Thursday, November 1, 2007

"You lied to Canadians", David Marshall tells Stephen Harper on Parliament Hill

Halloween 2007 marked the anniversary of the breach of promise of Stephen Harper NOT to cut income trusts. This day was celebrated by David Marshall’s march on Parliament Hill. He was joined by a throng of protesters ranging in age from seniors to baby boomers.

This group of disillusioned people were greeted on the Hill by Members of Parliament; Paul Szabo, Judy Sgro, Garth Turner, John MacCallum, Larry Bagnall and President and CEO of CAITI (Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors, Brent Fullard.

David Marshall spoke passionately about the impact on Canadians due to the loss of these income trusts. He particularly pointed out that Harper promised a Conservative Government “would never allow raiding seniors hard earned assets”.

MPTV interviewed Dorothy Vieman, Rosemary Helmer (Mississauga), William Barrowclough (Peterborough), and Larry Bagnell, MP.

Photo and video source: The Turner Report

PM gets a scare from protesters

Trevor Pritchard
The Cornwall Standard Freeholder
November 1, 2007

David Marshall certainly wasn't afraid of giving Prime Minister Stephen Harper a spook or two this Halloween.

The 70-year-old Cornwall resident organized a rally that brought about 100 frustrated Canadians to Parliament Hill Wednesday afternoon, one year to the day the federal Conservatives announced their plan to tax income trusts.

Before being elected in January 2006, the Conservatives had campaigned on a promise not to tax the trusts - which many seniors, especially those without employee pension plans, had come to rely on as a steady source of income.

The Tory's new "Tax Fairness Plan" would see existing trusts be taxed at 31.5 per cent starting in 2011, and any new trusts be taxed at that rate immediately.

It was that broken promise which had left most of the people who assembled in Ottawa yesterday feeling ghastly. Most of the protesters had pinned yellow "I Got Screwed By Harper" ribbons to their clothes, and many carried signs with slogans like "Halloween Income Trust Massacre" and "Dictator Harper."

"The amount we lost isn't the important item," said Marshall, who wouldn't get into specifics about how the move had affected his and his wife Lorraine's finances. "The important item is the lying."

Like Marshall, some on-hand had voted Conservative in the previous election because of the party's stance on income trusts - a mistake they said they wouldn't be making the next time they went to the polls.

Retired Ottawa entrepreneur Jack Edmonson said he stood to lose about $30,000 in annual income because of his devalued investments. And because he was self-employed, he said, he would have no workplace pension to fall back on.

"I just think that it was so unconscionable to do that without providing public consultation on the matter," said Edmonson. "That's what a bully (or) a thug does, not a responsible politician."

William Barrowclough, a retired teacher from Peterborough, Ont., said while he'd be able to weather the financial storm, the reduced value of his investments left him with less money to pass on to his grandchildren.

In the next federal election, Barrowclough - who proudly admitted to voting for nearly every political party save for the Conservatives - promised he'd be backing the Liberals.

"I will not rest until I get to dance on the graves of Harper and (Finance Minister Jim) Flaherty," he said.

On the steps of Parliament Hill, Marshall and the other protesters were joined by a number of Liberal MPs, including finance critic John McCallum.

This May, the Liberals said they would do away with the Conservatives' tax and replace it with a more moderate tax of 10 per cent, paid by income trust companies but refundable to Canadians.

McCallum reiterated that promise yesterday.

"We're totally (committed) to our policy," he told the protesters. "You can't put all of the toothpaste back in the tube, but we're going to do what we can."

McCallum also accepted a petition with about 4,000 signatures calling for changes to the tax, and said he would present it to Parliament.

Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Guy Lauzon was not at the rally, but he told the Standard-Freeholder afterwards he sympathized with those who might have been adversely affected by the new tax regime. Lauzon said he'd read a recent report which suggested many of those trusts had rebounded to the level they were at before the tax was introduced.

All the provincial finance ministers agreed the step Flaherty took last October was fiscally sound, he added.

"I think unfortunately some people panicked and (sold their shares) and lost money as a result," said Lauzon. "(But) you just couldn't have big corporations not paying taxes."

Income trusts are also known as income funds and are set up to ensure a large proportion of a business' revenues flow directly to the investor in regular (often monthly) installments, says The Canadian Association of Income Funds.

The association said vast majority of income trusts are small to mid-sized businesses which would find capital costs prohibitively expensive without the investors.

There are more than 247 income trusts listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and they represent about 10 per cent of the market value of the TSX.

Income trusts do not pay corporate income tax on their profits, but investors pay personal income tax on the share of the revenues they receive.

Since they pay out monthly, income trusts are particularly appealing to retirees, especially those which have no workplace pension plan. Source: The Cornwall Standard Freeholder

No cowards here - The Turner Report