NDP: Andrew Wilkinson’s record – tax breaks for the rich

THE NDP says that earlier this year, B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson made his position clear: he thinks the richest 1% of British Columbians are paying too much tax.

Here’s Wilkinson in February of this year, responding to the BC NDP’s decision to add a tax bracket for people making over $220,000: 

Jasbir Romana: “So how about taxing the rich? You know, collect the money and that’s how they do something good for others.”

Wilkinson: “Well, the problem with that is there aren’t that many rich people around. And the concern is that there are a lot of people in the technology sector who can live anywhere they want to. They’re usually the ones making the big money and they can say to themselves, wow, this is the highest tax rate on high incomes in B.C. in the last century. It has never been this high since World War I. And now they have a choice. They can pay the super high tax in British Columbia or they could move to Washington State, which is just across the border where your station is, where there is no personal income tax. It’s zero. So if you want to scare away companies, scare away employers. Get people to leave the province. That’s a good way to do it.” (KRPI, Feb 19, 2020)

So why isn’t he being honest about his position now? 

In the 2001 election, Wilkinson served as BC Liberal Party president. Wilkinson and the BC Liberals knew British Columbians don’t support tax breaks for the richest.

Vaughn Palmer noted before the election: “The New Democrats made the Liberal leader’s tax pledges a centrepiece of their offence in the [1996] election campaign. Those attacks were so effective that at times it seemed as if Campaign ’96 revolved around Opposition promises rather than the government’s record. This time the Liberals are determined not to provide as much to shoot at.”

“Mr. Campbell’s promise covers only the base rate, which the Liberals have further defined to mean bottom two tax brackets… but there would be no special reduction for ‘the rich.” (Vancouver Sun, Oct 26, 2000)

Just 24 hours after the BC Liberals were sworn in, they broke that promise and cut taxes for the richest British Columbians. Palmer wrote: “The cuts were a lot larger than anything the Liberals had discussed during the recent election campaign. The bottom two rates, which did figure in Mr. Campbell’s promises, were reduced. But he also hatcheted the top three brackets, something he never mentioned in his bid for the premier’s office. On the contrary, when the New Democrats accused the Liberals of secretly planning tax cuts for “the rich” — the top three brackets apply to people making more than $60,000 a year — the Liberals complained that the NDP was misleading the public.” (Vancouver Sun, June 7, 2001)

As it happens, that was also the day Campbell appointed Wilkinson as a Deputy Minister in what The Province’s Mike Smyth described as “an obscene patronage payoff.”