By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
Lethbridge MP Rachael Harder spoke on the NDP’s taxation motion on Nov. 5 in parliament.
The NDP had made a motion calling for a tax on people with fortunes over $20 million, which would be set at set at one per cent of a family’s wealth, as well as for a tax on big corporations that have been profiteering from the pandemic.
The full motions reads, as follows: That, given that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian billionaires are $37 billion richer while the most vulnerable are struggling, the House call upon the government to put in place a new one percent tax on wealth over $20 million and an excess profit tax on big corporations that have been profiteering from the pandemic, and to re-invest the billions of dollars recouped from these measures to: (a) expand income security programs to ensure all individuals residing in Canada have a guaranteed livable basic income; (b) expand health care, including by putting in place a national dental care program and a universal, singlepayer, public pharmacare program; and (c) meaningfully implement the right to housing with the full plan set out in the Recovery for All campaign and immediately fund a “For Indigenous, By Indigenous” urban, rural and Northern housing strategy delivered by Indigenous housing providers.
After commending the resiliency of Canadians and noting the impact the pandemic has had on them, she said the government’s response has hurt many people, and it was important that parliament works to support small businesses, workers and industries with the help they need during the pandemic. Harder said the Conservatives have put forward motions to help strengthen supporting programs but while some have been taken, others have not.
“Now, six months later, the government is willing to come back to the table to take up our amendments and implement them, because it knows they are good ideas that will serve Canadians well. Sadly, when the government puts its ego before the people, Canadians get hurt,” said Harder. “That said, even though the government can play a role that is helpful for a short time, it is important that historic events like the pandemic are not exploited by entrenching policies that would actually harm society down the road, post-pandemic. I am talking specifically about the socialist policies that the NDP have put forward and that are being discussed here today.”
Harder said if we look at countries – such as the Soviet Union, Cuba, China and North Korea – that have enforced equalization policies and societal restructuring for the common good, one can see that these types of initiatives should not be replicated, and it is important that we take a comparative look at other societies that have been governed by socialist regimes, as they have never been successful.
“Though socialism might seem idyllic at the beginning, after a period of time, people end up suffering at the hands of their so-called caregiver, the government. They end up in breadlines, they end up with food stamps and they end up dependent on the government for almost everything. Their dignity is robbed from them. They are turned into victims, dependent on their exploiter. These people are promised free social programs, free education, free health care and government paycheques, but they end up impoverished and with very little freedom, while simultaneously those in the upper class, government leaders, remain fat, well-fed and living in luxury. These are the facts, and we must not overlook them when we discuss matters like the motion at hand.”
She called out an “irony” over the motion aiming to to crack down on those who have been profiting from the pandemic, as she said for months the Conservatives have been trying to get to the bottom of the WE Scandal that includes friends and family members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but at the ethics committee, when a Conservative motion calling for an investigation into these pandemic profiteers was put on the table, a member of the NDP voted with the Liberals to kill the motion.
Harder started to say that if the NDP really wanted to stop pandemic profiteering, they should want to investigate Trudeau, when she was cut off by the deputy speaker for a point of order.
Charlie Angus, an NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay, said people have to “tell the truth” in the House.
“I am kind of glad the member is no longer chair of the ethics committee, but if she were, she would know that she is debating my NDP motion to investigate WE. Rather than committing the falsehood she is committing point after point, she should be truthful with the House. Maybe that is why she is no longer chair of the committee,” said Angus.
The deputy speaker said they would leave that to the House to take up in the course of the debate before the House.
Speaking again, Harder said that while the Liberals and NDP love to talk about giving and receiving, she wished to talk about the value of earning.
“I am talking about the very privilege of work, the honour of work, the dignity of work. It is an incredible thing to earn what one receives. Studies show that individuals who receive money without earning it are more likely to be depressed and less likely to feel fulfilled,” said Harder. “Whenever we discuss permanently increasing government handouts, we must look at the potential negative ramifications not just for our economy, but for society, which is people. I am always leery when I hear politicians talk about removing burdens from the people and claiming that the government can solve all problems. Clinical psychologists have long said that it is important for people to take responsibility for their lives and to try to make things better. To live does include struggles, because life is hard and there are challenges. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. If we choose to avoid the challenges in life and the pain that often accompanies it, we end up living a life void of meaning and hope.”
Harder said government handouts are not the answer to getting Canada back on track, but rather Canadians themselves, as they have the ingenuity, the work ethic and the ability to come up with solutions to the problems the country faces.
She quoted a saying by Ronald Reagan: “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things”, and said “that is true leadership”.
“Instead of putting the government in the position of the ultimate problem solver and exploiting the pandemic to increase government control in the lives of Canadians, I believe it is best that we give real opportunities to the Canadian public. Let us shift the spotlight to them, onto business owners and entrepreneurs. It is Canadians who are best able to solve problems and generate wealth, not the government,” said Harder. “If we compare countries that are socialist in nature with those that have a limited government and a market economy, the contrast is undeniable. The people who live in societies where the government is not depended on for the essentials of life are certainly better off.”
She noted earlier in the week, the Conservatives had put forward a motion that advocates small business owners and celebrated them as job creators, and thanked the NDP for voting for that motion.
Harder stated that Canada already has the highest unemployment rate in the G7, and small businesses employee millions across the county, and Canadians want small business not succeed, and not more government handouts. While those who are elderly or who live with a disability may need additional assistance and we need to show them compassion, the majority of Canadians want to go back to work and have the “dignity of being able to provide for themselves and their families”.
Angus replied that Harder’s speech “was so much fun”.
“This is the Conservative world view: A 1 per cent tax on billionaires will create Yemen. It will create the Soviet Union. It will create breadlines. It is like the flat earth of the 20th century, the Conservative world view,” said Angus. “Meanwhile, the Conservatives stand up day after day demanding support for small business because they are telling us small business does not need government. Actually, they do right now. A 1 per cent tax will give someone the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, we have a party over here that stands up and says we are not doing enough to put up government money and it is not going out fast enough. Let all the entrepreneurs get by. They will get by, but they need support right now.”
Angus started saying if such a tax will create socialism when the deputy speaker cut him off to leave it there and leave time for a response.
Responding to Angus, Harder questioned why the NDP thought the word ‘work’as a four-letter curse word.
“When did it become a four-letter curse word? When did it become wrong to work hard and want to earn a living for one’s family? When did that become wrong? When did it become wrong to start small, build up and establish a fortune? When did that become wrong? Then to use that money in many cases to benefit local communities and benefit people who are underprivileged, that is what these businesses do. Why is the NDP going after them as if their success deserves to be punished?,” asked Harder.