MONTREAL — Three of Quebec's main parties are taking aim at a proposal by Québec solidaire to introduce wealth and inheritance taxes on people with assets worth $1 million or more.
Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault says now is not the time to raise taxes given that the Bank of Canada on Wednesday raised its key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point. The CAQ is promising to cut income taxes and to give cheques of between $400 and $600 to Quebecers earning up to $100,000 a year.
"That's another reason for, not only, not adding the orange taxes, but to really put money back into wallets," Legault told reporters, referring to the colour orange used by Québec solidaire in its branding.
The comments on Day 11 of the province's election campaign come in response to a promise made Tuesday by Québec solidaire spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois to tax people his party considers wealthy, in order to raise more money to improve health care and education and to fight climate change.
Net assets between $1 million and $10 million would be taxed at 0.1 per cent a year, while assets worth between $10 million and $99 million would be taxed at one per cent. Anything over $100 million would be taxed at 1.5 per cent annually, said Nadeau-Dubois, who is his party's candidate for premier. Nadeau-Dubois is also promising to impose a 35 per cent tax on inheritances worth $1 million or more.
Earlier on Wednesday, Quebec Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade called the wealth and inheritance tax an attack on farmers. Standing in front of a combine harvester during a campaign visit to a farm south of Montreal, Anglade said the value of that single piece of equipment is around $1 million.
It's hard enough to find young people to take up farming that taxing them more is the wrong policy, she told reporters, adding that there are "millions" of examples of people outside of agriculture who have worked hard and want to leave assets to their children.
"When parents have worked their whole lives and decide to leave an inheritance — even if it's just a house — to their children, no, I don't think we should be taxing them," Anglade told reporters.
Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre-Plamondon said wealth and inheritance taxes would be "counterproductive."
"This will, in my opinion, cause more problems than it will solve," St-Pierre-Plamondon told reporters in Carleton-sur-Mer, Que., on the Gaspé Peninsula. Québec solidaire's proposal, he added, would encourage people to sell their farms to foreign investment firms.
In response to the attacks by three opposition parties, Nadeau-Dubois said Wednesday that his inheritance tax was never meant to apply to farmland. "It's an essential activity to feed Quebec," he told reporters in Montreal. "We must not add obstacles for the next generation of farmers."
Québec solidaire, however, did not mention the farmland exception until after its opponents' critiques. Nadeau-Dubois maintained that he was not changing his party's platform ahead of a meeting with the province's professional farmers union — Union des producteurs agricoles — scheduled for later in the day on Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 7, 2022.
— With files from Patrice Bergeron, Caroline Plante and Stéphane Rolland.
Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press