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—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 11:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I spoke about the property in France in response to an earlier question from the member for Beauport—Limoilou.

I said that the property had been disclosed to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. The administrative error had to do with the corporate entity that owns it. The Minister of Finance worked with the Ethics Commissioner, as he has always done. The commissioner is conducting an examination of Bill C-27, not an investigation.

The Minister of Finance continues to work with the Ethics Commissioner, as he has always done. That is the right thing to do because the Ethics Commissioner is responsible for safeguarding the integrity of Parliament. We have confidence in the Ethics Commissioner's work, which involves telling parliamentarians, when they arrive in Ottawa to take on their responsibilities as a minister, parliamentary secretary, or MP, what to do to ensure that they are in compliance with the rules governing us and the House. That is what the Minister of Finance did.

In my speech, I was very proud to talk about everything the Minister of Finance has done for the Canadian economy and for Canadians from all walks of life. I think that our government has done a lot of good. That is why I got into politics.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 11:10 a.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is quite simple. If everything is all sunshine and full of integrity with the finance minister, then why did the Ethics Commissioner fine the finance minister $200 for not fully disclosing his assets, and why did she find enough evidence to open up an investigation about a conflict of interest with Bill C-27?

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, SK

Mr. Speaker, my friend from the NDP is quite right. It is almost impossible these days to get a Liberal to keep a promise, but that is perhaps a debate for another day.

I would agree with my hon. colleague on this fact. Because the finance minister's position in Parliament is arguably the second most important person in government, he must be held to not only meet the minimum standards but to exceed standards and expectations of the general public.

We know about the Conflict of Interest Act. We know the definition of a conflict of interest. What is also contained in that definition is that a decision maker, which obviously the finance minister is, cannot be viewed as acting impartially or with integrity if he or she may receive personal benefits from their decisions.

What happened was that the Minister of Finance decided not to put his assets into a blind trust. The Minister of Finance decided to introduce Bill C-27, which definitely benefited his family's fortune to the tune of about $5 million. Those were deliberate decisions made by the Minister of Finance, which contravened every single tenet of the Conflict of Interest Act.

I know the minister is under investigation. I encourage the Ethics Commissioner to find a resolution to this with great haste. Canadians need to have the confidence that their elected officials, particularly their Minister of Finance, is acting with the integrity they have been charged to uphold.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have always been of the belief that every person, from the moment they first achieve cognitive thought, knows the difference between right and wrong, everyone except, it appears, this Minister of Finance. The finance minister has been involved in so many ethical transgressions in the last two years that I honestly believe it would be fair to say that I do not know if he understands the difference between right and wrong. If he does, it appears that he simply does not care.

For the benefit of the House and the benefit of those who may be watching today, I am going to enumerate some of these transgressions and what they mean in today's Parliament, what they mean to Canadians, and what they mean to those who may find themselves in a real or apparent conflict of interest.

We first found out a few months ago that the Minister of Finance had failed to sufficiently disclose all of his assets to the Ethics Commissioner. In fact, he failed to disclose a very significant asset. What was that asset? That asset was a villa in the region of Provence, in the south of France. I am not really that knowledgeable about real estate, but I would assume that a villa in that region, a very wealthy part of France, is probably worth in the millions of dollars.

Going back just a little, I should point out that all parliamentarians, since 2004, have been required, and are still required, on a yearly basis, to disclose to the Ethics Commissioner all of our assets and liabilities, and in fact the assets and liabilities of our spouses and family members. For example, if a member owns a house, what is its relative value? Does it have a mortgage? Does the member own mutual funds, stocks, bonds, or trust funds? Does the member own real property? Members report that to the Ethics Commissioner each and every year so that she will be able to determine if there is any perceived or real conflict of interest or if there could be a potential conflict of interest. Did the Minister of Finance do that? No. He failed to disclose a a million-dollar-plus asset owned by a private corporation, which he controlled. Could that potentially be a conflict of interest? Most certainly it could.

However, when queried by the media as to why he did not disclose this to the Ethics Commissioner appropriately and on time, he merely stated that it was an administrative error. I do not know about other members, but to me, making a million-dollar omission on a disclosure to the Ethics Commissioner is much more than an administrative error.

