04/10/2012 07:50 EDT | Updated 04/10/2012 08:29 EDT

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

CTV screencap

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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