House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trafficking.

Topics

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Would those members who object to the motion please rise in their place.

And more than 15 members having risen:

More than 15 members having risen, the motion is deemed to have been withdrawn.

(Motion withdrawn)

Post-Secondary Education
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions. One is addressed to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development. The petitioners state that students are being hit hard today, that the chronic federal underfunding of core post-secondary education has led to soaring tuition fees and average student debt is approaching $25,000, and that it is very difficult in the area of student loans.

Therefore, these petitioners would like the government to create a federal needs based grant system for all Canada student loans in every year of study by rolling in the budget of poorly targeted federal PSE programs and the expiring millennium scholarship foundation, to reduce the federal student loan interest rate, to create a federal student loan ombudsperson, and to create enforceable federal standards governing the conduct of government and private student loan collection agents subject to the policy objective of helping students find ways to repay their loans, among other things.

Seniors
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

My second petition deals with seniors and the fact that Statistics Canada has made a major error in its calculations of the consumer price index showing the rates for hotel/motel rooms dropping 16.5% when they actually had risen 32.2%.

The petitioners, around 150 of them, call upon the Parliament of Canada to take full responsibility for the error and take the required steps to repay every Canadian who was shortchanged by a government program because of the miscalculation of the CPI.

Human Trafficking
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I table hundreds of names on a petition from across Canada regarding the combating of human trafficking in Canada. The petitioners are calling on the government to continue its good work toward stopping the human trafficking issue here in Canada.

Trucking Industry
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by almost 130 Canadians. Most of them are my constituents from towns in Alberta including Calgary, Halkirk, Three Hills, Coronation, Caster and Hanna.

The petitioners call on Parliament to look into the needs of Canada's trucking industry with a view to making drivers' hours of service less restrictive. These truckers maintain that their industry is diverse and regulations concerning commercial vehicle drivers' hours of service are too restrictive.

Canada's truckers provide an invaluable service to our economy and our country. Canada's truckers deliver the goods to each and every family across the wide expanse of Canada's geography and our government wants to help them get the job done. It is a pleasure to table this petition.

World Police & Fire Games
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table today in the House of Commons.

The first petition is from residents in the Burnaby area of British Columbia. They are calling upon the government to provide funding to the 2009 World Police & Fire Games. They are being held in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, centred in Burnaby of course. The federal government has refused thus far to extend financial support to these games.

The petitioners from Burnaby and other communities call on Parliament to immediately extend generous financial support to the 2009 World Police & Fire Games and that this support, at a minimum, match that extended by the federal government to the last Canadian host city of the World Police & Fire Games, the same amount of funding that was provided to Quebec City.

Security and Prosperity Partnership
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is regarding the security and prosperity partnership. Petitions are flooding in from right across this country. This particular petition is signed by dozens of residents in southern Ontario who are very concerned about the Conservative government implementing the Liberal agenda around the SPP.

The petitioners are calling upon the Government of Canada to stop further implementation of the security and prosperity partnership of North America, so called. They urge the Government of Canada to conduct a transparent and accountable public debate on the SPP process, involving meaningful public consultations with civil society and a full legislative review, including the work, recommendations and reports of all SPP working groups, and a full debate and vote in Parliament.

The NDP is the only party opposing the SPP and these petitioners are supporting its call to halt implementation of the SPP.

Income Trusts
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this income trust broken promise petition on behalf of Mrs. Joan Norris from Peterborough, Ontario, who remembers the Prime Minister boasting about his commitment to accountability when he said the greatest fraud is a promise not kept.

The petitioners remind the Prime Minister that he promised never to tax income trusts, but he broke that promise by imposing a 31.5% punitive tax, which permanently wiped out over $25 billion of the hard-earned retirement savings of over two million Canadians, particularly seniors.

The petitioners, therefore, call upon the Conservative minority government to admit that the decision to tax income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions, to apologize to those who were unfairly harmed by the broken promise, and to repeal the punitive 31.5% tax on income trusts.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Bill C-219
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

January 31st, 2008 / 1:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order respecting the procedural acceptability of Bill C-219, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction for volunteer emergency service), which is currently on the order of precedence in the name of the hon. for Malpeque.

Without commenting on the merits of the bill, I would ask the Speaker to rule on whether the bill conforms to the procedural requirements for tax legislation.

Briefly stated, the Income Tax Act has been amended since the introduction of Bill C-219, so that the bill now has the unintended effect of increasing taxes.

Although the bill was in order when it was first introduced, I will be arguing that the bill should have been preceded by a ways and means motion when it was reinstated in the current session of Parliament.

