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Bill Longstaff: Support the tax gap motion

That governments are robbed of billions of dollars by the rich and by corporations exploiting tax havens is a well-known national and international scandal. It is now standard practice for corporations to exploit a variety of often opaque schemes to shift profits into low or no-tax jurisdictions.

The corporate tax rate in Canada, including federal and provincial taxes, averages 25 per cent. This

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

This and that for your mid-week reading.

- Erin Weir posts the statement of a 70-strong (and growing) list of Canadian economists opposed to austerity. Heather Mallick frames the latest Con budget as yet another example of their using personal cruelty as a governing philosophy, while the Star’s editorial board goes into detail about the dangers of yet another round of politically-motivated attacks on environmental and public interest charities.

- Meanwhile, Frances Russell slams the Cons’ efforts to rig the 2015 election. And Jordon Cooper discusses how voting is already too difficult for marginalized people without the Cons going out (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Pride flags over Alberta: for real, or a cynical commitment of convenience that’s a mile wide and an inch deep?

A rainbow banner flies alongside the city, Alberta and Canadian flags at the city hall of St. Albert, Alberta, last weekend. Below: A really great pride banner spotted during a recent Pride Week in Vancouver.

Fourteen years ago, the Alberta provincial government led by Progressive Conservative premier Ralph Klein was convulsed with controversy at the thought of same-sex marriage.

In the ensuing weeks, Mr. Klein threatened to employ the Notwithstanding Clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to prevent legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Only in 2005, did Mr. Klein give up this particular fight, and reluctantly (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: Is the CRA reacting to political pressure?

Not being a conspiracy theorist and having great faith in the integrity of our civil servants, I find it hard to believe that the current spate of audits of environmental organizations by the Canada Revenue Agency is a result of pressure from the Harper government. Yet the pressure is substantial.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty recently warned, “If I were an environmental charity using

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Ryan Meili highlights the need for a plan to address poverty – rather than the customary bromides about a rising tide lifting all boats: Elimination of poverty requires more than a growing economy; it requires a dedicated plan. When more jobs are available, some people’s living conditions improve quickly. However, the accompanied increase in cost of living can send some families into deeper poverty than before, a rising tide that swamps the smaller craft. And that continued and deepening poverty costs us all dearly.

As most provinces have realized (all but BC and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Miscellanous material for your Sunday reading.

- Sean McElwee highlights the fact that inequality is an avoidable result caused by policies oriented toward rewarding greed: The problem, then, is not machines, which are doing a great deal to boost productivity; the problem is that the benefits from increased productivity no longer accrue to workers. In a provocative paper earlier this year, Josh Bivens and Mishel argued that the gains for the richest 1 percent were due to “rent-seeking” behavior by CEOs and financial professions, not competitive markets. As John Kenneth Galbraith said, “The sense of responsibility in the financial (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Carol Goar points out why Canada’s EI system is running surpluses (contrary to all parties’ intentions) – and notes that the result has nothing to do with the best interests of the workers who pay into the system: Flaherty’s explanation was true as far as it went. Employment has edged up this year. EI claims have declined. But the real story lies in what he left out.

A large proportion of jobs that have come on-stream in 2013 have been part-time, temporary, short-term, casual or intermittent. Last month, for instance, 41,800 of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Blacklocks reports (PDF) on the abuse of a corporate tax credit which served as an “open bar” allowing businesses to have the public fund their basic operations. And it’s surely worth noting that after that abuse was identified, the Cons’ reaction was to cover up the resulting report in order to keep the bar open (with slightly watered-down drinks).

- Meanwhile, David Martin highlights the Cons’ attempts to break longstanding promises to public employees by slashing pension benefits after they’ve long since retired.

