QP: Local businesses for local people

With Justin Trudeau off to the United Nations for the rest of the week, we weren’t expecting fireworks, but rather the continued caterwauling about the proposed tax changes, that are sure to doom the whole economy. Andrew Scheer led off, worried about what the tax changes would do to “local businesses,” coincidentally the very new campaign that his party has launched. Bill Morneau reminded him that the changes were about ensuring that the wealthiest Canadians couldn’t use these mechanisms to pay less tax. Scheer talked about two local craft brewers who were “middle class,” and Morneau quipped that he was sure that Scheer was happy to defend the wealthiest Canadians. Scheer wondered how many jobs these measures would create, but Morneau stuck with his points. Alain Rayes then picked up the line of questioning in French, and Morneau insisted, in French, that he was listening and would ensure that the system was fair. After another round of the same, Thomas Mulcair rose for the NDP, worried that th government was looking to do away with the “bilingual bonus” in the public service, to which Dominic LeBlanc assured him that they would ensure a bilingual public service. Mulcair pressed in French, and got much the same response. Mulcair moved onto the topic of Canadians being barred from entering the US post-marijuana legalisation, to which Ralph Goodale reminded him that we can’t dictate to the Americans who they let into their country. Mulcair then asked about cannabis edibles, and Goodale assured him that work was ongoing.

Round two, and Gérard Deltell railed about the proposed tax changes (Morneau: This is about tax fairness), Rachael Harder and Cathy McLeod decried the changes as sexist because they would imperil maternity leaves (Hajdu: All Canadians have access to maternity leave benefits), Pierre Poilievre insisted that small business owners would pay more taxes than public corporation shareholders (Morneau: I’m not sure I understand your question, but the deficit is $11 billion smaller than projected), and Poilievre tried to wedge Bombardier into the tax changes again (Morneau: We are encouraging investment along with fair taxation). Matthew Dubé asked about CBSA officers searching cellphones at the border (Goodale: We are consulting on respecting rights in this new technology environment), and Irene Mathyssen worried about veterans affected by a malaria drug (O’Regan: Each veteran’s circumstances are unique). Luc Berthold, John Barlow and a Kevin Sorenson worried about the tax changes on farmers (MacAulay: We will work with farmers to ensure they prosper; Morneau: We are listening to farmers). Hélène Laverdière asked about the nuclear weapons ban treaty (DeCoursey: We are working on a fissile materials treaty), and Jenny Kwan asked families whose immigration requests are being denied because they have a disabled child (Cormier: We are working with provinces, as it is their jurisdiction).

Round three saw yet more questions on the tax changes, the Line 9B pipeline, salmon farm containment breaches, toxic substances management, the Catalan situation in Spain, and GST on American streaming services.

Overall, the constant barrage of questions around the proposed tax changes continued from the Conservatives, each more hysterical over the last. That’s not to say that there aren’t some pretty concerning technical aspects to these proposals (and I’m hearing all about those from tax lawyers right now), which may be a bit too dry for the ambit of 35-second exchanges in QP, but there is a wide gulf between those legitimate concerns and these denunciations that the changes will be the ruin of the Canadian economy, and that they’re somehow sexist or disadvantageous to women who would use these measures to fund their maternity leaves (which tax economists have modelled to show that the differences are minimal) are not only disingenuous, but alarmist and don’t add to the debate in the slightest. I will also add that the new Conservative campaign about protecting “local businesses” from these tax changes does sound a bit Royston Vasey and I kept expecting questions about local shops for local people.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Mélanie Joly for a black and white grid patterned dress with a navy jacket, and to Blake Richards for a medium blue suit with a crisp white shirt and a purple patterned tie. Style citations go out to Angelo Iacono for a medium blue jacket with white stitching, light grey slacks, a white shirt, pale pink and green tie and purple pocket square, and to Kirsty Duncan for a black dress with loud neon florals. Dishonourable mention goes out to Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet for a bright yellow jacket with a black top.