I will therefore be arguing that the bill should be withdrawn from the order paper.

Bill C-219 proposes to amend the Income Tax Act to allow volunteer emergency workers to deduct $1,000 from their taxable income if they performed at least 100 hours of volunteer service and $2,000 if they performed at least 200 hours of volunteer service.

Bill C-219 was first introduced in the House during the previous session of Parliament on April 10, 2006.

On October 16, 2007 the bill was deemed to have been introduced and read a first time in the current session of Parliament pursuant to Standing Order 86.1 which provides for the reinstatement of private members' business following a prorogation.

As the Speaker knows, bills that increase the level of taxation must first be preceded by the adoption of a ways and means motion. The 22nd edition of Erskine May states at pages 777 and 778 that matters requiring authorization by a ways and means resolution include “the repeal or reduction of existing alleviations of taxation, such as exemptions or drawbacks”.

Bill C-219 proposes to amend the Income Tax Act to provide a tax deduction for voluntary emergency workers. Erskine May makes clear at page 781 that bills that alleviate taxation do not require a ways and means motion.

I therefore recognize that the bill was properly before the House when it was first introduced in the previous session of this Parliament. However, since Bill C-219 was first introduced, the Income Tax Act has been amended and as a consequence Bill C-219 will now have the unintended effect of increasing levels of taxation.

Let me take a moment to explain why.

Bill C-219 would add proposed paragraphs 60(y) and 60(z), and proposed sections 60.03 and 60.04 to the Income Tax Act. As I noted earlier, after Bill C-219 was introduced, the Income Tax Act was amended by Parliament in ways which affect Bill C-219.

First, paragraph 60(y) of the Income Tax Act was added by subsection 174(1) of the Budget Implementation Act, 2006, which received royal assent on June 22, 2006.

The effect of this new paragraph is to provide a deduction equal to the amount of any universal child care benefit that a taxpayer is required to pay. The deduction is necessary because when the taxpayer initially received the universal child care benefit the amount is required to be treated as income. As such, it is taxable.

However, if the benefit is to be repaid, taxes would be paid on an amount the taxpayer did not get to keep. That is why the deduction is required. Without it, more taxes are paid. Therefore, removing the deduction would have the effect of increasing the taxes paid.

Proposed paragraph 60(y) contained in Bill C-219 would set out the new tax deduction proposed in the bill but would also have the effect of replacing existing paragraph 60(y) in the Income Tax Act. Therefore, as currently drafted, Bill C-219 would result in a greater tax burden.

The same could also be said for proposed paragraph 60(z), contained in Bill C-219. Section 105 of the Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007, which received royal assent on December 14, 2007, has already added paragraph 60(z) to the Income Tax Act.

Paragraph 60(z) provides for the deduction of any repayment of any grants or bonds paid under the Canada Disability Savings Act. Bill C-219 would remove that deduction.

The third change to the Income Tax Act to which I wish to draw attention is proposed section 60.03 which was added by section 5(1) of the Budget Implementation Act, 2007, which received royal assent on June 22, 2007.

Section 60.03 of the Income Tax Act allows a couple to split their pension income to permit them to take advantage of a lower effective marginal tax rate.

The proposed section 60.03 of Bill C-219 sets out the evidence taxpayers are required to submit to be eligible for the new tax deduction proposed in the bill, but would also have the effect of replacing the existing section 60.03 in the Income Tax Act. In other words, Bill C-219 would repeal the pension splitting provisions and therefore result in a greater tax burden for seniors.

We have with Bill C-219 an unusual circumstance. A ways and means motion was not required when the bill was introduced in the previous session because the bill did not have the effect of increasing taxes at that time.

However, Bill C-219 amends the Income Tax Act, which has since been amended. The provisions of the Income Tax Act, which are being repealed by Bill C-219, were for the benefit of taxpayers. By removing these provisions, we would be adding to the tax burden. Consequently, I would suggest that the bill should have been preceded by an adoption of a ways of means motion at the time of reintroduction in this session and that the bill is therefore now improperly before the House.

I note that in this session the government tabled ways and means motions and had them adopted by the House before the reinstatement of two government tax increase bills from the previous session, namely Bill C-10, the income tax bill, and Bill C-12, the bankruptcy and wage earner protection bill. The government would have tabled a ways and means motion for any new government bill to increase taxes which would remove provisions added in previous budget bills.

