Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013

An Act to implement conventions, protocols, agreements and a supplementary convention, concluded between Canada and Namibia, Serbia, Poland, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Switzerland, for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment implements four recent tax treaties that Canada has concluded with Namibia, Serbia, Poland and Hong Kong. This enactment also implements amendments to provisions for the exchange of tax information found in the tax treaties that Canada has concluded with Luxembourg and Switzerland.

The tax treaties with Namibia, Serbia, Poland and Hong Kong are generally patterned on the Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The amendments to the treaties with Luxembourg and Switzerland ensure that their provisions for the exchange of tax information reflect the current OECD standard on this matter.

Tax treaties have two main objectives: the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion. Since a tax treaty provides relief from taxation rules in the Income Tax Act, it becomes effective only after being given precedence over domestic legislation by an Act of Parliament such as this one. Finally, for each instrument implemented by this Act to become effective, it must be ratified after the enactment of this Act.

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.

Votes

June 10, 2013 Passed That, in relation to Bill S-17, An Act to implement conventions, protocols, agreements and a supplementary convention, concluded between Canada and Namibia, Serbia, Poland, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Switzerland, for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration of the second reading stage of the Bill; and that at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration of the second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4 p.m.
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Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeMinister of State (Finance)

moved:

That, in relation to Bill S-17, An Act to implement conventions, protocols, agreements and a supplementary convention, concluded between Canada and Namibia, Serbia, Poland, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Switzerland, for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration of the second reading stage of the Bill; and that, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration of the second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4:05 p.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will put my question to my friend across the way. We are engaged now in another shutting off of debate. The Conservatives have broken every record known to Canadian parliaments by a long shot now, where we have so many that we start to lose count.

The curiosity for us is that, without breaking any confidentiality, we engaged in good faith negotiations about this bill and some others that have since been shut down by the Conservative government. We were working out a way for the House to be productive because, in the thrust, we support the legislation.

For the government to move time allocation, it may in fact actually cost the House more time using the process that it is, as opposed to doing what parliaments are meant to do, which is try to work together to make good things happen for the country. We are in the process and not so much the substance of this particular bill.

On the process, I have to ask my friend, what is going on over there? We try to reach out and make things work, and assign a little bit of certainty to the way the debate will progress so that we can move legislation forward and make it better, perhaps. The government slams open an open door.

What about time allocation and shutting down debate does the Conservative government love so much? Why is it addicted to cutting off the conversation that is our Parliament and allowing MPs to do their work?

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think anyone watching this debate will recognize that my friend across the way and I actually get along quite well on many things. I do want to share with him that what I am addicted to is actually getting things done for Canadians.

When we see a piece of legislation that the hon. member just said opposition members support, I would suggest that we should probably get on with it as quickly as we can. This process is necessary to make sure that we get these pieces of legislation. We have repeatedly had to do this, because we have heard speeches time and time again in debate where we could almost hit replay on some of the speeches. I have even sat in my office sometimes when I am not on duty and watched.

That is not an expeditious use of those members' time, our time or the time of the House. It is very important. Canadians have listened to this. To Canadians who are listening to this debate, I would encourage them to understand the principles behind what it is that we are passing.

There have been 100 days of discussion and debate on this. I think it is time to move on.

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my view differs quite substantially from what the minister has just stated. In fact, the government's attitude toward due process is quite shameful.

Ever since we have had the Conservative reform majority government, there has been a negative change in attitude that comes right from the Prime Minister's Office. It is disrespectful to the proper procedures here inside the House of Commons. Every member of this chamber should be very much aware of the degree to which the Conservative government is preventing legitimate, due diligent debate on a wide variety of bills.

We have done this now over 40 times. That is over 20 hours absolutely wasted because of the government's need to bring in time allocation. It is shameful. The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Prime Minister are doing a great disservice to Canadians and to our democratic system.

My question is not for the minister, but rather for the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, who has a responsibility in good faith to negotiate with opposition parties. The question is very simple. Why is he refusing to negotiate in good faith with all opposition parties in the House, so that bills can be dealt with in a more timely fashion and in the best interests of all Canadians?

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to speak for other ministers. They are quite capable of speaking for themselves.

