Saint John — The Manatee has deciphered the coded tax language used to conceal the name of the third-party auditor used by the province in the low-ball assessment of Irving’s Canaport LNG property in Saint John.
From documents obtained though the province’s Right to Information Act, we can now report what you probably already guessed: the company was Self-Serving Associates Limited, another fine subsidiary of faithful Saint John benefactor Irving, and the company actually paid $5.5 million just to assess the property.
Judy Cole, a spokesperson with Service New Brunswick, said the province’s old assessment on the prime harbour-front site had grown stale and the facility has been facing difficult financial circumstances.
“According to complicated tax formulas I don’t understand myself,” said Cole, “waterfront property that is excellent for international shipping and owned by wealthy multinational corporations can depreciate like rental properties after opioid addicts move in, especially in the face of fair tax increases.”
A rumour begun in February that Irving planned to facilitate an international refugee camp in the expansive Canaport LNG parking lot for those fleeing the United States due to religious persecution was also factored in to the assessment.
“Irving is looking out for the best interests of people in our global community by planning to provide a safe haven for American refugees in 2023,” said Cole. “We, as a province, should be willing to support them in their humanitarian efforts.
“This is not,” added Cole, clearing her throat, “another tax concession for Irving. This is totally unrelated.”
“It’s mind-boggling,” said Saint John councillor Gerry Lowe, who pushed for an end to the 10-year-old, $500,000-per-year tax deal at the LNG development. “After hearing the news, my skull feels like the shaker in that game Boggle! I admit, I don’t understand the ‘new math’ or taxation formulas, but how can something assessed at $300 million one year lose two-thirds of its value the following year?
“I realize 33 percent of $8 million is better than the 6.25 percent we were getting, but what I don’t understand is why the City of Saint John is still not getting 100 percent of the property tax it is rightfully owed. Imagine all the potholes we could fill and stench we could remove, how many decrepit crack houses we could tear down and social programs we could properly fund with an extra $5.5 million per year!”
A source within Self-Serving Associates Ltd. confirmed that the Irving family is fond of shell games, hence their penchant for acquiring subsidiary corporations. In fact, as legend has it, deceased patriarch K.C. won the right to do whatever he pleased in New Brunswick in such a game with then-premier John B.M. Baxter. This loss by the provincial leader led to his resignation in 1931, and has defined the province’s relationship with the Irvings ever since.