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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.

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TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, March 21, accessible here.

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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.


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.”

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