When the government wants to make a radical or controversial policy shift, it rarely jumps into it. It uses legislative tools to test publicly-supported waters that float trial balloons, while maintaining the illusion of being some distance from policy proponents.
The federal government is currently doing this as it seeks to lay the foundation for a basic income (UBI) scheme and build public support.
Almost 80% of the representatives of the Liberal Party of Canada’s Policy Council in April 2021 voted in favor of establishing the UBI plan. The party clearly wants that policy, but they are still not sure how they get there. So we are looking at trial balloons.
The Liberal Party first tested the waters of the UBI scheme using Bill C-273, which was submitted by Liberal Parliamentarian Julie Dozerowitz as a member’s legislative bill. Parliamentary legislation rarely passes. When government members submit such a bill, it means they want to explore the concept, but can be distanced from it if there is public opposition. The Dzerowicz bill died as expected on the purchase order when the federal election took place in August. It served the purpose of breaking the ice on this issue and starting a discussion.
Currently, liberals are moving to promote the concept of the UBI system through bill S-233. Bill-S-233 is a “senate public bill”, much like the Senate legislative bill. The bill is unlikely to pass because it has to go through multiple readings, the committee process is very slow, and it can eventually enter the House of Commons.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Kim Pate. The Liberal government prefers to maintain an independent facade among the senators, but Liberal-appointed senators, even informally, still follow the party’s leadership. Senator Putty was appointed to the Senate in 2016 at the recommendation of Justin Trudeau. If she seems to have submitted bill S-233 without instructions from the Liberal Party, there is a bridge I would like to sell to you.
The NDP legislative bill requiring the UBI scheme is still passing through the House of Commons. It will never be the final reading, but given the rather cozy relationship between NDP leader Justin Trudeau and Trudeau, the parties have loosely partnered with the notion of introducing at least some form of UBI. It does not go against the belief that it is.
The proposals and failures of these UBI bills are by design. With all “independent” bills coming and going, liberals have opened the door a little further to impose a true UBI program. People are becoming insensitive to the concept.
Aside from the lack of widespread public support for the UBI, the Liberal Party faces the challenge of finding ways to fund programs with such extraordinary bills. The CERB program costs more than $ 75 billion in the first year of Canadians, and the program is much smaller than the UBI scheme. Liberals desperately need a big new source of income if they want to implement a program as large as UBI.
It may or may not be related, but the Liberal Party continues to be annoyed by the concept of stock taxes on primary homes, and if they tax homeowners with hard-earned stocks, the government Will give a sudden influx of income. Similar to the UBI concept, liberals come up with ideas, but instead of using legislative legislation as a tool, they use the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
CMHC responds directly to the federal government, and unless CMHC commissions a home mortgage tax investigation and cancels it when exposed, it seems that the year is almost over. Like the UBI concept, liberals really want to tax home equity, but they know they haven’t yet softened Canadians to the point where they have enough to get there.
Do Canadians need to worry about the current bill before the Senate? Yes and no. Bill S-233 will never be a bill, but it is certainly a stepping stone to it. The bill was not created and submitted with the purpose of talking about and forgetting about UBI.
Justin Trudeau is an idealistically driven prime minister, and he has reached a point in his career seeking a lasting legacy. The implementation of the UBI program is certainly a legacy and has party support. The subject just keeps getting up and there is a fire where there is smoke. Formal government marketing of the UBI scheme can now be a matter of time.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.