House of Commons Hansard #46 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was treaties.

Topics

Fairness at the Pumps Act
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

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

Fairness at the Pumps Act
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Fairness at the Pumps Act
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11:05 a.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Fairness at the Pumps Act
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2010
Government Orders

May 13th, 2010 / 11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2010
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to start debate on Bill S-3.

However, before I get into my prepared remarks, as this legislation involves Greece, perhaps it is a very relevant time to bring the members of the House up to speed on the latest issues in Greece. It has been very much in the media and I think it is appropriate to comment on the current situation.

First and foremost, Canada is concerned about the situation in that country and other threats to the global economy. That is why we have been taking a leadership role within the G7 and the G20 on global financial reform, including Greece.

Over the weekend, the finance minister chaired conference calls, and I emphasize “calls”, with G7 finance ministers on that matter. Canada, through the IMF and through our IMF partners, is providing key support to help ensure the situation is contained.

The Bank of Canada, working with the central banks around the world, is also helping provide key liquidity to markets.

While we are satisfied that the IMF and the EU actions to date will help address recent market volatility, we remain concerned about the fiscal situation in some countries. Hopefully, in a small way, the passage of Bill S-3 and the Greece-Canada tax treaty within it will help the turnaround in Greece by reducing tax barriers to trade and investment between our two countries. The strong ties between our two countries, bolstered by the large and active Greek Canadian community, will further be strengthened by this legislation as we create better conditions for Greek companies to do business in Canada and for Canadian companies to operate in Greece.

As Hellenic Canadian Association president, Theodoros Aslanidis, and I thank my hon. colleague from Scarborough Centre for helping me with the pronunciation of that name and I still may have it wrong, noted, “the agreement is very positive”.

The legislation would implement Canada's recently concluded tax treaties with Greece and Turkey as well as Colombia, tax treaties that would help both prevent unfair double taxation and tax evasion.

Bill S-3 is part of Canada's ongoing effort to update and modernize its network of income tax treaties, which represents one of the most extensive in the world. In fact, Canada has tax treaties in place with nearly 90 countries. Moreover, Canada is continually working on agreements with other jurisdictions.

Before I continue, let me be clear. While Bill S-3 is important legislation, it is largely routine. Indeed, in the 39th Parliament, the House adopted similar legislation related to tax treaties with Finland, Mexico and Korea. In the 38th Parliament, under the former Liberal government, legislation concerning tax treaties with Gabon, Ireland, Armenia, Oman and Azerbaijan were also adopted.

Bill S-3 and all the aforementioned similar legislation related to tax treaties are in fact patterned after the OECD model tax convention. This OECD framework is widely accepted in the international community.

As Peter Barnes, the noted former deputy international tax counsel at the U.S. Treasury Department, noted in the OECD Observer magazine:

—the OECD model has achieved a consensus position as the benchmark against which essentially all tax treaty negotiations take place....the OECD Model Tax Convention is a tremendously important tool for smoothing the way of international business and global trade.

Rest assured, the provisions in the three treaties in Bill S-3 comply with the international norms that apply to such treaties. They are exactly like the legislation from the 38th and the 39th Parliaments. Accordingly the tax treaties with Greece, Turkey and Colombia have all been designed with two goals in mind: avoiding double taxation and preventing international tax avoidance or evasion.

Before elaborating further on the importance of these two objectives, there are a couple of general points to discuss regarding tax treaties and their role in contributing to a competitive tax system in Canada.

Our Conservative government is always working to expand its network of tax agreements with other countries. In order to combat offshore tax evasion, we unveiled a policy in budget 2007 that introduced incentives that have non-treaty countries enter into OECD-modelled tax information exchange agreements with Canada. It also required that all new tax treaties and revisions to existing tax treaties include that standard for tax information exchange.

I am happy to report that negotiations on tax information exchange agreements have commenced with more than a dozen jurisdictions. What is more, in August 2009, Canada signed its first tax information exchange agreement with the Netherlands Antilles. That agreement, along with those between Canada and Colombia, Greece and Turkey, all include the OECD standard on international tax information exchange.

We have built on that record in recent years as well. For instance, we have given the Canada Revenue Agency additional resources for international tax audit and enforcement. I believe all members realize and understand that tax treaties are an important tool for improving our system of international taxation.

