“It’s a stinker,” says Bill Gross about the latest report on Canadian unemployment.  As manager of the world’s largest mutual fund (based in California), I guess Gross knows a thing or two about money. As reported in Bloomberg, Gross also said commodity-based economies like Canada’s aren’t doing as well as expected. The median forecast of 22 economists in a Bloomberg News survey was for 12,500 more jobs.

Statistics Canada said on Friday that the country lost 9,300 jobs in July, the first decline this year, with the official unemployment rate rising to 8 percent from 7.9 percent.  This puts Canada’s unemployment rate only 1.5 percent behind the U.S. official rate.

Prime Minister Harper said, “The global recovery remains fragile.” So what does he plan to do about it? He says there is a “strong indication the government’s focus should be on reducing the deficit.”

Our PM has been quite proud about how Canada is going to lead the way out of the global crisis and helped draft the G20 declaration that called for member countries to halve their deficits by 2013. As I pointed out in an earlier piece, he also showed the world what to do with people who don’t agree with your plans, funneling a billion dollars into policing the G20 – 500 million of it for the RCMP which has yet to explain where it all went.  

As we prepare to take on the deficit, let’s not forget Harper’s plan to spend 10 billion on prisons. Defying all logic, this is supposed to lower the crime rate . . . that’s by the way, at a historic low. On the other hand, if the one thousand dangerous criminals that were arrested at the G20 protest is anything to go by, perhaps once all the austerity measures really hit, we will need more prisons after all.

Put that together with the purchase of 65 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Jets estimated to be around 16 billion once the maintenance costs are factored in. One does start to wonder just what all the deficit mania is about.  Clearly, it’s quite ok to spend on beefing up the RCMP’s capacity to quell angry citizens and on the military (and just who are these Fighters going to be fighting anyways?).

So just how is the deficit going to be fought? Well, apparently not by cutting the public service says newly anointed Tory House leader MP John Baird. He told the Ottawa Citizen “We won’t see the massive cuts to the public service that happened under the last Liberal government.”

Well what’s left? Who’s going to pay for this year’s projected 54 billion dollar deficit? Cutting back government programs we are told, and we all know in the end that means cutting back on the social safety net and other social programs.

Well, if our Prime Minister really wants to lead the way and show the world something original, why not follow the advice of Bob Blair on how to cut the deficit?  Bob said “go where the money is”. The rich have the money and a wealth tax (as opposed to an income tax) could pay down deficit in one move and make a good dent in the overall debt as well.

Bob’s plan was simple. Ask rich Canadians to step up and voluntarily pay down the deficit. If they don’t give it, then tax it.

His reasoning was simple: the rich are making all the decisions and most are getting wealthier even as the government sinks further into debt. Ordinary people are not at fault for the crisis or the deficit – so why should they pay for it?

Now Blair knew a thing or two about money too. He was one of Canada’s most successful captains of industry, building Nova Corp into one of the giants of Alberta’s oil and gas sector.

Bob passed away in 2009, but not before being made a Companion of the Order of Canada and Canada’s Commissioner General at Expo 2000 (and an enthusiastic supporter of The Real News Network).

So how about it Mr. Harper? If fighting the deficit is such a critical national priority, why not “go where the money is”? If it’s acceptable to ask young Canadians to sacrifice their lives fighting in a war no one can make any sense of, is it too much to ask rich Canadians to part with some of their money?


You can watch a debate I had with Eric Margolis about how to fight government debt here.

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Paul Jay was the founder, CEO and senior editor of The Real News Network, where he oversaw the production of over 7,000 news stories. Previously, he was executive producer of CBC Newsworld's independent flagship debate show CounterSpin for its 10 years on air. He is an award-winning documentary filmmaker with over 20 films under his belt, including Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows; Return to Kandahar; and Never-Endum-Referendum. He was the founding chair of Hot Docs!, the Canadian International Documentary Film Festival and now the largest such festival in North America.