- And the Star’s editorial board laments the Cons’ (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Alan Pyke observes that instead of reflecting any particular merit, massive payouts to CEOs are all too often made despite (or because of) executive incompetence and illegality: The best-paid CEOs in American business have overseen companies that were bailed out, been fired, and been caught committing fraud at alarming rates over the past 20 years, a new report finds. Out of the spots on an annual list of the highest-paid CEOs, nearly four in ten have gone to individuals who were eventually “Bailed Out, Booted, Busted,” according to the 2013 (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Paul Krugman writes that the only real difference between the latest global crisis and past depressions is that we’ve moved further and further toward a rent-based economy – meaning that aggregated growth doesn’t necessarily result in any benefit for the vast majority of people: (T)here is at least one important respect in which the 21st-century economy is different in a way that ought to have a significant effect on macroeconomics: the much larger role of rents on intangible assets. This isn’t an original insight, but I haven’t been finding systematic analyses of (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Pro-business Harper Conservatives coddling tax havens, tax cheats

By: Obert Madondo Twitter: @Obiemad

An Alberta businessman is included in a massive online database of secret tax-haven names released to the public on Friday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. David Ghermezian, the president of the West Edmonton Mall, is linked to a British Virgin Islands-registered company called Regal Mega Malls Development Corp, the CBC News reports.

Ghermezian’s inclusion on this list got me thinking about the pro-business Harper Conservatives and their undisguised determination to coddle tax havens and tax cheats.

The database, first leaked by the CBC and ICIJ in April, indicates that at least 130,000 people globally are (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Mike Fancie offers this year’s definitive response to the the misguided concept of “tax freedom”: The Fraser Institute’s math on income and taxation has been roundly criticized, including by a former Assistant Chief Statistician and by our Andrew Jackson for skewing numbers to make a point. But while we take issue with the Fraser Institute’s numbers, and setting aside the bias inherent in their tax calculator’s $150,000 income ceiling, the more important discussion lies in appreciating why we pay taxes in the first place. Our tax dollars, far from disappearing into a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jason Fekete reports that the Harper Cons are taking the side of international tax evaders against other G8 leaders trying to implement an effective enforcement system. And CBC reports that the Canada Revenue Agency has repeatedly turned down the opportunity to access information about tax cheats based on a policy of not offering enforcement rewards.

- In the wake of revelations about the U.S.’ PRISM surveillance system (summarized by Mathew Ingram), Michael Geist warned that Canadians should be equally concerned about their privacy. And that observation looks particularly apt in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Michael Babad takes a look at Bureau of Labor Statistics data on wages and employment levels – reaching the conclusion that the corporatist effort to drive wages down does nothing to improve employment prospects. But the absence of any remotely plausible policy justification hasn’t stopped the Sask Party from “modernizing” the province’s rules governing work by setting them back upwards of half a century.

- Meanwhile, Pat Atkinson rightly notes that the most important problem with the Cons’ push for temporary foreign workers is the “temporary” part. And Nicholas Keung and Dana Flavelle (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: $170 billion: Canadian money in foreign tax havens, an all-time high

By: Canadians for Tax Fairness May 10, 2013: Canadian money stashed in the top 12 global tax havens has topped $170 Billion, according to data on foreign direct investment released yesterday by Statistics Canada. This amounts to a quarter of all Canadian money going abroad. This figure is also equivalent [...]

The post $170 billion: Canadian money in foreign tax havens, an all-time high appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Aviva Shen looks at Monsanto’s history of regulatory capture – with the recent “Monsanto Protection Act” serving as just a minor example in a long list of control over U.S. law: Monsanto insists that its revolving door is in overdrive because Monsanto employees are simply the best qualified for positions in these agencies, who certainly don’t hold onto their loyalty to the company in their new roles.

Yet it’s hard to ignore how Monsanto has benefited from these connections. The USDA has never denied a single application for Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops. (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Canada Revenue Agency asks CBC to submit data on tax havens

By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive: The use of tax havens is at an all-time high in Canada and it’s costing Canadians an estimated $7.8 billion annually, the executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness, Dennis Howlett, recently said in his brief to the House of Commons Finance Committee. Now the Canada Revenue Agency [...]

The post Canada Revenue Agency asks CBC to submit data on tax havens appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- John Greenwood and CBC News both report on the offshore tax avoidance being revealed through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. And Susan Lunn observes that Canada’s federal parties are all at least paying lip service to the issue – though of course the Cons’ cuts to tax enforcement speak louder than their spin.

