Tyrone Benskin Suspended From Duties as NDP Critic

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kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

While I agree that the vetting process for ridings that are running sacrificial lambs for office are less stringent I thought that all candidates were vetted and a standard question is do you owe any large sums of money to anyone. I presumed the party covered the basic questions with everyone merely for the protection of the party.

lagatta

Well, I wonder what on earth happened with Daniel Breton, the former Québec Minister of the Environment... And he stood a much greater chance of winning for the PQ in St-Jacques than Benskin for the NDP before the Orange Wave hit. 

Benskin wasn't poor by the standards we know, Sean, but far from affluent among sitting MPs.

Obviously the worst thing to do would be force him to resign - then he'd probably be unable to repay his debt.

Brachina - obviously not just workers in the arts, all freelancers, but artists in particular have been pushing for this, in many countries.

Sean in Ottawa

Lagatta, there I agree with you-- although I suspect that is true of most NDP MPs. I don't think it is wise to make him resign even though I think he should count himself lucky that he is not being asked to. I do think that if he has an explanation that should be provided and now that his issue is public his arrangement while not needing to be entirely public should publicly state that he has an arrangement that will satisfy the debt.

All of this talk about poverty should be re-purposed to propose changes to address real poverty. I won't go into detail but will make that point here since it was raised.

This discussion about artists should be re-purposed to show Canadians the essential value of the arts to the well-being of society and real discussions about who artists incomes are managed (they mostly don't qualify for any EI programs even when they are between major jobs without income). Government support for working artists does need review both from a tax, income averaging and account point of view to how independent artists are supported in this country. We have some useful programs but we also have large numbers of people falling through the cracks. Support for the artist as a professional worker needs to be considered in addition to the support for works they do through granting agencies. One does not replace the other. The purchasing of art for the public is another area that needs review. We can do better and we have institutions available that can be improved and provided more to work with. Interestingly Quebec itself actually has some programs in place that can be considered for improvement and more support and replication by other governments in Canada.

Given what has been said in this thread I'd at least like us to have these things said here.

 

wage zombie

lagatta wrote:

Benskin wasn't poor by the standards we know, Sean, but far from affluent among sitting MPs.

Obviously the worst thing to do would be force him to resign - then he'd probably be unable to repay his debt.

"Obviously"?  Are you suggesting that the NDP should be addressing this issue based on what will make it possible for Benskin to repay his debt?

Let's think about other permutations of that idea... "Obviously, the worst thing to do would be to force Mike Duffy to resign from the Senate - then he'd probably be unable to repay his debt."

I am not suggesting that Benskin has committed fraud.  ETA: Nor am I saying he should be forced to resign.

But I wouldn't run for MP if I owed an amount like that.  I would get my own affairs settled first.  Lagatta, you'e more or less said the same.  It's unfortunate that Benskin didn't hold himself to that standard.

I would hope the vetting process would discover as simple an issue as taxes owed and that it would not be ignored. ETA: Maybe they never expected him to win and thought it wouldn't matter, but that Benskin could get 5-10% more than any other potential candidate, ie. building the vote in the riding.

lagatta

No, I wouldn't have stood for election owing that, or even owing considerably less and being very behind in repayments.

But I don't think this case compares at all with the corruption and lying of Duffy and the other Sens hanging on to their seats.

wage zombie

I'm not comparing the corruption and lying of Duffy or comparing the unelected Senate to being an MP.  I'm pointing out making sure it's possible for Benskin to pay these taxes back should not be a factor in how the NDP responds to this issue.

If you somehow did decide against your better judgment to run with that kind of tax debt and you won, I doubt you would want people to argue "we need to keep lagatta on because she needs that fat MP salary to repay her tax debt."

felixr

Interesting how two from the NDP's very short list of "star" candidates in Quebec have imploded (Benskin and Patry)

bekayne
Unionist

Wow, just checked this thread, must have missed it. Quite the mob feeding frenzy against Tyrone Benskin. That's a shame.

 

janfromthebruce

yes it is a shame but when one is trying to change the channel what happens to the scapegoat is the causality of war.

bekayne
laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Based on some of the reactions, you would think that Benskin had been found hiding a sh*tload of money in some offshore account rather than pay taxes on his earnings.

