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Conservative MPs get earful about proposed tax changes

Former New Brunswick Conservative MP Rob Moore and sitting MPs Shannon Stubbs and John Brassard were in Amherst on Thursday to gather input from Amherst area business leaders about the Liberal government’s proposed tax changes.
Former New Brunswick Conservative MP Rob Moore and sitting MPs Shannon Stubbs and John Brassard were in Amherst on Thursday to gather input from Amherst area business leaders about the Liberal government’s proposed tax changes.

AMHERST – Dr. Scott Bowen is rethinking his future in Canada.

The longtime Amherst physician told a pair of touring Conservative MPs he could leave the country if the federal Liberals move forward with changing the tax system in a way that targets professionals like doctors, farmers and small business owners.
“If this goes through I will have to take a serious look at my situation,” Bowen told MPs Shannon Stubbs and John Brassard during a meeting in Amherst on Thursday. “It’s just not worth continuing in this if the financial risk is greater than the financial reward. The pendulum has switched.”
Stubbs and Brassard were in Amherst at the invitation of Cumberland North PC MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin. Conservative MPs are crisscrossing the country holding meetings on the government’s proposed changes to federal tax property.
Bowen said doctors and other professionals feel as though they are being directly targeted and vilified by the federal government, and they’re not overly happy with the opposition Conservatives because they don’t think they’ve done enough to speak up for them or other entrepreneurs.
Bowen said once doctors begin leaving the health care system, that is already being held together by a thread, faces a risk of collapse.
“That’s harsh reality. This is not about greed and we’re not asking for a raise,” Bowen said. “All we’ve seen in recent years is cutbacks and we’ve put up with it thinking there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but this will close off that.”
Bowen said his daughter is in university and thinking of becoming a doctor. He said he advised her to pick another career because there’s just too much uncertainty in his profession. This is at a time when hundreds of new doctors are needed each year to deal with an aging and increasingly unhealthy population.
Stephen Emmerson, who owns Amherst’s largest employer Emmerson Packaging, said the Trudeau government knows exactly what it’s doing and appears comfortable with the future ramifications.
Emmerson said the prime minister is not trying to appease entrepreneurs or business leaders but those who don’t understand the potential impacts. He said business leaders like him won’t stick around and live under those conditions. He also said voters didn’t elect the Liberals because they liked them, they did so to get rid of the Conservatives. Now spending is out of control and the government has to find a way to pay for it.
“When did it become acceptable in this country to pay 60 per cent of our income to the government? Why aren’t we lowering the tax rate across the board?” Emmerson asked. “I compete against some of the biggest corporations in the world and I’m doing it successfully. What this government is saying is we’re going to make you just a little less competitive on a go forward basis. How does this make sense?”
He said the prime minister has painted himself into a corner by saying his government is trying close tax loopholes for the rich. He said the Conservatives need to help the prime minister find a way to back away from what could be an economic tragedy.
“I’m not angry, I’m sad and disheartened by where I know this is going to end up for our economy, our country and our workers,” he said. “We are in a downward spiral.”
Upper Nappan farmer Doug Bacon said the tax changes will break what’s the backbone of the rural economy in the agricultural sector. He predicts many farmers will simply walk away from their farms and few young people will pick up the family farm from their parents because it won’t be economically feasible for them.
Brassard said it’s important for Canadians to continue making their feelings known to their MPs, even if the federal government’s consultation period is over.
“We’re going to continue to consult and push this government on what is effectively a confiscation of money from small and medium-size businesses in this country to pay for what is not a revenue problem but a Justin Trudeau spending problem,” Brassard said.
In a separate interview Cumberland-Colchester Liberal MP Bill Casey said a lot will happen before any tax proposals are enacted.
“There has been a lot of feedback on it. I’ve had a lot of feedback from every community in Cumberland and Colchester. I’m sure the end legislation that comes out of it will be much different than the proposals,” Casey said. “I’m working on it to make sure our interests are looked after.”
Casey said as much as there is concern, there is also a lot of misinformation out there and suggested government didn’t define the proposals clearly enough.
darrell.cole@amherstnews.ca
Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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