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.

Opposition Motion—Conflicts of InterestBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP supports this motion, but we have to understand that this motion needs to be more than just a political stunt. There actually needs to be some change that happens in this House when we guide ourselves.

I definitely agree that the Prime Minister's violation of the Conflict of Interest Act is unacceptable, but this has to be more than just an attempt to have the Prime Minister pay back the money. It needs to go further. It needs to reach further to make sure that we are implementing some changes for every member who sits in this House today.

The Conservative motion would impose this penalty on the specific case of the Prime Minister, but it would still leave the actual statutory penalties of the Conflict of Interest Act completely ineffective. New Democrats believe that if a motion or a bill is brought into the House or committee, there should be substantial ideas and reforms that would improve the institutions in which we work and which we all abide by.

When the Liberals were elected in 2015, they came in with their sunny ways. Their Prime Minister clearly put forward “Open and Accountable Government 2015”, a guide which sets out core principles regarding the rules and responsibilities of ministers in Canada's system of responsible parliamentary government. I have to say that Canadians were hopeful when they saw this document. They felt this was a signal that things were going to be different, and yet here we are, more than two years later, and Canadians who were hopeful have been seriously let down by the Liberal government.

The principle that was put forward states that public officeholders have an obligation to perform their official duties and arrange their private affairs in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny, an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law. Those were some really lofty words that sounded incredibly hopeful, that sounded like there was going to be a change inside of government, inside this House. Sadly, it is not binding. Clearly, it is not of interest to the Prime Minister himself or to his fellow cabinet ministers, like the Minister of Finance. I am going to talk a little about the Minister of Finance.

The non-recusal of the Minister of Finance from consideration of Bill C-27 may not be seen as a problem for the government, but it is a huge conflict for Canadians. In particular, pensioners are very worried.

People and retirees in my riding have contacted me because they are worried about the changes to their pension plans. It is important to note that for working people, which I was before I came to this chamber, pensions are deferred wages. Pensions are not something that a company just gives people to hopefully live their retirement life in dignity. People contribute to their own pension, based on every hour that they have worked in the workplace, through an agreement with their employer. People work their entire lives for these pensions and they count on them to support them in their later years.

Now we have Bill C-27 which threatens public pensions. We know that when it starts with public pensions, it will soon move over to private pensions. Certainly the finance minister stands to benefit from this, from Morneau Shepell and its involvement in all of these pension plans. We have seen this play out unfortunately with Sears workers in our country right now.

There are many dangers to Bill C-27. This shamefully removes the legal obligation, allowing for the conversion of defined benefit plans to targeted benefit plans, which could potentially lower benefits for both current and future retirees.

I want everyone in this House to think for a moment that if they retire, if they have worked 30 years at a workplace and then retire, knowing that they are going to receive a set amount every month, their decision to retire will actually hinge on whether or not they can afford to live on that amount per month.

For people who are already retired, they could now be contacted by those running the pension plan for the company which they previously worked for and could be told that the amount of the pension is going to be reduced because the company is not doing as well as it had hoped. Essentially seniors could be put in precarious situations after the implementation of Bill C-27.

Our pension legislation in Canada is designed to protect plan members from employers simply abandoning their commitments to them after years of hard work and walking away from their pension obligations. In Bill C-27, the government is proposing to withdraw that legal protection, leaving employees at the mercy of employers who now want to back out of those pension commitments that they made to the workers years and years ago.

This is an attack on the retirement security of all workers and retirees and could undermine the stability of workplace relations and fuel labour disputes in our country. This is very serious, and our Prime Minister and finance minister have shown absolutely no remorse. Our finance minister is quite content to leave Bill C-27 sitting on the table as a constant threat and reminder to working people in our country that they could lose their retirement as they see it right now. This is not a government that is standing up for working people.

The NDP stands up for retirees and working people and has legislation on the table right now to protect workers in insolvency. However, we will not stop until Bill C-27 is removed from the House. It is not good enough to let it sit and languish. I get that it is good enough for the finance minister, because he stands to personally gain from the bill, and, as has been mentioned in the House many times, has potentially already gained from Bill C-27.

This is very serious. Our Prime Minister and our finance minister cannot see past their own privilege. I see that disconnect daily in the House. It is something that is palpable here. When the Prime Minister is speaking about working people and the middle class, it is very clear to me that he does not know anyone, or have someone in his family, who is a member of the working class, the middle class, people who are out there working hard every day and struggling.

