We Canadians love our country and are proud of it. You can see it in the Canada Day smiles all across the country - the red and white t-shirts, the flags hanging off front porches and apartment balconies, the baby strollers with paper flags tucked lopsided into the handles.
Lately there have been polls and news stories about what makes us proudest. Not surprisingly, our healthcare system topped that list. We not only like public programs, we consider them central to what we admire about Canada.
“Peace, order and good government” was the principle that John A. MacDonald espoused in 1867. Now, 147 years later, most of us still understand the role government has in a safe, caring country. That stability is what makes communities strong, healthy and able to meet challenges. It is a unique Canadian spirit that shapes this country. But we need money to invest in the services that help define us. And that’s why we need tax fairness.
“Canadians have finally realized that lower taxes only take money away from services that we need,” writes Dorothy McWhirter in a recent letter commenting on the results of the Ontario election. A seminal poll done by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reveals that Canadians do understand the math. It is more cost-effective and inclusive to pool our resources to pay for important services like health care, education, child care and pensions than it is to go it alone. A good tax policy is one of the greatest gifts a country can give to itself. Sadly, the trend has been to give billions of dollars to the super-wealthy and corporations with the unfounded logic that it will trickle down into the economy. Clamping down on offshore tax haven use and the stock option loophole would be a good start to having everyone pay their fair share.
As the old adage goes: “You get what you pay for”. What do we get in return for spending billions on tax cuts? We are rewarded with a cynical and self-entitled corporate attitude and cuts to the services that the rest of us value. The recent Ontario election showed that it is not a price many of us are willing to pay. Let’s make a commitment to protect the things we value most.
Happy Canada Day.