New Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland had a rough go of it yesterday in Question Period. But the heckling was only half of it.
Once she’d actually put her question on the record, Conservative minister of state Kevin Sorenson stood and declared that, “We know her policy. We know the platform she ran on: amen to higher taxes.”
This is a neat trick.
You can’t be expected to know the details of this, but that’s a reference to something Ms. Freeland said three years ago, while appearing on an American talk show to discuss the fiscal situation of the U.S. government. The full transcript of that appearance is here. The context was whether the U.S. government needed to raise taxes to eliminate its budget deficit—specifically, Ms. Freeland was asked to respond after a clip was shown of Alan Greenspan suggesting the Bush-era tax cuts should be allowed to expire. Ms. Freeland doesn’t elaborate on that comment, instead segueing into a tangent about the relative health of the U.S. economy as compared to the situation in Germany. (The Conservative party website makes reference to Ms. Freeland calling for an increase in taxes during an appearance on CNN in April 2012. Again, the context seems to be the U.S. budget. I can’t find the source for the carbon tax reference, but the carbon tax discussion is rather complicated at this point.)
So prospective candidates take note: anything you say publicly can and will be used against you three years from now when you are elected to office.
Nonetheless, did Ms. Freeland somehow otherwise campaign last year in her by-election on a platform of increasing taxes? I confess I’m not fully aware of everything she said during that campaign (here she is ruling out tax increases at least in the short-term and here is what appears on her website under the heading “on the issues”), but I invite tips on anything that might be construed as an endorsement of higher taxes.
Otherwise, the next time you see Mr. Sorenson, you might ask him how he thinks the United States should balance its federal budget and then assign those comments to him as his general philosophy in life.
Update 5:50pm. After posting this, it occurred to me that I should have given Mr. Sorenson a chance to reply, so I emailed his office. Here is his statement.
“The honourable member ran on her record which includes comments made at home and abroad.
“Canadians simply don’t want to pay the higher taxes that the Liberals are notorious for, especially during a fragile recovery.
“Unlike the Liberals, we are proud of our record that includes delivering historic tax relief for all Canadians.”
As an example, I am pointed towards the Liberal platform of 2011, when the Liberal party vowed to rescind reductions corporate tax cuts and set the rate at 18%. I suppose Ms. Freeland chose to associate herself with such a party, but that particular commitment came two years before she was a candidate for the party.