Finance Minister Bill Morneau addresses The Canadian Club of Toronto and The Empire Club regarding Budget 2017 in Toronto on Friday March 24, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Whenever I hear about the federal Liberals’ plan to squeeze billions of extra tax dollars out of Canada’s shopkeepers, entrepreneurs, farmers, ranchers, independent fishermen, restaurateurs, software developers, engineers, lawyers, doctors and other small businesspeople, I am reminded of the old folk tale about the Little Red Hen.
At each step in the breadmaking process – planting, harvesting, milling, mixing, baking – the hen asked her barnyard mates for a little assistance. “Who will help me plant the wheat?”
And at each step, her requests were scoffed at.
But after the hard work was done, after the hen had brought the hot and steaming loaf from the oven, there was no shortage of freeloaders eager to help her eat the finished product.
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau reminds me of one of those barnyard freeloaders.
He and his officials in the Finance department weren’t there when entrepreneurs mortgaged their homes to get their businesses off the ground.
The class-envy, lefty wing of the Liberal caucus didn’t put in 14- and 16-hour days for months or years on end because there was no money to hire a clerk, so the owner had to man the cash register her- or himself.
Did the advocates for “tax fairness” – most of whom have secure, well-paying jobs in the bureaucracy or academia, or at left-leaning think tanks – watch a bumper crop pounded into the ground by a late-season hail storm and then wonder where the money would come from to get the family farm through the winter?
Did they have to worry who would fund their pension? Where the money would come from to live on for six to 12 months if they took a maternity leave? What would happen if they got sick, took a vacation, had a fire in their workplace, witnessed a sudden drop in agricultural commodity prices?
Two years ago, cattle prices were booming. Ranching was a lucrative occupation. Then suddenly, almost out of nowhere, prices dropped to half in a matter of months.
Do any of the thinkers behind Morneau’s “fairness” tax grab have any idea what it’s like to lose half their income in a handful of months? And half their net worth?
During the last federal election, the Liberals based their entire campaign on a defence of the middle class. Yet between Morneau’s squeezing of small business owners and Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax, the Liberals are preparing to subject Canada’s middle class to the greatest tax increases in more than a generation.
On one level, it’s surprising that Morneau sees small businesspeople and professionals as tax cheats. Before entering politics, he headed a private human resources and financial services company that dealt with hundreds of family businesses.
But on another level, it’s no surprise at all.
Another of the Libs’ big promises in the 2015 election was three deficits of around $10 billion a piece to prime the economy, with the federal budget balanced by 2019.
Now Canadians can expect the Trudeau government to run deficits in excess of $30 billion for as far as the eye can see.
The Liberals are desperate for cash. So they have concocted stories about small business owners’ greed to mask their own greed for more and more and more tax dollars.
A coalition of business, professional and agricultural groups representing nearly 750,000 small business owners wrote to Morneau this week asking that he take his tax reforms off the table.
They pointed out that “two-thirds of small business owners earn less than $73,000 a year” and a third make under $33,000.
The people who dreamed up Morneau’s plan – the senior civil servants and academics – have a much greater chance of being One-Percenters than the corner store owner who’s going to get slammed by the Liberals’ changes.