By Lise Vaugeois
NDP Candidate for Thunder Bay-Superior North
THUNDER BAY – Candidates Ledger –There was a time when corporations paid as much in income tax as individuals.
Since the 1970s, a shift in the burden of taxation has undermined the ability of governments to provide core public services; education, health care, senior’s care, road maintenance and hydro, to name a few. Through the relentless promotion of corporate interests by corporate-funded think tanks (such as the Fraser, Frontier and C.D. Howe institutes), governments have drastically reduced taxes on corporations and the wealthy, thus undermining our ability to support public services. By consistently underfunding these services and claiming that “we just don’t have the money,” Liberal and Conservative governments have created crises that they then “solve” by selling off public assets to private, for-profit interests.
The result is always the same: quality jobs are lost, the cost of services goes up, we lose democratic control of core services, and private interests walk away with millions in profits. And when these companies declare bankruptcy, the public is left to pick up the pieces – but only after the profits have been skimmed off and hidden away, employees are left at risk of losing their pensions, and infrastructure and environmental costs are put back on the public. We are currently witnessing this scenario play out with the bankruptcy of Carillion, the British company currently maintaining our highways.
Make no mistake, the conservative promise to cut taxes will result in more job losses and more lost services. Whatever privatized services are established in their place will cost more because private companies have to generate profits for owners and shareholders. Every time another industry is forced to accept lower wages, everyone in the community loses because our tax base is reduced, thereby reducing our capacity to provide services in the public interest.
These “tax-cuts for the wealthy” practices, promoted by both Liberal and Conservative governments, have put our communities on life support. Through the elimination of transfer payments and the downloading of services onto municipalities, local communities are left with nothing but property taxes to cover the cost of core services. It’s untenable and as we know, people on fixed incomes are having great difficulty meeting rising costs for basic services such as hydro, electricity and water.
The average taxpayer does need a break but let’s be very clear about taxation: it is not a dirty word. Taxation allows for investments in public infrastructure and public well-being. If applied justly, it is a tool to share the wealth we produce through our labour. The balance of power over who benefits from our labour, however, has shifted against public interests. To address that power imbalance, we need to fight hard for fair taxation, for a structure that makes corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share and a structure that removes the ability to hide wealth in offshore accounts.
We also need to fight against the privatization of public assets. The NDP has consistently spoken out against the Liberal sell-off of Hydro One and has a plan to return Hydro One to public, democratic control. We also can’t afford to forget the travesty of ORNGE that defrauded the government of millions after being privatized and set lose from any form of public accountability.
Fighting to reclaim public assets for public use is one of many reasons that I am running for the NDP in Thunder Bay-Superior North. In future articles, I will offer my analysis of other political issues affecting our lives in Thunder Bay.
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