Harper is good for the rich, bad for the rest

By Simon Enoch, CCPA Saskatchewan


For all his talk of “ordinary” Canadians and “average” working families, one must wonder if Stephen Harper knows what an average Canadian even looks like. Because, despite his populist rhetoric, his policies seem to have one unique feature – they almost always disproportionately benefit the wealthiest in our country while simultaneously undermining the economic security of the rest of us.


For instance, the median individual income in Canada during the last census was just shy of $30,000, while the median family income was $76,000. Given these numbers and Harper’s penchant for appealing to the Tim Horton’s coffee crowd, you would think his economic policies would be squarely directed at these folks in the middle. But while Harper might talk a good game on serving the interests of average Canadians, his policies leave a lot to be desired.


Take income splitting, which the Conservatives have pitched it as a middle-class “family” tax cut. A C.D. Howe Institute report concluded that the benefits of income splitting would go overwhelmingly to upper-income earners. Three-quarters of the benefits would go to families earning more than $125,000 a year, with the greatest payoff to those making over $200,000. Virtually nothing would go to the other 85 percent of taxpayers.


What about all those “boutique” tax cuts Harper loves so much? Like the Children’s  Fitness Tax Credit? The Caledon Institute concludes that the tax credit “is an unnecessary windfall for the affluent, while still leaving most poor families out in the cold.” Or how about Public Transit tax credit? Surely that must benefit the average Canadian? Well, while the credit is claimed predominantly by average-income Canadians, the size of the tax claim is actually greater for higher-income earners.


Lastly, not only do these tax policies disproportionately benefit the rich, but they also reduce public revenues available for the social programs that actually do benefit ordinary Canadians. To paraphrase U.S. president Obama, Harper’s economic policy really is “Robin Hood in Reverse.”

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