Are you in Justin Trudeau's middle class?

Justin Trudeau in Question Period


Ajax, Ont.,

Reporter (Marissa Semkiw): “What income range for individuals and households constitutes middle class?”

Trudeau: “You’d like a number?”

Reporter: “What income range constitutes middle class?”

Trudeau:  “There are all sorts of different ways of calculating which decile or quintile constitutes the middle class. The reality is that I consider the middle class is people who work for their income, …not people who live off their assets and their savings. And for me, as we’ve seen across the country, they’re struggling. We have a stalled set of numbers…if you want numbers…over the past 30 years, since 1981 the Canadian economy has grown over 100 percent. Median family income in this country has increased only by about 14 percent, which means middle class Canadians haven’t had a real raise in 30 years.”


House of Commons foyer.

Reporter (Daniel Proussalidis): Do you want to take another stab at what income range forms the middle class?

Trudeau: I have been very clear that people who live off their incomes are of the middle class and those who live off their assets, their portfolios, their trust funds are not.


House of Commons foyer again.

Reporter (me): The middle class. You were asked twice to define it, and you were very clear yesterday that it is people who earn income and not those who live off assets. So going further then, what sort of policy tools are available for you or for someone who wants to help the middle class, help the salaried CEO of Tim Horton’s as well as the hourly-waged baker at Tim Horton’s. They’re both in your middle class. What do you do to help them?

Trudeau: I’ve been very clear since I launched my leadership campaign back in the fall of 2012 that we are focused on helping middle class Canadians and the Canadians who hope to achieve middle class status. What the definition of the middle class is — we’ll let economists argue about which quintile or decile it starts or ends at, for me, it’s people who live paycheque to paycheque . . .

Reporter: But that’s an important issue which quintile or decile they’re in, is it not? That’s an important issue?

Trudeau: Canadians of multiple income levels are facing similar kinds of challenges of the reality of a generation where young people are not looking at having the same kinds of opportunities or quality of life their parents had, where seniors are worrying not just about retiring not just without a pension but into debt …

Reporter: But people on pensions aren’t in your middle class? You were asked that twice — you said people with pensions aren’t in the middle class?

And that’s where Trudeau moved on to other questions. (Watch the video of this exchange below… )


Why is this important?  Because boosting the fortunes of the middle class is what Trudeau has staked his claim to government on, that a Liberal Party will focus on improving the lot of the middle class. Indeed, here’s Trudeau, in his own words, on Tuesday, speaking in the House of Commons foyer: “it is my priority to make sure that we have an economy that works for everyone in this country, specifically the middle class. And I’d like to see a government that instead of spending all its energies on attacking me spends all its energies on attacking the problem of the challenges facing the middle class. And that’s what we need to see.”

So presumably someone who is considering supporting Trudeau would want to know: am I in Trudeau’s middle class? Is he going to spend all his and his party’s energies on my challenges? If not, which party is? And, from a public policy standpoint, the number of people who might benefit by a middle class tax cut (or, for those not in Trudeau’s middle class, be hurt by a tax hike) or get a tax credit or get to use a government program set up by a Trudeau government for the middle class is an important number if we are trying to assess how much it will cost.

Indeed, the Conservatives, for example, have provided enough information about their income splitting campaign commitment — available to couples with children under 16 who will be able to dish off up to $50,000 in taxable income to the lower-earning spouse — contains enough detail that voters can determine for themselves if they benefit and policy types can determine and debate the macro effects of this policy.

So getting Trudeau to tell us who is in the middle class would seem to be an important issue:

And this week we tried three times and learned that you are in Trudeau’s middle class if you are one of those people who:

a) “…work for their income, not people who live off their assets and their saving.” (Monday)
b) “…people who live off their incomes are of the middle class and those who live off their assets, their portfolios, their trust funds are not.” (Tuesday)
c) “…who live paycheque to paycheque…” (Wednesday)
And if you’re confused,
d) “..we’ll let economists argue about which quintile or decile it starts or ends…” (Wednesday)

Photo credit: Liberal leader Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 1, 2014. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

23 thoughts on “Are you in Justin Trudeau's middle class?”

    1. Is that because you’re a Trudeau supporter…or because you know the income range that Trudeau has in his head? If the latter, please do share.

      1. At what point will the Liberal party say ‘we made a mistake?’ because I have no idea who to vote for. Definitely not the bully…Justin? nope ( was always a liberal) but the alternatives are no better. Sad days in Canadian politics.

  1. Income tax should be based on family income for every one.
    As a volunteer tax preparer for 25 years I have seen how much this helps or could help those families with one income . It would also make it easier for families with children not to depend on baby sitters and the Liberal Party’s all day kindergarten which I consider glorified babysitting and which put a lot of middle class people out of work.

    1. **Thumbs up** I agree. If people spend money as a family, why do we tax them as individuals?

      Taxing everyone as individuals is only a relatively recent phenomenon in the Western world – and it has hurt family budgets.

    2. Here’s an even better proposal. Scrap the existing “progressive” taxation system and replace it with a flat tax (either sales or income tax) that starts from dollar one. Get rid of all the personal allowances, deductions and credits.

      Now you have a fair system that doesn’t penalize people for the life choices that they make.