The feast or famine rollercoaster of self-employment makes tax filing a nightmare. You could be mired in debt thanks to an unproductive year when you file for a previous, more lucrative year (as in earning more than $25-30,000). Of course, you can scold all of us who are self-employed for not having the discipline to stash away what you anticipate might be what you owe on those earnings. Hell, why not tisk tisk those of us who run up ridiculous amounts on credit cards during the lean periods.

It's pretty easy to get into a mess not to mention be assessed ungenerously if you cannot afford an accountant. Too many self-employed people have no idea how to offset their earnings against allowable expenses and accept the assessment that CRA provides. It can be a big hit at a bad time and often it is an unfairly calculated hit. If you don't provide a revenue-expenses statement, you are taxed on your gross earnings less minimal deductions.

I feel sorry for Tyrone Benskin. I wish someone had advised him to figure things out, ideally with an accountant's help, and commit to a payment plan before he decided to run for MP. From what I understand, he is an excellent MP.

As lagatta mentioned, the tax situation can easily get out of control to a point of leading to serious depression. I've seen it happen and it has nothing to do with someone trying to "game the system" or avoid paying what they owe.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Thanks laine. Great post. Particularly this:

It's pretty easy to get into a mess not to mention be assessed ungenerously if you cannot afford an accountant. Too many self-employed people have no idea how to offset their earnings against allowable expenses and accept the assessment that CRA provides. It can be a big hit at a bad time and often it is an unfairly calculated hit. If you don't provide a revenue-expenses statement, you are taxed on your gross earnings less minimal deductions.

Karl's article linked to by bekayne highlights another sordid part of this story, the Conservatives trying to deflect the Duffy scandal (a rich person scaming the public by actively and explicitly gaming the system to get more benefits and perks on top of an already outrageous salary) by accusing Benskin of tabling a tax bill for his own personal gain:

Mr. Benskin, introduced a Private Member's Bill that would have modified the federal tax code to allow artists of all kinds to average their income over five years.

The key word here is federal.

The province of Quebec has had such income averaging for artists since the mid 1990s.

Had Benskin's bill passed it would not have changed the amount he owes Quebec by one penny....

Throughout Question Period on Thursday, Moore kept repeating the smear about Benskin until it was finally more than Liberal Bob Rae could endure.

He rose in the House and called Moore's rhetorical gambit "one of the nastiest" personal attacks he had ever heard in the House. 

The Liberal Member for Toronto Centre and former Ontario Premier has had a long career. He was first elected to Parliament in 1978, when James Moore was, literally, still in diapers.

Bob Rae has seen his fair share of outrages.

If he says Moore's unfair and un-called-for attack is among the worst he's heard, it's got to be pretty bad.

 

 

lagatta

Yes, it was vicious. I'm glad this question has returned to some semblance of sanity. I almost committed suicide over an assessment, 20 years ago. I was terrified and didn't know any accountants I could possibly afford. I hadn't cheated anyone; my ex-companion (a refugee claimant) wheedled me out of a year of very relatively high earnings that was certainly not above 20k.

Of course I made more money when I worked for a labour confederation, though it was contractual, and always did my taxes.

As far as I know, at the other end of town, Tyrone is a great MP.

Brachina

Glad to here he's a great MP, I have no doubt he'll get it all sorted. And the dishinest way the Tories attacked him only weakens it as a weapon and costs them even more public trust.

Unionist

Thanks laine and lagatta, for some voices of reality. Hopefully the party inner circle won't be too hard on an artist, an immigrant of colour, a trade unionist, embarrassing the party by getting behind on his taxes. I gather that if he's good, they'll let him back in.

 

Sean in Ottawa

I don't think there was a lack of sympathy here for the situation he is in.

Things went off the rails when the word poverty was used with respect to a provincial tax bill of $60 k

I find it offensive that you refer to the conversation returning to "sanity" -- that's pretty strong language.

It is not unreasonable to want to both advocate for artists and at the same time keep an eye on what the word poverty means to millions of Canadians.

All those things about income averaging etc. can be true and hardship etc. without having to say the person was in poverty. I think the reaction here may have come from people who were thinking of the realities of poverty and how that does not square with the amount you would need to earn in the given period to owe that much in tax. That was my reaction anyway. Given that the average individual wage during the period in question was only about $40k and he earned something that had to be close to $50k per year it is not unfair to call out the inappropriate use of the word poverty. That had nothing to do with lack of sympathy for his situation -- rather a concern that we don't lose track of millions of people who actually are in real poverty including millions of single parent families with children living on less than $20k per year.

