Burned in 2017, Morneau opts to hide from critics instead
It’s bad when the Finance Minister’s officials are accused of bullying an interest group.
But the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says it can think of one thing worse: the cold shoulder.
And that’s precisely the frosty situation the CFIB says it has now with Bill Morneau, the first finance minister to refuse to meet with the organization in the nearly half-century since it was founded.
“We’ve been around for 46 years and we’ve had many, many heated moments with governments of all political stripes,” CFIB president and CEO Dan Kelly said in an interview on Tuesday. “Some have been incredibly angry with us, but we’ve never had a minister of finance, not federally, not provincially, refuse to meet with us.”
This is indeed extraordinary — especially for Justin Trudeau’s government, which came to office in 2015 promising to build more bridges with Canadians than the notoriously thin-skinned Stephen Harper government. The freeze-out also raises renewed questions about whether the federal Liberals are as fond of consultation as they claim to be — let alone being open to criticism.
Morneau was seriously offside with the CFIB in the summer of 2017 with his proposed tax changes for small business — reforms that were eventually rolled back in the face of a massive outcry from doctors, farmers and entrepreneurs all over Canada.