House of Commons Hansard #147 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

John Finlay Oxford, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-391, an act to amend the Criminal Code (penalties for sexual offences involving children).

Mr. Speaker, the bill I am introducing today will do three things in amending the Criminal Code of Canada. It will provide a maximum punishment of life in prison with no parole for 25 years if guilty of sexual assault on a child under 8 or a child under 14 who is under the offender's trust or authority or who is dependent on the offender.

It will suggest an increase in the maximum penalty for forcible confinement to 14 years in the case of a parent or ward who confines a child and thereby harms the child's physical or mental health. It will provide assurance that the definition of publication in the case of child pornography covers transmission by electronic mail or posting the material on the Internet or any other electronic net.

I would like to thank those who have supported me in this bill. I look forward to debating this issue in the House in the near future.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

March 19th, 1997 / 3:35 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, with the consent of the House, I move that the 60th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs tabled in the House today be adopted.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the parliamentary secretary have the consent of the House to move his motion?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

An hon. member

No.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

moved:

That the third report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, presented on Monday, October 28, 1996, be concurred in.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am confused. When you are writing with one hand and listening with one ear, mistakes occur. Of course, we allow the report to be tabled, if it is not too late.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Everything is possible in the House if the House gives its consent to reconsider the motion of a few minutes ago.

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the concurrence in the third report of this standing This was with regard to the family trusts that the Minister of Finance referred to earlier today in question period when he talked about how he had closed all tax loopholes and accused the other parties of not supporting tax cuts.

When we look at the record of this government as it relates to issues such as family trusts, we find that the record is less than commendable.

Last May, I believe, the auditor general tabled his report regarding the family trust issue. He was very concerned about the situation where about $2 billion had been transferred out of this country on a tax free basis.

The transaction happened in 1991 but the present government obviously concurred with the decision of the previous government because it did everything it could in its power to ensure that the decision of the previous government was retained and enforced and it stood by it.

After some months, after it became public, the Minister of Finance stood up in the House with a ways and means motion and closed the loophole but did not close it retroactively. What that meant was the issue of $2 billion moving out of this country tax free by people of very substantial means. It is only people of very substantial means who can have $2 billion to move anywhere, albeit out of the country on a tax free basis.

After the people involved and others who had the same opportunities available to them were able to take advantage of this loophole that had occurred in the law, the Minister of Finance stood in the House and closed the loophole. I find that abominable for the individual small taxpayer of this country.

As the House knows, the Reform Party in its fresh start introduced proposed amendments to the Income Tax Act and proposed that the basic exemption be increased from its current amount of around $5,800 to $7,900. That gives every Canadian in this country, rich or poor, working or otherwise, a tax break. However, it does not focus the tax break on the super rich. It focuses it on the working Canadians who carry this country on their backs.

We found that the Minister of Finance, by his actions and by his collusion with the decisions of the previous government, aided and abetted a situation where hundreds of millions of dollars of taxes went uncollected. On that basis, I find it rather appalling that the Minister of Finance would stand in the House, as the protector of the poor, and accuse the other parties of being otherwise when in fact it was his government that had it in its power to ensure that the rich and super rich pay their share and he did not do so.

These are the types of things that are abhorrent in this country. When we look to our parliamentarians for leadership, we find they make the rules according to those who have access, and for the small individual Canadian who just pays a bit of tax there is no opportunity for him to avoid or in any way escape the long arm of the tax collector. Yet others we find have had opportunities to walk away with what appears to be several hundred million dollars of tax through a small loophole.

I was involved in the debates at the time through the public accounts committee. I was appalled by the way the deputy minister of finance and others in his department tried to justify this situation. It dealt with an issue called taxable Canadian property. Every tax practitioner I am aware of is fully aware that taxable Canadian property has always been referred to in the context of international transactions. No one but no one could find any reference in the Income Tax Act, the income tax publications, the income tax rules, the income tax books published by the CCH or anyone else for that matter that made any reference to Canadian taxable property as being part of the domestic tax scene. Yet we had the deputy minister of finance come before the committee and say "this was such a simple thing, it has been the rule since 1971, and it is so obvious that we did not even have to document it in this particular case".

