One rule for Lib­er­als, an­other for rest of us

The Enterprise-Bulletin (Collingwood) - - OPINION -

For cham­pi­ons of the mid­dle­class, Canada’s fed­eral Lib­er­als sure seem to have lit­tle in com­mon with av­er­age peo­ple.

Over the week­end, a large dump of doc­u­ments called the Par­adise Papers re­vealed the top fundraiser for Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s Lib­er­als is listed among the thou­sands of names con­nected to off­shore ac­counts and firms.

Stephen Bronf­man, grand­son of Sea­grams cre­ator Sa­muel Bronf­man, is the cur­rent “rev­enue chief” for the fed­eral Lib­eral party. He’s also a long­time friend of Trudeau’s.

The papers have not been made pub­licly avail­able but, as The Cana­dian Press puts it, “ac­cord­ing to the Toronto Star and CBC/ Ra­dio Canada, the records sug­gest Stephen Bronf­man and his fam­ily’s Mon­treal- based in­vest­ment com­pany, Clar­idge Inc, were linked to an off­shore trust in the Cay­man Is­lands that may have used ques­tion­able means to avoid pay­ing mil­lions in taxes.”

Bronf­man’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives de­nied any im­pro­pri­ety, say­ing they’ve al­ways acted in full com­pli­ance with the law.

Re­gard­less, this story didn’t sit well with Con­ser­va­tive Leader An­drew Scheer.

“Justin Trudeau’s well- con­nected Lib­eral friends get away with pay­ing less and you pay more,” Scheer said. “There is noth­ing fair about that.”

For the past few months, we’ve watched Trudeau and his fi­nance min­is­ter, Bill Morneau, tour the coun­try to jus­tify wring­ing more taxes from the hides of the mid­dle­class ( by elim­i­nat­ing tax cred­its) and small businesses ( through new tax changes), all in the name of “fair­ness.” Farm­ers, doc­tors and oth­ers re­belled. What had they been do­ing wrong, they asked? Why did the rules need to change?

Nei­ther Trudeau nor Morneau ever clar­i­fied what was wrong with the sta­tus quo and from our per­spec­tive it looked and smelled like a cash grab mas­querad­ing as “fair­ness”.

Mean­while, news broke the Canada Rev­enue Agency was con­sid­er­ing tax­ing low- in­come work­ers for the dis­counts they re­ceive at work on store prod­ucts like cloth­ing or food.

And then there was Morneau’s fail­ure to place his wealth in a blind trust and a $ 200 fine un­der the Con­flict of In­ter­est Act for fail­ing to dis­close his in­ter­est in his French villa. Now this news about Bronf­man. The trou­ble with all this is the dis­taste­ful dou­ble stan­dard.

Lib­er­als pay lip ser­vice to mid­dle class woes, but play by a dif­fer­ent set of rules them­selves

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