In addition, I suggest that the requirement for a ways and means motion is not limited to the introduction of a bill, but also to any motion that would increase taxation. For example, it is clear that motions to amend bills that have the effect of increasing taxation require a ways and means motion. Citation 982 of the sixth edition of Beauchesne's states that, “No motion can therefore be made to impose a tax”.

It could therefore be argued that the motion for second reading of Bill C-219 is out of order, as the bill would have the effect of increasing the levels of taxation.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, if you were to find that Bill C-219 is now improperly before the House, as I argue, I believe you would be obliged to direct that the order for second reading of the bill be discharged and the bill be withdrawn from the order paper, as you did in the case of Bill C-418 earlier in the session, on November 28, 2007.

Bill C-219
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for the information. He made an interesting argument.

As the member has stated, the bill, which would permit an exemption for taxable income, was in order and fully permittable. It would not require a royal recommendation because it did not prescribe the expenditure of government revenues. It would appear, however, that the arguments laid out by the hon. member lead to the assumption of consequential impacts on other taxation matters, whether it be child care or benefit items, or any other tax items that he mentioned.

It is not readily determinable whether there are cases where changes in the tax act, and with this bill in place, would not have reduced the taxes of other persons in Canada simply because of the level of taxable income, which would be used for determining the eligibility for other benefits, whether it be EI, OAS, or whatever.

There is no question that one could come up with some examples where taxpayers in certain situations may, as a consequence, find that their taxes would go up. However, it is not necessarily applicable to all taxpayers. It will have to be worked out, and I would like an opportunity to look at it.

There is another aspect to this. When a matter comes up with regard to a royal recommendation, the Speaker generally provides notice that a royal recommendation is required. Under the circumstances described by the parliamentary secretary, and prior to the reinstatement of the bill, no additional information was provided by the Chair, based on the analysis of those who advise the Chair on these matters, that the changes that had taken place now changed the situation. Therefore, the member in question had no opportunity to save his bill, and that is a very serious matter.

There is also another argument. Even should a royal recommendation be required, as described by the parliamentary secretary, it only means the question would not be put at the end of third reading. It does not mean the member does not have an opportunity, either in committee or at report stage, to make changes to the bill so the offending provisions requiring a royal recommendation could be remedied. The bill could then continue, have a vote and become law.

The parliamentary secretary is making a case for the bill to simply be dropped. He is totally eliminating the opportunity for the member to salvage his bill. He is not giving the member an opportunity, which all members have, simply because of a change.

I do not believe the case has been made that the bill would have a universal impact on all other taxpayers with regard to the benefits about which he talked. It may only be isolated cases. Whereas on a net basis, or in terms of net revenue for the government, it would not be the case. That cannot be said with certitude right now without having an analysis prepared by those who would argue that case.

I am sure there will be more interventions in this regard. I would ask that the decision on the ruling to eliminate the bill from the order paper on the basis that the parliamentary secretary outlined be held off because the argument is much more complex. The mover of the bill should have an opportunity to speak to possible remedies. Should there be a subsequent ruling or notice by the Chair that a royal recommendation would be required, the member would at least have the opportunity to determine the manner in which he could remedy the bill and still have it on the order paper and dealt with in the normal course.

Bill C-219
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I agree completely with the hon. member opposite who has said that this is obviously a very complex and highly unusual situation concerning Bill C-219. I point out again, however, that we are talking about a ways and means motion rather than a royal recommendation. As the Speaker completely understands, there is a distinction between the two.

Even though I appreciate the arguments made by my hon. colleague about the need perhaps for the member who introduced this private member's bill to be consulted and have a chance to address the situation, and it is an unusual situation and I give full weight to that, Marleau and Montpetit, on pages 701-702, states that a fundamental principle of our parliamentary system is that all taxes imposed on our nation must be granted by Parliament. That was the crux of my argument.

This protection of the principle is an important concern for all members of the House. While I appreciate the arguments of my hon. colleague, there is also convention and procedures that we must observe, Mr. Speaker. I look for your ruling on this matter in the near future.

Bill C-219
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Before I hear the hon. government whip on a point of order, I want to apologize to the House for a mix-up that occurred earlier.

When the hon. government whip moved a motion pursuant to Standing Order 56.1, the Chair was in possession of a form that indicated that only 15 members needed to rise in order for the motion to not be acceptable to the House. That was a mistake.

Pursuant to Standing Order 56.1, 25 people are required. Of course the Chair did not take pains to observe whether there were 25, or 24 or 26, but only that there were 15. This has been brought to my attention subsequently.

The only fair thing to do at this moment is to give the government whip the opportunity to move his motion, pursuant to Standing Order 56, again.