As I mentioned, the tax treaties with Greece, Turkey and Colombia are designed with two key objectives in mind. The first objective is to remove barriers to cross-border trade and investment, most notably the double taxation of income. The second objective is to prevent tax evasion by encouraging cooperation between Canada's tax authorities and those in other countries.

First, we all recognize that removing barriers to trade and investment are paramount in today's global economy. Investors, traders and others with international dealings need to know that the tax implications associated with their activities, both in Canada and abroad, are protected.

Canadians also want to be treated fairly, with consistent tax treatment that is set out from the start. In other words, they want to know the rules of the game and they want to know the rules will not change in the middle of the game.

Bill S-3 will remove uncertainty about the tax implications associated with doing business, working or visiting abroad in Greece, Turkey and Colombia.

These tax treaties will establish a mutual understanding of how those tax regimes will interface with those in Canada. This can only promote certainty and stability, and help produce a better business climate, especially with respect to eliminating double taxation. Nobody wants to have their income taxed twice, nor should it be, but without a tax treaty, that is exactly what could happen. Both countries could claim tax on income without providing the taxpayer with any measure of relief for the tax paid in the other country.

To alleviate the potential for double taxation, tax treaties use two general methods, depending on their particular circumstances. In some cases the exclusive right to tax particular income is granted to the country where the taxpayer resides. In other cases, the taxing right is shared. For example, if a Canadian resident employed by a Canadian company is sent on a short-term assignment, perhaps for three months, to any one of the three treaty countries noted in Bill S-3, Canada has the exclusive right to tax that person's employment income. If, on the other hand, that same person is employed abroad for a longer period of time, say for one year, then the host country can also tax the employment income.

Under the terms of the tax treaty, this individual will be treated fairly. When the individual files his or her taxes, a credit will be provided on the tax that has been paid in that other country, thus avoiding double taxation and keeping the tax system fair.

It has been noted that one way to reduce the potential for double taxation is to reduce withholding taxes. These taxes are a common feature in international taxation. They are levied by a country on certain items of income arising in that country and paid to residents of another country.

The types of income normally subjected to withholding tax would include, for example, interest, dividends and royalties. Withholding taxes are levied on the gross amounts paid to non-residents and represent their final obligations with respect to Canadian income tax.

Without tax treaties, Canada usually taxes this income at a rate of 25%, which is the rate set out under own legislation, the Income Tax Act. Accordingly, Bill S-3, as with all tax treaties, addresses this issue with numerous withholding rate reductions. Specifically, Bill S-3 will provide for a maximum withholding tax on portfolio dividends paid to non-residents of 15% in the case of Colombia and Greece, and 20% in the case of Turkey.

For dividends paid by subsidiaries to their parent companies, the maximum withholding rate is reduced to 5% in the case of Colombia and Greece, and 15% in the case of Turkey. Withholding rate reductions also apply to royalty, interest and pension payments.

The treaties in Bill S-3 cap the maximum withholding tax rate on interest at 10% in the case of Colombia and Greece, and 15% in the case of Turkey. Each treaty in this bill caps the maximum withholding tax rate of a royalty payment at 10% and on periodic pension payments at 15%.

I mentioned the tax treaties have two objectives. I have spoken at length about the first objective of removing barriers to cross-border trade and investment by eliminating double taxation. While double taxation is clearly problematic, tax evasion and avoidance are also unfair and economically damaging. The loss of revenue resulting from tax avoidance and evasion obviously negatively affect the efforts of governments to function.

Not only that, tax evasion is blatantly unfair as it places an uneven share of the tax burden on honest taxpayers. That is why the second objective of tax treaties is to encourage co-operation between Canadian tax authorities and those in other countries.

We all appreciate that the best defence against international tax avoidance and evasion is through improved and expanded mechanisms for international co-operation and information sharing. By increasing co-operation between Canada and other countries, in this instance Colombia, Greece and Turkey, we are able to better prevent tax evasion.

Tax treaties are an important tool in protecting Canada's tax base by allowing consultations and information to be exchanged between our two governments. This means that we can better catch those trying to avoid taxes, ensure the integrity of our tax system, and that everyone is taxed equally.

Indeed, our Conservative government firmly believes that Canadians should be confident that all taxpayers contribute their fair share. We demonstrated that commitment in budget 2010 through a number of initiatives intended to protect the integrity of Canada's taxation system, initiatives that will help ensure that all taxpayers pay their fair share of tax on income earned in Canada and abroad.

