“You know, there’s two schools in economics on this. One is that there are some good taxes and the other is that there are no good taxes. I’m in the latter category. I don’t believe that any taxes are good taxes.”
Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson responded: “Only libertarian anarchists believe that all taxes are bad, and that society can get along without them… Presumably, there lurks inside the prime minister an anger about much of contemporary society that has been built by taxpayers’ money, an anger contained by the political reality that the prime minister can’t do much about this state of affairs.”By the end of the 2012-13 fiscal year, and assuming there are no further tax cuts in the upcoming federal budget, the Harper Conservatives will have reduced the cost of government by $220 billion, according to the Toronto Star. Canadian corporations have pocketed $60 billion in savings. Over the same period, Ottawa has run up a cumulative $169-billion deficit.
Taxes have been slashed. Government is smaller. And now, all the institutions and departments of government except for prisons and the military are on the firing line in the federal budget.
Conservative “nation-building” amounts to an array of expensive “boutique” tax cuts like the Children’s Art Tax Credit, alone projected to cost $100 million in 2011-12. The Frontier Centre for Public Policy reports that more than 70 per cent of these “boutique” tax credits for everything from hockey and dance lessons to tools go to the 25 per cent of taxpayers earning more than $50,000 annually.
The Conservatives’ libertarian thrust reached its climax in a speech given by Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism Maxime Bernier to Toronto’s Albany Club in 2010. He proposed turning Ottawa’s $40 billion in social and health transfers to the provinces into tax points.
“Instead of sending money to the provinces, Ottawa would cut its taxes and let them use the fiscal room that has been vacated. Such a transfer of tax points to the provinces would allow them to fully assume their responsibilities without federal control,” Bernier said. “The federal government today intervenes massively in provincial jurisdictions and in particular in health and education, two areas where it has no constitutional legitimacy whatsoever.”
Since neither Bernier nor Harper nor any other member of the government has ever openly acknowledged the vast differences in fiscal capacity among the provinces, the Conservatives’ “pay as you go and if you can’t pay you don’t go” philosophy means they are prepared to replace Canadian citizenship with 13 disparate and unequal levels of provincial “citizenship.”
The forthcoming assault on pensions and Canada’s social safety net is driven by Harper’s libertarian “no tax is a good tax” ideology. Not reality.