Transcript: Should Billionaires be Taxed out of Existence? | Jan 20, 2020

Steve Paikin stands in a room filled with people. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and striped lavender tie.

A caption on screen reads "TVO Debates."

Steve says WELCOME, EVERYBODY. WE ARE DELIGHTED TO BE HERE AT WHAT IS THE OLDEST COLLEGE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, IN THE CHAPEL AT VICTORIA COLLEGE FOR THE INAUGURAL PRESENTATION OF TVO DEBATES.

Fast clips show the outside of the stone building.

Steve continues AT LAST COUNTING, THERE WERE 45 BILLIONAIRES IN CANADA, AND THEY ARE PART OF A RATHER EXCLUSIVE CLUB IN THIS WORLD. THERE ARE SOME 2,153 BILLIONAIRES WORLD WIDE. THEY CONTROL ABOUT 8.7 TRILLION DOLLARS IN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY. THAT IS A SUM ROUGHLY EQUIVALENT TO THE ANNUAL GDP OF: CANADA, THE UNITED KINGDOM, AND GERMANY COMBINED. SUCH ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH HAS STIRRED UP SOME CONTROVERSY, AND TONIGHT WE HAVE GATHERED FOUR INTREPID SOULS...

Quick shots show four guests standing behind wooden lecterns.

Steve continues TO TAKE UP A POSSIBLE RESPONSE TO THAT SITUATION AND TO THIS QUESTION: SHOULD BILLIONAIRES BE TAXED OUT OF EXISTENCE? IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TWEET ALONG WITH US, YOU WANT TO LIVE-TWEET THIS EVENT, WE'D BE DELIGHTED IF YOU WOULD USE THE HASHTAG, TVODEBATES. THAT'S TVODEBATES.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Hashtag TVODebates. Should billionaires be taxed out of existence?"

Steve continues OKAY. JUST BEFORE WE START, WE WANT TO LET YOU KNOW THAT WE DID POLL THIS AUDIENCE HERE AT THE CHAPEL AT VICTORIA COLLEGE FOR THEIR VIEWS ON THE WAY IN. SO WE'VE SURVEYED THEM NOW. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE OUR DEBATE. AND THEN WE'RE GOING TO SURVEY THEM AT THE END AND SEE WHAT TRANSPIRED. YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW YOU VOTED? I BET YOU DO. YES, INDEED. WELL, I HAVE TO SAY TO THIS TEAM HERE: IT'S A BIT OF A HOME GAME FOR YOU GUYS, OKAY?

He points at two female guests on one side of the room.

[Laughter]

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Should Billionaires be taxed out of existence?"

A bar chart shows the results.

Steve reads data from the slate and says 59 percent SAID YES, TAX BILLIONAIRES OUT OF EXISTENCE. 20 percent SAID NO, DON'T TAX BILLIONAIRES OUT OF EXISTENCE. AND 21 percent WERE UNDECIDED. SO WE KNOW A BUNCH OF THINGS RIGHT AWAY. ONE OUT OF EVERY FIVE PEOPLE IN THIS HALL TONIGHT IS OPEN TO PERSUASION BY EITHER SIDE, AND THEN I GUESS IT'S INCUMBENT UPON BOTH SIDES TO TRY TO MAINTAIN WHAT THEY'VE GOT. AND, REMEMBER, THE WINNER AT THE END OF THE NIGHT ISN'T NECESSARILY THE ONE WITH MORE... WITH THE HIGHER PERCENTAGE. IT'S WHO'S MOVED MORE VOTES OVER THE COURSE OF THE EVENING. SO WE'RE GOING TO HAVE OUR DEBATE NOW AND WE'LL SEE WHETHER OR NOT OR NOT YOU ARE ABLE TO PERSUADE PEOPLE HERE ANY DIFFERENTLY. LET'S MEET OUR DEBATERS. ON THE "YES" SIDE, ARMINE YALNIZYAN FORMERLY AN ECONOMIC ADVISOR TO THE CURRENT FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, NOW AN ATKINSON FOUNDATION FELLOW.

Armine is in her fifties, with long wavy gray hair. She's wearing a gray dress and a silver pendant necklace.

Steve continues AND LINDA McQUAIG IS HERE, FORMER FEDERAL NDP CANDIDATE, CO-AUTHOR OF "THE TROUBLE WITH BILLIONAIRES"... HOW APPROPRIATE IS THAT FOR TONIGHT? AND MOST RECENTLY THE AUTHOR OF "THE SPORT AND PREY OF CAPITALISTS: HOW THE RICH ARE STEALING CANADA'S PUBLIC WEALTH."

Linda is in her fifties, with long wavy blond hair. She's wearing a black dress.

Steve continues ARGUING THE "NO" SIDE, GRAEME MOFFAT, ENTREPRENEUR, NEUROSCIENTIST, CURRENTLY CHIEF SCIENTIST WITH THE NEW STARTUP SYSTEM 2 NEUROTECHNOLOGY.

Graeme is in his thirties, with short brown hair and a boxed beard. He's wearing a black suit, white shirt and black tie.

Steve continues AND SEAN SPEER, ONE-TIME SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISOR TO PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER, NOW ASSISTANT PROFESSOR IN PUBLIC POLICY AT THE U OF T's MUNK SCHOOL OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS AND PUBLIC POLICY.

Sean is in his forties, clean-shaven, with short brown hair. He's wearing a black suit, white shirt and striped red tie.

Steve continues AND I KNOW ALL OF YOU WANT TO JOIN ME IN WELCOMING THEM HERE TO VICTORIA COLLEGE TONIGHT. THANK YOU, DEBATERS.

[Applause]

Steve says OKAY. LET'S BASICALLY GET THE SHOW ON THE ROAD HERE. YOU KNOW OUR QUESTION: SHOULD BILLIONAIRES BE TAXED OUT OF EXISTENCE? WE'RE GOING TO HAVE OPENING REMARKS FROM EACH OF YOU. YOU SEE THE CLOCK DOWN HERE. FOUR MINUTES TO EACH OF YOU, STARTING WITH ARMINE YALNIZYAN ON THE QUESTION. ARMINE, THE FLOOR IS YOURS.

The caption changes to "Opening statements." Then, it changes again to "Armine Yalnizyan. Atkinson Foundation Fellow."

Armine says THANK YOU, STEVEN. I HAVE TO PROCLAIM MY PRIORS, WHICH AS AN ARMENIAN, I AM NOT REALLY PRO ANY STATEMENT THAT WE SHOULD TAX ANY GROUP OR DO ANYTHING TO ANY GROUP OUT OF EXISTENCE, BUT GIVEN THE FACTS, I'M WILLING TO DO MY BEST. AND IN FACT, LAST YEAR, THE TOP 500 MOST WEALTHY PEOPLE ON THE PLANET SAW THEIR WEALTH INCREASE BY 25 percent, AN EYE-WATERING 1.2 TRILLION DOLLARS IN JUST ONE YEAR. IN CANADA, WE HAVE SEEN THE DOUBLING OF THE NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES OVER THE LAST DECADE, AND NOW THEY CONTROL 172 BILLION DOLLARS OF OUR PUBLIC WEALTH. AT THE SAME TIME, WE'VE SEEN MORE PRECARITY FOR MORE PEOPLE. YES, IT'S TRUE. UNEMPLOYMENT RATES ARE AT ROCK-BOTTOM LOWS IN CANADA BUT WAGE GROWTH HAS BEEN REMARKABLY SLOW, AND WE KEEP SEEING PEOPLE STRUGGLING TO GET BY. IN FACT, IN THE BOTTOM 20 percent OF CANADIANS, ONE OUT OF EVERY FIVE OF THEM DOESN'T EVEN HAVE 500 WORTH OF NET WORTH. SO SOMETHING'S GOING ON HERE WHERE THERE IS MORE MONEY, TONS MORE MONEY, BUT IT IS SO POORLY DISTRIBUTED THAT IT'S CREATING A WHOLE BUNCH OF STRESS, AND BOTH OF THESE THINGS... BOTH OF THESE THINGS... ARE A RESULT OF PUBLIC POLICY. THEY ARE NOT A RESULT OF ACCIDENT OR PEOPLE'S PERSONALITIES. IT'S POLICY THAT CREATED MORE BILLIONAIRES THAT CONTROL BIGGER SHARES OF MARKETS, BOTH DOMESTICALLY AND GLOBALLY. IT'S POLICY THAT CREATED BILLIONAIRES THAT PAY LESS IN TAXES THAN A GENERATION AGO AND HAVE MORE TAX SHELTERS BECAUSE OF THEIR LOBBYING, AND THEY ARE IMMEASURABLY RICHER THAN THEY WERE A GENERATION AGO BUT PAYING CONSIDERABLY LESS WHILE AT THE SAME TIME WE DO NOT HAVE MONEY TO REPAIR AND EXTEND INFRASTRUCTURE, WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH CLEAN WATER IN THE COUNTRY, WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH AFFORDABLE HOUSING OR AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE... ALL OF THESE THINGS, MY FRIENDS, BY POLICY DESIGN, NOT BY ACCIDENT. SO YOU HAVE TO ASK YOURSELF: WHY ARE WE PROTECTING BILLIONAIRES INSTEAD OF PROTECTING THE VULNERABLE? WHAT IS IT THAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT THESE PEOPLE? BECAUSE LET ME TELL YOU, THERE'S NOTHING MAGIC ABOUT THIS GROUP OF 43 CANADIANS AND TWO THOUSAND AND SOME-ODD GLOBAL WEALTHY PEOPLE. IN FACT, IN CANADA, HALF OUR BILLIONAIRES INHERITED THEIR FAMILY FORTUNES OR THEIR FAMILY BUSINESSES. A THIRD DIDN'T MAKE THEIR MONEY BY DOING ANYTHING OTHER THAN MAKING MONEY, BY INVESTING OR MANAGING OTHER PEOPLE'S ASSETS OR BEING REAL ESTATE AGENTS OR THE ULTIMATELY LUCKY BREAK, ONLINE GAMBLING. IMPORTANTLY, AMONGST THE TRUE BILLIONAIRES THAT WERE ENTREPRENEURS, NOT ONE OF THEM STARTED OFF AS A BILLIONAIRE THEMSELVES. SO, IF YOU REALLY WANT MORE INNOVATION IN SOCIETY, YOU WANT A MORE INVENTIVE SOCIETY, YOU WANT A MORE LIVELY SOCIETY, YOU WANT BETTER JOBS, YOU WANT PROSPERITY, MAKE SURE EVERY JOB IS A GOOD JOB. FOLLOW THE MONEY AND TAX IT SO THAT YOU CAN CREATE SOCIAL SUPPORTS SO EVERYBODY CAN BENEFIT FROM GROWTH, SO WE CAN MAXIMIZE HUMAN POTENTIAL, SO WE CAN MAXIMIZE COMMUNITY ADVANTAGE, SO THAT WE CAN MAKE SURE THAT WE MAXIMIZE THE USE OF ALL OF OUR PUBLIC RESOURCES. AND WE CAN'T GET THERE BY WAITING TO TAKE IT OFF THE FUMES OF BILLIONAIRES. SO I ASK YOU TO WORK WITH ME, TO WORK WITH OUR SYSTEMS, OUR DEMOCRATIC SYSTEMS, TO TAX BILLIONAIRES OUT OF EXISTENCE.