I am not surprised that this level of disconnect has led to this type of motion today where there is an attempt to force the Prime Minister to do the right thing. The Prime Minister himself sees nothing wrong with private vacations on islands, and the finance minister sees nothing wrong with legislation that could potentially benefit his family business. This is a very serious problem.

They cannot seem to recognize the wealth they have, and they are using it as an excuse for this ethical breach. To say, as my colleague referred to earlier, that they are friends with someone they have seen twice in the last 15 years, so of course they accepted a private invitation to their island made me laugh. We do not typically bring everyone along with us on a vacation that we are being gifted from someone. For those of us who travel with our families, we are often all together in one small room, and we certainly would not invite another member of Parliament and their spouse. We would not invite the leader of our party. It is simply not feasible. However, to the Prime Minister, this seems as though it was nothing and he had done nothing wrong. That is the root of why we are discussing this here today.

There are some things that the New Democrats feel strongly we could do that would help to end this kind of abuse of privilege. The NDP is the only party in the House that is talking about real substantial reforms. If we are going to make some real advancements, we need to reform the act and give it teeth. We believe that the commissioner should be empowered to impose a penalty where an examination results in the finding of a contravention of any part of the act, which could include financial penalties, removal from a position, suspension from voting on issues for 30 days, or permanent recusal on specific issues.

The other thing is that we think the commissioner needs the power to give real fines and other punishments, including suspension. This is to allow the public to complain to the commissioner, to tighten the post-employment rules, reduce the gift disclosure threshold, and expand the definition of the public office holder to include Governor in Council appointments. To submit indirectly held assets to the same rules and scrutiny as directly held assets is among some of the reforms that the New Democrats are bringing forward today in the House.

We believe that the PM could easily pay this amount. Why he has chosen not to is beyond me. He certainly has the kind of money to be able to reach into his pocket, pull it out, and make sure he is returning the money to taxpayers. However, what we see, unfortunately, is a theme, and it is continuing on from previous Liberal and Conservative governments. It is that these scandals and ethical breaches are accepted.

We have the first sitting prime minister to be in violation of this statute, and I can promise that Canadians across the country are talking about this issue. They are saying that the Prime Minister is completely out of touch with Canadians, and they are looking to those in the House to hold him to account.

Opposition Motion—Conflicts of InterestBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Montcalm for his comment. I would like to remind members that, when it comes to conflicts of interest, the Minister of Finance was also caught red-handed because he forgot to disclose that he owns a villa in France. That is not something that would happen to most people. The finance minister is also under investigation for a potential conflict of interest surrounding Bill C-27, which is a direct attack on defined benefit pension plans. Let us not forget that the finance minister's own company manages pension plans. I look forward to seeing the end of this investigation into this other Liberal scandal.

Opposition Motion—Conflict of InterestBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2018 / 11:25 a.m.
See context

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, one of the important points my colleague has been making is the importance of having some kind of consequence, and particularly the ability to assess some kind of financial penalty on members of the government who break the Conflict of Interest Act.

I am just wondering if the member wants to highlight for us what that would mean in terms of some of the other conflicts of interest for government. I am thinking, in particular, of the questions surrounding the finance minister and Bill C-27, and also the earlier point that the motion, as written, would not really allow for any obvious penalty to be assessed against the finance minister if he were found definitely to be in a conflict of interest.

How would the approach suggested by my colleague encompass those kinds of cases in addition to the case of the Prime Minister?

Opposition Motion—Conflict of InterestBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2018 / 11 a.m.
See context

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured, as always, to rise in this House to represent the people of Timmins—James Bay and to speak to this very serious issue: the unprecedented situation of a sitting Prime Minister having been found guilty on numerous counts of breaching the Conflict of Interest Act.

I am going to be speaking to the issue of conflict of interest today. I understand why the official opposition brought this motion forward. I have some problems with it, and I am going to talk about them. However, I find it very frustrating that we have a Prime Minister who shows his contempt for Parliament by not bothering to show up to answer questions. I believe that we are in a dangerous position across the world of moving into post-democratic politics. Our Prime Minister is a great example of that. If he does push-ups in the Bronx, it will make international news. I do not mind that he makes international news, but he does have an obligation to come to the House to answer questions.

