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"There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness and truth are absent." Leo Tolstoy
Updated: 43 min 35 sec ago

Magic Steve

13 hours 15 sec ago


Between now and the next election, Stephen Harper will try hard to be a magician. He'll try to make his record disappear. Michael Harris writes:

That is a conversation Harper isn’t anxious to have, for any one of a number of reasons. The mismanagement and bottomless dishonesty on display during the F-35 acquisition process, for instance.

Then there’s the PM’s performance during the Wright/Duffy Affair. You remember how he treated the the truth on that occasion as a kind of multiple choice exercise in storytelling. Should the PM be subpoenaed to Mike Duffy’s criminal trial, he won’t have recourse to the ‘creative option’ — not without consequences.

Or recall the belly-flop of judgment that resulted in the appointments of Bruce Carson, Arthur Porter and several other weak links to powerful and sensitive positions.

There are lots of other things Harper doesn't want to talk about:

Certainly Harper’s not keen to talk about his calamitous record with the Senate — promising not to appoint any senators and then stacking the place with every idle Tory hack with a heartbeat. And then came the unconstitutional legislation to reform the Red Chamber, followed by the drive-by smear of Chief Justice McLachlin.

Or maybe Steve doesn’t want to talk about why he has spied on Canadians since coming to office in 2006, sticking the long nose of government deeper and deeper into its citizens’ privacy. In a police state, you might put union rallies, or a vigil for murdered native women, under surveillance — as they have been in Harper’s Canada. In a petro-state you might spy on a public discussion about the oilsands — but in a democracy? In Canada?
So, like a magician, he'll try to create distractions and change the subject:

Stephen Harper would rather talk about beheadings than the dead room he has made of public discourse in Canada — and his dismal record after eight years in power.
 He'll certainly talk about the other guys:

Brian Mulroney called Tom Mulcair the best leader of the Opposition since Diefenbaker. Harper says he’s not fit to run the country because … well, because he doesn’t excel in the corporate ass-kissing department. No lip-liner for Tom.

And Justin? Justin is a callow little defiler of young brides and his father was a slut — or at least that was the gist of Ezra Levant’s recent unhinged rant on the person the polls keep saying will be Canada’s next prime minister. As Scott Feschuk cleverly put it on Twitter, this was Ezra’s “magnus Trudeau-pus … the masterpiece Ezra has been working toward all his life: Trudeau steals a kiss.”

And he'll rely on other folks like Ezra Levant to do his talking for him. When it's all said and done, maybe Ezra will make Magic Steve go away.

Harper's War On The CCPA

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 05:11


The Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives is in Mr. Harper's sites. Linda McQuaig writes:

Of course, we’re all familiar now with how Stephen Harper suppresses information that contradicts his agenda: blocking the collection of statistics, muzzling government scientists, auditing charities that critique his policies. And yet, somehow the news that the Harper government is conducting a harassing audit on the CCPA manages to break fresh ground.

This time there’s no recourse to the pretence that the audit was random. A Canada Revenue Agency document, obtained through Access to Information, makes it clear that the organization is being audited because its research and educational materials were considered “biased” and “one-sided.”
Does that mean that the Fraser Institute operates without bias? In fact, Fraser is only one of several right wing think tanks in Canada:

These right-wing policy shops have played a huge role in implanting an ideology that treats the rich as ‘wealth creators’ who must be freed from government regulation — and whose goodwill must be constantly cultivated, lest they be discouraged from investing. This has boiled down to a simple message — government bad, private sector good — that has become the mantra of our times, the guiding force in shaping public policy.
CCPA takes a different point of view -- and a much more vigorous approach to its research:

It would be a stretch for the Fraser Institute, for example, to make a claim of academic rigour. Every year, the institute receives widespread media coverage for its “Tax Freedom Day” — designed to make Canadians feel overburdened by taxes — but the research behind this PR gimmick is shoddy, based on wild exaggerations, flawed math and chicanery, according to an analysis done by tax expert Neil Brooks.

For instance, by failing to factor out inflation and income growth, the Fraser researchers concluded that over the previous four decades taxes on Canadians had risen by a staggering 1,550 per cent … when, in fact, they had risen by about 40 per cent, Brooks showed.

And, so, the Harperites have declared war on the CCPA. Imagine what would happen if voters concluded that their government had lied to them shamelessly and consistently.

