Canada Water Export Prohibition Act

An Act to prohibit the export of water by interbasin transfers

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


Pat Martin  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Not active, as of Feb. 2, 2001
(This bill did not become law.)


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.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

May 28th, 2001 / 11:40 a.m.
See context


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, two years ago the subcommittee on private members' business produced a report in which it recommended to the House that certain criteria be met before a private member's bill could be made votable.

Among these were: that the bill address matters of certain public interest; that the bill and motions address matters not covered by the government's legislative program; and that greater priority be given to measures relating to matters of more than purely local interest and not partisan in nature.

I would respectfully submit to all hon. colleagues on both sides of this House that Bill C-222, despite its imperfections to which my colleague from Portneuf has referred—I know it could be improved—is a matter of fairness to a category of men and women, more often men since this is an untraditional career for women. Mechanics should be able to deduct the purchase cost of their tools.

It is true that the government could think of extending this in future to other categories of workers who might also need it. I believe, however, that there has been unanimous industry support for this for more than 10 years.

I would remind my colleagues that last year in the last parliament we did get the House, all opposition parties and the majority of government members as well to vote in favour of referring this bill to the Standing Committee on Finance.

During the vote to be held today or tomorrow—the government whip ought to introduce a motion to defer it until tomorrow—I appeal to the sense of honour and fairness in all colleagues here in the House. In the division on Bill C-205, we had 218 votes in favour.

I remind the House that Bill C-222 is based on the exact same criteria as Bill C-205, which had the support of 218 members, namely all members of the opposition and a majority of Liberal members. Only 11 Liberals voted against the bill.

I also remind hon. members that the bill goes beyond party lines and that it has nothing to do with partisanship, the right, the left, federalists or sovereignists. In each of our ridings, we have automotive mechanics who work in service stations or car dealerships. We met with them during the election campaign that ended last November 27. We promised we would listen to them and respond to their needs and concerns.

In conclusion, I appeal to the common sense of hon. members who were present in this House during the 36th parliament and who voted in favour of the previous bill to support Bill C-222. I ask the 45 new members who did not have the opportunity to take a stand on the previous bill to support Bill C-222 as well. After the vote at the second reading stage, the bill will be referred to the Standing Committee on Finance where we will have the opportunity to improve it.

All members sitting on the committee will have an opportunity to bring amendments to the bill. I only wish to improve it. I ask that, by the vote, the bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and that automotive mechanics and technicians have, once and for all, their status recognized by the House of Commons. They expect justice and fairness.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

April 3rd, 2001 / 5:30 p.m.
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Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

moved that Bill C-222, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of expenses incurred by a mechanic for tools required in employment), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank my colleague from Sherbrooke who seconded this bill. On behalf of my constituents of Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans whom I am the privilege of representing, it gives me great pleasure to speak to this bill.

For the benefit of the members present and of our viewers, I should mention that this is a private member's bill that will be voted on after a three hour debate at second reading.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues on the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business for accepting my arguments that this bill is so important that it should be made votable so that we can get clear directions from parliament.

This subcommittee is non partisan by definition. The best proof of that is that the government is represented by only two members and that all four opposition parties are represented. Therefore, the subcommittee makes its decisions by consensus.

This is the second time that I have introduced a bill on this issue. Members will remember that, before the election, I had introduced Bill C-205, but I will come back to this later on.

The purpose of the bill is to allow mechanics to deduct the cost of providing tools for their employment. In the last 15 years, members from almost all parties have introduced private member's bills to ensure that mechanics could deduct the cost of their tools.

In fact, in the last parliament, I introduced Bill C-205, which was exactly the same as this one. It was not only voted on, since it was made a votable item, but it was supported by a majority of members, with 213 members voting in favour and only 11 against.

I see across the way the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and member for Etobicoke North, who criticized my bill at second reading. But members were able to rise above partisanship and members from all parties ignored the directions coming from the finance minister.

I think the vote on Bill C-205, where 213 members voted in favour of it and 11 against, demonstrated that members understood the hardships faced by young mechanics and came together to offer them a modest tax break.

However, since the bill died on the order paper after the November 27 election was called, here I am once again promoting my bill.

There is so much support for the provisions of this bill that, in the last parliament, even the Standing Committee on Finance with its Liberal majority recommended in its prebudget report that this tax break be granted to automotive mechanics in Canada and in Quebec.

However, the support given to this bill is only one aspect of the importance of issues involved. Several other issues deserve to be addressed once again in the House of Commons and drawn to the public's attention.

