Ed Broadbent crusades against inequality - Macleans.ca

Ed Broadbent crusades against inequality

But how many times can he pose the same question without offering new ideas?


Ed Broadbent is a man of many achievements. During the 1980s, Broadbent led the NDP to what was, at the time, its most impressive electoral showing. He was, for a time, personally more popular than former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. And he made an impressive political comeback when Jack Layton led the NDP resurgence in the last decade. He even played a significant role in the failed opposition coalition of late 2008.

After a few years mostly out of the public spotlight, the former NDP leader launched the Broadbent Institute in 2011. It’s a left-wing think tank that’s made inequality its greatest enemy, and published a report, commissioned a poll, and released flashy videos in the process. Broadbent’s basically declared war on inequality, repeatedly, and he’s found space for his message in newspapers time and again.

This morning, the Toronto Star published Broadbent’s most recent op-ed, “Inequality and the Canadian dream.” It concludes with a compassionate, collective call to action.

“Canadian values demand that we do something about rising inequality before we turn into a winner-take-all society with a permanent underclass. We are in this together, and that means we must once again care and share.”

Today’s column is Broadbent’s fourth this year, by my count, in a major newspaper. He also wrote in The Globe and Mail about a month ago, on Nov. 28, and signed off with a similarly forceful call to, well, everyone in Canada, it seems, to have a “serious debate” about inequality in Canada.

“It’s time we quit deluding ourselves. Serious inequality exists in Canada, but it’s not inevitable. If we want more equality and the strong universal social programs that help make it possible, we need to begin a serious debate about why we’re falling behind so many other OECD countries. We need also to understand that, among other changes in government policy, tax reform is a key part of the solution.”

About seven weeks before the Globe piece, Broadbent wrote again in the Star. His institute had just released a report, “Towards a More Equal Canada,” which served as a backdrop to the Oct. 8 op-ed. Its conclusions will by now sound familiar.

“The current rise of extreme income inequality must now compel us to rebalance our priorities. What kind of Canada do we want to live in? What kind of Canada do we want to leave to the next generation? We must rebalance our priorities. Practical change is possible. Let’s get on with it.”

Broadbent’s first 2012 op-ed—again, unless I’m missing something—appeared about six months before the October piece, on April 9. The institute had commissioned a poll and Broadbent announced its results in the Star. The verdict: Canadians want action on inequality. His conclusion: The same one you’ve read before.

The evidence from countries all over the world shows that widening gaps in income threaten all of the things that make for a good community. In contrast, societies with greater income equality are generally less violent, healthier, have higher levels of voting, greater social mobility and more prosperity. That’s the kind of Canada we want. And one that Canadians are willing to pay for. Let’s do it.

There’s an argument to be made that the gap between rich and poor hasn’t widened much in the past decade, which poses a pretty direct challenge to Broadbent’s ideas. But whether or not income inequality is on the rise, you have to wonder how many times Broadbent will pen such similar columns—without offering new ideas, or getting rid of the “Let’s [do it/get on with it]” rhetoric—before the newspapers that publish them tire of the broken record.

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Ed Broadbent crusades against inequality

  1. Inequality…..Idle No More…..Occupy……everybody wants access to the system

    Time …past time…to open it up.

    • It’s all the same clowns, protesting nothing and everything at the same time. And nobody cares. What did Occupy ever accomplish? Exactly what “Idle No More” will accomplish: nothing, but a bunch of dead trees.

      Nobody in their right mind believes that a Chief of 3000 people should be able to summon the PM on command.

      Everybody has access to the system. That’s not what they’re asking for. They’re asking for special access to the system at the expense of others.

      • I’m still not talking to trolls….you never even know what anyone is discussing, you’re simply ‘agin’ it.

        • You don’t know wtf you’re talking about! “Everybody wants access to the system”…. What system are you talking about? Who is excluded from it? You’re just putting together random words hoping they come out sounding smart, and when anybody points out your BS, you resort to childish name calling. Actually, it kind of reminds me of Junior Trudeau, but at least he’s got some good hair, which is more than anybody can say for you.

          Oh, WTF is ‘agin’ it supposed to mean? Are you suffering from a brain aneurysm? You should seek professional help!

