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What would happen, I often wonder, if the company that pays for that last minute of play in each period of Halifax Mooseheads home hockey games stopped sponsoring it? Would the 20-minute period be reduced to 19?
Among life’s eternal, infernal mysteries, this might not be right up there with the question of whether Justin Trudeau’s promise/threat of three years of deficit spending to fund his infrastructure renewal spending plans makes sense.
But the two may be linked.
Bear with me.
We used to name publicly-funded structures after no one (the Forum) or at least someone worthy (Premier Angus L. Macdonald bridge). Now we’ll happily name it Frankie’s Forum after your ex-brother-in-law, or the McDonald’s Golden Arches Bridge… if you pay enough.
So the Metro Centre became the Scotiabank Centre; our marvelous public skating facility became the Emera Oval. Emera? The parent company of the privatized electricity monopoly always seeking a rate increase? Yes.
The city will soon peddle every corner of the soon-to-be former Canada Games Centre (“your washroom stall sponsored by Pete’s Plumbing”), each pad of the new Dartmouth four-pad arena and even the air that will carry the wireless for the proposed downtown public Internet.
You can understand why cash-poor municipalities are desperate to play this game. And you can understand why cash-rich corporations are eager to play too. (Every time I use the corporate name for the Metro Centre, the company gets a free ad.)
But… how did governments get so cash poor, and corporations so cash rich?
Over the years, we’ve cut corporate taxes, squeezed public services, enabled the rich to decide whether to fund, for example, a named business school, or a no-name social work school.
Justin Trudeau is right. We do need to invest massively to close what has become a $123-billion infrastructure gap. And that may require running up deficits for a while.
But the longer-term answer is to equal the tax playing field, so corporations pay their fair share too.
Unfortunately, Trudeau has hinted he might reduce the corporate tax rates — even more.
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Copyright 2015 Stephen Kimber, Website