[Applause]

Steve says THAT'S ARMINE YALNIZYAN.

[Applause]

Steve says CAN I NOT ONLY THANK YOU FOR KICKING THIS OFF BUT FOR SETTING SUCH A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR EVERYBODY ELSE BY COMING IN TO TIME. WELL DONE. WELL DONE. LEADING OFF FOR THE "NO" SIDE, GRAEME MOFFAT.

The caption changes to "Graeme Moffat. System 2 Neurotechnology."

Graeme says THANKS, STEVE. SO BEFORE I ACCEPTED THIS INVITATION, I WAS PRETTY SURE THERE WAS NO WAY TO WIN THIS DEBATE AND IT MIGHT BE FUN TO TRY BUT IT WAS GOING TO BE DIFFICULT. WHAT I LEARNED IN MY RESEARCH WAS THAT... IT SURPRISED ME A LOT... DEFENDING THIS PROPOSITION WILL BE NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR ARMINE AND LINDA BECAUSE THEY'RE UP AGAINST AN ENORMOUS WEIGHT OF EVIDENCE. SO CONTRARY TO WHAT YOU MIGHT THINK, THINGS ARE PRETTY GOOD IN THE WORLD THESE DAYS. LIFE EXPECTANCY IS WAY UP. CHILD MORTALITY IS WAY DOWN. GLOBAL INEQUALITY... GLOBAL INEQUALITY... HAS DECLINED FOR A FEW DECADES. BILLIONS HAVE RISEN OUT OF POVERTY. AND THERE ARE MORE BILLIONAIRES THAN EVER. THESE THINGS ARE NOT JUST COINCIDENTAL. AS BRETT HOUSE FROM SCOTIABANK POINTED OUT ON "THE AGENDA" LAST FALL, MUCH OF WHAT WE THINK WE KNOW ABOUT INEQUALITY IS ACTUALLY AN IMPORTED AMERICAN STORY. IN CANADA, AFTER-TAX INEQUALITY IS LOWER THAN IT WAS IN 1970 AND IT'S NOT RISING. THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT EVERYTHING IS GREAT. I AGREE WITH ARMINE. PRECARITY IS A CHALLENGE THAT WE HAVE TO FACE, GENERATIONAL WEALTH INEQUALITY IS A CHALLENGE WE HAVE TO FACE, HOUSING PRICES HAVE MORE THAN DOUBLED... TRIPLED IN TORONTO IN THE LAST 13 YEARS. THERE ARE REAL AND IMPORTANT PROBLEMS, BUT UNFORTUNATELY, THEY'RE NOT RELATED TO BILLIONAIRES. WOULD THAT THEY WERE, IT WOULD BE SO EASY TO SOLVE. SECOND, SOME KINDS OF BILLIONAIRES ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS, AND HOW MANY OF EACH KIND YOU HAVE IS BOTH A REFLECTION OF HOW... IS A REFLECTION OF HOW FAST THINGS ARE IMPROVING AND WHAT YOUR ECONOMY IS HEADED TOWARD. WE HAVE A PROBLEM THAT SHOULD ALARM US IN CANADA. THERE ARE 40 OR 50 CANADIAN BILLIONAIRES. THERE ARE ACTUALLY 43 AS OF YESTERDAY. SO A COUPLE OF PEOPLE ARE OUT OF THE RUNNING, UNFORTUNATELY. BUT FAR FEWER THAN THAT ARE IN CANADA. THE TOP FIVE BILLIONAIRE CITIES FOR CANADIAN BILLIONAIRE CITIES BY WEALTH ARE TORONTO, MONTREAL, HONG KONG, VANCOUVER, AND SAN FRANCISCO. THIS SHOULD ALARM US. THREE OF THE SIX WEALTHIEST CANADIANS MADE THEIR MONEY OUTSIDE OF CANADA AND DON'T LIVE HERE. WE COULDN'T EVEN TAX THEM IF WE TRIED. DON'T FORGET THAT ELON MUSK IS CANADIAN. THEIR ABSENCE IS NOT SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE. THE ENORMOUS ECONOMIC VALUE AND THE JOBS BEING CREATED AND THE TAXES BEING PAID BY THESE EX-PAT CANADIANS ARE ALL ELSEWHERE. THIRD, TAXING BILLIONAIRES OUT OF EXISTENCE WOULDN'T WORK. BUT EVEN IF IT DID WORK, THE CURE WOULD BE FAR WORSE THAN THE DISEASE. INCOME TAX WAS ORIGINALLY A TAX ONLY ON THE RICH AND ONLY TO FINANCE WARS. A TAX TO ELIMINATE BILLIONAIRES WOULDN'T STOP UNTIL THE GOVERNMENT HAD CONFISCATED AND NATIONALIZED MOST OF THE LARGE PRIVATE COMPANIES IN CANADA. THIS WOULD DESTROY ENTREPRENEURSHIP. IT WOULD PARADOXICALLY INCREASE FOREIGN CONTROL OF OUR ECONOMY. IT WOULD ENTRENCH LARGE PUBLIC COMPANIES EVEN MORE SO IN STRONGER MONOPOLIES THAN WE HAVE NOW. YOUR PHONE BILLS WOULD GO UP. CANADIANS ACROSS THE BOARD WOULD BE POORER AND LIFE WOULD BE MORE EXPENSIVE. AND, FOURTH, EVEN IF IT WOULDN'T WORK, LET'S IMAGINE WE TRY IT. TAXING BILLIONAIRES OUT OF EXISTENCE WOULD ADD VERY LITTLE TO GOVERNMENT REVENUE AND IT WOULDN'T PAY FOR ANY MAJOR NEW PROGRAMS. WITHIN A COUPLE OF YEARS, THE ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF THIS TAX WOULD REDUCE REVENUES BY FAR MORE THAN THEY INITIALLY RAISED. FIFTH, THIS FOCUS ON BILLIONAIRES IS A DISTRACTION FROM MEANINGFUL POLICIES THAT COULD REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE. AND FINALLY, EVEN IF SEAN AND I FAIL AND YOU DECIDE YOU WANT TO GET RID OF BILLIONAIRES, YOUR BEST BET TO DO SO IS THE THING THAT'S GOTTEN RID OF BILLIONAIRES SINCE THE DAWN OF CAPITALISM. MARKET COMPETITION. CANADA USED TO HAVE NEWSPAPER BILLIONAIRES, IT USED TO HAVE MANUFACTURING BILLIONAIRES, IT HAD STEEL BILLIONAIRES. IT HAS NONE OF THESE ANYMORE. IN 1990 THE RICHEST CANADIAN FAMILY WAS WEALTHIER THAN ANY IN THE U.S. AND FIVE YEARS LATER THEIR COMPANY AND THEIR WEALTH WAS ALMOST COMPLETELY DESTROYED. THESE PEOPLE WERE ALL DONE IN BY MARKETS AND COMPETITION AND NOT BY TAXATION AND REGULATION. WHEN THE FUTURE IS UNCERTAIN AND A BIT FRIGHTENING, WE TEND TO LOOK FOR SCAPEGOATS AND SOMEBODY SAID YOUR PROBLEMS ARE CAUSED BY THESE PEOPLE AND THEY'RE CONSPIRING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU. "LET'S GET THOSE GUYS." SOMETIMES THE TARGET IS LATTE-SIPPING DOWNTOWN ELITES, SOMETIMES IT'S IMMIGRANTS, SOMETIMES IT'S BILLIONAIRES. IT WOULD BE SO EASY IF IT WAS BILLIONAIRES TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM. BUT AS H.L. MENCKEN DESCRIBED THE SITUATION: "THERE'S ALWAYS A WELL-KNOWN SOLUTION TO EVERY HUMAN PROBLEM. NEAT, PLAUSIBLE, AND WRONG."

Steve says THAT'S GRAEME MOFFAT. THANK YOU, GRAEME, FOR STARTING OFF FOR YOUR SIDE.

[Applause]

Steve says LET'S GO BACK TO THE "YES" SIDE, AND LINDA McQUAIG, YOUR 4 MINUTES. YOU'RE ON THE CLOCK.

Linda says THANK YOU, STEVE. VERY IMPRESSIVE, GRAEME.

[Laughter]

Linda continues IN FACT, SO IMPRESSIVE, I WANT TO GIVE YOU SOME MONEY.

[Laughter]

Linda approaches Graeme's lectern and gives him several coins as she says I'M GOING TO GIVE YOU A LOONIE EVERY SECOND... YOU CAN KEEP THAT.

Graeme says THANK YOU, BY THE WAY.

She returns to her lectern and says IF I WANTED TO MAKE YOU A BILLIONAIRE, I'D HAVE TO KEEP DOING THAT, COUNTING OUT THOSE LOONIES ALL DAY AND ALL NIGHT UNTIL THE YEAR 2052.

Graeme says YOU COULD DO THAT, IF YOU LIKE.

[Laughter]

The caption changes to "Linda McQuaig. Author, 'The sport and prey of capitalists.'"

Linda says IT WOULD BE A LOT OF FUN. BUT THAT'S 32 YEARS FROM NOW. BILLIONAIRES ARE NOT ONLY RICH, THEY ARE INCOMPREHENSIBLY RICH. YOU KNOW, MY PARTNER AND I THINK THAT PEOPLE SHOULD BE REWARDED FOR HARD WORK AND FOR EVENTING THINGS. BUT TODAY'S REWARDS AT THE TOP ARE, QUITE FRANKLY, ABSURD AND COMPLETELY OUT OF LINE. I MEAN, TAKE THE RICHEST PERSON IN CANADA, DAVID THOMSON. HE SAW HIS FORTUNE GROW IN THE LAST 5 YEARS FROM 20 BILLION DOLLARS TO 40 BILLION DOLLARS. THAT'S 4 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. SO THAT MEANS THAT HIS INCOME IN THOSE YEARS WAS 80,000 TIMES THE INCOME OF THE ORDINARY CANADIAN WORKER, LIKE A NURSE. BUT IS DAVID THOMSON... DID HE WORK 80,000 TIMES AS HARD AS THE TYPICAL NURSE? WAS HIS CONTRIBUTION WORTH 80,000 TIMES WHAT A NURSE'S IS? I DON'T THINK SO. YOU KNOW, WE'RE TOLD ALWAYS THAT WE HAVE TO... YOU KNOW, THAT IT'S REALLY NECESSARY TO HAVE THESE BIG INCENTIVES IN ORDER TO ENCOURAGE INNOVATION. BUT IS THERE ANYONE WHO REALLY SERIOUSLY BELIEVES, LET'S SAY, THAT BILL GATES WOULDN'T HAVE CREATED MICROSOFT IF HE ONLY THOUGHT, OH, GEEZ, I'M ONLY GOING TO MAKE A FEW MILLION DOLLARS RATHER THAN 100 BILLION DOLLARS? IMPOSING A WEALTH TAX ON THE SUPER-RICH WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE LITTLE IMPACT ON THE LIVES OF BILLIONAIRES, BUT IT COULD PAY FOR THINGS THAT WOULD ABSOLUTELY TRANSFORM THE LIVES OF CANADIANS, LIKE FREE UNIVERSITY TUITION, HOUSING FOR THE HOMELESS, INVESTMENTS IN GREEN ENERGY, ET CETERA. BILLIONAIRES DON'T DESERVE THEIR VAST FORTUNES, I WOULD ARGUE, THEIR VAST FORTUNES THAT WERE OFTEN ACQUIRED DUE TO POLITICAL CONNECTIONS, CRITERIONYISM, OR SIMPLY FROM INHERITANCE. YOU KNOW, THE LUCKY CIRCUMSTANCES OF BIRTH OR WHAT WARREN BUFFETT CALLS THE OVARIAN LOTTERY.