- Meanwhile, Paul McLeod notes that income inequality will also receive at least some much-needed attention in Parliament. And Danyaal Raza’s discussion of the damage done to public health by inequality looks to offer one important point worth

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The Canadian Progressive | News & Analysis: Federal Budget 2013 missed opportunity for the economy and services: PSAC

By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive: The Harper Conservatives’ 2013 federal budget is a ”missed opportunity for the economy and services”, says the Public Service Alliance of Canada. PSAC says austerity measures hurt Canadians, urges the government to reverse course. This press release: The union representing most federal government workers in Canada says that [...]

The post Federal Budget 2013 missed opportunity for the economy and services: PSAC appeared first on The Canadian Progressive | News & Analysis.

The Canadian Progressive | News & Analysis: Canada World Youth Concerned About The Amalgamation of CIDA and DFAIT

By: Canada World Youth | Press Release: MONTREAL – Minister Flaherty announced, on March 21st, the amalgamation of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). Canada World Youth has enjoyed a strong working relationship with CIDA over the past 40 years [...]

The post Canada World Youth Concerned About The Amalgamation of CIDA and DFAIT appeared first on The Canadian Progressive | News & Analysis.

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Jason Fekete reports on the growing recognition that tax evasion and avoidance are serious global problems – and the Cons’ attempt to be seen nodding at the issues. Needless to say, that posturing would be far more plausible if the same Cons weren’t simultaneously announcing their intention to slash the Canada Revenue Agency’s enforcement capability even further (in keeping with their past moves to attack the CRA).

- Meanwhile, the fallout from Peter Penashue’s acceptance of illegal corporate campaign donations continues. And it’s well worth highlighting the fact that the financial agent

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Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Lawrence Martin discusses how the B.C. Libs, Harper Cons and other governments have responded to transparency requirements by deliberately refusing to record what they’re doing and why: News from the government of British Columbia. Sorry citizens, we have no files. There is no written record of our decisions. You want to know how we operate? Sorry.

It’s no joke. A report from Elizabeth Denham, the province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, says the rate of ‘no records’ responses to freedom of information requests is soaring. At the premier’s office, no less

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Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

This and that to end your Saturday.

- Bill Curry breaks the news of the Cons’ next round of public service slashing – with Canada Revenue Agency employees whose work far more than pays for itself once more looming as one of the main targets of a government determined to ease the way for tax evasion and avoidance.

- Jodie Sinnema reports on the Parkland Institute’s ideas for a more progressive tax system in Alberta. And it’s particularly worth noting that Albertans themselves recognize the value of fair taxes even as their government continues to insist on the need to

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Alberta Diary: Misleading with statistics: the Fraser Institute on health care and ‘value for money’

This just in! The latest mainstream media news straight from the Vancouver studios of the Fraser Institute, complete with no fact checking!

No sooner noted than illuminated – yesterday morning mainstream media was credulously reporting another “Fraser Factoid,” this one a report by the far-right political lobby group purporting to show Albertans get poor value for the money they spend on public health care.

Actually, since in this case the market-fundamentalist “think tank” had little choice but to rely on publicly available and legitimate research to tease out its predictable conclusions, the news couldn’t be made to seem as bad

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Alberta Diary: In 2011, Fraser Institute continued to take Koch Brothers donations and file tax returns claiming no political activity

Michael Walker, right, President of the Fraser Institute Foundation and former director of the Fraser Institute, looks at a copy of the Edmonton Sun with a well-known columnist from that newspaper. The great public intellectuals of the Canadian right may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Consistent Fraser Institute donors Charles and David Koch.

In 2011, the market-fundamentalist Fraser Institute continued to accept substantial funding from the U.S.-based Koch Brothers, the far-right New York billionaires who have helped bankroll the extremist American Tea Party.

A U.S. tax filing for a foundation controlled by Charles Koch (pronounced “coke”)

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: In 2011, Fraser Institute continued to take Koch Brothers donations and file tax returns claiming no political activity