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

The Alberni District Secondary School musical theatre class will be putting on a virtual performance of Shrek the Musical Jr. (PHOTO COURTESY TARYN POTTER)
ADSS musical theatre class puts a twist on fairy tales

Shrek the Musical Jr. will be a virtual performance due to COVID-19

Dave Heinrichs, general manager of Alberni District Co-op, and Paulette Schwartz, manager of the Liquor Depot. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Co-op buys Liquor Depot in Port Alberni

Co-op members in Port Alberni will soon be able to enjoy their benefits when purchasing liquor

An air ambulance leaves West Coast General Hospital for a trauma centre at 9:50 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12 after a Port Alberni youth was injured in an accident on the Somass River. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO
COVID-19 outbreak hits West Coast General Hospital

One unit closed; emergency department still open

Community Policing volunteers Ricky Paul and Gerry Stewart patrol the parking lot at Northport Plaza on Thursday, Nov. 19. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni community policing launches Crime Watch

New program will be ‘extra eyes and ears’ for the police

Tim Sutherland Sr. likes to go down to Harbour Quay and feel the breeze on his face. On stormy days when the wind whips the rain into his face, he thinks of his son Tim Sutherland Jr., and wonders whether he is warm and dry. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Finding shelter from the storm

Search for housing a journey of false hope for Alberni father and adult son

12-year-old Ella Smiley captured some video of orcas on a sea lion hunt on Nov. 28 at Kitty Coleman Park, just north of Courtenay. Photo by Ella Smiley
VIDEO: Orcas hunt sea lion near Vancouver Island shoreline

Twelve-year-old Ella Smiley, of Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings, caught up with a… Continue reading

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Needpix.com)
Fraudsters projected to use pet scams to gouge over $3M from customers: BBB

The pandemic heavily contributed to the number of puppy scams

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

Most Read