House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.

Topics

Tax Evasion
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, nearly 2,000 Canadian citizens have accounts with the HSBC Bank in Switzerland, allowing them to evade taxes. Those bank accounts contain at least $500,000 each. This means the government is losing out on millions of dollars in taxes. If 2,000 Canadians are using Switzerland to evade taxes, we can be sure that many others are doing the same thing in Barbados.

Will the Prime Minister make an official request to obtain the list of the 2,000 citizens that might be breaking the law?

Tax Evasion
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, our position is very clear. If Canadians are using Swiss bank accounts to avoid paying taxes in Canada, those people will face the full force of Canadian law.

Tax Evasion
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, what I am asking is if he will make an official request to France to obtain that list.

Then, once the evidence is obtained, will the Prime Minister commit to not reaching an out of court settlement with the individuals in question, and instead recover the money and bring criminal charges against the guilty parties? The government should punish these white-collar criminals, who are costing it millions of dollars.

Tax Evasion
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, this government will not tolerate Canadians using use Swiss bank accounts to avoid paying taxes.

Tax Evasion
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, it was with the help of the Liberals that the Conservative government facilitated the use of tax havens in its last two budgets. The Bloc Québécois has long been proposing solutions for doing away with access to tax havens like Barbados and eliminating double interest deductions.

Instead of delivering monotonous speeches full of empty words, why does the Minister of Finance not draw some inspiration from France, which is requiring its banks to close their branches in OECD-identified non-cooperative tax havens? As a favour to the banks maybe?

Tax Evasion
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the majority of Canadians pay their taxes. It is the law, and they abide by it. There are some who have chosen to place money in offshore accounts in foreign countries. Our government has taken aggressive action, both domestically and internationally, to recover money owed to Canadians.

Our government knows that Canadians recognize that paying taxes is the law and that tax cheating is a crime. We will use any necessary measures to ensure that this law is abided by.

Tax Evasion
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, the proof that the Conservatives are encouraging tax evasion is that they signed the free trade agreement with Panama. That country is one of the tax havens on the OECD's list of states that do not respect their commitment to exchange tax information.

Will the government agree that, before ratifying the agreement, it should first require Panama to sign a tax information exchange agreement with Canada based on the OECD model?

Tax Evasion
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I have written to my counterpart in Panama asking that it undertake its obligations. Indeed, the Government of Panama has made a commitment to undertake its obligations for tax information sharing with the OECD.

However, I note that that party is one that is inclined to look for any excuse to avoid creating trade opportunities for Canadian workers and Canadian businesses.

We are interested in seeing Canadian workers and businesses prosper, especially at this critical economic time.

Tax Evasion
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, Revenue Canada loses millions of dollars every year because of tax evasion. According to a UQAM study, the top five Canadian banks used tax havens to avoid paying $16 billion in income tax. Most taxpayers do their part to keep the country going, but the government is doing nothing to eliminate the scourge of tax evasion.

Where is the government's law and order agenda for major banks and those who are avoiding taxes?

Tax Evasion
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, the government's policy is to reduce taxes. When the government is owed taxes, we expect Canadians to respect the law, and the majority do. If some citizens use Swiss bank accounts to avoid paying lawful taxes, the government will prosecute them to the full extent of the law.

Tax Evasion
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that this government is letting some of the big money players play in les paradis fiscaux. They are just having a good time, tax free. That is their strategy.

Statistics Canada estimates that the amount of money Canadians have socked away in these places amounts to $88 billion. Think of what the fair taxation of that revenue could do to provide affordable medications to families, decent pensions, or maybe some EI help for people who are out of work. Instead, what we see is no action. In the U.S., 1,500 experts are on the trail of these tax evaders.

Could the Prime Minister tell us how many Canadian gumshoes are going after the evaders here?

Tax Evasion
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in 2009 alone the Canada Revenue Agency uncovered $1 billion of what we would categorize as aggressive tax planning and obviously dealt with those cases.

I listen to the NDP. Of course, nobody anywhere in the House would support tax evasion. I have to tell the NDP that hiking EI premiums by 35% or raising taxes on business or raising them on consumers is not dealing with tax evasion. It is just high taxes against Canadians, and we do not support that.

Tax Evasion
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, some members are pointing to the HST imposed by this government.

The fact is, the amount of money Canadians are squirreling away in the Cayman Islands is eight times greater than that country's own GDP. In Barbados it is six times. In Bermuda it is four times. This is outrageous.

The government, with the help of its Liberal predecessor, is turning a blind eye to these tax evaders. Law-abiding Canadians are being fleeced while some of our biggest corporations and richest individuals are playing away with their money under beach towels in the Cayman Islands.

When will the government have its action match its words?

Tax Evasion
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, let us be really clear on the issue of the federal sales tax. It was this government that cut the federal sales tax for Canadian consumers twice. The federal NDP voted against it twice, and it was the NDP in Nova Scotia that raised it by two percentage points.

We know where the NDP stands on taxes. This government will continue to go aggressively after tax evaders, but we will not allow the NDP to use this as an excuse to try to raise taxes on ordinary Canadians.

The Economy
Oral Questions

September 30th, 2010 / 2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the cost of living continues to rise. Canadians can no longer make ends meet. GDP is dropping, debt is skyrocketing, and the Conservative deficit is the largest in the country's history. This looks like déjà vu for the minister of Finance, who ransacked Ontario's public treasury just a few years ago. Why has the Conservative deficit had to be revised upward for the third time?