CanadaPolitics

Freeland challenges Tories to take stand on capital gains changes with House motion

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OTTAWA — Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland laid down a tax gauntlet for her Conservative opponents Monday with a motion to make the promised changes to capital gains taxes a reality.

“I do think this is a moment when Canadians should be watching closely what happens in the House and watching closely to see how MPs vote on this defining measure,” Freeland said at a press conference on Parliament Hill.

Minutes earlier, she had introduced a ways and means motion outlining the specifics for the capital gains tax change promised in the April budget. The adjustment will mean higher tax bills for most Canadians who make more than $250,000 in profits in a single year from capital income like the sale of secondary properties or stock options.

Freeland is billing the change as a matter of fairness to ensure millionaires aren’t paying a smaller tax rate than middle-class income earners like nurses and teachers.

But she is also calling it a pivotal moment in Canadian politics and is using a stand-alone motion on this specific change to force the Conservatives to clearly take a stance on the measure.

“It is an important time for our country, for us all to take a stand,” she said.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre thus far has not done so on the capital gains tax change. When asked about it previously, he and his office insisted they couldn’t take a stand on something that didn’t actually exist.

“There is no such increase,” he said in mid-May, after the measure that had been promised in the April budget was not among the tax changes and program spending listed in the main budget ways and means motion tabled on April 30.

A Poilievre spokesman still would not indicate where the party sits on Monday.

“Common sense Conservatives will study the motion very carefully before determining next steps,” the spokesman said.

He then accused the government of “scrambling and making things up on the fly” and accused them of delaying legislation until the fall. The spokesman called it a tax on health care, homebuilding, small businesses, farmers and retirements.

“Doctors, small business owners, and Canadians saving for their retirements have all raised opposition to Trudeau’s next tax hike, but he is desperate to pay for the $61 billion in new inflationary spending announced in the latest budget,” the spokesman said.

The vote on the ways and means motion is expected Tuesday and the legislation will follow shortly after. The bill itself will not be passed before the summer break, but as long as the motion passes — something expected with the support of the NDP — the capital gains change will take effect June 25.

If the capital gains change had been included in the April 30 budget motion, the Tories could argue they were voting against the government’s overall policy and not one specific measure.

By making this a stand-alone motion the Opposition vote will be more clearly for or against a tax change that affects mainly the wealthy at a time when all politicians on Parliament Hill are jockeying to be seen as the most sympathetic to the plight of Canadians suffering from the soaring cost of living.

Last week in question period, Freeland was clear that the government is trying to back the Conservatives into a corner, saying, “Soon, they are not going to have a chance to dodge.”

“I am glad to hear the Conservatives, albeit obliquely, talking about income inequality in our society,” she said on June 4. “It is a concern that we share. The good news for the Conservatives is that they have the opportunity to support us and to support our increase in the capital gains inclusion rate, which is a way to ask those at the very top to help the Canadian middle class. Let us see if the Conservatives will do it.”

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