Thank you for visiting my website. I hope you can take a moment to look around, learn more about me and the work I am doing for the people of St-Laurent-Cartierville. I look forward to listening to your concerns and suggestions on how to build a better Canada — a Canada that leads the world by example.
On July 8, 2015, I published on my website a text entitled “Prosperity, Social Justice and Taxation: Trudeau Plan vs Harper Plan“, in which I argue that Justin Trudeau’s plan for the middle class is fairer and more effective than Stephen Harper’s, from the standpoint of economic growth as well as social justice.
I wrote a summarized version of that text, which the Huffington Post published in both official languages on July 22, 2015. You can find it here. As always, I’ll be very pleased to read any comments you might have.
Enjoy your read!
Strengthening the Economy by Strengthening the Middle Class: the Trudeau Plan
Member of Parliament for St-Laurent – Cartierville
When casting their ballot in the next Federal elections, there is a fact Canadians should bear in mind: there exists a direct correlation between high rates of income equality and strong, sustained economic growth.
Many studies have proven this link between social equality and prosperity. The International Monetary Fund itself recently insisted on the economic return a country can expect from narrowing its income gap. The Toronto Dominion Bank said that the Government should redouble its efforts to reduce inequality: “Canada could do more in terms of redistribution of income (…) Canada’s tax system is not as progressive as many might think”. The CD Howe Institute proposed a plan to increase the progressivity of the tax system. Despite all this, the Harper government is stubbornly going the opposite way.
1. The regressive Harper plan
Stephen Harper’s fiscal plan includes three measures that will increase inequality in Canada.
First, the Conservative government wants to postpone access to federal Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits from age 65 to 67. This measure will almost triple the low-income rate in this age group, from 6 percent to 17 percent, thus throwing some 100,000 Canadians more per year into poverty.
Yet, the Office of the Chief Actuary of Canada, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the OECD and the Department of Finance itself have proved that keeping the access age at 65 would not put the government’s finances at risk.
Second, the Harper government raised from $5,500 to $10,000 the annual contribution ceiling of the tax-free savings account (TFSA). The Parliamentary Budget Officer says that this measure is regressive, that it mostly benefits higher-income households and that “the contribution limit increases proposed in Budget 2015 would accentuate these distributional disparities”.
The third Conservative regressive measure is income splitting for families with children. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, this measure will benefit only 15 percent of households, particularly the ones who are wealthier than the average. Low-income families will get almost nothing. The Harper Government is bent on widening the income gap, willing to give a $2,000 tax relief to the wealthiest but nothing to single mothers.
2. The progressive Trudeau plan
Justin Trudeau’s plan, “Fairness for the middle class”, consists of two measures that will promote both social justice and economic growth: an allowance for families and a tax cut for the middle class.
The first measure is the “Canada Child Benefit”. Compared to the current system, it sets significantly higher basic annual allowances for low-income families . They decrease in step as family income increases (but more slowly than in the current system) and cease to be paid to the highest income groups. The Canada Child Benefit is fully indexed to the cost of living and completely non-taxable, which is not the case of all Conservative measures. In total, the Canada Child Benefit will ensure that 90 percent of families will receive larger monthly payments than those received today under the current system.
Bringing together in a single program the current complex system of benefits and tax breaks, the Canada Child Benefit represents an annual 22 billion dollar investment, eighteen billion of which are funded through the replacement of existing programs and two billion through the cancellation of regressive income splitting for households with children. This leaves a new investment of two billion dollars, the source of which will be identified in the Liberal election platform.
The second Trudeau Plan measure is a lower tax rate for the middle class: 20.5 percent instead of the current 22.0 percent. Earned income between $44,700 and $89,401 will receive a tax break of up to $670 per year per person – $1,340 per year for a two-income household. This tax cut will be funded through the introduction of a new 33 percent tax bracket for taxpayers who earn more than $200,000 per year. Only 1 percent of Canadian taxpayers would pay more taxes under the Trudeau Plan than under the current Harper Plan.
This Trudeau measure for the middle class has been generally welcomed, despite the misgivings of those who believe that beyond a 50 percent “psychological” threshold, the tax could become “confiscatory” and kill the tax. For want of authoritative arguments, the Conservative Finance Minister went so far as to evoke the NDP leader: “The leader of the NDP party, Thomas Mulcair, has said: ‘When you get taxes over 50 per percent, it’s no longer taxation – it’s confiscatory’. It’s a good line”.
But studies have failed to verify the existence of that alleged 50 percent threshold effect. Presently, the marginal rate exceeds 50 percent in some US States and large cities, including New York and San Francisco.
