Canada Finance Minister Bill Morneau silent on stock sell-off before tax changes

15:36  28 november  2017
15:36  28 november  2017 Source:   Toronto Star

Political foes take aim at Morneau

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Finance Minister Bill Morneau is refusing to say whether he sold millions of dollars worth of company stock days before introducing tax changes that may have caused share prices to drop.

OTTAWA — Finance Minister Bill Morneau is going on the offensive, pushing back against small-business lobby groups and Conservative opposition over proposed tax changes to private corporations


Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre demanded to know Monday whether Finance Minister Bill Morneau, above, was behind the sale of $10.2-million worth of shares in Morneau Sheppell: Finance Minister Bill Morneau.© Justin Tang Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

OTTAWA—Finance Minister Bill Morneau is refusing to say whether he sold millions of dollars worth of company stock days before introducing tax changes that may have caused share prices to drop.

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre went after Morneau in question period on Monday, demanding to know whether the finance minister was behind the sale of $10.2-million worth of shares in Morneau Sheppell, the company he headed before he was elected a Toronto MP in 2015.

The Nov. 30, 2015 sale came a week before the Liberal government formally introduced changes to tax rates — dropping the income tax rate for middle-class Canadians while it boosting it on high-income earners.

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OTTAWA — The Conservatives have opened up yet another new line of attack against Bill Morneau , accusing the embattled finance minister of selling off stock the week before his own policy announcement drove the value of the shares down by half a million dollars.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau received an earful on the Liberals' proposed tax changes and was often drowned out by a largely critical crowd during a town hall meeting in Oakville, Ont., on Friday morning.

Those rates were to take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, prompting financial advisers to advise high-income earners to realize capital gains in the last weeks of 2015 to avoid the coming higher tax rates.

“Did the minister sell his shares in Morneau Shepell in the amount of $10 million exactly one week before he tabled in the House of Commons market-moving tax changes?” Poilievre said.

The 680,000 shares were sold for $15 apiece. By Dec. 14, a week after the tax rate announcement, they had dropped to $13.96.

“Somebody knew enough to sell $10 million of Morneau Shepell shares before that drop could occur, saving him half a million dollars,” Poilievre said.

Morneau held two million shares in Morneau Sheppell and sold half of those in the fall of 2015, a source has told the Star. Profits from those sales were donated to charity. The National Post has reported that the shares sold on Nov. 30 were held by Morneau.

Finance minister fires back at Tories

  Finance minister fires back at Tories Finance minister fires back at ToriesOn Tuesday, a day after sidestepping more than a dozen questions on the issue, Morneau called the insinuations by Tory finance critic Pierre Poilievre "absurd.

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau speaks with the media before Question Period on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Thursday, October 19, 2017. The minister shrugged off Cullen, noting Dawson had already signed off on the arrangement.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said any tax changes the Canadian government makes on stock options will only take effect once the changes are made, effectively grandfathering existing options.

But on Monday, Morneau declined to say whether he was behind that sale. Instead, he accused the opposition of “trying to create conspiracy theories out of thin air” and focused his response on talking up his government’s decision to raise taxes on wealthier Canadians.

Morneau’s spokesperson, Daniel Lauzon, later criticized the Conservative line of attack.

“The absurd allegations being made by the opposition are completely and utterly false,” Lauzon said in an email to the Star.

“The opposition continues to show they would rather focus on the Minister of Finance than the priorities of Canadians — including housing, the Canada Child Benefit and tax benefits for low-income workers,” the statement said.

Commons Speaker Geoff Regan appeared reluctant to allow Poilievre’s line of questioning, saying that “it is not clear that this is within the responsibility of the government.”

Tories call for Morneau's resignation

  Tories call for Morneau's resignation Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called for Bill Morneau's resignation Wednesday as political rivals stepped up their attacks on a finance minister mired in controversy for weeks. Scheer demanded that Morneau step aside, and if he won't, then Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should just fire him.

OTTAWA – The Conservatives have opened up yet another new line of attack against Bill Morneau , accusing the embattled finance minister of selling off stock the week before his own policy announcement drove the value of the shares down by half a million dollars.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau was in Waterloo, Ont., to speak on the government's changes to small business tax rules. Reporters continued to question him about his business holdings, a day after he said he would divest his shares in the family business.

But after Liberal MPs at one point refused to answer Poilievre’s question, the Conservative MP fired back that it’s the “responsibility of government to ensure that no minister ever uses inside knowledge to benefit from transactions on the stock market.”

Morneau’s share holdings and ties to his family firm have been a big headache in recent months after it was revealed he did not have a blind trust in place for his remaining stock holdings.

He says he had acted on the advice of ethics commissioner Mary Dawson and set up a conflict of interest screen. But public pressure this fall forced him to sell off the remaining shares owned by him and his family.

New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen said Monday he would be writing Dawson to ask if she provided advice to Morneau on how to divest his company shares. If not, Cullen said he would ask Dawson to consider opening an investigation into whether the stock sales constituted an ethics conflict.

“For a finance minister he needs to be beyond reproach. He needs to be able to make every decision free and clear of any conflict of interest,” Cullen told reporters after question period.

In an interview, Poilievre said Morneau should have ensured that any sell-off did not happen until after the tax changes were introduced.

Dawson is already looking into whether Morneau was in a conflict of interest when he introduced a pension reform bill last year that would bring changes that could benefit Morneau Shepell.

Opposition attacks on Bill Morneau veer into character assassination territory .
MONTREAL—Over the nine weeks of the fall sitting of Parliament, the Conservative official Opposition has devoted no less than 15 questions daily to matters pertaining to Finance Minister Bill Morneau. Monday’s question period unfolded on the same theme. That works out to more than 600 questions over the space of less than three months. That total does not include the NDP contributions to the same discussion.No recent federal finance minister has come under fire for such a prolonged period of time. Indeed, rarely has a minister — federal or provincial — lasted so long on the hot seat.

Source: http://ca.pressfrom.com/news/canada/-55154-finance-minister-bill-morneau-silent-on-stock-sell-off-before-tax-changes/

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