Pardon me if you think it was insane for me to react like this.

Unionist

Sean - I guess you're responding to lagatta, but let me weigh in with a question:

Why did Mulcair remove Benskin from the shadow cabinet? Why, exactly?

Just as a reminder, this was precisely the same fate suffered by Bev Desjarlais when she defied the party and voted against same-sex marriage in 2005. She wasn't removed from caucus. She wasn't even prevented by Layton from running for the next nomination in her riding.

She never apologized. She never promised to return to the fold. And she never did.

What's the message here? Interfere with our talking points about Mike Duffy, and you're toast?

I really don't like it, quite apart from some of the vicious comments upthread.

 

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Sean, you are not insane to react to the "poverty" label and I think that this presents an opportunity to actually discuss what the hell are our economic classes. We have gone far too long with the idea that we do not have a rigid class system in this country and that any discussion of class warfare is taboo. Of course, the poor are (a) barely making enough that they have any tax owed, however minimal (mostly CPP), taken off their paychecque, or b) too off the grid to even file a tax return.

We have a class that was not so predominant in the last centruy that has grown expedentially with all the off-sourcing of services and labour, now called the self-employed. What qualifies as self-employed can range from someone who sells crafts, performs in arts events, offers some writing services or other advisory serivces, to someone who consults on arranging multi-million dollar resource contracts or advises on setting up multi-million dollar organizations/developments. The rate of pay in this class has a huge variance where people like say Dr. Porter may charge $1,000 a day for their opinion or expertise.

In this day and age, we seem to have lost all concept of what is an acceptable living wage and what constitutes poverty. The latter should not exist in a wealthy nation and yet it has become a permanent condition.

Brian Glennie

lagatta wrote:

Yes, it was vicious. I'm glad this question has returned to some semblance of sanity. I almost committed suicide over an assessment, 20 years ago. I was terrified and didn't know any accountants I could possibly afford. I hadn't cheated anyone; my ex-companion (a refugee claimant) wheedled me out of a year of very relatively high earnings that was certainly not above 20k.

Of course I made more money when I worked for a labour confederation, though it was contractual, and always did my taxes.

As far as I know, at the other end of town, Tyrone is a great MP.

Why do we need to know your ex was a refugee claimant?

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

Sean - I guess you're responding to lagatta, but let me weigh in with a question:

Why did Mulcair remove Benskin from the shadow cabinet? Why, exactly?

Just as a reminder, this was precisely the same fate suffered by Bev Desjarlais when she defied the party and voted against same-sex marriage in 2005. She wasn't removed from caucus. She wasn't even prevented by Layton from running for the next nomination in her riding.

She never apologized. She never promised to return to the fold. And she never did.

What's the message here? Interfere with our talking points about Mike Duffy, and you're toast?

I really don't like it, quite apart from some of the vicious comments upthread.

He had to do it.

It will remove the issue for the moment. He is suspending him from cabinet till he addresses it in order to keep confidence that the NDP takes this seriously. This is not unusual. Minsters also cannot have this kind of situation as it can make the be compromised. It shows a high standard. These are not expenses that are public or limited. Yes, he can have help in addressing this but the response by the Conservatives as well as the media and public would have been brutal for both if he did not step back. If he deals with this in a year the storyu can be behind him (like when Charest was out of cabinet and returned later). If he remains in his shadow post he will not recover from this. Stepping back and dealing with this over the rest of this year and returning in 2014 would allow him and the party to put it behind while still going after the Conservatives without distraction.

I don't think you can face tax court prosecution while doing that job -- it would be a public distraction and it would end his career. There was no way around this. He needs to fix this, return to shadow and win re-election. delaying this would only make the consequences greater.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Really, the state was going to prosecute Tyrone Benskin? I find that hard to believe. And if that is the new status quo, I worry for many friends, possibly myself.

Pretty harsh judgement on what seems like an excellent leader.

Sean in Ottawa

laine lowe wrote:

Sean, you are not insane to react to the "poverty" label and I think that this presents an opportunity to actually discuss what the hell are our economic classes. We have gone far too long with the idea that we do not have a rigid class system in this country and that any discussion of class warfare is taboo. Of course, the poor are (a) barely making enough that they have any tax owed, however minimal (mostly CPP), taken off their paychecque, or b) too off the grid to even file a tax return.

