Sales Tax and Excise Tax Amendments Act, 2001

An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.

Sponsor

Paul Martin  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

April 8th, 2002 / 5:50 p.m.
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, at the outset let me indicate that I will be splitting my time with the member for Windsor--St. Clair.

We have had a rare sighting in the House today. We actually have a piece of health legislation before the Chamber. This is good news. It is good news that we finally can focus our attention on the number one issue facing Canadians and deal with substantive legislation in this very important area. You will understand my delight and appreciation, Mr. Speaker, for this moment in our Chamber today, considering the fact that for the five years I have been health critic for the New Democratic Party we have dealt with three pieces of legislation on the whole broad area of health care.

Shortly after the 1997 election we dealt with Bill C-42, a bill that actually weakened the Tobacco Control Act. Then we dealt with Bill S-17, a bill in response to the drug industry that extended patent protection for pharmaceuticals. We did deal with a positive initiative, Bill C-13, which established the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. On the other hand the water bill that came in for second reading disappeared. We had a brief sighting of a food safety bill. It was tabled, we were tantalized with it and it disappeared.

Finally we have a piece of legislation on health care and health protection. Thank heavens for that. I commend the new Minister of Health for doing something so early in her new term, taking over from a minister who is known for and will go down in history as the minister of unfinished business. I am glad to see we have some initiative on the part of the Liberal government today on a very important area of health care. I hope that it is an indication of some political courage, fortitude, strength and vision on the part of the government when it comes to health care.

We are dealing today with one of the two important pillars of health care in Canada today, that being health protection. The other important pillar is health insurance or our beloved medicare system. Both those pillars are crumbling under the neglect of this government. For at least as long as I have been here, we have seen nothing but neglect, delay and study. As a result, the institutions that have united the country and served Canadians well have been crumbling out of neglect and desperately are in need of vision and leadership from the government.

You will also understand, Mr. Speaker, my skepticism today when I indicate that we have been trying for many years now to gain recognition for the importance of protecting Canadians from the ill effects of toxins in food, water, air and in pesticides. We have tried tirelessly to get the government to act on a number of important issues of great significance to health and well-being of Canadians, particularly the health and well-being of children.

I want to remind all members of our efforts to raise the matter of arsenic in pressure treated wood. Did we get any concrete action in response to that? No. We raised the issue of mercury in fish, which is very dangerous to pregnant women and the children they are carrying. Did we get any action on that? No. Maybe we got some warnings hidden on an Internet site but there was no specific action. We raised the question of toxic substances in plastics that were a part of toys on which babies chewed. Did we get any action from the government on that important issue? No.

Time and time again the government has chosen to delay and wait until the damage is done; when it is too late. It is important today that we finally act on a very important issue pertaining to pesticides, clearly an area that has potentially devastating ramifications for human health, particularly the health and well-being of the children.

I am skeptical even as I speak about this bill just because of the record of the government on pesticides alone. Look at the issue of Dursban, a pesticide that was banned in the United States and which this government finally decided to ban it in June 2000.

Here we are and what is the news today? Dursban is still available on the market. It is like Lindane. We heard from the member for Selkirk--Interlake, on the other side of this issue of course, on the issue of Lindane. It was recognized as causing serious health problems and was banned.

However, both Dursban and Lindane are on the market. Why? Because of the pressure from the industry to allow it to get rid of the product already out there. Maybe there is a ban on creating new product or having new product on the market, but it is okay to allow poisonous substances to stay on the market, no matter the consequences, no matter the ramifications? Does that make any sense? What is the point of a ban? Why spout about action when there is no real intention to act on the rhetoric?

We always try to teach our kids and their parents something that I think the government would do well to heed and that is the expression, “Say what you mean and mean what you say”, and do what you say you're going to do. When it comes to health protection and toxins in our environment or the potentially hazardous substances in the food we eat and in the toys we play with, where is the government? It is sitting back and letting the marketplace be overtaken by products that could be dangerous as opposed to offering a proactive, regulatory approach in this whole area.

The bill is a move in that direction. I do not want to sit down without giving some credit to the government for taking some steps in the right direction. It certainly does that. It is long overdue. One has to ask why a bill that is 33 years old is only now being revised and revamped. One has to ask why, 10 years after the Liberals promised to bring in new legislation in the 1993 election, we are here today just beginning the process. One has to ask why the delay, when the former minister of health said last year that he would have legislation in the House by fall 2001. One has to ask why it has taken so long after the environment committee did such a comprehensive report on this issue in May 2000.

The good news is that we are finally here. We finally have a piece of legislation. We finally have something to put our teeth into and we finally have some hope to offer Canadians, especially children. The concern about the delay was best said by children's entertainer and health advocate, Raffi, who was here on the Hill not too long ago and reminded us of our obligations. As his song says, if children had a say, this would have been done by now. I think this is the real issue today: What are we doing today in this legislation to ensure that the health of children and all Canadians is protected?

The minister very rightly identified the fact that pesticides can have a disproportionate impact on children. Children face a special vulnerability because of pesticides. We have to recognize that and make sure that this legislation uses that as a measure, as a bottom line in terms of determining safety and taking cautionary steps. There are good parts in the bill. We certainly want to recognize the fact that in the bill there are more modern risk assessment practices, a mandatory re-evaluation of pesticides, a provision for increased public participation, a better method of reporting adverse effects and so on. I want to give credit to the minister for at least doing that much.

However, I believe the bill still falls short, which raises some very important questions that we have to raise now and at committee and need to have addressed before we bring back the bill for final reading. Those questions are the following. Does the bill encourage pollution prevention and reduce the use of pesticides? Does it actually keep pesticides off the market until they are proven safe? Does it ban pesticides for cosmetic purposes? Does it require clear labelling of all toxic elements of pesticides? Does it provide a clear mandate for the pesticide management review agency? Does it put in place resources and a mechanism for independent, science based research about the long term impact of pesticides on human health?

Those questions remain outstanding. Those questions must be answered. We look forward to the debate in committee and to the government's attention to those very important issues.

Message From The SenateThe Royal Assent

June 14th, 2001 / 5 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

Bill C-12, an act to amend the Judges Act and to amend another act in consequence—Chapter No. 7.

Bill S-24, an act to implement an agreement between the Mohawks of Kanesatake and Her Majesty in right of Canada respecting governance of certain lands by the Mohawks of Kanesatake and to amend an act in consequence—Chapter No. 8.

Bill C-8, an act to establish the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and to amend certain acts in relation to financial institutions—Chapter No. 9.

Bill S-17, an act to amend the Patent Act—Chapter No. 10.

Bill C-17, an act to amend the Budget Implementation Act, 1997 and the Financial Administration Act—Chapter No. 11.

Bill S-16, an act to amend the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act—Chapter No. 12.

Bill S-3, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987 and to make consequential amendments to other acts—Chapter No. 13.

Bill S-11, an act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act and the Canada Cooperatives Act and to amend other acts in consequence—Chapter No. 14.

Bill C-13, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act—Chapter No. 15.

Bill C-26, an act to amend the Customs Act, the Customs Tariff, the Excise Act, the Excise Tax Act and the Income Tax Act in respect of tobacco—Chapter No. 16.

Bill C-22, an act to amend the Income Tax Act, the Income Tax Application Rules, certain acts related to the Income Tax Act, the Canada Pension Plan, the Customs Act, the Excise Tax Act, the Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act and another act related to the Excise Tax Act—Chapter No. 17.

Bill C-3, an act to amend the Eldorado Nuclear Limited Reorganization and Divestiture Act and the Petro-Canada Public Participation Act—Chapter No. 18.

Bill C-18, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act—Chapter No. 19.

Bill C-28, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act, the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act and the Salaries Act—Chapter No. 20.

Bill C-9, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act—Chapter No. 21.

Bill C-25, an act to amend the Farm Credit Corporation Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts—Chapter No. 22.

Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology—Chapter No. 23.

Bill C-29, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2002—Chapter No. 24.

Bill S-25, an act to amend the Act of Incorporation of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada.

Bill S-27, an act to authorize The Imperial Life Assurance Company of Canada to apply to be continued as a company under the laws of the Province of Quebec.

Bill S-28, an act to authorize Certas Direct Insurance Company to apply to be continued as a company under the laws of the Province of Quebec.

Pursuant to order made on Wednesday, June 13, the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 17, at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Orders 28 and 24.

(The House adjourned at 5.26 p.m.)

Canadian Environmental Assessment ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2001 / 5:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the impact of this bill and of the federal legislation more broadly passed in 1995 arises precisely from the concerns of the government of Quebec of the day.

I quote documents of the Quebec minister of the environment from 1992:

Bill C-13, if passed as it stands, will mean submitting to federal evaluation many environmental projects that have already gone through the Quebec environmental impact examination and assessment procedure. This situation will therefore create a serious duplication problem in Quebec.

Once Quebec has a guarantee that the environmental assessment process is solid, rigorous and includes public participation, I see no reason to support the one that comes under a federal law, that would simply, in the end, delay viable economic projects that are important to the infrastructure of the Outaouais region, for example.