We were told at the ethics committee that the Prime Minister should not come to the committee to explain being found guilty by the Ethics Commissioner, because the proper place is in the House of Commons. I agreed with that. That was fair. However, members may have noticed that the Prime Minister showed up when Parliament returned, answered a few questions, and then sat down and refused to answer the leader of the official opposition. That is disrespect for this House. I am not here to take the position of leader of the opposition, but this is about respect for the House.

On the first Wednesday, the Wednesday the Prime Minister told us would be the day he answers all manner of questions, he skipped town to do a television town hall. He had a month and a half to do television town halls, but he skipped Ottawa. To me, this is a serious issue.

On the issue of the Prime Minister being found guilty of breaching the Conflict of Interest Act, the New Democrats differ somewhat from the Conservatives. To me, the fact that he went off to billionaire's island with a family friend showed a major breach of judgment. We are not dealing with a criminal act; we are dealing with a breach of judgment. The question of the judgment of this Prime Minister is his extremely close relationship with the 1%, the insiders.

The government always talks about the middle class and how it is here to do everything for the middle class, but if we look at the growing conflict of interest issues around the Prime Minister, it is about the government's failure to even understand what the middle class is.

I have often said that I think the Prime Minister and I grew up in a different middle class. My father joined the middle class when he was in his forties. He had to quit school as a teenager, as did my mom, to go work. It was not until my dad was in his forties that he was able to go back to school, get an education, and eventually become a professor of economics.

The middle class was built not just through hard work but by a whole social and economic structure that made it possible for kids from working class backgrounds who got an education to move beyond. We are seeing that the notion of the middle class is disappearing year after year with growing levels of student debt and growing precariousness of work.

We have a Prime Minister who decided to go off to billionaire's island to hang out with the Aga Khan, his friend, who is lobbying the Government of Canada. That is a problem. Liberals do not seem to think it is a problem. As the ultimate insider party in the country, they are saying that they are their friends. However, the reason we have laws is so friends who are powerful cannot call up the Prime Minister and make changes. The law should apply to everyone. This Prime Minister does not seem to think it applies to him.

In the case of the breach of the Conflict of Interest Act, he broke it on numerous points. He should have known that it was a conflict of interest to accept a gift from someone that powerful who was lobbying the government. The government's response was very disturbing.

Section 12 of the Conflict of Interest Act, on travel, states:

No minister of the Crown, minister of state or parliamentary secretary, no member of his or her family and no ministerial adviser or ministerial staff shall accept travel on non-commercial chartered or private aircraft for any purpose unless required in his or her capacity as a public office holder or in exceptional circumstances or with the prior approval of the Commissioner.

The Prime Minister decided to go on the Aga Khan's private helicopter to get to his private island. In his defence, the Prime Minister said that there was a difference in the language used in the French act and the English one. The French used the more specific term “avions” and not “aircraft”. The Prime Minister felt that this specifically exempted helicopters, which was a ridiculous response. It showed not only a lack of judgment but showed someone who would go to the extent of saying that it did not specifically say “helicopters“ to find a way to slip through the rules and abuse the act.

I have not agreed with many of Madam Dawson's decisions over the course of many years. However, she said that the Prime Minister's position would be to create a legal absurdity and a complete abuse of the act.

I am going to say quickly that I have a problem with the Conservative motion to pay back travel, because when the Prime Minister travels, there are enormous costs. There are issues of security if a prime minister wants to take a vacation anywhere. When Stephen Harper went to see a Boston Red Sox game, there was an enormous cost to the taxpayer. However, the Prime Minister does not get to travel on public aircraft. If the Prime Minister is going anywhere, there are going to be costs. We accepted it for Stephen Harper. People were asking how much money was spent for him to go to a ball game. He was the prime minister. He was not able to take cheap WestJet flights. There were going to be costs.

Therefore, I have a question about the propriety of the House ordering the Prime Minister to pay it back for his bad judgment.

That being said, the problem with our Conflict of Interest Act is that the commissioner does not have the power or ability to render the appropriate penalty. Should the Prime Minister pay a penalty from his personal money for this abuse of the act? Certainly. I think it behooves us within this House to say that we need to overhaul the Conflict of Interest Act to make sure that we do not have sitting prime ministers or cabinet ministers abusing the act and that the commissioner has the power to levy financial fines to force compliance, because if the Prime Minister believes he is above the law, it sends a very disturbing message to his cabinet.

