More on More Taxes

Well, I watched Steve Paikin’s Agenda discussion on taxes. His guests: Andrew Coyne, Diane Francis, John Tory and Hugh Mackenzie, with only Mackenzie really pushing for more taxes to fund government services. It was an excellent discussion. Andrew Coyne, as one would expect, wants less government, fewer subsidies and greater reliance on user fees where this is possible. John Tory wants a less fearful discussion of what should be public and what should be private and clearer accountability. Diane Francis wants to see more public engagement on issues of taxes and services. Hugh Mackenzie wants to see a conversation that makes explicit the link berween taxes and services and reminds Canadians of what they get for their taxes.

Less predictable was just how often these guests, from very different perspectives, found areas of agreement, more or less:

  • it is time for an honest adult conversation about taxes and services, especially given the demographic crunch and climate change -and, Mackenzie added, rising inequality;
  • sooner or later, carbon taxes will be part of our future;
  • tax mix matters: consumption taxes are the best way to go; the cuts to the GST were not the way to go; and the HST is good policy;
  • achieving greater efficiency in government is always important but efficiencies will not be enough to fund the services and infrastructure we need;
  • it matters which level of government collects which taxes but this is a conversation that is even harder than the tax discussion; and
  • making sure people are actually paying the taxes required of them is part of the solution.

Maybe the winds are changing.

Comments
One Response to “More on More Taxes”
  1. vicki says:

    Thanks for this post Alex. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. As a Canadian living part of the year in California and travelling a lot to NYC I’m always surprised at how similar our Ontario taxes are to CA or NY taxes….and they have far fewer services, no healthcare and a questionable education system (CA is so broke that 25% of teachers have already received pink slips for next year). For the amount of tax we pay we have great services. Time to dispel the myth of how ‘high’ our taxes are and start talking about what they get us….a LOT.

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