I think therefore that, in this case, the Quebec environment assessment process should be the only one to apply in the case before us.

Canadian Environmental Assessment ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2001 / 5:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I speak today to Bill C-19 to amend the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

This act was passed several years ago, in January 1995, but not without debate.

I will remind the House in the few minutes that I have left of the history of the Canadian environmental process as opposed to the history and claims of Quebec in terms of environmental assessment.

It is quite ironic to see former members of the Quebec national assembly, members of the Robert Bourassa government that defended Quebec's interests and who are now federal Liberal members, getting ready to pass this bill which goes against everything that Quebec wanted under Robert Bourassa, René Lévesque, Jacques Parizeau, Pierre-Marc Johnson and every Quebec government since 1975, since the beginning of the environmental process in Quebec.

The federal environmental assessment initiative is not new. On June 18, 1990, the federal government decided to introduce a bill, Bill C-78, dealing with the federal environmental assessment process. In many respects, this bill represented duplication and invaded provincial jurisdictions. It was a bill of which, at the time, Quebec's national assembly was very critical.

Quebecers were so firmly opposed to the bill that in 1990 Quebec's minister of the environment, Pierre Paradis, well known by members of the House—he always defended Quebec's environmental powers and prerogatives—wrote a letter to the federal minister of the environment, Robert René de Cotret, to ask him for two things.

On the one hand, what we wanted in 1990 was for Bill C-78 to introduce some flexibility with respect to Quebec's environmental assessment process.

On the other hand, Quebec's then minister of the environment, Liberal Pierre Paradis, asked that the legislation not duplicate the process because we had an environmental assessment process responsive to Quebec's initiatives, and we still do.

Following the letter, unfortunately,—and as usual it was a Liberal government in Quebec that realized this—the federal minister of the environment refused to amend the bill dealing with the environmental assessment process. Given the federal government's systematic refusal, Quebec's then minister of the environment even wrote a second letter.

On December 17, 1990, the Quebec environment minister wrote a second letter to the same Canadian environment minister clearly demonstrating that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act encroached on provincial jurisdictions. In this letter, of which I have a copy, the Quebec minister demonstrated this invasion into provincial jurisdiction and the negative impact of the Canadian legislation.

In spite of repeated requests, the Canadian government of the day did not seem to get the message. In May 1991, the government came back with essentially the same legislation, Bill C-13, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Because of the federal government's lack of understanding and recognizing that the Canadian environmental assessment bill was essentially an exact copy of the old one, Quebec's environment minister wrote a letter dated November 22, 1991. To whom was this letter addressed? To the Canadian environment minister, Mr. Jean Charest.

Pierre Paradis wrote to the federal environment minister, Jean Charest, to reiterate Quebec's position. What was Quebec's position at the time that prompted Quebec's environment minister to reiterate it to the federal minister? First, it recognized that the environment was a shared jurisdiction. We recognize that, we even recognize the federal government's power to do environmental evaluations of projects for which a federal decision is needed.

For that matter, the Quebec government has drawn the federal government's attention to a supreme court judgment, the Oldman decision. In his decision, Justice La Forest said, and I quote:

Thus, an initiating department or panel cannot use the Guidelines Order as a colourable device to invade areas of provincial jurisdiction which are unconnected to the relevant heads of federal power.

Following this decision, Quebec's environment minister wrote to the federal environment minister. In his letter dated February 28, 1992, the minister of the environment, Pierre Paradis, reiterated his concerns. However it is clear that his concerns fell on deaf ears in Ottawa. Consequently, the legislation was not changed.

Because of the constant arrogance of the federal government, and it's repeated efforts to impose by legislative means its environmental evaluation process, Quebec responded through it's national assembly on March 18, 1992. Certain Liberal members who are in the House today were part of the Quebec consensus expressed on March 18, 1992 when the national assembly unanimously passed a motion to denounce the federal government's determination to impose its environmental assessment process.

In today's political context, when men and women elected by the people to represent them want to maintain a minimum of credibility, the one fundamental value that they have to adhere to is consistency in their ideas. One cannot, in 10 years, do a complete about face and say “I supported the national assembly's consensus, I was part of that unanimous decision, but today I am voting in favour of a bill that totally ignores all the work that has been done in Quebec”.

Had the Quebec experience proved inconclusive, I might have understood why some members would be reluctant to vote against the bill. However, let us not forget that the environmental assessment process has been around for a long time in Quebec. It dates back to 1975, when the need for an environmental assessment process was recognized in the James Bay agreement.

When we created the Bureau québécois d'audiences publiques en environnement, the BAPE, it was in response to the following basic expectation: a transparent process that would be open to the public and that would not be a self-assessment of government projects. The BAPE is an arm length's agency, contrary to what the environmental assessment bill is proposing, that is the possibility for the federal government to conduct environmental self-assessments. The BAPE does not do that.

In this regard, transparency in terms of public participation, the fact that the Quebec process is at arm length's as compared to the federal self-assessment approach, the fact that not as many projects are excluded thus providing a better environmental protection, all that proves that it is effective. The Quebec environment minister has regulations and amendments to the act passed on a regular basis in order to be able to adequately protect our environment. It is part of the normal process.

A case in point is what happened last week. The Quebec environment minister announced that from now on any hydro projects of more than five megawatts had to undergo an environmental assessment, whereas only a few weeks ago and for years before that only projects of more than ten megawatts had to undergo one.

The environmental assessment process in Quebec is not static. It changes as projects and their impact on the environment evolve. I think we must be consistent in our approach. It is rather peculiar; I was reading a moment ago notes from a speech by the then Quebec environment minister. This Liberal Quebec environment minister was saying, concerning Bill C-13 on the environmental assessment process, that “Bill C-13 is a steamroller condemning everybody to a forced uniformization, which might in turn jeopardize the environmental assessment process in Quebec and needlessly bring into question all our efforts in this area”.

This is not Quebec's current environment minister, whom opponents would dismiss as a sovereignist and a separatist. This is Quebec's former Liberal environment minister, who is still a member of the national assembly and who was part of the unanimous consensus in that assembly, which has just told the federal government “We have a process that works; leave it as it is”.

For some weeks and months now, there has been a shameless desire on the part of members opposite to introduce legislative amendments or bills in order to destroy the Quebec model, anything produced by Quebec that is working well—from the environmental assessment process to the Young Offenders Act—and move their centralizing agenda ahead.

If there is really a desire to protect youth, if there is really a desire to protect our environment, why not let the Quebec model do what it is designed to do? It is a model which is working well and which has stood the test of time.

I see the reactions of some members opposite; I would not want to name these members, who were part of the consensus in Quebec, who voted in favour of the unanimous motion in the national assembly, but a number of them could be found in this House and are listening to me now. It is a bit surprising to see them reacting in the places.

I repeat, in politics, credibility is based on consistency. If one cannot be consistent about how one votes in this House, one would do better to defend other interests.

The bill before us, it must be remembered, goes against the Quebec model. In 1978 Quebec set up its own assessment system, which it incorporated into the environment quality act. As I said, the environmental assessment process in Quebec had its origins in the James Bay and northern Quebec agreement.

A few years later, three years later to be exact, an environmental assessment system was put into place within the framework of the Clean Water Act. In 1980 the Bureau des audiences publiques sur l'environnement was created. Of course, it called for a renewal of the Quebec environmental assessment act, and the government of Quebec acted accordingly.

I was reading over notes published in 1992 by the government of Quebec at a time where a Liberal government was in power in the province and while the MNA and minister of the environment in Quebec was still a member of the national assembly. The 1992 reports from the government of Quebec said:

There is indeed a risk that the latter—

This refers to the federal Environmental Assessment Act.

—will constantly be duplicated, disputed or subordinated to the application of the federal process. Yet, the Quebec procedure has been well established for ten years already; it is well known by the general public and the promoters from Quebec; and it has proven itself.

The areas where the federal authority can get involved are somewhat limitless, given all the levers one can find in the bill itself to force the mandatory examination of projects by the federal authority.

For months the federal government has been shamelessly tempted to destroy the Quebec model. We hope that all the members from Quebec, at least those who voted unanimously at the national assembly, will be able to vote against this bill.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 2001Government Orders

April 23rd, 2001 / 12:55 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker

To the hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest, the debate on Bill C-13 in fact did collapse. The Chair did on a few occasions ask if there were any other members seeking the floor for debate.

I am aware the hon. member had given some indication that in fact he had an interest in speaking to the previous bill, which has since been passed.

The Chair can only make a suggestion. The hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest could seek unanimous consent of the House to allow him to speak to the bill which has been passed.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 2001Government Orders

April 23rd, 2001 / 12:35 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Joe Peschisolido Canadian Alliance Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the point which my colleague from the Alliance Party made that as the opposition party the Alliance supports Bill C-13. Our concern though is that this will be viewed as a final step and not as a temporary, necessary technical change in our tax system on the long road to full taxation reform.

