If anyone ever got a bad rap, it is Canada’s one per cent. This group of Canadians is supposed to control about 50 per cent of the country’s wealth and is divided between old money and new money. And there is constant conflict between the old and new. It is simplest to divide them into the ‘benefactors’ and the ‘scourges.’
The benefactors are basically old money that has survived generations by carefully protecting and building the capital. Both the Toronto-based Thomson and Weston families fit into this category. They are considered benefactors because of the charitable foundations this group often create to control charitable giving and to ensure the maximization of tax benefits.
With wealth comes privilege and these people sit on the right boards of both business and charities. They attend the right galas as their children attend the right schools. They are part of the community and stay in plain sight.
The scourges, on the other hand, are the newer wealth that cares little for the communities and people earning their wealth for them. They prefer gated communities and obscurity. This group brings to mind the fortune that K.C. Irving ripped out of New Brunswick and took with him to the Bahamas. His will was reported to stipulate that his sons had access to the billions only if they left the province.
Stephen B. Roman of Denison Mines was also in this category. His generosity seemed to be mainly in seeking to buy politicians and succor for his immortal soul at his tomb east of Ontario Highway 404 under the golden domes of the Slovak Cathedral of the Transfiguration of our Lord.
It is hard to measure Canada’s one per cent beyond the few obvious billionaires. Not that many lists are produced. Our prime minister barely makes the list of millionaires despite the inherited family wealth of the Trudeau’s that has been passed down from Justin Trudeau’s grandfather.
But the point of this is that we can hardly blame the one per cent for being wealthy. It is what they do with the wealth that matters. There are well meaning people with wealth and there are the skin-flints. They are all human. Our politicians are obviously doing a very poor job of making sure that the wealth of Canadians stays in Canada. And there are too many tax loopholes letting them keep more of their wealth than they should.
Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry
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