Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, shown at a social housing funding announcement in Vancouver last week, was invited by the finance committee to answer questions about Bill C-208.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Canada’s Finance Minister did not attend a committee meeting to address why the government tried to delay new tax legislation even after she was asked to do so by members.

Chrystia Freeland was invited to answer questions about Bill C-208 within two weeks from the finance committee’s last meeting on July 20. But on Wednesday afternoon, members received an e-mail from the committee clerk: “I have been informed this morning that the minister is unable to accept the committee’s invitation.”

This comes after weeks of confusion surrounding the bill, which gives more generous tax treatment to small businesses.

Story continues below advertisement

Ottawa scraps delay on law giving small businesses tax breaks after storm of criticism

On June 29, Bill C-208 received royal assent, which is when legislation usually comes into effect. The next day, however, the Finance Department issued a news release saying that the changes wouldn’t take effect until Jan. 1.

On July 19, the Finance Department issued another news release that confirmed the legislation had in fact gone into effect in June, saying the statement “replaces” the earlier news release on the issue.

At the July 20 committee meeting, members heard from Finance Department officials that the Liberal cabinet decided the bill wouldn’t be implemented until January, not the Finance Department. Conservative MP Pat Kelly, who is a vice-chair of the committee, then introduced the motion asking Ms. Freeland to attend to take questions on the situation, and the motion passed.

Mr. Kelly said in an interview that committee members have not had an adequate explanation for the changes and confusion, nor an explanation for why “this government would think that it could just pick and choose not to implement a law passed by Parliament.”

“It’s not a small matter in a democratic society,” he added.

Bill C-208 allows owners of small and medium-sized businesses to sell shares to adult children or grandchildren and claim the proceeds as capital gains instead of dividend payments. This benefits business owners because capital gains are taxed at a lower rate.

There were 19 Liberal MPs who voted for the bill, including the chair of the finance committee, but most voted against it.

Story continues below advertisement

Katherine Cuplinskas, a spokesperson for Ms. Freeland, said in an e-mail statement that the law stands. “Our government fully supports a level playing field for intergenerational transfers,” the statement read.

Ms. Freeland took questions about the bill from reporters at an event on July 20 where she confirmed that the bill is law. She also said the department plans to introduce amendments to the legislation that are aimed at closing loopholes that could allow for tax avoidance.

“Our government absolutely supports the core objective of C-208, which is to create fairness when it comes to intergenerational transfers of businesses,” she said at the event.

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies