The federal Liberals need to change their definition of ‘middle class’ because right now they seem to be following a Donald Trump model, says Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns.
On Monday, Johns (Courtenay-Alberni) urged the Liberal government to bring greater fairness to Bill C-2 ,which changes income brackets for Canadian taxpayers. During the campaign the Liberals had promised to cut taxes for the middle class but Johns says Bill C-2 does the opposite.
“The problem with this bill is the Liberal definition of middle class seems to be have been created by the Donald Trumps of the world,” Johns said in the House of Commons. “This is a bill that gives most of the tax benefits to those making around $200,000/year while offering Canadians who make around $40,000/year nothing at all.”
Johns said in an interview that MPs like himself, for example, could see a tax reduction under Bill C-2 of $679/year while those making less than $45,000 would get no reduction.
The median income for a Canadian is $31,000. An MP’s basic annual salary is $167,400. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s annual salary is $334,800.
“The people of Alberni Valley feel like they’re being betrayed by Ottawa, they’ve got a median income of 25,000/year, one in three children are living in poverty,” Johns, an NDP MP, said through a news release. “They feel forgotten. Seniors feel forgotten. Inequality is at an all-time high and this legislation does not address it.”
The NDP is seeking an amendment to Bill C-2 that would set the tax break at a lower level. This plan would benefit 83 per cent of taxpayers and reserve the largest benefit for Canadians making $45,000/year.
“I was elected to hold this government to account and work with them wherever possible to bring much needed relief to those struggling in my riding,” Johns said. “I believe it’s not too late.”
In an interview this week, Johns said the current version of Bill C-2 is not a fait accompli just because of the Liberals’ majority in the House of Commons.
“Hopefully, when it (the bill) gets to committee, they will listen to some of the proposals we have,” Johns told The NEWS. “We want to make sure they get it right — they campaigned on tax breaks for the middle class.”
Johns said Liberal MPs may get pressure to change their definition of middle class from sources other than opposition MPs.
“Every MP still has to go home to their riding,” he said.
• Johns also said he, along with local politicians, is waiting to see what the Liberals will provide in the upcoming budget in terms of infrastructure money.
The rookie MP said he has met with all the mayors and First Nations leaders in the riding.
“(Parksville) Mayor (Marc) Lefebvre has talked to me about water infrastructure,” said Johns.
“You can count on me supporting every infrastructure initiative (application) that comes from our riding.”