Bill C-279 (Historical)
An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act (establishment of indexes)
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.
Mike Wallace Conservative
Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)
Committee Report Presented
(This bill did not become law.)
- Nov. 22, 2006 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
Bill C-377—Income Tax Act
Points of Order
November 28th, 2012 / 4:20 p.m.
Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS
Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a different point of order. I want to recognize and commend my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley on a very well referenced and articulated point of order. I hope I can only match that. I assure the House I will surpass him on the aspect of brevity.
I rise on a point of order with respect to Bill C-377, an act to amend the income tax act (requirements for labour organizations). Although my colleagues from the NDP have also risen on this matter, I am not convinced the arguments they put forward have been complete in terms of substance. As such, I want to offer further points on this matter for your consideration, Mr. Speaker.
I submit that Bill C-377's provisions to provide for reporting and public disclosure of certain financial transactions and administrative practices of labour organizations envisages a new function and purpose within the Canada Revenue Agency, or CRA. As such, the terms and conditions of the royal recommendation that authorizes CRA's current spending are being altered so that a new and distinct authorization for spending is being permanently created, which will therefore require a royal recommendation.
Past Speakers have ruled that legislation imposing additional functions on bodies funded by public money, if the functions are substantially different from their existing functions, will require a royal recommendation.
I believe that Bill C-377 will require royal recommendation for two reasons. First, the bill creates a new purpose for CRA in terms of a public reporting function that has no obligatory ties to taxation under the Income Tax Act. The bill would follow up on this additional purpose by creating what the CRA characterizes as “a comprehensive system that includes electronic processing, validations, and automatic posting to the CRA Web site”.
The Income Tax Act is concerned with the taxation of individuals, organizations and businesses. Any reporting requirements imposed on individuals and organizations are directly tied to their tax obligation or the exemption of these obligations. For example, charities can only keep their tax exempt status and donors only receive a tax receipt if the charity meets reporting requirements.
The Canada Revenue Agency is responsible for applying and interpreting the Income Tax Act in this regard. The primary goal of the agency, as Canada's tax administrator, is to ensure that taxpayers comply with their tax obligations and that Canada's tax base is protected. I want to stress that again: tax obligation.
Bill C-377 is strictly a function of publicly reporting information on one specific group of individuals, in this case labour organizations and labour trusts, outside of any direct obligations that those organizations or their members must have under the Income Tax Act. Given that it would create an additional purpose and new program requirements that would amend the Income Tax Act and modify the purpose of the CRA, the result is a new expenditure. The bill should be accompanied by a royal recommendation.
Mr. Speaker, I want to draw your attention to a Speaker's ruling in the other place on February 27, 1991 on pages 2262 through 2264 of the Journals regarding Bill S-18, an act to further the aspirations of the aboriginal peoples of Canada. The Speaker found that provisions imposing additional functions on bodies funded by public money, if the functions are substantially different from their existing functions, require royal recommendation.
The member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale and the government will no doubt argue that because labour organizations receive a public benefit, as charities do, they should be required to report as charities do.
The simple rebuttal to this argument is the fact that the reporting requirement for charities is based on a tax obligation. A charity must publicly report information in order to keep the tax exempt status it receives and the preferential tax treatment its donors enjoy. This will simply not be the case with labour organizations under Bill C-377.
To further disprove this counter-argument, I think we need to look no further than the first incarnation of Bill C-377, which was Bill C-317. The bill tied the reporting function of labour organizations to the enjoyment of the tax exempt status offered to them in paragraph (k) of subsection 149(1) of the Income Tax Act. Labour organizations not in compliance with the financial disclosure requirements outlined in Bill C-317 would lose their tax exempt status. Bill C-317 also sought to effect the tax treatment of union members if their union did not comply with its requirements by not allowing union dues to be tax deductible.
In your ruling, Mr. Speaker, on Bill C-317, which was delivered on my birthday of November 4, 2011, and found on pages 2984 to 2986 of the Debates, you said that Bill C-317 had not respected the rules of the Standing Orders because to remove a tax exemption was in effect to raise taxes, which would require a ways and means motion, which the bill did not have.
