The National Allied Golf Associations met last week at the Islington Golf Club in Toronto to discuss the results of the recent federal election and what it all means to NAGA’s efforts to have the game declared as a legitimate business expense.
As Jeff Calderwood, CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association who is also spearheading the NAGA efforts, said in an email, NAGA is revising its lobby strategy, but had yet to fully define how those efforts will take shape going forward.
The reality is that with the Liberals now forming a majority government under Justin Trudeau, there are plenty of new faces on Parliament Hill and many of the newcomers have never heard the NAGA pitch on this issue.
Among the new names is new Finance Minister Bill Morneau, a political rookie with plenty of business experience, who will be hit immediately as the economy struggles to rebound, the ongoing slump in oil prices and even a possible housing bubble that may be about to burst.
The election also produced Liberal promises to get rid of income-splitting for families and the previous Conservative government’s increase on the contribution on tax-free savings accounts.
Add to that the deficits the Liberals said they would run in the first three years of their mandate as they spend billions on infrastructure and various other tax breaks and you have to wonder if they will be willing to give up any tax revenue it can get to help pare down that shortfall, especially if it exists, which it probably will, going into the next election.
So, how quickly will a tax break come for the golf industry, which is hardly on the radar screen as far as government priorities?
NAGA had hoped it was getting close to successfully completing its mission in this year’s federal budget, only to discover it had been shut out again in April.
At the time, Calderwood stated that NAGA didn’t win, but it didn’t lose either due to the message it had gotten across in its lobbying. There are still MPs on Parliament Hill who heard that message, but now it’s a case of one step forward, two steps back with all the newcomers after the election.
As Calderwood pointed out at the time, NAGA faced change when former Finance Minister Joe Oliver replaced the late Jim Flaherty last year. While that was change in a key portfolio, the one NAGA faces now is much more daunting, with not only a new Finance Minister, but so many new MPs.
NAGA has shown patience in its efforts to get this done and it will need that big time going forward. That, more than the message it conveys in its lobbying, will be the key because if this is to get done, it won’t get done anytime soon.
As for the message, don’t expect it to change much from what has already been presented, the contributions the industry makes as far as employment, charitable donations and other categories as outlined in its economic impact study.
With a government so focused on the middle class and taxing the wealthy, NAGA also needs to exorcise that evil image of golf being a rich man’s game, which it has already been working on in previous visits to government officials.
What has to be accepted is that if this does happen, it will more than likely take place at the end of the current government’s mandate than at the beginning, if at all under Trudeau.