Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2

A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures

Sponsor

Bill Morneau  Liberal

Status

In committee (House), as of Nov. 8, 2017

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Summary

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

Part 1 implements certain income tax measures proposed in the March 22, 2017 budget by

(a) removing the classification of the costs of drilling a discovery well as “Canadian exploration expenses”;

(b) eliminating the ability for small oil and gas companies to reclassify up to $1 million of “Canadian development expenses” as “Canadian exploration expenses”;

(c) revising the anti-avoidance rules for registered education savings plans and registered disability savings plans;

(d) eliminating the use of billed-basis accounting by designated professionals;

(e) providing enhanced tax treatment for eligible geothermal energy equipment;

(f) extending the base erosion rules to foreign branches of Canadian insurers;

(g) clarifying who has factual control of a corporation for income tax purposes;

(h) introducing an election that would allow taxpayers to mark to market their eligible derivatives;

(i) introducing a specific anti-avoidance rule that targets straddle transactions;

(j) allowing tax-deferred mergers of switch corporations into multiple mutual fund trusts and allowing tax-deferred mergers of segregated funds; and

(k) enhancing the protection of ecologically sensitive land donated to conservation charities and broadening the types of donations permitted.

It also implements other income tax measures by

(a) closing loopholes surrounding the capital gains exemption on the sale of a principal residence;

(b) providing additional authority for certain tax purposes to nurse practitioners;

(c) ensuring that qualifying farmers and fishers selling to agricultural and fisheries cooperatives are eligible for the small business deduction;

(d) extending the types of reverse takeover transactions to which the corporate acquisition of control rules apply;

(e) improving the consistency of rules applicable for expenditures in respect of scientific research and experimental development;

(f) ensuring that the taxable income of federal credit unions is allocated among provinces and territories using the same allocation formula as applicable to the taxable income of banks;

(g) ensuring the appropriate application of Canada’s international tax rules; and

(h) improving the accuracy and consistency of the income tax legislation and regulations.

Part 2 implements certain goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) measures confirmed in the March 22, 2017 budget by

(a) introducing clarifications and technical improvements to the GST/HST rules applicable to certain pension plans and financial institutions;

(b) revising the GST/HST rules applicable to pension plans so that they apply to pension plans that use master trusts or master corporations;

(c) revising and modernizing the GST/HST drop shipment rules to enhance the effectiveness of these rules and introduce technical improvements;

(d) clarifying the application of the GST/HST to supplies of municipal transit services to accommodate the modern ways in which those services are provided and paid for; and

(e) introducing housekeeping amendments to improve the accuracy and consistency of the GST/HST legislation.

It also implements a GST/HST measure announced on September 8, 2017 by revising the timing requirements for GST/HST rebate applications by public service bodies.

Part 3 amends the Excise Act to ensure that beer made from concentrate on the premises where it is consumed is taxed in a manner that is consistent with other beer products.

Part 4 amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to allow the Minister of Finance on behalf of the Government of Canada, with the approval of the Governor in Council, to enter into coordinated cannabis taxation agreements with provincial governments. It also amends that Act to make related amendments.

Part 5 enacts and amends several Acts in order to implement various measures.

Division 1 of Part 5 amends the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act to update and clarify certain powers of the Minister of Finance in relation to the Bretton Woods institutions.

Division 2 of Part 5 enacts the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Agreement Act which provides the required authority for Canada to become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Division 3 of Part 5 provides for the transfer from the Minister of Finance to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the responsibility for three international development financing agreements entered into between Her Majesty in Right of Canada and the International Finance Corporation.

Division 4 of Part 5 amends the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act to clarify the treatment of, and protections for, eligible financial contracts in a bank resolution process. It also makes consequential amendments to the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act.

Division 5 of Part 5 amends the Bank of Canada Act to specify that the Bank of Canada may make loans or advances to members of the Canadian Payments Association that are secured by real property or immovables situated in Canada and to allow such loans and advances to be secured by way of an assignment or transfer of a right, title or interest in real property or immovables situated in Canada. It also amends the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act to specify that the Bank of Canada and the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation are exempt from stays even where obligations are secured by real property or immovables.

