Feds tinkering with system has business nervous

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OTTAWA – The federal government is once again making the business community nervous, this time by floating a so-called wage floor as it ponders measures to tackle the troubled temporary foreign worker program.

Here is a list of some other cases where the government rocked the economic boat.

— In October 2006, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty shocked markets by going back on a campaign promise and slapping a tax on income trusts that remains a sore point with investors today.

— After four moves to cool the hot housing market, Flaherty personally intervened last spring to make sure fixed mortgage rates did not sink too low, chiding the Bank of Montreal over its decision to drop the five-year fixed rate to 2.99 per cent.

— In 2010, the government intervened to prevent the sale of Potash Corp. to Australian interests and enacted new rules to prevent state-owned enterprises from acquiring majority stakes in the oilpatch, a move believed to be aimed at China.

— Ottawa has repeatedly interfered in the telecommunications sector, making it known it would not welcome the purchase of new players by one of the Big Three telecom companies.

— In this year’s budget, the government announced it would cap what those telecommunications companies could charge new entrants for their wholesale services.

— The Tories have also pledged to introduce legislation to crack down on multinational companies that charge Canadian customers more than Americans on everything from books to clothing and appliances.

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