Taxing Choices

Taxing Choices : The Intersection of Class, Gender, Parenthood, and the Law

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Winner, 2003-2004 Harold Adams Innis Prize for Best English-Language Book in the Social Sciences, Canadian Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences

In the early 1990s, lawyer Beth Symes brought an equality challenge against the Canadian Income Tax Act, arguing that her childcare costs were a business expense. The case ignited public controversy. Was Symes disadvantaged on the basis of gender, or unfairly privileged on the basis of class?

This book seeks answers to those questions through close attention to the Symes case, where class and gender interests clashed over the tax treatment of childcare. It looks at the history of legislative and litigative struggles, the dynamics of courtroom discourse, and the influence of broad social debates about children and the public/private divide. It reveals how frequently the rhetoric of choice, responsibility, and selfishness is invoked in response to women's attempts to place issues of childcare on the public agenda.

Taxing Choices will interest all those who seek to use the law as a tool of social justice but are troubled by the perils posed by competing interests and conflicts involving race, class, gender, and ability.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 19.05mm | 380g
  • Vancouver, Canada
  • English
  • 0774809574
  • 9780774809573

Table of contents


Introduction: The Intersection of Power and Wound

Part 1: Prelude

1 Theoretical Foundations

2 Childcare Politics in Canada

3 Legal Manoeuvring and the Development of Litigation Strategies

Part 2: "The Play's the Thing"

4 Strategy and Practice: The Play's the Thing Part

Part 3: Sorting Out the Aftermath

5 The Limits of Judicial Power: The Court as Constrained

6 Power, Constraint, and the Rhetoric of Choice

7 Multiple Solitudes: Intersectionality in the Nonexpert Public Response

8 Class and Gender on the Terrain of Need: Intersectionality in Expert Public Response

9 Lessons to Be Learned and a Case to Be Remade


A Selected Statutory Provisions

B Selections from the Dissent in Symes v. Canada



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About Rebecca Johnson

Rebecca Johnson is an associate professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Victoria.
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