It’s a No-Brainer — Tax the Billionaires!

A wealth tax wouldn’t just bring in revenue. It would curb the out-of-control political power of the one per cent.

JagmeetSinghSpeaksPodium.jpgThe NDP under leader Jagmeet Singh promises to implement a one-per-cent tax on wealth over $20 million. It’s an idea whose time has come. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick, the Canadian Press.

Canadians can be smug when it comes to comparing our political debate to politics in the United States. But we’re way behind our American neighbours when it comes to fair taxes on the accumulated wealth of the billionaire class.

Here, we’re still hearing the same tired arguments against a wealth tax.

But in the U.S., the debate now includes a serious discussion of how much we should tax wealth. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, both back a wealth tax but debate how high it should be.

Sanders has set out the foundation for his version of the tax bluntly. “Billionaires should not exist,” he’s stated. That’s not an attack on the individuals, but a statement that a relatively few people should not control so much of society’s shared resources.

And he’s right. Nobody “earns” a billion dollars. Such sums are only redistributed from the collective effort of many into the hands of the few.

Taxing the wealth of billionaires and the rest of the one per cent increases government revenue for programs or services for everyone.

More importantly, it decreases the ability of the wealthy to shape and control our political, social and economic life. The wealthy bankroll political campaigns and fund an entire infrastructure of media, lobbyists and think tanks to further a simple agenda — maintaining their disproportionate privileges. A wealth tax is about redistributing power as much as it is about redistributing wealth. It’s about restoring democracy.

And it’s sound economic policy. Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez, two of the world’s top scholars of inequality, have dedicated much time to assembling the wonky details that demonstrate the benefits of a wealth tax. Among other important voices, the two UC Berkeley economists have shown how a wealth tax could be practically implemented to tackle inequality, addressing issues like the challenge of assessing wealth and minimizing evasion.

The conversation about the wealth tax in the U.S. should help clarify the discussion here. The research and analysis have debunked the common arguments against taxing wealth.

Some argue the wealth tax is self-defeating: the wealthy will hide their wealth or simply flee.

But the wealthy, while mobile, are also human and hold many personal connections to place that can be more powerful than their desire to pay less in taxes.

More importantly, while it may be relatively simple for a wealthy person to move, it’s not that easy for many forms of wealth to move or disappear. They are not hiding money under the mattress. Factories, offices, land and other physical things that constitute wealth largely stay in place, even when ownership changes or moves. They will still be useful and productive.

Another common argument against taxing wealth is that it’s too hard or costly to figure out how much wealth a person has. This objection ignores two important facts about wealth today.

First, many of the assets held by the ultra-rich are financial. Stocks, mutual funds, bonds and the like have well-defined value. Anyone can look up the price of a stock or bond. Forbes has a made science of calculating the wealth of the richest Americans. If a magazine can do it, so can governments.

And second, both the U.S. and Canada already have taxes on wealth, just not taxes on all wealth. Property taxes on real estate exist in most jurisdictions. They are levied based on detailed annual assessments; the same could be done for other forms of wealth.

Together, property tax assessments and financial markets would allow governments to assess the value of financial holdings and real estate, which together account for most wealth.

Zucman points out that the trouble of creating annual assessments is actually an argument in favour of regularly taxing wealth. Once the process is in place, it produces increasingly accurate results that can be used to better tax estates and help with public administration. SOURCE

Ontario Federation of Labour endorses NDP and Jagmeet Singh

Ontarians have learned first-hand just how much social and economic damage a Conservative government can do: OFL

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh waves from his campaign airplane after a campaign stop, in Miramichi, N.B. – Andrew Vaughan , The Canadian Press

The Ontario Federation of Labour is proud to endorse Jagmeet Singh and the NDP, the only party in it for you, for working Canadians, and not for corporate CEOs and the ultra-rich.

The NDP has always been the only party that consistently listens and best represents the needs of working people across this country. It is New Democrats, led by Jagmeet Singh, who would govern for the many.

