Justin Trudeau faced a packed house at UBC Okanagan on Wednesday. (Image Credit: Kathy Michaels)

Justin Trudeau faced a packed house at UBC Okanagan on Wednesday. (Image Credit: Kathy Michaels)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces criticism and fanfare at UBCO event

Prime Minister packs the house at UBC Okanagan

Thunderous applause met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at nearly every turn during Wednesday night’s UBC Okanagan town hall, but he didn’t escape the event without some criticism.

Site C protesters gathered outside and people disillusioned by the Prime Minister’s failure to follow through with electoral reform had their say.

The issue that gained the most tread, however, was proposed taxation changes the government has said are designed to close loopholes that give wealthy, small-business owners an unfair advantage. Area residents had a lot to say.

Related: PM won’t back down on tax changes

They claimed that the federal government is creating a disparity between employees with benefits and small business owners without. The topic even prompted a pointed exchange between the PM and an anonymous audience member.

Dr. Anita Sanan, a local anesthesiologist, told the Prime Minister she went to school for 14 years and accrued a six-figure debt load to become a doctor. Now the future she worked toward isn’t coming together as planned.

“You moved the goalposts in the middle of the game and expect me somehow to be able to plan for my retirement, plan for maternity leave — which I will not be able to afford at this time — and I’m having to choose between having a family and actually practice here in Kelowna as a physician,” said Dr. Sanan.

Trudeau questioned her point on maternity leave.

“I’m not an expert on provincial policy, but I’m fairly certain there’s maternity leave for doctors in every single province in this country,” he said.

Sanan said he was incorrect, and across the room from where she stood, a man yelled “that’s a lie.”

“I said I was fairly certain, but I’m happy to be corrected,” Trudeau said, facing the heckler.

From there he went on to talk about how the current taxation system has already reinforced inequities.

“On the issue of two classes of citizens, we have a tax system right now that has created a double structure system where people who can afford to incorporate and create private corporations as a way of helping with their tax planning are already having access to things that employees and others do not,” he said.

“We have a system that treats people differently whether or not they’re making a certain amount of money and independent businesses or independent corporations, versus people who don’t have that option.”

The government plan is three parts. The first focuses on eliminating an incentive that enables small-business owners to use their corporations as a way to shift a portion of their income to family members who face lower personal tax rates, regardless of whether or not those relatives are not active in the business.

Another change would limit the use of private corporations to make passive investments in stocks or real estate.

The third reform would limit the ability to convert a corporation’s regular income into capital gains that are typically taxed at a lower rate.

These changes, said Trudeau, support the government focus of “creating better services, better opportunities and better help to the folks who really need it.”

Related: Prime minister welcomes Canada’s newest citizens in Kelowna

That brought back the crowd support that defined the event that lured an estimated 2,600 area residents to the university’s gym.

One point where crowd support surged was when 12-year-old Tor Broughton addressed Trudeau.

“I don’t really have a question, but my name is Tor and I’m trans and I’d like to thank you and all the other MPs here for passing bill C16,” said Broughton, receiving a standing ovation.

Bill C-16, introduced in the Parliament of Canada on May 17, 2016 by the Liberal government, adds gender expression and identity as a protected ground to the Canadian Human Rights Act, and also to the Criminal Code provisions dealing with hate propaganda, incitement to genocide, and aggravating factors in sentencing.

Trudeau, who said afterward that the exchange nearly brought tears to his eyes, told Broughton that “defending rights is something we do as Canadians.”

Related: Trans March draws large crowd

“Defending each other’s rights goes to the heart of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, goes to the heart of how we are as a country,” he said.

Canadians, he said, need make sure everyone is treated with respect and dignity, given all the opportunities regardless of where they’re from, what their religion is, who they choose to love. “These are things that make us incredibly lucky as a country, but also something that gives us a level of responsibility …Not everybody has the opportunity around the world to stand up in a community hall like this and talk about their sexuality to be supported and applauded like you are tonight,” he said to Broughton.

He told the crowd that one of his great pleasures as Prime Minister was walking in Pride parades with his nine-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter because it provided an opportunity to speak about why pride events are still so important.

“They are a generation that doesn’t understand the transformation of our society (that happened) within the lifetime of everyone within this society,” he said. “We have changed our society in fundamental ways for the better and we need to continue to do it.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Justin Trudeau faced a packed house at UBC Okanagan on Wednesday. (Image Credit: Kathy Michaels)

Justin Trudeau faced a packed house at UBC Okanagan on Wednesday. (Image Credit: Kathy Michaels)

Justin Trudeau faced a packed house at UBC Okanagan on Wednesday. (Image Credit: Kathy Michaels)

Justin Trudeau faced a packed house at UBC Okanagan on Wednesday. (Image Credit: Kathy Michaels)

Dr. Anita Sanan, a local anesthesiologist, told the Prime Minister she went to school for 14 years and accrued a six-figure debt load . (Image Credit: Kathy Michaels)

Dr. Anita Sanan, a local anesthesiologist, told the Prime Minister she went to school for 14 years and accrued a six-figure debt load . (Image Credit: Kathy Michaels)

Just Posted

Test positivity rates in Greater Victoria from April 23 to 29. (BC CDC data)
Leaked data shows View Royal top of COVID-19 list for Greater Victoria

View Royal mayor says week was a blip for the township, not the norm

This rendering shows the proposed warehouse for lands under the authority of the Victoria Airport Authority near a Sidney residential neighbourhood. (York Reality/Submitted).
Sidney warehouse proposal receives more than 40 public feedback comments

Sidney has until May 11 to submit comments to Victoria Airport Authority

Gwen Spencer Hethey is one of four athletes being inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame this year. Here, she is pictured with her mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
Four new names added to Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame

Matt Pettinger, Gwen Spencer Hethey, Peter Lawless and Roger Skillings being inducted

A member of the Downtown Victoria Business Association Clean Team works along Fort Street. The team will be working weekends from May through September, providing seven day a week coverage. (Photo courtesy DVBA)
Downtown Victoria cleanup service expanded for spring, summer

Clean Team members to patrol sidewalks seven days a week through September

Carolyn West plans to run each of the Victoria Goddess Runs this year, in support of Victoria Women’s Transition House Society. (Courtesy Carolyn West)
Runner tackles solo Goddess Run to raise funds for women, children fleeing violence

Women’s Transition House Society named official cause for Goddess Runs

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike grounds Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

Alberni Valley Bulldogs forward comes away with the puck after a battle along the boards with Grizzlies defenceman Jake Veilleux. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
BCHL: Victoria Grizzlies named Island Champions

Grizzlies edged Alberni Valley Bulldogs in back-to-back matches to claim title

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Most Read