For instance, in budget 2010 we proposed to address tax planning practices that have developed, which have allowed under particular circumstances a portion of stock-based employment benefits to escape taxation at both personal and corporate levels, by: preventing tax arbitrage opportunities involving leases with government entities, other tax exempt entities or non-residents who are not subject to Canadian taxation; consulting regarding a proposal to require taxpayers to identify aggressive tax planning, which will provide the Canada Revenue Agency with early notice of new and emerging aggressive tax-avoidance schemes; consulting on revised proposals to prevent tax avoidance through the use of offshore trusts or other foreign investment entities; and ensuring that businesses cannot inappropriately capitalize on the differences between the tax systems of Canada and other countries to artificially increase foreign tax credits related to cross-border transactions and, thus, pay less tax.

We also propose to prevent aggressive tax planning by ensuring that income trust conversions into corporations are subject to the same loss utilization rules that currently apply to similar transactions involving only corporations, and finally, to ensure the provisions of the Criminal Code that apply to serious crimes related to money laundering and terrorist financing can be invoked in cases of tax evasion and prosecuted under Canada's tax statutes.

Taken together, such initiatives are consistent with our Conservative government's ongoing commitment to tax fairness.

In conclusion, as I mentioned at the outset, Bill S-3, while standard legislation at heart, is nevertheless very important. There is little doubt that its benefits are clear. The tax treaties covered in this proposed legislation will promote certainty, stability and better business climate for taxpayers and businesses in Canada and in these three treaty countries.

Moreover, these treaties will help to secure Canada's position in the increasingly competitive world of international trade and investment. They comply with international OECD standards and will help ensure a stronger tax system for Canadians. It will help ensure our goal of tax fairness for Canadians.

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2010
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the parliamentary secretary and I must say I am pleased. He touched on income trusts and we know that the government made a commitment. It reneged on it. With income trusts, I think there is a provision in there where it seems that Canadian companies are at a disadvantage. Foreign companies can borrow money to expand and acquire companies, invest, et cetera, and write off those borrowing costs. Canadian companies have lost that advantage.

Could he please talk about that? Are there any provisions in here that address that? We are trying to bring tax fairness and I see that. Can we bring some fairness to our corporate world as well?

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2010
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague not only for his question, but for his assistance in pronouncing the Greek gentleman's name. I did have trouble with that.

Certainly, as I mentioned in my speech, this is about tax fairness. He likes to keep bringing up in this House the fact that we actually implemented tax fairness with the income trust issue that the Liberals were either scared to address or just buried their heads in the sand and did not deal with.

This Conservative government has dealt with some very difficult issues, but we have dealt with them head-on, such as the environment. Canada is a leader with our environmental record because we met it head-on. We listened to the fact that other countries were not meeting their commitments and frankly, we were a little ashamed that we were not meeting the commitments that the Liberals had challenged us with. They had never followed up, so we went to Copenhagen and we were sponsors of a commitment to an accord that many countries have now signed on to. We take the tough decisions.

Getting back to Bill S-3, this is very important for his home country, for Colombians, for Canadians operating in Greece, Turkey and Colombia. They need to be assured that when they send employees of a Canadian company to those countries, they are not going to be overtaxed or double taxed.

It is a part of our pattern of expanding trade. We continue with our very strong and very bold trade agenda in putting forward new trade initiatives and agreements. This is just part of a treaty that will protect our Canadian companies to help protect their employers as well as those countries.

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2010
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his speech on Bill S-3. I have several questions for him, but the main one that I am interested in is the fact that even though we have 90 or so of these treaties in existence right now, and they do deal with the whole issue of tax evasion and tax avoidance, I would like to ask him whether he could tell us how much money has actually been recovered under the existing treaties that have been signed?

He talks about how we can co-operate between our tax department and the tax departments in other countries. I presume that there are some provisions to get our hands on bank records. I am just not sure how that works.

Under the existing 80 to 90 agreements that are in force and have been in force for a number of years, how much money has actually been recovered by the Canadian government in terms of tax avoidance or evasion?

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2010
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will certainly see if I can get that information, but we are dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency and I am not sure that those numbers would even be available to me. If that is possible, I would certainly like to fulfill that commitment.

