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Canada’s opposition to a financial transaction (Tobin) tax disgraceful, says ATTAC Quebec

ATTAC-Québec issued a statement today strongly disapproving of Prime Minister Harper’s recent announcement that he will oppose, on behalf of you, me and everyone we know, any form of financial transaction tax when the subject comes up at the G20 summit in Toronto. Harper made the comments in response to claims by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that G20 countries were close to an agreement on the new tax. At only 0.05% on top of speculative banking transactions, the Tobin Tax (named after the economist, James Tobin, who proposed it in 1972) or Robin Hood Tax (named after a new British campaign) could help all countries meet essentially all today’s pressing needs: food insecurity, climate change mitigation, underdevelopment, water pollution and lack of access to public services, etc.

By the way, Harper — this tax you oppose could help mothers and children, too.

«Le gouvernement conservateur de Stephen Harper semble avoir une incommensurable capacité de nuisance, avance Claude Vaillancourt, coprésident d’ATTAC-Québec. Il fait reculer la lutte contre le réchauffement climatique en défendant les intérêts des compagnies pétrolières. Voilà maintenant qu’il s’attaque aux pauvres de la planète, qui paient un prix injuste pour cette crise, en s’opposant agressivement à toute forme de taxe visant le secteur de la finance.»

Rough translation: Harper has an incredible capacity to screw things up internationally, says Claude Vaillancourt, co-president of ATTAC-Québec. He holds back progress on climate change solutions while defending oil and gas interests. And now he’s attacking the world’s poorest, who are paying an unjust price for this financial and economic crisis, by opposing any type of financial tax.

ATTAC calls Harper’s behaviour disgraceful, proving how beholden he is to elite financial interests and how ideologically blind he is to a global shift in trade and finance governance thinking that welcomes needed state intervention.

In November last year, 90 civil society groups sent a letter to the IMF urging the international lender and financial regulator to “pay serious consideration to proposals for financial transaction taxes as a key tool for ensuring that the financial sector helps pay for government bailouts of their industry.” The study, which was mandated by the G20 at their meeting in Pittsburgh last year, should take into account the views of civil society, economists, relevant academics and other organizations who have proposed such taxes, said the letter, which is viewable on the Halifax Initiative wesbsite.

As Council of Canadians Campaigns and Communications Director Bert Patterson wrote in a recent blog entry, “n 1999, the House of Commons passed a resolution directing the government to ‘enact a tax on financial transactions in concert with the international community,’ but the government took little action on the matter.

Harper’s stubborn rejection of a ‘Robin Hood Tax’, whether as a unilateral national measure or internationally coordinated policy, is just one more among many reasons to get out on the streets during the G20 summit in Toronto this June. Keep watching the Council of Canadians and 2010 People’s Summit websites for more information on the G20 actions.