That was the first, but certainly not the last, of these ethical lapses we have seen from the Minister of Finance. We next learned, through a report first published in The Globe and Mail, that the minister was the owner of a private corporation, a numbered company in fact, in Alberta. We also found out that this numbered company had assets. Specifically, it owned approximately $20 million in shares in a company called Morneau Shepell.

As my colleague from Carleton pointed out just a few moments ago, that is the same company the current Minister of Finance used to run, a family-founded, family-run, very successful company that specializes in pensions and pension products. That alone should have raised a lot of alarm bells, but it gets even worse.

We later found out, again from The Globe and Mail, that the minister had not placed these assets, the approximately $20 million in shares, in a blind trust. He had, however, implied, to many people, including his colleagues on the government side of the House, that he had placed all his assets in a blind trust. He had told his former colleagues and former co-workers at Morneau Shepell that he had placed his assets in a blind trust. He had not. That was a clear conflict of interest and a clear violation of the ethics code.

In addition to that, at the same time as he was benefiting from shares in a numbered company which he had not disclosed, he introduced Bill C-27 in this place, a bill sponsored by the minister and brought forward by the minister, that would, in effect, if passed into legislation, allow employers to change their pension plans from defined benefit plans to targeted benefit plans.

I will not get into the details or nuances of the differences between those two pension plans. Suffice it to say, the minister, through his numbered company in Alberta, saw the share price rise, approximately $5 million worth. In other words, because it was not in a blind trust and still directly controlled by the minister through his numbered company, he and his family benefited to the tune of $5 million. Once he introduced Bill C-27, the speculation in the stock market was that Morneau Shepell would be gathering and garnering much more business across Canada due to it being the largest firm in Canada specializing in these products.

It was only after all of these revelations came to light did the minister determine he should sell his assets and place any other assets into a blind trust. That is akin to somebody saying “I'm sorry” after getting caught. In fact, I received an email from one of my constituents after the story came to light, in which he said that it reminded him of a bank robber who got caught a couple of years later, promised to pay the money back to the bank, then went on to say no harm, no foul, that everyone could move on because there was nothing to see. It does not work that way. One has to be accountable for one's actions.

The very definition of “conflict of interest” determines quite clearly that the Minister of Finance was, for two solid years, in a serious conflict of interest.

I go back to my opening comments. I am not sure if the minister truly understands the difference between right and wrong, but today we are giving the minister an opportunity to do what is right. To do what is right means simply this: disclosing all of the minister's assets he currently holds in numbered companies. Why is that important? Because having assets in a number company means Canadians do not know what those assets are.

What could they be? Let us assume for a moment that some of those assets are shares in, let us say, Bombardier. Would that be a conflict of interest? Clearly, it would. What would happen if some of the shares in those numbered companies owned by the Minister of Finance are shares in a company like Irving Shipbuilding or Davie shipbuilding? What happens if those shares, which we do not know about in these numbered companies, were shares in a medicinal marijuana company that is coming onto the market? There are so many things that could be conflicts of interest that we do not know about that the minister must reveal the sources of those assets, if only to gain, or regain, the confidence of the Canadian public and to prove to it that he is not in a conflict of interest.

By refusing to reveal the assets in these numbered companies, all he is doing is reinforcing in the public's mind that he is like every other dirty politician out for personal benefit and not for the public interest.

I call upon the minister to simply do what is right, and that is to reveal the assets, open the books, and let the Canadian public see what he has been hiding for these last two years.

EthicsOral Questions

November 22nd, 2017 / 2:45 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister keeps repeating that he disclosed all of his assets since day one. We are not fabricating the fact he hid his offshore corporation for two years.

The Prime Minister says the minister has always worked since day one with the Ethics Commissioner to ensure his personal finances were in line with the expectations of Canadians. We are not fabricating the fact he never received the commissioner's permission to introduce Bill C-27, a bill from which he and his family would profit.

The minister still has mystery assets. Why will he not tell Canadians what is inside all of his other companies?

EthicsOral Questions

November 22nd, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is indeed historic. Never in the history of Canada have the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister been under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner at the same time. That is the Liberals' idea of making history.

The problem with the Minister of Finance is that he is hiding things from Canadians. He introduced Bill C-27, which benefited his family's company tremendously, but said he worked with the Ethics Commissioner. I believe him because that is precisely what he did after introducing the bill. That is unacceptable.