On the issue of overall conflict of interest and the Prime Minister, I am seeing a disturbing pattern emerging. It emerged right after the election. I was so impressed with his talk during the campaign of creating a new, open, and transparent notion of parliamentary accountability. He seemed to follow through with his letters of commission to each of his ministers that talked about the need to have a higher standard. It was not just about the legal obligation but about being seen meeting that legal obligation. I was thinking that here was a Prime Minister who would be willing to do stuff differently, and for a moment, the sun was shining on accountability in Ottawa, but then our Prime Minister decided to go for cash for access.

To me, it is the most grotty thing possible for a sitting prime minister to make himself available to be lobbied for cash. He said that they were not lobbying. Who would pay $1,500 a pop to sit at a private CEO's condo if not to get the ear of the Prime Minister? Was it because they thought he was a funny guy and just wanted to hang out with him?

Chinese billionaires met with the Prime Minister. When he was confronted, the Prime Minister said that they were talking about the middle class. I guess I grew up in a different middle class. Can members imagine for a minute that Chinese billionaires came over to Canada, paid $1,500 a pop to talk to the Prime Minister at a private function, and were worried about folks who are just getting by? I do not think so. The idea that the Prime Minister would use his office to collect those funds for the Liberal Party to me set a disturbing pattern, and it is a pattern that has been repeated.

We saw the issue of the KPMG fraud scheme. KPMG, which has received millions of dollars in federal contracts, set up a scheme so that powerful Canadians did not have to pay their share.

I think of a single mom I dealt with in my riding over Christmas who was not able to pay for her kids' Christmas presents, because every year, CRA cuts her off, because it claims that she has to prove once again that she actually has children. We were calling and calling. There was a seven-week period CRA had to go through, because it had to do due diligence, as it has done three times in three years, to prove that this single mother actually has children, and she was not able to buy Christmas presents. We see the CRA's willingness to go after any ordinary Canadian who owes it money. It shows no mercy. However, when the rich insiders who were caught in the KPMG scandal were found out, CRA offered them immediate amnesty. That is not standing up for the middle class. That is standing up for the 1%.

What did the Prime Minister do after this scandal? He appointed a senior KPMG representative to be the treasurer of Liberal Party finances. To me, that sends a very disturbing message. It shows contempt for taxpayers who work hard and pay their bills. The Prime Minister looked at that KPMG scandal and said, “This is a great guy. I like how these guys are operating. Let us get them to handle Liberal Party finances.” That is a very disturbing tone.

We saw it repeated for Samuel Bronfman, who is the good, close friend of the Prime Minister and a key Liberal fundraiser. Mr. Bronfman was named in the paradise papers, an international scandal in terms of the uber rich not paying their share while they turn around and tell Canadians that they do not have services.

We can make comparisons to understand how this plays out. This past week, the Prime Minister looked a Princess Patricia's veteran in the face, Brock Blaszczyk, a man who lost his leg serving his country, and told him that veterans are asking for more than what the government is willing to give. These are people who were willing to give their lives and their health in service to the nation who came back and have been ripped off on their basic pensions. The Prime Minister can look a veteran in the eye and say that he is asking for more than Canada is willing to give.

The Prime Minister's personal friend, Samuel Bronfman, was then named in the paradise papers for a business scheme he had been involved in. The Prime Minister said that there was absolutely no issue, because the Liberals had been assured that Samuel Bronfman followed all the rules. It is completely inappropriate for a sitting prime minister to interpose himself in a question of a tax case, or potential tax fraud, and tell Canadians that there is nothing to be seen here. Why? It is because Samuel Bronfman is not only a personal friend but raised $250,000 in two hours for the Liberal Party. He is a very powerful person.

We brought in the Accountability Act when the last Liberal government fell to try to close these kinds of loopholes so that powerful insiders who raise money for the party and hang out with the Prime Minister on billionaire's island do not get this kind of access. This brings us back to the Aga Khan. The Aga Khan was lobbying the government for money, and the Prime Minister received a gift. The Liberal Party does not seem to understand that there is a problem with that.

