The big lie

Lana Payne
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Let’s lay to rest once and for all that right-wing governments or those hoping to form one, like Ontario’s Tim Hudak, are good for the economy.

How they continue to get away with this big lie boggles the mind. Of course, many media commentators as well as powerful friends in the business elite help them along by refusing to challenge their dogma or by propping that dogma up because it happens to suit their self-interests.

And it’s dangerous dogma where those with plenty of wealth continue to gain massive ground and those without continue to fall behind.

The Harper government has presided over a staggering accumulation of wealth by the few. The government has assisted corporations in their quest to suppress the wages of Canadians with wide-open access to the temporary foreign worker program. Throw in as many as 300,000 unpaid internships and corporate Canada is getting a lot of cheap or free labour.

Indeed, a report last week by the Alberta Federation of Labour revealed that Ottawa approved thousands of requests under the temporary foreign worker program at minimum wage, even though the prevailing wages rates in many of those occupations were above minimum wage, some significantly above.

Between 2010 and 2014, more than 15,000 requests under the program were at minimum wage. This means there was no attempt by Canadian firms to actually offer higher wages as a way to recruit employees. The program has become a first resort and has now created a low-wage dependency among companies across the country.

In addition to this, there has been stunning cash hoarding by corporate Canada, rising inequality, a growing wealth gap, whopping CEO pay, an increase in the number of Canadians working part-time and for minimum wage, slashed corporate taxes and stagnating wages for the middle class. You have to wonder how it is that the Conservatives can, with a straight face, say they are the best choice to manage the country’s economy.

Throw in an attack on unions which have acted as an equalizing force in our economy, and government austerity measures, and the picture is one of mass economic mismanagement and failed policies that have made the rich a heck of a lot wealthier and have deepened inequality.

In February, the International Monetary Fund, not exactly a blazing left-wing organization, ridiculed corporate Canada for amassing what they called “dead money.”

Canadian corporate cash hoarding is being done faster than in any other G7 country.

Indeed, corporate Canada is sitting on over $625 billion in cash that they have refused to invest in the economy, in wages, or in creating good jobs. And still governments hand out corporate tax cuts which cost all of us. We pay for them with fewer public services or by borrowing money to finance them.

Central to Tim Hudak’s plan for Ontario is shockingly more tax cuts for corporations. Of course, first he needs to fire 100,000 teachers and other public sector workers in order to pay for his bottom-basement corporate taxes.

Hudak reminds me of that famous Albert Einstein quote where he defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

And where in this mix is corporate Canada, those champions of social responsibility?

Deadly silent as they sit on their more than half a trillion dollars in idle cash waiting for the next right-wing government to eliminate more regulations aimed at protecting workers’ health and safety and the environment.

That is not social responsibility or leadership, it is pure greed and self-interest.

Telling and retelling economic lies has become the latest right-wing dogma. No matter how many times those economic theories have been disproven, politicians keep right on spitting those theories out like gospel.

This is how extreme it has gotten.

According to a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report entitled “Outrageous Fortune,” the 86 wealthiest Canadian individuals and families held the same wealth as the poorest 11.4 million Canadians combined.

The Wealthy 86 represent just 0.002 per cent of Canadians and yet they hold the same amount of wealth as the bottom 34 per cent of the population, according to the CCPA study.

To put another way, the Wealthy 86 held more wealth than all New Brunswickers.

As economist Armine Yalnizyan has said, “whether you want less poverty or a more robust economy, greater innovation or improved productivity, better life chances or a healthier democracy, the way forward in Canada involves reducing income inequality.”

Indeed, recently, Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said that growing inequality is “morally wrong,” that “An economic system that only delivers to the very top is a failed economic system.”

And yet we get more of the same disproven and failed economic policies that deliver deeper inequality.

It is time for these politicians to find their moral compasses and stop spouting economic lies.


Lana Payne is the Atlantic director for

Unifor. She can be reached by email at

Twitter: @lanampayne

Her column returns June 14.

Organizations: Alberta Federation of Labour, Conservatives, International Monetary Fund G7 Canadian Centre

Geographic location: Canada, Ottawa, Ontario

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Recent comments

  • Peter lam
    June 07, 2014 - 13:46

    tax corporation sounds like a smart idea. They will just pass it on to their clients and customers. So in the long run the consumers are the big losers. In addition these mammoth corporation just take off and go overseas then the real crying begins. We should run the run the government we run the family. If we have $100 to spend, spend $90 and put $10 in the piggy bank for rainy day.

  • Mark Glaab
    June 04, 2014 - 14:07

    I am glad that most union members make more than me. Being low wage is no fun. However, when the economy is struggling and people making "very good" wages continue to expect whopping raises year after year, it is time for someone to tell them they have lost common sense. I have not had a raise in years and you are disconnected from average people like me. You cannot picture even one year without a raise, forgetting that the rest of us will face uncreased taxes to pay for it. Now my wages are the same and my taxes are going up so someone can get a bigger TV or spend more on their boat. Get real!!! Be thankful and content for a change, even for just a year or two.

  • Lori
    June 01, 2014 - 16:48

    So I see censorship and political bias is alive and well at the Telegram. It's alright for the author of this piece to call Tim Hudak a liar, but when I point out the lies in her article you refuse to print my rebuttal. Why am I not surprised?

  • Lori Griffin
    May 31, 2014 - 17:47

    Interesting that you allow an article written by Ms. Payne that has lies in it about the PC party and Tim Hudak, but when I try to write a rebuttal pointing out the lies in her article, you won't print it. Censorship and political bias is alive and well at the Telegram.

  • Greg Schmalz
    May 31, 2014 - 07:13

    Hi Lana, I enjoyed reading your article. I agree wealth should be more evenly split in our society. In order for Unifor's intent to be genuinely accepted their own actions need to lead by example. Big lies, elite friends, self interest policy, wealth gain and workers health and safety are all issues Unifor has been guilty of in our small community. But you will never contact us because your boss won't let you. He won't meet us, your neighbours at the FEC, because he has deemed us a protest group and Unifor has a policy not to deal with protest groups. Sounds a bit like the 86 does it not? And all we want to talk about is how Unifor's outdoor generator is emitting acoustic radiation that we have measured. It's making neighbouring families so sick some have left their dream homes. But your boss refuses to accept it even after meeting a person with our town officials who has now left his home. All the while Unifor profits on the operating of the generator. Can you imagine how Unifor is thought of in Ontario as we share this abuse province wide? And your own FEC workers are affected but fear even to report it to their health and safety rep. So assuming you are genuine in your interest to see less fortunate and oppressed have their voices heard then please give me a call. Our feeling is that if you and the other directors learn more about what is really going on with your neighbours vs what you and other new Unifor members are being told, then help would follow. If social injustice is defined as people being trapped in an endless circle of harm with no remedy at law, then your neighbours enduring adverse health effects from acoustic radiation emitted from Unifor's generator qualify. Sincerely, Greg Schmalz 114 Shipley Ave. 519 389 3080

  • Lori Griffin
    May 31, 2014 - 06:30

    So, the title of your article refers to the fact that it is one big lie? I'm very impressed. One doesn't see such honesty in a headline these days. You are correct. Your assertion that Tim Hudak is going to fire 100,000 workers is, in fact, one big lie. The plan is to scale back on the number of public servants through attrition -- retirement, people who leave to find other employment, women who leave to raise families, etc. The PC's and Tim Hudak never once used the term "fire", but you run with that lie. When I got to the bottom of the article and saw it was written by someone from UNIFOR, the title of the article made even more sense.