[LAUGHTER]

Linda continues MULTI BILLIONAIRE DAVID KOCH ONCE EXPLAINED HOW HE GOT SO INCREDIBLY RICH. IT STARTED WHEN I WAS A BOY. MY FATHER GAVE ME AN APPLE. I SOLD IT FOR 5 AND BOUGHT TWO APPLES. AND SOLD THEM FOR 10. AND I BOUGHT FOUR APPLES. THIS WENT ON DAY AFTER DAY, MONTH AFTER MONTH, YEAR AFTER YEAR, UNTIL MY FATHER DIED AND LEFT ME 300 MILLION DOLLARS.

[LAUGHTER]

Linda continues WE USED TO... OH...

Steve says IS THAT TIME?

Linda says I HAD A LOT MORE TO SAY BUT...

Steve says LINDA McQUAIG, EVERYBODY.

[APPLAUSE]

Steve says JUST TO LET YOU KNOW, THIS IS JUST THE OPENING SALVO OF THE EVENING. YOU'LL HAVE LOTS MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO ADVANCE MORE INFORMATION. SEAN SPEER, YOU ARE BATTING CLEAN-UP TONIGHT AND YOUR 4 MINUTES START NOW.

Sean says THANK YOU, STEVE. I WANT TO MAKE A POINT THAT WE'RE ALREADY OBSERVING BRIBERY IN THIS DEBATE.

[LAUGHTER]

Sean continues I THINK YOU OUGHT TO KEEP THAT IN MIND AS YOU REGISTER YOUR VOTE

Linda says HOW DO YOU THINK BILLIONAIRES GET THEIR MONEY?

She drinks water.

The caption changes to "Sean Speer. Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy."

Sean says IT'S A PRIVILEGE TO BE PARTNERED WITH GRAEME WHOSE ONLY FLAW IS HE IS FROM NORTH BAY, NOT THUNDER BAY, AND IT'S GREAT TO BE UP TO TWO FORMIDABLE OPPONENTS, LINDA AND ARMINE. WE DISAGREE ON MANY ISSUES BUT I HAVE TREMENDOUS RESPECT FOR HER THOUGHTFUL AND DISPASSIONATE ENGAGEMENT. SHE ONCE INVITED ME TO HER CHRISTMAS PARTY. SORRY IF THAT CAUSES YOU GRIEF ON TWITTER. THEY HAVE AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK. REMEMBER FROM OUR RESOLUTION IS: SHOULD WE TAX BILLIONAIRES OUT OF EXISTENCE? LINDA AND ARMINE THEREFORE AREN'T ARGUING THAT WE NEED TO REDOUBLE OUR EFFORTS TO REDUCE POVERTY, INCREASE SOCIAL MOBILITY, OR ADDRESS INEQUALITY. THEY AREN'T ARGUING THAT WE NEED TO REFORM OUR CURRENT TAX AND TRANSFER SYSTEM TO RESPOND TO STRUCTURAL CHANGES IN THE MODERN ECONOMY OR THAT A TAX BURDEN ON WEALTHY CANADIANS WILL NEED TO ADJUST TO ADVANCE THESE GOALS. THEY'RE NOT ARGUING ABOUT MEANS AT ALL. THEY'RE ARGUING ABOUT ENDS. THEY'RE ARGUING... THEY'RE TRYING TO PERSUADE YOU, RATHER, THAT IT SHOULD BE THE GOVERNMENT'S OVERRIDING GOAL TO ELIMINATE 43 CANADIAN BILLIONAIRES AS AN END IN ITSELF. IT'S A RADICAL IDEA AND AS GRAEME AND I WILL ARGUE TONIGHT, IT'S WRONG. IT'S WRONG FOR SEVERAL REASONS. LET ME JUST HIGHLIGHT FIVE. THE FIRST IS IT'S WRONG TO THINK THAT IN A DEMOCRATIC CAPITALIST SOCIETY MOST BILLIONAIRES HAVE EARNED THEIR WEALTH THROUGH PLUNDER. IT'S INSTEAD BECAUSE THEY PRODUCE SOMETHING THE REST OF US WANT. BILL GATES BECAME A BILLIONAIRE BECAUSE HE REVOLUTIONALIZED COMPUTING. J.K. ROWLING WITH HER STORYTELLING. THE LIST GOES ON. THE FACT IS MOST BILLIONAIRES ARE BILLIONAIRES BECAUSE THEY'VE MADE OUR LIVES BETTER IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. THE SECOND IS IT'S WRONG TO THINK WE LIVE IN A ZERO SUM SOCIETY. THE ATTENTION PAID TO BILLIONAIRES IMPLIES THE REASON FOR THEIR WEALTH IS BECAUSE... OF THE POOR. WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE HIGHER GROWTH FOR LOW INCOME CANADIANS? OF COURSE WE WOULD. BUT IT'S FAR FROM OBVIOUS HOW ELIMINATING BILLIONAIRES WOULD HELP US TO ACHIEVE THAT GOAL. THE THIRD IS IT'S WRONG TO THINK THAT BILLIONAIRES DON'T ALREADY PAY A SIGNIFICANT SHARE OF OUR COLLECTIVE TAX BURDEN. THE CANADIAN TAX SYSTEM IS HIGHLY PROGRESSIVE. WE CAN DISCUSS OR DEBATE HOW WE OUGHT TO MAKE IT MORE PROGRESSIVE BUT THE IDEA THAT HIGH INCOME EARNERS DON'T PAY THEIR, QUOTE, FAIR SHARE IS A VALUES ARGUMENT, NOT AN EMPIRICAL ONE. THE TRUTH IS THE TOP 1 percent OF EARNERS CURRENTLY PAY MORE THAN ONE FIFTH OF ALL INCOME TAXES IN CANADA. THE FOURTH IS IT'S WRONG TO THINK THAT ELIMINATING BILLIONAIRES WON'T HAVE ECONOMIC COSTS IN THE FORM OF LESS ENTREPRENEURSHIP, INVESTMENT, AND OTHER ECONOMICALLY USEFUL AS ACTIVITIES. WE CAN DISCUSS THE EFFECT OF THESE BUT THEORY AND PRACTICE ARE CLEAR: DON'T JUST LOOK TO US. FRANCE DROPPED ITS 75 percent SUPER TAX BECAUSE ITS THEN SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT DETERMINED THESE COSTS WERE TOO HIGH. MOST IMPORTANTLY THE FOCUS ON 43 BILLIONAIRES IS DISTRACTION. AS GRAEME SAYS, WE HAVE REAL CHALLENGES IN OUR SOCIETY: POVERTY, REGIONAL ECONOMIC DISPARITY, AND SO ON. WE OUGHT TO BE SEIZED BY THESE QUESTIONS YET NONE OF THEM ARE SOLVED AND MANY ARE EXACERBATED BY A POLICY OF PENALIZING BILLIONAIRES. LET ME CONCLUDE BY SAYING THAT I SHARE LINDA AND ARMINE'S ARGUMENT FOR LOW AND MIDDLE INCOME CANADIANS. THERE IS A CHALLENGE FOR THOSE WITHOUT POSTSECONDARY QUALIFICATIONS OR THOSE LIVING IN RURAL PLACES. I HAVE WRITTEN POSITIVELY ABOUT CHANGING TO TAXATION THAT HAVE THE CUMULATIVE EFFECT OF ENHANCING PROGRESS. WE AGREE ON MANY WAYS TO EXTEND OPPORTUNITIES TO THOSE ON THE MARGIN OF OUR ECONOMY OR SOCIETY. BUT TAXING BILLIONAIRES OUT OF EXISTENCE STRIKES ME AS THE WRONG WAY TO GET THERE. I WISH LINDA OR ARMINE GOOD LUCK IN PERSUADING ME I'M WRONG. I THINK THEY'LL NEED IT.

A quick shot shows a woman in the audience tweeting a picture of the guests.

Steve says THANK YOU, SEAN SPEER.

[APPLAUSE]

Steve says I'M GLAD TO SEE MOST OF YOU ARE STILL SMILING. OKAY. THAT'S A GOOD START. YOU'VE HEARD WHAT YOUR RESPECTIVE TEAMS HAVE HAD TO ADVANCE AT THIS STAGE OF THE DEBATE. WE'RE NOW GOING TO MOVE INTO ROUND 2 WHERE WE GIVE EACH OF YOU TWO MINUTES TO RESPOND TO SOMETHING YOU'VE HEARD FROM THE OTHER SIDE. ARMINE, AGAIN, WE'RE GOING TO START WITH YOU. TWO MINUTES TO RESPOND.

The caption changes to "Responses."

