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A message from President and CEO Iain Black

Greetings from Fredericton, New Brunswick, where I am with GVBOT’s Policy Manager, Iqbal Ahmed, for the 2017 AGM of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, of which we were a founding member in 1925. Here business concerns that warrant national attention, discussion, and support are debated and, in partnership with the Canadian Chamber, subsequently walked into the halls and offices of our parliament buildings in Ottawa over the coming year.

As we often do, we led or co-sponsored a few resolutions on matters important to Greater Vancouver — this year including ports, YVR, and the Fraser River — that are articulated in the following news release . (With thanks to our many policy committee volunteers and colleagues in other B.C. chambers, these resolutions passed earlier today.)

But this has been an unprecedented, historic weekend and, through your direct efforts and involvement, your voice is being heard.

To explain, this is a fairly structured affair, with the mechanics of the business policy discussion determined months in advance. But, for the first time in anyone’s memory, this year an issue warranted a “special resolution” and an urgent debate.

The issue, of course, is the government’s proposed tax changes that stand to impact millions of small businesses across Canada, in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. 

On the strength of the nearly 24,000 emails to B.C.’s MPs that you have generated using our website (boardoftrade.com/taxchanges) we were one of four speakers to the delegates representing 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, and 200,000 businesses from across Canada.  My remarks were limited to one minute, and thus I focused on only two (of a possible dozen) points of concern.

First, I focused on how the advice and analysis of the accountants, advisors, and financial planners of hundreds of thousands of Canada’s small business owners are in stark contrast to the assertions of the government, specifically including the prime minister and the minister of finance. In short, these trusted specialists have repeatedly and emphatically stated that that the federal government’s assertions and assessments about who is impacted are arithmetically inaccurate; they are factually incorrect; they are, simply, wrong.

Second, I moved the focus from tax impacts and financial arguments to one of philosophy and the very culture of entrepreneurship in Canada. At issue are the accepted, legitimate, and legal mechanics that have for decades defined the sacrosanct relationship between government and small business. If the federal government continues down this path, what we risk compromising is business’s ability to “do what we do”: meaningfully fund the local soccer team, hockey team, rotary clubs, hospital, hospice, soup kitchen and food bank. Thus, these changes not only threaten the “golden goose” of Canada’s economy, but are also poised to undermine small business’s role as cornerstones of Canada’s communities.

The resolution opposing the tax changes passed almost unanimously. 

It urged the federal government: 1) to extend the unreasonably short consultation period beyond 75 days (noting that the last such changes of this magnitude, forty years ago, involved a two-year consultation period); and 2) to refer the entire conversation on tax modernization and simplification to a non-partisan Royal Commission.

Our press release covering our other efforts here on the East Coast is now available here. As for next steps, we will launch another social media effort this week that shares some of your stories, and next week we will share our formal submission to the minister of finance, shaped by your experiences and input.

From Fredericton, please know that we are buoyed by your ongoing and growing support for our advocacy efforts on your behalf. 

Iain J.S. Black
President and CEO
Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

 

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