MP Cathy McLeod criticized the Trudeau government Monday for lowering maximum contributions to tax-free savings accounts.
The government has reduced the annual limit for TFSA to $5,500 from the $10,000 allowed by the former Conservative government. Revenues gained from the new limit are supposed to finance a middle-class tax cut, but the move is a bit of a puzzle, McLeod said.
“Their so-called tax cut is creating over $1 billion in deficit,” she said. “It was supposed to be revenue neutral.”
McLeod spoke in the House during debate on the bill on the first day of the fall session on Parliament Hill.
The Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP said the Ministry of Finance completed a report showing that TFSAs, introduced by Conservative Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty in 2008, were well subscribed.
“The uptake has been phenomenal,” she said.
The government seems to prefer taxing Canadians through increased Canada Pension deductions rather than allowing them to make their own independent financial decisions.
While the lower limit on TFSAs weakens a retirement-income option for many Canadians, it’s not the issue that holds greatest priority for McLeod as a busy Parliamentary session begins.
The absence of a new softwood lumber trade pact with the U.S. is particularly troubling for its implications for the B.C. Interior softwood industry.
McLeod contends that the Trudeau government missed two windows of opportunity to bring in the deal before the U.S. presidential election campaign kicked into high gear.
Without a lumber deal, B.C.’s forest sector could be hit with high trade penalties costing billions, a potential setback in its long road to recovery in recent years.
“That is truly very concerning in terms of indications from the trade minister,” she said. “She is not giving optimistic signals.”
The MP said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had two opportunities, when President Barack Obama visited Ottawa and when Trudeau reciprocated in Washington earlier this year, to conclude the trade agreement.
“It required the highest level of political will and obviously that wasn’t there,” she said.
Other major items on the Parliamentary agenda this fall include electoral reform, with a referendum not yet ruled out, legalization of marijuana and the government’s plan to send troops to Africa in a renewal of peacekeeping abroad without a debate in the House.
McLeod noted that even Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan described the proposed mission as one of peacemaking as opposed to peacekeeping, since in most cases there is no peace to keep.
“They’re not committed to a debate in Parliament, which concerns me,” she said. “That was a tradition we started.”
The MP said her biggest priority is holding the government to account for its fiscal situation and spending in the face of weak employment numbers.