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Representatives from Canadian aid and environmental groups took to Parliament Hill today to call on the government to get behind the financial transactions tax, also known as the “Robin Hood tax”.

At a press conference hosted by Oxfam, speakers explained that the miniscule tax on financial transactions – five hundredths of one per cent, paid by banks, not by people – would discourage excessive speculation while raising billions to halt poverty and climate change in Canada and abroad.

The financial transactions tax is definitely an example of a good tax,” said CUPE Senior Economist Toby Sanger.

But while the idea of a “Robin Hood tax” is gaining momentum internationally, the Canadian government has flatly refused any sort of tax on financial services. Meanwhile, many leading economists have come out in support of the tax.

Hundreds of economists from around the world have urged the G20 leaders to introduce the Financial Transactions Tax. They include at least four Nobel laureates in economics – James Tobin, Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and Daniel McFadden – as well as many world leaders.”

There has been incredible growth in the financial sector and in the volume of unregulated derivatives. Sanger says that we need to prevent another asset boom and financial crisis from developing again. While a financial transfer tax is not a substitute for regulation, it would be an excellent complement to stronger regulation of the financial industry.

Economists strongly support a financial transactions tax because it would curb the kind of rampant speculation that contributed to the recent economic crisis,” said Sanger. “At the same time, it would free up capital for productive investments in the economy, while raising billions worldwide for important human needs such as reducing poverty and fighting climate change.”

It’s an idea whose time has come. This is why Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, the European Parliament, Nancy Pelosi and Lawrence Summers have all supported a global financial transactions tax.”

The tax will be discussed at the G20 summit in June in Toronto.

I believe most Canadians, if presented with the facts, would strongly support this initiative. Canadians need to know why their federal leaders are standing in the way of international progress on this sensible idea.”