Posts Tagged ‘Bill Morneau’

Trudeau has to dump Morneau.

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

We have been waiting. We have been patient but it has not happened. Prime minister Justin Trudeau still has that millstone Bill Morneau dragging him down to the depths of neoliberalism. It is not 2018 for this government until finance minister Bill Morneau is gone.

It is the story of Jean Chrétien’s government revisited. It was not the prime minister, at that time, who laid the table for Stephen Harper; it was the ego of his finance minister Paul Martin that did the liberals in. Paul loved to tell people that you could run to the left but you had to rule to the right. Canadians saw a neo-conservative in Martin and finally chose the real thing with Harper.

These liberals who consider themselves economic conservatives and social liberals are fooling nobody but themselves. Various studies have shown that Canada can save in excess of $4 billion a year with a national Pharmacare system. Morneau cannot salve his economic meanness with some kind of a patchwork system.

Frankly, Morneau seems to know less about the need than the man-on-the-street. He does not seem to understand that what we have now is a system that fails the sick and the dying. Are we going to remain the only major country with a Medicare program that does not have an equally accessible Pharmacare program included?

Morneau represents the same area in Toronto that would have been part of Mitchell Sharp’s riding back in 1966. As a young liberal from the area I happened to be seated next to Mitch at the plenary of the Liberal convention in Ottawa that year. We were arguing about Medicare. Mitch—as Mr. Pearson’s finance minister at the time—was using all his wiles to stop or at least slow Medicare happening in Canada.

When it came to the final vote on Mitch’s motion to delay implementation to July 1, 1968, I stood to vote for implementation in Centennial Year 1967. Mitch gave me an annoyed look. You could see him wondering what this communist was doing in his riding?

It continues to amaze me to this day what people such as the late Mitch Sharp and then Paul Martin and now Bill Morneau consider their duty. Their fiscal responsibility is nothing more than a mean-spirited, father-knows-best attitude. They throw barriers in the way of implementing services for people instead of finding creative solutions. They prefer the accolades of their peers at their club to the applause from the hoi-polloi for a job well done.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

In a land where greed beats need.

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

The last time Canada took a systematic look into its tax system was at the instigation of a Prairie populist, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. The royal commission headed by Bay Street accountant Kenneth Carter was famous for determining “A buck is a buck.” Here we are more than 50 years later and no finance minister of any stripe seems to have understood what Carter meant.

Yet it was so simple. All Carter really said was that no matter how a dollar was earned, it should be treated as a dollar. What Canada has instead is a complex taxation system wherein a dollar is taxed according to its origin and how it is gained.

Where the dollar came from is at the centre of an unfair tax system where the wage earner remains the easiest target. The system encourages the vulgar accumulation of wealth for the already rich. It encourages perquisites for the oligarchs of business. It benefits the rich investor over the small investor. It drives the elderly who are now living longer into poverty.

And we might never know if finance minister Bill Morneau was trying to help the middle class or seeking to benefit his fellow millionaires last year. The Conservatives threw accusations, barbs and challenges in the path of his tax reform proposals as he showed his inexperience and naïveté in his portfolio. And instead of helping, the prime minister just pushed him to the side.

Both Morneau and his prime minister spend a lot of their time saying that they want to do more for the middle class. If there were more results for the middle class instead of the steadily increasing profits for the already rich, we would all be better off.

Bill Morneau has backed so far away from the grandiose reforms he presented early last year, he has an even longer way back to our trust.

In Canada, where we put our trust in a self-filed income tax system, it seems amazing that we should have a tax system so laden with exceptions. The basic fact that the rich have tax accountants and the rest of us do our best, puts our best at a disadvantage.

It would pay for both the prime minister and his finance minister to dig out and read what Kenneth Carter said over a half century ago. A loonie is still just a buck but inflation has sure eaten into its buying power.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Caesar’s wife must be beyond suspicion.

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Recently we wrote that federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is in the role of Caesar’s wife. The simple point of that is what Julius Caesar said when he divorced his wife Pompeia: “My wife ought not even be under suspicion.” That statement has meant for centuries that those who seek to be leaders can have no blemish of scandal on themselves or those who share in their trust. It is why Prime Minister Trudeau has an ongoing problem with Bill Morneau.

The Liberal finance minister can no longer be retained in that trusted position. He has failed to rise above the criticisms of detractors.  He has failed to allay suspicions of impropriety. He has failed to hear the baying of the media wolf pack seeking his downfall. He has failed to quiet the catcalls of the political opposition in parliament.

