House of Commons Hansard #143 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agency.

Topics

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

An hon. member

Hear, hear.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Someone is happy anyway. I will address a couple of points. According to the government, the Canada customs and review agency is being established to increase efficiency in the collection of taxes.

I am not sure I have ever heard that from any of my constituents. No one has ever written, faxed or phoned me to say “I want a better tax system. I want the government to be more efficient in relieving me of my money”. I have not had a single person tell me that would be his or her highest priority.

However, I have had people tell me of some other priorities related to efficiency. Because of lack of time I will not be able to talk about all of them. One priority that comes immediately to mind is the income tax system. It is complicated and long. Most Canadians have to hire someone in order to file their taxes. It is too complicated even for a person with a grade 12 education. That is not acceptable. Surely we can come up with a system of tax collection that is straightforward and not convoluted but one which people can understand and participate in.

We then have that much hated GST, the GST that the government was to eliminate if it were elected. Members may recall—and I certainly do, having run in the 1993 election—that the cry on the hustings was “Elect the Liberals, get rid of these scoundrel Tories and we will eliminate the GST. It will be gone, poof”.

What has happened in most provinces is that it is now harmonized in the interest of a more efficient system, so we are told, but the fact of the matter is that many people in eastern Canada in the so-called harmonized provinces are distressed because their total tax bill has gone up, up, up.

I think not only of the fact that we still have the GST, but if we want to make the tax system more efficient one of the places to look at is the GST. I have other words that are sometimes used for it. GST can be an acronym for more than just the goods and services tax.

I have talked to people who think that it is absolutely insane for money to be going in circles, in a vortex, sucking us all down. The government collects the money and then instead of spending it on operating the government and government programs, it creates a huge bureaucracy with an army of people whose job it is to send the money back that has been collected.

I am absolutely amazed that the Government of Canada, with all its experts, cannot come up with a tax that is a little better and a little more fair than simply saying it will collect money from us and then send it back. Thousands and thousands of individuals and businesses get back all the GST they pay. There are some individuals who get a refund of GST which exceeds the GST they pay. It has become a way of giving money to people who do not have a great deal of income.

I am not opposed to helping people who are poor, but it is ludicrous to force them to file an income tax return, which they have to hire someone to do, in order to get money from the government to which they should be entitled in any case.

I have spoken to a number of small business people. Most of them nowadays have access to computers and other things that help them become more efficient in doing their arithmetic for tax and bookkeeping purposes. I have also talked to a farmer not too long ago who said that during the summer he was so busy farming that he just did not have time to put together his books and file his GST rebate every three months.

He goes to town to buy a part that costs $10 plus the GST of 70 cents. He takes this piece of paper which is worth 70 cents and puts it into a box because he does not have time to do it until the whole summer operation is over and harvest is done.

He then gets out the box and starts adding up all the little GST payments to apply for his credit. He says he cannot afford not to do it because if he does not apply for his GST rebate he will end up giving the government $5,000 to $6,000 to which it is not entitled and which he really needs.

He said that his time spent in doing that book work is worth about $2 an hour and he would rather be spending his time becoming more efficient in his farming operation. He would rather use that time to do things that helped him to produce a better crop and maybe spend time with his family.

It is absolutely crazy to say that the only way we can improve efficiency is to come up with a customs and revenue agency. I do not know whether the government is sucking or blowing. It certainly does not know whether it is coming or going. It is privatizing parts of the military and the airports and now it wants to privatize the tax collection agency.

In my riding a private agency has been preparing coin blanks successfully and without ever missing a contract for 30 years. The government is saying it is needed there and is building this new coin plating plant in Winnipeg under government auspices. On the one hand it is privatizing and on the other hand it is putting private business out of business and taking it over as a government agency. We do not know whether the government is coming or going. I am distressed that this type of thing is the best it can come up with to try to make our tax system more efficient and more equitable.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

It being 5.15 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the second reading of the bill now before the House.

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 248
Government Orders

October 27th, 1998 / 5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the amendment defeated.

The next question is on the main motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Division No. 248
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find consent to apply the results of the vote just taken in reverse.

Division No. 248
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Division No. 248
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.