Liberal Policy: Forget The Poor 

October 8th, 2015 | R. Rados 

trudeau middle class

The middle class. The middle class. The middle class. It's one of the only things Justin Trudeau talks about. Trudeau wants to cut taxes for the middle class and raise them for the wealthy. He wants to invest in something called “middle class jobs”. He wants to strengthen the middle class, encourage the middle class, coddle the middle class, tickle the middle class, play catch with the middle class, gently caress the middle class and shield the middle class from the forces that threaten to push them backwards into the disgraceful abyss called the lower class. The disgraceful lower class. The class Trudeau hasn't mentioned once. The class that not one Liberal policy has bothered to include.

Maybe Trudeau has addressed the lower class but used less offensive and less demeaning terminology, like “low wage earners” or “working class”. Maybe he has included policies in his platform that benefit these non-middle class citizens. Maybe Trudeau has mentioned this sub-middle class in speeches and debates. There are a lot of maybes when it comes to Trudeau, but his lack of respect and acknowledgment of working class, low-income Canadians isn't one of them. Trudeau has never mentioned low-income or under privileged Canadians in any speech or policy announcement. Not once. That's probably because there are no real Liberal policies that offer to help or benefit Canada's poor. The larger segment of voters who self identify as middle class are more valuable to Liberals.

Trudeau's platform isn't geared toward saving all Canadians money or letting poor Canadians keep more of theirs. It's geared toward appealing to a larger segment of eligible voters. Truthfully, most Canadians identify as middle class. Only a small segment identify as poor and an even smaller segment identify as wealthy.

The term middle class is nothing more than a political descriptor. Experts can't agree on what income range determines where the middle class ends or begins. When asked by polling firms, most Canadians self identify as middle class. Political parties do polling and focus groups to divide and segment Canadians into identifiable target groups. The biggest voting group happens to be the middle class. The middle class includes all races, cultures and religions. The middle class descriptor has been engineered to be the most relatable and effective pandering device in politics. All of the leaders are guilty of using the middle class for political gain, but none have invoked the middle class more times than Justin Trudeau.

Canadians can listen to Liberal radio and television ads, Trudeau's stump speeches and the debates to see how much more often Trudeau uses the middle class as a political tool. As for real policies, it takes a bit more research to see the Liberal Party's complete lack of regard for Canada's low income earners.

Making Small Salaries Smaller

In May, before the election campaign, Justin Trudeau said he would support a mandatory CPP expansion. This was a clear contrast to the Conservative Party's support for a voluntary CPP expansion, that would allow Canadians to choose when and if they want to contribute more to their own pensions. Trudeau's plan would likely be modeled after Kathleen Wynne's plan, which forces all employees to pay a percentage of their earnings to pension. In Ontario, anyone making $45,000 will pay almost $800 a year to their pensions. Whether they want it to or not, that $800 will come off every low-income Canadian's pay cheque if Justin Trudeau gets his way.

A mandatory CPP expansion assumes that all Canadians have the very same priorities. A voluntary CPP expansion allows Canadians to make their own decisions, which includes choosing to keep more of their money for present expenses. Over 365 days, $800 can go a long way for a low-income family. For a single parent earning only $45,000 a year or less, $800 can make or break a household budget. To a lot of families and individuals, $800 is one month's rent.

People who make far less than $45,000 a year won't escape the hikes imposed by a mandatory CPP expansion. People who earn only $30,000 a year would have to pay $500 more a year.

To top it off, Trudeau has even promised to reverse Stephen Harper's EI cuts, which would see premiums fall to $1.45 per every $100 by 2017. As most Canadians are aware, EI premiums also come off every Canadian's pay cheque. Under Trudeau's plan, cuts would only go as low as $1.65 per every $100.

By 2017, if Stephen Harper gets his way, Canadians earning $40,000 will be paying $596 per year for EI premiums that might not ever benefit them. If Trudeau gets his way, Canadians earning $40,000 will be paying $660 per year by 2017.

If you're a low-income Canadian who could use more of your own money right now, don't bother complaining to Trudeau's Liberals. They don't care about your sob stories.

