Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday October 21, 2017
Bill Morneau bristles at questions about personal finances
Finance Minister Bill Morneau dodged questions about his use of numbered companies to hold investments Friday, suggesting he does not have to defend his personal financial choices to journalists.
After a week of questions about his own fortune, Morneau showed signs of exasperation during an event in Waterloo, Ont., where he was pitching the government’s “step back” on proposed changes to the small business tax regime.
Morneau batted away a question about why he held some of his investments in an Alberta company rather than one domiciled in Ontario, where he lives.
“So, is the question why are they numbered companies and they don’t have names?” he said with a shrug.
“Seriously, what I’ve done is expose all my assets to the ethics commissioner. The process we have in our country isn’t that I report to journalists on my personal situation. It’s that I report to the ethics commissioner and I make sure she fully understands my situation so we can get to the recommendations.”
Owning investments in a personal holding company can provide various tax and non-tax benefits. Income in an operating company can face a lower tax rate by using small business deductions, for example.
Morneau said he has now agreed to do more than what the commissioner, Mary Dawson, recommended he do when he took office.
Morneau did not place his considerable holdings in a family company — the publicly traded human resources firm Morneau Shepell — in a blind trust because Dawson had only recommended the creation of an “ethical screen” to ensure he wasn’t making policy decisions to his own financial benefit. The screen was to be administered by Morneau’s chief of staff. (Source: CBC News)