Bill C-288 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions)
This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.
This bill was previously introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session.
Johanne Deschamps Bloc
Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)
Committee Report Presented
(This bill did not become law.)
October 18th, 2011 / 11:20 a.m.
In terms of the committee's ability to review constitutional case law, yes, the committee can do that. Indeed, that is the analysis I did myself before making my presentation to the committee.
I was referring to a Supreme Court decision regarding laws whose effects are too broad. Without mentioning it, I was referring to the Heywood case that came before the Supreme Court, where a number of provisions of the Criminal Code were declared unconstitutional.
The test to be applied by the committee is that an item is “clearly unconstitutional”. So, there is no guide. I would like to be able to say that the subcommittee has already defined what is meant by “clearly unconstitutional”, but the subcommittee has never defined what is meant by “clearly unconstitutional”.
I'm trying to provide more information to the committee to guide you in carrying out your task. The fundamental principle behind the bill is not unconstitutional, in my opinion. Some of the problems I have identified with the bill could be corrected during the legislative process by passing amendments at committee stage or at report stage.
I have actually distributed a document in French and English to members of the subcommittee with the wording of a section of the Canada Elections Act. That section gives voters the right to display election advertising posters during the election period. It is drafted differently from the bill we are currently reviewing, in the sense that it is more restrictive. For example, with respect to condominiums, it mentions the areas that are the exclusive property of the person wanting to display the material. When we're talking about a flag or a poster at a residence, it's obvious that the premises are those owned or rented by the individual. So, the wording is more restrictive.
That is the type of amendment that could benefit Bill C-288.
October 18th, 2011 / 11:10 a.m.
Actually, the criteria to be applied by the subcommittee are as follows: Does the purpose of the bill fall within federal jurisdiction? Does the bill clearly violate the Constitution, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
Bill C-288 grants the right to
display the Canadian flag.
Income Tax Act
Statements By Members
March 7th, 2011 / 2:10 p.m.
Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-288, which was introduced by my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle and introduces a tax credit for new graduates working in regions facing economic challenges, has been before the Senate for almost nine months. However, the bill is being completely blocked and its study is constantly being postponed because of pressure from the Conservative government, which opposes Bill C-288.
Students from the FEUQ and the FECQ are on the Hill today to condemn this situation. At a press scrum over the noon hour, they condemned the attitude of the Prime Minister, who is playing party politics and going against the democratic will of the members of this House who want the Senate to examine Bill C-288.
The Prime Minister is trying to dictate each and every issue that the Senate examines, and this only emphasizes its partisanship, even though he himself promised to put an end to it. Is there a single Conservative member from Quebec who will have the courage to stand up and condemn this situation?
Opposition Motion--Representation in Parliament
Business of Supply
March 3rd, 2011 / 11:35 a.m.
Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC
Mr. Speaker, I rise today as the Bloc Québécois critic for democratic reform to speak to the motion moved by the member for Hamilton Centre. The NDP member's motion contains many elements, including the holding of a referendum on the question of amending the Referendum Act in order to abolish the existing Senate and to appoint a special committee for democratic improvement made up of 12 members. The motion also defines how the special committee would operate. Today I would like to focus on point (a), which is the most important and which reads as follows:
the House recognize the undemocratic nature of the current form of representation in the Parliament of Canada, specifically the unnecessary Senate and a House of Commons that does not accurately reflect the political preferences of Canadians;
I would like to examine this point from two angles: the undemocratic nature of the current form of representation in Parliament, specifically the House of Commons, and the unnecessary nature of the Senate. In that regard, we quite agree with the NDP.
Bills on democratic reform have been coming up over and over again for the past few sessions. This time around, we have Bill C-12, which aims to change the formula for calculating the number of members per province to increase the total number of members to 338. The distribution of new seats would be as follows: five more for Alberta, seven for British Columbia and 18 for Ontario. That would give us a total of 338 members, compared to the 308 we have now. This bill, if passed, would have a direct impact on Quebec's weight in the House of Commons, which would drop from 24.3% to 22.19%. Quebec would be even more marginalized compared to its current weight in the House.
