Always loved, never forgotten.

New Brunswick is one of Canada’s three Maritime Provinces (together with Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia) and is the only constitutionally bilingual (English–French) province. The principal cities are Fredericton, the capital, Greater Moncton, currently the largest metropolitan (CMA) area and the most populous city, and the port city of Saint John, which was the first incorporated city in Canada and largest in the province for 231 years until 2016.

In order to design a meaningful Consumer Sales Tax System for the Province of Brunswick, it was critical to understand the reality associated with the Province.  The population of New Brunswick in 1980 was 696,403.  New Brunswick was and is one of Canada’s poorest provinces. This is due to various factors such as low productivity, small tax base and high public debts, the decline in the private sector and limited opportunities, and poor wages. All these make New Brunswick the province with the lowest household income.

Taxes on Good and Services was the second largest source of revenue for New Brunswick after Grants General Government Units and regrettably there were so many loopholes in the current system which was being capitalized by all sizes of the companies in the Province, resulting in losing a significant amount of revenue.  In other words, the taxes on goods and services were collected but not remitted to the province.  This was the main reason I wanted the auditors to participate in the process diligently. 

Things were going reasonably good for us.  The kids went back to school last month and making friends.  I felt like I was making progress at work every single day.  Lunch time Gord and Tony used to come and fetch me to go for a walk which provided me with an opportunity to exchange my thoughts with both of them.  There were people on my project who were not happy with that but then again they knew before I arrived in Fredericton that Gord and Tony knew me for a long time.

One day I came home and asked Lynda if she feels comfortable to get the kids to miss one day school on Friday as I was supposed to be in Saint John soon to meet with the Auditors.  I suggested taking off on Thursday after work and staying in a nice hotel in Saint John close to the office where the auditors used to work.  Lynda liked the idea.  I did some digging about the city of Saint John before we went there:

  1. Saint John is a seaport city located on the Bay of Fundy in the province of New Brunswick.  It is Canada’s oldest incorporated city, established by royal charter on May 18, 1785, during the reign of George III;
  2. The port is Canada’s third-largest port by tonnage with a cargo base that includes dry and liquid bulk, break bulk, containers, and cruise; and
  3. Situated in the south-central portion of the province, along the north shore of the Bay of Fundy at the mouth of the Saint John River, the city is split by the south-flowing river and the east side is bordered on the north by the Kennebecasis River where it meets the Saint John River at Grand Bay. Saint John Harbour, where the two rivers meet the Bay of Fundy, is a deep water port and ice-free all year long. Partridge Island is in the harbour.

We took off for Saint John on one Thursday late afternoon in the month of October 1980.  It was only around 100 Km from Fredericton which took us only around one hour to drive.  My office had made the reservation for us right in the downtown of Saint John.   As soon as we checked in, I asked the kids if they are interested in mooching around in the historical downtown of Saint John.  While they were eager to do that they were also hungry.  I asked them what they fancy and they said spaghetti. 

After walking around a bit, we ended up in an Italian restaurant right in the downtown.  We all enjoyed our food.  Lynda wanted to go to a department store just to walk around and I suggested I would rather like to go back to our hotel and spend some time reviewing the material for my long meeting tomorrow with the auditors.  I suggested them to go ahead and mooch around some more and I will see them back at the hotel.   

The next day we all had breakfast in the hotel and told them that I don’t need the car and I am also going to have lunch with the auditors.  I mentioned to them the National Historic Sites if they were interested in visiting otherwise I will see them around 5:00PM in the hotel.

I went to the office around 8:30AM and found the auditors in the conference room ready to meet with me.  It didn’t take too long to introduce each other then I was offered coffee.  Holding the cup of coffee in my hand, I started telling them the purpose of my visit and asked anybody volunteer to take minutes of our discussions.  If I remember correctly somebody by name David was brave enough to raise his hand.  I wanted them to know that I was there to listen to their frustration for not being able to do their jobs appropriately.  I said to them that let’s dedicate all morning to go over the difficulties faced by you folks and then after lunch we should focus of our discussions on what each of you think we should do to minimize or eliminate the obstacles associated with your jobs and boost the productivity.

I was pleased that we followed through our plan and spent almost 6 hours discussing various aspects of overall auditing for the Consumer Sales Tax (CST).  At the same time every point discussed in the meeting was carefully documented.  At the end of the session, I was completely flabbergasted with the things I learned on that day about the realities of their jobs.  I decided to summarize my conclusion about our meeting by saying that I really appreciated sharing their wisdom with me and identifying what needed for doing their jobs effectively and efficiently.  I promised them that as far as I was concerned I will do my best to include all their ideas in the future model of the system. 

However, I wanted them to understand that there are certain things that we discussed that morning cannot be included as a part of the system specifications.  For instance, they identified the trends:

  1. Where small businesses which collect sales tax for years but never remit any part of that amount and they declare bankruptcy only to start another business in a different location and with a different ownership; and
  2. Where the real problem is with the big businesses, like Irving Oil.  These companies are so big in the Province that they don’t allow auditors to do auditing in a thorough and meaningful way.         

I explained to them that these impediments cannot be removed by the new system.  It may require some kind of legislation or policy change.  Nevertheless, I told them that I will bring these facts to the attention of the senior management and I am sure they will look into it. 

When I got to the hotel around 5:15PM, the kids were starving again.  After nice supper in the downtown of Saint John, we came back to the hotel and watched TV.

The following morning after breakfast, we decided to visit the following national historic sites on Saturday:

Carleton Martello Tower in Saint John, New Brunswick, is one of the nine surviving Martello Towers in Canada. The tower dates from the War of 1812 and played a significant role in conflicts until the Second World War. The site now features a restored powder magazine, a restored barracks room, and exhibits in the tower and in the visitor centre. The tower’s roof offers a view of the city of Saint John and its harbour. Carleton Martello Tower is one of the oldest buildings in the city and has been designated as a National Historic Site of Canada since 1930.  It has been open to the public since 1963;

The designed by Philadelphia architect Albert Westover and built in 1912 by the Imperial Theatre by the Keith-Albee-Orpheum Corporation vaudeville chain of New York City and their Canadian subsidiary, the Saint John Amusements Company Ltd. It opened to the public on September 19, 1913.

The theatre was designed as a modern adaptation of the Italian Renaissance, and was used both for live vaudeville acts as well as “talkies”. In 1929, it was renamed the Capitol Theatre, and like most vaudeville houses across the continent, became a cinema.  From 1957 to 1982, the Imperial Theatre was used as a meeting space by the Full Gospel Assembly. In 1982 the Imperial was abandoned by the religious group; and

The Saint John City Market in Saint John, New Brunswick, is the oldest continuously-operated farmer’s market in Canada, with a charter dating from 1785. The market is located at 47 Charlotte Street.

The City Market has a unique interior roof structure, which resembles an inverted ship’s keel. Made of wooden trusses, the structure was reportedly built by unemployed ship carpenters of the day. Also, the floor slopes with the natural grade of the land.  Some of the businesses in the market have been operating continuously there for more than 100 years. Facing onto Kings Square, the market is connected to the city’s indoor pedway system.

The market was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1986.

We came back on Sunday.  There was a message from our lawyer in West Hill about our townhome.  He had left his home telephone number to get in touch.  When I called him back he told me that the current tenants are interested in buying the property.  I said asked him to hold it for a minute as I wanted to consult with Lynda.  Lynda had no objections and I gave him okay to proceed with the offer.

Our Story – Chapter 34