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Liberals or NDP need to take control from all-powerful ‘corporate elite’

With the next federal election a little more than two years away, it is time we started asking the Liberals and New Democrats what kind of government they will deliver if either one can bounce the Conservatives from power.

It would be unwise to underestimate the Conservatives’ devious political smarts, but it increasingly looks like we may have a dramatic change in Ottawa – perhaps even a Liberal government.

A win for either the Liberals or NDP will be a tremendously important change, but the winner should also be able to deliver a new kind of politics.

So, it’s time to begin pressuring both Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair to articulate exactly what they would do, and the challenge is huge.

The last time Canada had a liberal-minded, reasonably democratic government was during the Pierre Trudeau era in the 1970s.

The domination of the government by a powerful elite dates back more than 30 years to the time of Liberal Prime Minister John Turner. That’s when a wealthy, mainly corporate class of men began dominating the federal government and its’ economic policies.

The rich and powerful believed that unrestricted capitalism could do a much better job of running the country. One of the first moves was to abandon the policy of full employment in favor of making conditions more advantageous for business.

While other governments helped embolden and empower corporate Canada, it has been Stephen Harper who has embraced neo-liberalism more than any other leader, destroying many of the country’s foundations during his seven years in power.

Subsequently, if there is a new government, it will come to power with the extreme right wing more entrenched than ever before. Quietly lobbying behind the scenes, aggressive organizations are determined to maintain policies that tend to reward the rich and penalize everyone else.

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives is the largest and most powerful of the corporate elite. Membership is made up of the CEOs of the country’s largest 150 corporations, which have assets worth $4.5-trillion. It was this Council that was the main force behind the push for Canada to sign its two major free trade agreements. The Council continues to quietly push for a loosening or breakdown of the Canadian-U.S. border, something that most Canadians do not want.

The ruling class also has the support of the corporate-owned mainstream media, most of which favors a right-wing point of view.

So, what of Trudeau or Mulcair?

From what I can see, neither is proposing any changes that would upset those who so strongly dominate the country. So far, both say they will focus on improving the lot of the middle class, but Trudeau won’t increase taxes on the rich. Both favour some sort of tax on carbon. The NDP is talking about creating a long-overdue national transportation policy. Trudeau favors keeping the Senate, but appointing better qualified Senators.

These promises are more about getting votes than taking on the serious issues facing the country. Interestingly, as far as I know, the term “neo-liberalism” was not uttered once during either the Liberal or NDP leadership race.

If either party manages to replace the Conservatives, it will inherit a bleak financial situation. Harper has limited the revenue-generating ability of any new government by dramatically reducing both corporate and individual tax rates as well as creating tax loopholes and failing to crack down on funds held offshore.

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