I will not get into the details that were discussed by my colleague on the Alliance policy on tax reform. However I do want to speak about a luncheon I attended last Friday for the Vancouver Board of Trade. It was very illuminating for me. The guest speaker was the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mr. Dodge. He spoke about the variety of variables that go into having a sound economy. It was like a lesson on 101 central banking. The unfortunate thing though was that he did not once mention the taxation system.

We all know in the House that there is a great link between monetary policy and fiscal policy. As my colleague just discussed, taxes are high and the Canadian dollar is low. What the Alliance puts forth, and I say, is that taxes are high therefore our Canadian dollar is low. More important, it does not allow the Governor of the Bank of Canada to do what is right with monetary policy, which would be to have lower interest rates at this time.

Mr. Greenspan, the chair of the federal reserve in the United States, dramatically and successfully used the proper monetary tools at his disposal and reduced interest rates a full half a per cent. Obviously, he believed there were further tough economic times. The Bank of Canada put forth a very anemic quarter per cent interest decrease.

It is not because the Governor of the Bank of Canada does not understand that we need a softening of monetary policy to deal with these tough times. It is simply that he cannot. His hands are tied because of the lax fiscal planning of the Liberal government.

I and the Alliance Party believe that the chair of the federal reserve of the United States will follow up with a further half per cent decrease. However our Governor of the Bank of Canada, legitimately so, is so concerned about the level of the Canadian dollar that his hands are tied. Why are his hands tied? They are tied because there is a direct correlation between economic performance wich includes all of the variables and the level of the Canadian dollar.

The level of the Canadian dollar, outside of the fluctuations on a day to day basis, is simply a reflection of the economic health of the country. Tax policy is a key in that economic health. If Canada were a patient, it would not be doing very well right now because our economic policy is correctly reflected by our low Canadian dollar.

What should the Canadian government do? Bill C-13 is a positive step. Why? It deals with certain technical problems that the government itself created in the past seven to eight years. That is good.

My concern with Bill C-13 is not what is in the bill but what is not in the bill. As my colleague said so eloquently, the economic problems we face in Canada should be dealt with quickly.

Let me give one example. There is a severe housing shortage right across this country. Even in an area such as my constituency of Richmond, British Columbia, which is viewed as a middle class rather affluent part of Canada, we have a problem as well. It is the problem of not enough housing.

We all know about the tragic, and I use that word carefully, situation in Vancouver East which the member of parliament for that area eloquently spoke about. I do not agree with many of her proposals on how to fix the problem, but I do agree with the point that there is a problem and the Liberal government is ignoring it. Sure it throws $25 million here and $25 million there. I would argue that that is exacerbating a problem rather than fixing it.

Why not utilize the tax system to urge the creation of rental stock through the private sector? Yes, there is 5%, 10% or maybe 15% of the population who are marginalized and have other problems that have to be dealt with, such as alcoholism, drug abuse and coming from broken homes. The government has to play a role there. However on the creation of a housing stock, that is where the tax code can be utilized and it is not.

Why is it that apartment owners and builders are not treated as a business when it comes to capital gains, rollovers and loss allocations? It is a simple step. Rather than taking moneys and providing housing in a grandiose national plan, perhaps it would be a better approach to allow the private sector to build affordable housing with the provision that there is a segment of marginalized Canadians who have to be helped in a different way.

I commend the Liberal government for the variety of technical bills it has put forth in this session to deal with the inadequacies that it created. However it is a first step. I hope that in the next step of dealing with the economic morass that we are in, it will put forth more substantive tax reductions to deal with an economy that is declining. I do not say that with partisan vigour. Sure there is the parry and thrust of debate. Sure there is a partisan element of the electoral process. However I think we all agree that we do not want a more complicated tax system. I believe we all agree that the reduction of capital gains tax is a way to spur economic growth.

I hope that in the next few months we will have from the other side of the House real substantive tax reform and not simply necessary and technical amendments to problems that were created by this government.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 2001Government Orders

April 23rd, 2001 / 12:15 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central, I am pleased to participate in the debate today on Bill C-13, the sales tax and excise tax amendments.

Mr. Speaker, I point out that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Richmond.

The bill we are debating today has been before committee and is now going through its final debate in the House. The purpose of the bill is to simplify the tax code, but probably not to the extent Canadians would like. The measures are aimed principally at improving the operation and fairness of the GST or HST in affected areas and ensuring the legislation accords with the policy intent.

Bill C-13 implements two amendments to the Excise Tax Act. The first clarifies the deferral of tax on various automobiles and car products to the time of sale or importation to a manufacturer. The amendment is made to clarify the deferral of existing excise taxes on air conditioners, for example, installed in automobiles and on new heavy automobiles at the time of importation by a licensed manufacturer or sale to a licensed manufacturer.

The second amendment provides the Minister of National Revenue with he discretionary power to waive or cancel interest and/or penalties. The second amendment provides discretionary power to the minister, as I have said, to cancel penalties calculated in the same manner as interest under the excise tax system, which is consistent with the discretion already provided to the minister in relation to the sales tax and income tax systems.

The primary goal of the bill is therefore to correct some administrative oversights in the February 2000 budget concerning the application of the GST and HST. The bill is technical amending legislation. The official opposition therefore supports the bill, but we believe the government could have done more to address other pertinent issues relating to taxes.

There are a number of GST and HST measures in the bill. I will briefly describe them. The export distribution centre and export trading house programs amendment would implement new rules that ensure the GST and HST do not impede North American distribution centres in Canada. Businesses would be able to purchase or import inventory and customer goods on a tax-free basis rather than having to pay the tax and later claim a refund. This might help combat fraud, which is unfortunately part of the system.

The non-residents and cross-border transactions amendment ensures that no tax is payable on goods imported solely as replacements under warranty. It also ensures there is no tax on the service of storing goods for a non-resident business.

Another point is that the real property amendment implements the new residential rental property rebate, which is a partial rebate of GST on newly constructed or substantially renovated long term residential rental accommodation. I see many such accommodations in my constituency of Surrey Central. The builders or the people involved in that kind of construction will feel some relief in that area.

That is important because it permits a credit for work done on a new home used primarily as a place of residence or as short term public accommodation, for example a bed and breakfast establishment. Such establishments will get some sort of relief. That is particularly important because the previous rules disallowed homeowners the credit if they ran small businesses out of their homes.

There are other amendments. The health amendment continues to be in force. There are GST and HST exemptions for speech therapy services that are billed by individual practitioners and not covered by the applicable provincial health care plan. The bill will provide some relief for people who use such therapies.

The education amendment ensures that similar vocational training across the country is provided the same exempt treatment, regardless of how vocational schools are regulated in each province.

The electronic filing amendment removes the requirement to apply to the Minister of National Revenue for permission to file GST or HST returns electronically over the telephone or Internet. Canadians are busy preparing their tax returns. If the bill is put into place it will probably give relief to people who must seek such permission. It allows anyone to file taxes that way, provided they meet the criteria set out by the minister.

Finally, there are miscellaneous amendments which correct ambiguities in existing provisions consistent with current industry practice, administrative interpretation and the underlying policy intent. These are some of the areas the bill focuses on.

For those who are watching I will quote from the Canadian Alliance policy, which is the grassroots members' policy.

We will restore public confidence in the fairness of the Canadian tax system by reducing its complexity. We will restore indexation and move towards a simpler tax system, built around a single rate of taxation to ensure lower taxes for all Canadians. We believe that all Canadians above a minimum income level should share in the cost of the services provided by government, which benefit us all.

There are other areas of concern. I was talking with my constituents during the two week break. They are concerned about gas prices because there are taxes on taxes on taxes. I regret that the sharp spike in the price of home heating oil and gasoline, which has hit us all so hard, is not addressed in the bill.

Canadians suffered this winter in the cold climate. The Liberals did not foresee or prevent the 70% hike in natural gas prices, which they should have if they had prudent practices in place. They did nothing about it except send out cheques for a couple of hundred dollars. The government completely missed the target. Instead of sending cheques to those most in need of assistance it sent them to people who probably do not pay heating bills such as students, prisoners and even deceased Canadians.

The Liberal finance minister has no sympathy for our seniors or for persons on fixed incomes. These people have so little money that they must choose between filling prescriptions, buying food or paying for heat. It is the Liberal government's fault because the government keeps our taxes high and our dollar weak. We are being hurt twice.

It is the tax on gas which has driven the price upward. The price we pay at the gas pumps includes a tremendous amount of tax. The price of crude gas is something like 29 cents, but these days we are paying 74 cents or so at the pumps.

That is why when the price of gas or oil on the world market is hiked we feel it more. Not only is the price hiked but the taxes go up accordingly. That exacerbates the increase in the wholesale price.

First, we have the federal excise and sales tax on gas. On top of that we have a provincial excise tax. On top of that we have a provincial sales tax. On top of all that we have the 7% GST. In other words, we are paying GST on the taxes as well which is wrong. We have a tax on a tax on tax on a tax. That is the kind of system we have in gas pricing and that is very unfair.