      1. it should not begin at dollar one. there should be a hefty initial personal in the states. no one who earns less that 20,000 should be taxed, flat 17 % for all. if a party said that it would revamp the tax system fairly..i would vote for them. how many rebate cheques are sent out for child tax credit? ; gst rebates; trillium rebates? …lay off all of those sectors of government who have to distribute the ‘buy votes’ cheques.. a flat tax and a fair tax we would all be willingly pay. and, no progressive tax then..if i work harder i do not have to worry about falling into a higher tax bracket when i try to get ahead to pay for my kids education…those on the hill have no clue about the realities of canadian families.

        1. and again, if you earn less than 20 k…your personal deduction of a decent amount would negate paying taxes.

  2. Why does Justin talk about a “class”system, we are not in India where they definitely do have a class system, we are in general wage earners in Canada, and we fall into three categories, low income, middle income and high income, these are the three brackets we have in Canada to identify Canadians, we are all wage earners, either by employees of a business, self employed or we generate a wage from portfolio. What we need is a fair tax system, I see this conversation is all heading towards “the more you make the more you pay in tax”, well as we are all equal in Canada we should all pay a fair and simple tax, both federal and provincial and there should be measures in place for taxable deductions. A flat tax of say 25% for everyone would be fair. It would be a simple exercise at the end of the tax year (gross income x 15% = tax payable gross) that would be line #1, line #2 would be (tax payable gross – taxable credits identified from a list of credits = tax payable net). Any and all Canadians after the age of 70 are completely exempt from federal and provincial tax. Simple, perhaps too simple.

  3. There you go again, David, playing with semantics to show your political boss, Dictator Harper, that you are still a good little shill for the extreme right-wing Reform/Conservative Party.

    You & your Sun Media buddies can play your games with words, but when push comes to shove, Dictator Harper will soon be gone & Trudeau will be the next PM of Canada. When that happens, you can move to Quebec & help your employment boss, Peladeau, take Quebec out of Canada.

  4. Clearly Justin has been told by his handlers to not define middle class by an actual number. Why would the Liberals want to limit what voters can project onto him? But it is fun watching him turn himself into a pretzel trying to skirt around an answer.
    Keep it up!

  5. I think it’s informative to get Justin to reveal who is not what he considers middleclass because having remembered how his father operated, what he doesn’t say is more critical to who pays for his bold moves than who doesn’t.
    He seems to want to have a backdoor in his platform to use later with the excuse that he never said he wouldn’t tax the snot out of Canadians, only that he wouldn’t do it to an income range that he currently refuses to define.
    The gorilla in the room is that if he ever defined that income range its plausible that his electoral prospects would sour immensely.

    1. As a pensioner who worked hard for 35 years, ten of which were a double shift, I’m not in the middle class according to Justin as I live off of my savings/portfolio. I should have spent every damn dollar I earned rather than saving as I’m now putting money into the coffers of government. If I spent everything I would be living from monthly government cheque to monthly government cheque and I would get money back at tax time rather than the other way around. His comment now has me thinking it might not be to late to spend like crazy then ask for support from government. You can’t expect reality from a drama teacher. His mother is living off the inheritance of her husbands so she too is not of the middle class.

  6. I suggest that in the 2015 election, Everyone stay home. DO NOT vote. all leaders say te other parties are wrong. On good legislation all parties disagree. On bad legislation there is no vote the majority government pushes it through to become law. The Senate in Canada is a joke where it becomes sink hole for taxpayers money. Do not vote until politicians wake up and work for Canada, not themselves or their party.

  7. This Trudeau kid is going to make a great politician. He doesn’t have a clue about anything and he loves to talk.

    Is this a great country or what. I thought a complete idiot could only be elected in America, but this little shi t from Qweebec is going to put a whole new spin on clueless leader.

    1. I think the Toronto electorate seems to have been able to elect a pretty complete idiot.. and I say this as an American. Your idiots are the equal of our idiots in every dimension!

  8. justin doesn’t even have a number in mind, but he probably knows it aint him. All this middle class blather is a result of zero Obamidiot’s sucess??? in the USA. He rambles on incessantly about the middle class, says nothing of substance and gets elected, twice.

    Justin should be reminded that he is campaigning “American Style”. There is no greater pejorative to a Liberal than that.

  9. Defining an income range isn’t so easy as one might think. Ralph Goodale’s range of $40,000 to $125,000 seemed to come from a Progressive Economics Forum study, that roughly matched the middle three quintiles of income for economic families with two or more persons. But a single unattached person earning $120,000 is obviously much better off than a single-income earner with a spouse and five children, and his tax treatment would reflect this.

  10. To define middle class as “paycheque to paycheque” is absurd, and a tactic to appeal to every voter. A family may live this way due to circumstance, while trying to stretch their dollars wisely. However, a family earning several hundred thousand dollars a year may also live “paycheque to paycheque” due to poor planning and decision making. Income class should not be determined by how a family decides to budget. He needs to propose a specific income range for what a constitutes a middle income family.

  11. MPs are rich, Senators are not. MPs’ base salaries have just been raised to $163,700

    so they must be rich–all 308 of them–if $150,000 is the dividing line as Ontario Liberals seem to think:

    Meanwhile Senators make only $138,700 so I guess they are middle class

    So perhaps Senators then are better placed than MPs to understand and debate the plight of the poor, oppressed middle class.


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