Corporate tax concessions do not help Canada’s unemployment problem, New Democratic Party leader David Lewis charged yesterday.
He continued his series of attacks against “corporate welfare bums” in an interview with Liberal MP Robert Kaplan (Don Valley) at Holy Trinity Church’s Noon on the Square.
Lewis added that corporate tax concessions are not justifiable for the “financial risks” which corporations claim they are constantly taking.
He pointed to farmers as one sector of society which takes more risks that corporations, yet obtains far fewer concessions.
Asked whether corporations should pay the same tax rate as individuals, Lewis answered that it was not the tax rate of corporations that he wanted to change, but the huge tax concessions that often resulted in many corporations paying, essentially, no taxes at all.
Lewis pointed out that since the economy is in private hands the people of Canada are at the mercy of corporations. He maintained that he was not against the private sector, but merely objected to them having extra privileges. Corporations, he said, simply do not need the extra tax concessions.
When asked by Kaplan why he was not satisfied by the tax reforms recently passed, Lewis replied that these new laws did not apply to corporations until 1976 and that the corporations were wasting no time in taking advantage of the delay.
Lewis said that the “corporate welfare bums issue” was also tied up with the very important question of foreign ownership, by making it easier for foreign corporations to extend their control.
The government bias towards corporations was also reflected in the favouritism it shows towards developers, at the expense of meeting real housing needs, Lewis said.
On the question of unemployment, Lewis rejected the idea of a shorter work week as a temporary solution and suggested instead that income tax be reduced for lower income people. He added that projects should be started to satisfy people’s real needs – homes and pollution control. Lewis did not agree with the suggestion that these too were temporary solutions.
The NDP leader criticized those women pressing the abortion issue by saying that it was divisive. He said, however, that he objected to the fact that women and doctors were criminals under present laws, but was unwilling to speak further on the subject.
Lewis’ support of the working class had its limits in the B.C. dockworkers strike which was recently ended by the government with NDP support. Lewis justified his position by claiming that the government was not criticized by the dockworkers themselves. He also claimed that the grain industry and the future of the wheat farmer depended on the termination of the strike.
“The interest of Canada as a whole must first be taken into account,” he said.
Published in The Varsity, 1972