We have a class that was not so predominant in the last centruy that has grown expedentially with all the off-sourcing of services and labour, now called the self-employed. What qualifies as self-employed can range from someone who sells crafts, performs in arts events, offers some writing services or other advisory serivces, to someone who consults on arranging multi-million dollar resource contracts or advises on setting up multi-million dollar organizations/developments. The rate of pay in this class has a huge variance where people like say Dr. Porter may charge $1,000 a day for their opinion or expertise.

In this day and age, we seem to have lost all concept of what is an acceptable living wage and what constitutes poverty. The latter should not exist in a wealthy nation and yet it has become a permanent condition.

All very important points.

We should also add that people with skills are being forced into self employment as the only alternative to no employment. As such self employment includes workers who have no rights, no security, no minimum wage. In fact that is my current predicament. I work in communications and was laid off in February. I am making very small money in contracts but due to competition and the need to get some work I am facing the reality that I have worked since February well below minimum wage in order to secure work.

Many artists are people who would never do anything else. There are also quite a few working artists who would have other work if they could but derive work from their talents because they cannot get higher paying work. This is hiding the impact and numbers of the underemployed or those working as hard as ever for a lot less money.

I am working as a freelance writer and graphic designer (along with whatever other comms skills I can market). Certainly I am well-placed to be sympathetic. I truly understand these issues. I also understand that there is a whole range of financial difficulty that is still above poverty.

There is also a lot of exploitation of artists and not just by business and government but also the public. Many people don't recognize art (or writing or design) as a profession. Any artist can tell you how often they are asked to work for exposure. The private community cable channel here for example has a policy of not paying musicians-- they are to work for fame. You can't eat fame.

There are many ideas about how to approach artist income and the NDP has some good ones including averaging and resale rights. While this MP we are talking about faced economic difficulties as an artist we need to remember that many artists are apparently worse off with large numbers who actually live in abject poverty. Both issues must be addressed.

Also when we speak of poverty, I have to also think of First Nations who lack basic services in many communities and have whole communities on tiny incomes without adequate housing, education and health services.

Sean in Ottawa

laine lowe wrote:

Really, the state was going to prosecute Tyrone Benskin? I find that hard to believe. And if that is the new status quo, I worry for many friends, possibly myself.

Pretty harsh judgement on what seems like an excellent leader.

It is pretty automatic that you will end up in tax court if you owe personally that much money.

Only cheaters can get away with it -- if you report such debt they will collect.

6079_Smith_W

Eric Peterson on James Moore's comments in the house today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZSQwXDvJPg

lagatta

Returning to sanity simply refers to the tendency of some discussions - especially on the net! - to go off the rails. It is not accusing anyone of having a mental disorder, simply to a dynamic.

 

Unionist

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Eric Peterson on James Moore's comments in the house today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZSQwXDvJPg

For those who have difficulty with Youtube, here is a story on the same issue:

[url=http://thetyee.ca/CanadianPress/2013/05/30/Moore-Artists-23591204/]Celeb... artists in Commons gallery 'insulted' by James Moore's NDP broadside[/url]

Quote:

Actor Eric Peterson, winner of one of this year's lifetime achievement awards, was among the artists who walked out of the chamber in disgust.

To cast aspersions against Benskin was bad enough, Peterson said outside the Commons. But "to have the nerve or the insensitivity or just the disdain" to disparage Benskin's income averaging bill was too much to bear.

"I felt very insulted by that," Peterson said, noting that artists' incomes vary widely from year to year.

"I was led to believe I was to be introduced in the House of Commons and I was to be congratulated for what I've done, instead of sitting there and to be insulted by this incredibly insensitive remark about artists in general and about a particular artist and colleague of mine in particular.

"I just got up and left ... I felt very slighted and hurt by it."

Slumberjack

At least we can all sleep better under the vigilance of Canada's law and order parties.

DaveW

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

laine lowe wrote:

Really, the state was going to prosecute Tyrone Benskin? I find that hard to believe. And if that is the new status quo, I worry for many friends, possibly myself.

Pretty harsh judgement on what seems like an excellent leader.

It is pretty automatic that you will end up in tax court if you owe personally that much money.

Only cheaters can get away with it -- if you report such debt they will collect.