However, in answer to that, the urgency we feel is in getting this piece of legislation passed, which is very much a housekeeping piece of legislation that has received more than 100 days of parliamentary debate. Folks back home watching this would say that should be enough for all witnesses who would like to comment on this to appear and for all parliamentarians who would wish to comment on it to have ample opportunity to do that.

However, I sense a bit of sensitivity coming from the Liberal Party perhaps because we are working on stopping international tax havens. I am sure there is some sensitivity on behalf of the Liberals. They do not want to see this happen because one of their caucus members actually has $1.7 million in a tax haven, as my understanding would have it.

I think we should get on with fixing this as fast as we can.

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
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NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of being the official opposition's revenue critic and do not know of the 100 days of which my friend speaks. If he is referring to the other place, there are no representatives from the official opposition there.

I understand we offered an arrangement to get what the parliamentary secretary properly calls a housekeeping bill to the floor for debate, but there are things that need to be talked about. Canadians want to see some debate on this matter.

Is the parliamentary secretary using time allocation to show Canadians that the Conservatives do not trust the parliamentary process? Is that why time allocation is being applied when we are in favour of this bill? Could he explain that?

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, forgive me if I am not understanding the reasoning here, but if the opposition members are indeed in favour of it then why should we not move forward with this piece of legislation and actually accomplish what it very definitively sets out?

This is a double taxation agreement with countries such as Namibia, Serbia, Poland, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Hong Kong. These are important trading partners. They are not just trading partners but very important financial sectors, especially Hong Kong. We do a lot of financial transactions back and forth with Hong Kong. A lot of our financial institutions are doing an incredible amount of work. At last count we have three-quarters of a million Canadians living in Hong Kong.

We think this is very important. If the hon. members on both sides of the House are in support of it, let us move on to another piece of legislation about which we can have some reasonable debate. If everyone is in favour of it, let us vote for it.

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
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NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, we should all have counters on our social media screens to watch the numbers go up: 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43.

Every time there is an obstacle and we lose time in the House because of a time allocation motion, we should see the number go up. Perhaps if we all had that on our television screens, then this government might understand that we are entitled to speak in the House. This is the only way to inform our constituents about what is happening with bills if they do not attend the committee hearings.

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, indeed there has been an opportunity, which is all recorded, that being the debates that happened within the Senate, within the Senate committees. I would encourage hon. members to go back to that.

Once again, if all hon. members support this piece of legislation, then we should make the best use of our time and get on with the substantive discussions. I am sure the Speaker would encourage us to do that. We are offering the time to actually debate this piece of legislation, to talk about the benefits of it.

I might share with this House that I just had meetings with the OECD, and one of the primary roles it is playing right now is on base erosion and profit shifting. It is doing a consultation paper for the G20 leaders when they meet later on. Every country is concerned, but specifically the OECD members, with this profit shifting, a term we are not used to using here but I think pretty much explains itself, that being the shifting of profits to lower tax jurisdictions.

That is part of what we are doing here. Since the Liberals started this process of these tax treaties, there have been 30 of them that have been set out in legislation in this government and previous governments. It is nothing new. Hon. members could have done their homework to see exactly what we are doing and why we are doing it. There was ample time for that.

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4:15 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

It is the forty-fourth, the member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing is reminding me.

Mr. Speaker, the government has even lost track of the number of closure motions it has brought in. Every single time, it has another excuse, something else it rolls out to say it should not be debated in Parliament for this reason or it should not be debated in Parliament for that reason.

The reality is that the debate that should be held on this issue is around the Conservatives' failure on tax evasion. They slashed a quarter of a billion dollars from CRA. They have killed 3,000 positions for people who are supposed to be looking out and doing the follow-up through CRA. Of course, the Conservatives do not want that to come out in public, so they want to shut down debate. They want to ensure that in Parliament we are not debating the reality of the current government's complete and utter failure on tax evasion.

Now, the other reality is that the government gets it wrong when it rushes through legislation, as members know. There are a number of pieces of legislation before the courts, and there are others that have had to be redrafted because the Conservatives botched the drafting in the first place. That is another important role for Parliament, to ensure we can identify where the Conservatives have screwed up this time.