Why is the Minister of Finance not being straight with Canadians?

EthicsOral Questions

November 22nd, 2017 / 2:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, every week brings new revelations about the Minister of Finance's conflicts of interest.

First, there were his undeclared shares, then his villa in France, and now, we have the bill he created, Bill C-27, from which his own family and his company, Morneau Shepell, directly benefit.

Will the Prime Minister step up and order his Minister of Finance to show some transparency and disclose all of his assets?

EthicsOral Questions

November 21st, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Maxime Bernier Conservative Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is not true. The Minister of Finance did not sit down with the Ethics Commissioner. He did so only after he was in conflict of interest.

We know that Morneau Shepell deals in target benefit pension plans, and that is what the minister put forward in his Bill C-27.

The question here is simple. How can the minister think that he is not in conflict of interest when he makes the laws that govern a business in which he holds shares? How can the Minister of Finance say that he is not in conflict of interest?

EthicsOral Questions

November 21st, 2017 / 2:35 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party's chief fundraiser sent money to a tax haven. This morning, the NDP asked that Stephen Bronfman appear before the Standing Committee on Finance. The Liberals refused.

The Minister of Finance failed to put his assets in a blind trust. He also introduced Bill C-27, which helped Morneau Shepell rake in millions of dollars without running this by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. He is currently under investigation.

Is that the Liberals' approach to governing?

They do nothing about tax havens and introduce bills to get richer and to make their millionaire friends richer?

EthicsOral Questions

November 21st, 2017 / 2:35 p.m.
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Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance introduced Bill C-27 to ensure that Canadians have a secure and stable retirement, so that they may live out their retirement with dignity. The Minister of Finance has always worked with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. He followed through on her recommendation to set up a conflict of interest screen. The commissioner felt that this was the best way to prevent any appearance of conflict of interest or any conflict of interest. The Minister of Finance will continue to work with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to ensure that all the rules are followed and he will continue to serve Canadians.

EthicsOral Questions

November 21st, 2017 / 2:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the finance minister are the two most powerful lawmakers in Canada. The finance minister's Bill C-27 will directly benefit his billion dollar family business, Morneau Shepell, and he still held shares in Morneau Shepell when he introduced that bill. The Prime Minister and the finance minister and his staff all claim he has been working with the Ethics Commissioner from the start, but now, the Prime Minister and two of his cabinet ministers are under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner. How can Canadians trust the Prime Minister?

EthicsOral Questions

November 21st, 2017 / 2:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister's so-called ethical screen gets weaker every day. After introducing Bill C-27, which helps his own family business, the only argument the minister has left is to say that he now miraculously has some integrity because he sold his shares and made a donation. What does the government have to say about the level of integrity he has shown over the past two years?

Will the Prime Minister finally admit what all Canadians know, that his finance minister has been in a direct conflict of interest for the past two years?

EthicsOral Questions

November 21st, 2017 / 2:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance swore that he put his shares in a blind trust and then we learned that he never did. The Minister of Finance assured us that he had declared all his assets and then we learned that he was fined by the commissioner for failing to disclose a company. From the beginning of the session, the minister has repeated that he has always worked with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and, oddly enough, today we read in the Globe and Mail that the minister never worked with the commissioner on his Bill C-27.

Can the Prime Minister tell us why Canadians would still trust the Minister of Finance?

EthicsOral Questions

November 21st, 2017 / 2:20 p.m.
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Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, these Liberals only work with the Ethics Commissioner after they get caught breaking the ethics laws.

Therefore, let us be clear. Either the finance minister lied to the Prime Minister, or the Prime Minister did not even bother to ask, or the Prime Minister simply believes that Liberals are just above the rules. Which is it? Did anyone ever tell the Prime Minister that his finance minister was clear to table Bill C-27 before the bill was introduced in Parliament?

EthicsOral Questions

November 21st, 2017 / 2:20 p.m.
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Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, just yesterday, the Prime Minister said that the Minister of Finance had always worked closely with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

Therefore, I am asking him one more time: did the Prime Minister verify with the Minister of Finance that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner had allowed him to introduce his pension legislation, Bill C-27?