If I Had $850 Million Dollars: Bare Naked Ladies and Cameco

bare naked ladies and cameco concert

What could be more Canadian than a summer concert with the Bare Naked Ladies?

That’s what is happening tonight in Saskatoon. It is part of a series called “Cameco Cares” sponsored by a Canadian multinational that is integral to Saskatchewan’s economy.

The reality is that the Canada Revenue Agency is chasing down Cameco for an $850 million tax avoidance scheme which involving the notorious tax haven of Zug, Switzerland. So when it comes down to it, Cameco doesn’t care enough to pay all its Canadian taxes - even though we have the lowest corporate tax rate in the G7.

"Cameco Cares" is a brilliant tag line. It offers a feel-good opportunity for a corporate name to get publicity for donations to hospital foundations and other high profile projects. But you don't run a country like Canada on charity.

Here’s the thing:

Cameco mines Canadian uranium. They use Canadian-developed technology to dig Canadian uranium out of the Canadian ground and rely on the Canadian transportation system to bring their product to market. They use Canadian workers who developed their knowledge and skills in Canadian schools, rely on Canadian hospitals if when they get sick and rely on the stability and legal protection that Canadian democracy provides. That’s a pretty darn good return for the lowest corporate tax rate in the G7. Yet they can’t bring themselves to make that investment. And the rest of us make up the difference at tax time.

Now the Bare Naked Ladies are a national treasure and support all sorts of progressive thinking. But it just goes to show you how much work tax fairness advocates have to do when tax avoidance can get spun into a feel-good story and a summer concert with tickets that costs $27 a pop.

Saskatchewan activist Don Kossick put it this way in a letter to the Star-Phoenix: If Cameco really cared it would do what other Canadians are required to do and pay its taxes where it makes its profits - here in Canada.

We couldn’t agree more. Read more about the Cameco story here