Your ruling, Mr. Speaker, disallowed that and forced the member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale to remove the parts of the bill that tied the reporting requirements to the enjoyment of tax exempt status by labour organizations and tax deductibility of dues by their members. In doing so, there is no longer any direct tie or connection to taxation or benefits received by labour organizations or their members. Labour organizations or trusts who fail to comply with the requirements of Bill C-377 will not lose their tax exempt status and their members will not lose the tax deductibility of their dues.
Bill C-377 solely becomes a simple public reporting function, which is a new function of the Income Tax Act and a new purpose for the CRA in its capacity to administer the act. As such, it should require a royal recommendation.
The second issue I want to bring to your attention, Mr. Speaker, has to do with how Bill C-377 regulates the internal affairs of unions and their relationships with their members. In essence, this is a de facto labour relations function that is completely new for CRA and duplicates the function of the Canada Industrial Relations Board.
Bill C-377 is modelled on a United States reporting regulation for American unions that falls under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959. This act legislates labour relations. It promotes labour union and labour management transparency through reporting and disclosure requirements for labour unions and their officials. This act is administered by the Office of Labor-Management Standards within the United States Department of Labor, not the Internal Revenue Service.
The reporting requirements in Bill C-377 were copied from the reporting requirements of the most detailed and onerous reporting form from the Office of Labor-Management Standards, Form LM-2. Specifically, the bill copies the revisions to the reporting regulations that were introduced on January 21, 2009, by the U.S. Department of Labor and later rescinded on October 13, 2009.
Mr. Speaker, I will provide you with a copy of the final rule for both actions, which was posted on the U.S. Federal Register, so you can see how this legislation is a copy of the U.S. labour relations regulations.
The Disclosure Act of 1959 requires the public disclosure of union financial reports. In fact, the public disclosure is through an online, searchable database known as the electronic labor organization reporting system, the same type of electronic system proposed by the bill.
Bill C-377 is, in effect, a replication of U.S. labor relations law and regulations, specifically the department of labor regulations for the labor-management reporting and disclosure act of 1959.
The Canada Labour Code currently includes a section that deals with union financial transparency and accountability. It requires unions to disclose financial statements to members on request, or to the Industrial Relations Board to enable members to view that information. Part of their function is to regulate labour organizations.
The finance committee received a number of submissions on this bill. One submission was from Le Syndicat de professionnelles et professionnels du gouvernement du Québec. It included a legal opinion that argued that the bill was concerning labour relations. Although the argument was for an entirely different matter, I believe the substance concerning labour relations was sound, and it would be of assistance to you, Mr. Speaker, in your decision.
The predominant purpose of this bill, as promoted by the member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, is to increase the transparency and accountability of labour organizations. During second reading, the member stated:
With the passage of the bill, the public would be empowered to gauge the effectiveness, financial integrity and health of any labour union.
The bill's summary states:
This enactment amends the Income Tax Act to require that labour organizations provide financial information to the Minister for public disclosure.
The degree of detailed information this bill requires is far broader in scope than any other requirement on any other entity that is publicly disclosed by the government. This is clearly an attempt to monitor and regulate the activities of labour organizations. This is especially clear when the bill requires the detailed time and expenditures that labour organizations spend on non-labour relations activities, such as political activities and lobbying.
Mr. Speaker, I want to draw your attention to a previous Speaker's ruling on October 20, 2006, and found on page 4039 of the Debates regarding Bill C-286, An Act to amend the Witness Protection Program Act (protection of spouses whose life is in danger) The bill proposed to expand the witness protection program to include persons whose lives were in danger because of acts committed against them by their spouses. The Speaker explained that the bill proposed:
...a protection that does not currently exist under the witness protection program. In doing so, the bill proposes to carry out an entirely new function.
As a new function, such an activity is not covered by the terms of any existing appropriation. ... New functions or activities must be accompanied by a new royal recommendation.
The government and the member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale may argue that the function proposed by Bill C-377 is the same function the CRA performs with respect to Charities Directorate or other tax exempt organizations. Although it is true that the processes and infrastructure required may be similar, the function and purpose for those processes are very much different.
