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 tax.

Topics

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2010
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill S-3.

As my colleague from Outremont mentioned earlier in the House, we have great difficulties with the way the government is approaching legislation generally.

There are principles in this place that have been well established for generations and have been respected generally by all parties. What we have seen over the last few years, but particularly in the last few months, is a throwing out of those conventions of appreciation for democratic debate and respect for this place, respect for Parliament itself. We are seeing this illustrated once again by Bill S-3.

The first issue is the fact that the bill comes from the Senate. We must remember that the Conservatives, prior to the last election, promised that it would bring democracy to the Senate but they have appointed Conservative associates to the Senate. The Senate is now a legislative place with largely Conservative appointees.

Canadians do not want to see the perpetuation of a fundamentally anti-democratic system imposed on Canadian democracy and yet we are now seeing bills pushed through the Senate, where there are a bunch of Conservative Party appointees, who are responsible to nobody but the Prime Minister himself, creating this legislation and bringing it into the House of Commons. If that is not a fundamental rejection of the democratic principles on which this country is founded, I do not know what is.

When we couple that with prorogation, a refusal to table in this Parliament documents that should be, as the Speaker has ruled in the past, tabled in Parliament, we see a systematic obstruction of the democratic principles in Canada that have served Canada so very well. We now have a bill referred from the Senate.

The second principle that is being violated by the bill is the fact that the government has cleverly tried to insert a poison pill. The bill itself is a rather anodyne bill, a tax treaty bill that deals with Greece and Turkey.

Although concerns were raised earlier today in the House by a Liberal member, I do not think anyone in this place would have any strong differences with Greek fiscal policy or Turkish fiscal policy. We understand that their democracies are relatively advanced systems. Instead of submitting Greece and Turkey to a parliamentary vote, the government deliberately inserted the poison pill of the Colombian regime into the bill. Rather than respecting parliamentary debate and have two separate bills, the government deliberately tried to muddy the water and insert a poison pill. It is absolutely ridiculous and it shows the complete lack of respect that the Conservative government has for democracy.

Although we have no objections to the Greek and Turkish treaties on fiscal management, the tax treaties themselves, we will have to move in committee to split the bill so we can consider the case of Colombia. It is pretty appalling that the Conservatives would do this, but I do not think Canadians are surprised by anything the Conservative government does any more. It simply has no respect for democratic traditions, period.

The backgrounder for Bill S-3 put out by the Minister of Finance is very clear. I will quote it because it is a pretty strong illustration of how the government proceeds. What it says in the backgrounder, which is supposed to speak to all of these tax bills that are brought forward, is that Canada “will conclude no new tax treaty, or update an existing tax treaty, unless the treaty partner country agrees to abide by the highest international standards of tax information exchange”.

Anyone who knows anything about Colombia and the Colombian industry would know that Columbia is the producer of about 90% of the world's illicit cocaine industry. We are talking about a $90 billion a year industry, produced by drug lords, produced by paramilitary gangs connected to the government, produced by guerillas, produced by all sectors. There is no taxation system around this massive industry in Colombia. Therefore, the highest possible standards of fiscal probity cannot be maintained in what is a narco-economy.

The Conservatives and Liberals have admitted to this in the past. They have said that this trade agreement has been condemned by every major human rights organization around the world, particularly in Canada, every major civil society group, every major labour union in Canada and almost all of the Colombian trade unions except those directly affiliated with the Colombian government or under the thumb of the Colombian government. The Conservatives say that we need this treaty because it will eliminate the narco-economy. They know this is significantly the largest industry in Colombia and is not part of the tax foundation, the so-called prudent fiscal management of the Colombian government.

Therefore, getting back to the backgrounder which says “agreeing to abide by the highest international standards”, Colombia has already failed those standards even before the treaty was signed. Even before it was brought to the House, it had manifestly failed with a $90 billion a year narco-economy, not subject to taxation laws. Yet the Conservatives have the nerve to throw in this failed narco-economy, failed fiscal framework into a bill that affects Greece and Turkey.

We have to hand it to the Conservatives. The Colombia regime has been described as Hell's Angels with a public relations firm. Nowhere is it clearer than that when we look at the Conservative government trying to endorse Colombian fiscal policy with a $90 billion a year cocaine industry, an illicit industry outside if that fiscal framework.

