An Act to amend the Budget Implementation Act, 1997 and the Financial Administration 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.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

November 8th, 2001 / 6:30 p.m.
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Waterloo—Wellington Ontario

Liberal

Lynn Myers LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the fact that our government continues to listen to the concerns of firearm dealers and owners. They have important points to make and we are very attuned to what they are saying. That is why an amnesty is currently in place for prohibited handguns and unregistered restricted firearms until December 31, 2001.

The amnesty allows individuals who purchased prohibited, that is short barrelled .25 calibre or .32 calibre, handguns after the intended prohibition was announced in February 1995, and dealers who were left with inventory, to take appropriate action as required. The amnesty also protects individuals who may have come into possession of an unregistered restricted firearm, often through an estate, allowing them the opportunity to either register or dispose of it without fear or repercussion.

Responding to concerns from the public and the policing community, the government announced the prohibition of these handguns in February 1995. Incidentally, the police were at the justice committee last night and both the chiefs of police and the Canadian Association of Police again reaffirmed their strong views that this was appropriate and good legislation, and I think the record should reflect that.

However, all individuals who had registered or who had applied to register a prohibited handgun at that time were grandfathered and can continue to use their firearm with the appropriate authorization.

While the prohibition of these easily concealed firearms is in the interest of public safety and security, the government also recognizes the difficult situation of businesses that were caught with large inventories of short barrelled .25 calibre or .32 calibre handguns on February 14, 1995. This situation is addressed in amendments proposed in Bill C-15, which would grandfather these inventories, and was also addressed last year in Bill C-17.

Grandfathering these inventories would mean that businesses could dispose of the prohibited handguns by selling them to individuals who are grandfathered to possess such handguns and licensed to acquire them. This would help businesses and would not affect public safety as only licensed individuals could acquire them.

Another proposed amendment would change the grandfathering date for prohibited handguns to December 1, 1998, from February 14, 1995, so that correctly licensed individuals who lawfully acquired and registered a handgun while it was still restricted, that is between February 14, 1995 and December 1, 1998, can keep it.

Public safety would be maintained with the proposed changes because only those who were already in legal possession of these handguns since December 1, 1998, and who are properly trained and licensed to use prohibited handguns would be able to keep them. Ownership of prohibited handguns would continue to be limited to a very small number of individuals with grandfathered privileges.

Given the government's resolve to address these issues through Bill C-15B, the amnesty was recently extended until the end of this year to continue to protect both dealer inventories and individuals in possession of prohibited handguns until parliament completes its consideration of Bill C-15. I think that represents the values of Canadians and the values of this parliament.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

October 17th, 2001 / 6:15 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

The hon. member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough refers to Uncle Henry's rifle. I am not sure he actually does have an Uncle Henry, but these shotguns and rifles are essentially tools that a farmer may use for the protection of his livestock and are kept under lock and key.

My party has always resisted the long gun registry because it simply does not work and it targets the wrong group. This bill is what we would rather have. We know that the minister of justice of the day said that the cost of implementing the registry would be at most a mere $85 million. The member for Edmonton North has fought for this legislation tooth and nail since she became a member of parliament.

Let us just say that it was a noble intent, it was the right thing to do. We disagree with it. Even if it were, we now know the price tag is well above $400 million. We know that there are very prudent estimates that when this thing is finally settled it will cost over $800 million to actually implement.

The point that I want to make is we could use those dollars toward a truly safer street agenda, including more money for the RCMP for overtime, for personnel and for new technologies to fight cyber crime. In the context of the world events which have taken place since September 11, there is the very real issue of putting those added resources toward augmenting the budget of the RCMP or even CSIS to help them fight biker gangs and terrorist cells, as opposed to arbitrarily taxing deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers. It just makes a lot of sense.

I am arguing our position from a purely economic perspective in this regard. Even if it was a noble intent, we now know that not only was it misguided and ill-advised but it has become one of the most comprehensive and expensive boondoggles that the federal government has ever had throughout Canadian history.

