Anonymous Shareholders Benefit from Canadian Taxpayer-funded Subsidies

Anonymous Shareholders Benefit from Canadian Taxpayer-funded Subsidies

The Hill Times: 24 May 2023

As the governments of Ontario and Canada compete to subsidize manufacturers of electric car batteries and other so-called clean technologies, there is scant discussion of private profit at public risk.

Perhaps people feel helpless or hesitant about opposing large and influential corporations who promise lucrative employment and “spin-off” benefits. Such sentiments are understandable and even inevitable considering the gradual marginalization of working Canadians over the last 50 years.

Unfortunately for working people in Canada and everywhere, powerful global entities like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have arranged secretive taxation and investment deals with little public oversight. If effect, money has been granted greater global freedom and mobility than human beings. So-called free-trade deals like NAFTA are a prime example of secretive arrangements that harm the many and benefit only a few.

It is now possible for corporations to shop the world, seeking the highest public subsidies, lowest taxes and weakest environmental laws. This is the reality of the so-called free market that remains an article of quasi-religious faith among most economist.

In addition to funding new energy technology, public subsidies to profitable corporations directly benefit those entities’ majority shareholders. There is no way to determine the motives or future behaviour of people who may decide greater profits are to be had elsewhere.

In the rush to secure short-term employment and in this case, cleaner energy; the hazards of private profit at public risk are generally dismissed or minimized by those who control public discourse.