Press Release: May 18, 2010

Robin Hood Tax: Canada misses a chance for Leadership

OTTAWA – The Canadian Government is missing an historic opportunity to offer constructive global leadership by refusing to consider any kind of levy on the global financial sector.

“There are two proposals on the table here,” said Fraser Reilly-King of the Halifax Initiative. “One would save the banks, the other would save the world. At a time when global poverty is rising, along with sea levels, and European economies are crashing, the Harper government is actively campaigning against both.”

A Bank Tax would apply broadly and ensure future bailout funds would come from banks themselves, not the public. Canada’s counterproposal involves “embedded contingent capital,” which would shift the burden to shareholders, turning [contingent] bonds to equity if the banks run into trouble.

The Financial Transaction Tax, otherwise known as the “Robin Hood Tax,” would raise hundreds of billions for a fund split between domestic needs and global development and climate change.

“What’s needed is a sustainable source of revenue to ensure every child can go to school, every mother has healthcare. The Robin Hood Tax would be a tax for the 21st century: a pittance for the brokers and bankers, a life-saver for billions of people living in poverty,” said Dennis Howlett of Make Poverty History.

“Mr. Harper has sent his officials out hat in hand to collect billions for maternal and child health, and billions more so the G8 will fulfill their promise to address rising hunger.  At the same time he sends his ministers to put the kibosh on the only serious proposal for how governments can raise that money,” Oxfam Canada Policy Coordinator Mark Fried said.

“At Davos in January, Mr. Harper eloquently called on countries to put the global good ahead of narrow national interests. With over a billion people going to bed hungry and a woman dying every minute in pregnancy and childbirth, the world needs dramatic action from the G8 and G20. Why then, to avoid what he calls ‘punishing Canada’s banks,’ would he punish people living in poverty?” Fried said.

For more information, please contact:
Karen Palmer                                   Kelly Crichton
Oxfam Canada                                 Make Poverty History                 
613-240-3047                                   613-882-7855