The Liberal campaign promise to impose a surtax on banks and insurance companies should be expanded to include oil firms and big box stores, according to an NDP motion put forward for a day of Commons debate Monday ahead of the 2022 federal budget.
The Liberal Party’s 2021 election platform included a pledge to raise nearly $11-billion in tax revenue over five years through tax hikes on large banks and insurance companies. The platform proposal included a three percentage point corporate tax rate increase - from 15 per cent to 18 per cent - on banks and insurance companies with more than $1-billion in profits, as well as requiring these same companies to pay a “Canada Recovery Dividend.”
The Liberal Party document suggested the surtax would be in place as soon as Jan. 1, 2022, yet Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s December fiscal update did not formally adopt the platform pledge as government policy. At the time of the update, a senior government official said the tax hike promise would be addressed in the 2022 budget. As a result, the upcoming budget will be closely watched for details on whether the Liberals follow through.
Ms. Freeland is expected to announce a budget date in the coming days.
The House of Commons resumed sitting Monday after a two-week recess. With Canada’s inflation rate hitting a three-decade high, opposition parties of all stripes are regularly raising cost of living concerns on behalf of constituents.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he’s worried the Liberals won’t deliver the promised tax hike, let alone expand it to other sectors as his party proposes.
“I am concerned that they’re no longer interested, and part of [Monday]’s opposition day motion is to put that on the table to say they should be implementing that tax on banks and financial institutions that have made significant profits,” he told reporters at a news conference.
Monday’s opposition day gave the NDP an opportunity to put forward a motion of its choosing for a day of debate and a vote later in the week.
“And they should expand that to include big box stores and oil companies.”
During the debate, Liberal MPs suggested the government does intend to bring in the promised surtax.
“Our government’s commitment to a fair tax system is ongoing,” said Liberal MP Terry Beech, who is Ms. Freeland’s parliamentary secretary. “This includes our commitment to ensuring that large profitable banks and insurers pay their fair share.”
The NDP motion said the tax should be expanded to address the rising cost of gas, groceries and housing by using the tax revenue “to help Canadians with the cost-of-living crisis.”
Conservative MPs mocked the NDP motion, warning that higher taxes on business will ultimately mean higher prices for Canadian consumers. The Official Opposition said broad tax cuts are the best way to address cost of living concerns.
The Globe and Mail reported in November that senior bankers were privately outraged at being singled out as an industry.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey and Deputy Ottawa Bureau Chief Bill Curry. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
`CYBER INCIDENT’ HITS NRC - The National Research Council, Canada’s premier science and engineering institution, says it’s been hit by a “cyber incident” - a disruption that comes two months after the country’s foreign ministry suffered a computer network malfunction widely regarded as a cyber attack. Story here.
TACHJIAN TO HEAD OPEN BANKING INITIATIVE - Canada’s government is expected to name digital banking consultant Abraham Tachjian as its open banking lead this week, filling a new role created to steer the design of a new system for sharing financial data in Canada, sources say.
GOVERNMENT URGED TO ACT ON CPR WORK STOPPAGE - Canadian businesses and industry experts are urging Ottawa to intervene in a nationwide work stoppage at Canadian Pacific Railway that is posing a threat to food inflation, supply chains and the country’s reputation as a reliable agricultural partner. Story here.
COSTS RELEASED FOR BERGEN STORNOWAY MOVE - The federal government paid almost $20,000 to prepare for Candice Bergen’s move into Stornoway, the official residence of the Official Opposition leader, though she holds the role on an interim basis and will need to vacate the home in a matter of months. Story here.
REMPEL GARNER BACKS BROWN - Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown has gained a high-profile Conservative in his bid to become federal party leader, but Alberta’s Michelle Rempel Garner was immediately targeted by a rival campaign for joining his team. Story here.
CHARGES RARE IN MOST HATE-CRIME CASES - Charges are not being laid in most hate-crime cases across Canada – despite police reporting an overall spike in hate-crime offences during the pandemic – and there is a wide range of how agencies approach hate crimes and secure justice for victims. Story here.
ISLAMIC CENTRE REACTS TO HATE ATTACK - A day after a man armed with an axe and bear spray stormed Mississauga’s Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre, in what police believe was a hate-motivated attack, a member of the mosque said he and other congregants will not be kept from their daily prayers. Story here.