Mr. Speaker, I draw your attention to the Speaker's ruling on November 8, 2006, and found on pages 4905 and 4906 of the Debates regarding Bill C-279, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act (establishment of indexes). I believe the particulars on this issue have a lot of similarities in the case at hand and would deny this counter-argument.
Bill C-279 would have created a new purpose for the DNA Identification Act and established new indices in the DNA data bank, similar in context to the new database that would be created under this bill for unions. The Speaker explained there was an addition of a new purpose to the DNA Identification Act which was to identify missing persons via their DNA profiles. Again, this is similar to Bill C-377 that wishes to impose reporting requirements on another tax exempt organization under section 114 of the Income Tax Act.
In that ruling, the Speaker stated, “Amending legislation that proposes a distinctly new purpose must be accompanied by a further royal recommendation”. The Speaker's ruling on Bill C-279 clearly shows that just because a process, in that case the collecting of the DNA, and the infrastructure needed, meaning a database, are the same as the current function of an act, it is still considered a new function and purpose that gives rise to the requirement of a royal recommendation.
Mr. Speaker, whether you look at the detailed requirements of the bill, its summary, the testimony of government witnesses who spoke about how this would regulate unions or just read the statements made by the member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, clearly regulating labour relations is the dominant nature of this bill. No such labour relations function exists at the CRA currently. Therefore, this bill would create a new purpose, a new function and/or an activity at CRA that would require a royal recommendation.
Unlike its failed predecessor Bill C-317, the reporting requirements and the public disclosure imposed by Bill C-377 in no way is linked to the imposition or levitation of taxes, levies or tariffs. Instead, this bill seeks to use the powers of the Income Tax Act to solely provide public information that would constitute a new function or activity. In addition, the bill would clearly create a new labour relations function at the CRA that not only does not exist presently but duplicates this function that is already happening at the Canada Industrial Relations Board.
Because this bill would create a new function and purpose at the CRA, I respectfully submit that Bill C-377 should require a royal recommendation.
October 22nd, 2009 / 11:50 a.m.
Rob Oliphant Don Valley West, ON
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Minister, you're the Minister of Public Safety and you said that some of the work our committee has undertaken, since this review that you felt should have been done, is trivial and of a partisan nature. I'm wondering which work our committee has dealt with in the last two and one-half years that you would consider trivial. Is it Bill C-3, to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act? Is it our work on contraband tobacco, the witness protection program, the study of security issues concerning the Minister of Foreign Affairs, our taser study, agri-chemicals and agri-retail, arming of the CBSA officers? Is it Bill C-12, regarding emergency management? Is it Bill C-279, DNA identification? I could go on.
It has been significant work that this parliamentary committee has dealt with, none of which has been trivial, all of which may be partisan to some degree. But I would argue that it is unfair for you to assess this committee's work as either trivial or partisan.
Because I know you can run out the clock with that statement I want to ask you: were you aware that our committee was in the final process of finishing our report, and actually we changed our agenda, when you introduced this legislation on June 1 so you would not take advantage of our interest and expertise in this area?
It was not one year away, as you just suggested in your testimony.
DNA Identification Act
Private Members' Business
June 13th, 2007 / 5:20 p.m.
The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie
Pursuant to order made earlier today, Bill C-279, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act (establishment of indexes) is withdrawn.
(Order discharged and bill withdrawn)
DNA Identification Act
Private Members' Business
June 13th, 2007 / 5:20 p.m.
Mike Wallace Burlington, ON
Mr. Speaker, throughout the debate on Bill C-279 many significant facts have been stated. There are nearly 100,000 missing persons in Canada every year. Over 6,000 missing person cases are currently unresolved, with an addition of over 450 new cases per year.
There are over 15,000 samples of unidentified DNA recovered from crime scenes across this country currently stored in the RCMP's national DNA data bank here in Ottawa.
As well, there are hundreds of sets of unidentified DNA from Jane and John Does found in morgues across Canada.
Given the need for a DNA data bank and the widespread support from Canadians, law enforcement professionals, the provincial and territorial governments, a DNA database for missing persons housed within the national DNA data bank is on the horizon. Bill C-279 helps make that possible.
The public safety committee recently studied Bill C-279 and referred it back to this House. The committee recognized our need for a national missing persons index, an MPI data bank, as soon as possible, and supported my bill in principle, but recognized that more work needs to be done.
