How will the House of Commons look at Income Inequality in Canada?

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 9.56.24 PMEveryone has been talking about it: academics for at least a couple of decades; think-tanks and international organizations like the OECD and the IMF as well; and even—at least since the Occupy Wall Street movement went camping—the average taxpayer.

And now, after having adopted a motion introduced almost a year ago by Scott Brison, the honourable Member of Parliament for Kings-Hants, the House of Commons has charged its Standing Committee on Finance to also talk about it: yes, Virginia, Committee hearings on “Income Inequality in Canada” have begun.

Can there be a topic that is least likely to garner consensus among our Members of Parliament than taxes and inequality? Little wonder they are so late to the conversation.

On Thursday the Committee held the second of at least three hearings. Among its terms of reference is to “examine best practices that reduce income inequality and improve per capita gross domestic product.” If the written briefs posted on its website and some of the witness statements to date are any indication, the Committee has its homework cut out for it. At first look these are lofty of principle, short on prescription.

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Inequality and Occupy Wall Street 7: tax policy for occupiers

Perhaps a bit more politely than others in the mainstream media, but nonetheless pretty emphatically, the Ottawa Citizen columnist Joanne Chianello tells Occupiers that it’s time to leave, and she offers some advice:

“I don’t know what the answer is to the growing income gap. Unfortunately, neither do the people at Occupy Ottawa or Occupy Toronto or Occupy Vancouver. They could have contacted a lefty economist (yes, they exist) to help frame specific policy issues or demands, but they didn’t. Perhaps that’s the protest’s “stage two” we keep hearing about.”

Contact a lefty economist!

Well, if economists are going to be at the centre of “stage two” why don’t we forget about “lefty” or “righty”, and just consult the “best”?

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