Recently in the House Of Commons, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May cautioned, “Beware the wages of spin”. Her comment was directed specifically at the undemocratic nature of Bill C-38, but it applies just as appropriately to the economic mismanagement of the Harper regime. Without the “spin”, this government’s economic record reveals itself to be a failure on many levels.
Consider first, the Dutch Disease, which is now deforming what used to be a more diverse Canadian economy. Harper’s headlong rush to exploit the tar sands regardless of the environmental, economic, and democratic costs is impacting many jobs outside of Alberta in a predictable and negative fashion. A now suppressed report by Harper’s conservative government states the case that between 33%-39% of manufacturing job losses are directly attributed to the Dutch Disease. When the Harper government proclaims that they are “creating” jobs, they do not mention that they are also “destroying” just as many jobs. Furthermore, the jobs being lost are “value added” jobs, which are always more important to a country’s welfare and productivity than primary resource extraction jobs.
The government spin would also have us believe that corporate tax cuts are the way to go. This, however, contradicts evidence that the Canadian branches of foreign corporations are typically not re-investing their profits into the economy or into research and development. (If a company is owned in the U.S, most of the R and D is done there.) Additionally, spending (on infrastructure, income supports, and housing initiatives) has been proven to be a better strategy for improving the economy, especially during recessionary times. Firms that put their capital (and profits) to work in Canada, with jobs and value-added enterprises, should be rewarded. Those that take their profits and value-added enterprises elsewhere (i.e Sinopec) should not be rewarded.
Tax havens, a topic rarely addressed in the government spin, are also a huge drain on our economy, and on the 99% in particular. Canada’s five major banks (RBC, TD, Bank Of Nova Scotia, BMO, and CIBC) have collectively avoided paying $16 billion in taxes between 1993 and 2007. Clearly, the government should be spending more time addressing these revenue losses, and less time harassing David Suzuki… but it’s all in the spin.
Impacts of a resource-based economy, of corporate tax breaks, of a branch plant economy, and of tax havens, are real and significant, but an unwitting public, controlled by a masterful spin, isn’t getting the whole picture. The 1% couldn’t be happier, but the 99% needs to continue on its journey of awakening.
By Mark Taliano