My province of British Columbia gets less than 5% of the amount of federal taxes paid on gas for transportation and infrastructure development. The federal Liberals rake in about $700 million a year in fuel taxes from British Columbia alone, and this is the only province that does not have any four lane highways. We cannot even buy enough street lamps with the 5% the federal Liberals are returning to us for transportation and infrastructure development. That is the kind of situation we are facing with respect to that particular area.

However, we support this bill but we again urge the government to lower taxes for Canadian families, consumers and small businesses. Those lower taxes will help boost our economy. We want lower taxes and a simplified tax code. Our tax code is very complicated, probably one of the most complicated of any country which I have visited or heard about.

The clarifications in Bill C-13 should only be a temporary measure on the road to tax reform. The steps are in the right direction but they are baby steps.

The provisions of Bill C-13 enact corrections to last year's budget and the fall mini budget. The government should be moving toward simplifying and broadening the base of the tax code. If the tax code was simplified, endless exemptions and further clarifications would not be necessary. There may not be any need to do what we are doing today.

From this point, lowering the taxes of all Canadians will have a far more positive impact for everyone. With the exception of the new residential rental property debate, the amendments will have little impact on the government's revenue. Expected costs for the new residential rental property rebate are estimated at $15 million for 2000-01, $40 million for 2001-02 and $45 million for subsequent years.

In conclusion, we will support the bill but we remind the government that it should lower taxes for Canadians and simplify the tax code. I believe Canada can be a competitive leader in the global economy of the future and I believe Canadians can enjoy a higher standard of living and a better quality of life.

However to get there we must blaze a trail of tax relief and debt reduction. We need to lower taxes such as payroll taxes. We need to cut the tax on investing. We should not be penalizing those investors who invest in Canada, who boost our economy and who help create jobs.

We should cut the taxes on high tech businesses. It is time these businesses be promoted. That is where our future lies. That is where more jobs will be created. However the government does not realize that we have to cut taxes for high tech businesses as well as small businesses. Ninety-six per cent of jobs are created by small businesses.

These are some of the points I wanted to add to this debate.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 2001Government Orders

April 23rd, 2001 / 12:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Tony Valeri Liberal Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak today at third reading of Bill C-13, the Sales Tax and Excise Tax Amendments Act, 2001.

The bill would reaffirm the government's commitment to making our tax system simpler and fairer for individuals and for Canadian business. The principal purpose of the bill is to implement measures relating to the goods and services tax and harmonized sales tax that were announced in the 2000 budget, as well as the additional sales tax measures proposed in the notice of ways and means motion tabled in parliament on October 4, 2000.

The measures were aimed at improving the operation of the GST-HST in the affected areas and ensuring that the legislation accords with the policy intent. The bill would also implement two amendments to the Excise Tax Act relating to excise taxes on specific products.

I would like to begin by outlining the measures contained in the bill that were proposed in budget 2000.

First, the GST-HST is designed to ensure that Canadian businesses and products are competitive in the export markets. A number of measures in Bill C-13 are aimed at achieving that specific objective. Specifically, these measures relate to the GST-HST treatment of export distribution activities.

The bill would implement an initiative referred to as the export distribution centre program. It is an initiative that addresses a cashflow issue faced by limited value added export oriented businesses. It would also help ensure that the GST-HST does not present an impediment to the establishment of North American distribution centres in Canada.

I will speak to the opportunities provided by the establishment of EDCs in a moment.

Bill C-13 contains a measure that would ensure that the GST-HST does not make Canadian suppliers of warranty repair or replacement services less competitive relative to foreign suppliers when in fact these services are provided to non-residents. It also expands on an existing program known as the exporters of processing services program. Refinements to the program would ensure that the GST-HST does not impose prohibitive cashflow costs for businesses that provide storage or distribution services for non-residents in respect of goods that are for export.

Another proposal in the bill relates to the cross-border transactions, in particular the sale of railway rolling stock to non-resident businesses. Bill C-13 proposes an amendment to ensure that the use of railway rolling stock to ship goods out of the country in the course of the exportation of the rolling stock itself would not disqualify it from tax-free treatment.

Bill C-13 introduces the new residential rental property rebate, another important sales tax initiative. The measure stems from the 2000 budget and would be of significant benefit to builders and purchasers of new residential rental accommodation. It would reduce the effective GST rate on newly constructed rental property by 2.5% which is the same federal tax rate reduction that applies to purchasers of new, owner occupied homes under the existing new housing rebate program.

Bill C-13 builds on the government's commitment to continue to work on improving health care and education in Canada. In the area of health care, the bill proposes an amendment to continue in force an existing GST-HST exemption for speech therapy services that are billed by individual practitioners but are not covered by applicable provincial health care plans.

With respect to education, Bill C-13 contains a measure which would ensure that vocational training provided in different provinces receives the same GST-HST treatment regardless of the regulatory regime that exists in each province with respect to vocational schools.

The government recognizes, as do all members of the House, the important role that charities play in helping Canadians and in enriching our communities. The bill proposes amendments to ensure that the GST-HST legislation properly reflects the government's intended policy of generally exempting from sales tax the rental of real property and related goods by charities.

The legislation proposes a number of clarifying amendments to ensure that there could be no doubt as to the application of these provisions for both future and past transactions, for example the issue of excise tax on automobile air conditioners.

Bill C-13 reflects a number of improvements to the administration of the tax system, which is in keeping with the spirit of the government online initiative recently announced by the Prime Minister. There is a movement within government and in the public to ensure that it meets its target of getting on line in the very near future.

I would like to spend a few moments on a part of the bill which has not received the attention it should have received to date. I would like to raise the awareness of the creation of export distribution centres by explaining what they mean and their potential.

The creation of export distribution centres enhances Canada's ability to conduct export distribution activity. The program does not create any artificial advantages for any Canadian community. Instead, it unleashes their inherent geographic advantage. If the 49th parallel did not exist, in other words if the entire continent was Canada, our communities would be host to a significantly greater number of distribution centres for goods produced abroad because of our geographic advantage. That this is not the case today is due to legislative and regulatory barriers.

When we look at the U.S. foreign trade zone program, we find that an overwhelming number of such zones are located in the northern tier along the Canadian border. That is because the northern part of our continent provides the natural entry point gateways to the NAFTA economy.

The EDC program which would be created as a result of Bill C-13 would allow communities in every part of Canada to participate in the fast growing distribution and logistics industry. It is also important to note that the program is not zone specific; it would be market driven. Unlike the United States, which geographically decides where a trade zone is to locate, the Canadian export distribution centres would be market driven.

It is a program that is universal. Any location in Canada and any business could seek to participate. Unlike programs in the U.S. and elsewhere, it does not create any unique privileges for specific locations. I am already aware, as are many close to this issue, of groups in Hamilton, Montreal, Vancouver, Gander and Regina that are pursuing the EDC opportunity. It is truly a coast to coast opportunity.

Many members of these groups have told us that the opportunity to engage in this kind of activity has been there for some time but it has been hindered by existing regulations. Bill C-13 removes this impediment for local community development.

In my riding of Stoney Creek the legislation would allow us to make full use of the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport as an economic development engine. The airport is well placed and well prepared to attract logistics and distribution companies.

Tony Battaglia, president of TradePort International, the firm entrusted with managing the Hamilton airport, commented that the airport would be able to compete with similar facilities in the United States. The proposed changes in Bill C-13 would provide the necessary tools for Canadian facilities that move goods by air, road, water and rail. These tools would allow such Canadian firms to compete and attract global commerce.

What does that mean in terms of job creation? Professor Michael Tretheway of the University of British Columbia's transportation and logistics program has estimated that within 10 years Canada will be able to create up to 50,000 jobs in the distribution sector. Job creation can only be enabled if we can offer distribution firms in Canada the same advantages that locations in the United States offer to their distributors.

For example, existing programs in Canada allow the storage and re-export of goods in a duty and tax free environment. However they do not allow the addition of Canadian value to the goods being re-exported. The situation is paradoxical. On the one hand, the current program encourages distribution centre locations in Canada but, on the other hand, it discourages the adding of value and the job growth that results from it.

The legislation seeks to redress the imbalance by providing a program that allows the creation of distribution centres in Canada in a duty and tax free environment where value could be added when goods are intended for distribution into the broader NAFTA marketplace.

During the consultation period a concern was brought forward by a number of individuals that the legislation would enable growth in the distribution sector at the expense of Canada's domestic manufacturers. The program has strict limits so that it cannot be used for full manufacturing. Furthermore, 90% of the goods must be re-exported. The program is intended to attract distribution centres for goods already being manufactured overseas and exported to the U.S. and broader NAFTA markets. There is no displacement of domestic manufacturers.

The proposed legislation is strongly supported by Canada's airports. The Canadian Airports Council has been a very strong supporter of the EDC program. It sees an opportunity to develop its airport lands for the benefit of its communities.

The EDC program would allow the airports council to lever its air service and ground transportation networks and build the flow of goods and jobs between Asia and Europe on the one hand and the U.S. and NAFTA economies on the other. Companies in Europe and Asia that wanted access to NAFTA markets were not looking to Canada for foreign trade zone possibilities. However, because of Bill C-13, they now can.

