Liberal MP stands by decision to oppose proposed tax changes
Liberal MP Wayne Long has no regrets about his decision to vote against his own government Tuesday night during a vote on an opposition motion to extend consultations for proposed changes to the small business tax regime.
“If there is a price to be paid, I’m certainly prepared to pay that price… I know I did the right thing”, said Long.
The former president of Scotiaview Seafood Inc., a small seafood brokerage company, said he knows first-hand about the struggles of small businesses. It’s why he wants the government to make substantial changes to Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s proposal.
Tuesday night’s vote on the Conservative motion was a whipped vote for the Liberals meaning they were told to vote against it. Despite that, Long says he supported the opposition motion in good conscious knowing that’s what his constituents would want.
“During the (2015) election campaign I talked long and often about I would be Saint John—Rothesay’s representative in Ottawa, not Ottawa’s representative in Saint John—Rothesay, and I meant that.” Long told reporters.
The Liberal caucus has been fractured over the proposed changes with many saying they have spent the last few months on the receiving end of rage from residents in their ridings.
Prince Edward Island MP Wayne Easter called the communications plan for the proposed tax changes “god awful” and his provincial colleague echoed that sentiment.
“It’s been tough and I expect it to continue to be tough until we clearly indicate that we’ve listened and that we are taking the advice that we’ve heard and using it to change direction,” said PEI MP Sean Casey.
Casey says the proposed changes have caused a visceral response in his Charlottetown riding similar to the response after the Liberals abandoned their campaign promise to reform how elections are run.
While caucus colleagues like Casey have sent Long a virtual hug, others believe the party should discipline the New Brunswick MP for breaking the party line.
“I believe a lot of our laundry can get washed in private, again I’m in a difficult position because I count Wayne as a very close friend, but he obviously took a position that was against what we believe should be a whipped vote and that does have consequences,” said Liberal MP Marc Miller.
What will those consequences be?
Punishment for MP’s could include removal from Parliamentary committees among other things. Long is a member of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, and the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
Any punishment would be handled by the office of the Liberal House Whip.
“These are internal discussions, internal decisions,” said Liberal house Whip Pablo Rodriguez as he walked away from reporters.
No decision has been made yet, but Long is ready to accept any consequences of standing by his convictions.
“I just felt very strongly that this process wasn’t right,” said Long.
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