We could talk about the inability of the auto industry to attract young people. We could talk about the pressure that mechanics, most of whom earn a very modest living, have to face to buy the best tools possible at a reasonable price.

We could also talk about the lack of fairness in a tax system that allows some tradesmen, but not others, to write off the cost of their tools and equipment.

This bill is becoming more and more necessary as time goes by. The amount of money mechanics had to pay to buy their tools when this issue was first brought before the House 15 years ago has increased tremendously.

We know that cars were far less sophisticated 10 years ago. Computer assisted components, which are now standard on most cars, are as much part of the new economy as the most recent Internet technologies and services provided by new high tech companies based in Montreal or in Ottawa.

I appeal to the common sense of my colleagues on both sides of the House because, after all, the main purpose of this bill is to help young people who choose this trade.

In our society, we cannot have white collar workers only, people who work with computers or in businesses where working conditions are exemplary. Our society cannot be made up of white collar workers and professionals only.

Some young people do not mind getting their hands dirty. Because they love auto mechanics, they are prepared to slide under cars. With our climate in Canada, cars often leak and oil and engine coolant literally drip onto the mechanics' faces. Just imagine what mechanics with 20, 25, 30 and 35 years of experience have gone through.

Unfortunately, since this has traditionally been a man's job, the field has been dominated by men and there are very few women auto mechanics. There are a few but, unfortunately, not many.

By the time auto mechanics reach the age of 50 or 55, their quality of life has dropped. For years on end, these people work hard to remove transmission parts, engine parts and tires and they wreck their backs or develop disc problems. They must be recognized for the value of the work they do.

Young mechanics, fresh out of school, often have to pay between $3,000 and $4,000 for the most basic toolbox. To get a job at a service station or a car dealership, an apprentice must have his own toolbox.

The first thing that a personnel director, or a garage owner or manager is going to ask is “Do you have your own set of tools?” In order to get hired, he must shell out $3,000 to $4,000 for his own tools, not to mention what he has often spent on tuition.

Some young people studying automobile mechanics may have parents who are comfortably off, who have paid all their tuition, but others are graduating with huge debts at the end of a lengthy occupational training course, such as we have in Quebec.

As for specialists, they must come up with close to $40,000, and this is no exaggeration.

When my office staff and I prepared this speech, and I take this opportunity to thank my parliamentary intern, Jonathan Weier, who worked very hard doing the research for it, I must say that I found $40,000 a bit steep.

But I checked this amount out. I went to service stations and car dealerships and I asked to see the toolkit of an experienced mechanic. They opened all the drawers.

When I mention the amount of $40,000, do not think, Mr. Speaker, that I am exaggerating because a set of tools for a specialist can easily cost as much as $40,000. I do not wish to suggest that you would do such a thing because I am sure that, like the member for Stormont—Dundas—Charlottenburgh, you too have had occasion to visit car dealerships and realize that I am right.

Cars have hybrid propulsion systems now. In all likelihood, in the future, the more cars will have computerized components or hybrid traction systems, the more parts and the toolkit of mechanics used to repair these hybrid systems will have to be adapted accordingly. As we will recall, last year Toyota introduced the Prius , which is part electric, part gasoline. This means more expenses.

The only difference between a newly hired mechanic and a young worker at Bombardier or somewhere else is that the Bombardier employee earns a fair amount more and has all the tools he needs supplied by his employer.

Interestingly, in its throne speech on January 30, 2001, the present government made a commitment “to support training programs, support the new economy and encourage continuing education among Canadian workers”. However, the government could give workers in traditional sectors some sign of its respect. Ongoing education and training programs seem to apply only to this new active population.

However, it is unfair and shortsighted to ignore those who play such an important role in the economy of Quebec and Canada in the 21st century, even though they work in a more traditional sector.

In a much more egalitarian, more fair society we must recognize that we need all professions. I paid for my studies by doing custodial work at the Chicoutimi hospital. I was just a student, but I was still in a position to understand that while a hospital had its physicians and surgeons, it still need its cleaners. Without a “mopologist”, as we called them at that time in Chicoutimi, to clean the ER and the OR, no great surgeon would operate, unless he was prepared to do so in conditions of minimal hygiene.

As parliamentarians, we have a duty to acknowledge the contribution of certain categories of workers in the rather more traditional jobs. We need to be open to the new economy and to make way for new employment sectors. I am not saying we should go back to horse and cart days. We need to recognize that there are workers who are entitled to help, even if they work in more traditional sectors.

The high costs associated with mechanical work will continue to put pressure on the automobile industry and will make it hard for young people to get into the trade.

