Time to focus on the real problem

TheStar.com – Opinion/Readers’ Letters – Scarborough nursing home ‘failed to protect residents,’ Nov. 24
Nov 25 2013.   Robert Bahlieda

Recently, a Global TV investigative report on offshore tax havens indicated that as much as $20 billion of uncollected taxes are owed by major Canadian corporations and other wealthy individuals who employ these tax loopholes to evade/avoid taxes in Canada.

To add insult to injury these same individuals are given generous tax credits for moving their businesses offshore, leading many corporations like Gildan and the Toronto-Dominion Bank to pay little or no taxes year after year while making millions and billions in profits. This is not new — it has been going on for decades and there are thousands of companies doing this.

In effect, the Canadian government is subsidizing Canadian companies for moving jobs offshore to other countries, killing jobs in Canada and raising everyone else’s taxes in the process while implementing austerity measures here to supposedly stimulate the economy.

The final insult is all this is legal. While federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty talks a good game on tax cheats, it appears he has intentional blindness about these egregious abuses of his own tax policy and no interest in pursuing his corporate friends.

Even more disturbing is the complete lack of interest and deafening silence on this important issue by government, business, academia or the public and particularly the media as indicated by the recent headlines. The antics of Rob Ford, senators like Mike Duffy who have evaded a few thousand dollars or selected abuses by a few nursing homes are deemed to be a more salacious and newsworthy headline than $20 billion in missing tax money owed by the corporate elite of Canada.

The self-righteous opposition parties are also silent on this issue. Better not to bite the hand that feeds them. Academics and economists who regularly opine on the abuses of unions have nothing to say about this unrealized multi-billion dollar tax windfall.

The massive amount of money owed by these upstanding Canadian tax cheats is a serious issue and should be top of the agendas of all in Canadian society. It is unfair, unjust and illegal despite what the tax law says. These “loopholes” (a polite term for legal corporate tax fraud) are quietly put in place and ignored by governments of all stripes to maintain their cozy relationships with powerful big business interests who have them in their hip pockets.

This is how capitalist democracy works. Powerful special interests lobby the government to get special treatment that ensures they remain powerful special interests. Meanwhile we prevaricate about increasing the Canada pension by a niggling amount or introducing a Guaranteed Income Supplement that would massively reduce social support costs in the long run, saving taxpayers additional billions.

Capitalist economics isn’t about making democracy work better, its about making it work better for the select few. Let’s start getting angry and take action on things that really matter in this world and relegate Rob Ford and the Senate scandal to the comics section.

Robert Bahlieda, Newmarket

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