New Brunswickers Would Benefit From Study And Debate On Proposed Business Tax

Irving Oil Refinery. Image: Mark Leger/Huddle.

Gerry Lowe is the MLA for Saint John Harbour and a former Saint John city councillor. He submitted this response to Bob Manning’s commentary, Will New Brunswick Introduce Yet Another Tax On Prosperity?

I was disappointed by the incorrect information presented in Bob Manning’s recent article on the Huddle website and am writing to correct the record.

There is no proposal before the legislature to raise taxes on anybody. I brought forward motion 31 which passed the house. All it does is order a committee to “undertake a study, including hearing from experts and stakeholders, and report back to the House with recommendations on whether to reduce or eliminate any property assessment or property tax exemptions or benefits that apply to heavy industry.”

What could possibly be wrong with that?

If business is already paying too much, then that’s what people will hear and the issue will be settled once and for all. People on all sides of this issue should welcome the study and the debate unless they have something to hide.

RELATED: Will New Brunswick Introduce Yet Another Tax On Prosperity?

When I served on the Saint John Common Council, we struggled all the time with our budget. We have the highest property taxes in the province and we still can’t afford to pay our bills. Part of the reason for that is that we have expenses that no one else does – among other things, we need to have the equipment and training for our firefighters and emergency responders in place to cope with an industrial accident. Are businesses paying their fair share for that service? Two studies commissioned by the city said no.

So now we will have a chance for cities to present their case, for homeowners, and yes, for industry. They can all come before the committee and tell their story to MLAs and to all New Brunswickers. That’s called democracy. It isn’t anything to be afraid of, and it is too bad that Mr. Manning and his allies in big industry are trying to stop this study before it starts. Why would they want to do that? It doesn’t make any sense to me.

Huddle publishes commentaries from groups and individuals on important business issues facing the Maritimes. These commentaries do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Huddle. To submit a commentary for consideration, contact editor Mark Leger: [email protected]