Jim Doak, Asset Manager, Compares Tax Hike On The Rich To Ethnic Cleansing

The Huffington Post Canada  |  By Posted: 04/10/2012 7:50 pm Updated: 04/10/2012 8:29 pm

A recent study finds Canadians are willing to endure tax hikes if it means saving the country’s social safety net.

But, of course, not everyone agrees. Then again, not everyone feels as strongly opposed to the idea as Jim Doak, either.

In a debate on CTV Monday, the president and managing director of Megantic Asset Management compared Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s proposal for a tax hike on the rich to ethnic cleansing.

“It’s nasty. It’s ethnic cleansing,” Doak said, referring to the NDP’s demand for a two percentage point increase in the provincial income tax for people earning more than $500,000, as a way to close Ontario’s large budget deficit.

“She’s defining a group not by culture or language, but by how much money they make, and she wants to get rid of them,” Doak added.

A voice could be heard laughing off camera when he made the remark.

Watch the video here.

Doak was appearing in a debate against Armine Yalnizyan, senior economist for the progressive Centre for Canadian Policy Alternatives.

As an Armenian it was a stunning comment to hear as his opening defence, and incredibly challenging to avoid commenting on,” Yalnizyan tweeted Tuesday.

Doak’s argument boiled down to the idea that financial services firms will leave Ontario if their highest-earning employees and clients were to pay higher income taxes.

“Why don’t you say goodbye to the financial services industry, which provides 150,000 jobs in downtown toronto, high paying jobs, because those will go right away,” Doak argued.

Doak’s estimate of the number of people employed in financial services in Toronto seemed to be on the right scale, although only a small percentage of them have anything to fear from a tax on income above $500,000.

For her part, Yalnizyan argued that opposition to tax hikes on the rich amounted to the wealthiest Ontarians attempting to avoid their share of the burden posed by the government's austerity measures.

“The people Ms. Horwath is talking about taxing did the best ... in the decade before the [budget] crisis, and now they’re being asked to pitch in just like people on welfare, the disabled, who are literally having food taken out of their mouth,” Yalmizian, a Huffington Post contributor, said during the debate.

The Ontario NDP released a platform last week outlining what it would take for the minority Liberal government to gain its support on the budget. The plan included a proposal to increase the provincial income tax rate from 11.6 per cent to 13.16 per cent.

The NDP’s list of demands also includes removing the HST from home heating bills, saving 4,000 child care spaces from cuts and a “modest” increase to the Ontario Disability Support Program, which the Liberal budget would see frozen for a year.

According to a profile at Bloomberg Businessweek, aside from running Megantic Asset Management, Doak is also a member of the board of Khan Resources, and is president of the Toronto chapter of the Alliance Francaise.

Denise Balkissoon, who writes for the blog Ethnic Aisle, which first flagged Doak's comments, Tweeted that complaints about Doak's remarks have been filed with the CFA Institute, a financial consultancy industry group. The Huffington Post was not immediately able to verify that.

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  • What's In The Ontario Budget 2012

  • Health Care

    The 2012 Ontario budget freezes pay for doctors, and extends a pay freeze for health care executives. The province will begin means-testing seniors' prescription drugs, paid for under the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan, effectively meaning that the 5 per cent wealthiest seniors covered by the plan will have to pay more into the plan. Seniors with incomes over $100,000 and senior couples with combined incomes above $160,000 will be affected. Increases in health care spending will be capped at 2.1 per cent per year.

  • Education

    The budget freezes pay for teachers. A pay freeze for educational executives, already in place, will be extended. School boards in low-population areas will be amalgamated, and "under-utilized" schools will be shut. Student transportation will be cut by $34 million.

  • Senior Citizens

    The province will begin means-testing seniors' prescription drugs, paid for under the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan, effectively meaning that the 5 per cent wealthiest seniors covered by the plan will have to pay more into the plan. Seniors with incomes over $100,000 and senior couples with combined incomes above $160,000 will be affected.

  • Social Assistance

    Welfare rates will be frozen and planned increases to the Ontario Child Benefit will be delayed.

  • Taxes

    There are no tax hikes in the 2012 Ontario budget, but it does freeze the corporate tax rate at 11.5 per cent, foregoing planned reductions in the tax rate to 10 per cent. The freeze is expected to save $1.5 billion over three years.

  • Energy

    Ontario will cap the 10 per cent hydro bill rebate at 3,000 kilowatt-hours, a limit high enough that most homes won't be affected, but businesses could be. Reducing the tax credit will save $470 million over three years.

  • Crime & Security

    On top of the four jails the province already plans to close, the budget adds two more to the closure list -- one in Brantford and one in Chatham. Overtime for jail guards and the Ontario Provincial Police will be reduced.

  • Business Initiatives

    Ontario plans to reduce spending on business support programs by $250 million by merging a number of different programs.

