Finance Minister Bill Morneau says that he feels “regret” if Canadian businesses feel that the federal government has been hostile to companies, after unveiling a new budget earlier this week that tones down some of the controversial small business tax reforms he announced last year.

“Let me say if that’s the perception, I regret that perception. That’s certainly not what we’re trying to achieve,” Morneau said in an interview Thursday with BNN’s Amanda Lang, when asked about criticisms that the Liberals have displayed anti-business rhetoric and targeted wealthy Canadians. 

“I acknowledge that we raised taxes on the top one-per-cent, and I acknowledge that people – in many cases – if they were in that category, they didn’t like that. What we’re saying is that over the long term, if we don’t have everyone feeling like they’re getting benefits from our economy, then people start to get disenfranchised.”

Morneau added that while he acknowledges the anxiety that some Canadian business leaders feel about the country’s competitiveness, he believes Canada still remains competitive and is attractive for investors.

Bill Morneau: We're doing a 'deep-dive' analysis on how Canada can remain competitive

Finance Minister Bill Morneau joins BNN's Paul Bagnell after his unveiling of the 2018 federal budget.

“I don’t get that feeling outside the country. When I go to international meetings, Canada is seen as a desirable place to invest,” Morneau said.

Justin Trudeau’s government’s third budget did not include tax cuts or incentives that some economists and business leaders had recommended to help Canada’s competitiveness vis-à-vis the United States. Morneau said the U.S. deficit fueled tax-cuts may ultimately undermine American competitiveness.  

“If I’m making a long term investment in a country, and I see that country has a very big debt challenge, then I might worry about what will happen down the road. So sure, someone else can lower taxes, but what are they going to do if they have a huge bill to pay?”

Morneau said that while some of the U.S. tax regulations haven’t been concluded yet, the gap between U.S. and Canadian tax policy “is not what it looks like on the surface.”

Earlier this week, the finance minister told BNN in an interview after releasing the federal budget that the government is conducting a “deep dive” analysis into how Canada might respond to the United States’ aggressive corporate tax changes.