Mistaking Malevolence For Moral Clarity

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 06:18


Stephen Harper is a nasty piece of work. Just how nasty was made clear recently when he refused to allow wounded Palestinian children into Canada for medical treatment. Andrew Mitrovici writes:

What plausible excuse could Harper have for standing on the sidelines when so many of Canada’s allies — including Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, Turkey and Egypt — already have provided safe havens or medical aid to scores of wounded children?

Harper’s PR flacks have claimed that it would be too risky to move those kids from whatever is left of their shattered homes in Gaza for treatment in Canada. That’s crap. We know it — everybody knows it, including the geniuses in the PMO who came up with that line of spin.

So much of what Harper says is crap. But this kind of crap reveals the man at his most craven. And it stands in stark contrast to his pledge to offer medical assistance to Ukrainians who need it. In a recent speech to the Canada-Ukraine Federation, Harper said:

 “Let me say at this point just how pleased I am to be able to support the Canada-Ukraine Foundation and the worthy cause that’s brought us all here together tonight and to salute the medical personnel who will be going to the aid of Ukrainians bloodied in the Euromaidan protest and affected by the ongoing conflict. Congratulations to everyone supporting this great cause,” Harper said. “It is, my friends, sadly too late to help the heavenly hundred who were slain simply for the crime of seeking a better country … We can help those who survived and lived to continue the struggle.”
This is the man who some insist is worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize? Obviously, they have mistaken malevolence for "moral clarity."

He Could Care Less

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 05:30


If yesterday served as any indication, Stephen Harper isn't going anywhere. I confess I've had my doubts he'd make it to the next election. But, as Chantal Hebert writes, it's getting harder and harder for him to exit gracefully:

As of now the odds of an orderly pre-election transition to a different Conservative leader will lengthen dramatically with every passing week.
In theory Harper could still decide to call it quits before the next campaign. Some of his predecessors left much later in the pre-writ period.
In his day Brian Mulroney did not grace successor Kim Campbell with more than a few months to make her mark before she had to face voters. Mulroney’s mandate was in its fifth year when he resigned.
Pierre Trudeau also allowed the fourth anniversary of his return to power to pass — albeit by only a few days — before he took his now famous walk in the snow in 1984.
Yesterday, in his speech to the converted, Harper focused on his record -- insisting that the country is better off because he's been prime minister:

Harper’s single-minded focus on the government’s record — including a lengthy but essentially par-for-the-course segment on foreign affairs — suggests that there has been a belated shift in the thinking of Conservative strategists.
Having spent months on attack mode only to enter a pre-election year behind the Liberal party, it seems they have come to the conclusion that they need to reintroduce Harper to voters more than they need to continue to try to pre-emptively destroy Trudeau’s public persona.
Obviously, he hasn't been reading sources of contrarian opinion or the polls:

In a recent Abacus poll Harper scored more poorly than his main rivals in virtually every leadership category, with his poorest marks earned for attitude.
As he told the last Conservative convention in Calgary -- the one that shut out the media -- he could "care less" what his opponents think. When the election comes, it will be interesting to see how much  his "care less" policy is worth.

Hubris Is Alive And Well

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 05:41

Some economists saw the Great Recession coming. Certainly Robert Reich did. But, as Paul Krugman writes in this morning's New York Times, an army of economists missed the boat. They did so for a number of reasons:

Clearly, economics as a discipline went badly astray in the years — actually decades — leading up to the crisis. But the failings of economics were greatly aggravated by the sins of economists, who far too often let partisanship or personal self-aggrandizement trump their professionalism. Last but not least, economic policy makers systematically chose to hear only what they wanted to hear. And it is this multilevel failure — not the inadequacy of economics alone — that accounts for the terrible performance of Western economies since 2008.
During those decades, economists focused on idealized models. And,

starting in the 1980s it became harder and harder to publish anything questioning these idealized models in major journals. Economists trying to take account of imperfect reality faced what Harvard’s Kenneth Rogoff, hardly a radical figure (and someone I’ve sparred with) once called “new neoclassical repression.” And it should go without saying that assuming away irrationality and market failure meant assuming away the very possibility of the kind of catastrophe that overtook the developed world six years ago.
Some economists  -- like Joseph Stiglitiz -- got the post crisis right. However,

all too many influential economists did — refusing to acknowledge error, letting naked partisanship trump analysis, or both. “Hey, I claimed that another depression wasn’t possible, but I wasn’t wrong, it’s all because businesses are reacting to the future failure of Obamacare.”
There was a great deal of historical evidence to support the notion that counter-cyclical spending was necessary to reboot ravaged economies:

but European leaders and U.S. Republicans decided to believe the handful of economists asserting the opposite. Neither theory nor history justifies panic over current levels of government debt, but politicians decided to panic anyway, citing unvetted (and, it turned out, flawed) research as justification.
And, so, those who got it wrong led the way. It was not the first time this happened. It happens whenever hubris is given full sway.