My question for my hon. colleague is simply this. Why do Conservatives constantly try to shut down debate when we all know it is their record that is the problem?

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, to answer the question on records, today we reached another record milestone. We moved tax freedom day two weeks ahead. That is because of this government's policies of not just sitting in the House and debating issues but actually getting it done. If we waited for the NDP to support us on everything it opposes, we would probably not have a million more Canadians working today than were working in the depths of the recession in 2009. Every successive budget, every successive policy change that we put forward, to not only help Canadians get back to work but to help those who could not find a job have access to EI, the NDP voted against. It would have us in the position of some of the countries we look at in Europe that are in recession.

Canada has an incredible record. When he talks about records, I do not mind repeating the fact that last month 54,000 young people got a job. Youth employment has been a challenge for us all. We have had many questions in this House, and rightfully so. We are concerned about our youth. If we were to travel to Europe, we would see 60% youth unemployment. We do not have that here. Ours is still too high, but there are 54,000 more of them working this month than last month. We think that is a pretty good record.

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4:15 p.m.
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NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we mentioned a while ago, this is the 44th time the government is limiting debate on important bills. If they were that important, why did it not bring them forward before? That is the question of the day, really. Also, if they were that important, why were those bills not actually tabled here in the House, as opposed to in that other house of unelected senators?

The member across talked about the fact that we actually voted against certain bills and that this is why the government is moving time allocation. It is talking about the EI bills. Let me tell members that we voted against the EI changes in the budget because they do not respond to the needs of Canadians and the government is going in the wrong direction.

He also talked about the concerns for youth. Yet, here is a government that has cut back on that.

I spoke to a gentleman just this past weekend who used to work for the federal government, in the industry part, in skills training. He said we are not going forward; we are actually going backward.

My question for the member is this. Why does the government continue to not allow proper debate to take place where it should be taking place, right here in the House, and what was the urgency on this?

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, there certainly is urgency to most of these pieces of legislation that we are putting forward. There was certainly urgency with respect to the budget bill that was passed just a few moments ago in the House.

Talking about urgency, if these tax treaties are not passed in this spring session of Parliament, they will not come into force on January 1. They need to be passed in the spring session in order to be enacted with all the countries with which we are working. There is urgency to this legislation. We need to get it done.

We were not sure if the opposition wanted to debate these. The NDP is sensitive on this. That party has individuals in its caucus, apparently, who do not believe in paying taxes. We are concerned about the Liberals because they are protecting a senator who has pretty much taken her money offshore and hidden it in a tax haven. We are a little concerned about how serious those parties are about protecting taxpayers' money.

We have put in place 75 different changes to tighten up tax loopholes. That is the right direction to go in, and we will continue moving to protect taxpayers.

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Bernard Trottier Conservative Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for clarifying the importance of getting these tax treaties passed. He mentioned that if this legislation is not passed within this calendar year, we might not be able to implement things by January 1, 2014. It might have to be postponed until January 1, 2015.

Could the minister perhaps explain the importance of tax treaties when it comes to overall trade with certain countries? If tax treaties are not in place, what would be some of the impediments to our trade with various countries, and what would that mean ultimately for jobs and economic growth in Canada?

Bill S-17—Time Allocation MotionTax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, we cannot reiterate that enough, and I thank my hon. colleague for raising that.

The fundamental purpose of the bill is to prevent double taxation. People do not like paying their taxes but they understand that if we want social programs, if we want to fund education or health care, then we all have to pay our taxes, but we should only pay our fair share of taxes.

International companies can move their money around. We want to make sure that, if taxes are not paid in this country, then they are indeed paid in the country where that company is making its profits. That is one important issue, especially the more international companies become. Allocating taxing rights between Canada and its treaty partners over different categories of income is very important. This gets very complex. I will leave it up to the accountants to perhaps explain it in detail.

Prescribing the method of relief for double taxation for different types is important. We need to describe that, and it is in the legislation. I would encourage all hon. members to read that.

The fundamental principle behind this legislation is preventing the avoidance and evasion of taxation. We have willing partners who are going to sign on to this agreement. It is time to move on to protect tax integrity in this country.