- Charles Rotenberg
“Cowardice rightly understood begins with selfishness and ends with shame.”
This statement was made by José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda, a Filipino advocate for reforms in the Philippines, who lived from June 19th, 1861 to December 30th, 1896.
It is difficult to understand how he knew so much about Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
His first act of cowardice was introducing the most massive tax changes in 45 years – an outright attack on small business – in the middle of the summer when Parliament wasn’t sitting and most business people and tax advisors were trying to enjoy the Canadian summer. He set a 75 day “consultation” period, which everyone can see for the bald faced lie that it was.
After his “consultation” period, and seeing the massive opposition from the business and tax communities, it took his Department of Finance a mere 2 weeks to consider over 21,000 written submissions and revise his position on some of the proposals.
Morneau asserts that the Tax on Split Income (TOSI) rules and the rules on the taxation of a private corporation’s passive investment income, will be in force on January 1st, 2018, notwithstanding all of the experts telling Morneau that time is needed to get it right.
We have always known that the rules on the taxation of passive investment income would not be seen until the 2018 Budget, expected in March or April of next year.
However, at the time of the revisions, October 16th, 2017, Morneau said that the TOSI rules would be tabled “later in the fall”. You can’t get much later. After today, there are only four more days for Parliament to sit before the winter recess.
We can debate whether the rules will be fair – they won’t be. We can debate whether the system can manage them – it can’t. In fact, the current and previous Chief Justices of the Tax Court of Canada have both recently expressed the view that the Court is already overloaded and that the new rules will add to that burden.
But can there be any doubt that the Finance Minister is a coward and is waiting until the last possible moment to introduce the changes, just like he did over the summer? The rules will be introduced 2 weeks before they become effective when businesses and their tax advisors have no time to make any necessary changes.
More concerning is that Morneau is afraid to introduce the changes while he can still be asked about them in Question Period.
As the quote says, “Cowardice … ends with shame”.
Shame on Trudeau and Morneau and shame on the Liberal caucus who will accept this and vote to support it, putting party politics ahead of the welfare of their constituents.