This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.

Daffy's In Charge

Sun, 09/14/2014 - 09:36


Last week was a banner week for the Harper government. It announced the ratification of FIPPA. And it also announced a reduction in EI premiums -- not for employees, but for employers. David MacDonald writes:

The idea is that small businesses with a payroll of under about $550,000 a year will have a portion of what they paid in EI refunded to them. Only the employers get some of their money back, not any of the workers. Also, this is at a time when EI is so restricted that six out of 10 unemployed Canadians can't even get it.

This is going to cost half a billion dollars a year, but will only amount to a maximum of $2,200 per business. Even with this miniscule amount, Minister Oliver is flogging this as a job-creation strategy. Well if $2,200 is going to incentivize behaviour that can go either way and you don't even have to hire anyone -- you can get it by doing nothing.

It might help a bit if that money went into the hands of employees -- who would spend it -- and create some demand in the economy. But it won't do much for business. And, in fact, it will restrain job creation:

Say you're a business just over the $550,000 payroll cap. Why not just fire your summer student or cut back her hours to get yourself under the cap? Your reward for firing a student…a tax break! What if you pay minimum wage and don't want to invest in training? Your reward for sitting back and doing nothing…a tax break! Now what if you want to expand your business but you're close to the payroll cap? You may well think twice before hiring that person and losing your tax break.
What will the EI cut do? Simply add to the pile of dead money sitting atop the Canadian economy. Proof yet again that the Harperites are stuck in an ideological trough -- and that Daffy Duck is in charge of the store.

The March Of Folly Continues

Sat, 09/13/2014 - 07:00


On Friday, the Harper government announced that it had ratified the Foreign Investment and Protection Agreement with China. It has taken awhile. Apparently, several Conservatives were wary of the agreement. But, with the prime minister heading to China, they decided (or were told to) sign on to one for the Gipper.

Jeremy Nuttall writes in today's Tyee that Gus Van Harten  -- who specializes in foreign treaties at Osgoode Hall -- believes that Canada will  lose big with this agreement:

Van Harten said FIPA is practically a one-way deal in favour of China, and Ottawa needs to acknowledge the non-reciprocal aspects of the deal and explain why they would ratify it two years after it was first signed.

"It seems to me the federal government has conceded to China under pressure to give them this treaty," said Van Harten. "My guess is this is the price China has demanded to open its purse strings for investing in the resource sector in Canada."

He said China had ratified the deal right away and seemed to be getting antsy Canada had taken so long, even speculating the recent detentions of two Canadian coffee-shop owners in the country on accusations of spying may have been part of Beijing's pressure.
The government claims that Canadian and Chinese investors will operate under the same rules:

But Van Harten doesn't buy that line.

"One aspect of the treaty is it has an exclusion of all existing discriminatory measures in Canada or China," he said. "China, it's safe to say, has far more existing discriminatory measures than Canada does."

Local government rules or different tax rates will now be locked in under the agreement, giving Chinese officials a tool to punish any Canadian investors it wishes to, he said.
Nuttall prefaces his report with the story of Mark Kitto a British publish, who -- until recently -- operated in China:

In 2005 his business was taken from him by a partner who was Chinese, at the time a legal necessity for foreigners, in cahoots with the Chinese government in what has become one of the most fabled stories of expat anguish in China and the subject of Kitto's upcoming book That's China.

During his day in court during the dispute, Kitto managed to prove the conspiracy against him by producing a letter from the public relations arm of the communist party to his business partner instructing him to fabricate evidence for the case.

"In the letter that went from the state council of information office to the person they were asking to fabricate evidence included the line 'We need to teach this foreigner a lesson,'" Kitto said on the phone from England, where he now lives.

The judge sided with Kitto, but after taking a phone call came back and reversed the decision. 
Apparently, Mr. Harper believes Canadians will not suffer the same fate. The March of Folly continues.

Stunning Inequality

Fri, 09/12/2014 - 06:17

The Broadbent Institute has just released a study on the distribution of wealth in Canada. Rick Smith, the institute's director, writes:

While the growing income share of the richest 1 per cent often dominates the headlines, looking at the distribution of wealth as opposed to income provides a broader view of the economic resources available to an individual or family.

