Transforming Redistributive Politics in Canada

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John Myles (University of Toronto) discusses driving forces, outcomes and policy of income inequality in Canada.

Text of Transforming Redistributive Politics in Canada

  • Transforming Redistributive Politics in Canada

    Keith Banting, Queens University

    John Myles, University of Toronto

  • The Fading of Redistributive Politics

    Organizational Politics

    Political parties

    Business and Labour

    Civil Society Organizations

    Institutional Politics

    A more decentralized federation

    A more centralized bureaucracy

    Ideas

    Taxation policy

    Labour market policy

  • Organizational Politics: The Combatants

    Political Parties

    Economic Interests: Business and Labour

    Civil Society organizations

  • Changing party politics

    Initial restructuring under the old politics 1993-97: unusual electoral slack

    A subsequent realignment of party system? Decline of centre party; left-right polarization

    Comparative perspectives Polarization common under majoritarian electoral systems

    Polarized party systems tend to be dominated by the right;

    conservative governments are three times more likely under such

    electoral systems (Iversen and Soskice 2006).

    Canada has never been governed (at the federal level) by a party of the left; but neither, uniquely among majoritarian systems, was it dominated by a party of the

    right. That part of Canadas electoral history seems to have ended. (Johnston)

  • Changing group politics

    Weakening of voices speaking for economic

    interests of low-income Canadians Unions (versus business representation)

    Social movements, advocacy organizations

    Socially oriented research/think tanks

    Patterns of political engagement Lower voter turnout among the poor and unskilled

    Protest politics no longer the vehicle of the dispossessed

  • The Battlefield: Changing Institutional politics

    Federalism: decline in federal role Decentralization

    Social policy no longer seen as an instrument of territorial

    integration

    Bureaucratic shifts

    From line departments (advocates)

    ... To central agencies

  • Provinces and redistribution

    Can provinces reinvigorate redistribution? Additional constraint of regional tax competition

    Comparative studies of fiscal federalism

    Constraint when intergovernmental transfers are low

    Redistribution declined more at the provincial than the

    federal level (Frenette, Green and Milligan 2009)

    Changes in social assistance

    Changes in taxation

  • Gini Coefficients, All Family Units, After Tax Income, Ontario and Quebec, 1976-2009

    0.24

    0.26

    0.28

    0.3

    0.32

    0.34

    1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008

    Ontario

    Quebec

  • Importance of policy coalitions QUEBEC: coalitions among the historic champions of

    the welfare state

    EUROPE: social policy innovations increasingly

    depend on new cross-class coalitions beyond the historic champions of the welfare state (Husermann 2010).

    CRITICAL ROLE OF THE MIDDLE CLASS

    Choice: tax cuts versus social spending

    Does the middle class align with the top or bottom?

    SOCIAL POLICY FUTURES