We will go to the next issue. There is a very disturbing pattern of conflict of interest emerging in a government that says it is there for the little guy and the middle class, but time and again, it is looking after the uber rich.

We can talk about the privatized pension king of Canada, who is the finance minister. He is a man who told investors about the enormous opportunities in getting rid of defined pension plans, a man whose company was involved in the largest pension meltdowns in Canadian history: Nortel, Stelco, and now the Sears pension windup. We have a finance minister who is unwilling to do anything to end this kind of corporate pension theft. Well, it would certainly affect the bottom line of his family business.

He brought in pension legislation. In fact, the very first thing he did was bring in pension legislation, and that legislation, Bill C-27, will make it easier to go after other defined pension plans. However, the Prime Minister did not think there was a potential conflict of interest.

Again, I guess the Prime Minister and I grew up in a different middle class. The people I know, who save so hard to get a basic pension, see what is happening to the Sears workers and say, “That could be me.”

Younger people, who see that they will never have a pension, are asking where this government is in dealing with the pension crisis. Well, the government is making sure that the privatized pension king of Canada, who is the finance minister, who is driving the agenda on pensions, is not going to be in a position to be pulled from the file. The government is going to do nothing to help Sears workers, and it is continuing to push ahead with Bill C-27, which is a direct attack on defined pensions.

Over the years in Parliament, I have seen many politicians telling Canadians that they are going to give them a better deal. Sometimes it is like the crocodile saying, “Trust me. Let's go on a picnic down by the riverside. I have your best interest at heart”. However, when one puts in the Samuel Bronfmans, the top people from KPMG, and the privatized pension king in this country to deal with the issue of pensions, one cannot be saying that one has Canadians' interests at heart.

This goes back to the importance of the motion to have the Prime Minister found guilty of using his position in getting a benefit from a billionaire to vacation on a billionaire's island. Again, I will not say that this is an illegal act. To me, this was an astounding lack of judgment. It is within the purview of Parliament to insist that the Prime Minister meet a level of accountability, which he has not done because he has left Parliament and he has not answered these questions.

However, to be clear, I have a problem with the Conservatives' argument that he should pay back the cost of the trip, because wherever the Prime Minister goes, there will be enormous costs associated with the issue of security. However, there does need to be the ability under the ethics act to deal with financial monetary penalties for the abuse of office, and for the failure to live up to the standard. The Prime Minister has set the bar very low for the rest of his cabinet. We need to be working across party lines to ensure that these loopholes in the Conflict of Interest Act are shut down and that the Prime Minister is held accountable so that he can restore the trust of Canadians on this fundamental issue.

On the overall issue of conflict of interest, as New Democrats we will continue to hold the government to account. We are not afraid to congratulate it if we believe it is doing something good. We do not have to be oppositional on everything. However, to see the government time and time again favour the interests of the 1% and the insiders while paying lip service to people who are falling behind is simply not acceptable.

We will continue to address these issues and the need to deal with the toxic nature of big money's influence in political life, which is as important now as it was when we had to bring in the Federal Accountability Act back in 2006. I remember at that time we had the corrupt Liberal government up on charges. We had such abuse with lobbyists and insiders. The line back then was “It's who you know in the PMO”.

This struck Canadians as fundamentally wrong, because most Canadians never get the opportunity to call in. Most Canadians never get their cases fixed, except when they go through the system, and that is the way it is supposed to be for the lobbyists and the insiders. There has to be a system. It has to be accountable. It has to be transparent so that the people know why and how decisions are being made. However, with the current government, there is too much of a slip back to the bad old days of insiders and friends.

This is an instructive motion. Hopefully, the Prime Minister will listen to it, and I think the Prime Minister does need to tell Canadians that he will make some manner of restitution to show that he understands the seriousness of having been found guilty on numerous counts of breaching the Conflict of Interest Act.

Opposition Motion—Conflict of InterestBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2018 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. leader of the official opposition for his remarks. He did a good job in capturing the sense of frustration we feel on this side of the House, and that Canadians are feeling with a Prime Minister who has been found to have broken the law and does not seem to be suffering any consequences for having done so.

