MP Wayne Long Kicked Off Committees for Supporting Conservative Tax Motion

Saint John mayor Don Darling, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long. Image: a January 2017 photo from Wayne Long's Facebook page.

Saint John Rothesay MP Wayne Long has been removed from two parliamentary committees for voting in favour of an opposition motion that would have extended the consultation period on the Liberal government’s proposed changes to the ways incorporated companies are taxed.

On Thursday, Long was removed from the standing committee on human resources, skills, social development and the status of persons with disabilities, as well as the standing committee on access to information, privacy and ethics.

Long was disappointed by the decision but understands why the party felt it had to punish him in some way.

“It’s tough for me, I have nothing but respect for [party whip Pablo Rodriguez] and the party,” said Long in a conversation Thursday night on Facebook Messenger. “I realized and accept that they had to do something.”

Nonetheless, he doesn’t regret his decision to take a stand against the party on this issue.

“I’m still comfortable with what I did,” said Long. “I need to follow my heart I’m compelled to stand up for those constituents affected.

“I’ve accepted my fate and I move forward. The sun will come up tomorrow and I’ll get to work representing the great people of [Saint John-Rothesay].”

Long was the only Liberal to vote for a Conservative Party motion on Tuesday that called for the consultation period to be extended until January 31, 2018. The motion was ultimately defeated 199-89 because of the Liberal majority in the House of Commons.

“I am a proud Liberal and I believe in my party,” said Long on Tuesday. “Tax reform is needed in Canada, but such major reforms must be considered very carefully — with respect to their long-term economic ramifications. This consultation has been too short: Canadians have had only 75 days to consider dramatic changes to long-standing tax laws, some which have been in use for 40 years.”

Long said he’s worried about the province losing professionals and entrepreneurs over the issue.

“I have listened to my constituents, and I am concerned,” he said. “I am concerned to hear about local businesses already leaving my riding, leaving our country. I am concerned about my province’s ability to recruit and retain doctors going forward. It is already difficult to retain doctors in New Brunswick.”

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Long has said many times over the past few weeks that he understands the plight of the small business person because he was once one himself. He used to work for an international salmon company called Stolt Sea Farm, he said, and then he left to start a salmon sales and marketing company called Scotia View Seafood.

After Tuesday’s vote, he reiterated his view that the proposals will hurt small businesses and discourage entrepreneurship.

“As a former small business owner, I understand my local economy,” he said. “It is my belief that these proposed changes, as they stand, will have unintended negative consequences. I am worried about unforeseen effects on small businesses…These proposed changes, without amendments, will discourage entrepreneurship, reducing local small business activity and growth.”

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Long voiced his opposition for the first time in a late-night Facebook post a few weeks ago.

“I’ve lived the hopes and dreams of having a business,” he wrote at the time. “Small business is the backbone of our economy. I believe in my heart that these proposed changes will discourage entrepreneurship and hurt the very people we want to help. I cannot support these proposals without amendments.”

He has stood by his opposition ever since. More Liberal MPs have since come out against the proposed changes, but Long was the only one to vote with the Conservatives Tuesday.

Long took to Facebook again after the vote Tuesday.

“Tonight I took a very hard decision to vote against my own party and in support of a Conservative motion that asked to lengthen the consultation period on the Tax Change proposals,” he wrote.

“I’m sorry to my colleagues who I know I’ve put in a very awkward position. I deeply regret this as you are such great representatives. I ran on being Saint John – Rothesay’s representative in Ottawa. Not Ottawa’s representative back home.”