I am always amazed that posters here can strongly favour a strong and expanded public sector, but in many cases balk at what that entails; in the case of tax collection, the CRA has every right to colllect for  State activities because public representatives voted  to fund them. It's not voluntary.

That collection is not calibrated according to a person's moral worth as a "leader", a friend, a  parent, an artist or anything else ... so, to say he's a worthy performer, that's not the issue.

 

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Another poverty stricken couple caught in the clutches of the Quebec tax collectors.

 

MP Eve Adams and Dimitri Soudas. iPolitics/Cynthia Munster

6079_Smith_W

@ DaveW

Who is balking at tax collection? The problem is that with our corporate rate at 15%, and our personal rate starting at 25% it is a little bit weighted.

And further, Benskin's proposed bill had nothing to do with tax evasion, but rather evening things out for people who have spikes in revenue, without the resources to squirrel them away somewhere .

Remember Toni Onley's 1983 threat to burn his paintings when Revenue Canada proposed taxing artists on their inventory?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

It seems that a big part of this story is the Quebec system of tax collection. I did not understand that this was a provincially based problem when I spoke about the bill in the House. Knowing now that it was only Quebec taxes means that the bill proposed in the House was not a personal gain proposal however the optics would have been way better if an MP who didn't owe a massive tax bill had proposed it. 

I don't understand why he was able to pay federal income tax but not Quebec income tax. What is the difference that would lead to one being paid but not the other?

lagatta

No idea, but I know I get a return on my federal taxes and have to pay Québec taxes every year, with a laughably modest income.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

In BC I have always argued that we should pay the kind of taxes that you have in Quebec and then maybe we could afford programs like child care.

Unionist

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I don't understand why he was able to pay federal income tax but not Quebec income tax. What is the difference that would lead to one being paid but not the other?

Québec introduced income averaging for artists in 2004. The NDP (via Benskin's bill) is trying to extend that to federal tax. Because it's not available yet federally, Benskin obviously had to pay his federal tax first (year by year), and came up short when it came to his averaged provincial taxes.

I see Benskin is still being treated here like a fraud or a cheat or a deadbeat - à la James Moore. I would have thought that the passionate statement and action of Eric Peterson would have persuaded some to have a more sympathetic look.

 

6079_Smith_W

Get rid of the HST for one, and it will put a lot fairer share of the burden on business where it belongs. Do we get a tax refund on all our household expenses? No.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Unionist wrote:

I see Benskin is still being treated here like a fraud or a cheat or a deadbeat - à la James Moore. I would have thought that the passionate statement and action of Eric Peterson would have persuaded some to have a more sympathetic look.

Since I'm the only one who used the term "deadbeat" with respect to Benskin, I guess you must be talking about me. In the comment in question, I was defending Benskin from the accusation of being a tax evader (criminal). I said that the worst one could possibly say about him, based on the facts, is that he is a deadbeat (not criminal). I did not mean to say that that was my opinion of him.

In fact, having been self-employed for my entire career, first as a lawyer, then as a software developer and consultant, I know exactly how difficult unpredictable income can be. In one year, I might get 5 large projects, and make pretty good money. The next year, when the taxes are due, I might only get 3 small projects, and make 25% of my income from the previous year. All of a sudden, my financial planning, based on continued good business, goes out the window. After paying food, rent and so on, there isn't enough left to pay last year's taxes. I've been 3 years behind in my taxes more than once. Of course I always paid as soon as my finances would allow. I don't think I was guilty of moral turpitude for this, nor do I think Benskin is.

 

Brian Glennie

lagatta wrote:

Yes, it was vicious. I'm glad this question has returned to some semblance of sanity. I almost committed suicide over an assessment, 20 years ago. I was terrified and didn't know any accountants I could possibly afford. I hadn't cheated anyone; my ex-companion (a refugee claimant) wheedled me out of a year of very relatively high earnings that was certainly not above 20k.

Of course I made more money when I worked for a labour confederation, though it was contractual, and always did my taxes.

As far as I know, at the other end of town, Tyrone is a great MP.

Yep, you got to watch out for them refugee claimants.

They're shifty so and so's aren't they?

Unionist

Thanks for that, Michael - and although I repeated that word you used, I didn't count you among those who were piling on.

