How do you forget that you own a chateau in France? Does it just slip your mind?
I don’t know how it can. I am perfectly aware of all the real estate I own — full disclosure, none. I’m pretty sure I would remember if I had a chateau in France. Or anywhere. I would remember if I had a large refrigerator box duct taped to a cliff overlooking Premier Lake. By the way, the refrigerator box figures largely in my retirement plans so if anyone is planning to purchase new appliances, say around 2023, do me a favour and save the boxes. If you also bought a washer and dryer, I’d have a two bedroom condo.
But back to the chateau. Finance Minister Bill Morneau would have us believe he forgot to mention a company he owns has a share in a chateau in France. I guess when one is that wealthy one can’t be expected to keep track of how many chateaus one owns.
Are rich people just naturally forgetful? Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s wealthy son-in-law, had to disclose his financial position when took a role in the White House. Ever since then, little dribs and drabs of assets he forget to foreclose have been dropping. In July, it was found he “Inadvertently omitted” some $10.6 million in assets, when filling out the form. He also forgot to list an entire company. In fact, while testifying to Congress last week, the director of the National Background investigations Bureau said he had never seen “that level of mistakes” in a disclosure form before.
Remembering is hard! Being rich is harder! So much to remember. So many assets, companies, chateaus! Pity the rich person — so many problems.
Why do we assume that because someone is rich, they are smarter than us? Many of the people sitting in positions of power the world over are very wealthy, but many of them were simply born into the money, or married into it. These guys didn’t start from nothing and turn it into billions.
Jared Kushner is from a wealthy family and he married money too (Ivanka Trump). Donald Trump inherited money, and managed to go bankrupt several times, yet is still lauded as some sort of uber-business mind. Bill Morneau has some personal wealth and also married an heir to the McCain food company.
This makes them smarter than us?
And if they’re all so smart, why do they think they can get away with what amounts to lying. Oh excuse me, not lying…. not fully disclosing. Ethical loopholes. Forgetting. A chateau.
However this slip of the mind came about, it’s not playing real big across the country. Especially since Morneau has already been in big trouble over his plans to revamp taxes, which appeared to hit small business people right where they live.
Getting caught forgetting about a chateau is just real bad timing for the Finance Minister. When people are struggling and worrying about their economic futures, the last thing they want to know is that their Finance Minister has so much that he forgets whole houses. It kind of makes the gap between them and us so much wider.
In fact, when Prime Minister Trudeau brought Minister Morneau along this week to announce a business tax cut at a pizza restaurant in Ontario, I found myself looking at the picture and wondering when the last time Morneau actually entered a fast food restaurant was. He looked uncomfortable. Like he didn’t belong there. Because when you own a chateau, you probably just have your staff do the work for you.
“Fetch me a pizza, garcon,” you’d say. “Step lively. And don’t spare the truffles. And if you order in, tell them to deliver to… wait, I’ve forgotten the address.”
Carolyn Grant is Editor of the Kimberley Bulletin