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Ensure capitalist democracy delivers for everyone

September 16th, 2015 · No Comments

Only the Liberals have a progressive economic agenda

By Chrystia Freeland

I have a political skeleton in my closet. I was the Liberal member of Parliament for Toronto Centre and am running as the Liberal candidate in University-Rosedale, but the first party I ever canvassed for was the New Democratic Party when my mother, Halyna Freeland, ran under that banner in Edmonton-Strathcona.

My mother was proudly and unequivocally on the left – she described herself as a Ukrainian-Canadian socialist feminist. Sadly, she died a few months short of her sixty-first birthday, but her moral example is what inspired me to run for parliament as a Liberal and guided my work as co-chair of Justin Trudeau’s economic advisory council. That’s because today the Liberals are the only party with a truly progressive economic agenda.

Over the past three decades, middle class incomes in Canada have lagged behind in the growth of the gross domestic product, and jobs for many have become more precarious. Meanwhile, the share of the national income going to the top 1 per cent has surged from 7.5 per cent in 1982 to 10 per cent in 2012. The shift is even starker at the very top, where the share of the national income going to the 0.1 per cent has doubled from 2.5 per cent to 5 per cent.

That’s why the central progressive mission today is to ensure that capitalist democracy delivers for everyone – and not just for those at the top. To do that, the Liberal party is creating a new tax bracket for Canada’s one per cent, and will use the extra $3 billion in revenue that brings in to lower taxes for the middle class – we will cut taxes by 7 per cent for people in the middle, saving families up to $1,350 per year.

We will end income splitting – another policy that disproportionately benefits those at the very top – and use the money generated by that measure to boost financial support for children, especially those in the middle and at the bottom. I am especially proud that our new, enhanced, and targeted child benefit will give the parents of Canada’s poorest children $6,400 per child tax-free – effectively a guaranteed annual income for our kids.

Direct support for the middle class and those striving to join it is the right thing to do for our society – Canada has always been a country of inclusive prosperity. And supporting the middle class will boost overall growth, as families with urgent economic needs have the money to meet them.

We also need a government that will work hard to deliver jobs and encourage economic activity. A pro-growth agenda is particularly urgent today, when the Canadian economy, alone of the G-7 countries, is in recession.

That’s why when Liberals form government, we will launch a transformative, 10-year plan for infrastructure investment that will kick-start Canada’s stagnating economy. Over the next decade, we will nearly double federal infrastructure investment to $120 billion, from $65 billion.

As the outgoing MP for Toronto Centre, I know how urgently my constituents need infrastructure investment – whether it is for better transit so we can get to work, more affordable housing for the more than 78,000 Toronto families on the waiting list, or green infrastructure to protect us from extreme weather.

As the world’s top economists have been arguing, today – a time of historically low long-term interest rates – smart infrastructure investments are the best way to create jobs now and long-term growth in the years to come. David Dodge, the former governor of the Bank of Canada, and Larry Summers, the Harvard economist and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, have both welcomed our plan.

Our program takes political guts – Thomas Mulcair, of all people, has railed against our tax increases for the 1 per cent, and our infrastructure plan is in defiance of the austerity ideology of both the Conservatives and Mulcair’s NDP. But we believe in social justice and economic growth, and our plan will deliver both. Sir Wilfrid Laurier predicted the 20th century would belong to Canada. The 21st can be even better, if we have the courage to invest in our people and in our long-term economic potential.

Chrystia Freeland is the federal Liberal Party of Canada candidate for University-Rosedale.

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