We are trying to use this private member's bill, although it is non-votable, to help educate the public to the fact that any reasonable parliamentarian is not against gun control or having more stringent provisions to deter accidental harm from firearms. We want to ensure that we have a mandatory additional penalty in place for any criminal act committed with the use of a firearm. These are the kind of things that the public wants us to do. They want us to deter the criminal use of firearms.

If we want to make our streets safer, why do we not use that $800 million? We still have about $400 million that we can save to achieve a truly safer street agenda. That is why I moved Bill C-269. I made a commitment to the constituents in my riding of Fundy--Royal that at the very least I would do my best to keep the issue alive. That is what I am trying to do with respect to this issue. Maybe that says something to accountability.

I know the member from Cypress Hills--Grasslands has been steadfast in his opposition against this arbitrary registry. I applaud him for his efforts. This is an issue that transcends many party lines. It really is a split on rural Canada versus urban Canada. However even urban Canadians are now saying that when they fought this back in the 1997 election, they thought it was the right thing to do. Now that the price tag is $400 million and it might even get to as high as $800 million, they are saying that perhaps we were right back in 1997, that it was a bad idea and that we were concentrating on the wrong element of society.

Let us target our energies toward criminals. Give the RCMP and our law enforcement officers a tool kit to fight crime. We should take the issue and weigh it on one hand, then on the other. Are we concerned with terrorist cells and having the resources from a security perspective with respect to the RCMP to actually flush those folks out? Are we concerned about organized crime? Instead of taxing deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers, why do we not give the tool kits to the RCMP to fight terrorist cells and biker gangs?

We know that long guns principally are not the weapons of crime in an urban context. Therefore, we are really targeting the wrong group.

It may be a noble intent, but all of the good that we are trying to get out of Bill C-269, I can advocate was already in place with respect to Bill C-17. That would have been a better way to go as opposed to using this useless, cumbersome long gun registry. There are a lot of superlatives being added by my friends and colleagues who join me in their opposition to Bill C-68 and in support of my private member's bill, Bill C-269.

It is not even a cash cow for the government. It is so bureaucratic and so expensive that it is not even paying for itself. Any other reasonable government would have actually cut its losses long ago.

I ask all members to reflect on this particular issue and then, as time goes by, find some way to keep the good and the noble intent that might have been in place in Bill C-68 and ditch the long gun registry, which, at its worst, is an attack on rural attack and clearly is an attack on the legitimate long gun owners of rifles, rifles that are used by deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers.

I want to thank my colleagues for their encouragement and contribution throughout my remarks. If I was ever at a loss for words throughout my speech, there was no shortage of assistance from my friends and colleagues. I want to thank them for their support.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

October 17th, 2001 / 6:15 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

moved that Bill C-269, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (exemption of long guns from registration), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to have an opportunity to maintain a very strong commitment I made to the constituents of my riding of Fundy--Royal and, I might add, to an issue that resonates very much throughout rural Canada with regard to a piece of legislation introduced by the government that may be very noble in intent in terms of deterring the criminal use of firearms, but which has become one of the largest fiscal boondoggles we have had in Canadian history. The bill I am referring to is commonly known throughout the country as Bill C-68.

Here is what we are advocating. We all categorically agree that any modern society needs to have provisions in place with respect to the handling of firearms so that individuals who acquire them are properly trained in their use. We need to have provisions in place whereby firearms are stored under lock and key in a place separate from the ammunition. The ammunition should be in one compartment and the firearm itself in another one to avoid any kind of accidental harm.

Members may be familiar with the fact that all of the provisions I have outlined were in what was termed to be one of the most progressive pieces of firearm legislation in the industrialized world, that is, this country's legislation formerly known as Bill C-17, introduced by the Progressive Conservative government. It never had a chance to be measured as to the degree of success it could actually entail.

The bill I have put forward does this. All the safe handling provisions, all the acquisition certificates that Bill C-68 and its predecessor Bill C-17 had and all the issues from a safety perspective are still in place, with the exception that it does not call for the registration of long guns such as rifles and shotguns which are utilized throughout Canada by deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers. We know that registering long guns belonging to deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers will not deter the criminal use of firearms. In fact, I might add that it is an arbitrary tax on those individuals. What we want to do is deter the criminal use of firearms.

