Liberals and NDP trade shots on taxing the rich as federal campaign enters its final week

Liberals and NDP trade shots on taxing the rich as federal campaign enters its final week
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OTTAWA—The Liberals and New Democrats sparred over how best to tax the rich on Sunday as both parties jockey for progressive votes in the final stretch of the federal election campaign.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took the first shot, speaking to reporters over the sporadic shouts of hecklers at a campaign stop south of Montreal in Candiac, Que.

Asked about the NDP’s newly costed platform, which calls for new taxes on corporations and the wealthy to add tens of billions of dollars to federal coffers, Trudeau said the NDP fails to understand that such a vision has limits.

“People know that we need to have economic growth in order to create jobs and opportunities, in order to pay for the programs that give Canadians more and more opportunities,” Trudeau said.

“Yes, we have to have a progressive tax system. Yes, we have to make sure that the wealthiest are paying their full and fair share. And we’ve done significant things towards that. But the idea that you can go with unlimited zeal against the successful and wealthy in this country to pay for everything else, is an idea that reaches its limits at one point. I don’t think the NDP gets that.”

Meanwhile, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was in Sudbury, Ont., where he stood before a large screen that flashed a rapidly escalating sum of money. This was said to represent the dollars lost in real time to tax havens.

The ever-growing number was extrapolated from a that estimated up to $25 billion in taxes were avoided through the use of tax havens in 2016.

Using that figure, Singh said the system is “rigged” in favour of the rich and accused the Liberals of failing to crack down on tax evasion that could have harnessed billions of dollars to the federal treasury for programs like pharmacare and child care.

“(Trudeau) doesn’t want to do anything about this and I’m not surprised that he said, ‘oh, limit your hopes and aspirations around making sure that billionaires pay their fair share,’” Singh said when asked about Trudeau’s comments.

“I’ve long been saying he’s been defending the super rich, he’s on the side of the billionaires, and that’s just more evidence of it,” Singh said.

Both parties have promised new taxes to bring more money into the federal treasury. The Liberals would slap a 3-per-cent tax on the profits of big banks and insurance companies that exceed $1 billion. The party would also devote an extra $1 billion per year to the Canada Revenue Agency, so it can more effectively crack down on tax avoidance.

Overall, such measures in the Liberal platform would rake in almost $26 billion in federal revenue over the next five years, money that would help pay for the $78 billion in election promises like eliminating backlogs for health procedures from the pandemic, improving mental health care and hiring 7,500 new doctors and nurses across the country.

The revenues the NDP is forecasting from its plan dwarfs these figures. In all, Singh’s party estimates it could rake in $166-billion over the next five years. Around $60 billion of that would come from a new, annual 1-per-cent tax on household wealth exceeding $10 million. Another $45 billion could be raised by broadening the reach of the capital gains tax to cover 75 per cent of proceeds when businesses sell assets like stocks or property, according to an analysis by the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer.

The NDP says they would use these massive revenues for even more massive spending — $215 billion over the next five years on programs like national pharmacare, dental and mental health coverage for people without private coverage, Indigenous child welfare supports, public transit and a guaranteed basic income for seniors and people with disabilities.

But both parties’ plans would result in similar federal deficits over the next five years. The Liberals say their plan would see the deficit hit $157 billion this year and drop to $32 billion in 2025-26, while the New Democrats project a budget shortfall this year of $145 billion that shrinks to $34 billion within five years.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail Sunday, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole highlighted his party’s plan to increase paid leave for parents who have miscarriages or whose newborn infant dies.

O’Toole also played down any fears that the far-right People’s Party of Canada — whose leader Maxime Bernier is rallying against COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates — could eat into Conservative support. O’Toole said the Conservatives are the only party that can replace the Trudeau Liberals in power after the election on Sept. 20.

“If you’re tired of the Liberal government that’s constantly in scandal, constantly late, corrupt at its core with Mr. Trudeau and his constant ethics investigations, there’s one team and one leader that can replace him: Canada’s Conservatives,” he said.

Green Leader Annamie Paul, meanwhile, was campaigning in Toronto Centre, the downtown riding where she is running for a third time after losing twice since 2019.



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