A family’s wealth can be thought of as the amount of money that would be left over if they sold all their assets and paid off all their debts. Assets might include such things as houses, vehicles, stocks, bonds and savings. Debts might include mortgages, student loans or consumer debt.

For example, the wealthiest 10 per cent of Canadians accounted for almost half (47.9 per cent) of all wealth in 2012, while the poorest 10 per cent held more debts than assets.

The share of wealth at the bottom is particularly disconcerting: 30 per cent of Canadians together owned less than 1 per cent of all wealth; and the bottom half of Canadians controlled less than 6 per cent of wealth combined.

It’s important to put the distribution into context. The median wealth of the richest 10 per cent — meaning half in this group own more, half own less — was more than $2 million in 2012. In contrast, the median wealth of the poorest 10 per cent was a debt of $5,100.

Moreover, when you exclude pensions, the richest 10 per cent of Canadians own an even larger share of financial assets, which include things such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, investment funds, income trusts and tax-free savings accounts. The richest 10 per cent controlled almost $6 of every $10 (59.6 per cent) of such assets in 2012, more than the bottom 90 per cent combined.

Meanwhile, the bottom half of the population combined held less than 6 per cent of financial assets and the bottom 70 per cent of the population only 16 per cent — a clear shot across the bow of the various rosy reports trumpeting post-recession financial wealth recovery for Canadians.
When the prime minister bragged that we wouldn't recognize the country after he was through with it, he wasn't kidding. He may want to be remembered as the man who was in office when one of John Franklin's ships was discovered.

But his real legacy will be -- and is -- stunning inequality.

Welcome To The Harperian Universe

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 06:52

The Harper government plans to enter the 2015 election with a hefty surplus. But, Linda McQuaig writes, don't expect that money to be spent on health care:

Medicare, with its principles of equality and accessibility regardless of income, represents values that are the very antithesis of the marketplace but that apparently resonate with Canadians. As the Romanow commission on health care noted: “Canadians view medicare as a moral enterpise, not a business venture.”

 But this clearly puts medicare at odds with Harper’s fierce anti-tax, pro-market views — views that led him to serve for four years as president of the National Citizens Coalition, the far-right advocacy group started in the 1960s by a militant opponent of public health insurance. In a 1997 speech to a right-wing U.S. organization, Harper showed his contempt for Canadian social programs — and the pride Canadians take in them — when he dismissed Canada as “a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.”

In the Harperian universe it's every man and woman for himself. And, on the health care file, the prime minister has rapidly been moving towards that universe:

Waiting until he’d secured his majority, he announced plans in December 2011 that would effectively cut in half the rate of growth of federal health transfers to the provinces, starting in 2017 — amounting to an estimated cut of $36 billion over ten years.

The cuts — along the lines long advocated by the right — will dramatically shrink public funding for health care over time, forcing Canadians to pay more of their health care costs privately, on the grounds that the public system is unaffordable.
But there will be money for income splitting -- which will dispose of half the surplus -- and the money will go disproportionally to the wealthy. Then, because we appear to be going to war, military spending will go up.

Welcome to the Harperian Universe.

More Poor Choices?

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 06:02

Yesterday, the Harper Party released its latest campaign ad. It was Stephen Harper's steady hand at the tiller, the ad claimed, that has guided Canada through the economic storms of the decade. But Scott Clark and Peter Devries beg to differ. The economy, they write, is dead in the water:

The dismal job creation numbers over the past 12 months merely show a long-term trend becoming entrenched. The economy has been in a growth and employment slump since 2010, with economic growth and employment growth falling year after year. The government’s response to this stagnation has been to repeat the same, threadbare talking point: that a million jobs have been created since 2008.

The Harper government has been in denial about Canada’s poor economic and job performance for some time. The overall unemployment rate remains mired at seven per cent and the unemployment rate for young Canadians has been stuck between 13 and 14 per cent. Two key numbers — the labour force participation rate (the number of people employed as a percentage of the population) and the employment rate (the ratio of working people age 15 and older to the population) — are both below their 2001 and 2008 levels.

Too many Canadians have stopped looking for work altogether. Most of the jobs created over the past year have been part-time; in fact, Canada seems to be degenerating into a part-time employment economy with stagnant labour income. The government seems oblivious. Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s only jobs strategy is to hope for a recovery in the United States. He believes, apparently, that there’s nothing the federal government can do to strengthen domestic demand and job creation except stick to the plan to eliminate the deficit by 2015-16.