The bill is a surgical strike on Bill C-68, keeping the good elements contained in it but extracting the most divisive element. Those weapons or firearms that are not restricted or prohibited, essentially long guns such as shotguns and rifles which are used by deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers, are the only firearms that do not need to be registered in a mandatory fashion. That is it.

In our modern society in this great nation hand guns have been registered since the 1930s. We should never touch that issue. However what I am talking about is--

Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2001Government Orders

September 20th, 2001 / 10:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to what my colleague had to say. He recognized that there have been considerable changes since the old Bill C-17. The hon. member mentioned the words wilful and wilfully. It is my understanding that because of representations made by members on all sides of the House these words will be returned in the definition.

The question of an unclear standard of negligence has already been dealt with. The reintroduction of the word unnecessary in the offence of causing pain by negligence has already occurred. I was very interested in that change.

The animal cruelty provisions have been moved from the sexual offences and public morals section to a section of their own. That is important because it shows the industry that animals are not viewed as human beings.

There have been other changes as well. I would simply say to my colleague that the government already made these substantial changes before committee stage.

Does the hon. member not think the best thing we could do with this part of the bill is move as quickly as possible to committee stage? The committee could then have hearings and we could put the bill, which has been before us and has already been modified, into the public eye as quickly and effectively as possible.

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.)

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

May 14th, 2001 / 7:05 p.m.
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The Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-17.

Business Of The HouseGovernment Orders

May 14th, 2001 / 6:50 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was just in discussions with the government House leader and my party has decided to withdraw its amendments to Bill C-22 and Bill C-17. I think if you were to seek consent you would find agreement for that.

We will be voting on the main motion to both those bills.

Tobacco Tax Amendments Act, 2001Government Orders

May 14th, 2001 / 5:25 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Philip Mayfield Canadian Alliance Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are here today to debate Bill C-26. The bill has some good qualities and our party agrees with some aspects of the bill.

However, I would like to suggest that the government look to the Senate to study a bill that addresses the real problems of tobacco use, particularly with children. Bill S-15 has gone before committee and may soon come before this House. Although Bill C-26 has some good qualities, I believe the bill from the other place really would be more appropriate. It targets youth and suggests a model for accountability of the delivery of government services. I believe, despite our support for Bill C-26, that Bill S-15 deserves more careful scrutiny.

Earlier in the day we debated Bill C-22 and Bill C-17. We talked about the complexity of the imposition of taxes and the tax act. Taxes in this instance are also extremely complex with some 40 pages of legislation and another 50 pages of explanations. My goodness, why does it always have to be so difficult for people to understand the government's intentions?

One of the main difficulties in increasing taxes, particularly for constituents who have service stations and corner stores, and those who are rural merchants, are that their businesses have been so caught up in the economic decline of the country, particularly where I come from, that the loss of this income in tobacco sales is a real difficulty.

Should the bill go forward, I would suggest that there be a commensurate reduction of tax on other economic activities that are sensitive to price changes. A reduction of taxes in other areas for people who are hit with these increases would be appropriate.

While it may seem equitable to some that the big, bad tobacco industry take this on, taxes are not necessarily borne by those who have the responsibility to pay those taxes.

I do not think I need to lecture adults about cigarettes and all the associated health risks but I do want to talk about why I am supporting the bill even though there is much about it with which I disagree.

We all know the facts. What needs to be addressed in the bill is the central reason for this bill coming into existence. We can argue over the wording of the bill. Some may call it a tobacco recovery levy and some may call it a tax. What we cannot argue about is the fact that the tobacco companies target children. These are the smokers of the future who the tobacco industry will depend on for their future income and profits.

Young people are the most important target for smoking prevention activities. Since most smokers in Canada begin to smoke in their adolescence, a major challenge for smoking prevention is to counteract the influences of the tobacco companies. Tobacco use among young Canadians must be reduced.

What does the data say? What are the numbers? There are close to 6.7 million smokers in Canada. Smoking among adolescents aged 15 to 19 has risen from 21% to 29% over the past 10 years, and females make up a large percentage of this group.

