Independent candidate Glen Staples says there needs to be a re-examining the Canadian tax structure, because right now it’s the middle class that ends up paying for everything through its taxes, ‘because the poor can’t and the rich won’t.’ Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Should we be re-examining Canada’s tax structure?

Candidates in upcoming federal election have different thoughts on how to address income inequality

Many Canadians are feeling the pinch these days in terms of making ends meet financially, so the issue of taxation – a major contributor towards how much money people have in their pockets with which to meet their needs – is pretty high on many people’s lists of election issues.

Currently, 87 families in Canada share the combined wealth of three Canadian provinces, and our tax commission has not been examined since the 1960s, Mary Ruth Snyder, moderator of last week’s forum at the Tidemark Theatre told the candidates in the upcoming election before asking them for their thoughts on taxation and what their party would do – if anything – in regards to reforming the Canadian tax system.

In the order the question was answered, the candidates thoughts on the matter were as follows:

Brian Rundle (PPC) says while “it sounds unfair, the thing you have to remember is that if you start going after these people with wealth taxes, they can move their money out and around the world, and they employ lots of people, and all those people pay taxes. If we bring in socialism where we start attacking people with wealth, then the economy will suffer.”

Glen Staples (Independent) says while it’s true that there is a risk of money fleeing the country if the government starts going after it, “we gotta find a way to do it. It is so unfair that the real wealth of any country is made by human hands, and what’s happening now is that the wealth is getting sucked up by clicking on computers. The wealthy are getting wealthier and the disparity is terrible. The middle class are the ones paying all the taxes, because the poor can’t and the rich won’t.”

Mark de Bruijn (Green) says that a lot has changed in the 60 years or so since the tax system was last looked at, “and it’s time to do this. The Green Party of Canada intends to set up a federal tax commission to analyze the tax system based on the principal of progressive taxation. In other words, we intend to thoroughly overhaul the tax system.”

Peter Schwarzhoff (Liberal) says that in 2015 the Liberal government raised the taxes on the richest Canadians, “and this time around we propose to simply raise the exemption limits so that you have to make much more before you start to pay taxes,” adding that the Liberals also want to “modernize anti-avoidance rules to keep large, multinational corporations from being able to shop for lower tax rates by constructing complex schemes between countries as to where they report their income,” as well as strengthening whistleblower programs so people can help “identify tax cheats,” and adding a luxury tax to high-end boats and cars.

Rachel Blaney (NDP) says it’s well past time to examine the tax system, “because it absolutely isn’t working.”

“When we get reports every January that tell us that the very wealthiest of us are making in two days what the average Canadian makes (all year), it’s clear we need to review the system. When you think about what we’re sacrificing for their wealth, it concerns me,” Blaney says. “The disparity … is just off the charts and you can see it growing rapidly. We need a fairer tax system to make sure people pay their fair share.”

Shelley Downey (Conservative) didn’t say what a Conservative government would do in terms of tax reform, instead focusing on the current Liberal government, which she says “tried to bring in policies that would attack small businesses a few years ago, going so far as to call them ‘tax cheats.’ What we’ve been left with is a tax system that is punitive to small businesses that have passive income,” which she says they need to save for retirement or reinvest in their company. “The Liberals did not consider anything that would trust the likes of Trudeau or Morneau’s trust funds. They went after small businesses and ignored, within their own party, the very elite, and that’s not right.”

Carla Neal (Marxist-Leninist) was not in attendance.

The Mirror live-streamed last week’s forum to its Facebook page, so if you’d like to know more about how the candidates feel about this or any other matter discussed, head to to find the event in its entirety.

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