On this side, we are also very much aware of some of the other ethical challenges with the Liberal government with respect to conflict of interest. In particular, I am thinking about the finance minister and the controversy around Bill C-27, which is going to have a financial impact for Canadians far above the $200,000 that the Prime Minister's trip had. For that reason, we are wondering: why the narrow focus of this motion?

We agree that there should be consequences for the Prime Minister. We support that principle. However, we know there are a lot of other problems with conflicts of interest with the Liberal government. We wonder why the official opposition chose to have such a narrow focus rather than using this as an opportunity to ensure there are consequences for any of the members of government who violate conflict of interest provisions.

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

February 5th, 2018 / 6:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is true that the Ethics Commissioner cleared the finance minister of one of the allegations that were made. He also continues to investigate whether or not the finance minister was in a conflict of interest when he tabled legislation, Bill C-27, which would change the way that pensions are administered in this country. Only a very few companies in this country are set up to administer those types of pensions, and one of them happens to be Morneau Shepell, his former family company.

Can the parliamentary secretary confirm whether the finance minister has met with the new Ethics Commissioner to discuss those allegations of conflict of interest?

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

February 5th, 2018 / 6:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, last October, I asked the finance minister about when he had sold his shares in Morneau Shepell. He had about $20 million or $30 million in Morneau Shepell, which he told Canadians he had put in a blind trust. Of course, we found out that was not true, and it kicked off quite a fall for the finance minister.

Here we are, four months later, and the Liberals are once again embroiled in an ethical scandal where the Prime Minister, this time, has been found guilty of breaching the conflict of interest provisions that are provided to ministers and members of Parliament. He has been found guilty by the Ethics Commissioner of improperly arranging his personal affairs, guilty on the charge of accepting illegal gifts, guilty on the charge of illegally accepting a ride on a private aircraft, and guilty on the charge that he engaged illegally in discussions about government business.

We know that the finance minister had similar issues. He was found to have breached the code, as well, for failing to disclose the nature of the foreign corporation that held his French villa.

They certainly kept Mary Dawson, the previous ethics commissioner, quite busy. Her term has expired, and we have a new Ethics Commissioner, and he is now going to be investigating. We anticipate that he will continue the investigation into whether the Minister of Finance was in a conflict of interest when he introduced pension legislation, Bill C-27, that could have directly benefited his former family company, Morneau Shepell, while he was still in control of those shares in that company.

I am wondering if the parliamentary secretary could confirm whether the new Ethics Commissioner has met with the finance minister to discuss that potential conflict of interest with Bill C-27, and whether or not he has answered those questions about whether that directly benefited his personal company.

PensionsOral Questions

January 29th, 2018 / 2:40 p.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister was hanging out with his billionaire friends at Davos, he made very clear his indifference to the corporate pension robbery at Sears. Those retirees have no friends in this government. Let us look at the finance minister. His family business, Morneau Shepell, had the contract to roll up the Sears pension fund. He has told the investors about the opportunities of going after defined plans, and he has brought in the legislation, Bill C-27, to make it possible.

At the very least, will the finance minister withdraw Bill C-27 and recuse himself from any discussions about the Sears workers?

EthicsOral Questions

December 13th, 2017 / 2:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, facts are facts. They can be checked.

Let us look at the Minister of Finance's record: he imposed a tax reform to raise taxes on small businesses; he was fined by the Ethics Commissioner because he failed to declare one of his companies that owned one of his villas in France; he failed to put his assets in a blind trust; he sold $10 million worth of shares in his company days before introducing tax measures that he himself put in place; and he introduced Bill C-27, which earned his family's company more than $5 million.

When will the Prime Minister call for his Minister of Finance to resign?

EthicsOral Questions

December 13th, 2017 / 2:45 p.m.
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NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in committee, the nominee for Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner that the Liberals imposed on us would not confirm whether he plans to pursue the investigations into the Prime Minister's trip and the Minister of Finance's involvement in Bill C-27. Canadians are really concerned. These investigations are important to Canadians and certainly to our democracy, but the Liberals do not seem to realize that.

Do the Liberals think the commissioner should continue the investigations his predecessor started?

PensionsStatements By Members

December 12th, 2017 / 2 p.m.
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NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, the proposed government changes to pensions, as laid out in Bill C-27, would allow defined benefit plans in federally regulated businesses to be converted to targeted benefit plans. In other words, the financial risk would be shifted from employers to workers.

