Quebecor boss calls on Ottawa to end favouritism toward foreign companies
Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau railed against what he described as an unfair system of taxation, which privileges foreign companies at the expense of those based in Quebec, in a speech to the Chambre de commerce du Montréal métropolitain on Tuesday.
Péladeau said it’s “completely ridiculous” that companies like Netflix and Amazon don’t have the same obligation to charge their customers sales tax that local companies do.
In September, Netflix reached a deal with the federal government that will allow it to continue not charging federal sales tax to Canadian customers in exchange for a promise to spend $500 million on Canadian programming.
“The Trudeau government failed completely in favouring a foreign group,” he said.
Instead, he said, the government should be encouraging local companies to expand internationally.
The provincial government has said it plans to require all companies with significant sales in Quebec to start charging provincial sales tax to customers. Currently, only sellers with operations in the province are required to charge provincial sales tax.
The former leader of the Parti Québécois told reporters after his speech that requiring all sellers to charge sales tax was a good response, though perhaps coming too late, and he deplored the lack of tangible steps taken by the province.
Péladeau said he decided to sell music retailer Archambault in 2015 because Amazon was able to sell in Quebec without having to charge sales tax.
Péladeau spent much of his speech talking about Quebecor’s support for arts and culture in Quebec and said there was a benefit in having companies based in the province creating media to be consumed here.
Instead of giving foreign companies preferential treatment, there should be a focus on creating national champions, considering all the talent in Quebec, he said.
Péladeau also used his speech to criticize the “regulatory burden” that he said is preventing the company from innovating.
With a slide showing a pair of handcuffs behind him, he specifically criticized a CRTC decision that forced the company to stop offering customers who subscribed to “premium” cellphone plans unlimited streaming music separate from their regular data allotment.
The CRTC ruled the offering violated net neutrality regulations, which require all internet traffic be treated the same.
“When we launch products, we should try to celebrate the courage and vision of our businesses rather than shutting down these initiatives,” he said.
We should try to celebrate the courage and vision of our businesses rather than shutting down these initiatives.
Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau says it’s “completely ridiculous” that foreign companies don’t have to charge their customers sales tax when local businesses are required to do so.