An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985

Sponsor

Bill Morneau  Liberal

Status

Second reading (House), as of Oct. 19, 2016

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-27.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 to provide a framework for the establishment, administration and supervision of target benefit plans. It also amends the Act to permit pension plan administrators to purchase immediate or deferred life annuities for former members or survivors so as to satisfy an obligation to provide pension benefits if the obligation arises from a defined benefit provision.

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.

EthicsOral Questions

October 25th, 2017 / 2:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, we trust the Ethics Commissioner, but we do not trust the government. We do not trust the finance minister. We do not trust the Prime Minister to give the Ethics Commissioner accurate information. That is the problem.

The Prime Minister himself has a problem, because this conflict of interest is ultimately his responsibility. He either knew the finance minister was making $65,000 a month off of this and he did not care, or he did not know, which means, can he trust the finance minister's judgment and ethics?

Again, when did the Prime Minister find out the finance minister was making money off of Bill C-27?

EthicsOral Questions

October 25th, 2017 / 2:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that Morneau Shepell and the finance minister will benefit from Bill C-27. Although we all know the Prime Minister is a very fine and gifted dramatic performer, his “let us just blame the Ethics Commissioner” shtick is not passing the mustard test. The Prime Minister needs to be clean with Canadians.

When did he find out the Minister of Finance would benefit from Bill C-27?

EthicsOral Questions

October 25th, 2017 / 2:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, all MPs are required to declare their assets within 60 days, but funnily enough it took the finance minister two years to realize this. The Prime Minister is trying to deflect attention away from the finance minister's personal conflict of interest. However, the fact remains that the finance minister's bill benefited his own company, Morneau Shepell.

I have a simple question for the Prime Minister: was the Prime Minister aware that Bill C-27 would benefit Morneau Shepell?

EthicsOral Questions

October 25th, 2017 / 2:50 p.m.
See context

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, it is the opposition that is making baseless insinuations. There is no conflict of interest. The minister acted on all of the commissioner's recommendations, which included setting up an ethical screen, which the commissioner said was the most effective way to handle things. The minister followed the rules, he set up an appropriate screen, and nothing goes against Bill C-27.

EthicsOral Questions

October 25th, 2017 / 2:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 2016, the Minister of Finance introudced Bill C-27 to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985, and immediately afterwards, Morneau Shepell's profits just happened to increase by $2 million. I would like the people listening to us on social media to get a simple answer to an extremely simple question.

When will the Prime Minister demand transparency from the finance minister so that he will stop deceiving Canadians?

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

October 24th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, as we know, the topic of ethics has come up a lot lately. Today, we witnessed a fine piece of theatre as the Minister of Finance tabled his fall economic statement as a diversion.

I have a good memory, and I am pleased to tell you what we on this side of the aisle have been seeing for almost a month. We believe that all parliamentarians, regardless of professional background, must obey the rules and publicly disclose their private financial interests.

We have repeatedly asked the minister to do so, but unfortunately we have never gotten a straight answer. The finance minister did the right thing last week when he decided to disclose his information, more than two years after taking office. Everyone in the House was under the impression that he had already disclosed his assets and placed them in a blind trust. His colleagues in the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party, the Bloc Québécois, and the NDP were all convinced that he had already done the right thing two years ago.

Unfortunately for us, in light of certain information, it became apparent that that was not at all the case. In my mind, that is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for such a person, a minister in charge of billions of dollars of public funds and government bonds, a minister responsible for all the government's savings at the Bank of Canada, for hundreds of billions of dollars of mortgage insurance, a minister involved in his government's financial discussions about Barbados. I find it beyond belief that he would not have realized that he had a conflict of interest when he was elected two years ago.

This is the Prime Minister's right-hand man we are talking about. He has access to all the information, he drafted Bill C-27, and he owns assets. I find that unacceptable.

The question we have always asked, that we are still asking today, and that we will continue to ask is the following: did this Minister of Finance recuse himself from discussions that could have placed him in a conflict of interest?

I am asking this question again and I will continue to ask it. If necessary, I will keep asking it for two years. I will continue to ask it until this side of the House receives a clear-cut answer.

EthicsOral Questions

October 24th, 2017 / 2:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Maxime Bernier Conservative Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government does not like the fact that we are focusing on the Minister of Finance's conflict of interest. The government does not like it because what we are saying is true: the minister is working for his own personal interests, when he is in a conflict of interest, and not the interest of all Canadians. We have a number of examples, including Bill C-27 and the Bombardier deal. In any case, the most flagrant is the fact that the minister said he was going to put his assets in a blind trust, but he failed to do so for two years. He misled the House about that.

How can the Minister of Finance continue to act as the government's nice guy while being in a conflict of interest because of his personal affairs?

