Wednesday, April 30, 2008

MP should represent people, not the PM

Cornwall Standard Freeholder

April 29, 2007

Something is lost in our so-called democratic system when our representative in Ottawa follows the party line issued by the PMO and doesn't bother to thoroughly check back with the people he represents.

Following the fateful "Halloween Massacre" of income trusts (yes, that again) carried out by our federal minister of finance, Jim Flaherty, one of my associates called our local MP to complain about the loss of $35 billion in asset value overnight. Mr. Lauzon admitted he didn't understand anything about the trusts and yet he subsequently voted for the bill in the House of Commons. At a meeting this past week in company with Senator Marjorie LeBreton, when challenged, he said he didn't own any stocks but had checked back with a local stock broker back at that time. Does one stockbroker represent the electorate of this constituency? In the meantime, before the critical vote, I and others had sent him the many reports by professionals proving that the tax leakage issue was hollow and that there would be serious consequences for the country if the bill was enacted (now proven to be true). This would have been Mr. Lauzon's springboard to truly test local feelings.

Several of us would have been happy to discuss the matter and give him a better understanding of our dilemma to take back to the caucus. We were completely ignored.

You will notice that a Conservative tactic is always to blame the victim, in our case - we shouldn't have invested in such a narrow market - we were not diversified enough. Well, in fact, prior to Oct. 31 the market cap of trusts was about $225 billion across a wide spectrum of industries. The trust itself is a hybrid instrument combining the attributes of common equity and debt (stocks and bonds).

How's that for a diversified portfolio! Another thought to ponder - in 2006, 15 per cent of new listings were trusts and 32 per cent were for mining. Which do you think created more tax leakage and which carried more risk?

Vernon Holt,