Oliver’s predecessor, the late Jim Flaherty, spent years sniping at the U.S. and other G7 countries for failing to take action to eliminate their deficits quickly. Washington ignored him, taking the view that a rapid reduction of the temporary stimulus from the 2008 recession would undermine the recovery.
And guess who turned out to be right? The United States -- not without obstruction from Harper's cousins, the Republicans -- made better choices. It is, after all, a matter of choices:

The Harper government is committed to lower taxes, lower spending, balanced budgets and smaller government. But why should Canadians accept these as the only options? There’s nothing inevitable in this climate about years of sluggish growth. It’s a choice — a political choice.
And if their latest ad is any indication, the Harperites are betting that Canadians will make the same choices in 2015.

The Smell Of Desperation

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 05:54

If you want to really know what's driving the Harperites these days, Devon Black writes, consider the tactics they are using:

Twice in the last three months, Conservatives have sent individuals into Liberal events in the hopes of deliberately instigating missteps — while secretly recording the whole thing for release later.
The latest example concerns retired general Andrew Leslie, who criticized Israel's tactics in Gaza, but who also recognized Israel's right to defend itself:

So, every nation has the right to defend itself. Every nation has the right to defend its people. So keep that as a thought bubble.

Then there’s this little Chinese gentleman about 2,700 years ago who said, in Cantonese: ‘Never do what your enemy wants you to do.’ So, just keep that as a thought bubble . His name was Sun Tzu.So what does Hamas – who’s actually guided and directed by [whos has] funding and the leadership provided mainly by Iran and Syria – what did they want Israel to do? They want Israel to, essentially, fall into the trap of igniting world opinion against them, by killing civilians.
Of course, the Conservatives exploded. Joe Oliver called Leslie's response “deeply disturbing” accusing Leslie of “(placing) blame on Israel for defending itself.” And immediately a fundraising letter went out to the party faithful.

These tactics are much like those used by Republicans in 2009:

Memories are short in politics, but for anyone who was watching U.S. politics in 2009, these tactics probably seem familiar. That was the year ACORN, a collection of organizations best known for running voter-registration drives in low-income communities, was put out of commission. Two conservative activists — posing as a sex worker and her boyfriend — tried to get ACORN staff to make damaging statements while the conversations were recorded on hidden cameras.

The selectively-edited footage, and the furor it raised in the media, forced ACORN to shut down — even though several subsequent investigations cleared ACORN of any wrongdoing.
The Conservatives are running scared. And that, writes Black, should worry all Canadians:

The first sting saw Liberal MP John McKay criticizing Justin Trudeau on tape. In the second, retired general (and Trudeau advisor) Andrew Leslie was caught holding a nuanced position on the conflict in Gaza. Neither incident seems to have held the public’s interest.

But unlike the ACORN scandal, which was triggered by activists working on their own, these two Canadian incidents appear to have been carried out by Conservative staffers: one by a former intern to Health Minister Rona Ambrose, and the other by a parliamentary assistant to MP Rob Anders.

Rather than developing a strong platform, based on reasoned principles, the Conservatives have instead focused their energies on tearing down enemies — which they apparently have in abundance. Sometimes the targets are obvious — though you have to wonder if we really need any more anti-Trudeau attack ads at this point. The Conservative base must be so well-conditioned by now that just playing that clip of Trudeau stripping probably elicits a Pavlovian response.

But when Harper lashed out at Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin earlier this year, it seemed less like calculation and more like a tantrum. Harper could have taken his government’s repeated losses before the Supreme Court with a pinch of humility and learned from the experience, the way adults do. Instead, he took cheap shots at one of our nation’s most respected institutions.
They have run out of ideas and are running on bile. You can smell their desperation.

Things Could Get Very Nasty

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 05:36


Canada's job creation numbers have been dismal. Carol Goar writes:

The numbers are striking. Since last autumn, Canada has created 50,000 part-time jobs but lost 20,000 full-time positions.What was once a whisper — are we becoming a nation of part-timers? — has swollen into a worried chorus.
A report by Randall Bartlett and Derek Burleton for the Toronto Dominion Bank acknowledges the growth in part time work. But both economists conclude that, as the American economy picks up, Canadians will return to full time work. Goar, however, questions their research:

  • The authors don’t examine the possibility that employers have permanently scaled back their payrolls to reduce their exposure to risks beyond their control.

