Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Morneau: Smart Man, Clueless Decisions

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Morneau: Smart Man, Clueless Decisions

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Morneau: smart man, clueless decisions

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published Oct. 20 :

What is it about politics that makes very smart people do things that are not at all very smart?

It's a question non-holders of elected office find themselves asking on an alarmingly regular basis, as the people they vote into positions of political decision-making careen, like out-of-control drivers on a rush-hour freeway, from controversy to scandal and from abuse of power to conflict of interest.

A second question inevitably follows: what in the world was he/she thinking?

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau -- who has been on the hot seat lately for his efforts to close tax loopholes that allow small-business owners to "cheat" the system -- is the latest politician to land neck-deep in the smart-person-doing-not-smart-things quagmire.

At the same time that he defends the controversial business-tax amendments and then backpedals from earlier pronouncements -- in an effort to quell an about-to-boil uprising in the small-business sector -- Mr. Morneau has been forced to defend a tax-related strategy of a different nature: the handling of his own massive personal fortune.

First came questions about a villa in Provence; Mr. Morneau's flimsy rationale for not disclosing the property to the ethics commissioner for two years was "early administrative confusion" and the fact he doesn't actually own it; rather, it's owned by a private corporation in which Mr. Morneau and his wife, Nancy McCain, are partners.

That, for workaday taxpayers keeping score at home, would fairly be described as a loophole.

Next, and much more damning, came the flare-up this week over the fact the finance minister had not placed his substantial holdings in Morneau Shepell -- the publicly traded pension and human-resources company he headed before seeking election in 2015 -- into a blind trust. …

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