In a June 1999 publication, the Canadian Automotive Repair and Service Council stated that “The biggest challenge facing the industry as the 20th century comes to an end will be to attract young people to its ranks”. This is one of the major issues in this sector: the serious shortage of young people wanting to join the trade, a shortage that does not seem likely to improve any time soon.

Among the factors that influence the attraction of this industry directly is the cost of tools for young apprentices and mechanics.

As I said earlier, a young person who graduates from high school at age 21 or 22 and wants to apprentice will have to invest several thousand dollars in his work. After paying off thousands of dollars in student debts, he will earn an average of $23,000, that is what apprentices make in Canada, while a mechanic with some experience earns $29,000. Whether it is $23,000 or $29,000, we are not talking about workers who earn $50,000 or $60,000.

Before being elected to the House, I was a director of personnel in the pulp and paper industry. I know the salaries that are paid in the pulp and paper industry. I am not saying these workers do not work hard; they work conscientiously and do quality work. These people are not at the top of the salary scale, with apprentices earning $23,000.

Most professionals in Canada are provided with the tools they need for their work, but not mechanics. For one reason or another, the automotive industry, gas stations, garages and other businesses employing mechanics decided that providing one's own tools was a condition of employment.

The idea is that mechanics will be more careful with their own tools and will maintain and adapt them to best do the work that they have to do. This is particularly unfair, since there are many other professions where workers are allowed to deduct, for income tax purposes, expenses incurred for their tools.

I know that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance will say: But what about electricians? What about plumbers? An electrician does not have the same tool kit as an automobile technician.

I do hope the parliamentary secretary has changed his mind after seeing 213 members voting in favour of my bill, but we will see soon enough. During his speech, I would like him to think about the performers, the musicians and the chainsaw operators who are entitled to deduct the cost of the tools of their trade.

What we and the auto mechanics and the automotive industry associations are asking for is simply justice and fairness.

This legislation has the support of members from all political parties. It has nothing to do with the differences of opinion between the right and the left, the sovereignists and the federalists. With this bill, and I am glad I was able to convince the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business, I want to rise above party lines. We have to put politics aside. Yes, I am a member of the Bloc Quebecois and I am the one who raised the issue. I was able to convince my colleagues in the House. I was fortunate to win out in the draw. However, I am just a messenger here trying to move forward a vision of fairness and justice.

By the way, I am not a car buff. I invite members to drop by my place and have a look at my toolbox. It is very basic. I have a hard time just putting oil in my car engine. I am not good around cars. However the people I have met during election campaigns and parliamentary breaks have convinced me that something has to be done about this important issue.

I would remind those who have doubts about the possibility of Bill C-222 being passed that the Income Tax Act is amended regularly throughout the year in order to bring it into line with new social realities. As for authorities being able to prevent the use of tools for personal projects, I say that we must trust people. There is no reason to question their honesty and goodwill.

Although the government expressed a certain sympathy, it has still not taken action to resolve the problem by introducing this tax credit in the budgets it has brought down since the 1997 report by the Standing Committee on Finance.

In addition to the broad support enjoyed by this measure in the House of Commons, I have received many letters of support from organizations in the industry, private citizens, labour unions and almost all groups with an interest in the issue. The Automotive Industries Association of Canada, for instance, pointed out the growing difficulty of finding qualified mechanics.

The increase in the number of car owners in Canada and in Quebec is increasing our dependence on the automotive industry. We must address this serious problem facing the industry. In my view, the bill is a matter of common sense, justice and good financial planning. Obviously, the majority of members on both sides of the House agree with me.

I call on all members who voted in favour of my last bill to vote in favour of this one. In the name of justice and common sense, I call on the 45 new members elected in the last general election on November 27, 2000 to vote in favour of this bill.

Finally, I call on the 11 Liberal members who voted against a similar bill to reconsider their decision.

Tax On ToolsPrivate Members' Business

February 28th, 2001 / 5:55 p.m.
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Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join the previous speakers in commending the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst for the motion he has brought forward.

We can tell that the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst has a strong social conscience. So do I. This motion is consistent with his concerns and those of some workers who do not necessarily feel supported by society.

I am not saying that these people are working for minimum wage. However, contrary to popular belief, these people spend a lot of money to buy the tools they need to do their job. The key words here are “tools they need to do their job”.

To get a job, any electrician, pipefitter, welder, building painter, blue collar worker or carpenter needs a tool kit. Members will see what I mean when I thank the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst for standing up for the workers who do not necessarily get all the support they need, who do not earn high wages but still have to incur major expenses.

