Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola MP Dan Albas found himself “preaching to the choir” Thursday night at a town hall meeting that focused on the federal Liberal government’s planned changes to small business taxes.
About 30 people turned out for the meeting on the campus of Okanagan College in Kelowna, virtually all of them opposed to what the Liberals are planning.
“Your are preaching to the choir here,” said one woman. “But what can we do about it.”
Albas, the Conservative Party’s small business critic, said Canadians have to speak up, make their voices heard and he, along with other MPs, will bring their concerns to both the prime minster and the finance minster.
The Liberal government has introduced plans to change the tax rules for small Canadian-owned corporations that critics say will result in small business owners paying much more in tax and adversely affect their businesses.
In the face of fierce opposition across he country, the government has already said it will “tweak” the proposals but has not given specifics on what changes would be made.
The government says the new rules are needed to close loopholes that allow wealthy Canadians to avoid paying their fair share of taxes and would only affect those Canadians earning more than $150,000 per year .
Following the introduction of the tax proposals July 18, the government allowed 75 days for public consultation, a time period far too short for proper consultation said Albas. Despite that, he said the government received more than 22,000 submissions, most opposing the changes.
“I have never seen this level of opposition or the intensity of opposition,” said Albas following the meeting.
He said everywhere he goes in his sprawling riding, he is hearing from small business owners who say they are not only opposed to what has been tabled by the government, but they are worried about the future of their businesses if the rules are brought in. Many say they do not plan on expanding or hiring more employees because of the expected impact of the changes, said Albas.
The local Conservative MP said for a government that ran in the 2015 election campaign on a promise to help the middle class, the Liberals tax changes will do exactly the opposite.
“Small business is the middle class,” he said.
Locally, several groups, including the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, have come out strongly against proposed tax changes.
And even Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr—who came in for a fair amount of criticism at the town hall meeting Thursday night—has expressed concern about the government’s tax plan.
He held a local round table meeting in Kelowna in August, prior the the full Liberal caucus meeting in Kelowna and said it was clear there were real concerns here. At the time, he vowed to take those concerns to the full caucus when it met in Kelowna in September.