A timeline of the political troubles dogging Finance Minister Bill Morneau - 660 NEWS
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A timeline of the political troubles dogging Finance Minister Bill Morneau

Last Updated Oct 19, 2017 at 4:00 pm MST

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau announces the government's economic update during Question Period on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Thursday, October 19, 2017. The federal Liberal government announced several changes this week to the controversial suite of tax-reform proposals it introduced in July. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – Here is a timeline looking at Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s handling of his personal assets since his appointment:

Nov. 4, 2015: The newly appointed finance minister tells the CBC: “I resigned my position as chair of the firm that I was chair of before and I expect that all my assets will go into a blind trust. I’ve already communicated with the ethics commissioner in that regard and I do need to work through that process and will do in the appropriate time frame.”

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November 2015: Morneau’s mandate letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau includes the following: “You must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.”

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Feb. 2, 2016: A letter from the office of ethics commissioner Mary Dawson to Morneau says that because his assets are not “controlled” under the Conflict of Interest Act, “a blind trust agreement is therefore not required.”

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Oct. 19, 2016: Morneau introduces Bill C-27 in the House of Commons. The legislation would allow companies to set up what are called “target benefit” pension plans, which opponents say shifts risk to employees from employers. The NDP says Morneau Shepell, the family human resources and pension management firm the minister led before he entered politics, would benefit significantly from such a change.

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July 18, 2017: Morneau announces a series of tax reforms including changes to rules that govern “income sprinkling” among family members, passive investment income and capital gains. He says: “We see these approaches to managing people’s affairs through a private corporation as creating an unfair playing field. I don’t want to see one small subset of the population advantaged because of our tax code, so it is about creating fairness … All Canadians should be willing to pay that fair share, including myself.”

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July-September 2017: A backlash against the tax reforms builds across the country with doctors, farmers, fishers and small businesses complaining they will be unable to put away money for a rainy day, or maternity leave or expansion plans.

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Sept. 13, 2017: Liberal backbench MP Wayne Long says publicly he will not support the proposals and later votes in favour of a Conservative motion to allow a longer consultation period on the changes.

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Sept. 22, 2017: After the CBC begins asking questions, Morneau discloses his ties to a private corporation which owns a villa in France. His office blames the failure to disclose the private corporation on “early administrative confusion.”

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Oct. 16, 2017: Trudeau promises to restore gradually trim the small-business tax rate to nine per cent by 2019, down from its current level of 10.5 per cent. He also says the government will drop at least one of the tax-reform elements: changing the lifetime capital gains rule, which is an adjustment intended to avoid negative impacts on the intergenerational transfer of family businesses, like farms.

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Oct. 17-18, 2017: In Parliament, opposition parties condemn Morneau for not using a blind trust from the outset, accusing him of being in a conflict of interest because he has holdings in Morneau Shepell, the human resources firm that bears his name and which is regulated by the federal government.

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Oct. 19, 2017: Morneau says he has put his substantial personal assets in a blind trust and plans to sell off all of his and his family’s assets in Morneau Shepell. “If we’re getting distracted because some people are worried about my personal situation, it’s time to move on. And that’s what I’ve decided to do.”