“We are committed to ensuring that the 2015 election will be the last federal election using first past the post” – Justin Trudeau, during the June 2015 election writ period.
“What Mr. Trudeau proved himself today to be is a liar of the most cynical variety of politicians saying whatever it takes to get elected” NDP MP Nathan Cullen, February 1st, 2017
Ottawa has been in an uproar this past week over news from Prime Minister Trudeau that his promise on democratic reform will join the growing list of broken Liberal promises.
What is most alarming and disappointing about the announcement to abandon democratic reform is that the reason offered by the Liberals was that there was no clear consensus on how to move forward. While not everyone supported the idea of electoral reform of those who did there was overwhelming support expressed for proportional representation and claims to the contrary are patently untrue.
Likewise there was also strong support for a democratic referendum on this very question of electoral reform. Curiously the Liberal Government spent millions on an online democratic reform survey but deliberately left out asking questions of this very nature leaving many to speculate “the fix” so to speak, was set some time ago.
It is unclear where the Liberal Government will go from this point as there has been a very significant outcry from many Canadians who did strongly support changes being made to our electoral process. I mention this because recently we did see an example where the Liberal Government did in fact hear the concerns of Canadians and responded accordingly.
As you may recall in last week’s report I briefly referenced the potential for the Liberal Government to make taxation changes that would see employer provided health and dental benefits become a taxable benefit. Such a tax change could cost Canadians families over $1,000 a year or more and as a result many were strongly opposing this potential new tax grab. Fortunately the Liberal Government listened and the Prime Minister confirmed that health and dental benefits plans will not be treated as a taxable benefit. I will applaud the Government for listening to the concerns of Canadians on the important topic of not raising taxes.
Another concern I have been raising in Ottawa is related to recent changes to mortgage regulations. Last week at the Finance Committee we heard from many expert witnesses on how newly proposed mortgage changes may adversely impact Canadians.
While many are aware of mortgage changes that raise the threshold to qualify for a mortgage, many were very surprised to learn that under the proposed changes those who want to re-finance an existing mortgage will find it more difficult to obtain financing due to less financing options and more than likely an increase to the mortgage rate.
The reason for this is under the new set of rules; Mortgage Insurers such as CMHC, Genworth, and Canada Guarantee will no longer be able to provide mortgage insurance for refinances. This affects many of Canadian lenders who need to obtain the backing of mortgage insurance for all mortgages, regardless of the nature of the mortgage.
As the public servants involved in this area could not provide a coherent reason for this punitive policy a motion I put forward to have the Finance Minister appear directly before the Finance Committee was adopted thanks in part to some Liberal MPs voting in support. I will provide a further update on this subject as it becomes available.
I welcome your comments and concerns and can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament elect for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.