EthicsOral Questions

October 24th, 2017 / 2:30 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, the facts are clear. The minister has introduced legislation that directly benefits the company in which he owns millions of shares. In fact, his shares have increased by a whopping 33% since the minister was sworn in.

While in charge of Morneau Shepell, he lobbied for the exact legislation that he now proposes in Bill C-27. The minister is right about one thing. His conflicts of interests are in fact serious distractions.

Does the minister actually believe it was ethical of him to table Bill C-27, knowing it would further feather his own nest?

EthicsOral Questions

October 24th, 2017 / 2:30 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, share prices for Morneau Shepell went up by 5% the day after the Minister of Finance tabled Bill C-27.

The bill directly affects pensions, which Morneau Shepell is in the business of selling. This is a clear conflict of interest. The minister promised the House, the Ethics Commissioner, the media, and anyone who would listen that he would recuse himself from decisions involving Morneau Shepell, but he has not done that.

Did the minister receive written approval from the Ethics Commissioner to introduce pension legislation that turned out to be a windfall for the minister and for Morneau Shepell?

EthicsOral Questions

October 24th, 2017 / 2:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, did the ethics screen enable the minister to have discussions on a company that he controlled, that he received $65,000 a month from, that he himself lobbied for in the past?

The minister would say to us, “Oh, you're so concerned about my personal finances.” Actually, we are not. We are caring far much more about exactly what ethical screen he had in place, and if he did the right thing.

This is not about Bay Street; this is about Main Street. Canadians want to know this. Did the minister recuse himself when we had these discussions on Bill C-27?

EthicsOral Questions

October 24th, 2017 / 2:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, these are the facts as we know them.

As executive chair of Morneau Shepell, the minister lobbied on behalf of targeted pension plans. When he became the minister, he brought legislation in to make these law. He also collected dividends from the company because he still had shares.

Now the hon. member mentioned an ethics screen, and that may very well be in place. However, I want to know something specific. Given all of these conflicts around this issue, did the minister recuse himself from any of the discussions around Bill C-27?

EthicsOral Questions

October 24th, 2017 / 2:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, here are some plain facts.

On February 20, 2013, two years before being appointed, the Minister of Finance was arguing in favour of a bill that would create target benefit plans. Three years later, on October 19, 2016, the minister introduced Bill C-27, which would create these very plans. What a coincidence.

When will the Minister of Finance admit that he has not fulfilled his obligations and that he has a real conflict of interest, as proven by the $2 million he has personally pocketed since becoming finance minister?

EthicsOral Questions

October 24th, 2017 / 2:25 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the finance minister is desperate to change the channel by performing some magic tricks, Canadians understand that he has used public policy for his own advantage. Bill C-27 is not only bad legislation and an attack against good pension plans, it is also very good news for some people, for example, Morneau Shepell.

The finance minister was supposed to put his assets in a blind trust. He did not do it. The Liberals were supposed to tackle the tax loophole of the CEOs. They did not do it. When will the Liberals stop working for their friends on Bay Street and work for the common good?

EthicsOral Questions

October 24th, 2017 / 2:20 p.m.
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NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the past two weeks, the Minister of Finance has been hiding behind the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to avoid taking responsibility for his actions. That same Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner wrote to him, saying, “If your official duties provide an opportunity to further your private interests or those of your relatives or friends, you are considered to be in conflict of interest”.

That is exactly what we saw with Bill C-27, which he himself introduced. Why is the minister still refusing to take responsibility for his actions?

Opposition Motion—Minister of Finance and Conflict of Interest ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

October 23rd, 2017 / 6 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today on this opposition day motion, presented by my colleague. The last bit of exchange was interesting. I hope Mary Dawson is listening to this, because it speaks to the arrogance taking place here in the way she and her office are being used by the government. Theparliamentary secretary just got up and said, “...trust me, Mary Dawson...will be in touch.”

The parliamentary secretary, while espousing the independence of Mary Dawson, has just indicated that she is going to take action. He is giving a directive to this chamber and to the public in general about someone else. This is one of the most disturbing things taking place today. Some of the defence that has been taking place, the shield of the ethics office, which operates under legislation made in this House with the dominance of the Liberal Party and its ethical perversions over the years, still has not resonated that it actually has the capacity to deal with the conflict of interest in this chamber. The member opposite is now suggesting that Mary Dawson is going to contact every single member of Parliament, and to trust him, she is going to do that. The amount of arrogance in that is profound. It comes to the real problem we are talking about, the confidence and trust of the people.