The measures in Bill C-13 that I have outlined today propose to refine, streamline and clarify the application of our tax system. The bill would provide an opportunity for economic development specifically through the creation of export distribution centres. At the same time, Bill C-13 reflects the government's commitment to ensure our tax system is fair. I urge all hon. members to pass the measures quickly.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

April 5th, 2001 / 3:05 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to answer what is undoubtedly the most thoughtful question asked thus far today.

This afternoon we will continue with Bill C-22, the Income Tax Act amendments proposed by the very excellent Minister of Finance. Then we will deal with Bill C-4, the sustainable development foundation legislation. Tomorrow we will do report stage and third reading, hopefully, of Bill C-12, the Judges Act.

On Monday, April 23, we shall call Bill C-13, the GST technical amendments. We will then follow this with the organized crime bill, introduced earlier today.

Tuesday, April 24, will be an allotted day at which time members could raise such issues as softwood lumber, as they perhaps should have last Tuesday when it was an opposition day and other less significant issues were raised.

On Wednesday, April 25, we will begin with third reading of Bill C-9, the Canada Elections Act legislation.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

April 4th, 2001 / 3:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan—King—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the second report of the Standing Committee on Finance regarding its order of reference of Wednesday, March 14, 2001, in relation to Bill C-13, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act.

The committee has considered Bill C-13 and reports the bill without amendment.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 2001Government Orders

March 14th, 2001 / 4:15 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your generosity. Those eight minutes will mean a lot to our party at this end of the Chamber.

What we are talking about on Bill C-13 are technical changes to the GST. The point I was making when we last debated this is the fact that our party will certainly support those technical changes to the GST.

It is somewhat ironic that we are supporting a bill on the GST, which the government said it was going to eliminate when it took office in 1993. I think it is important that the government address that very issue of the elimination of the GST and why it did not live up to that red book promise dating back to the 1993 campaign.

As everyone well knows, just about every member on that side of the House—possibly yourself, Mr. Speaker, although I am sure you were probably more reserved in your comments on this than some of the members—went door to door talking about the elimination of this dreaded tax. Now this dreaded tax which the government promised to eliminate is one of the taxes that is certainly filling its coffers and helping to balance the books.

One of the other points I made and that I think will be made later today by our party as the debate unfolds is the fact that there are other matters of urgency on the economic side which the government should be but is not addressing.

The Prime Minister and the finance minister are sort of whistling by the cemetery in their walk through la-la land. There are some troubling signs that the economy might be stalling, that it might be in trouble. They are ignoring those signs and not even extending some sort of courtesy to the House in terms of at least introducing a budget.

The last time the House actually discussed a budget was with regard to the so-called mini budget on the eve of the last election. Things have changed in the last 120 days. I suggest that it was probably a strategic move on the part of the Prime Minister. Knowing full well that there were some troubling signs on the horizon in terms of the economy, he made what would turn out to be the right decision, I guess, in the timing of the election.

Again, a lot of things have changed in the last 120 days. What we are saying is that the minister should introduce a budget to address some of the concerns we see and to possibly offer some suggestions to the government on how it can deal with the faltering economy.

The belief that we are going to be somehow insulated from what might happen in the United States is absurd when 80% to 85% of our exports go to the United States. They are our biggest trading partner. When they catch a cold we are most likely to catch pneumonia. It is possible.

The truth is, those are some of the considerations that should be taken in the House to address some fast changing circumstances on the economic front.

With that I will conclude my remarks. As always, I look forward to questions and comments from my colleagues.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 2001Government Orders

March 2nd, 2001 / 12:55 p.m.
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NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Madam Speaker, I want to say a few words on Bill C-13 which is before the House today. It deals with a whole number of taxation issues. I only want to make about three different points to facilitate this bill going before the committee.

First, the tax bill deals with the GST. It is rather ironic that between 1990 and 1992 the party across the way, and I remember it so well, promised to get rid of the GST. I remember the Minister of Canadian Heritage even resigned her seat to go back and get a mandate from the people in Hamilton East because of the promise to scrap the GST, the goods and services tax. Now we have a government that is bringing in amendments to the GST and a taxation regime that includes the GST. No wonder people are cynical of this institution.

If elected, the Liberal Party promised to get rid of the GST. I notice almost every Liberal has left the Chamber in shame. There is only one Liberal left in the House and he is hanging his head because of the embarrassment.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 2001Government Orders

March 2nd, 2001 / 12:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, with all due respect for my colleague from the Alliance, I must say that he had enough time to express his point of view. If he wanted more time he should not have shared his time with his colleague.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-13, concerning changes to the excise tax and to the payment of GST-HST refunds.

We would have appreciated it if the Minister of Finance had used this reform of the excise tax to abolish, at least on a temporary basis, the gas tax, in order to give a break to independent truckers, in particular, and everyone working in industries that rely heavily on gas.

Way before the last election, we urged the Minister of Finance and the Liberal government to take this measure to help those who are being badly hurt by the ups and downs, but mostly the increase in the price of gas, natural gas and heating oil. Since the minister was tinkering with the excise tax, we would have expected him to suspend on a temporary basis the excise tax on gas.

We are disappointed by this omission given how serious the situation is for some taxpayers, particularly, as I mentioned, the independent truckers who have been having a lot of trouble these last two years to make ends meet.

Second, we would have liked to see—and it is sad to say that we would have liked to find certain things in Bill C-13 that are not there—the Minister of Finance, in this harmonization exercise between the tax provisions on GST and harmonized sales taxes or the provincial sales taxes like the Quebec sales tax, remember that the GST and the Quebec sales tax were harmonized several years ago.

The Quebec government footed the bill for the harmonization of the GST and the QST. It was never compensated for the subsequent tax revenue losses. It was a disappointment to us, three and a half years ago, when the Minister of Finance signed agreements with three of the maritime provinces for harmonization of the provincial sales taxes and the GST and, moreover, gave these provinces $900 million in compensation.

Quebec has been demanding the same compensation since the federal government, that is to say the Minister of Finance, announced this $900 million compensation package for the three maritime provinces for the harmonization of their sales taxes and the GST. We are entitled to such compensation. According to calculations made by us and by the Government of Quebec, the amount of the compensation could be in excess of $2 billion, if we use the same figures the Minister of Finance used when three of the maritime provinces accepted to harmonize their provincial sales tax with the GST.

We find nothing about this in the bill, even if it deals with harmonization of the GST and of harmonized or provincial sales taxes. This is great disappointment.

Since our arrival here in 1993, we have been asking the federal government for real tax reform. This is not to say that the harmonization provisions contained in the bill are not valid; quite the contrary. The bill contains very good provisions, and I will come back to them later. The bill deals with issues which should have been dealt with years ago, namely the harmonization of federal and provincial sales taxes.

However, we have asked the minister for real tax reform. We did not ask for this on a partisan basis. Since 1996 we have bein conducting studies and making serious proposals to the finance minister regarding an indepth reform of personal and corporate taxes.

Our proposals were so devoid of partisan thinking that when we, in the Bloc Quebecois, tabled our analysis reports, the government was delighted and considered them as serious proposals for tax reform. Unfortunately, since 1996, apart from having congratulated us for our excellent work, the Minister of Finance has not undertaken any real tax reform.

Year after year, in all his reports and more recently again, the Auditor General of Canada, Mr. Desautels—whom I congratulate, by the way, on his excellent work over the past 10 years—spoke of the need for a real tax reform. In his 1992, 1996 and 1998 reports, he also mentioned the disastrous effects of certain federal tax provisions and of the tax agreements between Canada and other countries throughout the world, the result of which could be to erode the federal tax base.

This means certain provisions could decrease the tax revenues the federal government could collect if the Income Tax Act were properly enforced and if fiscal co-operation accords, or tax treaties, were signed with countries whose tax rates were similar to Canada.

This is very important. It is so important that in his final report, which was a sort of legacy, Mr. Desautels, the auditor general, said, and I quote:

One of the biggest threats to the tax base lies in the international activities of Canadian taxpayers, particularly the use of tax havens. This is not unique to Canada; many nations are working individually and together to find solutions.

In report after report since 1992, the auditor general has spoken about the danger to the tax base of Canadian taxpayers' international activities, which are based on tax agreements signed with countries not considered to have a normal tax system.

They are seen as tax havens, countries whose rates of taxation are so minimal and their tax treatments so preferential compared to what we have here and in the United States, that these provisions, which are permitted under the tax agreements between Canada and these countries, lead to a substantial amount of tax avoidance. It means that, because of investments made elsewhere throughout the world in these tax havens, the federal government has been losing tax revenues at an alarming rate, particularly over the past 10 years.

I will quote some figures to give members an idea of the size of this phenomenon. In 1999, the last year for which this kind of data is available, money invested by Canadians abroad totalled $257 billion.

Nearly $28 billion of the $257 billion were invested in three countries considered as ideal tax havens, that is countries where the corporate tax rate, for example, is nil in some cases. It is 0% in some countries, and 2% to 3% in others. Three as the countries at the top of the list as ideal tax havens have received nearly $28 billion in Canadian investments abroad.