It is of the utmost importance to maintain Quebec's weight in the House because Quebec is the only majority francophone state in North America and because Quebeckers are a unique linguistic minority on this continent. Louis Massicotte, a political scientist at Laval University, published an article on federal electoral redistribution entitled “Quelle place pour le Québec? Étude sur la redistribution électorale fédérale”. It is also more important than ever to protect our language and our culture when negotiating free trade agreements. We are talking about the cradle of the Quebec nation, which this House recognized in November of 2006, although, in practice, this means nothing to the Conservative government.
Make no mistake. If the government is insisting on increasing the weight of these particular provinces, it is because they are its stronghold or because it hopes to make political gains there. By going forward with this democratic reform, the Conservative government is claiming that it wants to respect democracy. However, the Conservatives are not fooling anyone. They are masters of flouting democracy. For example, they prorogued Parliament to avoid votes. They failed to follow the House's orders to submit documents, in particular, documents on the transfer of Afghan prisoners. They refused to appear before parliamentary committees. They recommended that unelected senators vote against bills that were passed by a majority of votes in the House, thus going against the will of the people. In 2008, they also failed to abide by their own legislation on fixed election dates.
The government is blatantly misleading the House and the public, as in the case involving the Minister of International Cooperation. I could go on but there are other points I would like to make.
Any recommendation in the House made by a special committee should not only take into account the current demographic weight of Quebec in the House of Commons, but it should also ensure that this weight is maintained because under no circumstance should Quebec's weight be any less than it currently is in the House.
In its current form, the Senate is unnecessary. It is a vehicle for partisan politics. Ever since the minority Conservative government came to power, it has been using this vehicle to introduce bills that the House of Commons opposes, in order to go against the will of the House of Commons. I cited a few examples, but there are many more.
Going against the will of the elected members of the House of Commons is completely anti-democratic in that this opposition comes from people whose legitimacy comes from a partisan appointment, unlike the legitimacy of the members of Parliament, which comes from the people.
We do not have to look too far back to find an example. Just consider Bill C-311. Bill C-311, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, was supported by the Bloc Québécois and the majority of the legitimately elected members of the House of Commons. The bill imposed binding greenhouse gas reduction targets to ensure that Canada respects the IPCC recommendation and the requirement to submit a significant action plan every five years. The Prime Minister allowed the Senate to deny the will of the Parliament of Quebeckers and Canadians by allowing Conservative senators to defeat Bill C-311 without even studying it.
Yet, during the last election campaign, the Prime Minister declared that an unelected chamber should not block bills from an elected one. He then did an about-face and is now making use of the Conservative senators. He made sure that he appointed the majority of senators to the Senate to ensure that they would block bills or motions that Parliament had adopted and sent to the Senate and that they would introduce bills before members of Parliament even had a chance to speak to them.
When the seats of Liberal senators opened up, the Prime Minister made sure to appoint loyal Conservatives. By allowing their senators to vote against Bill C-311 without even studying it, the Conservatives created a precedent, a first since 1930, and showed a flagrant lack of respect for our democratic institutions.
The Conservative senators also managed to block certain bills passed by the House and sent to the Senate to be studied. Take, for example, Bill C-288, regarding the tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions, introduced by my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle, or Bill C-232, An Act to amend the Supreme Court Act (understanding the official languages), which would require Supreme Court judges to be bilingual. The Prime Minister could be confident that the senators would vote against these bills. In both cases, the Senate blocked the bills. On May 5, Bill C-288 received the support of a majority of MPs in the House of Commons. For the second time in less than three years, it was sent to the Senate. Since then, it has only been debated twice. Bill C-288 would help thousands of young people who want to study and remain in the regions, some of which are struggling economically.
