year under a national pharmacare system. The bulk of those savings would accrue to employers who currently pay for drug insurance as part of their employee health plans. Even if the government took back some of those savings via taxes to help cover the cost of pharmacare, the net effect would be a major competitive advantage for Canadian employers, much in the way medicare is.

  • Charity laws must evolve with the times

    The just-released Ontario Superior Court decision squashes the notion that charities cannot fully engage in political activities. The charity Canada Without Poverty took the Canada Revenue Agency to court over its ruling that the group should lose its charitable status… In this case, the purpose of relieving poverty is with the sharing of ideas, not nutrition.

  • National pharmacare ‘blueprint’ will be unveiled next spring

    … the provinces do want to know “who is going to pay for the transformation, and how is the pie going to be divided after that?” … “It’s very important to provinces and territories that the federal commitment is there, it’s substantial, and that provinces and territories have confidence in that cost-sharing and that federal contribution, and that federal contribution will be there today and also into the future.”

  • Still waiting for that adult conversation about taxes and public services

    The disconnect between public services and the taxes we pay to provide them… invites us to vote for a property tax freeze, a sales tax cut, an income-tax cut — even if it doesn’t benefit us much. It invites us to disregard the reality that governments have a responsibility to ensure the ability to pay for the public services that we depend on.