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Federal Liberals and Conservatives vote down NDP 1% wealth tax

With 292 Liberal, Conservative, and Bloc MPs voting against the tax, the 27 NDPs and Greens never stood a chance.

This past Monday, the House of Commons voted 292–27 against a motion to implement a wealth tax.

Peter Julian, an NDP MP New Wesminster, BC, introduced the motion on 5 November, which if implemented, would’ve introduced 2 taxes:

  1. 1% tax on wealth over $20 million
  2. Excess profit tax on corporations profiteering from the pandemic

Julian’s intent was to then have the government use the billions in revenue generated from these new taxes to fund 4 initiatives:

  1. Guaranteed livable basic income
  2. National dental care programme
  3. Universal pharmacare programme
  4. Indigenous housing (based on the 6-point Recovery For All plan)

The motion was seconded by Jagmeet Singh, the NDP leader and MP for the Burnaby South riding. Both members of Parliament spoke in length on the motion (see here and here) when it was introduced and debated.

According to debate on 5 November, the Parliamentary Budget Officer reported that a 1% wealth tax would generate $5.6 billion during the current budget year, and about $70 billion over a 10-year period. Only about 13,800 people would need to pay the tax.

While the amount of an excess profit tax was unspecified, Jenny Kwan, an NDP MP from Vancouver East, suggested “double the tax rate on excess profits”.

As far as the actual vote on the motion, here’s how it looked by party:

In favourAgainstNo vote
Liberals01458
Conservatives01174
Bloc0312
NDP2301
Greens300
Independents102

The independent MP who voted in favour of the motion was Marwan Tabbara, who represents Kitchener South—Hespeler.

Here are the members who didn’t vote.

Liberals

  • Jim Carr
  • François-Philippe Champagne
  • Julie Dabrusin
  • Nathaniel Erskine-Smith
  • Joël Lightbound
  • Anthony Rota
  • Gagan Sikand
  • Adam Vaughan

Conservatives

  • Michael Chong
  • Erin O’Toole
  • Tim Uppal
  • Karen Vecchio

Bloq

  • Yves-François Blanchet
  • Simon Marcil

NDP

  • Mumilaaq Qaqqaq

Independents

  • Yasmin Ratansi
  • Jody Wilson-Raybould

It was unclear whether these members abstained or were simply absent from the session.

So, why did none of the Liberal or Conservative MPs vote in favour of implementing these 2 taxes? Well, one reason could be that the people who’d be affected by these new taxes also happened to donate to their parties.

Here are some examples.

Bronfman family

This family got their start in wealth when their common ancestor, Samuel Bronfman founded the multinational conglomerate Seagram. The family also founded what later became part of Brookfield Asset Management.

Between 2015 and the 2019 federal election, the Bronfman family donated $75,700 to the Liberals and Conservatives.

Desmarais family

The Desmarais family got their business start when patriarch Paul Desmarais purchased a bus company in Sudbury. Through several acquisitions and a holding company, eventually he ended up the controlling shareholder of Power Corporation, what is now an international financial management and holding company. Last year, the company saw just under $49 billion in revenue.

Several members of the Desmarais family donated to the Liberals and Conservatives between 2015 and the 2019 federal election, to the collective tune of about $64,300.

Irving family

Starting with just a lumber mill in Kent County, New Brunswick, this family grew their business into a group of companies, including the conglomerate JD Irving, Irving Oil, and Ocean Capital. Several family members are billionaires.

The family, through various of its members, donated over $22,500 to the Liberal and Conservative parties between 2015 and 2019.

Rogers family

In 1960, Ted Rogers purchases a Toronto-based radio station. Through a series of acquisitions and media ventures, this would evolve into what is today Rogers Communications, which saw over $15 billion in revenues last year.

Various members of the family donated over $15,700 to the Liberal and Conservative parties between 2015 and the 2019 election.

Saputo family

The Saputo family started Saputo Inc., one of the world’s top 10 dairy producers. The company saw nearly $20 billion in revenues last year.

Various members of the family donated over $14,100 collectively to the Liberal party between 2015 and the 2019 election.

And the list goes on.

If the Liberals and Conservatives had voted in favour of the wealth tax and the excess profit tax, how would it have affected future donations from these—and other—wealthy families?

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 5 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on political news, social issues, and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left. I recently finished writing a book debunking several capitalism myths. My newest book writing project is on the labour history of Lethbridge.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m queer.

2 replies on “Federal Liberals and Conservatives vote down NDP 1% wealth tax”

Not clear to me how a 1% wealth tax would interact, if at all, with our existing income tax rules. Presumably any wealth tax paid would not be deductible for income tax purposes, as otherwise it would largely end up replacing income tax and would not generate much additional revenue for the government. What about the rule that deems you to realize capital gains that have accrued on your property when you give it away or die — would you get a credit or deduction at that time for any wealth tax that you previously paid?

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