A tax on predatory profit-taking?

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Added: Wed, 12/16/2020 - 12:39pm
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Fred Ryan
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist

We may be the densest citizens in the world. How can we talk on and on,
evaluating the effects of the pandemic, without ever considering excessive profit-taking? The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a 40 year-old Ottawa research institute, reports that in the first six months of the pandemic, Canada's wealthiest families increased their earnings - by $37 billion. That averages about $1,000 from every citizen in Canada.
Taking this volume of money out of the economy, with small businesses closing, layoffs for working people, retirees squeezing their already-tight belts - how do we justify such profiteering? Today's already-wealthy are making money like never before - but during this disaster? 
Our economy is one within a global system, well outside our control. Globalization may have increased the brute output of our economy; it’s less clear that it has done much for Canadian working people who must now compete with, basically, the wages of poor countries. 
Already we are hearing a little - and soon it'll be a chorus - of fear-mongering over Canada's public debt. Rightwing pundits, politicians, and media will call for
belt-tightening, not more relief, once the pandemic’s major hits on our economy have eased. Belt-tightening by the Thompson Family (Globe & Mail, Bell, etc)? They increased their family wealth by $8.8 billion - yes, billion - since COVID's arrival. Or Shopify's CEO, who took $6.6 billion (billlion!) for himself, or Lululemon's founder who added a mere $3 billion to his assets - these folks are volunteering to tighten their belts? (CCPA figures)
Maybe they should. Ordinary citizens have done their belt-cinching; isn't it the excessively wealthy's turn to pitch in for the common good? And we know the only way that will happen is via an excessive-wealth tax. Our economy needs a hand from the wealthiest people and corporations who are taking such profits during this period of hardship. Rebuilding requires everyone's contributions; everyone will benefit.
Should "our" government protect the profits of the maxi-wealthy - or increase wages for front-line COVID workers, invest in childcare, pharmacare, elders - even rebuild our nation's educational mandate? Do we protect profits or people? 
If the wealthiest people are making a killing, who is doing the dying? Not the ultra-wealthy, but rather those who can hardly hang on, raise their families; ordinary people are being killed - by COVID, pneumonia, poverty and the life-results of ill-education, killed by steady hard work under scantly-
regulated conditions. We Canadians don't like to see ourselves as victims, yet is our share of that $37 billion (since March) sitting in our personal bank accounts? 
Such great wealth requires a cooperating and legalistic community: that's Canada. So, it's time to give back. Profiting from others' misfortune and illness is not how democracy works. Canada needs an excess-wealth tax. Which leaders have the foresight to turn these excesses into community strength?