This being the first day back at school, Andrew Scheer was obliged to stand and tell the class what he’d done with his summer.
“Mr. Speaker, this summer I spent my time crossing the country talking to hard-working Canadians, job creators and entrepreneurs,” Scheer reported.
“And I can tell the prime minister one very simple thing: they are not tax cheats,” he said, turning to stare down Justin Trudeau.
Scheer’s fellow Conservatives applauded.
The Conservative leader presumably did not mean to imply he had reviewed the tax returns of each and every person he spoke with this summer.
Rather, he meant to take issue with the Trudeau government’s hotly contested implication that something is amiss in what the tax system allows.
“These are the people who mortgage their homes, who take an idea and create opportunities in their neighbourhood,” Scheer ventured. “So my simple question to the prime minister is, why is he hurting the very people he claims he wants to help?”
In response, the prime minister attempted to parse any misunderstanding.
“Mr. Speaker, there is no suggestion that any Canadians aren’t following the rules,’ he said.
The Conservatives cried out in objection.
“The problem is, the rules we have currently favour the wealthy over the middle class,” Trudeau continued. “We have a system right now that allows wealthy Canadians to use private corporations to pay lower tax rates than middle class Canadians.
“That’s … not … right.”
Scheer would stand another 10 times to query the prime minister about the government’s proposals to change the tax rules for incorporated entities and a succession of Conservatives would use the rest of the Official Opposition’s opportunities to pursue the same topic.
Nary a word would be said about Omar Khadr and his multimillion-dollar government settlement, this summer’s previous outrage. Perhaps if Khadr had incorporated himself over the summer, the Conservatives would still be interested in his case.
It’s possible both sides are actually happier to be fighting about tax reform. The Conservatives because lots of people hate taxes and the Liberals because lots of people like the idea that taxes should be applied fairly.
The mechanic and the doctor
Scheer would eventually narrow his concern to the plight of the Canadian mechanic.
“Right now, a mechanic can save in these investments to save up for…