Smoking accounts for about 30% of cancers in Canada and 80% of those who suffer from lung cancer are smokers. Cigarette related deaths account for 40,000 deaths in Canada every year. These facts speak for themselves. We must do everything possible to stop children from getting involved with this killing habit. The bill is one step in the right direction.

Some may argue that tobacco farmers would suffer enormous economic hardship. However during the 1980s the number of tobacco farmers declined by about 50%. These farmers began to grow other crops and have benefited from assistance programs. There are others in the retail end of smoking who suffer as well. There must be compensation for those who suffer. There must be an ability for them to continue on but smoking is evil. It is wrong for us to poison our young people and have them sacrifice their lives. This has to be the bottom line.

In 1991 consumers spent over $10.1 billion on tobacco products. Of that amount about $6.6 billion went to the federal, provincial and territorial governments. There is no denying that this is a substantial amount of money but it amounts to less than 2% of federal and provincial revenues. Considering that tobacco taxes make up less than 2% of the federal revenue, there is even more incentive to reduce the number of children who want to smoke.

I want to compare the 2% of federal revenue to the health care costs in our public health care system. With over 40,000 deaths directly related to tobacco, the strain on our overburdened health care system is enormous. Those suffering from lung cancer as a result of years of tobacco use costs billions of dollars in health care costs. By reducing the number of children smoking, we not only save their lives but we can help save billions of dollars in health care at the same time.

These are very important reasons to help stop tobacco use among our children. When people stop smoking completely, the country saves money. In 1993 the societal costs attributed to smoking were estimated to be $11 billion, which is far higher than the income from tobacco.

The Canadian Cancer Society surveyed thousands of smokers and over 85% indicated that they wanted to quit and that they only smoked because they were addicted and could not get out of the habit. In 1994 almost 75% of Canadian smokers reported having tried to quit at least once.

What is needed from the government is leadership on the issue. The Minister of Health has taken some small steps to address the crisis of smoking among youth but small steps in the past have not been enough. The government needs to put the health of young children ahead of partisan politics and show some determination. We all must recognize the enormous health risks of tobacco and the true costs of allowing this habit to continue.

Children are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society and that is why aspects of the bill are so important. The bill would create an educational fund.

Bill C-26 would put a levy on tobacco and put the health of children ahead of everything else. By reducing tobacco caused illnesses and death through prevention, we are helping society as a whole.

Some argue that non-smokers should impose their views on smokers. Perhaps there is some merit in that. However I am arguing for the vulnerable children. Adults are responsible for the protection of children from this kind of harmful activity. The government is the watchdog and the guardian over that which would harm our children. The societal costs of smoking are tremendous.

We cannot forget that children need our protection from harm. They are vulnerable and impressionable. This is why elements of the bill are worth examining. Children are the future and the reason I am supporting the bill. Let us give them a fighting chance.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

May 14th, 2001 / 1:50 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleague from Calgary Southeast indicated, I will be speaking to certain aspects of the bill. One aspect on which I will focus is the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the fact that it is retroactively being exempted from large sections of the Financial Administration Act.

The Financial Administration Act is a very thick document that governs and dictates how the government manages its internal finances. A large number of agencies, boards and so on must conform to the Financial Administration Act to ensure their finances are handled appropriately. Why would they not be? However this clause would exempt the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board from the FAA.

Also it is backdated to December 31, 1998. I understand from the government it is the old housekeeping rule that somewhere along the line it was originally exempt from the Financial Administration Act. When somebody was doing some drafting of another piece of legislation they inadvertently omitted to keep the exemption there, but it slipped back in, that they were subject to it.

We know there is a fundamental principle that legislation cannot be backdated. It is never retroactive. Why is it in this case? If we go to some particular piece of legislation and read some fine arcane little rule, it says that where the government makes a mistake it can backdate it if it so desires. Do we live in a real democratic country or do we not? That is what it is coming to.

As I mentioned earlier, when we were discussing Bill C-22 and the $125 grant to all Canadians who qualified for the GST tax credit, I questioned the legality of the information being taken from the Income Tax Act. The act guarantees the confidentiality of income tax returns. The government dipped into it just so it could send out cheques for $125. The Income Tax Act does not give the government the legal authority to get the information.