That work is being done and experts will be back in the fall to testify before the committee.
I am happy to tell this House that the Minister of Public Safety himself has expressed interest in looking into this concept as a possible future government bill.
Members from all parties have acknowledged their support and the support in principle from their respective parties.
Canada is the DNA leader. It is known for pushing the technology, how it handles DNA, and how it will handle a DNA data bank. We should support Canada's commitment as a leader in DNA and set a great example for other countries to follow.
I would like to thank Lindsey's mother, Judy Peterson, for inspiring this bill and the Minister of Natural Resources who has worked tirelessly on this issue before I took it over.
Bill C-279 may not exist after today, but the concept will and I will continue to work hard with our government to make this happen. At this time I would seek the withdrawal of my bill, Bill C-279, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act.
Speaker's Ruling--Devils Lake Diversion Project
Request for Emergency Debate
June 13th, 2007 / 5:20 p.m.
The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie
Earlier today, the hon. member for Winnipeg North requested an emergency debate on the Devils Lake diversion pursuant to Standing Order 52.
The Speaker took the request under advisement and has asked me to inform the House that having considered the request, he has concluded that it meets the requirements of the Standing Order.
Accordingly, to give members an opportunity to prepare for the debate, it will be scheduled for Thursday, June 14, 2007, at the completion of debate on government orders, but in any event no later than 9 p.m. pursuant to special order adopted earlier today.
It being 5:20 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, I now invite the hon. member for Burlington to address the House concerning Bill C-279, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act (establishment of indexes).
Public Safety and National Security
Committees of the House
April 30th, 2007 / 3:05 p.m.
Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK
Mr. Speaker, I will be presenting two reports. First, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. In accordance with its order of reference of Wednesday, November 22, 2006, the committee has considered Bill C-279, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act (establishment of indexes), and agreed on Tuesday, April 24, 2007, to report it with amendments.
Second, I also have the honour to present the committee's ninth report, concerning the subject matter of Bill C-279. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to the report.
I would like to read for members two brief excerpts from the ninth report. The first states:
The Committee in principle fully supports the intention underlying Bill C-279, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act (establishment of indexes), and believes that the necessary steps must be taken, either by amending the DNA Identification Act or by providing for the establishment of a DNA human remains index and a DNA missing persons index, to help law enforcement agencies to search for and identify persons reported missing.
Although we have deleted the clauses in the bill, we fully support the bill.
We conclude by recommending:
--that the Government consider the advisability of bringing in the legislation necessary to establish missing persons indexes after the completion of federal-provincial-territorial discussions on its implementation.
April 26th, 2007 / 12:40 p.m.
The Vice-Chair Roy Cullen
Thank you, Mr. Wappel.
That's going to wrap it up. I should point out that Interpol estimates about 5% to 7% of world trade is now counterfeit goods. In fact, I was just in Europe at the Council of Europe, where they are doing a lot of work on this and trying to elevate the importance of it. The studies there are saying it's 7% to 10% of world trade that's now in counterfeit goods.
Nonetheless, I want to thank all the witnesses for coming. Of course, as the name of this committee would suggest, we're focused primarily on public safety and national security, and I note that the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology is beginning some work, and I think they will delve, I'm sure, looking at their witness list, more into the piracy issues, as they do not affect us directly at public health and safety.
I have a request, Mr. Geist. You had mentioned the RCMP report Project Sham, I think it was called. We didn't hear about that from the RCMP, to my recollection, and I think you accessed it through Access to Information? If you could make a copy of that report available to the committee, we'd much appreciate it. It would be quicker to do it that way.
Thank you again, ladies and gentlemen. We're going to pause now for about two minutes, and then we have to come back in camera to deal with the item on the agenda, Bill C-279. I don't think it should take too long.
Thank you very much.
[Proceedings continue in camera]
April 24th, 2007 / 12:15 p.m.
The Chair Garry Breitkreuz
We are now going to proceed with the clause-by-clause of Bill C-279, the DNA Identification Act. The bill has five clauses. The normal procedure here is to have a discussion and then vote on each of these.
Do we want to have any discussion before I call for clause 1 to carry?