This means that 10% or so of direct Canadian investments abroad have gone to three countries considered as tax havens, with tax rates that are ridiculously low or non-existent. They are Barbados, the Bahamas and Bermuda.

Canadian investments in these three tax havens are larger than all the Canadian investments in the whole of Asia. Barbados, in particular, accounts for $17 billion in direct investments, and these investments are larger than those made by Canadians in Japan, France and Mexico taken together.

Is it normal that a country like Barbados, with a very small population, can account for that much direct investment by Canadian taxpayers? As I mentioned, Canadian citizens have invested $17 billion in this small country.

With regard to investments in tax havens, they have been growing considerably over the last 10 years. I will give some revealing figures. I think the finance minister should have dealt with tax reform long ago, and he had a good opportunity to do so, and should have reviewed the tax conventions Canada has signed, particularly with countries considered as tax havens.

There are 28,000 companies, subsidiaries of Canadian, British and other corporations, operating in the Cayman Islands, the population of which is only 30,000. Members will admit that there is something odd about the way the Cayman Islands attracts businesses in view of its population.

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British colony north of Haiti, there are 7,000 people living in the whole of the Turks archipelago—not to be confused with the country of Turkey—but there are 16,000 companies, Canadian for the most part.

There is something odd about the way these countries attract billions of dollars in Canadian investments. The federal government's inaction on this issue has been condemned not only by the Bloc Quebecois and sovereignists, but also by the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which published a report a few months ago.

The report says that OECD countries that have relations with countries that are considered as the worst tax havens, the worst contributors to tax evasion—the money that does not go into federal coffers, but rather into investments made by the wealthiest Canadian taxpayers in these countries—should denounce or cancel tax conventions signed with these countries.

The three worst countries mentioned in the OECD report—we have nothing against the people of these countries, but it is the OECD that says this—were Barbados, the Bahamas and Bermuda. It is Canadians who are making these foreign investments in the Bahamas.

The OECD condemns these countries as being the worst in terms of tax evasion and as being ideal tax havens. The OECD is asking its members—Canada is a prominent member—to cancel tax conventions that might exist between Canada and other OECD countries and tax haven countries. Far from abolishing them, Canada is promoting these countries that are considered as tax havens and promoting Canadian investment there.

To make a long story short, a tax convention is an agreement between Canada and another country to avoid double taxation of the profits of branches of Canadian corporations abroad, in other words, to avoid the profits being taxed in the country where the branch is located and taxed again by federal tax authorities when they are brought home.

Normally tax conventions are very useful and perfectly justified. A corporation cannot be taxed in the United States on the profits its branch generates there and taxed again when these profits are brought back in Canada. It would be absurd.

Since tax levels in Canada, in the United States and in most OECD countries are more or less the same, give or take a few percentage points, we can justify the existence of and need for tax conventions. Profits generated by Canadian branches abroad, in Europe, for example, cannot be taxed at 30% in Europe and then taxed again at the same level here. It would not make any sense.

When it comes to countries that are considered tax havens, with tax levels of 0% on corporate income—in the Bahamas—or 2.5%—in the Bermudas, we have to ask why Canada should sign tax conventions with them, especially since the OECD has just condemned this practice, which the Bloc Quebecois has been criticizing since 1993. It does not make any sense to sign tax treaties with countries where the tax levels are so totally different from ours that they are considered tax havens.

We must bear in mind that what is invested in these countries is not taxed in Canada and that Canadian taxpayers must therefore make up for this loss in tax revenues.

It is not because we now have a budget surplus that we should let go of some of our tax revenues by signing tax treaties with countries identified as tax havens, let go of hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, in current and future taxes on investments.

We have nothing against wealth or against the wealthy, but there is a limit to being the laughing stock of the world, when our taxpayers have to compensate for the inaction of the Minister of Finance in the area of tax reform.

I said it before and will say it again, the Bloc is no longer the only one to urge the government to terminate the tax treaties signed with some 30 countries that are considered the worst tax havens in the world. Since the release of its recent report, the OECD is going after governments that are unfairly attracting investments and are hurting most member states of the OECD with their tax provisions, which are much too lax.

Furthermore, it is rather strange—and I will be able to ask the Finance Minister about this later—that we still have a tax convention with the Bahamas, for example, while the OECD financial action task force on money laundering, or FATF, in a report tabled on June 22, 2000, points the finger at countries that are not co-operating in the fight against money laundering.

Among these are two countries with which Canada has tax conventions and where Canadian investments are astronomical, not to say unbelievable. I am talking about the Bahamas and Bermuda, the two countries Canadian investors like best.

How can it be explained that, the OECD having condemned these countries as being rather lenient with regard to money laundering, Canada still has a tax convention with them, especially the Bahamas?

Somewhere in all of this there is a problem bordering on the ethical. If it were the Bloc Quebecois saying so, one could say that these are partisan comments, despite the fact that we have tried since 1993 to act in a non-partisan way to propose real measures and to speak for Quebec and Canadian taxpayers on tax reform.

However, now the OECD has just released a report that points the finger at 35 countries meeting the criteria of tax haven. The finger points as well at countries which do not co-operate in the area of money laundering. Yet we continue with our tax conventions with these countries. There is a serious problem in this regard.

Not only do we retain the tax conventions but we encourage Canadian investors to use these tax havens to swell Canadians' savings. The government is encouraging this tax evasion.

On July 16, 1999, for example, the Canadian Departments of Foreign Affairs and International Trade published their calendar of special events for 1999-2000 in CanadExport , the departments' major trade publication. Included was the title of a conference, a seminar given by the Departments of Foreign Affairs and International Trade “Demystifying Tax Havens”.

The federal departments and the Government of Canada promote tax evasion, promote the outflow of capital to tax havens. These are the topics covered, in broad terms, in this seminar organized by the federal government. They discussed the origin of tax havens and their use as a financial strategy imagine that. They encourage the use of tax havens to avoid federal tax abroad. Great morality, this government.

They also discussed the criteria for selecting a good tax haven. Not only was the use of tax havens being promoted but they also said “Listen, the best one is probably the Bahamas. There is no corporate tax. You can do whatever you want. There are no labour laws and no environmental laws to speak of. Use the best tax haven”. This is the message that was conveyed.

The fourth theme of the conference—and this is shameful—was “Tax havens and Canada's tax laws and how to get the most out of your tax havens”. Unbelievable. A seminar organized by the federal Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade teaches investors how to save as much federal taxes as possible. They are told to take their money abroad, to the best rated tax havens, while the taxpayers who are here and who cannot afford to pay for financial planners and to invest in tax havens continue to pay, continue to be choked by the tax system in spite of the tax reductions recently announced by the government. These reductions are totally inadequate, given the margin available to the government to lower taxes. The middle income taxpayers, middle income families, are the ones paying, not millionaires.

Millionaires and billionaires use the federal government's services to send money abroad without having to pay any taxes to the federal government. The result is that we, the majority of low and middle income taxpayers, continue to pay taxes and to be choked by the tax system. This is unbelievable.

It is not just the OECD report that provides a picture of the 35 countries considered to be tax havens. There is also a report from the task force on money laundering, which says that Bermuda and the Bahamas are among the countries that do not co-operate in the fight against money laundering.

Those two countries are considered by Canadians as tax havens par excellence. Not only do they choose them themselves, but the federal Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade tells them how to use them. One day we will have to wake up. The members will have to wake up, put on the brakes and say that this is enough.

The tax system has to be changed. We have to make sure that there will be no tax treaties with countries considered as tax havens in the future.

I once read a statement made by David Dodge, the former deputy minister of finance and now governor of the Bank of Canada. He said that we have to maintain our tax treaties with the underdeveloped countries because they help to create jobs and wealth in those countries. Fat chance. They have nothing to do with job creation or economic growth.

The only thing that tax treaties with those tax havens do is give millionaires and billionaires a chance to get even richer. Those who already have money manage to escape taxation here and to make even more money because they pay very little, if anything, in income tax in the host country. That makes absolutely no sense.

Since 1993 we have been denouncing the existence of tax treaties between Canada and the worst tax havens in the world. Despite our criticism and despite recent criticism by the OECD, which is not a branch of the Bloc Quebecois, or the Parti Quebecois calling for the elimination of tax treaties with countries that favour tax avoidance, we are here dealing with bills aimed at rectifying certain situations or harmonizing certain taxes. Obviously, we support this type of measure, but there is a fundamental problem with regard to our tax system and tax treaties that needs to be dealt with.

Before the election, considering the fact that the fight against the deficit had turned into a surplus accumulation exercise by the finance minister, I expected a little more decency, a little more serenity with regard to tax reform. I expected the government to announce a thorough reform of our tax system and a review of problematic tax treaties.

Instead of that, we heard statements of intention and statements based on the government's past actions. It says that it has indeed brought in tax reform but that there is always room for improvement.