Here again we are having legislation backdated a couple or three years just because somebody did not do their homework properly or inadvertently made a mistake. The net result is that the Liberals are imposing it in the House. They will use their majority. They will bring out the whip. They will lash people into submission, to say this is good stuff. In a democratic country it is not good stuff when they have to backdate legislation. It cannot be.

What is the government actually doing with the backdating of legislation? It is exempting the board from being examined by the Auditor General of Canada, the watchdog of Canadians. What is the AG being prevented from examining? He is being prevented from looking at the $40 billion or more of money Canadians have set aside for their retirement. It is being held in trust by the government and being managed by the particular board. The auditor general cannot, by virtue of the legislation, go in there to take a look and assure Canadians that all is well. The government does not want that. It does not want these kind of questions to be asked.

I say as a Canadian that the people in my riding of St. Albert, and I am sure I speak for all Canadians, would like to know that the pension plan is being managed properly, securely, safely, prudently and so on. They will never know that. They will never be allowed to ask that question because the auditor general will never be allowed to ask that question by virtue of clause 6 in Bill C-17. It is absolutely despicable. Therefore I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following therefor:

Bill C-17, an act to amend the Budget Implementation Act, 1997 and the Financial Administration Act, be not now read a third time, but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Finance for the purpose of reconsidering clause 6 and to consider the desirability of hearing from the Auditor General relating to his concern about the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board”.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

May 14th, 2001 / 1:40 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise at third reading of Bill C-17, an act to amend the Budget Implementation Act, 1997 and the Financial Administration Act.

There are two parts to the bill. I will emphasize the aspects related to the Budget Implementation Act, 1997. My colleague, the chair of the public accounts committee and chief critic for the treasury board, will address the amendments to the Financial Administration Act.

The bill seeks to increase funding for research and development through the Canada foundation for innovation by some $750 million over an undefined period of 10 years. This follows quite logically the remarks I just delivered on Bill C-22 when I discussed at length the irresponsible approach the government was taking to program spending.

I spoke about how in the fiscal year just ended program spending had grown by 7.1%, how the government had overspent its budgeted amount every fiscal year, and how for the next four years the government was estimated to average spending increases of about 5%. I expect it would be substantially more than that.

I also talked about the phenomenon known as March madness where ministers make spending announcements without proper authorization. I talked about how in April 2001, the last month of the fiscal year, we spent some $16 billion or 70% more than the average monthly amount.

This is of relevance to the bill before us. The government is proposing that we authorize an additional $750 million for the Canada foundation for innovation. Let me say at the outset that the official opposition, the Canadian Alliance, supports in principle an appropriate and responsible level of funding for research, development and innovation in academia which can be of economic value to the country. We believe government can play an appropriate role in that respect.

However such funding must be limited by the available resources. We are concerned that the $750 million funding envelope has no defined time period or parameters. It is not limited. The government says it may be spent over the next 10 years or so, or perhaps not. That is not a responsible approach. For a spending program like this the government has an obligation to come before us and detail where it expects to come up with the money and in which years and to book the money as spent in each of those fiscal years.

The auditor general has not only criticized the ongoing practice of March madness as inherently inefficient. He has repeatedly criticized the practice of booking future expenditures in one year as the government did with the famous millennium scholarship program and as it is doing now with the Canada foundation for innovation.

This accounting practice would not be accepted in the private sector. The government is ignoring its own rules and the recommendations of the auditor general in the way it is managing the moneys it seeks to authorize through the bill.

Another concern is that the government does not have a clear framework for financing science or research and development. We are dealing with major scientific and R and D projects on a case by case, piecemeal basis. My colleague from Calgary Southwest, our science and technology critic, has made and will continue to make important remarks on the subject. We need very clear criteria for the allocation of money for science, technology, research and development. Throwing the money into a big envelope and saying it will somehow be distributed on an equitable and meaningful basis is not good enough.

