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Apr 5, 2022

Scotia CEO planned to blast tax, but missed meeting with COVID

Scotiabank CEO planned to blast big bank tax hike before missing AGM with COVID

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Bank of Nova Scotia Chief Executive Officer Brian Porter had planned to criticize the Canadian federal government’s proposed surtax on bank profits during his company’s annual meeting, but a positive COVID-19 test forced him to miss the event.

Porter’s prepared remarks included a section denouncing the planned levy as a tax on the Toronto-based bank’s shareholders, including individuals and families saving for retirement or their children’s education. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first announced the tax in August while campaigning last year, and re-committed to it last month in a cooperation agreement reached between his Liberals and the left-leaning New Democratic Party.

“Not only is the bank tax a knee-jerk reaction that sends the wrong message to the global investment community, it is ultimately a tax on you, our shareholders -- approximately 70 per cent of whom are Canadian,” Porter was scheduled to say, according to his prepared remarks. 

With Porter missing the meeting to rest and recuperate, Chief Financial Officer Raj Viswanathan delivered a shortened version of the prepared remarks that omitted the section on the bank tax. Viswanathan said during his remarks that Porter is triple vaccinated and expected to make a full recovery.

Porter’s planned remarks would have come two days before the federal government is scheduled to put forward a budget that is expected to include the new bank tax. The plan, which would raise the corporate income tax rate by three percentage points on profit over $1 billion (US$806 million) at banks and insurers, is expected to raise $10.8 billion over five years, according to documents released in September.