Opinions

What are these Paradise Papers? 

A Helpless Political Rage-inducer for everyday Canadians  

What are these Paradise Papers? 
written by Matt Stickland
November 30, 2017 12:25 pm

It’s getting hard to write opinion pieces about politics without choking on impotent rage. The razzle dazzle public relations world that we are being sold isn’t jiving with what our lives look like.  

Politicians treat each other in ways that weren’t acceptable for me to treat my brother when we were six years old. Instead of talking about how to lift everyone out of poverty in educated debates, we’re yelling at each other on internet forums about whether or not it’s possible to be racist to white people.  

We pretend that this is being productive instead of just about making ourselves feel righteous.  

Where is this rage coming from? 

This might have something to do with the Paradise Papers (originally coined the Panama Papers) reported by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on Nov. 7. This most recent tax scandal let Canadians know that companies are sheltering money offshore to avoid paying taxes.  

There was outrage calling for these companies to be held accountable.  

The bigger outrage should be that they will not be punished – because what they did isn’t illegal.  

Our laws allow large companies, and wealthy individuals, to not pay at least $6 billion annually.  

According to the CBC, the Canadian Revenue Agency doesn’t actually track this information either, so we don’t really know the estimated total Canada loses yearly due to this evasion.  

Either way, changing the laws to make companies pay taxes would be a huge service to Canadians. We have social programs in this country, and those programs need money. 

Canadians are familiar with not having enough money. Perhaps the government should consider changing the tax laws as a side hustle to earn some bank.  

Every day of inaction is another day where angry Canadians can think the government prioritizes corporate growth over more money for healthcare. 

Perhaps to ease concerns of government inaction on problems facing everyday Canadians, a website has been launched; this website tracks the progress various ministers are making on their mandate letters.  

It’s a little weird that the website tracks mandate letters instead of the promises made in the Liberal platform.  

It’s also weird how promises made during the election are not broken they are “not being pursued” or classified as “on-going commitment[s].”  

I wonder if the government was aware that their progress was already being tracked over at https://trudeaumetre.polimeter.org TrudeauMeter was created by Dom Bernard when the Conservative government’s ten-year reign ended and states his intended goal on the website as: “a platform for people to exchange ideas, and for the public at large to see what has been achieved by the government.” 

In theory if the government steps out of line, the opposition parties should be holding them to account on our behalf. But with a majority government and party discipline, the party in power is basically unstoppable.  

So instead of doing productive things, opposition parties put forward motions and bills that contain poison pills.  

A poison pill is a bill, or motion, that is mostly reasonable, but will contain one line that’s absolutely, completely, counter-productive to civil dialogue.  

A completely fictional and hyperbolic example would look like: 

proposing a motion that called for tax relief, and increased social programs for the poor in time for Christmas. The bill would have a throwaway line stating that in accepting this motion, the government would also agree to ban Santa Claus as an unregulated actor giving dangerous items to children by means of breaking and entering.  

So it gets voted down.  

Opposition parties can then claim that the government hates poor people for voting against the motion.  

It’s the parliamentary version of “losersaywhat.” 

Maybe we’re angry because of our leaders. They speak and act in ways designed only to gain some political points and further drive us into our own political tribes.  

Jon Gnarr, the former mayor of Reykjavík had campaigned on promises such as only being corrupt in the open. This isn’t an outlier.  

Donald Trump isn’t an outlier. They’re the logical conclusion of the anger that this style of governing fosters. One is a generally benevolent warning. One is not. Both are possible if Canada continues in this vein of politics.  

Despite what our various political leanings and associated parties would have us believe, we’re not angry because of each other. It’s our leaders. They are supposed to be the adults of the house. And at times it feels like they’re the children, just masquerading as adults.  

In theory Canada has the overarching principle of responsible government. Right now, I’d settle for a responsible adult in the House of Commons.