Armine says THANK YOU. I THOUGHT THESE ARGUMENTS WERE FANTASTIC, THOUGH I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND YOUR CAUSALITY THING, THAT SOMEHOW THERE BEING MORE BILLIONAIRES WAS ASSOCIATED WITH LESS POVERTY AROUND THE WORLD. THERE'S NO CAUSALITY BETWEEN THAT. THAT'S LIKE SAYING WE'RE SPENDING MORE ON MILITARY AND WE'VE GOT LESS POVERTY OR WE'VE GOT MORE, I DON'T KNOW, PATENTS OUT THERE AND WE'VE GOT LESS POVERTY. MAYBE THEY'RE RELATED, BUT YOU HAVEN'T PROVEN YOUR POINT. BUT I THINK SEAN HAS ACTUALLY DELIVERED THE MORE BODY BLOW TO OUR ARGUMENT, AND I WOULD SAY THAT... I WOULD ACTUALLY SAY THAT YOU COMPLETELY MISREAD WHAT IT MEANS TO TAX BILLIONAIRES RIGHT OUT OF EXISTENCE. IT ISN'T THE PEOPLE YOU WANT TO GET RID OF, IT'S THEIR INCOME. IT'S THAT AMOUNT OF WEALTH. THAT YOU COULD ACTUALLY REDUCE THEM TO 999 MILLION DOLLARS AND YOU WOULD FIND THAT REPREHENSIBLE? HONESTLY, I THINK IF YOU WERE TO TAX THEM AT A HUGE RATE, THEY WOULDN'T NOTICE IT UNLESS THEIR ACCOUNTANTS TOLD THEM ABOUT IT. IT WOULD NOT CHANGE THEIR LIFESTYLES. IT WOULD NOT APPRECIABLY CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT THEY'RE DOING. BUT THE MONEY... THE MONEY WOULD ACTUALLY ADDRESS ALL OF THE THINGS THAT WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT THAT NEED TO HAPPEN IF WE'RE GOING TO GET TO THE NEXT LEVEL OF AN ECONOMY THAT IS HIGH FUNCTIONING, HIGH-PERFORMING ECONOMIES AND HIGH-FUNCTIONING SOCIETIES DON'T HAPPEN BY ACCIDENT. THEY NEED POLICY SUPPORTS. AND SO I THINK IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT FOR US TO UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN YOU SAY THE TOP 1 percent PAYS 20 percent OF INCOME TAXES, IT'S STILL LESS THAN IT WAS A GENERATION AGO... NUMBER ONE... AND IT'S BECAUSE THEY EARN MORE INCOME THAN EVERYBODY ELSE. THAT'S WHY THEY'RE PAYING MORE TAXES. AND IF WE ALL THINK THE BEST THING WE CAN DO FOR PEOPLE IS TO CUT TAXES AND WE KEEP RAISING THE THRESHOLD AT WHICH PEOPLE AREN'T TAXED, THEN WE'RE GOING TO FIND WHERE WE'RE AT RIGHT NOW IS SOMETHING LIKE 38 percent OF THE POPULATION DOESN'T PAY ANY TAXES, IT'S NOT BECAUSE THEY'RE ALL POOR, IT'S BECAUSE WE DON'T TAX THEM. YOU CAN'T SUCK AND BLOW AT THE SAME TIME. PICK A LANE. YOU WANT MORE PEOPLE TO PAY TAXES? LET'S ALL PITCH IN. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? THE BILLIONAIRES ARE FACING? THEY'RE EITHER FACING PITCHING IN MORE OR PITCHFORKS.

Steve says THANK YOU, ARMINE.

[APPLAUSE]

Steve says GRAEME, YOU'RE GOING TO RESPOND FIRST FOR THE "NO." SIDE.

Graeme says I CONGRATULATE ARMINE. SHE HAS UNDERSTOOD MY ARGUMENT PERFECTLY WELL. EXCEPT THEY ARE BOTH CAUSED BY ECONOMIC GROWTH. BILLIONAIRES DON'T CREATE A REDUCTION IN POVERTY. A REDUCTION IN POVERTY CAN CREATE BILLIONAIRES. BUT IN FACT THE PROCESS UNDERLYING BOTH OF THESE THINGS, AND THAT IS ACCELERATING ECONOMIC GROWTH, THE FASTER YOU GET POVERTY REDUCTION, THE MORE BILLIONAIRES YOU GET CREATED FASTER. IT'S THAT SIMPLE. YOU CREATE A MIDDLE CLASS AT THE SAME TIME. THIS IS WHAT'S GOING ON ALL OVER THE WORLD. NOW, HERE'S A MORE INTERESTING TRICK IS. SO I AM FROM NORTH BAY, AS SEAN SAID. AND SO THE THOMSONS ARE A BIT OF A HOME TEAM FOR US IN NORTH BAY BECAUSE ROY GOT HIS START IN 1931 BY BUYING A RADIO FREQUENCY AND BUILDING A RADIO STATION WITH 200 IN STARTUP CAPITAL. YOU CAN SAY INHERITED WEALTH IS UNFAIR. MAYBE WE SHOULD HAVE AN INHERITANCE TAX LIKE MANY OECD COUNTRIES DO. I WOULDN'T DISAGREE WITH YOU. WE SHOULD PROBABLY MAKE IT ROBUST. BUT YOU HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT ANY TAX THAT YOU CREATE TO TRY TO ELIMINATE BILLIONAIRES BECAUSE FOR ALL OF HIS LIFE, ROY THOMSON WAS CREATING VALUE NOT JUST FOR HIMSELF BUT FOR HIS EMPLOYEES, FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE CITIES HE OWNED BUSINESSES IN, THE RADIO STATIONS THAT HE LAUNCHED. HE WAS EMPLOYING MANY, MANY THOUSANDS, TENS OF THOUSANDS, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE. THIS IS A BIG PROBLEM FOR A TAX THAT ELIMINATES BILLIONAIRES BECAUSE ULTIMATELY WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO FORCE PEOPLE TO DO... OF COURSE, BILLIONAIRES DON'T HAVE A BILLION DOLLARS. THEY OWN A COMPANY THAT HAS EMPLOYEES AND ASSETS. THE ONLY WAY THAT YOU CAN TAKE THAT IS TO EITHER FORCE THEM TO SELL THE COMPANY OR HAVE THE GOVERNMENT SEIZE THE COMPANY AND THEN RUN THE COMPANY. LET'S IMAGINE THAT FOR A SECOND WHAT THAT WOULD ACTUALLY LOOK LIKE. SO WE DECIDE THAT WE WANT TO TAKE TOBY LUTKE'S MONEY AND ELIMINATE. THAT MEANS THE GOVERNMENT IS THE CONTROLLING ENTITY OF SHOPIFY. WHAT HAPPENS THEN? HE'S FORCED OUT. WILL THE COMPANY CONTINUE TO GROW? DO INVESTORS STILL HAVE CONFIDENCE? THAT'S A TOUGH QUESTION THAT HAS YET TO BE ANSWERED BY THE BILLIONAIRE TAX MOVE.

Steve says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, GRAEME MOFFAT. LINDA McQUAIG, YOU'RE UP FOR TWO MINUTES.

Linda says THANK YOU, GRAEME. SO LITTLE FALLACIOUS ARGUMENTS, SO LITTLE TIME. BUT YOU GUYS ARE DOING A TERRIFIC JOB. LET ME JUST... THERE'S SO MUCH TO PICK UP ON BUT, SEAN, YOU SAID SOMETHING ABOUT HOW WE HAVE SUCH A PROGRESSIVE TAX SYSTEM HERE IN CANADA, WHICH IS NOT IN FACT TRUE. IN FACT, THE TRUTH IS, WE USED TO TAX THE RICH MUCH MORE THAN WE DO TODAY. BETWEEN 1940 AND 1980, BOTH CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES IMPOSED REALLY HIGH INCOME TAXES ON THE RICH AND MUCH HIGHER CORPORATE TAXES, AND YET ECONOMIC GROWTH WAS EXTREMELY STRONG IN THOSE DECADES AND THE BENEFITS WERE WIDELY DISTRIBUTED. IN FACT, IT'S OFTEN CALLED THE GOLDEN AGE OF CAPITALISM. SINCE 1980, HOWEVER, THE RICH HAVE SUCCESSFULLY PRESSURED CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES TO CUT THEIR TAXES, AND WE WERE ALWAYS TOLD IN DOING THIS THAT THAT WOULD SPUR ECONOMIC GROWTH. BUT ECONOMIC GROWTH HAS ACTUALLY DECLINED IN BOTH COUNTRIES SINCE 1980. I ALSO WANT TO PICK UP ON... YOU KNOW, BOTH OF YOU, YOU KNOW, PORTRAY BILLIONAIRES AS BASICALLY BENEFICIAL TO SOCIETY. STUDIES SHOW, HOWEVER, THAT IN VERY UNEQUAL COUNTRIES, THERE ARE FEW OPPORTUNITIES, MUCH FEWER OPPORTUNITIES FOR THOSE AT THE BOTTOM. FOR EXAMPLE, THERE'S LESS UPWARD MOBILITY IN AMERICA TODAY THAN IN MORE EQUAL COUNTRIES. AS SOMEONE SAID, IF YOU WANT TO REALLY LIVE THE AMERICAN DREAM, MOVE TO SWEDEN.

[LAUGHTER]

Linda continues ANOTHER PROBLEM WITH BILLIONAIRES IS THAT THEY HAVE ENORMOUS POLITICAL POWER AND THEY USE THAT POWER TO PUSH GOVERNMENTS TO ENACT ALL KINDS OF CHANGES TO THEIR ADVANTAGE. THE WEALTHY INFLUENCE THE POLITICAL SYSTEM IN SO MANY WAYS AS THE POLITICAL OPERATIVE MARK HANNAH FAMOUSLY SAID: THERE ARE TWO THINGS THAT MATTER IN POLITICS: THE FIRST IS MONEY. AND I CAN'T REMEMBER THE SECOND.

[LAUGHTER]

Steve says OKAY, LINDA, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. THAT'S YOUR TIME. SEAN, TO YOU FOR 2 MINUTES NOW.

[APPLAUSE]

Sean says JUST A COUPLE OF POINTS OF CORRECTION. FIRST OF ALL, I MENTIONED EARLIER THAT PRESENTLY THE TOP 1 percent OF EARNS, ROUGHLY 275,000 CANADIANS, PAY 21 percent OF ALL INCOME TAXES. IN 1982, AT THE HEIGHT OF THE JUST SOCIETY, THAT NUMBER WAS 13.4 percent.

Linda says YOU'RE NOT INCLUDING OTHER TAXES. I'M TALKING ABOUT THE TOTAL TAX.

Sean says ON THE POINT... ON THE POINT, LINDA, THAT TAX RATES USED TO BE HIGHER IN THE PAST, YOU'RE COMPARING APPLES AND ORANGES, OF COURSE. FOR INSTANCE, UP UNTIL THE 1960s AND '70s IN CANADA, CAPITAL GAINS WEREN'T EVEN TAXED.

Linda says WE HAD AN INHERITANCE TAX.

Steve says LINDA, WE HAVE TO GIVE HIM HIS TWO MINUTES HERE.

Sean says THANK YOU, STEVE. I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE THAT, AS I SAY, THERE'S A COMPARISON OF APPLES AND ORANGES WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE EVOLUTION OF TAXATION IN CANADA. BUT JUST ON THE POINT... I THINK THAT WE'VE BEEN CIRCLING AROUND ABOUT THE ROLE OF ECONOMIC GROWTH, WEALTH, AND A RISING MIDDLE CLASS. IT'S IMPORTANT TO OBSERVE THAT MOST... THE RISE OF BILLIONAIRES THAT WE'VE OBSERVED THAT BOTH LINDA AND ARMINE TALK ABOUT ARE OCCURRING IN EMERGING ECONOMIES. THAT'S WHERE WE'VE SEEN THE LARGEST GROWTH IN THE NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES IN THE PAST 25 YEARS. AND THAT'S BEEN PART AND PARCEL OF THE REDUCTION IN POVERTY THAT GRAEME REFERRED TO, AND REALLY, THE TRANSFORMATION OF THESE ECONOMIES. IN A LOT OF WAYS THE RISE OF BILLIONAIRES IN THESE EMERGING ECONOMIES IS A SIGN OF HEALTH, AND IT SEEMS TO ME THE TYPES OF POLICIES THAT LINDA AND ARMINE ARE TALKING ABOUT WOULD NOT JUST FORESTALL GROWTH IN THOSE PLACES, WOULD NOT JUST ELIMINATE BILLIONAIRES IN THOSE PLACES, BUT WOULD RISK UNDERMINING THE EXTRAORDINARY TRANSFORMATION OF THOSE SOCIETIES THAT WE'RE OBSERVING, BECAUSE OF MARKETS, BECAUSE OF CAPITALISM, BECAUSE OF ECONOMIC GROWTH. AND SO IT SEEMS TO ME WE NEED TO BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HERE. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PUTTING A STICK IN THE SPOKES OF THE ECONOMIC ACTIVITY THAT IS TRANSFORMING EMERGING ECONOMIES AROUND THE WORLD.

