Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Large-scale tax reform have such a pervasive impact on political and economic relationships within a society that they may be considered as a form of constitutional change.;The thesis examines the concept of the economic constitution as applied to the Canadian income and sales tax systems during the 1970s and 1980s. It analyzes the institutions, ideas and interests which shaped comprehensive tax reform proposals by Canadian Finance Ministers in 1981 and 1987-88, and compares it with piecemeal approaches to tax reform during this era. It concludes that large-scale tax reform initiatives are unlikely to be politically viable or durable unless the following four major conditions are met.;There must be a broad consensus among policy-makers, stakeholder groups and the general public on policy objectives and the feasibility of proposed reforms in meeting those objectives. Political leaders must be able to navigate proposed reforms through the bureaucracy, cabinet and Parliament, and must be able to overcome institutional constraints inside and outside government. Proposed tax reforms must deliver tangible benefits for the majority; and tax reform must be accompanied by measures designed to minimize the inevitable business and economic disruptions resulting from reform. This frequently involves some form of compensation to existing stakeholders to assist in the transition to the new policy structure.



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