Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Somebody's sensitive on the corporate tax cuts

Updated (11:20 p.m.) below.

An interesting exchange occurred in the House of Commons today where the Prime Minister stood to answer Liberal MP Scott Brison. What a rare honour for Mr. Brison. The corporate tax cuts issue was the cause of the Prime Minister's enthusiasm:
The Speaker: THE HONOURABLE MEMBER FOR KINGS-HANTS.

Hon. SCOTT BRISON (L): Mr. SPEAKER, THE CFIB HAS SAID THAT CUTTING CORPORATE TAXES IS NOT A PRIORITY FOR SMALL BUSINESS. INSTEAD, SMALL BUSINESSES WANT PAYROLL TAXES TO BE HELD WHERE THEY ARE OR CUT AND THEY WANT HELP TO HIRE MORE CANADIANS. BUT ON JANUARY 1st, THE CONSERVATIVES IGNORED SMALL BUSINESS AND THEY HIKED THE EI TAX RATE BY 5%. WHY ARE THE CONSERVATIVES PUNISHING SMALL BUSINESSES WITH JOB-KILLING PAYROLL TAX HIKES IN ORDER TO CUT TAXES FOR THE RICHEST CORPORATIONS?

The Speaker: THE RIGHT HONOURABLE PRIME MINISTER. ORDER!

Rt. Hon. STEPHEN HARPER, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: Mr. SPEAKER, UNFORTUNATELY FOR THE HONOURABLE MEMBER, HE HAS RAISED AN ISSUE OF FACT. THE FACT, Mr. SPEAKER, IS THAT THE CANADIAN FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS, THE SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESSES OF THIS COUNTRY, ARE ABSOLUTELY OPPOSED TO THE TAX HIKES PROPOSED BY THE LIBERAL PARTY THAT WOULD RAISE TAXES ON OVER 100,000 CANADIAN SMALL BUSINESSES. ABSOLUTELY OPPOSED. HE CAN CHECK WITH CATHERINE SWIFT IF HE'S NOT SURE ABOUT IT.

The Speaker: THE HONOURABLE MEMBER FOR

Hon. SCOTT BRISON (L):.

The Speaker: THE HONOURABLE MEMBER FOR KINGS-HANTS. ORDER! ORDER!

Hon. SCOTT BRISON (L): Mr. SPEAKER, THE PRIME MINISTER IS MISLEADING CANADIANS ONCE AGAIN. CFIB'S VICE-PRESIDENT HAS SAID PUBLICLY "CORPORATE TAX CUTS ARE NOT IN OUR TOP 11 PRIORITIES." MORE THAN 80% OF CFIB MEMBERS WON'T BENEFIT FROM THIS PRIME MINISTER'S CORPORATE TAX CUTS. INSTEAD, SMALL BUSINESSES WANTS LOWER PAYROLL TAXS AND THEY NEED HELP WITH TRAINING. WHY ARE THE CONSERVATIVES GIVING AWAY $6 BILLION TO CANADAEST, BIGGEST, MOST PROFITABLE CORPORATIONS WHILE KILLING JOBS AND PUNISHING SMALL BUSINESSS WITH AN $8 BILLION TAX HIKE?

The Speaker: ORDER. THE RIGHT HONOURABLE PRIME MINISTER. ORDER.

Rt. Hon. STEPHEN HARPER, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: Mr. SPEAKER, EVERYBODY HERE CAN DO EXACTLY WHAT I DID. YOU CAN TALK TO THE CANADIAN FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS AND ITS PRESIDENT, CATHERINE SWIFT, WHO IS ABSOLUTELY ON THE RECORD SAYING THEY ARE OPPOSED TO THE TAX HIKES PROPOSED BY THE LIBERAL PARTY ON BUSINESS, ABSOLUTELY OPPOSED. THERE IS NOT A SINGLE BUSINESS ORGANIZATION, NOT A SINGLE CREDIBLE VOICE IN THIS COUNTRY THAT SUPPORTS THE TAX HIKES PROPOSED BY THE LIBERAL PARTY.
Well on that last part, he's just overstating there on caucus day, methinks.

Here's the reference for Brison's assertion that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business' priorities do not include the corporate tax cuts. He's right.
Contacted afterward, Corinne Pohlmann did not dispute Brison's account. She said the CFIB supports corporate tax cuts, but they are not a top priority for the organization.

"If you look at our website we have our Top 11 in 2011 and corporate tax cuts are not in our top 11," she said.
The government likes to haul out luminaries for their public relations efforts, as they did with the President of the CFIB at Jim Flaherty's hastily called press conference yesterday. I'm sure it's tough for those figures to say no. Still, the CFIB has its priorities, as they will tell you themselves.

Update (11:20 p.m.): CFIB President Catherine Swift was tweeting today that her organization does support the corporate tax cuts and says that the reason it was not placed in the Top 11 priorities of her organization is that they viewed it as a done deal. If you read the CTV report linked to above, however, which includes the Vice-President of that organization's comments, that's not the sense you get. Pohlmann offers the quote above and further, the report contains this: "But Pohlmann said the CFIB is more interested in bringing down payroll taxes, such as employment insurance premiums, which she said have a much bigger impact on hiring." It's fair to say that there was some daylight between the CFIB's President and Vice-President that made Brison's interpretation a fair one. He met with the VP early in the week as well, also to be factored in.