And why does Morneau think that donating to charity the earnings of his stocks since coming to parliament are a panacea? Whether the net difference was $5 or more than $5 million, it comes across as an admission of guilt. The flunky in his office who dreamed up that gambit should be wearing the dunce cap of the apolitical.

But then the dunce cap belongs to Morneau. He has proved to be without political understanding or depth. I have been pleased to hear that voters in his riding seem to like him. They see him as a nice guy. Maybe he just needed time to learn something about the political realities. You cannot do that in the action chair of finance minister.

To use a baseball analogy, he needs to be sent to the minors for some conditioning and experience. His earned run average is abysmal. His runs batted in stats are below average.

We should also realize that Morneau has done some good. He was a fresh and friendly face in the largely inexperienced team presented by Justin Trudeau at Rideau Hall two years ago.

Trudeau did not dump John McCallum from cabinet for doing a poor job for the Syrian refugees. He did not dump Stéphane Dion because of inexperience in foreign affairs. We can only speculate on his reasons. We know he cannot go on trying to protect Morneau in the finance portfolio.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

There’s more to life than apples.

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s main man Finance Minister Bill Morneau is still playing the role of Johnny Appleseed. He seems to have the sole role of a single program like the character in American folk lore who introduced apple horticulture to a large swath of North America.

There is nothing wrong with sticking to what you know but I always thought Appleseed could have added the occasional orchard of peach or cherry trees to his planting. Similarly, Morneau could have added other segments of society to helping families with children. How about helping our seniors to get by?

Not that there is anything wrong with child support programs. It is just that people with children are not the only members of Canadian society who feel the pinch of inflation. And we were pleased to hear from Mr. Morneau that when you give money to people who might need the money, they will spend it. That helps the economy grow. If you keep giving money to millionaires like Mr. Morneau, they will keep looking for vacation villa’s to purchase in Provence. That does nothing for the Canadian economy.

It was good to hear from Mr. Morneau that the Canadian economy was doing better than expected. Would he have told us, were it not?

And I was also pleased that he tried to ignore the reporters’ rudely shouted questions about balancing books. I suspect that none of those rude people were economists and had little knowledge of what they meant by such a meaningless question. Frankly, Canadians as a whole probably would never give a damn as to whether the books were balanced or not. It is just a silly idea promoted by block-headed conservatives that a country should be run as though it is a household—and not spend more than its income.

But any smart business person can tell you that you have to invest to build. Those damn risk-adverse Tories are a drag on our society. This country was built by the people who accepted challenges, made the investments, showed the good faith and the willingness to pitch in. We should take some time to appreciate what some of those old fogies of the past did for us. They built a hell of a country—and we should keep it going and growing.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

It is time to fire Bill Morneau, Justin.

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Bill Morneau has a straight-forward job. As complex as the Finance Department might appear to the average Canadian, the Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre has the credentials that say he should be capable of handling the finance portfolio. He is also considered to be a generally good guy. It is really too bad that Prime Minister Trudeau needs to fire him.

But Mr. Morneau does not appear to be getting the best efforts from his department. He does not appear to be effective in selling his department’s new programs. Maybe the job requires someone more political by nature. And when you are not even effective in communicating with your party’s back bench, all is lost.

This is not to suggest that the tax reforms Morneau is proposing are not complex and need thorough debate. And that was the intent when the reforms were proposed two months ago. All this accomplished is an opportunity for those who fight any reform to go after these reforms with renewed vigor. They have been sewing discord and confusion. They have deliberately misled Canadians with false information.

This time frame has allowed Conservative MPs to rail constantly against the tax reforms. A local Tory MP published an opinion piece in our local Sun rag the other day saying that Justin Trudeau and Bill Morneau believe that small business owners “are tax cheats and that they are rich people abusing the system to avoid paying their share of taxes.” Talk about false news!

The Conservative caucus in Ottawa under Leader ‘Chuckles’ Scheer is saying that the reforms are going to impact all small business owners and will mean a massive tax hike. This obviously comes as a surprise to Morneau when all he is looking for it to do is close some of the loopholes that have been enabling the wealthy among us to escape paying taxes.

Here Morneau thought he was closing loopholes that benefitted people making over $150,000 a year and the Conservatives are claiming these people are part of the middle class. If he cannot get the justice of his reforms across to Canadians, he is obviously in the wrong cabinet portfolio.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me