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Crash course on the Canadian economy

If you’ve ever bothered to peek at my blogroll down there on the right, you may have wondered why I bother linking to Statistics Canada. Here’s why: Anyone who’s interested in getting tomorrow’s news today should subscribe to StatsCan’s bulletin, The Daily. At least twice a week you’ll find information in there that will serve as fodder for the next day’s headlines. Like this tidbit from today, from which it’s easy to deduce that income taxes will likely make a comeback as an election issue.

The tax issue has been pretty much dormant since 2000, when the federal Liberals campaigned on income tax cuts and killed Stockwell Day’s leadership of the political right in the process. But StatsCan’s new numbers show that income taxes collected by all governments in Canada—federal, provincial, territorial and local—are up by 31% over the last five years. If you exclude the federal government from the calculation, income taxes are up by 40% in just three years. Some of the increase has to do with low unemployment—more people working means more people paying tax—but a good deal of it comes from tax increases. It’s enough to make bile drip from the chin of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

And here’s another interesting StatsCan factoid that all Canadians should know: governments in this country will spend more than half a trillion dollars in 2007. The significance of the figure lies in the fact that Canada’s total economy amounts to roughly $1.1 trillion. In other words: half of our entire national economic output comes from government spending. This state of affairs is neither inherently good nor bad, but it does tell you something about just what a crucial role governments play in creating and maintaining the country’s wealth, even in Canada, which boasts one of the freest market economies in the world. Here endeth today’s lesson.

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