Jan. 31, 2020

Corporate welfare train just rolling along

I am old enough to remember former national New Demorcatic Party Leader David Lewis decrying “corporate welfare,” the handouts from our pockets to large and successful corporations. Lewis was a lone wolf in the wilderness then, and nothing was really ever done. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to have taken the practise to new levels.

 MASTERCARD

Trudeau gave $49 million to help MasterCard develop a cybersecurity centre in Vancouver. The announcement was dressed in all the attendant superlatives  . . . hundreds of jobs across the country, in particular in British Columbia.

Is it coincidence that MasterCard’s most senior lobbyist, who led the effort to get the $49 million, was a former top Liberal aide during Jean Chretien’s Liberal government? MasterCard lobbyist Jennifer M. Sloan worked as the Liberal-appointed chief of staff and chief of media relations for two federal ministers under Jean Chretien’s administration.

 LOBLAWS

Two Loblaws lobbyists, one of whom helped steer the company toward a $12-million federal grant to reduce the energy consumption of their refrigerators, also donated frequently to the Liberal Party and attended a partisan fundraising event for Trudeau.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and two of her senior officials also met with one of the lobbyists for Loblaw Companies Ltd., soon after the grant program had opened to businesses.

McKenna's office said the meeting was on another topic, plastic waste, and that the grant was awarded following a fair and competitive process. Loblaw denies that the grant for their fridges was awarded because of lobbying or preferential treatment, and the lobbyists in question say they never lobbied the government over the grant.

NDP ethics critic Charlie Angu doesn't buy it. He says the connections and money flowing between individuals representing Loblaws and the Liberal Party "doesn't pass the smell test. This is a company that has huge capacity, huge tentacles, huge lobbying," Angus said.

CANDIAN TIRE

Electric cars, and the guise of climate change, are the latest excuse for taking tax dollars and giving them to very profitable companies. Canadian Tire got $2.7 million to install electric vehicle charging stations..

As well as Canadian Tire the company owns Mark’s clothing outlets, Sportchek and more. It had revenue of $14 billion last year and a net income of $783 million. 

At what point will we just admit that without huge subsidies the electric vehicle industry wouldn’t exist? And building on that, with Canadian Tire getting the grant for charging stations, what happens when all the oil giants wanting the same treatment for all their gas stations?