Division 6 of Part 5 amends the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act in order to expand and enhance the oversight powers of the Bank of Canada by further strengthening the Bank’s ability to identify and respond to risks to financial market infrastructures in a proactive and timely manner.

Division 7 of Part 5 amends the Northern Pipeline Act to permit the Northern Pipeline Agency to annually recover from any company with a certificate of public convenience and necessity issued under that Act an amount equal to the costs incurred by that Agency with respect to that company.

Division 8 of Part 5 amends the Canada Labour Code in order to, among other things,

(a) provide employees with a right to request flexible work arrangements from their employers;

(b) provide employees with a family responsibility leave for a maximum of three days, a leave for victims of family violence for a maximum of ten days and a leave for traditional Aboriginal practices for a maximum of five days; and

(c) modify certain provisions related to work schedules, overtime, annual vacation, general holidays and bereavement leave, in order to provide greater flexibility in work arrangements.

Division 9 of Part 5 amends the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 to repeal the paragraph 167(1.‍2)‍(b) of the Canada Labour Code that it enacts, and to amend the related regulation-making provisions accordingly.

Division 10 of Part 5 approves and implements the Canadian Free Trade Agreement entered into by the Government of Canada and the governments of each province and territory to reduce or eliminate barriers to the free movement of persons, goods, services and investments. It also makes related amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act in order to facilitate, with respect to energy-using products or classes of energy-using products, the harmonization of requirements set out in regulations with those of a jurisdiction. Finally, it makes consequential amendments to the Financial Administration Act, the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act and the Procurement Ombudsman Regulations and it repeals the Timber Marking Act and the Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation Act.

Division 11 of Part 5 amends the Judges Act

(a) to allow for the payment of annuities, in certain circumstances, to judges and their survivors and children, other than by way of grant of the Governor in Council;

(b) to authorize the payment of salaries to the new Associate Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta; and

(c) to change the title of “senior judge” to “chief justice” for the superior trial courts of the territories.

It also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Division 12 of Part 5 amends the Business Development Bank of Canada Act to increase the maximum amount of the paid-in capital of the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Division 13 of Part 5 amends the Financial Administration Act to authorize, in an increased number of cases, the entering into of contracts or other arrangements that provide for a payment if there is a sufficient balance to discharge any debt that will be due under them during the fiscal year in which they are entered into.

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

Nov. 8, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures
Nov. 8, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures
Nov. 8, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures
Nov. 8, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures
Nov. 8, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member referenced the Asian infrastructure bank buried deep within this omnibus bill, a type of bill that I remind the House the Liberals said they would not put forward. The Liberal government plans to give $500 million to that bank. Could the hon. member speak to the risks associated with Canadian taxpayers investing money in that bank that will go to China?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Madam Speaker, it is simple and straightforward. There is no benefit for Canada going into that bank. That bank is an arm of China to increase its influence in Asia, because that is where that money will go. It has nothing to do with the Canadian taxpayer. We get nothing out of it. We are just putting money in there. What is the point?

We are already partners with the existing Asian Development Bank and are doing the same things with it. There is no need for us to do anything with the newer Asian infrastructure bank that is promoting the foreign interests of the Chinese government.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Lefebvre Liberal Sudbury, ON

Madam Speaker, today I have the great honour and pleasure to speak to Bill C-63, the budget implementation act, 2017, no. 2.

In recent days, we have seen that there is a great deal of interest in the budget, and for good reason. In 2015, Canadians made a choice. They could choose between a government that would continue to slash investments in Canadians or a government that would invest in Canadians.

We made the very well-thought-out decision to invest in Canadians. From the outset, we cut taxes for the middle class and we raised them for the wealthiest 1% in Canada. The choice was crystal clear: we chose to take this money and reinvest it in the middle class.

Furthermore, in our election platform we promised to provide a significantly higher Canada child benefit.

The increase in the Canada child benefit is having a major effect on the Canadian population. The investment is providing middle-class Canadians and Canadians who have a hard time making ends meet with more money to invest in their children and their families.

