Small business was one of several topics covered by Kelowna-Lake Country candidates at a forum on Monday night.
The forum was held in front of a capacity crowd at Creekside Theatre in Winfield and was sponsored by the Lake Country Chamber of Commerce.
A question about how candidates would support small businesses teed off a back-and-forth between Conservative candidate Tracy Gray and Liberal candidate Stephen Fuhr.
Fuhr lauded his party’s reduction of the small business tax from 11 per cent to 9 per cent. He also targeted Conservative leader Andrew Scheer for his rhetoric during recent Kelowna visits.
“You may have noticed that Andrew Scheer likes to come to Kelowna,” said Fuhr.
“He likes to take shots at me because there were some small business tax changes in the previous parliament and he likes to say that I just sat back and let it happen, which is completely not true. Anybody with an internet connection and some critical analysis can find out quickly that I was very boisterous about this. Ironically though, when Mr. Scheer comes here, what he doesn’t say is that we reduced small business tax — it’s the lowest in the OECD. And guess what? He voted against it.”
Fuhr also said he and 30 or 40 other MPs fought for a more “moderated solution,” and the proposal at the gate was dramatically different from the result because of it.
Gray fired back, saying that while the Liberals lowered the small business tax, they also nixed income splitting, which hurts small business owners.
“That’s just one tax that you’d have as a small business,” she said.
“There are other taxes. I’ve talked to literally thousands of business owners in Kelowna-Lake Country, where their personal taxes have been affected.”
Fuhr then said for over 90 per cent of small businesses in Canada, all they will see is a reduction in small business tax.
“It is true that some small businesses will be adversely affected by some of the other changes,” he said.
“With regard to income splitting within a Canadian controlled private corporation, the government changed rules on that. What they said is that ‘listen, you can still do that, but the person in the company actually has to work in the company.'”
While the Conservative and Liberal candidates dominated much of the conversation surrounding the topic of small business, the other candidates got their say as well.
The Green Party’s Travis Ashley said that small businesses are the foundation of Canada and he will welcome large corporations to get out of the way.
“Over 50 per cent of our GDP comes from small business,” he said.
“So when a big corporation says, ‘ we don’t like your laws; we’re going to leave,’ I say leave.”
Ashley also said the Green Party plans to raise the federal corporate tax rate from 15 to 21 per cent. He added that they would remove bureaucratic red tape, avoid duplicate taxes and give incentives to green startups.
Independent candidate Daniel Joseph said he would fight for free enterprise.
“Free enterprise is critical to Canada’s economy,” he said.
“Self-determination; not pre-determination. We cannot pre-determine the green economy. The green economy, if it’s going to happen, needs to be self-determined.”
The People’s Party of Canada candidate John Barr said despite his party not having a platform on small business just yet, the key is a thriving economy.
“A big part of our policy is to reduce the tax burden on the Canadian businessperson and the Canadian citizen,” he said.
“Although I can’t answer from a policy standpoint, the motivations of our party is to reduce the tax burden on individuals and businesses.”
Five of the seven local candidates were in attendance for the event. Independent candidate Silverado Socrates and the NDP’s Justin Kulik were absent, though Kulik had volunteers handing out letters stating his regrets that he could not attend the event.