Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tonight’s Dinner with Ignatieff

Tonight Michael Ignatieff had dinner with his closest one thousand friends in Toronto at a fund raising event that raised over $1 million dollars for the Liberal coffers. Or was it 1100 people, since the Canadian Room at the Royal York was filled from stem to stern with Canadians seeking new leadership for Canada.

Michael gave a very rousing and informative speech about his idea of leadership and his sense for the issues that matter most to Canadians and drew a few comparisons with those of Harper, which we are all quite familiar with and really quite tired of. Harper's so called leadership that is accomplished through endless divisiveness and the pitting of one group of Canadians against another or one region against another or policies that morph in their meaning and substance depending on whether they are being broadcast over Fox News in the US or during Question Period in the House of Commons.

Michael’s discussion of Harper was probably even briefer than mine, with the rest of his speech entirely devoted to his perspective on leadership and the issues of the day.

No doubt Michael’s speech will be available somewhere on line to read in its entirety.

The purpose of this blog commentary however is to report on issues germaine to income trusts. Again I want to thank all the people who purchased tickets to make the CAITI table possible. As you can see from the above photo, Michael Ignatieff came to our table to pose for a photo with our group. Prior to that, I spoke to Michael briefly and shared with him a piece I wrote entitled Stephen Harper: Lie Conceal Fabricate that frames the income trust issue in the context of today and casts it in the context of the heightened concerns that people are now experiencing over issues like their retirement savings and having adequate retirement income, which were devastated by Stephen Harper, long before the market meltdown of today.

I also spoke separately with John McCallum and gave him a copy of the piece that he promised to read on the flight back to Ottawa tonight. Ditto for Senator Jerry Grafstein and MP John Mackay who were genuinely interested in reading the piece, and both commented favourably on the piece I recently wrote that they had seen in the Hill Times.

I also had occasion to catch up with a number of investment bankers and securities lawyers that I have worked with over the years, who I hadn’t seen for some time and our discussions ranged from the proposal that I had made to the Board of BCE that would have averted the failed path that BCE seemed to be intent on pursuing to its ultimate failed conclusion to a discussion with another individual who worked closely on the ABCP bailout, which I told him was , in my opinion, wholly undeserving of the taxpayer bailout upon which it was based or the absolution of liability for the banks that it entailed, consistent with the views that I expressed over the ABCP taxpayer bailout at the time.

I also shared with another group of people I worked with over the years, my observation over how utterly amazed I am, at how Bay Street barely uttered a peep in public protest over the income trust tax issue. Forgetting even for a moment that this tax was completely without substantiation and forget the fact that it was based on a complete lie, did they not even think in selfish terms and realize how it was going to devastate their business and render the Canadian dealers even less relevant in a North American context than they were before? I guess not, but that is exactly what has happened.

I also bumped into Rik Parkhill who was formerly at the TSX as the interim CEO and is now with CIBC and he agreed completely. Killing income trusts has been a devastating blow to the TSX and the entire exercise of raising capital in Canada to grow Canadian businesses. Like me, he shakes his head at why the TSX never did anything to protect their franchise on this issue. After all, the income trust tax is a tax that arises only for PUBLIC companies and not those same companies if they are taken private? The mere act of listing on the TSX is the basis on which this tax is applied. Meanwhile the TSX has said nothing to challenge this tax....or to protect the very nature of their business. Really makes you wonder?

Almost makes you think that they have some type of death wish going on down on Bay Street?


Dr Mike said...

A big Congrats to those who attended & to those who tossed-in a contribution.

Way to get noticed by the "boss".

Dr Mike.

Anonymous said...

Brent,  The comments from Rik Parkhill are interesting.  Many of the royalty trusts have now listed on NYSE and some do the bulk of their trading on it. All felt that the TSX basically abandoned them when Flaherty introduced his tax on publicly-traded trusts and flow-throughs.  That’s after having paid the TSX millions of dollars in fees for years.  The TSX did not understand what a tax on publicly-traded vehicles would do to their business model.  If you don’t know where your primary source of revenue comes from – how are you ever going to grow your business, or even manage to keep it?