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Morneau flooded with more than 10,000 emails over tax reform controversy: memo

Finance Minister Bill Morneau takes questions as the Liberal cabinet meets in St. John's, N.L. on Sept. 12, 2017.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau takes questions as the Liberal cabinet meets in St. John's, N.L. on Sept. 12, 2017. Andrew Vaughan/CP

OTTAWA — Bill Morneau was inundated with more than 10,000 missives last fall following the release of controversial tax-change proposals that infuriated Canada’s small-business community.

An internal memo obtained by The Canadian Press says the flood of messages addressed directly to the federal finance minister came in addition to the more than 21,000 email submissions his department received as part of a related public consultation process.

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Bill Morneau talks about the controversy surrounding his personal finances
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The Nov. 15 briefing note to the deputy finance minister also says the department had yet to process all the tax-related submissions at that time – even though more than a month had passed since the end of the consultation period.

The document says that, as expected, most submissions came from taxpayers that would be directly affected by the tax proposals.

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The memo also lists the most common criticisms – including complaints the consultation period was too short, that the changes would have retroactive consequences on retirement plans created under the current rules and that farmers were too busy with their harvests to thoroughly examine the proposals.

Morneau has argued the proposals were designed to stop wealthy owners of private corporations from unfairly taking advantage of the system – however, the uproar eventually forced him to back away from some elements of his plan.

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The anger over the tax proposals also put more scrutiny on Morneau’s own substantial assets and how the former businessman arranged his affairs after entering office.

Morneau battled ethics-related controversies throughout the fall and political opponents are sure to resume their attacks today as MPs reconvene in the House of Commons for the first time since mid-December.