Hiking The Price Of Everything

A large percentage of everything we buy is carbon or petroleum based. Your computer has petroleum and carbon dependent components, as does your smartphone, your television and the weather-proofing siding and shingles on your house. Shampoos, creams, toothpaste, tooth brushes, soaps, detergents, clothes, shoes, boots and furniture all have petroleum based parts and additives. The plastic bag that keeps your cereal fresh and the bugs out, the containers you use to freeze leftovers and the syringes and medical products used to save lives are all petroleum dependent.

When Justin Trudeau promises to “price carbon”, he means he's going to tax carbon. To price – or tax – carbon would mean creating a new cost. That new cost would be added to anything and everything that creates carbon emissions during production or consumption. That cost would be transferred to all consumers, regardless of their class.

In two of the leadership debates, Stephen Harper said that a carbon tax is intended to create revenue for the government, not to slow or stop climate change. He's completely correct, because most of the things that would cost more under carbon pricing are things everyone needs. This means that taxing carbon, like cigarettes or alcohol, wouldn't deter the use of carbon products.

Under a carbon pricing (taxing) scheme, products like soap and toothpaste could increase by 20 to 30 cents. It doesn't sound like much to someone making what Trudeau might call a “middle class” salary, but to someone making less than $40,000, it makes a difference.

If you think fruits and vegetables escape the effects of carbon pricing schemes, you're wrong. Fruits, vegetables and all other foods in a supermarket are shipped there in diesel fueled trucks. Under a new carbon tax, gasoline would cost more. This cost would be transferred to the price of all foods and products that need to be transported.

Essentially, products that will already incur a carbon tax would incur a second carbon tax that's embedded into the shipping cost. That means that the cost of that soap and toothpaste that already went up 20 or 30 cents will go up another 20 or 30 cents. Make that a total of 60 cents more for those items.

To someone making only $30,000 a year, the cost of a carbon tax could be devastating. If increasing the cost of most necessities wasn't bad enough, the carbon taxes on gasoline and fuel would also increase the costs of public transport and commuting. Heating costs would also be affected, since most of Canada's power comes from oil and coal power plants. Solar might eventually become an option, but that would entail even more taxes. Solar offers the most expensive kind of energy at the moment. Solar panels also require petroleum to produce.

It's funny, because if you argue the costs of a carbon tax with a Liberal supporter making $60,000 or more, he'll tell you the costs are minuscule and worth it. Maybe he can afford a carbon tax, but can you? Don't bother complaining to Trudeau and his Liberals. They aren't listening.

Cutting Taxes...For The Middle Class

Justin Trudeau has radio ads running all across Canada. In all of them, he promises to cut taxes for the middle class. There's no need to quote his ads, because you've probably heard them. He has several of them and they're all tweaked and customized for each major riding and city. In all of them, he makes the same promises. If you live in Calgary, he'll tell you Calgary has a bright future and that he plans to invest in infrastructure...and to cut taxes for the middle class. If you live in Toronto, he'll tell you Toronto has a bright future and that he plans to invest in infrastructure...and to cut taxes for the middle class.

If you're not a part of Trudeau's middle class, then you're either a part of the wealthy class or the lower class. If you're a part of the wealthy class, Trudeau has promised to make you pay more. If you're a part of the lower class, Trudeau has ignored you.

What could Trudeau really say to Canada's low-income families? He's definitely not going to make their lives more affordable. The vague, unspecified tax cuts he's promising the middle class will be neutralized by the payroll and carbon taxes he plans to introduce. Since he isn't promising low-income families any tax cuts, Canada's lower class won't break even like the middle class will under Trudeau's plan. Under higher payroll and carbon taxes, Canada's low-income families will lose the most.

The truth is, Canada's low-income families don't have anything to offer Trudeau. Their numbers have shrunk over the past two decades, so they don't offer any real reward for Liberals on election night. At least the Conservatives cut the GST from 7% to 5% and have promised to make life more affordable for everyone, not just the middle class. At least the NDP have offered a $15 minimum wage for a small segment of Canadians, even if it is a counter-productive and asinine idea. At least the NDP tried.

If you're a single parent working two jobs or a low-income family struggling to make rent, don't bother complaining to Trudeau and his Liberals. You're not worth it.