That is a major part of these treaties. We are always concerned with those who are less than honest. No one likes paying taxes, and I am sure that the Speaker would be at the head of the campaign to reduce Canadians' taxes. No one likes paying taxes, but everyone likes to have the advantages that this country provides through some of the social programs. The only way that those social programs are paid for is through taxation.

I am sure my colleague in the NDP will be supporting this bill wholeheartedly to make sure it is fair for all Canadians and for all members of the three countries that we are trying to help.

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2010
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his hard work on the finance file and for his speech today.

On these tax treaties, could the member talk specifically about some of the efficiencies to businesses and individuals that are received from these tax treaties? Could the member also comment on some of the challenges around some of the privacy issues that are associated with the exchange of information?

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2010
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think the member, in having a strong business background, understands the complexities of tax compliance.

If we do not have such treaties in place, these tax compliance issues are duplicated. Then we are back and forth, and an employee of a company is taxed twice. The employee will come back to his or her member of Parliament and ask the member to try to get the taxes back from one country or the other.

The reporting mechanisms that Canadian companies have to deal with would be extremely simplified in this process. It is an assurance when we have a treaty in place. Things will go wrong. Mistakes will be made, and I am not suggesting just by accountants, but mistakes will be made, and if we have a treaty in place with secure legislation that requires compliance, it makes it much safer for employers and employees.

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2010
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of questions that arose out of comments a few moments ago.

Of course, one is that with such a valuable piece of legislation, especially with all of its tax implications, one might have thought it would have been addressed by the government here in this House first. I would like to ask the member why the government chose the route of the Senate in order to get this kind of legislation here.

The second question is around his statement that his government has made courageous decisions. I am just wondering about the definition of courage that sees the government making a promise during an election regarding income trusts, then reversing itself because there was about a $300 million tax leakage. That correction caused an overnight collapse of $35 billion in the assets of all of those people who had put money into those income trusts. By the way, 85% of those companies that had turned themselves into income trusts are now owned by Americans, so they pay no taxes here.

I am just wondering whether the member thought that the tax treaties we had arranged in respect of the income trusts worked to Canadians' advantage. Canadians lost $35 billion as opposed to giving up $300 million in taxation. Did he think that was a good exchange to reduce taxes by $300 million so that taxpayers could lose $35 billion in assets?

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2010
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, my how memories lapse. Those are wonderful numbers. They are totally irrelevant to today. They are totally irrelevant to anything we are talking about.

We have some new senators in the other place who are looking to help further the work of this government. We had a senator who was very interested in putting forward some legislation. We gave Senator Stephen Greene the opportunity to bring this legislation forward. I see nothing wrong with that. It is great that members in the other place have the opportunity to recognize all the benefits that are in here. We look to them for guidance, but many businessmen in the other place understand that this needs to move quickly. They have sent it here. Let us move it forward and get this done so that we can protect Canadians.

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2010
Government Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to this bill today.

Those of us in the Liberal Party are into what is called nation-building. Nation-building is a bit different from what the parliamentary secretary said a moment ago is the primary function of parliamentarians, that is, to make sure they conduct things the way a businessman would run his corner shop. That is not to diminish the fact there always needs to be economic probity, financial probity in everything that we do, but there is a different action.

In this place, all members of Parliament, whether their background is in business, law, academic teaching, small business, or worker, are interested in building this nation. They do it through the economic stimuli available to a Parliament like our own to ensure that all men, women and children have the opportunity to fashion out a future for themselves in this country, to avail themselves of all of the natural resources that are here and the human resources that come with the interaction of people who live in a collective, and all of the entrepreneurial skills that are developed either through some of the institutions that are funded by government in part on the one hand and stimulated by those who see the value in research and development on the other.

Bill S-3 addresses one component of that social economic development that comes with nation-building. One would expect that I as a Liberal and those of us in the Liberal caucus would be supportive of any initiative that would render the free flow of capital for investment to allow enterprise to capitalize on its ingenuity and create wealth as a result, and to do it not just here in our country but elsewhere. It is called the exporting of our intellectual property, of our entrepreneurial skills, indeed of our culture.

Those of us who are nation-builders, those of us who are members of the Liberal Party, understand that government is not only about operating a balance sheet. We understand that balance sheet has to include the ambition and the dreams of all Canadians in whatever fashion they are developed around the country.