Conservatives will say that this has nothing to do with the government. Anyone who is actually following the debate around why the United States Congress has refused to ratify a free trade agreement with Colombia, why the European Union is refusing to ratify a free trade agreement with Colombia, why EFTA is refusing to ratify an agreement with Colombia, anyone who does the due diligence, does the homework as a member of Parliament, and certainly the 37 members of the NDP have done their homework, their research and have actually found out what goes on in Colombia, would know that the Defense Intelligence Agency in the United States very clearly identified the Colombian president as being affiliated with drug lords.

In fact, in its document, which was released under access to information just a few years ago, it stated very clearly that President Uribe had risen to power through his connections to the Medellin drug cartel and was a close personal friend of Pablo Escobar. They are a notorious drug lord and a notorious drug cartel and the president is in their pocket.

Why would the Conservatives want to cozy up to a regime like that? Perhaps someone might say, that this was before, that he rose to power with the drug lords and the drug cartels, but now he is a nice guy. They might say that he has a good public relations firm, that we should treat him royally, that we should sign privileged trade agreements with him and that we should pretend the fiscal framework he runs is of the highest international standards.

However, we know the story does not end there. We know his connections with those murderous paramilitary thugs who kill dozens of people every year, who kill aboriginal Colombians or chase them off their land, with more forced violence displacements than anywhere else on the planet, who kill more labour activists than anywhere else on the planet. We see the forced displacement of Afro-Colombians, more than anywhere else. The Colombian Association of Jurists talks about the repeated and ongoing sexual torture, sexual assault and killing of Colombian women.

These are all present day circumstances that Conservatives tell us to disregard. They tell us that he is a nice guy, that he shook their hands so he must be great. They want us to forget about the past, forget about the drug cartels, forget about Pablo Escobar, forget about the killings and brutal rapes of children and women in Colombia. They want us to endorse his regime. They want us to think that he has excellent international standards on tax information and fiscal exchange, even when he does not.

The Conservatives are trying to make that argument, but this corner of the House has done its due diligence. We have done the work to find out what is going on behind this bloody, murderous regime, the secret police, the murderous paramilitary thugs and the Colombian military. They kill hundreds of innocent people every year under this horrifying rubric of false positives.

We know full well what is involved in this. That is why we will move to separate out Greece and Turkey, which meet those excellent standards, those standards that do not exist in Colombia. We should not say that this treaty-partner country agrees to abide by the highest international standards of tax information when it clearly does not, with a $90 billion illicit cocaine industry. At the same time, we should not allow the government to make another promise that it will break. It promised to clean up human rights abuses and it did not.

We will look to break the bill into two halves: one to deal with Greece and Turkey, the other with Colombia.

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2010
Government Orders

2 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I regret to interrupt the hon. member. He will have approximately seven minutes when the debate resumes.

We will now move on to statements by members. The hon. member for Newmarket—Aurora.

Newmarket
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Madam Speaker, two weeks ago MoneySense magazine released its best places to live national survey.

This survey provides analysis of many communities across Canada for lifestyle, employment opportunities and leisure activities. While all of York Region provides wonderful opportunities, the town of Newmarket topped the list as the most desirable place to live in York Region, and it ranked 15th in the country.

I am not surprised to see Newmarket's success for I have seen firsthand the benefits of Canada's economic action plan and what it has brought to my riding. From helping manufacturers take new products to market, to stimulating our local economy, our economic action plan has meant new jobs, investment and prosperity.

Congratulations Newmarket for a job well done.

Immigration
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, the city of Surrey is home to over 800 refugee families. The immigration loans program provides government assistance to pay for the costs associated with the initial settlement of refugees. Recent studies have shown that this program's strict repayment conditions push refugees toward homelessness, malnourishment and family instability.

Canada is the only country in the world that makes such demands on resettled refugees. There are currently $38 million of outstanding loans across the country.

I strongly encourage the government to rethink this program and forgive these unpaid moneys immediately. I thank Surrey Councillor Judy Villeneuve for her commitment to this cause and our community of Surrey.

Use of Wood
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Madam Speaker, recently the House of Commons voted in favour of Bill C-429 to promote the use of wood in the construction and renovation of federal buildings.

The federal government has just announced the construction of two office towers in Gatineau. This is an excellent opportunity for the federal government to promote the use of wood in the construction of these two buildings.

