Conservative leader Erin O'Toole at a news conference on Parliament Hill. (CPAC screenshot)

Conservative motion receives support from all but Liberals

A motion was brought forward in the House of Commons by Conservative leader Erin O’Toole demanding the government provide more support for small businesses and workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using his party’s Opposition Day in Parliament — when the opposition sets the agenda and chooses the subject for debate — O’Toole brought forward a motion to immediately pause the audits of small businesses that received the federal wage subsidy and to provide additional flexbility to the rent and wage subsidies, as well as other support programs.

“There is no Canadian economy without our small- and medium-sized businesses. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “For Conservatives, these businesses are our country’s backbone, the local shops that keep communities together.”

He added the previous program was too restrictive, allowing just landlords to apply, not tenants, and required businesses to lose 70 per cent of earnings before becoming eligible, “but if your revenues fell by 69 per cent, you got nothing.”

Cathy McLeod, Member of Parliament for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, supported the motion, which passed in the House despite the government (Justin Trudeau’s Liberals) voting against.

“As a result of our efforts, the Liberals must accept the will of the House,” she said in a press release. “This motion builds on our track record of standing up for small- and medium-sized businesses and making the government’s emergency programs better for Canadians.”

McLeod said examples include increasing the wage subsidy from 10 to 75 per cent, advocating for changes to the rent subsidy program and the most recent motion to postpone audits on small- and medium-sized businesses.

In her speech, she referenced a conversation with the local Chambers of Commerce, who have noted businesses are currently struggling to keep their doors open and that motions like this help to make sure they can meet their needs and do it in a “flexible, fluid and responsive way.”

“It’s disgraceful that the Trudeau Liberals chose not to support this motion and voted for punitive audits on small- and medium-sized businesses during the second wave of the pandemic,” said McLeod.

“Forunately, not all members of the House consider small businesses as tax cheats. Conservatives know they are the backbone of our economy.”