This isn't the first time the NDP, or Mulcair personally, has taken action against one of its own because it couldn't stand the "optics". It would have been nice (though out of character) to see them courageously defending Tyrone Benskin, while of course pointing out that he is in fact on the road of paying his taxes.

All kinds of never-before politicians ran and were elected in Québec under orange colours. This is the wrong message to be sending them and others.

 

 

KenS

Oh jesus Unionist. Talk aboutfalse dichotomies.

You are conflating moralistic babblers piling on Benskin, with Mulcair taking him off being critic.

I spoke against the pile on. But your notion of Mulcair defending him is ludicrous. And not just or mostly for the pragmatic optics.

There are tons worse deadbeats out there. Yeah. And so what?

Defending him against being called a criminal or whatever his babble derelections are, is one thing. 'Defending' him from facing criticism is entirely another.

Unionist

Ken, this is simple. Mulcair should not have removed him as critic just because he is facing personal financial difficulties. That's my opinion. He should have taken zero action against him, but just explained the situation and how Benskin is resolving it.

It's a separate issue from babblers piling on.

But in a way, it's not that separate. Read their comments. They reflect the same superior privileged posturing that scares the crap out of the NDP whenever it decides to genuflect before real power. Think Libby Davies, or Bill Siksay, or Dana Larsen, or you can complete the list if you have time.

cco

Sigh. Okay. This one is going to take a whole lot of preamble.

lagatta, Unionist: you're two of my favourite posters on this whole board. It pains me to end up on the opposite side of any issue from you.

Tyrone is someone I consider a friend. He and I have sat down for dinner together. One of my best friends is one of his top staffers, and we hang out together a fair amount. I even wholeheartedly support his tax bill.

All that said: Fuck you, Tyrone.

Tyrone isn't the only actor I know. Another good friend of mine is a recurring character on a fairly popular TV show. She works multiple side jobs to make ends meet. Her income stream is far from constant. And to the best of my knowledge, she's always paid her taxes.

Tyrone says he has bills. Boy howdy, don't we all. I think $58,000 is more than my wife and I made over the entire period in question. In fact, my wife was slapped with a $2,000 penalty for a job she worked for FOUR WEEKS because her employer failed to file the proper paperwork -- a penalty that meant we had to survive on one meal a day for some time (since I'm an immigrant, neither of us are eligible for social assistance).

Until this story broke, I'd been quite fond of Benskin. An actor, an artist, a man of colour, a classic and inspiring example of someone who moved into politics without a long history of politicking.

Now, he just seems to me like someone who's moved from being "on our side" to being another example of the powerful being subject to different rules than the poor. Quite frankly, I feel personally betrayed. I think I'd have supported him far more if he'd been caught smoking crack. It's not even so much that he didn't pay his taxes (Hoang Mai did something similar) as that he's seemed to be trying to justify it in the public eye. Artists deserve tax assistance, no doubt. But what Tyrone's done feels deeply insulting.

Unionist

cco wrote:

Now, he just seems to me like someone who's moved from being "on our side" to being another example of the powerful being subject to different rules than the poor. Quite frankly, I feel personally betrayed. I think I'd have supported him far more if he'd been caught smoking crack. It's not even so much that he didn't pay his taxes (Hoang Mai did something similar) as that he's seemed to be trying to justify it in the public eye. Artists deserve tax assistance, no doubt. But what Tyrone's done feels deeply insulting.

Thanks for that, cco.

But I don't fully understand. What "different rules than the poor" is he subject to?

You say he's "trying to justify [not paying his taxes] in the public eye". But here's what he said (from the OP):

Tyrone Benskin wrote:

"In order for our society to be prosperous and fair, each citizen must do their part. I haven't always done mine and I apologize," he said.

"Fortunately, I am working on sorting out my situation with the Canada Revenue Agency. I intend to pay back every last cent of the money I owe, as soon as possible."

He also offered an explanation about why he was so late.

"The life of an artist isn't always easy. I have had lean periods," he said. "I have lived in precarious conditions, not knowing what the future had in store for me, sometimes without a contract for several weeks, or even months. I have had to juggle bills.

"My situation has prevented me from fulfilling all of my tax obligations and I am truly sorry. I recognize that it is my responsibility and I will fulfill it directly and personally."

He explained why he had fallen behind. Where did you see him "trying to justify" it?