A number of countries such as Sweden, France, Austria and Norway, have already implemented similar measures that have had a significant environmental and economic impact.

Over the past few years, the forestry industry in the Outaouais, and in a number of regions in Quebec, has lost thousands of jobs. The Conservative government could show vision and send a positive message to thousands of forestry workers in Quebec by promoting this type of policy.

Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma
Statements By Members

May 13th, 2010 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Madam Speaker, Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma is a resilient community of people working together in the best interests of all those who call this wonderful part of Canada home.

Indicative of this effort to stay strong and build community now and for future generations is the way and the many times we gather to celebrate who we are, our story, culture and extraordinary contribution.

In the last few weeks I attended two such events.

First at the Marconi Club, where the families of the two soldiers we lost recently in Afghanistan, both of Italian origin, Scott Vernelli and John Faught, were given the I.A. Vannini Award.

The second was the Sault Ste. Marie civic Medal of Merit, where we honour citizens who reflect the best that we are, the highest honours our city gives. This year Father Bernard Burns, Harry Huston and the Comedics were chosen for their nurturing and care of, as I said that evening, the soul of the community.

Canada 55+ Games
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

Madam Speaker, tomorrow in my riding of Leeds—Grenville, the organizers of the Canada 55+ Games will provide an update on the games, which will be held August 23 to 28 in Brockville, Gananoque and the 1000 Islands area.

This “100-days-out” announcement will provide residents with details about the event. The Canada 55+ Games is a nationwide program to sponsor wellness; that is the spiritual, mental and physical well-being among Canadians 55 years of age and older. Provincial programs are staged annually in different provinces and territories.

These events bring together amateur competitors who participate for the sheer joy of competition, for the opportunity to visit other parts of Canada and for the camaraderie and social interaction that are an integral and essential part of the games.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the staff, led by Laurence Bishop, the organizing committee under David Dargie, and all the volunteers who are working hard to make these games a success.

Organ Donation
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the citizens of the city of North Bay, in my riding, who have the highest organ donor registration rate in the province of Ontario, at 43%. This is compared to cities like Toronto, listed at between 4% and 8%.

Currently, more than 1,600 people are on waiting lists for transplants in Ontario. That number is expected to grow, especially as more people require kidney transplants due to rising rates of diabetes.

In Ontario, anyone 16 years of age or over can consent to donate his or her organs and tissue upon death. One donor can save up to eight lives. Kidneys, heart, eyes, bone, liver, lungs, skin and pancreas can all be donated.

Citizens in Ontario can obtain an organ donor registration form by visiting their local Service Ontario OHIP office or outreach site. Forms are also available online at the Ontario Ministry of Health website or the Trillium Gift of Life Network website.

Once again, I would like to congratulate and thank those in my riding who have already registered to donate their organs.

World Hepatitis Day
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, on May 19, Canada will join with groups around the world to raise public awareness about hepatitis B and hepatitis C, two forms of life-threatening liver disease.

Today, one in twelve people worldwide is living with hepatitis B or hepatitis C, including 600,000 Canadians. These figures are certainly a cause for sombre consideration. If the House of Commons represented international statistics, 25 members of Parliament would be living with hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

These are chronic, lifelong viral infections that can affect anyone, from any walk of life. The problem is that many people are unaware they have hepatitis B or hepatitis C. As a result, the focus of the World Hepatitis Day campaign is on raising public awareness.

I would invite hon. members and all Canadians to find out more about both forms of hepatitis and the World Hepatitis Day campaign by visiting www.whdcanada.ca.

National Patriots Day
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Desnoyers Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 18, 2003, the Parti Québécois government established Journée nationale des Patriotes, a day to commemorate the men and women who fought and died for freedom, for the national recognition of our people and for democracy.

Whether we are talking about the patriation of the Constitution in 1982 in spite of Quebec's wishes, the federal government's violation of Quebec's democratic rules during the 1995 referendum or, more recently, the Liberals and Conservatives agreeing to reduce Quebec's political weight within the Canadian federation, all of these events—and the list goes on—simply remind us of the need to fight for our independence and defend the interests of Quebec.

I am proud to represent the Bloc Québécois, a party that, in its own way, is carrying on the fight of the patriots.

To close, I would like to echo Lorimier: Long live freedom, long live independence!