Paradoxically, Thomas Mulcair who bristles at the idea of making the income tax more progressive also wishes to finance his many election promises through a significant increase in the corporate tax rate. Not only would a higher tax on the companies’ profits affect their competitiveness, but their richest shareholders would surely not foot the whole bill, leaving small shareholders, suppliers, clients, employees and consumers to absorb the extra costs. For economic prosperity and social justice, the Trudeau plan trumps both the Mulcair and Harper plans.
Reducing inequalities, if well done as per the progressive Trudeau Plan, will benefit our economy; increasing inequality – the regressive Harper or Mulcair way – will only harm it. The Trudeau plan is the fairest and most effective, both socially and economically. It is simple, transparent, inexpensive to administer and almost fully funded through better handling of current measures.
A strong economy, a just society, a healthy environment: why should we have to choose? If we make the right decisions, we can better achieve all of these goals, precisely because we will not have given up on any of them. Trudeau’s plan for fairness to the middle class is one of those good decisions Canadians have to make, in the interest of all.
Here is a text in which I outline the superiority of Justin Trudeau’s tax plan over Stephen Harper’s, from the standpoint of economic growth as well as social justice: Prospérité justice sociale et fiscalité ENG.
A first version of the text was used in a speech I delivered at the Quebec Citadel on June 18, 2015. The many comments I have received since have helped me write this new version. Many thanks to the people who took the time to share their thoughts and suggestions.
Now I would be happy to get your own comments. My demonstration is both empirical and philosophical. It is based on a simple realization: the countries with a high level of social equality and a growing middle class are also those where economic growth is the most constant and sustained. This is why Justin Trudeau’s plan for fairness for the middle class is what Canada needs.
Enjoy your read!
On June 16, 2015, my colleague Ralph Goodale and I asked the Prime Minister about the political pressure his office exerted on the RCMP to violate the Access to Information Act, according to the Information Commissioner of Canada.
We asked the Prime Minister to come clean on these outrageous shenanigans, unworthy of a State that is based on the rule of law.
Please find these exchanges below. As always, I will be very pleased to read any comments you might have.
Enjoy your read!
Mr. Speaker, according to court documents, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness pressured the RCMP to destroy documents, documents within the jurisdiction of the Information Commissioner.
The minister knew it was illegal, as did the RCMP, and all the while they said the documents were safe, but that was a lie. Some officers even joked that the PMO would owe them a lot of drinks for helping them break the law.
Counselling illegal behaviour and cover-up; is this not reason enough to give the Information Commissioner the binding authority to order disclosure?
Mr. Speaker, the issue at hand is, of course, the former long gun registry. It was this Parliament and this government that passed legislation explicitly to destroy that registry. The RCMP is acting upon that legislation. We obviously encourage them to do that.
I know that the Liberal Party wants to bring back the long gun registry, but that is against the wishes not only of this Parliament but also against the wishes of Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, he just keeps making it up.
The will of Parliament is not the illegal destruction of documents. The will of Parliament is not the obstruction of justice. The will of Parliament is not lying to the Information Commissioner.
If Canadians are going to trust their government, their government needs to trust them, trust them with access to information, trust them with the facts, trust them with the truth.
Why does the government believe that it cannot accomplish its policy objectives without breaking the law? That is an attitude of a tin pot republic, not Canada.
Mr. Speaker, the will of this Parliament is to destroy the long gun registry, and the will of this Parliament—
An hon. member: And the law of the land.
Right Hon. Stephen Harper: —and the law of the land is to make sure that the next Liberal government does not get a head start on trying to recreate such a long gun registry.
That is what Canadians were promised. That is what we have delivered.
Now, I do not know why it is that these guys in the Liberal Party are so obsessed with going after farmers and duck hunters, and they oppose mandatory prison sentences for people who actually use guns to commit crimes. That is what we stand for.
Mr. Speaker, since—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Order. The hon. member for Saint-Laurent–Cartierville has the floor.
Mr. Speaker, since the Prime Minister himself is talking about the next Liberal government, I want to point out that a Liberal government will rescind the unconstitutional retroactive legislation his government is trying to pass.
The Conservatives are simply trying to pass this legislation to hide their own wrongdoing when they interfered in the RCMP’s business and violated the Access to Information Act.
Is it not time that the Access to Information Act covered the operations of the Prime Minister’s Office and of his ministers?
Mr. Speaker, once again, this government made a commitment to people in the regions that it would eliminate the long gun registry and impose mandatory minimum sentences on people who commit crimes with long guns and firearms. That is the policy and law in this country. That is the policy established by this Parliament, and the RCMP respects that.
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