Pat Kelly (left), Calgary Rocky Ridge MP and official shadow minister for National Revenue, was in Port Hawkesbury on September 11 to discuss small business tax changes proposed by the federal government. He was joined by Strait area lawyer and former Cape Breton-Canso Conservative candidate Adam Rodgers.

Editor’s note: The following article was changed from the versions which was published in the September 20 edition of The Reporter to correct a quote from the Calgary Rocky Ridge Conservative MP.

PORT HAWKESBURY: Pat Kelly, Calgary Rocky Ridge MP and official shadow minister for National Revenue, was in Port Hawkesbury last week to discuss the small business tax changes proposed by the federal government.

Kelly said he met with several people during his stop including lawyer and former Cape Breton-Canso Conservative candidate Adam Rodgers.

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“I came out to hold roundtables and get the views of people from that part of the world,” said Kelly, noting he also visited Sydney and Halifax. “I want to hear from as many Canadians as I can to hear what they have to say about the proposed policies.”

Kelly heard from people who experienced losses in big industries and are trying to redevelop with smaller businesses. He said the tax changes are discouraging to potential small business owners and a concern for those who already own such operations.

“I talked to physicians and dentists, medical professionals who are very concerned about what this will do to their long term plans and to the viability of their careers,” he said.

When asked if the Conservatives have a solution to these sorts of problems or if it is just a matter of not wanting the proposed tax changes to happen, Kelly called the changes a “solution in search of a problem.”

“We don’t share the Liberal’s assertion that this is a problem that small business people are avoiding taxes,” he said.

“Investing passively in a limited company is something that the governments have actually encouraged medical professionals to do over the years. When you are self-employed, you don’t have many of the same advantages or [safety nets]. We saw no need for this policy and we also have brought in income splitting for people who are not self-employed.”

Kelly said the proposed changes were poorly though-out, calling it the most significant tax change in Canada since the early 1970s.

“Many people I spoke to tried to emphasize to me that they felt this policy would particularly hit and hurt people in Nova Scotia,” he said. “Perhaps even more so than people in the rest of Canada. Certainly the doctors believe that this is going to make it very, very difficult for Nova Scotia to retain the physicians that they have, never mind attract new physicians.”

On September 8, the Family Business Association, a non-profit organization helping small businesses, issued a press release expressing concern with the proposed changes.

“If this new legislation is passed, there will be severe repercussions for all families doing business in Canada and especially those in the Atlantic Provinces,” stated Alan Streatch, president of the Family Business Association-Atlantic. “It’s going to have a direct and negative impact on how families pass on their businesses to future generations and will influence the risks entrepreneurs are willing to take to operate and invest in a company in a region that is already heavily taxed.”