The opening shot of four pundits may have confused some viewers, but the three podiums neatly arranged on the stage left no confusion: a debate was about to break out. This was, of course, The Globe and Mail’s leaders’ debate on the economy, with sections on jobs, energy, infrastructure, immigration, housing, and taxation. Debates are generally as interesting for what is said as what is left unsaid, and the Twitterverse quickly pounced on the three leaders for, among other issues, the lack of discussion on inequality in Canada.
There was, however, a fourth podium on the stage that David Walmsley, the editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail, occupied as the moderator. While the leaders failed to insert inequality into any of their answers, Walmsley’s questions also completely disregarded inequality as a significant issue. This is a glaring absence in no small part because global inequality is widely regarded as one of the most pressing issues currently facing humanity. In what other context would Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, a dry 700 page economic tome on the inequitable distribution of wealth in today’s capitalist societies, shoot up the bestseller lists? Even the World Economic Forum places rising income inequality at the top of its list of concerns. And yet, “Canada’s newspaper of record”—the same newspaper whose publisher and chief executive, Phillip Crawley, remarked that “We are really only interested in readers who earn more than $100,000″—decides to ignore an issue that matters to Canadians.
Why does income inequality matter to Canadians? Here are three reasons:
- Inequality is increasing. According to a report from The Conference Board of Canada, since 1990 the wealthiest Canadians have increased their share of total national income, while the rest of Canadians have fallen behind. The same report demonstrates that inequality during the same period grew faster in Canada than the USA.
- Inequality hurts economic growth. According to reports from the IMF, the World Bank, and the OECD, growing inequality does not grow economies. For this reason alone, inequality should have been addressed during a debate on the economy.
- Inequality is reaching absurd levels. A report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives suggests that by 11:41 am on January 2nd, 2013, the average top CEO in Canada had earned as much money as the average Canadian worker would make all year.
How can we begin to tackle this pressing issue? We could start with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Good for Canada platform.The four planks—good jobs, good safety net, good public programs, and progressive taxation—would immediately begin to tackle inequality and set Canada on a path towards a just and equitable future. In the mean time, you can tweet The Globe and Mail and let them know that it can’t be “Canada’s newspaper of record” if it remains silent on income inequality on a night featuring the three front-runners to lead Canada.
By Justin Rawlins
***All views expressed in this post belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CYH***