House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Sales Tax Amendments Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, there they go again. The government members are laughing again, but it is not that funny to the Canadians who benefit from those programs, because the Conservatives are not going to lead on those issues. That is why it took the NDP and the CCF being in the House to bring about those changes that affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Whether or not we ever end up in the cabinet room, I am a proud New Democrat. I am proud of the impact we as a small caucus have had on the national agenda in helping millions of people who otherwise would not have a voice in this place.

Sales Tax Amendments Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague mentioned the visitors GST rebate program and the fact that it is going to be scrapped. Some correspondence which has come to my desk recently from a small businessman in my riding says that according to a study the government will actually be losing money and not saving money on this program.

I wonder if the member could comment on this, please.

Sales Tax Amendments Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is why I commented earlier that it makes no sense to do this. It makes no common sense; it makes no dollar sense.

The reality is that the amount of money involved is relatively small when we talk about the GDP of Canada or our national budget. Its impact from a marketing point of view, its impact in terms of making Canada an appealing destination point for a whole host of reasons including conferences, conventions and outright tourism means that this was a non-starter.

All we can hope for is that given it is not in the bill, the government has reconsidered and it will not be brought in as it is a bad idea from all perspectives.

Sales Tax Amendments Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, for a while I thought the NDP was going to claim authorship of the Constitution and one of the books of the Bible.

I am pleased to continue the debate on Bill C-40. It is a tax amendment bill. Many have called it a technical amendment bill and it certainly is that.

One of the points I would like to make is that it is never possible to make tax policy changes in a vacuum. Even though this bill may be regarded as technical, Parliament must always be vigilant, as should taxpayers, to make sure that tax changes, however small they are said to be, do not radically change the strategic direction of tax policy unless it is the will of Parliament to do so.

On at least three occasions not involving this bill, the government appears to have made three separate policy moves to alter tax policy, I feel, in a vacuum, in a way that has had negative impacts.

One of them was the possibility of revoking the GST rebate for visitors. Reference has already been made to this. The government appears to have walked from that, but the very fact that the statement was made may have altered the perception of visitors to Canada and travel agents who organize visits to Canada. That was a mistake, frankly. The amount collected in that tax is relatively small.

I realize one of the reasons for considering the revocation was the extent to which fraud had taken up some of those resources, but again, it is a small amount of money and it is probably worth the enforcement costs to make sure our visitors feel they are welcome in Canada and welcome to spend here in Canada. That was a mistake.

Another mistake, as my friend from the NDP discussed at some length, was the 1% reduction in the GST. That reduction is small to many Canadians. One could class that GST 1% reduction as regressive because it is the big spenders who will get the biggest tax reduction. If one lives hand to mouth in Canada, if one is not spending big bucks, if almost all of one's money goes out for rent and food, then 1% of nothing is nothing. There is no tax rebate available to those people. Maybe the government would rather have the photo op and the glamour tax reduction statement instead of really considering the tax impact on individual Canadians.

The third mistake had to do with the taxation of unit trusts. In a flagrant, obvious, blatant reversal of an election promise, one Friday afternoon the finance minister announced that the government would terminate the tax vehicle known as the unit trusts. This had huge downside financial implications for thousands of Canadians who had put their savings into unit trusts relying on that commitment and the existence of the tax interpretations. This issue is being canvassed at this time by the finance committee.

These are all examples of why Parliament cannot let a government make tax policy decisions in a vacuum. One has to look at the entire picture.

Mr. Speaker, I realize we are getting close to members' statements. Perhaps this might be a point when we could pause and I will resume my remarks later.

Sales Tax Amendments Act, 2006
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

I appreciate that from the hon. member. The hon. member will have approximately 16 minutes at the end of question period to resume his remarks.

Sri Lanka
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada deeply regrets the return of active conflict in Sri Lanka and the consequences this has had for the safety of civilians. Canada has expressed these concerns to the Sri Lankan government.

The Sri Lankan president has created a commission of inquiry to investigate these reports. He has also agreed to the establishment of an international independent group of eminent persons to ensure that the work of the commission remains transparent, objective and credible.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has accepted an invitation for Canada to participate in this initiative and has named Professor Bruce Matthews, a world renowned scholar and an expert on the nexus of religion, ethnicity and conflict in Sri Lanka, as the Canadian candidate to this group.

Canadian participation in the eminent persons group represents Canada's support for the Sri Lankan peace process through promotion of accountability and respect of human rights.

Health
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, “Out of the Shadows at Last”, is an appropriate title for the Senate report dealing with the important issues of mental health, mental illness and addiction. The time has come for these issues to move to the front of the agenda of Canadian health concerns.

The Senate report calls for three key recommendations to be implemented: the establishment of a Canadian mental health commission; the establishment of a mental health transition fund; and increased support for research funding. The report also spends much time examining the issues specific to the mental health status of women, aboriginal people, children and youth, seniors and Canadian Forces members.

I add my voice to those of the Canadian Psychological Association, the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health in applauding the recommendations included in this report.

I urge the government to act on the report and, indeed, move the issue of mental health out of the shadows and into the light.

Lanaudière Centre for Innovation in Food Processing
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, last spring, the Lanaudière regional cegep in Joliette, the Lanaudière bio-food development board and their partners launched the Lanaudière centre for innovation in food processing. I would like to salute this initiative, which will promote local products, create quality jobs and offer a high-level service to all regional food processing companies.