On Oct. 21, Ontarians have an opportunity to set Canada’s government on a path that will ensure an economy that works for everyone, that will tackle the climate crisis by regulating Canada’s largest industrial polluters, provide head-to-toe health care: pharma care, mental health care, and dental care for all, and tackle wealth inequality by applying a 1 per cent tax on fortunes over $20 million, raising billions for public services.

It is time to elect a government that puts equity and inclusion at the forefront.

Working people know how hard it is for families to make ends meet. Canada’s next government must ensure decent laws to stop the growth of precarious jobs that leave working people struggling to meet basic needs. The NDP has made a commitment to a $15 federal minimum wage and a living wage within their first mandate. The Canada-wide reality is that there are twice as many people working for minimum wage now as there were 20 years ago.

In the last 18 months, Ontarians have learned first-hand just how much social and economic damage a Conservative government can do.

Premier Doug Ford is well on his way to tearing apart the social safety net in the province. He is sacrificing the environment for profit. One of the first things the Conservatives did was to cancel the cap-and trade program. Then, they froze the minimum wage at $14 an hour. Cuts to public services just keep on coming: cuts to health care, cuts to program funding for kids with autism, cuts to education.

Many students have been left unable to graduate on schedule because their schools don’t have funds to deliver the courses they need. Many students, unable to pay tuition due to government cuts to post-secondary funding, have been forced to withdraw from university and college.

Andrew Scheer will govern Canada with the same philosophy as Doug Ford, and poses a threat to human rights as well — he has refused to retract his own homophobic comments, and has stood by candidates who hold right-wing extremist views.

The Liberal Party has also failed working people. As photos of the prime minister have shown, the Liberals do not always practice what they preach. They campaign left but govern right. The Liberals also lied about electoral reform, pushed Canada’s first Indigenous Attorney General out of Cabinet and their party, and made it clear they believe in one set of laws for corporations like SNC Lavalin but another for the rest of us. SOURCE

 

Jagmeet Singh says he ‘wasn’t joking’ on hoping Donald Trump is impeached

NDP leader unconcerned that hoping for Trump’s impeachment may imperil his relationship with U.S.


NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tells the audience at his Victoria town hall that he was not joking when he quipped Thursday that he hopes U.S. President Donald Trump is impeached. (CBC)

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told a town hall audience in Victoria that he was serious when he said that he hopes U.S. President Donald Trump is impeached.

Asked Friday by CBC News if it was wise for someone running to be prime minister to joke, as he did the previous evening, that he hoped Trump would be impeached, Singh replied, “I wasn’t joking.”

The line garnered applause from the audience.

On Thursday evening, the NDP leader said he hopes Trump “gets impeached” when asked what would he say first to the U.S. president if he was prime minister.

“I hope he gets impeached before I get to speak to him,” said Singh, while hosting a town hall event in Nanaimo, B.C. “I say that a little tongue-in-cheek.”

Singh said it is “disgusting that the president could inflame hatred against people and be so divisive.”

“It’s horrible that someone in a position of power like him would allow for kids to be stripped from the arms of their parents, from their moms,” he said. “That needs to be denounced.”

Singh has already heavily criticized Trump for the U.S. government’s separation of migrant children from their parents in immigration detention centres at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“You can’t allow someone like that to do that without any sort of repercussion, without anyone else condemning that,” Singh said Thursday night. “And I condemn it.” MORE

‘Super-wealth tax’ to raise $5.6B in 1st year, Singh says during Hamilton NDP event

The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates it would raise around $70 billion over 10 years


Jagmeet Singh met with residents at a Hamilton east end home and revealed more details about the NDP’s proposal of a “super-wealth tax.” (Martin Trainor)

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says a tax on the super rich would raise $5.6 billion that could be invested in health care and housing.

He spoke about the “super-wealth tax” and the funds it would raise Tuesday at a “kitchen table” event at an east end Hamilton home.

He said the Parliamentary Budget Officer crunched the numbers to estimate that the super-wealth tax would raise $5.6 billion in the 2020 – 2021 year, and anticipates that it would grow to around $9.5 billion by 2028 – 2029. Over 10 years, it estimated that this tax will raise almost $70 billion.

“If we put this super-wealth tax in place, we can raise the funds to put in place that medication coverage for all, we can invest in housing to make sure it’s affordable, we can make people the priority,” Singh said.

