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Brian Topp wants NDP to run on tax-the-rich platform

Brian Topp arrives in Surrey, B.C., on Oct. 16, 2011 to announce he's gained the support of local MPs and MLAs in his bid for federal NDP leader.


It's been a long time since Canadian politicians could talk openly about raising personal income taxes.

But Brian Topp apparently thinks the message will sell to New Democrats.

Mr. Topp, who is one of the presumed front-runners in the race to succeed Jack Layton as leader of the federal NDP, told The Canadian Press in an interview this week he wants his party to make higher income taxes for high-income earners a key plank in its next election campaign platform.

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It is a policy proposal he foreshadowed on his Globe and Mail blog last month.

A detailed proposal will be unveiled in the weeks to come, he told CP.

"I will be talking about income taxes and I think it's time for our party to step up to that plate and to be pretty clear about that because then we'll have a mandate to act if we're elected," Mr. Topp said.

He also called for a hike in corporate taxes and did not rule out a sales tax increase "at some point," once the fragile economy is on surer footing.

The NDP, and even the Liberals, have pushed for increases to corporate taxes.

But the Reform movement of the 1990s, which eventually became the backbone of the Conservative Party today, made it impossible to discuss raising income taxes. And there is no doubt that the Conservatives will use this as fodder in their attacks on Mr. Topp and his party.

Perhaps the climate has changed with the dramatic shifts that have taken place in the economy in recent years – and the ensuing protests that have taken place around the world and here in Canada. Or perhaps not.

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It is a gamble that Mr. Topp appears ready to take. And it would set up a rather interesting dynamic in the House of Commons if he were to become the next NDP leader – or if other NDP leadership hopefuls were to adopt the same message.

How rich is Stephen Harper?

With people around the world protesting the greed of the financial and corporate sectors, it seems only fitting that we take a look at what kind of money the world's top politicians are making – and how Canada stacks up.

And the answer is: Somewhere in the middle.

According to a study by Investopedia top politicians certainly make a lot more than the ordinary Joes in the countries they govern. But their take-home pay is a pittance compared to the CEOs of the biggest companies.

And Prime Minister Stephen Harper's salary is about average for the type of work he does.

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Top 10 Political Leader's Salary by Country (2010):

1. Lee Hsien Loong (Singapore): $2,183,516

2. Donald Tsang (Hong Kong): $513,245

3. Raila Odinga (Kenya): $427,886

4. Barack Obama (United States): $400,000

5. Nicolas Sarkozy (France): $302,435

6. Stephen Harper (Canada): $296,400

7. Mary McAleese (Ireland): $287,900

8. Julia Gillard (Australia): $286,752

9. Angela Merkel (Germany): $283,608

10. Yoshihiko Noda (Japan): $273,676

According to Statistics Canada, in 2009, the average single-earner, two parent family with children got to keep a little more than $60,000 after tax. Mr. Harper makes a lot more than that. And there a some perks: A leaky House on the Ottawa River, a couple cars and drivers, a pretty sweet pension plan.

But the top CEO in Canada that same year earned in excess of $24 million, according to calculations by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The Investopedia study goes on to make a lot of other calculations to see how the world leaders` salaries compare to the purchasing power in their countries, to the income inequality among their citizens, and to the amount of corruption that goes on around them.

The bottom line, the study says, is that leaders of advanced economies like Canada earn very similar salaries to each other, and those countries tend to be less corrupt and more democratic.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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