Chrystia Freeland Promotes Tax Hikes For The 1% To Avoid ‘Crummy Society’

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland promoted tax hikes for the rich as a way of helping a “hollowed-out” middle class Tuesday, but sidestepped questions on whether the country’s top one per cent will be asked to pay more in the Liberals’ upcoming platform.

Freeland told an audience at Ottawa’s Global Centre for Pluralism that “real structural issues” with capitalism in the 21st century are feeding disruptive populist trends.

Global capitalism is a machine that works extremely well for the super rich, she said. But in this century, Freeland explained, it hasn’t delivered a comfortable, secure life to the broad middle class. “Failure to do that, will mean failure to sustain democracy.”

Watch: Should Canada’s super-rich pay a supertax?

Freeland, a former economics journalist, shared an anecdote about going door knocking in an upscale neighbourhood in her Toronto riding during the last election. She said one man told her that a Liberal government would cost him $30,000 more in taxes.

“He said, ‘I kind of like you guys, I really like Trudeau. I sort of think you would be a better government, but $30,000 a year — that’s a lot to pay just because I like you a little more.'”

Not only because she’s a politician, she joked, but also because she said she truly believes it, Freeland told the man that it’s in his self-interest to pay more to help his “compatriots.”

Failure to pay what it costs to keep the middle class feeling secure — good schools, safe communities — will lead to living in a “crummy, crummy society” that would be “really scary for you and scary for the children.”

She suggested that divisive populism grows parallel to middle class insecurity.

After her talk, the foreign affairs minister would not confirm if she believes there’s an increased appetite to see higher taxes for Canada’s wealthiest one per cent.

The problems that are currently facing the middle class are really hard and complicated, Freeland told HuffPost Canada, adding that nobody would say the government has figured everything out.

“I’ve described for our approach, and I think our approach right now is the right one.”

She pointed to the Canada Child Benefit, increased support for seniors and students as examples of measures the government has taken to help the middle class.

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