The super-wealth tax would include a one per cent tax on Canadians with fortunes over $20 million. It would be applied annually and include real estate, luxury items, and investments.

Singh said that this would apply to around one tenth of one per cent of Canadians.  MORE

 

In this Climate Crisis Election, Who Dares Name Big Oil the Enemy?

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No party’s platform explicitly names the oil industry as the main barrier to lowering emissions. ‘Even saying that in Canada is impolite,’ says Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada. Photo of Alberta’s oil sands by Kris Krug, Creative Commons licensed.

What would a climate platform that actually rises to the emergency declared earlier this year by Canada look like? Perhaps something like the plans being put forward by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and other frontrunners for the U.S. Democratic Party nomination.

It’s not just massive spending commitments that potentially qualifies these plans as emergency-worthy — although the numbers are formidable. Sanders for example promises $16.3 trillion to help shift the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels and create 20 million jobs in the low-carbon economy that comes next.

Nor is it the mind-warping scale and ambition. Warren intends to eliminate carbon emissions from all new buildings by 2028, do the same for new vehicles by 2030 and completely shift America’s power grid to zero-emissions energy by 2035.

The thing that truly sets these plans apart from anything proposed before by a serious contender for U.S. president is their willingness to take on the entrenched political power of the fossil fuel industry. During CNN’s recent town hall on climate change, Harris, a former prosecutor, vowed to take legal action against oil and gas companies for their role in sowing doubt and uncertainty about climate science.

“This is what we did to the tobacco companies. We sued them, we took them to court,” she said. Harris dedicates an entire pillar of her five-pillar climate plan to “hold accountable those responsible for environmental degradation, the misinformation campaign against climate science, and creating harm to the health and wellbeing of current and future generations.”

Sanders similarly promises to go after “fossil fuel billionaires whose greed lies at the very heart of the climate crisis” while raising $3 trillion in funding for his plan by making companies “pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies.”

Warren would ban leases for fossil fuel extraction on public lands. At the CNN town hall she accused fossil fuel companies and other industrial giants of “making the big bucks off polluting our Earth.”

Even former vice-president Joe Biden, not exactly the image of an anti-corporate radical, vows to “take action against fossil fuel companies.”

Canada is not even close to having that conversation politically. It may be edging there. On Saturday, the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh pledged to end fossil fuel subsidies.

“Our problem is upstream oil and gas is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country and the fastest rising source, so until we’re willing to tackle the oil industry, then we are not acting like this is an emergency or even a serious problem” — Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada

And last month the Greens’ May, noting full-page ads in newspapers urging citizens vote in support of the oil sands, tweeted, “This is what we’re up against,” declaring, “If humanity doesn’t transition off fossil fuels” by the 2023 election, “the earth will heat to unsafe levels and there will be climate catastrophe.” MORE

ILO celebrates 100 years of fighting for fair labour practices

Members of the Union for Hospitality workers Local 75 walk in Toronto’s annual Labour Day Parade on Sept. 3 last year. The International Labour Organization, 100 years old this year, continues to fight globally for social justice and an inclusive future for work, Adelle Blackett writes.

A good anniversary should not go to waste. Yet how many Canadians know, in this moment of inequality and discontent, that we helped found a century-old international organization whose constitution proclaims that “universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice?”

Established under the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the International Labour Organization outlived the beleaguered League of Nations to become the first United Nations specialized agency. Its staff barely escaped the rise of fascism in Europe, settling into a wartime home at McGill University from 1940–1948.

At McGill, the ILO prepared its post-war future, anticipating decolonization. It drafted the 1944 constitutional text, the Declaration of Philadelphia, declaring that “Labour is not a commodity;” “Freedom of expression and of association are essential to sustained progress;” “Poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere;” and “All human beings, irrespective of race, creed or sex, have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity.”

Beyond adopting paper standards, the ILO has assumed an active yet largely forgotten role in democratization, including ending political apartheid in South Africa. It insists on playing a role in international economic policy-making, calling for a fair globalization. On its 50th anniversary in 1969, it won the Nobel Peace Prize for its relentless social justice action.

