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.
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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 email@example.com.
Her column returns June 14.