FORD IN WASHINGTON - Ontario Premier Doug Ford is travelling across the border for the first time since the pandemic began in an effort to promote the province as an important trading partner with the United States. Story here from CTV.
CALLS FOR NEW TRANSIT-FINANCING APPROACH - Canadian governments have papered over public transit agencies’ shortfalls with one-time cash transfers. But with ridership slumps expected to continue, advocates, politicians and transit executives are calling for a new approach to financing public transportation in Canada – one that doesn’t force agencies to go cap in hand to governments as passenger numbers fluctuate. Story here.
KEY BYELECTION LOOMS IN MANITOBA - Two former CFL players - Obby Khan and Willard Reaves - face off in a Manitoba by-election this week seen as test for the provincial government. Story here.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, March 21, accessible here.
AIR CANADA BOSS AT LANGUAGES COMMITTEE - Air Canada President Michael Rousseau is scheduled to appear Monday before the Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages. Mr. Rousseau was in the spotlight last year after he delivered a speech, almost entirely in English, to the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, then said he had been able to live in the city for 14 years without speaking French. CTV provides some context here for Monday’s 3:30-to-5:30 p.m. hearing that’s accessible by webcast. The meeting notice is here.
JOLY AT THE MUNK SCHOOL - The Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy has posted video of an expansive forum appearance last Friday by Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly. The Minister delivers remarks and then takes questions from Janice Stein, founding director of the Munk School. The video is here.
In Monday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, lawyer Harold Hongju Koh talks about an international court ruling ordering Russia to stop the war in Ukraine. Mr. Koh was one of the lawyers representing Ukraine in the case against Russia and he’s also the Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale University. He talks about the arguments lawyers brought forward, Russia’s response (or lack thereof), and makes the case for international law, even if the way it’s enforced isn’t always clear. The Decibel is here.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
The Prime Minister, in the Ottawa region, holds private meetings.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Ottawa, held a news conference to discuss his party’s opposition day motion on taxation, and was scheduled to give a speech in the House of Commons on the motion.
No schedules released for other leaders.
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on a coming global economic Cold War: “U.S. President Joe Biden has left a threat of global economic war hanging out there with his warning that China would face consequences if it aided Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. But even if that devastating economic clash is averted, the stage has been set for an economic Cold War. The sanctions imposed against Russia mark the first time economic weapons have been wielded so extensively against such a large adversary. The freezing of oligarchs’ assets, cutting Russian firms off from the SWIFT payment system, imposing tariffs on many Russian goods – all are being used, quite rightly, to punish Vladimir Putin in lieu of a direct military confrontation with a nuclear power.”
Don Drummond and William Robson (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on when federal budgets will reflect the reality that Canada has blown through our fiscal guardrails: “The budget that federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will present shortly will reveal whether the government is serious about putting the national finances on to a sustainable track. There is room for doubt. Since 2015, the government had been running deficits larger than it promised, and larger than a strong economy justified. Then it responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with debt-financed spending on an unprecedented scale.”
Shachi Kurl (The Ottawa Citizen) on Defence Minister Anita Anand’s uphill battle to boost Canada’s defence spending: “Defence Minister Anita Anand says she is planning an “aggressive” increase to defence spending to reach the 2 per cent of national GDP that Canada, as a NATO member, has pledged to spend. She should prepare for a tough battle. Put aside for a moment that Canada’s armed forces have a long tradition of not spending the money they are already allocated. The fact is, neither defence spending, promises to our international allies, nor the general state and readiness of our armed forces are so-called “ballot issues” of importance to voters, and the politicians know it. Instead, the political discourse around defence swings between a narrative that we are not a military country at all, to a more jingoistic version that unabashedly cheers our militarism, but neglects literally to put its money where its mouth is.”
Bob Rae (Canadian Politics and Public Policy) on a defining moment for the United Nations: “There is no overstating the seriousness of the moment. It is right to point out that there are many other bloody conflicts going on in the world right now, from Myanmar to Syria to Yemen to Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa across the Sahel, and that those disputes are also leading to the displacement of tens of millions of people from their homes — the greatest humanitarian crisis in modern times. But it is true to say that no conflict so clearly reveals this era’s unprecedented challenges to the institutional structures we thought would keep us from the brink of existential conflict.”