I am not known for being mean but there is a great sense of urgency here. When we know that it is not only the opposition parties that are calling for a thorough reform of our tax system and a review of tax treaties but also the OECD, it means that the whole industrialized world unanimously agrees that we need to review our tax practices.

I am amazed that this has not been done earlier because all the evidence is there. Since 1993, use of these tax havens has climbed sharply. However the example has to come from the top down and, in this regard, the Minister of Finance is not setting a very shining example. He himself has companies in countries considered to be the worst tax havens.

He has companies in Liberia, the Bahamas and Bermuda. How can someone have any political will to reform the tax system, to review tax agreements between Canada and Bermuda or the Bahamas, for instance, when he himself is involved in these countries and benefits from the tax agreements between Canada and these tax havens? It seems to me that such a person does not have a very strong political will to reform and to review tax agreements. That is the result.

The members opposite should stop looking so shocked every time we raise this problem. This is directly related to what the Minister of Finance is. He is a shipowner. He owns companies. He has 13 subsidiaries in other countries considered to be tax havens and identified as such in an OECD report. He is taking advantage of this tax avoidance. How could he be expected to be interested in reviewing all this?

He cannot review it because he is both judge and judged. That is why, given what we know, we should be asking questions. Is it urgent to review tax agreements? The answer is yes.

First, we should review all tax conventions Canada has signed in recent years and, in particular, conventions with countries which are on the OECD list and are considered the worst tax havens.

Second, talking about the preservation of the tax base, the auditor general has made it crystal clear. He said that one of the biggest threats to the tax base lies in the international activities of Canadian taxpayers, particularly the use of tax havens. The situation is critical.

We have a problem if we do not act immediately to review and, if need be, cancel tax conventions with countries which make tax avoidance easier, something rich Canadian taxpayers take full advantage of, and with countries which do not co-operate adequately in the fight against money laundering.

Third, if the finance minister feels he is both judge and party to the case because of his companies and subsidiaries located in countries considered to be the worst as far as tax havens and tax avoidance go, he should step aside and let somebody else do what has to be done.

It is however doubtful that the Minister of Finance will start a movement to reform tax conventions and taxes which could enable us to ensure that the most serious threats to the tax base, as criticized in 1992, 1996, 1998 and recently in the auditor general's report, which covers the past 10 years, are countered. Until they are, I do not think this objective will be met.

I challenge the government to truly reform taxation.

Bill C-13 deserves some praise. Taxation is harmonized, especially the GST and the HST, which have some value and which were long expected. However, the minister and the government must do more than that. That is important but reform of the tax conventions and of taxation is vital and fundamental.

The surpluses are piling up in government coffers. It is a simple arrangement. Everyone is cut off and it piles up. Do the people not entitled to employment insurance, who call for more money for health care and are cut off by the government, the students wanting more money for education and who are cut off by the federal government, realize that there need not have been cuts, if we had had responsible government and a Minister of Finance who was not both judge and jury in recent years?

They would have kept their tax base. We could have built up surpluses, but ones paid for by those with the means to pay and to fund and not have them accumulated through savage, drastic and inhuman cuts to employment insurance, savage cuts to health care and savage cuts to education.

We must realize that every time a billionaire invests money in the Bahamas with the help of the federal government and of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, that money is no longer in the federal treasury. The Minister of Finance then gets new money from the poor, from the unemployed, from students who have a hard time making ends meet and from the sick. Is it not indecent to maintain the status quo because the Minister of Finance is both judge and jury here?

In the coming weeks, we will continue to harass the government regarding this important issue since the future of the federal tax base is at stake. It is an unbelievable injustice that this government is promoting when it uses tax havens to tell millionaires and billionaires “Such is the Canadian tax system; here is what our tax treaties with the Bahamas, Bermuda or Liberia provide and what you should do to take advantage of these tax havens to the fullest”.

The government is telling rich taxpayers how to avoid paying taxes in Canada by using tax havens that are being condemned by the OECD and that often do not co-operate in the fight against money laundering. This is serious stuff.

While we support Bill C-13 because some provisions are worth supporting, we are sending a wake up call to the public and asking the Minister of Finance to stop looking after his own interests, to stop being judge and jury and to let someone else undertake a true tax reform, a comprehensive review of all the tax treaties signed by Canada with countries that are considered to be tax havens. We will fight tooth and nail for that.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 2001Government Orders

March 2nd, 2001 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, with respect to Bill C-13, amendments to the Excise Tax Act which is, as the hon. the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance has indicated, essentially a series of technical amendments to the GST, its collection and its administration.

At the outset I would like to set down some principles from which the official opposition judges all tax related legislation. First, we believe that government should take not one penny more in taxes from Canadians through any source than is absolutely and strictly necessary for the efficient operation of necessary programs. That is to say, programs that are necessary to provide core services which are the exclusive jurisdictional responsibility of the federal government and, in a sense, to help those who cannot help themselves.

From that basic point, the one test with which I approach all fiscal matters is this: I ask myself if an extra dollar spent, collected by us through parliament and spent by politicians and bureaucrats in Ottawa, will do more good than that dollar left in the hand of a resident of my constituency who owns and operates a small business.

Generally, the answer to that question is a resounding no. The dollars we collect, including the approximately $20 billion net which we collect through the goods and services tax, is money which would be more powerfully used for social good if left in the hands of the creative men and women who earn that money and create that wealth in the first place. That is the first premise by which we judge all of these matters.

We then ask ourselves, if we are going to have taxes to finance necessary limited government programs within federal jurisdiction, how can we raise those taxes in a manner which is least destructive to the economy and which has a minimal distortional effect on the choices made by people freely in our economy every day.

I remind the House of the dictum that the power to tax is the power to destroy. All through history we see this lesson. There is a brilliant book about the history of taxation and its destructive power called For Good and Evil by Canadian author Charles Adams. In the book he relates through the centuries, beginning in ancient Egypt, how governments, monarchs, parliaments, congresses have imposed taxes which have had enormous unintended consequences, and how governments frequently do not understand that the power to tax will distort human behaviour, often for the worse.

Let me provide one interesting and humorous example. In the 16th century the British crown decided to bring forward something called the window tax. This was during the Tudor era of architecture. All of a sudden, one of the new luxuries which indicated social status was the capacity to install glass windows in one's residence.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 2001Government Orders

March 2nd, 2001 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to introduce second reading of Bill C-13.

Bill C-13 reaffirms the government's commitment to making our tax system simpler and fairer, not only for individual Canadians but for Canadian businesses as well.

Before I begin setting out the measures in the bill, I would like to mention that the consultative process leading to its introduction is an excellent example of co-operation between the government and the business and tax communities to achieve the shared objective of improving our tax system.

On behalf of the government, allow me to take this opportunity to thank those interested parties that brought forward their views on the many issues addressed in the legislation.

Bill C-13 implements measures relating to the goods and services tax, the GST, and harmonized sales tax, HST, that were proposed in budget 2000, as well as additional sales tax measures proposed in a notice of ways and means motion tabled in parliament on October 4, 2000. These measures are aimed at improving the operation of the GST-HST in the affected areas and ensuring that the legislation accords with the policy intent.

The bill also implements two amendments to the excise tax provisions of the Excise Tax Act.

The first clarifies provisions relating to the deferral of excise taxes on automobile air conditioners installed in new automobiles and on heavy automobiles at the time of importation by or sale to a licensed manufacturer.

The second provides discretion for the Minister of National Revenue to waive or cancel interest, or a penalty calculated in the same manner as interest, under the excise tax system.

First, I will set out the proposals of the bill as contained in the 2000 budget.

The GST-HST is designed to ensure Canadian businesses and goods are competitive in the export markets. Some of the measures proposed in the 2000 budget and contained in C-13 are intended to achieve these objectives. These measures concern, more particularly, the following:

The GST-HST treatment of export distribution activities; the provision of warranty services by Canadian businesses to non-resident companies; the provision of storage and distribution services by Canadian service providers in relation to goods imported on behalf of non-residents; and finally, sales of railway rolling stock to non-residents.

Let me take a few moments to briefly summarize each of these measures.

Registrants engaged in export distribution activities involving the limited processing of goods for export face a cashflow cost that may be significant in relation to the level of value added to the goods. This can be the case where goods are imported for minor processing and subsequent export.

The cashflow issue arises because tax is paid on the importation of the goods but no offsetting tax is collected on their export. As a result, the business must finance the tax until the receipt of a refund from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.

The proposal for an export distribution centre program contained in the bill addresses the cashflow issue faced by low value added export oriented businesses by allowing them an export distribution centre certificate to purchase or import inventory, or to import customers' goods on a tax-free basis.

This measure will help ensure that the GST-HST does not present an impediment to the establishment of North American distribution centres in Canada.

I would note that a national consultative process took place on this issue that involved many interested parties from all regions of the country, including constituents in my area near Pearson airport. We think the prospects for this are very exciting.

With respect to Canadian businesses supplying warranty repair or replacement services, Bill C-13 contains a measure that would help protect the competitive position of these Canadian businesses relative to their foreign, particularly U.S., counterparts.