          • The system we live in….education, housing, jobs, a future….and everyone wants access to it.

            Now sod off. I don’t have time for trolls.

          • Who doesn’t have access to education? What law is it that prevents anybody in Canada from purchasing a house? Hiring based on race, sex, sexual preference, or religion is against the law in Canada.

            We have public schools, anybody can go to grade 12 and it doesn’t cost them a dime. We have student loans for anybody who wants to go to Post Secondary, and many many many grants for those who come from under-privileged homes. There are special programs set up to get the poor into home-ownership, and the government will even subsidize the development. Jobs are plentiful, regardless of a persons skill level, there are jobs available. Hell, even someone as brain dead as you could probably succeed as a Walmart greeter.

            So how the hell does anybody not have access to that system? And please try to explain without simply resorting to calling me a trool, lest you make yourself look even more ignorant.

          • Ahhh the white-bread upbringing. A very limited thing.

          • Ya, cause only a sucker would work a job that’s “beneath them” as part of a longer goal to get ahead in life. It’s like every kid who’s ever worked at Walmart is stuck there in the exact same job for the rest of their life!!! Maybe if you had any actual clue about how people ACTUALLY succeed in life, you’d understand the context. But clearly you come from a very privileged upbringing, and you’re pampered mind can’t comprehend the idea of somebody having a good life while NOT having everything just given to them. I mean, we can’t all be self proclaimed “economists” who spend 8 hours a day trolling lies on the internet.

          • ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz

          • I thought you were gonna stop talking.
            Why dont you stfu, get your A$$ in the kitchen and bake a pie or something, make yourself useful for a change.

          • “Hiring based on race, sex, sexual preference, or religion is against the law in Canada.” – Is it? That is nonsense Rick. If you are white with no Canadian experience you are a toast. If your skin has a shade of colour with no experience at all – you are protected species. On the other hand – if Harper wants natives be accountable. why the strata councils all around the country are not? Why strata laws have inbuilt so many holes that they can move the proverbial golden calf through it?

            The last question: Why delivering pizza is sufficient job for staying in the country – for wealthy communists kids from China – so they are buying their jobs in Canada to stay in Canada. And delivering a pizza with the luxury car?

          • “We”…..do you have a mouse in your pocket?
            Your the troll, go back to reading the gaurdian or watching oprah, you stupid lib-turd.

        • I wish you would stop talking. Your husband probably does too, if he hasn’t left already!

  2. The whole “equality” argument is completely bogus. It’s not as if Dion Phaneuff takes a 50% pay cut and suddenly poverty disappears in Toronto.

    If a 99%er goes and commits a crime because he feels hard done by because a 1% has more than him, that’s a problem with the 99%er, not the 1%er.

    The real problem that needs to be solved is why certain segments of society feel entitled to everything that everybody else has.

    • “The real problem that needs to be solved is why certain segments of society feel entitled to everything that everybody else has.”

      This is just beyond stupid, even by your standards.

      • You’re stupid beyond my standards.

        Do you think you could use your big-boy words and maybe try to articulate a full sentence about *why* you disagree? Or is that little hamster in your head all tired out from that prior analysis of yours? Perhaps some warm milk and a nap might be just what you need.

        Or here’s a better idea. Go home, sit alone in a dark room, and take a long time thinking about what an incredible contribution you’ve made to society with you’re brilliant post above. When you come to the conclusion that the above post is a metaphor for how worthless your entire life has been, come back here and tell me how mean and cruel I am for pointing out your short comings as a human being, and blame it all on me. I still won’t care.


    • Inequality, at high levels, is economically inefficient and distorts markets.

      Consider, a rich man will purchase no more milk than he needs, no matter how much he can afford.
      A poor man may well purchase less than he needs, simply because he can’t afford more.

      The signal sent to the market is that we don’t need as much milk as we actually do — even though we have the resources in our society that could create that proper amount of demand. They’re just distributed inefficiently.

      This also works in reverse, because of economies of scale. The very rich man can use the leverage his wealth provides him to essentially monopolize resources that would be better used by larger portions of society — in the process, reducing the value that the resource producer can attain — sometimes to the point of driving them out of business. Walmart is an excellent example of this.