Topp calls for higher income taxes on wealthy Canadians
Published Friday, October 21, 2011 6:43PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 6:19AM EDT
Possibly taking a cue from the Occupy Wall Street movement, one of the frontrunners to succeed Jack Layton as the federal NDP leader wants to raise taxes on high-income earners.
Brian Topp, a former party president and a senior advisor to Layton, says he wants the NDP to make higher taxes for the rich a key plank in the next election campaign.
He also wants higher corporate taxes and hasn't ruled out a hike in the sales tax once the economy returns to full health.
"There are many things more important to spend money on than tax giveaways to large corporations and the richest among us," he told CTV's Power Play. "This isn't a unique idea, it's being discussed all around the world because people realize that incomes have not been this split since the (1920s)."
Topp has said he will put out a more detailed proposal in the coming weeks.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was quick to attack the proposal, calling it "one of those dreamy ideas... that don't make any sense."
He said the wealthy aren't a large enough portion of the tax base to bring in enough tax revenue to run a country.
"If anyone thinks... in the United States, Canada, Europe, (that) you can tax the one per cent or .5 per cent and raise a lot of money, it's nonsense."
Talking openly about raising personal income taxes goes against conventional Canadian political wisdom, but with the Occupy movement around the world, with their frustration often aimed at the top one per cent of earners, there may be an opening for a Canadian politician to exploit.
"A lot of the debate around the world has been about the top one per cent and that's a good place to start," Topp said of a potential tax increase. "The government is spending billions of dollars on people who need it the least.
"That money should be redeployed to more important priorities like tackling child poverty, public transit, real job creation... post-secondary education, the health care system, the environment."
Topp's plan seemed to have some cautious support from NDP MPs, including his primary leadership rival, Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair.
"We need a well-thought-out plan to make the tax code simpler and more progressive," Mulcair said in an email to The Canadian Press. "I'll have more to say on this issue later in the campaign."
The growing gap between the middle class and the rich has become a major political issue south of the border.
Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama proposed $1.5 trillion in new taxes, mostly aimed at the very wealthy, including setting a minimum tax on those making $1 million a year or more.