  • Gambling & Lotteries

    The province aims to increase revenue by increasing the number of gambling facilities. [Details to come]

7 NEW TAX RULES THAT COULD SAVE YOU MONEY
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  • The Children's Arts Tax Credit

    This new credit was a budget measure that was designed to address criticism that the earlier Children's Fitness Tax Credit (which is still in effect) unfairly left out parents who paid for programs where the kids had to do more thinking than sweating. It provides a 15 per cent non-refundable federal tax credit on the first $500 spent on your kids' artistic, musical, recreational or cultural development in 2011. That means the tax credit is worth a maximum of $75 per child. Parents of disabled children can claim a 15 per cent tax credit on the first $1,000 of eligible spending, or a maximum of $150. To get the credit, children must be under 16 at the start of the year in which the program is taken (under 18 in the case of disabled children). To qualify, a program must be at least eight consecutive weeks in length, or, in the case of children's camps, at least five consecutive days. Receipts are a must.

  • The Volunteer Firefighter's Tax Credit

    If you performed at least 200 hours of service as a volunteer firefighter in 2011, you can see your tax bill reduced by up to $450 - another new non-refundable tax credit introduced in last year's federal budget. That's the net effect of a 15 per cent tax credit on the $3,000 volunteer firefighters' amount. The 200 hours doesn't have to be entirely spent fighting fires. Attending required meetings and training also qualify. Be aware that there's a big wrinkle in this tax credit for those who get an honorarium for their volunteer efforts. Currently, the first $1,000 of that honorarium is exempt from tax. But if you claim that income exemption, you won't be eligible for the volunteer firefighter's tax credit. No documents need to be filed, but the CRA says it may require claimants to provide certified proof that they actually do qualify.

  • Family Caregiver Tax Credit

    This measure doesn't actually take effect until the 2012 tax year, so you won't benefit from it when filing this year. But people who will eventually benefit can file a new TD1 Personal Tax Credits Return with their employers now to reduce their withholding tax for the remainder of 2012. This credit amounts to an increase of $2,000 in the claim when a taxpayer's dependent is physically or mentally infirm. So the spouse, common-law partner or other eligible dependent claim becomes $12,780 instead of $10,780. Similarly, the claim for a disabled child becomes $4,191 rather than $2,191. The caregiver amount claim for looking after an infirm relative also goes up by $2,000.

  • TFSAs

    Tax-free savings accounts were first unveiled in the 2008 federal budget and have continued to grow in popularity - in part because Canadians can put more money into them each year. If you haven't yet contributed to a "Tiff-sa," the available contribution room rose by $5,000 on Jan. 1, 2012 and now stands at $20,000. TFSA contributions can go into GICs, mutual funds, bonds, stocks or savings accounts and earn profit tax-free, but keep in mind they don't work like a bank account with a maximum balance. When you withdraw funds in one year, TFSA rules don't let you redeposit that amount until the next. In 2009, about 70,000 people withdrew money from one of their TFSA accounts and then redeposited it the same year, so the Canada Revenue Agency levied penalties of one per cent per month on redeposits that were classed as excess contributions. The government eventually relented because of the widespread confusion, and rescinded the penalties in 2010 for people who accidentally put too much into their accounts during the TFSA's debut year. The amnesty is over now, however, and savers can't expect that kind of pity from the tax collector anymore. If you want to move your money from one account or institution to another within the same calendar year, you have to use a formal transfer process that requires filling out forms and, with most banks, paying a fee.

  • Changes That Affect Students

    As of the 2011 tax year, examination fees now qualify for the tuition tax credit. That is, as long as the total fees, including exam fees, amount to at least $100 and the exam is required to obtain professional status or to be licensed or certified in a profession or trade. For students enrolled full-time in a university outside Canada, the minimum length of course that qualifies for tuition, education and textbook tax credits has been lowered from 13 weeks to three weeks. The 2011 budget also loosened the restrictions on transferring investments held in one sibling's Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP) to another sibling's RESP. Under the old rules, transferring RESP investments property from one sibling's plan to another's could trigger a repayment of the Canada Education Savings Grant unless the sibling receiving the transferred investment is under the age of 21. But transfers occurring in 2011 and after will not trigger grant repayments as long as the receiving RESP was set up before the beneficiary turned 21.

  • Medical Expenses And An RDSP Change

    As of 2011, the maximum medical expense claim of $10,000 for a dependant relative (other than for a spouse, common-law partner or a minor child) has been eliminated. Now, there's no limit. The last budget also made a change to the rules governing Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs). Under the old rules, all grants and bonds paid into the plans in the previous 10 years had to be returned to Ottawa if a disability assistance payment was made to an RDSP beneficiary. Now, no repayment is necessary if a doctor certifies that a plan recipient isn't likely to survive for five years

  • Changes To Federal Tax Brackets And Credits

    Most tax brackets and credit amounts were raised in 2011 to account for inflation. In the case of federal tax brackets, they have been raised by 1.4 per cent from 2010's levels. Most of the basic personal amount claims have also been boosted by 1.4 per cent. The 2011 TD 1 tax forms and all of the software and online tax programs reflect the new amounts. Similarly, the thresholds at which some benefits begin to get clawed back (like Old Age Security payments) have been raised by 1.4 per cent. Some refundable tax credits, like the Canada Child Tax Benefit, have also been boosted by 1.4 per cent. Many provinces and territories have also boosted their personal tax credits by indexing factors ranging from 0.8 per cent to 2.0 per cent. But two provinces - Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island - made no changes in their personal tax credit amounts.

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