The View From Here – The joint wealth of Canada’s 2 richest people equaling 11 million of its poorest, is unacceptable

Tom Henihan
It seems that as soon as we elected a prime minister or a premier we immediately begin to distrust him or her.

They quickly morph from a public representative tasked with implementing the people’s will, into a rogue agent of special interests. They become an impediment to progress and an obstacle to overcome.

Once definition of madness is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.

It appears that democracy has become a predictable stock drama, choreographed and directed by some prankster god hiding in the ether.

There is a kind of passivity in this endless cycle of raised expectations and inevitable disappointment as if this state of affairs is indeed being decreed from the heavens.

Most politicians seem cut from the same cloth. If they are not wealthy themselves, they defer to and do the bidding of those who are wealthy.

Everything is about money or at the very least about money first.

That we have a prime minister who has a decided penchant for secretly hanging with billionaires is not encouraging as it is reasonable to assume that is where his affinities lie.

The word “elites” is over used, it is a buzz word that unthinking, unimaginative right-wing politicians have latched onto without ever clearly identifying or confronting these phantom elites.

But of course wealthy elites are not phantoms, they are very real and they influence just about everything, especially governments.

Like everything else in the world, our political system favours the rich, giving them the kind of access that is denied to ordinary Canadians.

A recent report called “An Economy for the 99 percent,” issued by a group of organizations under the auspices of Oxfam International, states that the combined wealth of the two wealthiest Canadians, billionaire businessmen David Thomson and Galen Weston Sr. equals that of approximately 11 million of the poorest Canadians.

That two individuals can amass wealth equal to one-third of the population is a matter of great social importance and consequently a matter of great political importance also.

This is not an abstract issue without any tangible repercussions when, to cite a primary example, one in five children in Canada lives in poverty and that number is 60 percent for First Nations children on reserve.

While this country is modern, prosperous and progressive, the disparity between the super rich and the general population paints a picture of Canada as a contemporary version of a banana republic.

Of course, political will does not rest with elected representatives only. We have huge contingents of advocates and activists in Canada who should be outraged also by the vast chasm between the super rich and the rest of Canadians. They should feel compelled to put their energy behind this matter as much as they do behind the environment, gender politics etc., unless maybe they are so rigidly aligned they can only handle one issue at a time.

This isn’t just a Canadian phenomenon as the report also said that the world’s eight richest people have as much wealth as the poorest 50 percent of the world’s population.

As Lauren Ravon of Oxfam Canada put it, ‘This is not a report about the rich and the poor. It’s about the super-rich and the rest of us.”

Share this post