With Bill C-232, the Conservatives were trying to buy some time. They kept delaying study of the bill until they had a majority in the Senate. The Conservative government is taking advantage of the fact that it controls the Senate in order to dictate its agenda. It is one thing for the Conservative government to oppose a measure, but to recommend that the Senate prevent debate on these two bills is unacceptable.
This shows the Conservative government's contempt for the will of the democratically elected parliamentarians. I should point out that the Liberals were no better and also used some schemes to delay passage of bills. Nonetheless, they never went as far as the Conservatives are going. In 2006, by the way, the Conservatives campaigned on reforming the Senate and making it more legitimate. That was one of the Prime Minister's promises.
That is why this Conservative government introduced a bill to reform Senate terms and limit them to eight years. That bill does nothing to reform this outdated, archaic institution where appointments are strictly partisan. That bill does nothing to remedy the nature of the Senate. The Prime Minister has transformed it into “a permanent office for his organizers, a waiting room for his Montreal candidates, and an absolute circus by the use of his surprising appointments, to describe them politely”, according to Vincent Marissal from La Presse.
The democratic deficit in the Senate and its extraordinarily partisan nature derive from the choices made by the Fathers of Confederation in 1867. From an academic standpoint, the upper house or senate in a federal system must represent the federated entities alongside a lower chamber, in our case, the House of Commons.
According to Réjean Pelletier, a political scientist and a professor in the political science department at Laval University, it is clear that this is not the case in the Canadian Parliament. In 1867, the Fathers of Confederation could have chosen the American model, where senators are elected by state legislatures and all states have equal weight, with the ability to elect two senators for a six-year term.
Instead, the Fathers of Confederation copied the British House of Lords and thus made the Senate a chamber that reviews legislation passed by the House of Commons. So the Senate is a chamber of sober second thought that moderates the overly democratic ways of the lower house, which is subject to pressure and emotional pleas from the public. But it no longer plays that role. What is more, senators were supposed to be appointed by the crown.
The idea of representing and defending the interests of federated entities did not come up in the discussions prior to the signing of the British North America Act. And from that stems our objection to the Senate, with its lack of legitimacy and representation.
Given that the Senate has become a partisan tool for the ruling Conservative Party and that it lacks both legitimacy and representation, it is not surprising that the public is angry about senators' spending.
According to an article by Stéphanie Marin in the January 27, 2011 edition of La Tribune, it would cost $90 million a year to keep the Senate in place. I do not remember the exact number, but I believe that 60% or 70% of Quebeckers supported abolishing the Senate.
We also learned in January that some senators are incurring excessive if not extravagant expenses. Conservative senators have not stopped sending mail-outs despite the fact that, in the spring of 2010, the House of Commons prohibited members from sending these types of mail-outs outside their ridings and specified that the Senate should follow suit.
It is important to note that the total printing budget for the Senate increased from $280,500 to $734,183 in 2008-09. Last month, the senators gave themselves the right to use taxpayers' dollars to continue to send mail-outs in which they can attack members.
To remedy the representation and legitimacy deficits and truly reform the Senate—to create a Senate where senators are actual representatives of Quebec and the provinces who are appointed or elected by legitimate authorities in Quebec, such as Quebec's National Assembly, and in the provinces and where there is equal representation for Quebec and the provinces resulting in a truly effective and non-partisan upper house as they have in other countries—we would have to proceed with a constitutional reform that would require agreement from seven provinces representing at least 50% of the population. We know that this would be practically impossible because we would have to reopen the Constitution.
The Bloc Québécois does not oppose this motion given that the Senate, in its current state, is unnecessary and that the current method of democratic representation has many shortcomings, such as the ones I have already mentioned. However, the Bloc's support for this motion is conditional upon the inclusion of two basic elements. First, Quebec's political weight must not be reduced at all as a result of any democratic reform. Second, under Quebec's referendum legislation, a referendum must be held in Quebec on the abolition of the Senate.
