OTTAWA, ON (March 19, 2018): The case for the free enterprise system is being lost in the national conversation. And those who believe in the economic and social benefits of entrepreneurship, markets, and profits are partly to blame.
That is the conclusion of Munk Senior Fellow Sean Speer’s latest MLI commentary, titled “Rediscovering the Case for Enterprise.” Based on a speech he gave to Thunder Bay’s Chamber of Commerce in February, Speer’s paper points to the divisive rhetoric and worsening climate facing Canadian entrepreneurs and business people.
Governments have unduly targeted entrepreneurship and success. Examples include the increase in minimum wages across several provinces, the dramatic rise in payroll taxes, including EI and CPP, and the fact that higher-income earners now pay a greater share of income taxes than at any time in the past 30 years.
Yet, as Speer notes, politicians are simply responding to the public on this issue. “The Canadian public has become disconnected from entrepreneurs, skeptical of business motives, and is losing confidence in the free enterprise system,” Speer said.
Among the highlights:
• 70 percent believe almost all recent economic gains have ended up in the hands of the top 1 percent;
• Half of Canadians say they do not trust business;
• 54 percent of Canadians think high-income earners should pay higher taxes
• 40 percent of Canadians disagree with the benefits of the free market
Those who support markets need to find their voice – to focus on the big picture, provide an opportunity agenda for those sidelined or dislocated by change, and play a more positive role. Speer and Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley also spoke to this issue in the most recent episode of MLI’s podcast Pod Bless Canada.
As Speer concludes, Thunder Bay and its Chamber of Commerce can serve as a model for others. “You’re invested in the community and the community is invested in you. I’m not sure how many other local chambers can say the same these days.”
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