LOLA LANDEKIC FOR THE TORONTO STARAs income inequality worsens, Canadians have become increasingly polarized.
A year after the Occupy movement focused public attention on the income, wealth and opportunity gap between the top 1 per cent and the 99 per cent, the issue is attracting the attention of conservatives in Canada.
Quite simply, they want the problem to go away. So they’re intent on a simple message: chill out, Canada, inequality isn’t the problem.
Two reports — one by the Fraser Institute, the other by TD Economics — illustrate the attempt to spin the issues as nothing to worry about.
They also have another thing in common. Their results don’t support the headlines they gave their own reports. The Fraser Institute study purported to demonstrate that economic mobility is still strong in Canada. In reality, it only demonstrated mobility at the bottom end of the income scale. People tend to move back and forth between poverty and the middle class, but less so at the top end of the income scale where the Horatio Alger myth resides.
TD got a lot of mileage from its claim that income inequality in Canada hadn’t changed since 1998. In fact, the report showed income inequality remained steady in the 2000s, but that it had continued to widen at the bottom and the top of the income distribution — precisely the concern of the Occupy protests.