These changes represent a serious risk to the retirement security of Canadians, and the proposal was met with an outcry of opposition from my riding of Kootenay—Columbia and from across Canada. As one of my constituents said, “It is important for Canadians to have security in retirement, because poverty in retirement creates a myriad of social problems.”

The NDP presented a motion calling on the Liberals to withdraw this attack on Canadian pensions, but to no avail. At this special time of year, filled with peace, joy, and love, the best present the Liberal government could give Canadians is to take Bill C-27, put it in a box, and return it to the Minister of Finance, stamped “Bah humbug, return to sender, no postage required”.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

December 12th, 2017 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Now I have nine and a half minutes, Mr. Speaker, but thank you.

I am pleased to rise today on Bill C-24. I spoke to Bill C-24 in an earlier reading at which time I named this legislation “the Seinfeld bill”, because it is a bill about nothing. As my colleague the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands said, this is an inconsequential bill.

The bill goes back to 2015, when we had a freshly elected government that, with great fanfare, announced its gender-balanced cabinet. Someone in the media pointed out that five of the 15 women cabinet ministers were so-called junior ministers, ministers such as the Minister of Status of Women, etc., so it really was not gender balanced. The government immediately said they are all equal and they are all going to get paid the same.

At committee we asked the government House leader about this and her comment was that all 30 members already receive the same salary and this has been the case since the first day in office and it will not change with this legislation. I then asked why we are bothering with the bill. We were told that without the bill, ministers of state would not be full ministers and would not have equal voices at the cabinet table.

The Prime Minister spends a lot of time overseas and when he is not busy showing off his new socks, he is talking about how he is a feminist prime minister. As partisan as I am, I cannot believe that the Prime Minister sits at the cabinet table and ignores good ideas from someone who is a minister of state just because of a title. So again, why do we have this legislation?

Maybe it is about gender equality. I am all about a gender-balanced cabinet but what I am not about is having a quota system that forces the government to ignore better qualified MPs and pushes them to the back to fill the front benches with unqualified men, such as the defence minister.

Think where we would be without a quota system. We would not have a defence minister who claims to be the architect of someone else's work. We would not have a defence minister who has so badly bungled the purchase of fighter jets. First, he is not going to allow F-35s, so we are going to buy sole-sourced Boeing until Boeing gets into a trade conflict with Bombardier, so we are not going to buy Boeing. Instead, we are going to buy used Boeing. That makes sense.

The defence minister bungled shipbuilding. There was delay upon delay. Every single month, according to the parliamentary budget officer, it costs taxpayers $250 million.

If we did not have a quota system, maybe we would not have the finance minister, the same gentleman who is under an ethics investigation for proposing Bill C-27, which would just happen to include the same changes he lobbied for as a private citizen that would have benefited him. He tabled that legislation in the House.

We would not perhaps have the sport minister, the same minister who insulted victims of thalidomide, the same minister who said he hopes they die 10 years from now because it would be less of a burden on the government.

What did Liberal MPs have to say about this legislation? On second reading the Liberals framed Bill C-24

EthicsOral Questions

December 7th, 2017 / 2:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has not answered any of the reasonable and fair questions we have asked regarding his conduct.

What we have discovered is that the minister was actively managing shares in Morneau Shepell while he was promoting Bill C-27, which would directly benefit his family business.

Why will the minister not answer this simple question? Was he the one who signed the memo to approve Bill C-27?

EthicsOral Questions

December 7th, 2017 / 2:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has become an expert at avoiding giving answers to Canadians. He hid his shares in a numbered company. He hid the date of the sale of some of those shares. Today, new documents show that the minister is continuing his practice of hiding information from Canadians. When asked simply if he as minister signed the memorandum approving Bill C-27, he refused to answer.

If the minister refuses to be transparent about something as simple as this, will he not just resign?

EthicsOral Questions

December 7th, 2017 / 2:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Maxime Bernier Conservative Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has become quite skilled at avoiding Canadians' questions.

Yesterday, the House Leader of the Official Opposition asked the minister a simple question. She asked whether he was the one who signed the memorandum to cabinet for Bill C-27. Can my colleagues guess what happened? We are still waiting for an answer.

If the Minister of Finance is unable to answer our simple, softball questions, then I would ask him to issue a press release announcing his immediate resignation.