Progressive income tax system on the agenda for NDP leadership hopeful Paul Dewar
Published On Wed Feb 08 2012
Joanna Smith Ottawa Bureau
New Democratic leadership candidate Paul Dewar would consider raising personal income taxes but only after closing loopholes to make sure the increased revenue stayed in federal government coffers.
“I’d like to see fixing the leaky cup before pouring more into it,” Dewar (Ottawa Centre), 49, told the Toronto Star’s editorial board on Monday.
The first steps would be getting rid of tax havens that Dewar says are sending billions of dollars overseas and imposing a tariff on stock and bond trades like the one the European Union Commission proposed last fall to discourage speculation.
“I have no problem in looking at an increase in personal income tax if I knew that it was going to stay in revenues,” said Dewar, who would also reverse the corporate income tax cuts to bring the rate back up to 19.5 per cent.
Dewar was differentiating himself on this issue from leadership rival Brian Topp, the veteran party strategist who earlier in the campaign proposed raising income taxes for the wealthy.
“I believe that taxes are a means to an end and not an end in itself,” said Dewar, who during the first official leadership debate in Ottawa last December had faced questions from Topp about how he was going to pay for his ambitious spending proposals. “The way I view politics is you have to view life as what it is you want to do and then you go about figuring out how to do that.”
Dewar ruled out reversing the cuts to the GST the Conservatives brought in.
“The way in which the GST and the HST now has been put together it really does hurt those at the bottom rung,” Dewar said. “The ways in which you have the rebates with the GST aren’t congruent with the loopholes at the top and I’ve watched price fluctuations and the increase of tax burden on poor families and people who are working minimum wage and that I would prefer to see dealt with in a progressive income tax system with some of the measures I mentioned.”
Dewar also said he was against the plan put forward by B.C. MP Nathan Cullen, the leadership candidate who is staking his campaign on a proposal to run joint nomination meetings with other progressive parties in Conservative-held ridings in order to help block Prime Minister Stephen Harper from another victory in the next election.
“I don’t like the model of taking the parties and fusing them together for what many would see as just a strategic outcome for the party,” Dewar said. “I don’t think most Canadians see it as A plus B plus C and you necessarily get progressive, unified expression. And I think the goal of the NDP right now is to look at winning the next 70 seats and why not?”
Dewar said he would at this time also rule out the idea of a merger with the Liberals but would be open to working with them and other parties in a coalition.
“Here’s one of those dilemmas, right, where you guys ask me for an absolute in the future and I can tell you right now (a merger) it’s not something I would look at. I don’t see the reason to,” said Dewar. “I would . . . be for working after an election in a coalition. That’s how Parliaments can work and I have no problem with that.”