Steve says THANK YOU, SEAN. I GUESS WE'RE ABOUT HALFWAY THROUGH OUR PRESENTATION TONIGHT, SO IT SEEMS LIKE A GOOD IDEA JUST TO SORT OF RESET. WE'VE DONE TWO ROUNDS. WE HAVE A COUPLE OF ROUNDS TO GO. SO LET'S JUST REMIND EVERYBODY YOU ARE JOINING US TONIGHT FOR OUR INAUGURAL TVO DEBATE. WE ARE HERE ON THE CAMPUS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO'S VICTORIA COLLEGE IN THE BEAUTIFUL VIC CHAPEL. THIS IS OUR FIRST DEBATE AND THE SUBJECT IS: SHOULD WE TAX BILLIONAIRES OUT OF EXISTENCE? ON THE YES SIDE, ARMINE YALNIZYAN FROM THE ATKINSON FOUNDATION FELLOW. AND LINDA McQUAIG, AUTHOR OF "THE SPORT AND PREY OF CAPITALISTS." ARGUING FOR THE NO SIDE, GRAEME MOFFAT, ENTREPRENEUR, NEUROSCIENTIST, AND SEAN SPEER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF THE MUNK SCHOOL OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS AND POLICY HERE AT THE U OF T. I THINK WE GOT A HINT IN THAT LAST SECTION THAT YOU FOUR KIND OF WANT TO GET AT EACH OTHER. SO WE'RE GOING TO... WE'RE GOING TO ALLOW THAT NOW. ROUND 3 PROVIDES FOR YOU ASKING THEM A QUESTION AND THEM THEN GETTING A CHANCE TO ASK YOU A QUESTION. SO, ARMINE, AGAIN, YOU'RE GOING TO KICK OFF HERE. A QUESTION FOR WHICHEVER OF THE TWO GENTS ON THE OTHER SIDE.

Armine says SO EITHER ONE OF YOU, WHOEVER WANTS TO TAKE THIS QUESTION IS: HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? I INITIALLY THOUGHT I WAS NOT GOING TO GO FOR THIS TAX BILLIONAIRES OUT OF EXISTENCE. BUT WOULD 999 MILLION DOLLARS BE PUTTING, YOU KNOW, STICKS IN THE SPOKES OF ECONOMIC GROWTH? LIKE, HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? BEZOS WENT FROM 1 MILLION DOLLARS TO 10 MILLION DOLLARS TO 100 MILLION DOLLARS. HE'S NOW AT OVER 100 BILLION DOLLARS. WOULD 100 TRILLION DOLLARS BE TOO MUCH FOR YOU BOYS?

[LAUGHTER]

Graeme says THAT WOULD PROBABLY BE TOO MUCH.

[LAUGHTER]

Sean says IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE IN A WAY YOU'VE TAKEN MY QUESTION THAT I WAS GOING TO DIRECT TO YOU, WHICH IS WHAT IN YOUR VIEW IS A FAIR SHARE? IF 21 percent OF ALL INCOME TAX IN CANADA ISN'T A FAIR SHARE, AT WHAT POINT WOULD YOU BE SATISFIED, AT WHAT POINT WOULD YOU MOVE ON TO ANOTHER ISSUE INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON 43 CANADIANS?

Armine says SO I THINK YOU'RE MISTAKING THAT INCOME TAX IS THE ONLY WAY OF ADDRESSING THIS. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT WEALTH. WE COULD BE TALKING ABOUT ESTATE TAXES. BY THE WAY, ESTATE TAX RATES ARE ONLY... BY PROVINCE NOW, WE DON'T HAVE A FEDERAL ESTATE TAX... BUT IN ONTARIO THEY'VE GONE DOWN. WHAT ELSE HAS GONE DOWN? THE RATE OF TAXATION ON CAPITAL GAINS, WHICH IS ANOTHER WAY OF CAPTURING. WHAT WE DON'T HAVE IS A NATIONAL WEALTH TAX, RIGHT? THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS OF CAPTURING SOME OF THIS. BUT WHAT WE'VE BEEN DOING IS ACTUALLY LOWERING TAXES, EXCEPT FOR THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, BUT EVEN THAT LITTLE INCREASE... YOU KNOW, IN 1987, WE WENT FROM TEN TAX BRACKETS TO THREE, AND NOW WE'RE BACK UP TO FIVE. BUT PEOPLE AT THE TOP ARE BEING TAXED FAR LESS THAN THEY USED TO. SO THERE'S LOTS OF DIFFERENT WAYS OF TAXING, BUT THE POINT IS, YOU KNOW, I DON'T THINK SOMEBODY'S GOING TO BE HARD DONE BY IF THEY ONLY HAVE 999 MILLION DOLLARS. DO YOU?

Graeme says ONE OF THE TRICKS OF LOOKING AT TAX RATES IS HOW MUCH MONEY IS THERE OUT TO GET IF YOU PUT A TAX ON SOMETHING. YOU CAN HAVE A WEALTH TAX IN SWITZERLAND WHERE I USED TO LIVE THAT GOES UP TO 6 percent IF YOU'VE GOT MORE THAN 3 MILLION DOLLARS IN FORTUNE. BUT WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT IS SOMETHING VERY DIFFERENT. LET'S SAY WE DECIDE TO TAX BILLIONAIRES OUT OF EXISTENCE AND WE LEAVE THEM WITH, I DON'T KNOW, SOME REASONABLE AMOUNT, RIGHT? WHICH IS THE PROPOSITION IN FRONT OF US...

Armine says IS 999 MILLION DOLLARS REASONABLE?

Graeme says LET'S SAY WE LEAVE THE 43 BILLIONAIRES WITH 999 MILLION DOLLARS. THAT'S 43 BILLION DOLLARS. THAT MEANS YOUR TOTAL TAXABLE AMOUNT IF YOU MANAGE TO GET THEM TO LIQUIDATE ALL THEIR ASSETS IS 100 BILLION DOLLARS. THAT'S NOT GOING TO PAY... THAT'S IT.

Armine says AT A RATE OF 172 BILLION DOLLARS IN WEALTH. IT'S SOME PORTION OF THAT.

Graeme says MOST OF THAT IS OUTSIDE OF CANADA... NOT MOST ABOUT BUT 30 BILLION DOLLARS OR 40 BILLION DOLLARS IS OUTSIDE OF CANADA CANADA.

[Speaking simultaneously]

Linda says WHAT ABOUT THE MONEY YOU TAXED THEM OUT OF EXISTENCE WITH? YOU HAVE A LOT THERE.

Graeme says IT DOESN'T COVER THE FEDERAL DEFICIT.

Armine says WHO CARES ABOUT THE FEDERAL DEFICIT?

Graeme says THERE'S NO MONEY... FOR WHAT PURPOSE?

Linda says THERE'S AN ENORMOUS PILE OF MONEY THERE AND IT IS TAXABLE.

Graeme says ULTIMATELY WHAT THIS COMES DOWN TO IS YOU'RE NOT GOING TO PUT A WEALTH TAX ON BILLIONAIRES. YOU CAN'T. IT DOESN'T GENERATE ENOUGH WEALTH TO DO ANYTHING...

Linda says IT ABSOLUTELY COULD.

Graeme says ONE TIME. THEN YOU HAVE TO START TAXING MILLIONAIRES. THEN YOU START TAXING PEOPLE'S HOUSES. THEN YOU HAVE TO START TAXING... AND SO ON AND SO ON.

Armine says WHICH WE DO.

Steve says DO YOU WANT TO ASK A QUESTION? YOU CAN RESPOND AND ASK A QUESTION, THE OTHER SIDE, AS WELL.

Linda says I JUST WANT TO RESPOND. WHEN YOU SAY 100,000 dollar TAX IN SWITZERLAND, THAT WAS ONE OF THE PROBLEMS WITH THE WEALTH TAXES IN EUROPE: THEY SET THEM TOO LOW. WE'RE ENVISIONING... IF YOU LISTEN TO ELIZABETH WARREN, BERNIE SANDERS, JAGMEET SINGH IN CANADA, FOR THAT MATTER, THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT SETTING 50 MILLION AS A FLOOR, AS ELIZABETH WARREN SAYS, THE FIRST 50 MILLION YOU GET IS TOTALLY TAX-FREE. THEN ON THE NEXT DOLLAR, YOU'VE GOT TO PAY 10 CENTS! IS THAT TOO MUCH? THE POINT IS: MAKE IT HIGH. IT SHOULDN'T HIT PEOPLE AT THE LOWER END. THE POINT IS TO PREVENT THE CONTINUAL ACCUMULATION OF EVER MORE WEALTH. IT'S A KIND OF SNOWBALL EFFECT.

Graeme says THAT'S NOT THE POINT. THE PROPOSITION BEFORE IS TAX BILLIONAIRES OUT OF EXISTENCE. NOT JUST 3 percent ON...

Armine says IT'S NOT TAXING RICH PEOPLE...

Graeme says NOT 3 percent. 3 percent DOESN'T TAX THEM OUT OF EXISTENCE. READ PIKKETY'S BOOK.

Linda says I'VE READ IT FULLY. HIS WHOLE POINT IS, IF WE DON'T START TAXING WEALTH, WHAT'S GOING TO END UP HAPPENING IS THAT WEALTH IS GOING TO BECOME EVER MORE CONCENTRATED.

Graeme says WELL, BECAUSE I GREW UP IN A GENEROUS WELFARE STATE THAT HAS BILLIONAIRES AND ALSO PROVIDES FOR A GOOD EDUCATION SYSTEM BECAUSE OF THE TAX RATE, I CAN SPEAK FRENCH. I READ THE BOOK BEFORE IT CAME OUT IN ENGLISH. WHAT IT ACTUALLY SAYS IS SOMETHING VERY DIFFERENT. WHAT IT ACTUALLY SAYS IS SOMETHING VERY DIFFERENT. I'LL SPOIL IT FOR YOU. THE TAX RATE PROPOSED IS 90 percent ON WEALTH AROUND 1 BILLION DOLLARS. IT'S 50 percent ON WEALTH OF 2 MILLION DOLLARS. IT'S 90 percent INHERITANCE TAX. IT'S NOT 3 percent ON A BILLION DOLLARS. WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT IS TOTAL...

Linda says YOU CAN ACTUALLY SET THE RATE AT MANY DIFFERENT PLACES. THE POINT IS TO PREVENT THE FORTUNES FROM GETTING EVER BIGGER AND SQUEEZING OUT EVERYBODY ELSE...