As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, the member for Etobicoke—North, pointed out earlier, there are before the House other bills addressing the same issue, including one of mine. I introduced my bill in the 36th parliament. It was called Bill C-205. I have again introduced this bill, which a committee of MPs has judged to be a votable item. Eventually, sometime during March I imagine, we will be discussing my bill, Bill C-222, which is aimed at allowing automobile mechanics to deduct from their income the cost of purchasing their tools.

The amounts involved are considerable. I am talking about the tools required by auto technicians. I will take this opportunity to raise the awareness of all colleagues in this House. In order to work, an auto technician requires a tool kit worth at least $15,000, and the amount can easily be as high as $25,000, $30,000 or $40,000. He has to have that tool kit in order to be able to work. Today, with all the computers and electronic sensors, a person has to have quite a tool kit in order to work.

This is a heavy burden for a young apprentice, who has just finished a course and is saddled with student debts, whose parents may not be well off and often have gone into debt to help him get the minimum tool kit he needs to get a job. From my meetings with those working in the automotive industry, I know that the apprentice's tool kit costs at least $4,000.

A young person just finishing his course and already in debt has to go into further debt or ask his parents to co-sign a $4,000 loan for him. When he goes looking for work at an auto dealer or a service station, he will have to have his own tools. The first thing the owner will ask him is “Do you have your tool kit?” He cannot be constantly begging tools from others, going into other people's tool kits. That is not the way it works.

I am glad that the parliamentary secretary said earlier that there were other bills before the House. I hope that when we debate Bill C-222 he will not tell me what he did when we debated Bill C-205. I listened very carefully to what he said. He said “We cannot agree to deductions for mechanics. What will we tell electricians, plumbers, pipefitters and welders?”

He has found a way to distance himself from the entirely reasonable and legitimate motion by the member for Acadie—Bathurst. I do not want to start taking a dislike to the parliamentary secretary, because I would like this motion and mine to be approved, but he cannot have it both ways.

He tells the member for Acadie—Bathurst “Perhaps we would not be ready to go with your approach, because there are other bills that will cover the deductibility of tools”. I am anxious to see what will happen.

I had discussions beforehand with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. He held this position and he told me that he could not vote in favour of the motion. I met with members individually and brought the problem to their attention. I urge the member for Acadie—Bathurst to bring this problem to his colleagues' attention, because we each of us have in our ridings pipefitters, plumbers, automobile technicians, welders and house painters. These are ordinary people who are not floating in money and who are listening now, over supper in the case of those on eastern standard time. These people are eating their supper and saying to their spouse “That is right. A motion like that should be agreed to, because we need this”.

I brought this problem to the attention of members of the House and the vote at second reading was 180 for and 11 against. I therefore hope that when it comes time to continue the discussion on the mechanic's bill, we will remember the fine words of the parliamentary secretary.

I will close because it is getting late. Once again, I point out that in an earlier life, before I was elected, I worked in the field of human resources for 16 years, 14 of them in the pulp and paper industry. I think that such a deduction for the cost of tools required in employment is important.

In my work, the necessary tools have always been a pencil, an eraser and a calculator, to some extent. I am not a mechanic buff and my toolbox at home only includes a minimum number of tools. But I know that there are workers who need something like Motion No. 248, which was tabled by the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst. It is simply a matter of equity, of social justice.

There are other categories of workers who are already allowed a deduction, including musicians and people who must use their car to work. These people can take full advantage of the deduction. Whether or not they pay the GST does not really change things, because they can deduct the amount from their income.

It is simply a matter of social justice and equity. We just had an election campaign last fall. Members from all parties in the House, including myself, worked hard to get elected. We visited many companies, small and medium sized businesses and plants.

The member for Acadie—Bathurst introduced this motion in the House. Of course, he is intelligent enough to have thought of it on his own, but I think he will honest enough to recognize that he did so because people have made him aware of that issue. It must be understood that our role as members is to act as messengers, as spokespersons for the citizens whom we represent. This motion only asks for greater justice.

Canada Water Export Prohibition ActRoutine Proceedings

February 2nd, 2001 / 12:10 p.m.
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Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-205, an act to prohibit the export of water by interbasin transfers.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present this bill which would try to act in the interest of all Canadians in the matter of the interbasin transfer of water and the inherent dangers of that.

The Minister of Industry recently said that water would be the oil of the coming decades. There is great interest in other countries getting access to Canadian freshwater resources. We believe that we have to act now to outlaw and ban the interbasin transfer and the bulk sale of water.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)