How do we adjudicate the relative economic and social value of a cyclotron project in British Columbia versus a nuclear research facility in Ontario versus a research program for astronomy? All these things come before us. Each has merits in and of itself but parliamentarians have no overall objective criteria by which to judge the value of competing R and D demands.

For that reason our party platform proposes that parliament appoint a chief scientist, a position which exists in many other national governments. Such a person would be the principal adviser to both the government and the legislature on scientific questions. He or she could help develop a clear framework to priorize the many competing demands related to R and D, science and technology. This would not require a large or expensive bureaucracy and it would be helpful to have such objective, external advice.

Those are our concerns regarding the first part of the bill. I will briefly outline our concerns regarding the amendments to the Financial Administration Act, concerns my colleague for St. Albert will elaborate further.

The clause seeks to clarify that parliament must provide explicit authority to departments, agencies, boards and commissions of the government in order to incur debt. That is very interesting.

I was briefed on the bill by officials from the Department of Finance who explained that the clause came about because of one of the government's innumerable legislative drafting errors. The error allows the Financial Administration Act to be interpreted in a way that permits departments and agencies to incur debt on their own authority without explicit authorization from parliament delegated to the Minister of Finance.

Over the past couple of years the Department of National Defence has been in a pitched quasi-legal battle with the Department of Finance over this question. The DND has sought independent borrowing authority not delegated by parliament which of course has the power of the purse.

We therefore support the aspect of the amendment regarding borrowing authority. However it begs the question: How can the government consistently bring forth legislation with such significant drafting errors which parliament must then spend valuable legislative time rectifying? That is a serious concern.

In bill after bill, as finance critic, I deal with all sorts of tax amendments which seek to amend errors in bills originally presented by the government. We must accept to a certain extent the bona fides of departmental officials and the government, the ministers who bring these bills to parliament, that they are technically correct. However too often they are not, as in this instance.

The amendment also deals with certain regulations surrounding the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board because of another drafting error. When the government made amendments to the Canadian Wheat Board Act it forgot to include the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The CPP investment board is therefore subject to intervention by the finance minister. He can go into the CPP investment fund and strip cash out of it, contrary to assurances given at the time of passage of Bill C-2 in the last parliament which created the CPP investment board.

However because of a drafting error the finance minister, contrary to every assurance granted us, can go into the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and fire personnel, trash or write his own business plan, and strip cash out of the fund. This loophole needs to be plugged. It should never have occurred in the first place.

We will therefore be opposing the legislation. We will urge the government to take a much closer look at bills of this nature to ensure they do not create future problems which we must then go back and solve.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

May 14th, 2001 / 1:35 p.m.
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Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to address the House today at third reading of Bill C-17, an act to amend the Budget Implementation Act, 1997, including the provision of additional funding to the Canada foundation for innovation, and to amend the Financial Administration Act.

I will begin by discussing the increased funding for the Canada foundation for innovation. The CFI was established in the 1997 budget and remains high on the government's list of funding priorities for university research.

Hon. members will recall that the foundation, an independent corporation operating at arm's length from government, was established to provide support for modernizing research infrastructure at universities, research hospitals and not for profit research institutions in the areas of health, environment, science and engineering.

The 1997 budget provided for an initial upfront federal investment of $800 million. An additional $200 million followed in the 1999 budget. Without the extra funding, the foundation's awards would have ended in 2001.

A further $900 million was subsequently announced in the 2000 budget and support for the CFI was extended until 2005. To date the foundation's activities have been well received by its partners, groups like universities, research hospitals, business, the voluntary sector, individuals and provincial governments also provide funding.

The provinces, for example, strongly support the participation of their research institutions in CFI programs, either by contributing to CFI supported projects or by establishing complementary funding programs of their own. Quebec and Ontario, for example, provide matching funds for CFI awards.

The CFI provides up to 40% of funding to support research infrastructure projects, all of which helps universities and research hospitals acquire the laboratories and equipment they need for state of the art research.

So far the CFI has supported 95 research organizations across Canada, including 65 universities, 18 colleges and 12 research hospitals. Bill C-17 legislates an additional $1.25 billion in funding in 2000-01 to the Canada foundation for innovation and extends its activities to the year 2010. The amount includes $500 million from the October 2000 economic statement and budget update, and a further $750 million that was announced on March 6 by the Ministers of Finance and Industry.