Armine says 25 percent...

Linda says TO MY QUESTION...

Steve says LET'S GIVE SEAN ONE CHANCE TO RESPOND. YOU ARE HAVING SO MUCH FUN, I'D KIND OF LIKE TO GET INTO THIS AS WELL AND I'LL ASK A FEW QUESTIONS. GO AHEAD, SEAN.

Sean says THE AUDIENCE IS CHARGED WITH PERSUADING YOU THAT WE OUGHT TO ELIMINATE BILLIONAIRES AS A POLICY END, NOT THE PROGRESSIVITY OF THE TAX SYSTEM OR THE RESOURCES COMING FROM THAT. THEY'RE HAVING TO MAKE A CASE THAT AS A POLICY GOAL, WE SHOULD NOT WANT TO HAVE ANY BILLIONAIRES IN CANADA. AND THE RATES YOU'RE DESCRIBING LINDA, ARMINE, SIMPLY WON'T ACHIEVE WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT.

Linda says PUT THEM HIGHER.

Sean says WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT IS CONFISCATING WEALTH, CONFISCATING PRIVATE COMPANIES. THAT IS THE ONLY WAY THAT YOU CAN ENSURE THAT AS OF THE END OF YOUR TERM IN OFFICE, WE HAVE NO MORE BILLIONAIRES LEFT IN CANADA.

Steve says CAN I JUMP IN WITH THIS? ARE WE PREPARED TO SAY THAT THERE... ARE YOU PREPARED TO MAKE A DISTINCTION, ARMINE, START US OFF ON THIS, A DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE DESERVING VERSUS THE UNDESERVING BILLIONAIRE?

Armine says WHEN YOU REALIZE THAT YOU'RE ACTUALLY NOT TALKING ABOUT GETTING RID OF RICH PEOPLE, YOU'RE JUST TRYING TO REDISTRIBUTE THE POT OF PUBLIC RESOURCES... LOOK, THERE'S NO BILLIONAIRE THAT BECAME A BILLIONAIRE ON THEIR OWN. THEY ARE MIRACULOUSLY WONDERFUL PEOPLE. HALF INHERITED THEIR WEALTH. I THOUGHT IT WAS GREAT HOW YOU MENTIONED THAT THOMAS THOMPSON PARE CREATED THE FAMILY EMPIRE. BUT, I'M SORRY, HIS GRANDSON DID NOT CREATE THAT EMPIRE. YOU KNOW, WHAT CREATES BILLIONAIRES IS GROWING MARKET SHARE OF CORPORATIONS, AND THOSE MARKET SHARES ARE NOW GLOBAL IN NATURE. WE STARTED OFF BY SAYING, IN THE LAST YEAR, THE 500 RICHEST HUMAN BEINGS ON THE PLANET SAW THEIR NET WEALTH GROW BY 25 percent, ONE POINT... I CAN'T REMEMBER... A TRILLION DOLLARS IN ONE YEAR MORE WEALTH. WHY? BECAUSE THEY HAVE MORE CONTROL OVER THE MARKET. THEY CONTROL MORE MARKET SHARE. THAT DOES NOT GET YOU THE SECRET SAUCE FOR THE ECONOMIC GROWTH THAT WE ALL WANT SO THAT WE CAN HAVE A BIGGER MIDDLE CLASS, SO WE CAN REDUCE POVERTY.

Steve says LET'S LET THE OTHER SIDE GET THEIR DIGS IN ON THIS ONE. DO YOU WANT TO MAKE A DISTINCTION BETWEEN, QUOTE, UNQUOTE, DESERVING VERSUS UNDESERVING BILLIONAIRES?

Sean says IF THE QUESTION IS DO WE WANT MORE DYNAMISM AND COMPETITION IN THE MARKET, I THINK THE ANSWER IS ABSOLUTELY YES. BUT I WOULDN'T WANT TO LEAVE THE AUDIENCE WITH THE PERCEPTION THAT THE CANADIAN ECONOMY IS MARKED BY THESE HEREDITARY BILLIONAIRES. THE FACT IS...

Linda says HALF OF THEM. HALF OF THEM.

Sean says THAT'S NOT THE DATA WE FOUND, ARMINE.

Armine says GO LOOK AT THE FORBES LIST...

Graeme says LAST NIGHT, THERE ARE 43... EIGHT OF THEM INHERITED THEIR WEALTH AND...

Linda says THAT'S INCORRECT.

Graeme says THAT'S WHAT THE FORBES BILLIONAIRES LIST SAID.

Linda says I GOT MY INFORMATION FROM...

Armine says I GOT MY INFORMATION FROM THE FORBES LIST AS WELL.

Sean says WE WANT MORE DYNAMISM, WE WANT MORE CHURN, WE WANT BILLIONAIRES, AS GRAEME SAYS, TO COME AND GO. BUT WE WANT IT TO BE DONE BY THE MARKET, BY PEOPLE IN THIS ROOM MAKING JUDGMENTS AS CONSUMERS, NOT BY THE GOVERNMENT CONFISCATING...

Armine says AND BY PUBLIC POLICY THAT PERMITS MORE NATURAL BILLIONAIRES TO EMERGE... WHOO... FROM THE BOTTOM UP. FROM THE BOTTOM UP.

Graeme says NEWER BILLIONAIRES, NOT FEWER.

Linda says THEY DON'T NEED TO BE BILLIONAIRES. HOW ABOUT ORDINARY PEOPLE GETTING A CHANCE IN LIFE, GETTING A BREAK!

Armine says WHY ARE THERE SO MANY BILLIONAIRES WHO WOULDN'T AGREE TO MINIMUM WAGES GOING UP. THERE ARE PLENTY OF BILLIONAIRES WHO DON'T WANT MINIMUM WAGES TO GO UP? WHY DON'T THEY WANT THAT FOR THEIR WORKERS...

Sean says THAT'S NOT A POLICY DISPUTE.

Armine says EASY FOR YOU TO SAY.

Linda says MONEY IN THE POCKETS OF CONSUMERS CREATES...

Steve says CAN I TRY THIS WITH YOU. THE GIVING PLEDGE, RIGHT? WARREN BUFFETT, BILL AND MELINDA GATES HAVE DECIDED TO GIVE AWAY THEIR FORTUNES. ARE YOU OKAY WITH THAT? ARE YOU ONSIDE WITH THAT?

Linda says YOU KNOW, IT'S BETTER THAT THEY DO THAT INSTEAD OF IF THEY SPEND IT ON BIG YACHTS. BUT LET ME PUT IT THIS WAY: I DON'T ACTUALLY THINK WE SHOULD RELY ON BILLIONAIRES FOR PHILANTHROPY. DON'T FORGET...

[APPLAUSE]

Linda says THEY GET A 50 percent TAX BREAK FOR DONATING THAT... YOU KNOW, THEIR MONEY, AND THEY TYPICALLY GET THEIR NAME ON THE BUILDING, WHICH IS IN FACT WHAT THEY'RE REALLY AFTER, AND THAT SHOULDN'T BE TAX DEDUCTIBLE BECAUSE THAT'S THE REAL BENEFIT. AND FURTHERMORE, WHY DO WE LET THEM MAKE THE DECISIONS WHERE THE MONEY SHOULD GO? YOU KNOW, THEY... YOU KNOW, THEY HAVE THEIR FAVOURITE CHARITIES AND, INTERESTINGLY, THEIR FAVOURITE CHARITIES ARE ALMOST NEVER IN POOR PARTS OF TOWN.

Steve says DO EITHER ONE OF YOU WANT TO RESPOND TO THAT?

Graeme says ABSOLUTELY. THEY'RE RIGHT. THEY'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. WE HAVE LOOPHOLES IN OUR TAX SYSTEM THAT ALLOW PEOPLE TO PAY A LOWER TAX RATE, BILLIONAIRES TO PAY A LOWER TAX RATE THAN PEOPLE EARNING 100,000 A YEAR. WE SHOULD CLOSE THOSE. ABSOLUTELY.

Linda says YAY!

Graeme says YOU CAN'T ALLOW ON BILLIONAIRE PHILANTHROPY TO SAVE US. THAT'S NOT A CASE FOR TAXING THEM OUT OF EXISTENCE.

Sean says STEVE, MAY I MAKE ONE OBSERVATION? LINDA REFERRED TO THE ROLE OF BILLIONAIRES IN POLITICS AS A CAUSE FOR CONCERN AND A JUSTIFICATION FOR THE TYPE OF POLICY REFORMS THAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT AND GRAEME TALKED IN HIS OPENING REMARKS ABOUT THE RISK OF IMPORTING THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE TO CANADA. I THINK THIS IS A GREAT EXAMPLE. WE HAVE SOME OF THE MOST CONSTRAINED POLITICAL DONATION RULES IN THE WESTERN WORLD. I THINK THOSE SERVE US WELL. THEY SERVE TO ENSURE THAT OUR POLITICS IS INCLUSIVE AND BROAD-BASED. AND I DON'T THINK WE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH BILLIONAIRES DISPROPORTIONATELY INFLUENCING OUR POLITICS. JUST ONE EXAMPLE. IN THE PAST TWO FEDERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGNS, THIRD PARTY SPENDING HAS BEEN DRIVEN BY LABOUR UNIONS, NOT BY BILLIONAIRES. AND SO IF WE WANT TO COME TOGETHER TO GET MONEY OUT OF POLITICS, I WOULD WELCOME THE CHANCE TO STAND WITH YOU TO CLOSE LOOPHOLES THAT ENABLE LABOUR UNIONS TO DISPROPORTIONATELY INFLUENCE CANADIAN POLITICS.

Steve says LINDA?

Linda says CAN I JUST POINT OUT THAT IN FACT THE INFLUENCE OF BILLIONAIRES ON OUR POLITICS, ALTHOUGH LESS OBVIOUS THAN IN THE UNITED STATES, IS PERVASIVE. IT'S NOT JUST DONATIONS TO CAMPAIGNS. FOR INSTANCE, THE WAY THEY... BILLIONAIRES GENERALLY OWN OUR MEDIA, AND DOES OUR MEDIA... IT'S INTERESTING. THIS DEBATE WE'RE HAVING TONIGHT, DO WE HEAR THIS KIND OF DEBATE VERY OFTEN IN THE MEDIA? IS IT JUST A COINCIDENCE THAT THIS IS BEING ON THE PUBLIC BROADCASTER TVO?

[APPLAUSE]

Graeme says I LOVE A GOOD ECONOMIC CONSPIRACY AS MUCH AS THE NEXT YAHOO. HERE'S ONE FOR YOU TOO. ALL OF THE TRANSFER OF WEALTH IN CANADA HAS BEEN PRETTY MUCH RELATED TO HOUSING. ALMOST ALL OF IT. ALMOST ALL HOUSING-RELATED WEALTH TRANSFER IN CANADA HAS BEEN TO BABY BOOMERS. SO, OKAY, BOOMER.

[LAUGHTER]

Armine says LOW BLOW.

