House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Income Tax Amendments Act, 2006
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have two questions for the member.

First, as he mentioned, the Conservatives seem to be ignoring more and more what Parliament does in motions and even in bills. When they were in opposition, as the member will remember, they would say that it was an affront to Parliament or an affront to the people.

In particular, relating to the bill put forward by the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier on Kyoto, which the member mentioned in his speech and which basically told the government to come up with a plan, the government's answer was that there was no plan in the bill.

Obviously, the bill is telling the government by law to come up with a plan. I would like the hon. member to comment on that.

Second, does the hon. member not think that the government tax increase on July 1, 2006 for the lowest income people in this country from 15% to 15.5% was totally unreasonable and unCanadian when everyone else was getting a tax decrease?

Income Tax Amendments Act, 2006
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, following the tabling of the budget and discussions of the Standing Committee on Finance, I had the opportunity to sit in on the never-ending debate between the Liberals and the Conservatives about who raised taxes and who lowered them. Frankly, I find this rather ridiculous. They do not want to acknowledge that the decrease in taxes planned by the Liberals had not yet been adopted but that, in practice, it had already gone into effect. It is a silly game and they can keep on playing it.

To return to the first question, it is disconcerting to see the government disregard the will of this House. It is unfortunate and it seems that the government does not understand that it is in a minority position, that the majority of Canadians did not support it, that it must find a way to work with various parties and that if it is isolated, it must give way to the opinion of the majority.

I do not understand why the government would not abide by the Kyoto protocol bill. It must abide by it. If the House adopts a principle, it must respect the principle and the rules. The Bloc Québécois tabled a motion calling on the government to set absolute targets for greenhouse gas reductions and this resolution was adopted by the majority of the House. In my opinion, a responsible government would not wait to have a bill before it to respect the will of the House.

Income Tax Amendments Act, 2006
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his continued support for the Kyoto protocol. My question to him is related to taxation and the discussion we are having today.

As he knows, a few years ago the Bronfman family sent $2 billion out of the country to avoid paying taxes. A gentleman from Winnipeg actually took the issue all the way to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, he was not successful, but the fact is, it should not have been an individual from Winnipeg doing that. It should have been the government putting a stop to that.

The problem is that the loopholes for tax havens are still there. If I am not mistaken, the finance minister recently reported that over $80 billion are secured offshore in tax havens.

I would like to know if the hon. member can speak on behalf of his party. Is the Bloc Québécois prepared to close the loophole that stops Canadian dollars from being secured in offshore tax havens?

Income Tax Amendments Act, 2006
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, for some time the Bloc Québécois has been seeking to limit and prohibit the use of tax havens.

As I previously explained in my presentation, some might say they are loopholes in the legislation. However, as I demonstrated earlier, they are not loopholes but are put there by design to enable people, certain wealthy individuals and companies, to avoid paying taxes.

I mentioned the case of an exchange of e-mails proving the intent. I will attempt to find it because it is very interesting. In 1994, an official of the Department of Finance told Craig Cowan, of Arthur Andersen, the following:

Be advised that proposed paragraph 5907(11.2) is intended to ensure that a Barbados international business corporation which is a foreign affiliate will remain eligible to earn an exempt surplus.

Obviously the government wanted a way around the legislation. It is not a loophole. It was designed that way.

Income Tax Amendments Act, 2006
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on a lengthy bill, Bill C-33.

For those viewers watching the program today, who may have missed the point, this bill is about income tax changes, many of them technical in nature, but we have digressed a great deal and we are talking about a number of other issues.

I intend to speak to the bill and I will do it in three ways. I will address the issues of income trusts, tax havens and the question of unfairness in our tax regime.

I will begin with income trusts because it seems that the Liberal finance critic, the member for Markham—Unionville, has chosen to spend most of his time attacking the New Democratic Party. I did not realize that we had so much power and that we were in a position to determine the affairs of the nation but that clearly is what the member from Markham thinks.

The member's bullying tactics against the NDP, and myself in particular, will not work, just as the bullying tactics of the big oil companies will not work when they take out paid advertisements attacking me directly and the NDP for having dared to suggest that income trusts have no place in our system and should have been phased out. We acknowledge the fact that we have been consistent on this issue from day one and have not flip-flopped or changed our minds, as both the Conservatives and the Liberals have done.

We have not used this issue as a political football and we have not attempted to put one over on Canadians. We will continue to indicate why we are concerned about income trusts and the huge loss of revenue for government programs and the very important programs and initiatives for Canadians.

There is no question in our mind that we are talking about tax leakage, tax slippage and tax loopholes that the Liberals, for over 13 years, upheld and which the Conservatives now seem determined to be party to.

When it comes to this issue, it is clear that the Liberals cannot hold a candle to anyone. They are absolutely shameless when it comes to attacking others, when in fact their record is horrific. The Conservatives, obviously, have fallen into the footsteps of the Liberals by ensuring the perpetuation of large tax loopholes and havens for their corporate friends. That needs to be stopped for the good of all Canadians.

I am not surprised at the member for Markham—Unionville, given his banking background. We know that when push comes to shove the Liberals will be the defenders of big oil and big banks. That was apparent over the last 13 years.

Today we are dealing with a bill that arises out of concerns from the Auditor General about the perpetuation of tax loopholes and tax havens. If truth be told, we are talking about Auditor General reports that go back 14 years, to 1992. The first report of the Auditor General on tax havens happened in that year. It was followed by a report in 2001, a report in 2002 and, more recently, a report in 2007. In each and every case, the Auditor General raised concerns about tax havens.

The Liberal government had ample opportunity to address this very serious issue and chose not to. In fact, it chose to go the opposite way by encouraging tax havens and ensuring that the Barbados remained as a tax haven for investors. That haven continues to be used today by big drug companies, big banks, big oil companies and big shipping companies.

We are talking about the loss of a huge amount of money that ought to have been put to the benefit of Canadians to ensure they and their families were able to make ends meet. If truth be told today, one could say that if anyone deserves a break, it is average families, hard-working Canadians who have seen their ability to cover growing expenses become more and more difficult, while in fact the rich get richer and big corporations get more and more access to tax loopholes and havens.

The point of today's legislation is to crack down on tax loopholes and tax havens but I doubt that this bill is adequate to do the task. However, we will, over the course of the debate, be making some suggestions.

I will be proposing an amendment to the bill that would deal with one of the outstanding issues pertaining to income trusts, which is that many investors, in using income trusts as a way to make money, have overvalued their trusts. As a result, Canadians have been taken to the cleaners and have lost a great deal of money.

Today we propose that the government take the NDP private member's bill to deal with this and ensure accountability and transparency in all aspects of the income trust field so long as they are with us knowing in fact we would like to see them phased out.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Ontario Fishery Regulations, 1989
Delegated Legislation
Orders of the Day

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It being 5:30 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 14 under government business.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #119

Delegated Legislation
Orders of the Day

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 125(1), the corresponding resolution, standing on the order paper in the name of Mr. Szabo, is deemed withdrawn.

(Motion agreed to and resolution deemed withdrawn.)

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Canada Transportation Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions on the motions at report stage of Bill C-11.

The question is on Motion No. 2.

Canada Transportation Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think if you seek it, you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to the motion presently before the House, with Conservative members present this evening voting no.

Canada Transportation Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Canada Transportation Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Transportation Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Liberals will be voting no.