The motion we tabled in the House of Commons is simply to live up to the Liberals' standards and ethics. It is almost like we have to apologize, and Canadians have to apologize that the Liberals dined out on this in 2015. They said they were going to be different than their own selves. In fact, we would often hear their own members contradicting each other on the electoral campaign, including the member for Papineau talking about other Liberals in the past and their past indiscretions in regard to ethics, standards, and behaviours, going back to everything from the Chrétien years to the most recent being the former prime minister, Paul Martin. He was called out for sailing ships with different flags so he could save on taxes, and not actually have the people serving on those ships get the same standards that Canadians deserve in their own workplace. That is reality. That took place. The former finance minister used ships of convenience and flags of convenience of his own registered companies to get lower working standards, lower wages, and avoid taxation for his home country. Shame.

What have they learned from that? They have learned nothing. We are apologizing for the fact that they campaigned that they were going to be different. They said they had changed this time. They were going to drink from the other glass, not the same one they had been drinking out of during the Chrétien and Martin years, with all those ethical breaches and standards they had in the past from Dingwall, to Gagliano, to all those things in the past.

Here we are. They have created their own mess because their own Minister of Finance could not figure out a basic thing that all of us know: when something in front of us seems wrong, usually it is, and do the right thing. We have to stand here and apologize and basically call them out for the fact they have not lived up to what they promised to be.

The motion is crafted in a way to deal with the facts. The first one is “(a) after being elected to Parliament in 2015, led Canadians to believe that he had placed his shares in Morneau Shepell into a blind trust, while never having done so”. It was not someone else who led people to believe that. It was the finance minister.

I am so sorry that the finance minister promised to do something and he never did. I guess it is my fault. I guess it is my colleagues' fault. I guess it is Canadians' fault that he did not do what he said he was going to do. That is what we are talking about here. It was not thrust upon him. It was something he said. He willfully went to the public, built that trust, and said he was going to do that. He never did it.

The second one is “(b) used a loophole in the Conflict of Interest Act to place his shares in a private numbered company instead of divesting them or placing them in a blind trust”. What is important is, people have seen the key moments in modern history where there have been leaks about individuals using tax havens and loopholes, from the Isle of Man, to Bermuda, to Barbados, and other places.

People have had enough. They cannot get prescription drugs. They have a hard time paying the rent, are worried about the future, and their jobs are more precarious. At the same time, people in our own civil society are using the system that is supposed to defend them. This place, the House of Commons for the common people, has set in place a taxation process to be fair and equitable, and it allows people with an accountant and lawyer to skirt that. It is a cottage industry that has turned into an extreme example of the inequity in society.

This has to end. I hope people take this to heart, because this is the problem that comes with fairness. This system basically defends a colonial system of taxation of the poor versus the wealthy. We have created a system where the better an accountant and lawyer one hires, the less money one pays, even after paying them off, than the neighbour down the street who is trying to do a nine-to-five job and just wants to have 40 hours a week with benefits to make sure their child can go to school in the future. That is what is at odds here.

Look at the wording of the motion. Let us remind ourselves what a numbered company is, by its definition. A general definition states, “Numbered companies may include, but are by no means limited to, new companies that have not yet determined a permanent brand identity, or shell companies used by much larger enterprises for various purposes.”

Therefore, if one can afford a lawyer and a numbered company that does not have a permanent status, purpose, or anything, then one has the chance to shelter their money by using the tax laws, and those accountants and lawyers, to pay less taxes. It does not have to be a good idea or be innovative. No, not at all. It does not have to be any of those things. It could be a villa or something else that one dreams up or creates that then has a number to it.

Ironically, we talk in this motion about Bill C-27, which is the next point on this, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act. That is a conflict of interest, at least on appearances. My goodness, how can we have a finance minister not even understand that recusing himself would be the number one thing?

There is another piece of legislation that has been forgotten in the debate today, which is Bill C-25. Bill C-25 looks at a series of different things that relate to not only pensions but also shareholders and the Corporations Act, to find out how shares can be hidden and sheltered. What the members on the other side did is to create a piece of legislation that buffered the real debate out of Bill C-25 for issues that are complicated, bearer shares and all these different things. They were just more ways to squirrel away the money if you are rich versus that of anyone else. It slid on through here and reinforced that this place is no longer the House of Commons, but a house that represents a taxation system for the few who can have accountants and lawyers.

That bill passed, and we had amendments on it to provide more clarity and transparency. However, what did we get? Why is it that the minister chose random numbers for personal interest? When one looks back at that in the history of time, again, it is about sheltering personal interests. Sheltering personal interests and using the law to do so should not have to be explained here, if one came for that reason. It should not have been taught.

Most importantly, as I conclude here, it is what the Liberals said they would do differently. They said they would be different than themselves. That is who they said they would be different from at that time.

I remember these things. We can go back and watch debates and check out the former Prime Minister Paul Martin and Canadian steamships. This is the second time coming.