Ontario politicians agree to…agree

By Steven Lamb | September 18, 2007 | Last updated on September 18, 2007
2 min read

When it comes to the financial services industry, there is surprisingly little difference between the three largest political parties in Ontario. A debate hosted by the Toronto Financial Services Alliance resulted in more personal needling than actual disagreement.

All participants praised federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s push for a single, common securities regulator as vital for the health of the financial industry.

Progressive Conservative candidate Rick Byers deemed it “the Holy Grail” of securities regulation, while New Democratic Party candidate Julian Heller cautioned that interim steps like the proposed passport model could only be accepted as a stepping stone to a single regulator, which he stated should be based in Toronto.

Liberal candidate and current Minister of Finance Greg Sorbara warned that adoption of the passport model could result in the largest roadblock to a single regulator.

The policy similarities did not end with regulation, however. None of the candidates were able to articulate a plan to eliminate the retail sales tax currently charged on group life and health insurance premiums.

Conservative Byers admitted that it constituted a payroll tax and that his party was therefore opposed to it but added that there were no plans to address it at this time. New Democrat Heller also said the tax would remain in place because the $1 billion it generates is too important for the government to forgo. Sorbara said a Liberal government may consider cutting it in the future, but only if the province’s finances permitted.

Sorbara defended the current government’s move to eliminate tax breaks on labour-sponsored investment funds, saying that too often the funds invested in safer late stage financings leave little for new ventures. Heller chastised Sorbara for the move, suggesting that LSIFs could have been “fixed” without the removal of the tax break.

The furthest out on a limb that any of the candidates would venture was Heller’s promise that an NDP government would increase the maximum payout under government’s pension guarantee fund, from $1,000 a month, but he stopped short of saying how much the payment should be.

Filed by Steven Lamb, Advisor.ca, steven.lamb@advisor.rogers.com


Steven Lamb