The mission of the Lanaudière centre for innovation in food processing is to support the start-up, growth and development of regional agri-food businesses. Its work will take place in the cegep's agri-food facility.

Congratulations to everyone working on this initiative. The Bloc Québécois hopes that it will be a long-lasting one.

Natural Gas
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has repeatedly said that Canada is an energy superpower and has created a powerful cabinet subcommittee on energy security. However, it is clear what the Conservatives are saying on energy in Canada is not what is being said by government agencies here and abroad.

I just returned from Russia and was briefed there by our embassy. It is saying that Canada is running short of natural gas and needs to import liquefied natural gas. Imported Russian LNG is not a secure form of energy. Hardball energy politics are part of the Russian play book. This imported natural gas will also hurt ordinary working Canadians who earn a living in our oil and gas industry.

For the Northwest Territories, Russian LNG means direct competition for Mackenzie Valley natural gas. For the residents of Lévis, Quebec, Russian LNG represents an unacceptable environmental hazard in a terminal. For all average Canadians, Russian LNG means higher taxes as the government makes no money on it, unlike Canadian gas.

Without any process or plan, the Conservatives want—

Natural Gas
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for South Shore—St. Margaret's.

Six String Nation
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak about the Six String Nation. It started as an idea by Jowi Taylor on the eve of the 1995 referendum and became reality at the hands of master luthier George Rizsanyi of Pinehurst, Nova Scotia. George took this great idea and built a guitar called the Six String Nation, made from the spirit of Canada.

I had the great honour of watching this guitar being crafted in George's workshop. Over 60 pieces of Canadiana are included in its design: a piece of the Golden Spruce from Haida-Gwaii; a piece of Paul Henderson's hockey stick from the 1972 series; a board from the oldest Acadian house on P.E.I.; Maurice Richard's 1955-56 Stanley Cup ring; Trudeau's canoe paddle; decking from the Bluenose II; and a piece of Sir John A. Macdonald's sideboard.

The Six String Nation is coming back to Ottawa this Thursday and will be in room 238-S from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Take a moment to see this guitar for, as George has said, “the voices of each story combine as it is played and he hopes that it will give Canadians a sense of the richness of their own country”.

Child Care
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, people in the riding of Churchill have had a resounding voice on the issue of early learning and child care. As we near the end of this fiscal year, it marks the end of the funding which had been delivered through the past Liberal government's national early learning and child care strategy.

The minority Conservative government has chosen not to honour those agreements and therefore Manitoba and families in the Churchill riding are deeply concerned, frustrated and outraged.

The Conservatives have failed to meet the needs of Canadian families and have not come forward with any concrete plans to ensure choice in early learning and child care as there are no plans to ensure spaces.

Not only are families and communities under provincial jurisdiction affected, but those in first nations are as well. In the Churchill riding there are 33 first nations and they had their early learning and child care funding cut without any dialogue with the government on the issue.

The Conservative government gives little with the one hand and takes lots with the other. It has not provided child care choice for the people in the Churchill riding.

Archbishop of Toronto
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, today the 1.6 million Roman Catholics of the greater Toronto area officially welcome their new Archbishop, Thomas Christopher Collins, who was consecrated as Archbishop of Toronto at an installation mass in St. Michael's Cathedral today.

Archbishop Collins was appointed by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in December to be the 10th Archbishop of Toronto. As Canada's largest Roman Catholic diocese, Toronto has 223 parishes, where holy mass is offered on altars in more than 30 languages each, including Latin.

At a time of great social change, there is an increased need for the church to instruct the faithful, minister to the needy and strengthen the family.

We pray His Grace will have the strength in his office to follow St. Paul's instruction to St. Timothy:

—proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience – but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching.

Canada's new government sends its greetings and says, Ad multos et faustissimos annos, Your Grace.

Post-secondary Education
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, the daily newspaper La Presse reported that Quebec's cegeps are facing a $305 million shortfall. The fact that these educational facilities are in dire need of cash is proof positive that the need is in Quebec while the money is in Ottawa.

Despite the Conservatives' wonderful promises, the government has not done a thing to correct the fiscal imbalance.

The province is not asking for much; it wants transfers for post-secondary education. Transfers should already have been raised to 1994-95 levels: $5.1 billion for the provinces including $1.2 billion for Quebec.

Transferring the $1.2 billion the Bloc Québécois is asking for would be a first step toward correcting the fiscal imbalance. Without it, our cegeps, colleges and other post-secondary educational institutions will continue to experience hard times.

The Environment
Statements By Members

January 30th, 2007 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, Benjamin Franklin once remarked, “well done is better than well said”. When it comes to the environment, the government has done well. We have turned words into action and are bringing about a cleaner and greener tomorrow.

To promote smarter use of energy, we are investing $300 million. To develop clean energy technologies, we are investing $230 million. To boost Canada's supply of renewable energy, we are investing $1.5 billion. To get people out of their cars and into public transit, we are providing a tax credit of $350 million. To clean up one of the most toxic sites in North American, the Sydney tar ponds, we are investing $400 million.

We are removing the equivalent of 1.3 million cars from the road by requiring a 5% renewable fuel content. We brought in tough new regulations on 18 declared toxic substances.

After more than a decade of inaction, of words without deeds, rhetoric without results, Canadians finally have a government that is getting the job done on the environment.