There is no doubt that fighting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance will mean confronting very powerful interests who will push back with a large arsenal of resources, from public relations to lawsuits. We, as parliamentarians, cannot be intimidated.
In regards to tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) should be part of the solution. At the moment, it rather seems to be part of the problem. Over the last few years, we have seen that the CRA institutionalized various practices, eroding the trust that Canadians place in it.
Spending one's way to growth is nothing new. What is new, and what is a first for almost any developed country is that Canada will be using both monetary and fiscal policy as a way to get the economy growing again at the expense of a balanced budget. For the economy as a whole, it is unequivocally good news.
With almost all of our 2015 election commitments now in the public domain, the Liberal Party published on Saturday the fiscal plan that will guide the implementation of our platform over the next four years.
With a low debt-ratio to start with and interest rates at rock bottom levels, this is the time to invest and grow. That will help lift the economy and create jobs. And that's what Canada needs now more than ever. The Harper/Mulcair fixation on a short-term balanced budget -- at the expense of growth and everything else -- is the wrong priority.
For those who readily have an extra $4500 available every year, after they've paid their taxes, this increase would be an attractive future tax break. But is a higher limit fair to taxpayers across the board? The answer to that question depends on how many taxpayers at various wealth levels will be able to benefit from the higher contributions.
The case of Quebec provides a cautionary tale, as the prevalence of tobacco use has hovered around 24 per cent since 2003 despite a doubling of the price of cigarettes. And to the extent that tobacco taxes do reduce consumption, they can end up reducing total tax receipts, thus working against the competing and contradictory government objective of raising revenue.
Mr. Harper's only imperative is "looking good" for an election in 2015. To him, that means claiming a surplus, not matter how temporary or artificial. Never mind the nation's sputtering economy or tens of thousands of Canadians out of work.
To achieve the target of eliminating the deficit by 2015-16, the government announced new commitments that are intended to restrain the growth of spending. This is perhaps partly in recognition of the slow economic growth environment and the fact that robust revenue growth cannot be counted on as the sole basis for returning to balance.
The bottom line? Fiscal policy is already a drag on growth, and will be, but perhaps not for as long as many now believe, given the speed with which fiscal dynamics can flip around. Monetary policy is generally expected to tighten, but in a way that does not undermine, but rather lend support to nascent economic growth.