Mr. Speaker, we are told all the time that an activist government is like a gigantic fairness machine, transferring money from the wealthy to the needy. Why, then, does this machine seem so often to send money in the opposite direction?
The Bombardier bailout is a case study. The Liberal government has now offered a billion middle-class tax dollars to a company that paid $8 million to just one of its executives in 2015. According to Statistics Canada data, the lion’s share of federal income tax that will fund this bailout comes from people earning between $45,000 and $90,000 a year. The federal government got more money from this income cohort than any other, money that it will use to bail out a company whose controlling family is said to be worth $1.77 billion.
In the same year, as the company began seeking that bailout, it had enough money to pay $32 million to eight named executive officers, an average of $4 million per person. That does not just make them part of the infamous 1% but the 0.01%.
A company has the right to pay its leaders anything it wants with its own money, but this bailout represents a massive wealth transfer from the working class to the wealthiest of the wealthy. Some will argue that rich pay packages are necessary to attract top executive talent, but Liberals explicitly reject that argument. They just won an election on a platform of raising taxes on anyone earning $200,000 a year, which is the Liberal definition of rich. Yet Bombardier paid 40 times that amount to a single executive. If executive compensation were capped at $200,000 a year in 2015, Bombardier would have saved enough money to fund 400 more jobs at $75,000 a year.
Of course, this is not about jobs. If it were, the budget would not have simultaneously raised taxes on small business job creators. Incidentally, it raised it by $1 billion between now and the next election, the same $1 billion that the Liberals want to give to Bombardier.
Taking money from job creators to give it to billionaires does not create jobs. If this were about creating jobs, the company would not have rejected the federal government’s initial bailout of just a few weeks ago. It turns out beggars can be choosers. Nor would the vice-president of the company’s C Series program have said that a bailout was not needed to save jobs, but merely “an extra bonus”. Is it really the responsibility of middle-class taxpayers to fund extra bonuses for the wealthy and well-connected? Unfortunately, it would seem so.
According to a recently leaked government report entitled, “Examining Ontario’s Business Support Programs”, “Ontario’s business support programs favour the largest and oldest companies, the companies least likely to be in need of support.” About 200 companies, or 0.1% of Ontario businesses, got 30% of government subsidies, the report calculated. Why? Because the wheels of corporate welfare are greased with money, money for consultants to help navigate Ontario’s 65 corporate aid programs in nine ministries, money for lobbyists to push an application along, and money for donations to the politicians who will make the final decision.
Postmedia’s Anthony Furey recently revealed that companies that donated to the Ontario Liberals enjoyed massive taxpayer-funded grants. While Bombardier does not donate to federal politicians or parties, the lobbying commissioner’s website shows the company met with designated federal public office-holders 54 times in the last 6 months.
All of this activity is legal, ethical, and properly reported, but it cost money. Therefore, those without money cannot do it. Because they cannot influence the government’s commercial decisions, they rarely benefit from them.
The wealthy can afford to work the system and so the system works for them. Examples abound: Ontario’s taxpayer-financed electric vehicle incentive program recently helped super rich car lovers buy the million dollar Porsche 918 Spyder, according to the CBC; Ontario’s so-called Green Energy Act, which forces higher hydro bills on seniors living on fixed incomes in order to subsidize well-connected, so-called clean energy companies that produce almost no reliable power; and elsewhere, government-mandated taxi cartels shut out competition and empower millionaire taxi plate owners to exploit cab drivers and passengers.
It is not that government failed to stop these injustices, rather, it has caused them. It is like the Sheriff of Nottingham posing as Robin Hood. We should fight for social justice. We Conservatives believe in doing so. The best way to start is by getting government, and the wealthy interests that influence it, off the backs and out of the pockets of the middle class and the less fortunate. In so doing, we can truly champion the underdogs among us so they can be part of a better and brighter future for us all.