I would like to make two amendments to the NDP's motion. I move, seconded by the member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges:
That the motion be amended:
(a) by adding after the words “the next general election,” the following:
“with the understanding that, in Quebec, such a referendum will be subject to Quebec law, in accordance with the current Referendum Act and as established as a precedent by the 1992 Referendum on the Charlottetown Accord,”;
(b) by adding after the words “recommendations to the House” the following:
“that in no way reduce the current weight of the Quebec nation in the House of Commons”. .
Statements By Members
February 17th, 2011 / 2:10 p.m.
Claude Guimond Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC
Mr. Speaker, the Quebec Conservatives never miss an opportunity to let Quebec and all its regions down.
They are the ones who centralized the Canada Economic Development offices to downtown Montreal thereby depriving the regions of significant economic spinoffs. They are the ones who refused to support Bill C-288 so that our young graduates could return to the regions and actively contribute to their social and economic development. They are the ones who are still refusing to provide the forestry industry and its workers with any meaningful assistance to weather the crisis. They are the ones who voted against an employment insurance reform that would have allowed our seasonal workers and others to make a decent living year round. I could go on.
Unlike the Quebec Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois is acting in the interests of Quebec and all its regions, without distinction.
Statements by Members
December 16th, 2010 / 2:05 p.m.
Johanne Deschamps Laurentides—Labelle, QC
Mr. Speaker, on May 5, 2010, Bill C-288, to give new graduates a tax credit was passed by a majority of the members of the House of Commons. For the second time in less than three years, it has reached the Senate.
However, it has been debated only twice since it got there. Bill C-288 would help thousands of young students who want to study and stay in the regions, some of which are experiencing economic difficulties.
The Conservative government is taking advantage of the fact that it controls the Senate in order to control its work. For the Conservative government to oppose such a measure is one thing, but recommending that the Senate block debate on Bill C-288 is unacceptable.
The Conservative government must drop its contemptuous attitude toward the will of democratically elected parliamentarians and immediately authorize debate on Bill C-288 in the Senate.
October 21st, 2010 / 9:50 a.m.
Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC
Basically, there is a solution to all of the problems that you have raised. Earlier, you said that when you live close to a university, it is more likely that you may go there. So, the closer a government is to its constituents, its students, its citizens, the more sensitive it is to their concerns. In our opinion, it does not make sense that the federal government should meddle in the educational jurisdiction, and we have good evidence to show that this is the case.
Yesterday we heard from the Canadian Student Association and they expressed their way of seeing things. The association wanted, for example, to cancel $12 billion or $13 billion in current debt which would be converted into non-refundable grants. That is one way of seeing things, but we can clearly see, from the FEUQ and all of the people associated with this association, that in Quebec, we can have another way of viewing things.
Mr. Savoie and Mr. Oliny, you talked about going back to the 1994 transfers. You seem to be saying that you are hoping that the government will think things through properly. I will leave you with your illusions—no doubt, God, over time... That being said, I would point out to you that on page 19 of the brief submitted to the Minister of Finance last year, we stated all of this very clearly.
You are in favour of Bill C-288. Should I tell you—and you know this full well—that this too was an initiative from the Bloc Québécois as part of its parliamentary work. So when people say that we're useless, that is false.
I would like to hear your opinion on one matter. You said that you are going further compensating Quebec financially through the equalization system. Do you really think that the Government of Canada would, in a flash of genius, go back to the table and hand over this money? Or again, basically, would it not be better for the federal government to give the Government of Quebec tax points—and not amounts—to enable the latter to sustain its student labour force—because students are our workforce in the making?
October 21st, 2010 / 9:35 a.m.
Louis-Philippe Savoie President, Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec
Thank you. My name is Louis-Phillipe Savoie, President of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (Quebec University Students' Federation). With me today is Mathieu Oliny, Vice-President of Socio-political Affairs at the FEUQ.
My presentation will be brief. The FEUQ is the largest university association in Quebec, representing 115,000 students from across Quebec and 14 student associations, both in the francophone and anglophone sectors, as well as university associations in major centres and smaller regions.
