James Clancy says political pressure is needed to reverse Stephen Harper's decision to oppose a global tax on banks and support instead wealthy bankers and foreign financial institutions.
Ottawa (31 May 2010) - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is asking Liberal MPs to push Prime Minister Harper and Conservative MPs to reverse Tory opposition to a so-called Robin Hood tax on financial transactions.
"As the dates for the G8 and G20 meetings quickly approach, the opportunity for Canada to play a global leadership role on this issue is dwindling," NUPGE president James Clancy says in a letter to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.
"Once again, this federal government is turning its back on world opinion in opposing a progressive measure. Canadians, rightly, feel embarrassed and ashamed of the obstructionist policies this government is adopting."
Clancy says action to support a global tax on financial transactions is needed now, partly because the G8 and G20 meetings offer a serious opportunity to advance the issue and partly because the tax is badly needed to encourage economic recovery and to prevent another global financial meltdown from occurring.
"Considered from this perspective, we believe that a financial transactions tax (FTT) is an economic policy initiative that Canada must support," Clancy writes.
The proposed Robin Hood tax would exclude most consumer transactions but levy a small tax of 0.05% on all financial market transactions such as the trade of stocks, bonds, foreign exchange and derivatives.
Estimates of how much revenue such a tax would generate vary – depending on the rate and the range of transactions covered. However, the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (AIER) estimates it could yield $650 billion a year.
"While NUPGE believes that an FTT should be adopted globally, Canada, nonetheless, could introduce aspects of it unilaterally just as the UK has done with its stamp duty of 0.5% on the trade of stocks," Clancy notes.
"An FTT could easily be collected at the centralized clearing of settlement systems that are already used on all major exchanges and through which all financial transactions must pass."
Making 'high rollers' responsible
Clancy says "the high rollers of global finance" have reaped massive profits for decades while paying little concern to the impact of their policies on national economies.
"NUPGE firmly believes that it is time for those most responsible for this crisis, and those who have benefited from the government bailouts, to take greater responsibility for putting things right - in Canada and around the world," he says.
The proposed tax has the support of several key countries including France, Germany and Britain. The European Parliament and the European Commission have also endorsed it. In particular, Belgium has made the Robin Hood Tax a key policy initiative when it takes over the European Presidency in July. Recently, the Japanese finance minister and the former governor of the Reserve Bank of India have also expressed support.
"The Robin Hood Tax is a progressive measure that will benefit billions of people globally, is relatively easily achieved and introduces an element of tax fairness by including those institutions that have been largely exempted from paying taxes," Clancy notes in his letter to Ignatieff.
"This is in keeping with the best of Canadian values – principled commitment to helping people, melded with a pragmatic concern for sound economic policy. We hope that we can rely on the support of you and your party in demanding a financial transaction tax – a Robin Hood Tax."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
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