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BC Election 2019 Category
Tyee News
Election 2019
Federal Politics

The Election and Tax Fairness: A Tyee Reader

You asked us to find out what parties will do to reverse Canada’s widening wealth gap. Here’s what we did.

Andrew MacLeod 17 Oct 2019 | TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of All Together Healthy (Douglas & McIntyre, 2018). Find him on Twitter or reach him at

While election campaigns are noisy and distracting affairs about many things, some of substance, some not, taxation and how revenue is raised is at the heart of how governments actually function.

Aside from what the money is spent on — everything from health and national defence to benefits for the elderly or families raising children — how it’s raised has a big impact.

Taxes can be an effective policy tool to achieve our shared goals, whether it’s reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere or improving people’s health. They can especially be used to stop the growth of inequality by raising taxes on the wealthy and transferring it through cash and services to people in greater need.

Or they can frustrate those goals, keeping money flowing upwards rather than trickling down.

That’s why when we asked for Tyee readers’ top questions ahead of the election, you wanted to know: “What are the tax loopholes in Canada and what would you do to assure the rich pay their fair share and reverse the widening wealth gap?”

(More than 2,000 Tyee readers helped shape our coverage plan, and more than 1,000 readers contributed to help fund our election coverage. Thanks again, readers!)

To answer this reader question, we began with a look at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s 2015 election promise to strengthen the middle class and assessed whether he’d succeeded.

During the election campaign we took a look at the hundreds of leaks, or loopholes, in the tax system and shared research on the system’s overall fairness.

And we pulled together the various ways the parties would change the tax system.

The parties mostly talked about making tweaks to the current system, including a Conservative promise to reintroduce boutique tax credits for children’s sports and arts fees.

But the NDP’s proposed wealth tax that would charge a one-per-cent tax on accumulated assets worth more than $20 million was a novel approach for Canada, so we gave it extra attention.

We spoke with tax experts who were mixed on the idea (mainly arguing to strengthen the income tax system and introduce an inheritance tax instead) and compared the NDP proposal to ones being floated in the Democratic Party presidential primaries in the United States.

And we ran an opinion piece by economist and author Michal Rozworski enthusiastically endorsing the NDP wealth tax, a piece that you shared more than 8,500 times.

We also took a look at the Employment Insurance program, which isn’t technically a tax but does have a critical role to play in making our society fairer, and looked at whether any of the parties were committing to introduce needed fixes.

Finally, we looked at the ultimate tax dodge, money laundering, a practice for which B.C. has become dubiously world famous. The Tyee canvassed party platforms on the issue, and interviewed BC Attorney General David Eby on what needs to change at the federal level to rein in dirty money.

Among the distractions of election season, with politicians and pundits jerking from priority to priority, we hope keeping an eye focused on where the money comes from helps cut through the noise.  [Tyee]

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