Justice
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, since being elected to office, our Conservative government has consistently taken action to ensure that our justice system is strong and that victims' rights are protected.

On Tuesday, legislation was tabled in this House to ensure that sexual offenders against children do not receive pardons. This legislation is a step in the right direction. Canadians and victims' advocates agree.

It is too bad the Liberals and the member for Ajax—Pickering are not listening. Is he going to play his political games of delay in committee, as he has done with Bill C-391? Why will he not support speedy passage of this important bill?

There is overwhelming support for our legislation among Canadians and victims' advocates.

We call on the member for Ajax—Pickering, and all Liberals, to support the speedy passage at all stages of this urgently needed legislation.

Davenport Community Builders Awards
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to pay tribute to the recipients of this year's Davenport Community Builders Awards, which recognize outstanding contributions to our community.

Viviana Astudillo, a local artist, has been cleaning up the community through urban beautification murals, and her work with Crime Stoppers represents only part of her efforts.

For many years, Steve De Quintal has been shaping young minds and encouraging community involvement among his students at Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton School through his leadership course and other volunteer initiatives. Steve has also been very actively involved with Casa da Madeira Community Centre.

Mabel Ernest is the tenant representative and a community organizer in Pelham Park Gardens. A long-time supporter of tenants with disabilities and champion of their rights, she has also created a local community garden and promoted a number of energy, recycling and anti-violence projects.

Finally, Don Panos and the St. Clair Gardens BIA have been economic and social anchors of the local community. Using their own resources, they have continued over the years to promote and revitalize the St. Clair neighbourhood, making it a great place to live, shop and visit.

On behalf of the residents of Davenport, I invite all members of Parliament to join with me in congratulating these outstanding community leaders. They help make the Davenport community and Toronto a vibrant and beautiful place to live.

Leader of the Bloc Québécois
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc Québécois claims to defend Quebec's interests, but the reality is that he is not defending the interests of Quebec's victims of crime. The examples are both numerous and sad.

Whether shamefully attempting to argue that a sex crime is less serious if the offender is young, or forcing his members to vote against a bill that would have introduced mandatory sentences for child trafficking, or making them toe the party line on the bill setting out minimum sentences for drug dealers who destroy families, the Bloc leader is clearly not defending the interests of Quebec's victims of crime.

A leader who sides with Quebec's victims of crime should support them unconditionally. Clearly the Bloc leader is not serving Quebeckers. He is serving his own interests and his reductionary, separatist ideology.

Building and Construction Trades
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a moment to congratulate Canada's building and construction trades on another hugely successful policy conference in Ottawa this week.

I want to thank them in particular for supporting my Bill C-227, which would give tax deductions to workers for travel and accommodation expenses when they go to job sites away from their homes, but I also hope that the government paid close attention to the building trades' call for action on apprenticeship and training programs.

Two concurrent trends are unfolding. By 2017, there will be a shortfall of 317,000 skilled workers in Canada. According to April statistics, unemployment for youth between the ages of 15 and 24 was 88% higher than the national average. Troubling as these data are, they also point to an opportunity, if only the government would act to support the skills training youth need to acquire a trade and build a future with decent paying jobs.

Instead of spending $13 billion on community infrastructure with no strings attached, the government could and should have seized the opportunity to mandate training and apprentice ratios in every contract awarded. Sadly, the only time the Conservatives talk about youth is in the context of young offenders. Frankly, it is a disgrace.

Young Canadians deserve hope and they deserve the opportunity to strengthen the country their parents and grandparents built.

Firearms Registry
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party continues its blatant culture of misrepresenting the facts on the gun registry. I pointed out earlier this week that the Liberals falsely Photoshopped the badge of the Ottawa Police Service onto the shoulder of a serving American police officer to make it look as if Canadian police officers support the Liberal leader's forcing his MPs to support the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.

The Liberal Party has no shame because it is continuing to use the photo of that American officer to promote its supposedly Canadian policy. The Liberal leader will stop at nothing, even deliberately trying to mislead Canadians in order to get his way.

Despite the Liberal leader's attempt to confuse Canadians, the choice is clear: MPs either vote to keep the ineffective Liberal long gun registry or they vote to scrap it. This latest tactic by the Liberal Party over the long gun registry shows once again that Liberals cannot be trusted to tell the truth about the ineffective long gun registry.