B.C. posts $1.5B surplus as tax revenue increases - Canadanewsmedia
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B.C. posts $1.5B surplus as tax revenue increases

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VICTORIA — The British Columbia government ended its fiscal year with an operating surplus of $1.5 billion as the province collected more revenue from taxation and less money from a softening real estate market.

The 2018-19 public accounts released Thursday by Finance Minister Carole James show that the surplus was some $1.3 billion higher than anticipated, driven by $2.9 billion in increased revenue primarily from personal and corporate income taxes.

James said she was not concerned about a $315-million reduction in property transfer tax revenue. She said the previous Liberal government relied on an out-of-control real estate market to grow resources while her NDP government has a long-term economic plan.

“In fact, my bigger worry that I certainly had coming in as finance minister, is the worry of running an economy based on a speculative real estate market and skyrocketing housing prices, which meant that people couldn’t build their lives here in British Columbia,” she said.

“That’s part of the reason that we’re investing, as you can see, in education, in child care, in making sure that we have people who are able to get back into the workforce and that families have opportunities here, because we believe that’ll create the long-term sustainable growth that we need.”

James said the increased revenue reflected economic growth, household income growth and higher income tax assessments, not just government intervention. But the province also raked in millions from new taxes, including the employer health tax which brought in $415 million.

The public accounts also revealed that the province has eliminated its operating debt for the first time in 40 years and that the taxpayer-supported debt-to-gross domestic product ratio is 14.5 per cent, the lowest it has been in a decade.

James said her budget in 2018 put B.C. on a different path with record investments of $1 billion for child care and $7 billion for affordable housing.

Her government has also chosen to confront financial challenges at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and BC Hydro, and both Crown corporations are now on a more sustainable path, she said.

“ICBC is still running at a loss, but we are starting to see some small improvements, although a great deal of work still needs to happen,” she said.

B.C.’s economy grew by an estimated 2.4 per cent in the 2018 calendar year, the third highest rate in the country, led by goods-producing industries with notable gains in mining, oil and gas extraction, construction and manufacturing, the public accounts showed.

B.C. had the lowest unemployment rate in Canada at 4.7 per cent in 2018, down from 5.1 per cent the year before. Wage and salary growth also led the country at 5.9 per cent in 2018.

Shirley Bond, finance co-critic for the Opposition Liberals, said the government’s numerous new or increased taxes are having a devastating impact on British Columbians while their government refuses to lay out an economic or jobs plan.

“The NDP government’s primary source of revenue continues to be the pockets of taxpayers,” she said in a statement.

Bond, who represents the riding of Prince George-Valemount, noted the public accounts reflect last year’s numbers and there are serious concerns about economic challenges ahead. Revenues were largely driven by federal transfers which are expected to go down next year, she said, adding that the public auto insurer lost $1.2 billion.

The government’s “failed” tax policies are beginning to drive B.C.’s competitiveness backwards, said Liberal finance co-critic Tracy Redies.

“As our housing sector struggles, with housing starts down and construction projects coming to a halt, and businesses continue to raise alarm bells about the province’s deteriorating competitiveness, the NDP clearly has no plan for our economy and how to ensure it can provide hard-working British Columbians the opportunities they deserve.”

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MacKay will vote for Scheer to stay on as Conservative Leader

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Former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay says that when the time comes to vote on Andrew Scheer’s continued leadership of the party, he’s going to back the Conservative Leader.

The comment comes less than two weeks after MacKay told a Wilson Centre think tank panel in Washington that Scheer’s 2019 election loss “was like having a breakaway on an open net and missing the net.”

Now, MacKay – whose name has been floated as a potential challenger to Scheer for the top spot in the party – told CTV Power Play host Don Martin that he supports the current leader and will continue to do so.

“Well Andrew Scheer is going to face a mandatory review, Don, that’s part of the Conservative constitution, so that will be for he and the membership. I’ll be there, and I’ll be voting no,” MacKay told Martin in a pre-taped interview, airing Monday.

MacKay also walked back other comments made during the same panel on Oct. 30. At the time, MacKay said the chatter about issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage “hung around Andrew Scheer’s neck like stinking albatross, quite frankly.”

Speaking to Martin on Monday, MacKay said those comments weren’t directed at Scheer’s position on those issues.

“Those comments, of course, were torqued. It was about the election performance generally, writ large, myself included. It wasn’t aimed directly at Andrew Scheer – and when I said there was an albatross around his neck, he didn’t put it there. It was put there by the media, it was put there by the opposition quite deliberately to hamstring his performance,” said MacKay.

Asked about the lack of clarity surrounding Scheer’s personal beliefs on same-sex marriage, MacKay couldn’t explain why Scheer hasn’t been more clear.

“I think Andrew Scheer, who has very strong beliefs, doesn’t think it’s a sin and I can’t answer why it is he hasn’t been more direct in his answer,” MacKay said.

MacKay went on to defend both Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party’s record when it comes to protecting human rights.

“Andrew Scheer was part of the Conservative government for ten years that not only didn’t remove rights, it enhanced rights. It spoke up for people’s rights on the international stage…there’s a proud legacy that Andrew Scheer is a part of, can take ownership of, and can proudly stand behind and I believe he is doing that. He’s trying to make that case.”