The reason taxation treaties are important and why Liberal governments in the past have sought them in the context of the OECD and the model tax convention that has driven it is that we believe in fairness, the fairness that comes with making an investment and recovering revenue from that investment, but not an investment or return that would be double taxed. In other words, we do not have to make a contribution twice to the infrastructure of a culture, economy and society that may be thousands of kilometres away.

That does not mean our corporate culture would go in and ransack and pillage and walk away without any responsibilities. We believe in a mutual co-operation with legitimate authorities in other locations that welcome our entrepreneurs, our investors and co-operate with them in developing the local economy while allowing ours to come back with the merited profits without being taxed there and here.

When we have to tax here and we have to tax back, the first casualty is probity, i.e., it is replaced by corruption. The second of course is people look for ways to avoid tax and that obviously leads to tax evasion.

That does not work well for the development of any country, because the underlying weakness is one that says the individuals, or the corporate individuals who make an investment, who garner wealth from the activity in whatever place that activity is resident, no longer have a responsibility to their community.

In the Liberal Party we believe in a collective responsibility. We believe there should be profit and capitalization of all intervention and investment that is made in a territory or a collective, but we believe that something must be left behind: growth. Growth is what we leave behind, and a respect for the individuals that allowed us to move along.

We have developed a series of treaties with many countries. I am glad to see that we are now moving ahead with Greece, Turkey and Colombia. I understand that we are already in negotiations with other countries like Cuba. The idea is that those countries and their legitimate authorities help our own investors to secure a proper investment environment and at the same time leave behind an additional investment through taxation that is not so onerous as to generate avoidance, evasion and corruption.

Legislation like this seeks to impress upon the international stage that one can be a responsible and active democracy and still be very dynamic economically. One can be socially oriented, i.e., have a sense of responsibility to the collective and at the same time pursue a very dynamic and rewarding bottom line. We wonder why legislation like this, which purports to do that, would not have been presented earlier and would not have been initiated in the House of Commons, where all money bills, tax initiatives and fiscal responsibilities are developed, debated and promulgated.

We would have thought that. Not to be light on this, but it seems to me that it did happen in the past, but prorogation came along and killed it. Now it has returned again through the Senate. It has come back here. Maybe there will be another prorogation. I must think about it a moment. Why? Because the parliamentary secretary talked with such great earnestness about the government's commitment to all of these bottom lines and fiscal responsibility issues and about how this is almost indispensable to everything in the world.

I agree, but I am not sure that the issue of commitment can be attached to that speech. The legislation was presented, debated, prorogued and killed. Now it has been raised in the other place and brought here. We will make a few interventions. There is no indication that things are going to be moving with any speed. It is important for our businesses to understand that the government is actually in a position where it wants to help and prepare the road so that foreign governments are at least as sensitive to the dynamics of the marketplace as our own might be.

It struck me as well that the parliamentary secretary talked about the greatness of the Canadian financial system and the basis upon which it is founded, how solid it might be, how much of a beacon it is for the rest of the world, how the marketplace is solid and how there is an appropriate balance between business and government, between society and business and between what must be invested and what must be taxed. In other words, how do we make a contribution to renewal and growth?

The parliamentary secretary said that all of these things are part of the Canadian culture. In saying that, he is paying a compliment to the governments of former prime minister Jean Chrétien and former prime minister Paul Martin, who were able to establish a system of balanced budgets.

Someone is going to say, “Oh yes, but somebody had to pay for it”. Canada had balanced budgets and surpluses, in the western world, so that we had the most solid financial system, financial administration, anywhere among the G8. In the OECD countries, Canada was seen as a country that reduced taxes. Of course we had a reduction in the national debt from roughly $600 billion to about $500 billion and an elimination of the deficit, from $43 billion to zero. No, I am sorry, it did not go to zero; it actually went to a $12 billion surplus, at last count, which was then reinvested in our collective, our community, Canada. It was invested in the taxpayers. It was invested in those Canadians who wanted to make this country grow.

Every country lusted at our model. They asked how it could be that Canadian administrators, Canadian legislators, could make investments in research, in human resources, in universities and colleges, could produce a federal system that allowed for two levels of government to be able to make investments in their young people, in the infrastructure to take care of the old, in the hospitals and medical systems that are required to give a quality of life that is the envy of the world? How can this be? What do they do?