At the moment, import duty relief is accorded in the case of goods imported into Canada for repairs under guarantee, provided the goods are exported once the work is done. However, when the good imported is replaced rather than repaired, the import duty relief does not apply.

The bill proposes to extend the relieving rules to cover situations where a replacement good is provided under warranty and is exported in place of the original imported defective good, for example, where the original good is destroyed.

This proposal would ensure that the GST-HST does not make Canadian suppliers of warranty repair or replacement services less competitive relative to foreign suppliers when these services are provided to non-residents.

Bill C-13 also expands on a program known as the exporters of processing services program. This program allows the tax-free importation of goods by a Canadian processor for the purpose of processing the goods in Canada and subsequent export.

The program ensures that the GST-HST does not impose prohibitive cashflow costs on Canadian service providers by their having to pay tax on their customers' goods at the time of importation.

However, the program does not apply where a Canadian processor only provides storage or distribution services.

The bill proposes to expand the program to allow access to businesses that provide only storage or distribution services for non-residents.

Another proposal relating to cross border transactions contained in the bill concerns sales of goods delivered in Canada to non-residents who intend to export the goods.

Special rules under the GST-HST system allow an unregistered non-resident person to acquire goods, and most services in respect of goods, in Canada without paying GST-HST, where the goods are bound for export and remain in the possession of registered Canadian service providers before being exported.

Bill C-13 proposes amendments in order to ensure that this objective is met.

Specifically, an amendment is proposed relating to the sale of railway rolling stock to non-resident businesses. The current rules do not permit the sale of the rolling stock to be tax free if there is to be any use in Canada of the rolling stock prior to its export. This restriction does not reflect current industry practice because rolling stock is rarely shipped empty to its U.S. destinations.

The bill proposes an amendment so that the use of railway rolling stock to move goods outside the country in the context of the exported rolling stock does not of itself result in the stock not being exempt.

Consultations on the proposed amendments I have just mentioned were conducted with a number of businesses operating in the transportation of goods from and to Canada.

The fruit of these discussions is in the proposals contained in the bill which will improve the operation of the tax system in these important export sectors.

I would like to turn to an important sales tax initiative that budget 2000 proposed for the rental housing sector which is likewise contained in Bill C-13. The bill contains a measure of significant benefit to builders and purchasers of new residential rental accommodation.

Under the existing sales tax system, tax applies to new residential rental property when the property is acquired by a landlord from a builder or on a self assessed basis when the builder is the landlord. For purchaser landlords, the tax becomes payable upon purchase of the residential complex. For builder landlords, the tax becomes payable as soon as the first unit in the residential complex is rented. As a result, both purchaser landlords and builder landlords finance the tax liability up front and recover the tax over time.

The bill implements the new residential rental property rebate which is a partial rebate of the GST paid in respect of newly constructed substantially renovated or converted long term residential rental accommodation. The rebate is payable to the builder landlord or purchaser landlord who paid the tax. This will help increase the stock of rental accommodation in Canada.

In fact, the new rebate will reduce by 2.5 percentage points the effective rate of tax on new residential rental property, which is the same as the federal tax reduction that applies to new owner occupied homes under the existing new home rebate program.

I mentioned earlier that in addition to the measures proposed in the 2000 budget, Bill C-13 contains other sales tax measures designed to improve the operation of the GST-HST. Three of these measures are also in the area of real property.

First, the bill proposes a refinement to the existing new housing rebate program which reduces the cost to consumers of building or purchasing a mew home. Refinements are proposed to allow new homes to qualify where they are used primarily as a place of residence, as well as to provide short term accommodation to the public in certain circumstances as the case is with many bed and breakfast establishments.

Second, Bill C-13 would address a problem that arises when a consumer who has purchased real property from a vendor and has paid GST or HST subsequently returns the property to the original vendor without having used it. Currently there is no mechanism by which the consumer can recover the tax paid on the initial purchase.

The proposed amendment contained in the bill would allow a consumer in this circumstance to recover the tax paid on the purchase of the property if it is returned to the original vendor within one year and pursuant to the original contract. This would place a consumer returning real property in a similar position to a person who returns new goods to a vendor and receives a credit or refund for the GST or HST that was originally paid on the goods.

The third real property measure contained in the bill relates to the sale of land by individuals. Hon. members may know that sales of real property by individuals or personal trusts are generally exempt from the GST-HST, provided the individual or trust has not used the property in a taxable business. The bill proposes to ensure that a sale of real property cannot be treated as exempt from sales tax if the seller was previously leasing it to other persons on a taxable basis.

All of these amendments relating to real property transactions reflect the government's commitment to ensure that our tax system is fair and efficient.

As members will recall, last year's budget contained proposals that reflect the government's commitment to continue to work toward improving the quality of life for all Canadians. Quality of life has many dimensions, including access to quality health care and education. Bill C-13 builds on the spirit of that commitment.

In the area of health care, the bill proposes an amendment to continue in force an existing GST-HST exemption for speech therapy services that are billed by individual practitioners and that are not covered by the applicable provincial health care plan.

With respect to education, Bill C-13 contains a measure that will extend the sales tax exemption for vocational training to more situations, including cases where the training is supplied by a government department or agency rather than a vocational school. Specially, the amendment will do away with existing conditions on the exemption that required that the training or the resulting certifications be subject to certain government regulation or that the school be run on a non-profit basis.

The proposed change will ensure that vocational training provided in different provinces receives the same GST-HST treatment regardless of the regulatory regime that exists in each province with respect to vocational schools.

A further amendment would add the flexibility for providers of vocational training to elect to treat their services as taxable where their clients are commercial businesses that would prefer to pay the tax and recover it by way of input tax credits.

As for charities, our government is also taking into account the major role played by these agencies, which Canadians by enriching the lives of our communities.

This bill proposes amendments so that the GST-HST legislation accurately reflects the government's intention to generally exempt charities from having to pay tax on rent and related goods.

As I stated at the outset, Bill C-13 also contains amendments relating to the non-GST-HST parts of the Excise Tax Act which deal with excise taxes on specific products. Among those specific taxes are excise taxes on automobile air conditioners and on heavy automobiles which have been imposed since the mid-1970s.

Since 1984, these taxes have been payable by the manufacturer at the time of delivery to an automobile dealer. Payment of the tax is effectively deferred at the time of importation and on immediate transactions between licensees until the sale to an automobile dealer in Canada.

Several manufacturers have recently challenged the longstanding interpretation and application of these provisions with respect to automobile air conditioners installed in imported new motor vehicles and are seeking substantial refunds of tax. They argue that the relief provided on importations by licensed manufacturers does not simply defer payment of the tax but permanently exempts these goods from tax.

This is clearly contrary to the well understood policy intent and longstanding interpretation and administration of these legislative provisions. Bill C-13 therefore proposes clarifying amendments to ensure that there could be no misinterpretation of these provisions with respect to importations as well as intermediate transactions.

The retroactive application of these amendments is consistent with the criteria that were laid out by the government in 1995 in the response to the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. For nearly 20 years these provisions have been interpreted and administered by both Revenue Canada, now the CCRA, and manufacturers and importers in a manner consistent with the underlying policy intent. The tax charged on automobile air conditioners has routinely been included in the price charged to consumers.

Finally, the amount of government revenue at risk is substantial.

Practical measures must therefore be taken so that there can be no doubt as to the application of these provisions to both future and past operations.

Bill C-13 contains one other amendment relating to the excise tax system. The bill provides authority for the Minister of National Revenue to waive interest otherwise payable under the non-GST-HST parts of the Excise Tax Act. This amendment will achieve greater harmonization of the administrative rules under the excise tax system with those under the income tax and sales tax systems which already provide for this waiver.

The amendment will further help ensure fair administration of the excise tax system.

Consistent with the manner in which this discretionary power has been used under the income tax and sales tax system, the Minister of National Revenue would have the ability to waive interest in circumstances such as where, despite a taxpayer's very best efforts and as a result of extraordinary circumstances beyond their control, the taxpayer has been prevented from meeting certain deadlines and thus has incurred the interest.

Bill C-13 contains another improvement regarding the application of the tax system. Hon. members may remember that the Prime Minister recently announced a federal on-line initiative, which is a key component of the government strategy called Connecting Canadians, which is designed to make Canada the most connected nation in the world.

This initiative provides Canadians with another way to access the information and services they receive in person and by telephone. Members may know that businesses can now file GST-HST returns and remittance information electronically. However, under the existing legislation a person who wishes to do so is required to apply to the Minister of National Revenue for authorization. This procedure is cumbersome and more onerous than the procedure for filing income tax returns electronically.

Bill C-13 proposes amendments to streamline the administrative procedures and harmonize them with those under the Income Tax Act, thereby facilitating the electronic filing of GST-HST returns.

In closing, the measures contained in Bill C-13 that I have outlined here today propose to refine, streamline and clarify the application of the tax system.

They also reflect the commitment made by our government to ensure that our tax system is fair.

I therefore urge hon. members to support the bill. I know it is complex and technical but I would hope the members here would support it.