On Monday of this week the Liberal Government announced that it will be abandoning some of the proposed tax changes that had generated a considerable amount of concern and opposition throughout our region. Although it is unclear at this point the total scope of what changes will ultimately be tabled in legislation I believe that any time a Government listens to overwhelming opposition it deserves recognition for doing so.
My greater concern at this point is the pattern that has emerged. Over the past year the Liberals have raised proposals to tax employer provided health and dental benefits, to finally close the stock option tax loophole, more recently the small business tax increase and even a proposal to tax employee discounts.
All of these measures the Liberals have since indicated they plan to abandon raising the question what will be the next tax increase to be proposed?
As the Liberals continue to run deficits much larger then they promised and currently have no path to return to a balanced budget until possibly sometime close to the year 2050, a plan will be needed to reconcile this situation. Given that the Liberals continue to increase spending, most recently just over $216,000 just to produce the cover of the most recent Budget document, it seems clear the Liberals will continue to look for ways to increase taxes.
While the Liberals back down on small businesses tax increases has been generally well received, the Finance Minister remains firmly under fire in Ottawa.
At issue was the recent disclosure that the Finance Minister has a corporately registered private Villa in France as well as significant personal assets that are not placed into a blind trust. As a result, the NDP has written to the Ethics Commissioner demanding a full investigation. Meanwhile the Conservative Opposition has used an Opposition Day debate to call for the full tabling of the assets held by the Finance Minister.
Ultimately the question raised is what impact does the Finance Minister’s potential policy decisions have on his own personal finances? This is ultimately why all public office holders who are Cabinet Ministers, provincially and federally, are required to make full disclose of personal assets to ensure they do not unduly benefit from policy decisions they may be involved with.
Some believe this disclosure is an invasion of personal privacy and that it is an unfair expectation that elected officials utilize mechanisms such as a blind trust that currently is not mandatory.
My question this week: Should it be a mandatory requirement that the personal financial assets of Cabinet Ministers be placed into a blind trust?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.