The point is if it had been such a simple and obvious thing, if Canadian taxable property applied to domestic transactions, such as real estate transactions-I remember one official from the Department of Finance saying that every time a Canadian acquires an asset he is acquiring Canadian taxable property and that is the way it has been since 1971-not one publication, not one reference in the Income Tax Act and not one reference by tax practitioners would suggest this.

Members know of the ongoing dialogue between the accounting profession and the Department of National Revenue regarding the way the Income Tax Act is applied to profits. Over a period of 25 years not one reference was ever made to the fact that Canadian taxable property was part of a domestic transaction. Yet the government says it is so simple and it has always been that way.

How on earth could the practitioners deem that this particular transaction was an allowable one? We have had the senior officials in committee and the Minister of Finance in the House stand up and say absolutely that this is an obvious situation. That is what turns the small taxpayer against government and politicians.

When the Minister of Finance stood today and made specific reference to this trust and the fact that he had closed the loophole I took exception to his statement. I wondered what he was doing. Today he is trying to be the defender of the small taxpayer. He made reference to the fact that he had closed this massive loophole, yet everyone knows that he left it open a mile wide. Anybody who has the expertise, the desire and the motive can take advantage of it. People can even get what is called an advanced tax write-off to lock it in. After all that, we find out that the small taxpayer cannot do it.

The member for Medicine Hat told us that personal income tax as a percentage of GDP has gone up 15 per cent. The Minister of Finance told us that he had not raised income taxes. The small taxpayer is carrying the country on its back, the wealthy have the opportunity to take advantage of the loopholes and the government allows them to go through before it closes the door.

I am going to close now because I am splitting my time according to the Standing Orders.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member who has just spoken and so eloquently at that. I am very pleased at the interest the Reform Party is suddenly taking in this committee's report.

However, I learned that the question of family trusts was not allowed to go to the public accounts committee. I would like the member to shed some light on these famous family trusts criticized by the Auditor General that should normally have been studied by the public accounts committee but were not.

I would like an explanation, and I would also like to hear a bit about this family trust scandal that, as my hon. colleague was saying, apparently left the small taxpayer stuck once again with the bill for this monumental blunder by the federal government. So I would ask my colleague to tell us a little more about that.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to enlighten him on the problem. I am sure the Minister of Finance was well aware of the issue a long time before it became public through the publication of the auditor general's report last May.

When it became public, the Minister of Finance immediately referred it to the Standing Committee on Finance for study. It was studied for many months while the law remained in place with this great big, wide loophole that a truck could drive through. I am sure many people did drive a truck full of money across the border tax free because that is what happened when it went to the finance committee. The committee sat on it for months.

After the finance committee reported back to the House in September, three months after the general public became aware of it and this House became aware of it, the Minister of Finance introduced a ways and means motion. He could have stopped it the very day the auditor general made his report public and he did not.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Lethbridge
Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker Lethbridge

Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on the remarks of the hon. member for St. Albert.

My colleague mentioned very clearly his concern about who pays taxes. He talked about the long arm of the tax collector. He also talked about the questions and answers of the Minister of Finance today in the House. The minister tried to make the case that the Liberal government was taxing banks and a variety of other rich people in Canada more now than before.

The story is unclear. During this term of the 35th Parliament we witnessed and know it happened, the Liberal government-the Minister of Finance was involved and a representative from the Montreal area-gave Bombardier $100 million practically interest free.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

An hon. member

It was $87 million.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Lethbridge
Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker Lethbridge

It was $87 million. Well, $87 million and $100 million is not very far apart. By the time it gets an interest free loan it is soon going to be $100 million. This is a company that made $400 million in profits in the last year and could have financed $87 million very easily.

This goes on and on. The Liberals try to claim they are defenders of the poor but at the same time they shovel the money out to the rich. The poor people are being held by the long arm of the tax collector. The tax collector grabs 40 per cent of the wages of young people so they cannot get ahead. I would appreciate a comment from my hon. colleague on that matter first.