The $500 million announced in last October's economic statement will be invested in two ways. First, $400 million will allow the foundation to contribute to the operating costs of new awards. The remaining $100 million will help support the participation of Canadian researchers in leading edge international research projects and facilities that offer significant research benefits to Canada.

The additional $750 million announced in March for the CFI will build on this funding by providing additional stability to universities as they plan their future research priorities.

The CFI needs the additional funding to help it support the operating costs of new awards and the participation of Canadian researchers in international research projects. Further, additional funding for the CFI would help the federal government to reach its goal of at least doubling its current investment in R and D by the year 2010, a commitment that was made in the Speech from the Throne in January.

Bill C-17 also amends the Financial Administration Act. It is a statute that encompasses the financial administration of the Government of Canada, the establishment and maintenance of its accounts, and the control of crown corporations. The act also sets out the statutory framework under which the government can borrow money.

Bill C-17 would improve the operation of the Financial Administration Act. It would reinstate the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board as one of the crown corporations exempted from divisions I to IV of part X of the Financial Administration Act. The exemption would protect the independence of the board while the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board legislation would provide a strong accountability regime.

Amendments to the Canadian Wheat Board Act in 1998 inadvertently deleted the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board from subsection 85(1) of the Financial Administration Act, meaning that the board was subject to various crown corporation control provisions under the Financial Administration Act, which put it in conflict with its own mandate. Clearly it was neither wanted nor intended and Bill C-17 would correct that error. This change would be retroactive to December 1998 to ensure that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board had always operated within the laws of Canada.

The second amendment reinforces the authority of parliament over any borrowing by or on behalf of the crown. It provides for greater certainty that it is parliament that must specifically authorize borrowings made on behalf of Canada.

The measure would also provide clarification and consistency respecting the role of the Minister of Finance ensuring appropriate management of government indebtedness. Bill C-17 would ensure that all borrowings, not just the borrowing of money, are subject to the supervision by the Minister of Finance.

In closing, the amendments to the Financial Administration Act would improve its operation. The changes to the Budget Implementation Act, 1997 that would provide additional funding to the Canada foundation for innovation and extend its activities to the year 2010 are consistent with the government's commitment to at least doubling its current investment in R and D by the year 2010.

The Canada foundation for innovation is deserving of this increased funding so that it can continue to promote research in Canada and inspire young new Canadian researchers.

I know that my colleagues in the House support investment in education, research and innovation. I encourage them to pass the legislation later this day.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

May 14th, 2001 / 1:35 p.m.
See context

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberalfor the Minister of Finance

moved that Bill C-17, an act to amend the Budget Implementation Act, 1997 and the Financial Administration Act, be read the third time and passed.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

May 10th, 2001 / 3 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is the first opportunity I have had to respond to the hon. member in that capacity. Let me begin by congratulating her on the position she holds.

This afternoon we will continue consideration of Bill S-11, followed by Bill S-16 respecting money laundering. As a matter of fact the debate on Bill S-11 may have collapsed just before question period. That means we will start with Bill S-16 respecting money laundering, followed by Bill C-14, the shipping legislation. Afterward, if there is any time left, we will resume debate on Bill C-10 regarding marine parks.

On Friday we will begin consideration of Bill C-22 respecting income tax amendments at report stage and third reading. We will then return to the list I have just described should we not have completed Bill C-14, Bill C-10 or Bill S-16, for that matter.

On Monday next, if necessary, we will resume consideration of Bill C-22, followed by Bill C-17, the innovation foundation bill, at third reading. We will then return to the list that I described a while ago.

On Tuesday it is my hope that we will be able to commence and hopefully complete the third reading of Bill C-26, the tobacco taxation bill, as well as the second reading of Bill C-15, the criminal code.