Graeme says THE LARGEST VOTING BLOCK IN CANADA, BIGGEST BENEFICIARY OF THIS FINANCIALIZATION OF OUR ECONOMY, BIGGEST BENEFICIARY OF THE HOUSING BOOM AT THE EXPENSE OF YOUNGER CANADIANS. SEAN AND I CAN'T BUY A HOME.

Sean says SORRY, MOM AND DAD.

Graeme says SORRY, MOM. THIS IS ANOTHER NARRATIVE OF INEQUALITY. THERE ARE MANY NARRATIVES OF INEQUALITY IN CANADA, WEALTH INEQUALITY. BILLIONAIRES IS A TINY ONE. HOUSING IS A GIANT ONE.

Steve says I DID NOT KNOW WE WERE GOING TO GO INTO THAT GENERATIONAL WARFARE TONIGHT. LET ME PUT THIS TO THE YES SIDE. LET'S TAKE SWEDEN. SWEDEN HAS A POPULATION OF 10 MILLION. APPARENTLY THEY'VE GOT 33 BILLIONAIRES IN SWEDEN. THERE ARE BILLIONAIRES IN DENMARK, IN NORWAY, IN FINLAND. IF THERE ARE BILLIONAIRES IN... I THINK WHAT YOU WOULD AGREE ARE SOME OF THE MOST WONDERFUL EXAMPLES OF SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD TODAY, WHY WOULD GETTING RID OF THEM... ARMINE, START US OFF... WHY WOULD GETTING RID OF THEM MAKE THINGS BETTER?

Armine says BECAUSE, AS I SAID AT THE OUTSET, EVERY BILLIONAIRE IS A POLICY FAILURE AND EVERY PRECARIOUS HOUSEHOLD IS ALSO A POLICY FAILURE AND THE TWO ARE CONNECTED. SO WE ARE NOWHERE NEAR SWEDEN'S RATE OF HAVING PUBLIC RESOURCES AVAILABLE. BOTH OF YOU WANT MORE ECONOMIC GROWTH. I WANT TO SEE MORE ROBUST AND RESILIENT COMMUNITIES AND FAMILIES. I THINK WE'RE ON THE SAME PAGE ON THIS. THERE IS A PLACE TO GET MORE MONEY. IT'S NOT THROUGH THE GST. IT'S NOT THROUGH... TO YOUR POINT ABOUT AN INTERGENERATIONAL WEALTH TRANSFER THAT'S ABOUT TO TAKE PLACE WHEN MY BOOMER GENERATION KICKS THE BUCKET, IT'S GOING TO BE THE BIGGEST IN HISTORY. THIS IS A MOMENT TO INTRODUCE AN INHERITANCE TAX AND THEN PLOW THAT WEALTH RIGHT BACK INTO HELPING THE NEXT GENERATION ON ITS FEET AND BEING, YOU KNOW, MAXIMIZING ITS POTENTIAL, MAXIMIZING OUR COMMUNITY ADVANTAGE, AND MAXIMIZING PUBLIC RESOURCES, AND TO YOUR POINT ABOUT THIRD PARTY, THAT UNIONS ARE A BIGGER PLAYER. WHAT DO UNIONS WANT? THEY WANT BETTER PUBLIC SERVICES, BETTER PHARMACARE, MORE PENSIONS. WHAT DO BILLIONAIRES WANT WHEN THEY'RE LOBBYING GOVERNMENT? THEY WANT TAX BREAKS. THEY WANT TAX BREAKS AND THEY WANT TAX BREAKS. AND THEY'VE BEEN GETTING THEM AND WE HAVEN'T BEEN GETTING PHARMACARE.

Steve says WE'RE DOWN TO OUR LAST COUPLE OF MINUTES HERE.

[APPLAUSE]

Steve says DOWN TO OUR LAST COUPLE OF MINUTES. LET ME THROW A BIT OF A CHEAP QUESTION AT YOU GUYS: IS THERE A LEVEL OF WEALTH THAT EVEN YOU WOULD AGREE IS TOO OBSCENE?

Graeme says INDIVIDUAL?

Steve says YEAH.

Graeme says MARK ZUCKERBERG HAS ACKNOWLEDGED IT'S A LITTLE BIT NAUSEATING THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT HE HAS. OF COURSE HE DOESN'T HAVE MONEY. HE HAS SHARES IN A COMPANY THAT HAS ASSETS THAT CREATES THINGS, THAT HAS REVENUE, THAT CREATES JOBS FOR HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS IF NOT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. IT DRIVES SALES ON ALL PLATFORMS ACROSS THE ENTIRE INTERNET. HE'S REVOLUTIONIZED A FORM OF COMMUNICATION. WITH ALL OF ITS DOWNSIDES, ABSOLUTELY. THERE IS ROOM FOR REGULATION. THERE IS ROOM FOR TAXATION. BUT WHEN YOU MAKE THE CASE THAT BILLIONAIRES ARE, LET'S SAY, YOU KNOW, INVOLVED IN POLITICS TO AN UNREASONABLE EXTENT THAT THEY WANT TO LIMIT THE POWER OF LABOUR UNIONS, YOU'RE MAKING A CASE NOT AGAINST BILLIONAIRES, YOU'RE MAKING A CASE AGAINST BUSINESS. YOU'RE MAKING A CASE AGAINST BIG BUSINESS IN GENERAL. YOU HAVEN'T MADE THE CASE THAT BILLIONAIRES ARE IN ANY WAY UNIQUE RELATIVE TO LARGE PUBLIC COMPANIES OR SMALL PUBLIC COMPANIES. THAT'S A BIG PROBLEM. BECAUSE IF WE'RE MAKING THE CASE AGAINST BUSINESS, THIS IS A VERY DIFFERENT ARGUMENT. THE FACT IS THAT BILLIONAIRE-CONTROLLED COMPANIES OUTPERFORM WIDELY HELD PUBLIC COMPANIES BECAUSE THEY CAN LOOK FARTHER THAN THE NEXT QUARTER. THEY DON'T GET INTO DEBT TROUBLE IN THE SAME WAY. THEY GROW FASTER. THEY CREATE MORE JOBS FASTER.

Steve says DOWN TO OUR LAST MINUTE. DO YOU GUYS WANT TO TAKE IT, RESPOND TO THAT?

The caption changes to "Question round."

Linda says I WOULD JUST RESPOND THAT IN FACT THERE IS A VERY INTERESTING STUDY THAT LOOKED AT BILLIONAIRES AND WHAT THEY'VE PUT THEIR... YOU KNOW, WHERE THEY PUT THEIR MONEY IN TERMS OF POLICIES AND POLITICS, AND IT WAS... THERE'S A FEW EXAMPLES LIKE WARREN BUFFETT WHO SPEAK OUT AGAINST INEQUALITY AND THAT GRABS A LOT OF HEADLINES, BUT THIS STUDY FOUND THAT OVERWHELMINGLY... OVERWHELMINGLY... BUSINESS... OR NOT JUST BUSINESS, BILLIONAIRES WHO CONTROL MANY BUSINESSES SUPPORT ALL THE THINGS WE'RE TALKING ABOUT. OPPOSITION TO THE MINIMUM WAGE. ANY KIND OF ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE. THE KOCH BROTHERS HAVE DONE MORE TO BLOCK CLIMATE CHANGE THAN... THAN ANYBODY, EVEN MORE THAN JASON KENNEY.

Graeme says HE'S NOT A BILLIONAIRE.

Linda says THAT'S MY POINT. BILLIONAIRES, AND NOT TO MENTION BLOCKING... WORKERS HAVING THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE, ALL THESE KIND OF THINGS. SO IN FACT THEY HAVE BEEN A VERY REGRESSIVE FORCE.

Steve says OKAY. THAT BRINGS AN END TO THE SORT OF FORMAL PART OF OUR BACK AND FORTH, AND NOW WE'RE GOING TO GIVE EACH OF YOU ONE MINUTE TO KIND OF SEAL THE DEAL IN THIS ROOM HERE TODAY. LET'S GO IN INVERSE ORDER FROM THE WAY WE STARTED. SEAN, IF YOU WOULD, ONE MINUTE, YOU'RE ON THE CLOCK.

The caption changes to "Closing statements."

Sean says WE'VE BEEN SPENDING OUR TIME PRINCIPALLY FOCUSED ON THE 23 percent OF YOU WHOSE MINDS WEREN'T MADE UP. I HOPE WE SHIFTED YOU IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. I REGRET NOT USING LOONIES.

Linda says THINK ABOUT THAT NEXT TIME.

Sean says I WOULD MAKE TWO CLOSING POINTS. THE FIRST IS, REMEMBER THE RESOLUTION THEY WERE DISCHARGED TO PROVE: THAT WE OUGHT TO ELIMINATE BILLIONAIRES AS AN END IN ITSELF. THEY'VE MADE THE POINT FOR A MORE GENEROUS WELFARE STATE, MORE PUBLIC INVESTMENTS... A WHOLE RANGE OF THINGS THAT I THINK WE COULD FIND COMMON GROUND ON. BUT THAT'S NOT THE JOB PUT BEFORE THEM TONIGHT. THERE CASE WAS AROUND ELIMINATING BILLIONAIRES AND I DON'T THINK THEY'VE DONE THAT. LASTLY, LET ME JUST OBSERVE THAT I THINK WHAT THEY'RE ACTUALLY ARGUING FOR IS A MUCH MORE EXPANDED GOVERNMENT AND THEY'RE TOO AFRAID TO SAY WE'RE ALL GOING TO HAVE TO PAY MORE FOR IT. THEY WANT BILLIONAIRES TO COVER THE BILL. I THINK IN THE END THEY'RE NOT GOING TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN TAXING BILLIONAIRES OR BUILDING THE CASE FOR A MORE GENEROUS WELFARE STATE IF THEY'RE NOT HONEST WITH US ABOUT WHAT'S REALLY AT STAKE HERE.

Steve says SEAN SPEER. THANK YOU, SEAN. LINDA McQUAIG, YOU'RE UP NEXT. ONE MINUTE FOR YOU.

Linda says SEAN, YOU'RE SO TECHNICAL ABOUT WANTING TO DEFINE THE TERMS. WE DEFINE THE TERMS. WE ARE BIG THINKERS. WE'RE THINKING MORE BROADLY ABOUT THE ISSUE. AND I THINK THE PUBLIC IS INTERESTED IN THE ISSUE OF, SHOULD BILLIONAIRES BE PROPERLY TAXED? AND LET ME JUST SAY, CANADA IS THE ONLY G-7 COUNTRY THAT DOESN'T TAX INHERITANCES. SO WE PROPOSE THAT CANADA SHOULD INTRODUCE AN INHERITANCE TAX WHICH WOULD ONLY APPLY TO THE VERY RICH. BUT WITH THE MONEY COLLECTED FROM THAT INHERITANCE TAX, DO YOU REALIZE CANADA COULD SET UP EDUCATIONAL TRUST FUNDS FOR EVERY CANADIAN CHILD SO THAT EVERY CANADIAN CHILD ON THEIR 16TH BIRTHDAY COULD RECEIVE 16,000 TO BE DEPOSITED INTO A TRUST FUND AND USED EXCLUSIVELY FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING. AS THE AMERICAN DREAM FADES AWAY, THIS WOULD BE AN EXCITING NEW CANADIAN VERSION OF IT BASED ON THE NOTION THAT SOCIETY IS A COMMUNITY AND EVERYONE IN THE COMMUNITY SHOULD HAVE A RIGHT TO LIVE THEIR DREAMS.