The ILO has realized that this centennial moment is too weighty to wrap itself in self-congratulation: it has emphasized the need for an inclusive future of work. Canadian celebrations have picked up on this theme. MORE

Federal party leaders focus on wooing union heartland on Labour Day

Riding of Hamilton Centre expected to be closely fought between the NDP, Liberals this fall election


NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, left, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, centre, and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were scheduled to be in Hamilton on Labour Day. (Canadian Press)

Wooing workers in Canada’s union heartland was the focus for federal party leaders this Labour Day, with Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh all in Hamilton, Ont.

Trudeau participated in the annual Labour Day parade there, Singh was to catch up with the participants at the annual Labour Day picnic, and Scheer was expected at the Labour Day classic football game between the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger Cats.

Hamilton has a long-standing connection to Canada’s union movement as the historic epicentre of the steel industry and related businesses. It was there in the 1870s that workers first agitated for the government to legislate shorter work days, an effort that eventually led to the first national union, albeit a short lived one.

Hamilton is also home to five federal ridings: the Liberals hold two, the NDP two and the Conservatives one, with the vote bouncing between all three parties in recent elections.

The riding of Hamilton Centre is expected to be closely fought between the NDP and the Liberals this election. David Christopherson, the NDP MP who has represented the area for over a decade, has retired, leaving his seat vulnerable.

Meanwhile, the NDP are hoping to take the riding of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek away from the Liberals by counting on support from steelworkers who have complained about their treatment at the hands of the current local Liberal MP.

NDP pitching to union workers

Singh made a pitch to union workers Monday, promising that if his party forms government, they’d bring in legislation to end the ability of companies to replace striking workers with temporary employment. He also promised to immediately raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and ensure better protections for contract workers.

“This is what you get when you get a New Democrat,” Singh said during an event Monday morning in Toronto before he headed to Hamilton. “You get someone on your side.”

Singh was joining Labour Day events in Hamilton at the invitation of the local labour council, while Trudeau was invited by the local chapter of the Labourers International Union of North America, which represents construction workers, among other industries. MORE

Singh calls Trudeau’s withholding of SNC-Lavalin report ‘troubling’


NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks at the 2019 Climate Caucus Summit in Vancouver, B.C., on Aug. 13, 2019. Photo by Stephanie Wood

Justin Trudeau has decided not to release a report by former Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan on the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Instead, the prime minister will wait until the federal ethics commissioner, Mario Dion, releases his report, expected in early September.

New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh called Trudeau’s decision a “cynical” and “troubling” move, in comments at an event in Vancouver on Aug. 13.

Singh told National Observer that Trudeau may be hoping to minimize the negative impact from Dion’s report by releasing McLellan’s at the same time. He also questioned the independence of the report, given that Trudeau’s government commissioned McLellan.

“The ethics commissioner is independent, and that report might be very scathing, and the timing to blunt the scathing report with one that’s paid for by the government is troubling,” he said.

National Observer requested comment from the Prime Minister’s Office but a spokesperson said they had nothing to add.

Trudeau’s withholding of McLellan’s SNC-Lavalin report ‘cynical’ and ‘troubling,’ says Jagmeet Singh.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trudeau revealed that the government had handed the report over to Dion. “We have provided that report to the ethics commissioner to allow the ethics commissioner to finish his own investigation,” he said when asked about the report at an event in Toronto.

“We will be releasing the report at the same time as the ethics commissioner makes his report public.”

The prime minister appointed McLellan in March to look into the SNC-Lavalin affair, and whether the roles of minister of justice and attorney general should be separated.

This issue became central after former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould said she was inappropriately pressured by the PMO to push a deferred prosecution for SNC-Lavalin, a Montreal engineering company facing charges of fraud.

Wilson-Raybould said pressure from the PMO she received as justice minister interfered with her position as attorney general.

In a phone call with former clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick, Wilson-Raybould called pressure from the PMO “political interference” that could breach “prosecutorial independence.”

Singh said the scandal shows the Liberals’ priority is “covering themselves, and their wealthy and powerful and connected friends.” MORE