Scheer was criticized during the election campaign for failing to clarify his personal beliefs on issues including same-sex marriage and abortion. Scheer, a social Conservative who has publicly opposed both issues in the past, says he would uphold the law on abortion.

He also said in a pre-campaign speech that if he formed government, he would “support and introduce” legislation that protects LGBTQ Canadians.

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Nova Scotians condemn Don Cherry’s poppy comments

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Joseph Lunda recalls choking back tears while teaching high school students about the contributions of Canadian soldiers in the First and Second World Wars.

A historian, he immigrated to Canada from the Democratic Republic of Congo 37 years ago, and became a Canadian history teacher in Nova Scotia.

“Any time I’m talking about a site where Canadians fought, all the time tears were coming,” he told Global News at the Remembrance Day Ceremony in Dartmouth.

“Why? Because I remember what these people have done for all of us to benefit (from) — the liberty, the freedom — in this country.”

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Lunda is one of many Canadian immigrants who felt hurt by comments from Don Cherry suggesting not enough newcomers wear poppies, and therefore don’t support veterans.

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Cherry made the complaint during his Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, and has since received an abundance of backlash, including calls for his resignation.

Lunda, who now teaches at Université Sainte-Anne, attended the Remembrance Day Ceremony with his family. He said not wearing a poppy is not necessarily an indication that one doesn’t support members of the Canadian Armed Forces, past or present.

“Let’s say I have it on my chest and it falls down, and I meet Don Cherry. He’s going to tell me I’m not supporting veterans?” he said. “You see I am here at this memorial. Why am I here? Because I support.”

Others agreed with Lunda and spoke out against the hockey commentator’s suggestion.

Don Cherry faces backlash over comments on Remembrance Day, poppies and immigrants

Gerry White, a veteran of both Royal Canadian Navy and RCMP, said it’s “pretty straightforward” — Cherry’s comments were “out of line.”

“I won’t say disgusting, (but) I guess I already did,” White told Global News. “I don’t think that was a comment that’s shared by the large majority of Canadians…

“One of the rights we fought for was your right to wear a poppy or not wear a poppy. It’s pretty straightforward.”

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Civilians and military members lay down wreaths at the Sullivan’s Pond Cenotaph in Dartmouth, N.S. on Remembrance Day.

Civilians and military members lay down wreaths at the Sullivan’s Pond Cenotaph in Dartmouth, N.S. on Remembrance Day.


Elizabeth McSheffrey/Global News

Dartmouth-Cole Harbour MP Darren Fisher said he was “very disappointed” in Cherry’s Saturday night rant and said Canada is a country made up of immigrants. The new federal government in Ottawa has a responsibility to unite Canadians, he added, in the face of anti-immigrant sentiments.

“We hear it occasionally and it’s very disappointing every time we hear it. This is not a time to be divisive in Canada, this is a time to be united,” he explained.

“Look at the crowds here today. This is a beautiful, beautiful day to honour our veterans — the women and men who served Canada.”

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“I think Canadians get it more and more.”

Fisher said he’d like to see all Canadians show the same level of support for veterans, not just on Remembrance Day, but every day.

Cherry has yet to apologize for his comments over the weekend. Late on Monday Sportsnet confirmed that Cherry had stepped down from his role on Hockey Night in Canada.

“Following further discussions with Don Cherry after Saturday Night’s Broadcast, it has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down,” said Sportsnet’s president Bart Yabsley in a statement.

“During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for,” said Yabsley in a statement.

—With files from Hannah Jackson 

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Man up and apologize, Liberal MP from Quebec tells Don Cherry

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Greg Fergus notes his Montserrat-born grandfather was a tailor in the RAF — “that was as far as they would let that young Black man serve.”

Don Cherry, in his weekly Hockey Night in Canada segment, suggested new immigrants were not wearing poppies in the days leading up to Remembrance Day. Darren Calabrese / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Liberal MP for Hull-Aylmer is calling upon Don Cherry to apologize for remarks about immigrants he made on last Saturday’s edition of Hockey Night in Canada.

“My Montserrat-born and bred grandfather signed up for the RAF and served as a tailor, for that was as far as they would let that young Black man serve,” Greg Fergus wrote in his Twitter account in the hours after Cherry’s comments. “Because of that service, he was able to bring his young family to Canada.

“Seven decades later, I am able to take my seat in the House of Commons and serve my country. Mr. Cherry: my grandfather’s story is not unique. I trust you are a big enough man to apologize for your comments.”

Fergus’ comments are part of the larger wave of backlash over comments made about immigrants by Cherry during his Coach’s Corner segment.

The 85-year-old commentator — no stranger to controversy sparked by his comments in the past — suggested new immigrants were not wearing poppies in the days leading up to Remembrance Day.

“You people … that come here … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that,” Cherry said. “These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

After Cherry’s remarks sparked a massive online backlash, Sportsnet issued an apology, saying “Don’s discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network.”

Ron MacLean, Cherry’s on-air sidekick who had nodded and given a thumbs up during the remarks, also issued an apology, saying the comments were “were hurtful and prejudiced and I wish I had handled myself differently. It was a divisive moment and I am truly upset with myself for allowing it.”

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