Studies in National and International Development


National and International Development

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Tax is Not a Four Letter Word

Presented by SNID and the Kingston Action Group for Basic Income

Alex Himelfarb

Director Emeritus of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs, York University


*Please note change in venue: SKHS Building, 28 Division Street, Room 101

In Tax is Not a Four-Letter Word, Himelfarb warns that Canadians risk “sleepwalking into the future” if we do not re-evaluate the costs of a shrinking public sector and eroding public finances. We must transpose the discordant talk about taxation into a discourse which reconnects taxes to the quality of life. Taxes, he writes, are “simply the way we pay for things we have decided to do together because we cannot do them at all or as well alone."

Alex Himelfarb

About the Speaker: Alex Himelfarb began his career as a Professor of Sociology at the University of New Brunswick in 1972, and moved on to the federal civil service in 1981. There he worked for more than two decades, first in the Department of the Solicitor General, then in various to ever more responsible positions, among them Executive Director of the National Parole Board and Associate Secretary of the Treasury Board. His final appointment was as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary of the Cabinet serving three Prime Ministers. For four years from 2002, Dr. Himelfarb served as Canadian Ambassador to Italy, concurrently representing Canada in Albania, San Marino and Malta. He was also the Permanent Representative to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. In 2006 he left government to return to academia as the Director of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs at York University of which he's now Director (Emeritus), and Director of the affiliated Centre for Global Challenges. The Centre promotes public discussion of key public policy issues.
In addition to his career as a civil servant and committed analyst of public affairs, since returning from abroad Dr. Himelfarb has been active on the Boards of several forward looking organizations including the Trudeau Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, the Public Services Foundation of Canada, and the Canadian Coalition to End Homelessness, which he chairs. He has recently focused his considerable energies on fostering a national conversation about taxation in Canada