Well, they took a look at the tax system. The two governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, over a 15 year period, produced the kinds of results I mention. They were able to initiate all these treaties that were reciprocal arrangements with countries, with the business environment in other places and the expectations of our business community.

The Government of Canada and the governments of the provinces were able to go into countries around the world in support of their businesses and receive the red carpet treatment. Why? Because when they struck those deals, those reciprocal arrangements, like those proposed by Bill S-3 right now where two countries are talking about recognizing which of the two has the residual authority to tax an activity, to tax an income, they do it on the basis of fairness. The Canadian government has demonstrated a culture of probity, a culture of continuity, a culture of respect for those who contribute the earning and those who withdraw from that earning to reinvest with their partner.

That is why countries around the world approached us and asked “Can we get an arrangement with you, because you can be trusted?”. People do business with those whom they know, with those who have established a record of continuity, those who have established a record of trust.

That is why I mentioned a moment ago the issue of income trusts. The justification for it was that there was tax leakage here. We needed to get a little bit more. We could not lose that $300 million. The parliamentary secretary said, “That's old hat”, three years ago. But it is not old hat to refer to the environmental standards that were set, perhaps not met, by previous governments of 10 to 15 years ago and replaced by no standards. Therefore, there is no judgment.

The issue of income trusts is extremely important because it goes to the heart of internal tax treaties. Those are the arrangements the Government of Canada, i.e. the people, the collective, makes with those who engage in economic activity to produce wealth and to share it, to fund programs.

When the Conservative Government of Canada made a big deal of saying, “We are making the tough decision; we are going to cancel these income trusts because that is $300 million”, it said that these guys through a legal tax loophole were avoiding paying $300 million. That is going to be replaced by a circumstance that sees 85% of those activities bought by American and foreign-owned enterprises. As my colleague from Scarborough Centre mentioned a moment or two ago, what happens is they get all the benefits and advantages out of the Canadian tax system and ours do not.

Of those companies that became the target of that $300 million tax leakage, 85% are now in the hands of foreigners. By the way, they are not paying taxes here. They are paying taxes there.

What is worse is that those Canadians who had made an investment in their own future and in their own retirement lost $35 billion overnight. They saw their savings melted away like rare snow on a hot June day. They just melted away because the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister, both Conservatives, said “We need to make a tough decision. You pay for it. You have got $35 billion to burn. You pay for it so that we can save $300 million”. We save $300 million and we are losing whatever is the balance to all those Americans who took the 85% of the income trusts that still exist. That is great.

Let us go back to these tax treaties. Foreign countries are looking at us; now it is tougher to negotiate with them. We are negotiating with them and happily there are people who still want to sit at the table with us, but they are wondering about our right-wing government, I am sorry, an extreme right-wing government. It does not pay attention to that dynamic I mentioned a few moments ago, the dynamic with the individual citizen, the individual taxpayer, engaged either as a worker, a subcontractor, an entrepreneur, an administrator in a large enterprise, or indeed, an administrator in one of those social institutions that make us the great country we are. That relationship of trust and mutual service is being eroded, if not snapped. They look at us and say, “If they have a country whose government has so little respect for all of the elements that go toward wealth creation, that go toward the development of a society that is an economic model for the world, what can we expect? If the Government of Canada has little regard for its own citizens, if the Government of Canada is busy in the process of eroding all of those programs and institutions that have got it to this place of such elevation, what can we expect in any agreement we sign with them?” We should think about that.

Sometimes we listen to people like the parliamentary secretary, who say to us that this is good, that is good and this is good, then take a look at each item of the puzzle and go out and say, “Look at how many pieces we have in the puzzle”. Put it together and see what it looks like.

We want to support a system, and we will support Bill S-3. We find that those initiatives are a logical outflow of those initiatives we had as a Liberal government. They have to flow from the logic of nation-building that we established in this place and that we still adhere to very proudly, despite the mudslinging that is thrown at us for all of the achievements we made through all those years. Those achievements no longer belong to the Liberal Party. They belong to the country of Canada. They belong to every province. They belong to every municipality. They belong to every citizen.

We have a responsibility in this place to ensure that all the interests of all Canadians, be they workers, small entrepreneurs, administrators or large corporate citizens, are always weighed in an equilibrium, a balance that sees them first as members of Canada, and Canada always.