  • They don’t take into account the structural changes that have reshaped the Canadian workforce: globalization, outsourcing, the hollowing out of the manufacturing sector, the sharp increase in income inequality, the westward shift in the country’s economic fulcrum and the influx of hundreds of thousands of foreign workers.

  • And they summarily dismiss the idea that this might be the new normal. But to millennials, it is a real fear. This is all they’ve known since they entered the labour force. They suspect it is all they ever will know.

  • The so called "recovery" doesn't feel like one:

    Workers are skeptical. This doesn’t feel like a normal recovery. Five years after it began, employers are still making do with part-timers, temporary workers and contract employees. Skilled workers who lost their livelihood during the recession are now doing low-wage service jobs. College and university graduates can’t get an economic foothold. A new business model seems to have taken hold.
    The report is long on hope -- perhaps because the authors recognize that, if the trend in part time employment continues, we have the tinder that could start a revolution. And, then, things could get very nasty.

    Dipper Drift?

    Sun, 09/07/2014 - 05:29


    In yesterday's Toronto Star, Chantal Hebert suggested that, if recent events in Ontario are an indication of the party's future, the NDP may be drifting back to third party status. In the recent provincial election, traditional Dippers voted Liberal to stop Tim Hudak:

    In the provincial campaign, the platform put forward by Tory leader Tim Hudak went a long way to convince many progressive voters to stick with the Liberals rather than risk facilitating a Conservative victory by giving their vote to the third-place NDP.
    And in the race for mayor of Toronto, Olivia Chow has slipped to third place:

    It should come as no surprise that a Forum Research poll that suggested Mayor Rob Ford (Open Rob Ford’s policard) was still in the running for re-election — with Olivia Chow running third — was followed by a Nanos poll that showed that John Tory had consolidated his lead on his main rivals.For scores of Toronto voters, ousting Ford from office this fall comes before loyalty to a political brand.
    Could the same thing happen into the 2015 federal election?

    To many, the first-place Liberals come across as a safer haven than the third-place NDP, regardless of the comparative skills of their leaders or even their respective policies.

    With every passing month, NDP hopes that a barrage of Conservative attack ads will chip away at Trudeau’s credibility are fading. After more than a year, they have yet to make a dent in the Liberal lead in voting intentions

    The New Democrats’ own efforts at portraying the Liberals as Conservatives in disguise are also falling short.
    It's quite possible that Justin could stumble. And he is still policy lite. But, faced with the devil they know, many Dippers might hold their noses and vote Liberal.

    How Many McJobs Go With That?

    Sat, 09/06/2014 - 06:08


    When Burger King gobbled up Tim  Hortons two weeks ago, Joe Oliver crowed about Canada's low corporate tax rates. But, Linda McQuaig writes, Oliver was telling whoppers, not selling them:

    One might be left with the impression that the corporate creator of the Whopper plans to invest a whopping $11 billion in Canada. Now there’s a whopper for you — but it’s not inside a bun.

    The truth is that the Burger King-Tim Hortons deal is just a paper transaction that, apart from enriching some stockholders, likely will provide zero benefit for Canada, in terms of job creation or additional revenue for the public purse.
    Certainly, south of the border, Americans were unimpressed:

    Burger King is clearly trying to take advantage of a popular U.S. tax scheme known as “tax inversion,” whereby a corporation takes over a foreign company to get around U.S. tax laws requiring corporations to pay tax on their worldwide incomes. Canada doesn’t have such a requirement, making it easier for companies headquartered here to avoid taxes through “transfer pricing” — that is, shifting profits to offshore tax havens.

    The Obama administration has been trying hard to clamp down on this “unpatriotic” tax inversion scheme, whereby some of America’s wealthiest corporations have managed to dodge billions of dollars in taxes.
    The American president understands that this is all about a race to the bottom. And he would appreciate a little help from Canada:

    The more we cut our tax rates, the more other countries feel obliged to cut theirs. Round and round it goes, with less and less revenue for vital public programs everywhere. It’s a race to the bottom only corporations can win.

    Instead, we should be supporting the Obama administration in its efforts to stop international corporate tax dodging. The White House is now locked in a fierce battle with powerful corporations over tax inversion schemes and also over the U.S. corporate tax rate, which — at 35 per cent — is one of the highest in the world. Corporations want it slashed.
    But the Harperites have always been bottom feeders. No one appears to have asked, "How many McJobs go with that? And will they be filled with Temporary Foreign Workers?