Progressive taxation correlates with strong economic growth

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal promise to go after the tax loophole was clear in the election campaign. It has not yet been done.

We also are looking at going after offshore accounts. We know that it has not yet been done, although we are told it will be. I think it is time in this country that we start looking at progressive tax rates. We talk about what is happening with improving the minimum wage in some parts of the country. It is time we look at a maximum wage. It used to be accomplished through taxes.

I will astonish the hon. member by telling him what the tax rate was for the highest income earner rate in the time of the biggest economic boom in the United States. Post-war, everything was booming and they kept these tax rates in place for a very long time, right up until the 1960s. Members can check, but the tax rate for people earning over $200,000 a year, which equates into today’s terms to $2.5 million, roughly, was 94%. We have been so conditioned by neo-Liberalism, to believe that the best thing we can do for the economy is to cut taxes, that we have not looked at the evidence that the best time in employment and economic growth in U.S. history happened with the highest income earners facing a 94% tax rate.

I wonder if the hon. member thinks we should start looking in this direction of progressive taxation.

Kyle Peterson – Member for Newmarket-Aurora

Mr. Speaker, like the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, I studied law at Dalhousie and actually studied, for a small part of it, tax law. I agree that a progressive tax system is the best way to share wealth in a county. It is the best way to distribute growth evenly. There will be arguments, and there has been historically, about what that best way looks like. There will be disagreements, for sure, and that is part of the process.

I do not disagree with the premise of the member’s submission that a progressive tax system is a good way to develop growth. Our tax code over the years has become, in my opinion, overly convoluted and complicated. Much can be done to improve it, but that is perhaps an argument for another day or another week, or another month. However, I appreciate the hon. member’s position.