Next Wednesday it is my intention to call Bill C-7, the youth justice bill at report stage. We also hope to deal next week with Bill S-3 respecting motor vehicles, Bill C-11, the immigration legislation, if reported, and Bill C-24, organized crime. As well there has been some discussion among political parties and hopefully we can deal with Bill S-24 respecting the aboriginal community of Kanesatake at all stages in the House of Commons, provided that it has been reported to the House from the other place.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

May 9th, 2001 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions on the report stage of Bill C-17.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on Motion No. 1, which was negatived on the following division:)

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

May 9th, 2001 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the bill again and clear some of the way for the industry committee. Between the industry and transport committees, we have been extremely busy in the last while. One would hope that we do not neglect parts of these bills that are not truly addressing the needs of Canadians.

I would like to give a refresher on the bill for those who are listening. We are debating Bill C-17, an act to amend the Budget Implementation Act, 1997 and the Financial Administration Act. This too is an omnibus bill introduced by the government to increase the grant to the Canada Foundation for Innovation by $750 million.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation is a government agency that gives grants to the public and not for profit research institutions, such as universities and hospitals, to finance acquisition and the development of research infrastructure. This part of the bill is extremely credible. There is no question that there is a need to invest in research and technology and post-secondary institutions. Our party supports that part of the bill.

Some concern was raised in committee, when discussions were taking place, that there should be more accountability as to the way the money given to the Canada Foundation for Innovation works its way through the system. We need more accountability. The auditor general gave some indication that he would have preferred to see things looked at more thoroughly. However, it is important that we do invest and that we see the dollars go to the foundation.

I want to emphasize at this point that, although it is extremely important that we see investment in this area, we need to recognize that there has been a serious lack of support on the part of the present government in the funding of students attending post-secondary institutions within Canada. As a result, a number of students, who attend university to take advantage of all the wonderful research and technology that is available to them, have huge debtloads. We need a balance here. The government has failed to meet the needs of students attending post-secondary institutions.

The second part of the bill deals with the closing up of loopholes. There are two amendments to the Financial Administration Act. The first amendment closes a loophole that allows government departments, agencies and non-exempt crown corporations to effectively borrow without the approval of the Minister of Finance.

One of the core principles of the Financial Administration Act is that departments, agencies and non-exempt crown corporations must get the finance minister's approval before any borrowing. This way the finance minister is ultimately accountable for any debt taken on by any branch of the federal government. Some departments were able to get around this requirement by taking on financial obligations that did not fall under the current definition of borrowing, such as lease agreements, and therefore did not need the finance minister's approval. Bill C-17 addresses that issue. In that sense, this is a very good part of the bill.

However, our party does not support the amendment dealing with the Canada pension plan board that exempts it from accountability and that does not allow parliament to have a say over investments that it would be making. I believe very strongly that Canadians do not want their pension plan dollars invested in just anything. Parliament needs to make sure that investment of Canada pension plan dollars would not be going into things such as tobacco companies. We are fighting a war against smoking and we are trying to discourage people from smoking.

Should we be seeing the investment of Canada pension plan dollars in tobacco companies? Should we be seeing the investment of Canada pension plan dollars in companies that use sweat shops or have terrible human rights violations in other countries? I do not want to see my dollars invested that way. I am very comfortable in saying that the majority of Canadians do not want that either. They do not want their Canada pension plan dollars going into sweat shops or into businesses outside of Canada or, for that matter, within Canada because we are not above having sweat shops either.

There are situations in Canada that do not meet ideal labour conditions or human rights standards. Those places exist in Canada as well, but we do not have the kind of control offshore that we should have within Canada. Canadians do not want to see their dollars invested in those kinds of operations. Because they are Canada pension plan dollars, parliament should have a say over the way the investments are handled. That has been a serious issue with our party, the people who support us, and Canadians as well.

The suggested amendment to the bill may try to increase the accountability of the pension plan board, but I am not convinced that it would. Our party will not be supporting the bill because there is no parliamentary oversight by the Canadian pension plan board. The board, by the way, has been more or less appointed by the governing side of the House. It does not ensure that it truly identifies with the entire population of the country.

There are very good parts to the bill such as the dollars that would be invested into research and development through the Canada foundation for innovation. If the amendment should happen to make its way we would be support that amendment as well.