And since you know him personally, and feel betrayed (I don't get that, but I respect your feelings) - why do you think he didn't pay his taxes, if not for the reasons he himself gave?? Because if the reasons he gave are the real ones, then the worst you can accuse him of is poor management of his personal finances. I'll be pleading guilty to that charge shortly myself.

 

6079_Smith_W

Not to pry into this fellow's finances, but a big tax bill does not necessarily mean big income. I just had a thought... is this quebec tax, or is it QPP?

The latter is a far deeper cut that affects a lot of us who don't make that much money (over $12,000 for our household this year alone - almost 15% of our entire income -  and I paid no tax). The difference is that for all of us outside Quebec it is federal.

(edit)

@ cco

You know what? People get in bad financial straits for all kinds of reasons, not always neglect. And in most cases it is not a crime. I have friends who are deep in debt, and family members who have declared bankruptcy several times.and I have to ask why you see this as a betrayal? Someone's debts are between them and Revenue Canada, and once they are paid it is done.

 None of this is even a drop in the bucket compared to large businesses which have far more resources and still do this all the time when it is to their advantage.

If being poor is not a shame, having debts to settle certainly isn't either. It is neither your nor my business.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Quote:

Last week Benskin was ordered to appear in court to declare his income, but he didn't show up, QMI Agency has learned.

Things got worse this week for the British-born, Montreal-raised television and stage performer.

Revenue Quebec issued a writ aimed at seizing a portion of the MP's $160,000 annual salary.

There is no excuse for him not attending to this matter and for missing a court date. None zero. Running up a tax bill as a artist and being in arrears is acceptable. Not dealing with the matter when you start making a very good regular salary and then missing a court date is not acceptable behaviour for a member of any party. If he had dealt with the matter in a timely fashion none of us would know about his tax troubles and it would be no one's business but his own. That didn't happen.

KenS

Unionist wrote:

Ken, this is simple. Mulcair should not have removed him as critic just because he is facing personal financial difficulties. That's my opinion.

Your 'opinion' is beyond charitable.

I dont blame Tyrone for giving a glossed over version of how he ended up in this position. But taking what he says at face value is another thing.

I've seen people as willfully stupid as what it takes to end up with a $58,000 tax bill. But everyone I have seen do it, has generally caught up someone in the wake stupidity besides the taxman and bill collectors.

The fact this became public, two years after he is making regular big bucks, means he did not bother to work something out with the taxman. There is just no excuse for that.

Sean in Ottawa

I mentionned up thread some ways you could owe Quebec but not feds:

1) Pension plan the QPP is paid to the province.

2) I think there is a health surtax still but I have not got current information.

3) Sales tax-- artists have to collect sales taxes if they have more than the cut-off in income.

I don't think anyone is saying it was fraud or cheating although why he did not deal with it proactively in the last year and a half needs answering.

The issue here is that his organization-- the NDP -- is suffering becuase he did not deal with this earlier.

When you represent an organization especially a political party under scrutiny you have a responsibility to avoid doing things that will badly affect its reputation as your reputation and your organization's are linked. The NDP likely would have been very sympathetic and helpful and still is to a degree but this is something that should ahve ben exposed within the aprty and addressed right after the election. New Dems have every reason to be annoyed that this was so badly mishandled. Knowing how the Cons play things this has every appearance of an own goal.

 

KenS

Tyrone has all the signs of someone who blows through money no matter how much he has. There are unfortunately all too many people like that. I've had to clean up after some of them. When you've had the misfortune of being up close, the signs are not rocket science.

Maybe that is not really true.

But it is at the very least a real possibility- so there is no basis for being so sure that he is just someone with the kind of financial difficulties anyone can run into, and therefore should be defended as just another victim of circumstances.

6079_Smith_W

Sorry, missed that Sean.

He has been relieved of his duties until he has settled the matter.

As much as it might be tempting to take the reaction beyond that I think it is a real mistake on a lot of levels to do so.

This may not be quite the same school of thought as those who think convicted criminals never really pay their debt to society, but it is playing into a level of intrusion and speculation on someone's private affairs that is verging on a betrayal of principles.

The guy made a mistake that may reflect on his position and the party. It has been dealt with. I'm sure the Cons and Liberals can manage to throw enough shit on their own.

jerrym

Title of CBC video clip on House of Commons exchange:

Moore attack backfires: Heritage minister's question period jab at NDP MP insults artists.

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Politics/ID/2388645472/

 

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