Dominion Lending Centres President Gary Mauris got the chance of a lifetime a few weeks ago: the opportunity to question Prime Minister Justin Trudeau face to face. That interview, which taped in the prime minster’s office, aired tonight on CBC.
Mauris had two questions for the PM. He began by grilling Trudeau on Liberal tax increases for Canadians making over $200,000 a year.
Top income earners are largely small business owers who create jobs, Mauris said. Their incentive to do so has diminished with punishing marginal tax rates well in excess of 50%. Mauris said other jurisdictions, like the U.K., have rolled back tax hikes on higher-income earners because they actually resulted in less tax revenue overall.
“You’re not Robin Hood and the country’s not Sherwood Forest.“—Gary Mauris to Justin Trudeau
Trudeau replied, “We’re actually lowering taxes for small business down to 9%.” But more importantly, he added, “…Median household incomes have “stalled” for a generation of middle-class Canadians. Trudeau said his plan to take from the wealthy to give to the middle class addressed this problem, to which Mauris retorted, “You’re not Robin Hood and the country’s not Sherwood Forest.”
Mauris’s second question centred on consumer debt. “There’s been a lot of tightening of the mortgage guidelines,” Mauris said, but mortgage debt “isn’t the problem.”
“People are paying their mortgage payments in Canada…We have the lowest default rates anywhere in the Western world.” The biggest challenge is lack of credit card regulation, he suggested.
“[Canadians] aren’t refinancing their mortgages to use it as an ATM and go on a spending spree. They’re using it to refinance high-interest unsecured credit card debt…at 16-20% interest. They’re getting buried by [that interest],” Mauris stressed.
Trudeau agreed, noting, “We need to create opportunity to grow the economy” and improve financial literacy. “We’re now carrying more debt than the United States…I’m really worried about household debt in this country.”
The prime minister said his administration was working with banks and policymakers on the issue.
Mauris, always the deal maker, closed the interview with a special offer for the prime minister: “When you get around to doing that reno on 24 Sussex, we’ll give you the lowest rate in the country, and save you lots of money.”