Steve says THAT'S LINDA McQUAIG.

[APPLAUSE]

Steve says GRAEME, LAST MINUTE TO YOU.

Graeme says AS SEAN SAID, THANK YOU FOR INCLUDING US IN THIS. IT'S BEEN A LOT OF FUN AND WE'VE LEARNED A LOT HERE. JAPAN HAS 120 MILLION PEOPLE. IN 1989 IT HAD ONE OF THE HIGHEST CONCENTRATION OF BILLIONAIRES IN THE WORLD AND NOW IT HAS ONE OF THE LOWEST. ITS CHILD AND ELDERLY POVERTY IS CLOSE TO THE HIGHEST IN THE OECD AND IT'S RISING. SWEDEN HAS 10 MILLION PEOPLE. IT'S A MODEL OF WHAT HIGH TAXES AND THE WELFARE STATE CAN ACHIEVE. AND IT'S BECOME AN INTERNATIONAL LEADER IN SUSTAINABILITY. SWEDEN AND ALL OF SCANDINAVIA HAS DOUBLED THE BILLIONAIRE DENSITY OF THE UNITED STATES. THREE TIMES THAT OF CANADA. AND 12 TIMES THAT OF JAPAN. THERE'S A PATTERN HERE. A GROWING DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY WITH A MARKET ECONOMY WILL CREATE PROSPERITY. IT WILL CREATE A WELFARE STATE. AND IT WILL CREATE BILLIONAIRES. WE DON'T YET KNOW THE RECIPE FOR SHARED PROSPERITY IN THE NEW ECONOMY, BUT THE RECIPE FOR SHARED DECLINE IS CLEAR: PUNISH SUCCESS BY SEIZING PRIVATE BUSINESSES AND ENTRENCH MONOPOLIES BY ELIMINATING COMPETITION. ELIMINATING BILLIONAIRES IS CUTTING OFF YOUR NOSE TO SPITE YOUR FACE. THE ANSWER ISN'T FEWER BILLIONAIRES BUT IT'S NEWER BILLIONAIRES. I'M OUT OF TIME. I'LL LEAVE IT AT THAT.

Steve says GRAEME, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

[APPLAUSE]

Steve says ARMINE, YOU GET THE LAST WORD TONIGHT.

Armine says OKAY. WELL... FOCUS, PEOPLE. WE ARE ENTERING A PERIOD OF SLOW GROWTH, AND IF YOU WANT THAT SECRET SAUCE OF MORE GROWTH, YOU'VE GOT TO GET NOT ONLY NEWER BILLIONAIRES BUT NEWER MIDDLE CLASS AND NEWER PEOPLE LIFTED OUT OF POVERTY. YOU NEED TO INVEST IN YOUR PEOPLE. THERE'S NO WAY WE'RE GOING TO GET THERE WITHOUT HAVING A BIGGER ROLE OF GOVERNMENT IN SOCIETY, AND WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO TAX MORE. WHO WE TAX MORE, WELL, I'VE GOT TO SAY, BILLIONAIRES ARE LOOKING LIKE EASY PICKIN' RIGHT NOW BECAUSE WE ACTUALLY HAVE SEEN THIS PHENOMENAL GROWTH IN WEALTH, 25 percent IN THE LAST YEAR ALONE. TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS. WHY ARE WE NOT TALKING ABOUT PROTECTING THE MOST VULNERABLE BUT ASKING THE MOST AFFLUENT TO SHARE MORE OF WHAT THEY'VE GOT. WE'RE NOT ELIMINATING THEM, WE'RE NOT SEIZING THEIR BUSINESSES, WE'RE JUST REDUCING THE AMOUNT OF WEALTH TO A LITTLE BIT UNDER A BILLION DOLLARS. WHY? EVERY BILLIONAIRE IS A POLICY FAILURE. WE CAN HAVE A POLICY SUCCESS, BUT WE CAN'T DO IT ON THE FUMES OF BILLIONAIRES.

Steve says THANK YOU, ARMINE YALNIZYAN.

[APPLAUSE]

Steve says I'M GOING TO JOIN YOU ALL UP ON STAGE NOW. THAT WAS GREAT, EVERYBODY. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US THIS EVENING AT VICTORIA COLLEGE. AND NOW... NOW IT ALL COMES BACK TO YOU BECAUSE YOU'LL REMEMBER, OF COURSE, WE'VE ASKED YOU TO WEIGH IN ON THE QUESTION, WHEN THE EVENING STARTED, WE'RE NOW GOING TO ASK YOU TO GET ON YOUR SMARTPHONES AGAIN BECAUSE WE WANT YOU TO VOTE BASED ON WHETHER A YOU'VE HEARD SO FAR THIS EVENING. GET ON YOUR PHONES. TEXT "A" FOR YES, BILLIONAIRES SHOULD BE TAXED OUT OF EXISTENCE. TEXT "B" FOR NO, THEY SHOULD NOT BE TAXED OUT OF EXISTENCE. AND IF YOU'RE STILL UNDECIDED AFTER ALL THAT, WHICH I SUPPOSE IS THEORETICAL...

People in the audience use their phones.

Linda says THEN VOTE FOR US.

Steve says THERE IS STILL AN OPTION FOR YOU TO VOTE "C" IF YOU THINK YOU HAVEN'T BEEN PERSUADED ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. IF YOU'RE STILL UNDECIDED, VOTE "C." "A" FOR THESE FOLKS, "B" FOR THESE FOLKS, "C" IF YOU'RE STILL UNDECIDED. WHILE YOU ARE DOING THAT IT GIVES US AN OPPORTUNITY TO SAY OUR THANK YOUS, THOSE OF US WHO BROUGHT THIS PROGRAM TO YOU THIS EVENING. WE ARE GRATEFUL, A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL THE STAFF, PRESIDENT WILL ROBBINS IN THIS GORGEOUS CHAPEL AT VICTORIA COLLEGE. YOU MADE US FEEL SO WELCOME AND YOU WERE SO PROFESSIONAL IN THE WAY YOU HANDLED EVERYTHING. THIS IS A GORGEOUS CAMPUS AND WE THANK YOU FOR TREATING US SO WELL HERE. CAN WE ALSO THANK YOU WHO CAME OUT THIS EVENING AND DECIDED TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS DEBATE. GIVE YOURSELVES A ROUND OF APPLAUSE. WE APPRECIATE YOUR TIME THIS EVENING.

[APPLAUSE]

Steve says AND I KNOW YOU WANT TO JOIN ME IN THANKING OUR FOUR EXQUISITE DEBATERS FOR COMING OUT THIS EVENING AND SO EXPERTLY ARGUING THEIR SIDES OF THE ARGUMENT. THANKS TO ARMINE AND LINDA AND SEAN AND GRAEME. HOW ABOUT A HAND FOR THEM AS WELL, PLEASE?

[APPLAUSE]

Steve says IF YOU DON'T MIND A LITTLE SELF INDULGENCE, THANK YOU TO SOME OF THE FOLKS AT TVO WHO MADE THIS HAPPEN AS WELL. OUR TECHNICAL PRODUCER IS A GUY NAMED MARK FORD. WHEN WE GO ON A ROAD, HE IS LIKE A FIELD GENERAL. HE IS ABSOLUTELY AWESOME AND HE GETS STUFF DONE. OUR DIRECTOR IS THE GREAT OSMONDO AS WE LIKE TO CALL HIM, WHATEVER I ASK HIM TO THROW TO TAPE, HE'S THE GUY. HEY, SHELDON, ROLL TAPE. HE'S THE GUY. OUR PRODUCTION TEAM IS SPLENDID. OUR PRODUCER AS WELL, WODEK SZEMBERG PRODUCED TONIGHT'S DEBATE AND I THINK WE OUGHT TO GIVE HIM A HAND AS WELL.

[APPLAUSE]

Steve says AND CAN WE ALSO SAY, I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S ON THE SIGNS THERE, BUT THIS IS ACTUALLY... HOW MANY OF YOU KNOW TVO SIGNED ON 50 YEARS AGO THIS YEAR? THIS IS OUR 50TH BIRTHDAY SERVING THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO, AND WE ARE REALLY HONOURED TO STILL BE AROUND 50 YEARS LATER. BILL DAVIS, WHO WAS THE EDUCATION MINISTER OF THE DAY, CREATED TVO 50 YEARS AGO THIS SEPTEMBER. SO THIS IS PART OF OUR YEAR-LONG CELEBRATING, SERVING THE PEOPLE, AND WE'RE REALLY GLAD THAT YOU COULD BE PART OF THIS THIS EVENING. SO A HAND FOR ALL OF THAT AS WELL.

[APPLAUSE]

Graeme says LONG LIVE THE POLKAROO!

Steve says DO YOU HAVE THE NUMBER? OH, OKAY.

He receives a sheet of paper from a producer.

He says THANK YOU. I'VE GOT THE NUMBERS HERE. LET'S SEE WHETHER TONIGHT'S DEBATE CHANGED ANY MINDS. I WILL REMIND YOU THAT THE YES SIDE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE EVENING, 59 percent OF YOU AGREED BILLIONAIRES OUGHT TO BE TAXED OUT OF EXISTENCE. AFTER HAVING HEARD THE DEBATE, THAT 59 percent HAS TURNED INTO 62 percent. YOU'VE MOVED THE DIAL 3 PERCENTAGE POINTS. THE NO SIDE STARTED THE EVENING AT 20 percent. THEY'RE NOW AT 24 percent.

A bar chart appears comparing the results pre debate and post debate.

Sean says HEAR HEAR!

Steve says YOU'VE MOVED FOUR PERCENTAGE POINTS.

Graeme says A DECISIVE VICTORY.

The caption changes to "Producer: Wodek Szemberg, @wodekszemberg."

Steve says THE UNDECIDED WENT FROM 21 percent TO 14 percent. THERE IS STILL 14 percent OF YOU HERE FOR WHOM YOU ARE STILL UNDECIDED. SO YOU MOVED THE NEEDLE 3 POINTS, YOU MOVED THE NEEDLE 4 POINTS. THAT'S REALLY CLOSE. YOU KNOW WHAT WE CAN SAY? WELL DONE, EVERYBODY. I THINK THAT'S WHAT WE CAN SAY. THERE YOU HAVE IT.

[APPLAUSE]

Steve says THANKS SO MUCH, EVERYBODY, FOR COMING TONIGHT. I'M STEVE PAIKIN. WE'RE REALLY GLAD YOU JOINED US FOR OUR FIRST EVER TVO DEBATE AT VICTORIA COLLEGE. SO LONG, EVERYONE.

[APPLAUSE]

Watch: Should Billionaires be Taxed out of Existence?