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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with reporters in Oromocto, N.B., on Nov. 8, 2022. Image: CPAC video capture

Trudeau Weighs In On Kris Austin Controversy

By Brad Perry Nov 9, 2022 | 1:53 PM

Controversy continues to grow around the appointment of Kris Austin to a committee of MLAs reviewing the Official Languages Act.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waded into the issue following an announcement in Oromocto on Tuesday.

Trudeau, who brought up the topic with the premier later that same day, said the appointment makes no sense.

“You don’t put someone who has spent his entire career attacking official bilingualism and questioning the need to protect French in New Brunswick or elsewhere on a panel designed to protect bilingualism,” said Trudeau.

Austin led the People’s Alliance Party of New Brunswick before crossing the floor to join the Progressive Conservatives in March.

He has been outspoken about merging the province’s two regional health authorities, loosening language requirements for paramedics and eliminating the Official Languages Commissioner.

“I think it’s pretty basic that we need to protect official languages and ensure that we’re protecting official language minorities across the country,” said Trudeau.

Premier Blaine Higgs said he was “surprised” when Trudeau raised the issue during a meeting between the two on Tuesday, adding there are no plans to remove Austin from the committee.

Ten MLAs are sitting on the committee including two francophones — Réjean Savoie and Daniel Allain — which Higgs said will create balance.

Tax breaks for high-income earners

Meanwhile, Trudeau also took issue with the Higgs government’s plan to lower personal income taxes for high-income earners.

The prime minister said giving tax breaks to the province’s wealthiest will not grow the economy for everyone else.

“One of the things, unfortunately, we continue to see is conservative politicians who think that the best way to grow the economy is failed trickle-down theories,” said Trudeau.

Anyone making more than $44,887 would get a tax break under the proposed changes. However, those making between $145,955 and $166,280 would see the biggest benefit.

The tax rate for the first income bracket — up to $44,887 of taxable income — would remain unchanged at 9.4 per cent.

For the second income bracket — $44,887 to $89,775 — the tax rate would be reduced from 14.82 per cent to 14 per cent.

The tax rate on the third income bracket — $89,775 to $145,955 — would fall from 16.52 per cent to 16 per cent.

The fourth income bracket — $145,955 to $166,280 — would be eliminated and be taxed at the same rate as the third income bracket. That means the rate would fall from 17.84 per cent to 16 per cent.

Finally, the tax rate on the highest income bracket — over $166,280 — would be reduced from 20.3 per cent to 19.5 per cent.

Provincial officials estimate the proposed reductions would cost the province $70 million in revenue annually.


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