Today, we would like to present to you three federal funding proposals, more particularly in the area of post-secondary education. Clearly, the FEUQ believes that university education must be a priority. However, we should also keep in mind that university education is an area of provincial jurisdiction, and act accordingly. The three concerns that are outlined in our brief and that I will briefly present to you today are consistent with those principles.
Our first concern deals with federal transfers for post-secondary education. You are no doubt aware that there were major cuts to the federal transfers for post-secondary education in the early 1990s, and that the funding has still not come back to earlier levels. Taking into account inflation, there is still a gap of approximately $3.5 billion in federal transfers, with some $820 million to be allocated to Quebec. That is according to the estimates done by the Government of Quebec last year. That figure is supported by all Quebec stakeholders. Those cuts had a very significant impact across Canada. In Quebec, funding has still not returned to 1994 levels, essentially owing to the cuts in federal transfers.
We therefore believe that, when the federal government sits down to review federal transfers in 2014, priority should be given to increasing federal transfers for post-secondary education. That will help bring funding back up to 1994 levels. In our opinion, those transfers must be made without any conditions and respect provincial areas of jurisdiction. Above all, the provinces are the ones with the expertise needed to make proper use of the funds allocated for university education.
Another concern of the FEUQ deals with regional access to university education. In developing the university education system, it has become imperative to decentralize certain teaching activities. It has been recognized that the closer a student is to a university, the more likely he or she will enrol. However, even today many students have to leave their regions of origin. In Quebec, 50% to 75% of students living in resource regions, which are the most remote, must leave home in order to pursue their studies. Many of those students never return to their regions of origin. We know that those regions are currently facing problems, including an exodus of young people that is having a very significant impact on the economy of Quebec's regions as well as in regions of Canada as a whole. Ultimately, this will be a heavy burden on the entire economy.
To counter that exodus, the government of Quebec, in the early 2000s, implemented a tax credit for post-secondary graduates who choose to return to their regions. This is an $8,000 tax credit over a three-year period for students who settle in a designated region. Over 15,000 people took advantage of that tax credit in 2007. That is of considerable help to Quebec's regions. We believe that the federal government should follow Quebec's lead and adopt Bill C-288, which is currently being debated in the Senate and was previously passed by the House of Commons. We believe that passage of the bill should be expedited in order to ensure the sustainability of Quebec's regions.
And now, on to our third point. Needless to say, Quebec's students are also concerned by general taxation issues, given that they have major impacts on the funding of post-secondary education and social programs. We have highlighted two issues that are of recent concern. I will not get into the details, but the concerns are regarding adjustments made to equalization in recent years. There is also the issue of the harmonization of Quebec's sales tax. Those two issues have not yet been resolved and are the source of significant shortfalls for the government of Quebec. As a result, the province faces significant challenges because it must adequately fund its various social programs, and post-secondary education in particular.
Therefore, the three priorities that I have presented, i.e., federal transfers, Bill C-288 and the various taxation issues, must be urgently addressed by the federal government in order to ensure Canada's economic future. Investing in university education must be seen as a priority to ensure the future development of society.
Business of Supply
May 11th, 2010 / 1:45 p.m.
Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC
Mr. Speaker, I will add another example to the ones already given by my colleague.
I come from an area called Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Four days ago, the House passed Bill C-288 to grant a tax credit to young people who return to their region after training or graduating outside their region. My colleagues from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and Laurentides—Labelle were spokespersons on that bill. The fact of the matter is that every Conservative member from a Quebec region voted against the bill.
That is worse than learning that they root for the Vancouver Canucks. If only the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages visited our regions more often, he would easily understand that there are different regional bodies that have needs. One of those needs is for our young people to come back to our regions. He should stop cancelling initiatives in our regions and giving them to major centres like Vancouver and Toronto. Let us keep them; we need them. That is how we will bring back our young people and develop our regions. It find it unacceptable for members of Parliament from Quebec to vote against this kind of motion.
Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business
May 5th, 2010 / 6:15 p.m.