by Colin Creasey
There was an interesting editorial in this newspaper, admittedly a while ago now, entitled “Income gap is growing in Canada.” It was based on a recent report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a counter-foil to the right-wing Fraser Institute, the former offering exactly what it says is an alternative to the neo-liberal Fraser Institute, from whence a lot of the Conservative and Liberal policies emanate.
We need more of this type of reporting. It is criminal as to how we have let the wealthy amongst us amass such a fortune, and then have to live with its adverse affect on the rest of us. Neo-liberal policies have led to increasing income inequality, undervalued and unrecognized labour, a growing wealth gap, the erosion of worker’s rights, widespread work insecurity, policies systemically favouring capital at the expense of labour, and an outdated social safety net. These are the natural result of capitalist logic and its institutions set up to govern Canadian society.
The problem is that we have let the wealthy get away with not paying their fair share of taxes. Successive Liberal and Conservative governments have allowed this to happen, because these people fund their parties, and, by extension, have sufficient influence to kill any legislation that they don’t like. Maybe if Conservative and Liberal governments hadn’t been so quick to give their corporate buddies massive tax cuts, there wouldn’t be a need to keep harping on this. These tax giveaways have shifted the tax load over the years by 14% from corporations and on to the taxpayers that they purport to care about. If they made corporations pay their fair share of taxes, that alone would lower our personal tax bill. Instead, they say that they can find “economies” in the spending of various agencies, which generally means slashing budgets in the name of fiscal responsibility. That, to me, is a load of hay and oats that has been processed by the bull.
Then today, a Conservative election pamphlet lands on my doorstep. I notice that they have dropped “Progressive” from their name, presumably because they aren’t, if ever they were. The first two items are scrap the carbon tax, because it is job-killing, (B.C. has had a carbon tax for the last 10 years, and has been good for both jobs and the environment), and the second is build pipelines for prosperity. Climate leaders don’t build pipelines. That they can deny the reality of climate change when it is all around us, and happening faster than predicted, proves that the Conservatives are unable to move with the times, and that they ignore facts that run counter to their ideology. C’mon you guys, why do you keep trotting out the same old mantra when you can see the need to get with the program?
Being older, climate change probably won’t affect me much, but I care about what sort of planet I am leaving for my children and grandchildren. Conservatives continue denying climate change at every turn, because doing anything would mean affecting the bottom line of the corporations and the wealthy who provide them their funding. They go along with their heads stuck you know where, because political power is more important to them than doing the right thing.
Their third item is tax cuts, framed in a way that we will be lulled into thinking that Conservatives actually care about us. We are part of the problem, as we tend to elect the ones who we think will look after things the best, (the ones who already have money), particularly when they use slogans like they are “For The People”. They aren’t, and never will be, because they can’t or won’t relate to the rest of us. We fail to recognize this, falling for the same old mantra that business knows best, and that government is wasteful. What they don’t tell you is that their version of wasteful is spending money on social and environmental programs.
Sometimes, they throw us some crumbs, like lowering gas taxes by 5 cents per litre, saving us all a whopping $2 a week for someone who buys 40 litres of gas. Big deal. They are relying on the fact that most of us aren’t looking at the big picture, and only need to put on a show so that they appear sincere. It has always seemed to me that Conservative, as well as Liberal, values and policies, (federally, at least, as there is little difference between the two), translate, amongst other things, into an indifference to the plight of the less fortunate, regardless of how they frame their message.
In Europe, the Greens are making inroads into the political system there, because they have the policies that we need to restructure our system of governance to be actually for people and the planet, and not for corporations, as is the current neo-liberal system.
Europe has always been years ahead of North America. If we care about the future of our kids and grandkids, then we need to elect those who actually care about this place we call home. We have only one Earth.