Do you remember the 1993 movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell? The premise of the movie is quite simple. Through some magical event Bill Murray is stuck in a small town reliving the same day over and over again.

Years ago I attended a public speaking course. I delivered a message that was then critiqued by the other students. One explained that I kept repeating the same hand gesture and only walked to the left of the podium. To roars of laughter he equated my performance to Groundhog Day. More than anything, that comment made it clear how my performance was less than ideal.

This summer, the Minister of Finance released a document titled Tax Planning Using Private Corporations. This is part of the Federal Government’s tax fairness agenda. It took me less than two days to see that it was anything but fair. I also published an article titled Federal Government Declares War on Small Business. Over the summer, the opposition to the plan became louder and louder. As more tax practitioners digested the implications, we could see the Government’s intent. We could also see that the draft legislation missed the mark by a country mile. This is when the comedy started. First, the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister dismissed any critique over-and-over.

Every interview and media quote said the same thing. “We don’t care about your concerns, we are going ahead with the changes.” Dismissing middle class business owners’ concerns. This is when I first started thinking of Groundhog Day. Bill Murray started using the relived day to indulge in every hedonistic pleasure. After a while, he started to taking a more positive direction. In the same way, the Government’s rhetoric was toned down over the summer. Bill Murray’s character changed, but the goal was always the same. He wanted to get Andie MacDowell’s character in bed. The change in messaging from the Government seems to have the same goal. Tone down the message enough to fleece tax payers into a false sense of comfort.

Nothing epitomized this more than this interview done by CBC on September 25, 2017. (Scroll down to the embedded video in the article link). As I watched it, I had this overwhelming recollection of Groundhog Day. If there ever was a Tax Groundhog Day, this is what it would sound like. Minister Morneau had a script and message to communicate. I.e. the Government is listening to feedback on their proposed tax changes. During the 10:38 interview, Minister Morneau says listen or listening 17 times. This doesn’t include the words hear or hearing. The interviewer asked pointed questions, to which he provided no answers. He just repeatedly said that he is listening to our concerns. For your convenience and amusement, I have listed the time markers every time he said listen or listening.
  • 1:17
  • 3:07
  • 4:49
  • 5:12
  • 5:21
  • 5:34
  • 6:24
  • 6:28
  • 6:53
  • 7:07
  • 8:02
  • 8:25
  • 9:01
  • 9:06
  • 9:09
  • 9:35
  • 9:40

I ask you to consider the following. You are reasoning with someone and that person says “I’m listening” over-and-over again. Yet, the person doesn’t address your concerns. Do you believe that person is listening or dismissing you?

We now await the Government’s response to the concerns raised. What do you think: will Tax Groundhog Day end with a positive change or not?