Fraser Institute's AG report misses the mark

Here we go again.

The Fraser Institute, a right-wing think tank that flogs the "government bad/market good" mantra whenever it can, has just released a compilation of "wasted" federal government spending.

The report relies on reports of the Auditor General of Canada from 1988 to 2013. The problem? It exaggerates the problem by completely ignoring the many instances in which the Auditor General found that programs worked efficiently and met stated goals.

This cherry picking also totally neglects important work by the Auditor General on the costs of tax avoidance.

In reports dating back to at least 1996, the Auditor General has, among other tax compliance issues, reported on lost revenues resulting from the illegal and improper use of offshore tax shelters by wealthy individual Canadians and by corporations.

We’re talking about huge amounts of money. In 2007, for example, the Auditor General reported on progress made by the Canada Revenue Agency in reassessing 72 trusts with capital gains of over $600 million. These trusts had been created to avoid Canadian tax by using the treaty with Barbados.

If recommendations had been acted on, government could have recouped plenty.

Could it be possible that the Fraser Institute has a double standard? Government spending – bad. Not paying taxes – good.

Photo: arobrien. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.

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