In my riding of Sudbury alone, we are seeing 7,100 payments a month, benefiting over 12,270 children. The total investment coming into my riding every month as a result is more than $4 million, and that is repeated across Canada. We are seeing this on a monthly basis. The effect is significant, because with the old system the Conservatives had put in place, everyone received the same amount of money. In my riding we would only have received $1.3 million of investment a month under it. We are now seeing $4 million. It also has an effect on small businesses.

People can play sports now because they have more money. They are able to invest in their children's education and activities. Just putting bread on the table, ensuring a healthy lifestyle, is important. I am really proud that we are seeing that on a daily basis.

As we conveyed this month, we also want to continue investing in small business.

Small business is the backbone of our economy. That is why a few weeks back the Minister of Finance announced reductions in the taxes on small business from 10.5% to 10% next year and 9% in 2019. That will be the lowest tax rate on small business in the G7. Many other countries do not have this low rate of tax.

The reason we want a low rate is very simple: we want small business to continue to invest, grow, and expand their businesses across municipalities, provinces, and nationally. It is key for our economy that we allow small business owners to continue investing and growing, because it results in middle-class jobs that stimulate the economy.

We are seeing the effects of the increased Canada child benefit and reduced taxes on the middle class. The middle class are reinvesting money in our economy. Over the last few years, we have seen 450,000 new jobs created in Canada alone. The unemployment rate has been dropping since, and is actually at its lowest level since 2008. In my riding of Sudbury as well, we are seeing the lowest unemployment rate in years, even though we have the mining sector in my area, which is not doing that well. However, we are pulling through and the economy is doing well. We are looking forward to the mining sector coming back up, and the effect it will have on our economy in the natural resource industry in Sudbury and northern Ontario.

I am also quite proud of the fact that we have invested in veterans. The previous government had cut services and benefits for veterans drastically in the hope of trying to balance its budget. We believe in reinvesting. We have done that by starting over and bringing back a lot of the veterans' services offices, investing in caregivers for veterans, and investing in the possibility of veterans furthering their education. This is going to have a profound effect on veterans, and we are not done. We will continue to invest in our veterans in Canada.

Another thing I kept hearing about on the campaign trail was infrastructure and housing, and how there had been lack of investment and direction by the previous government over 10 years. It did nothing on the housing side, which had become almost a crisis situation in Canada. We are investing a record amount of capital to ensure that the housing services industry in Canada for the people who need it the most is operating properly and efficiently. That is why $11 billion was announced in the last budget, which is in addition to the money already invested in the 2016 budget. We are continuing to invest in housing in Canada, and that has played a major role in the social determinants of health, which has a major and important impact across Canada.

In that housing envelope, it is key that we are also investing in off-reserve housing for indigenous individuals. I am seeing that in my riding of Sudbury. People had come to me pleading that we continue the investments in housing in Sudbury. The the last budget addressed that properly. The envelope for off-reserve housing alone was increased to $225 million.

When we talk about indigenous peoples, an additional $3.4 billion was tabled in the 2016 budget. Where will this money go? It will go to infrastructure and health. We know there is a complete lack of investment in these sectors. The indigenous population is increasing and we need to invest in them. That is why I was so proud that we are doing what we said we would do on the campaign trail and investing in the infrastructure and health of indigenous communities. This is not just a one-time thing: it has to be a continuing investment over the next generation. I hope it will continue.

Another important investment made was with respect to youth employment. We promised to increase youth employment across Canada, and youth unemployment is now at an all-time low in Canada. In my riding alone, we have seen over 280 jobs for youth created in 2017 alone. On top of that, we want to ensure that the necessary conditions for youth employment are done properly. That is why we eliminated unpaid internships. Basically, if someone is going to be doing internships, they have to be rewarded properly for the work they do.

During the election campaign, we promised to invest in the economy, in infrastructure, and in first nations and veterans, and we are keeping our promises to Canadians.

I would also like to mention the major investment we are making in superclusters. Canada is currently holding a competition to choose five Canadian groups to receive an investment of more than $900 million over the next few years. By investing in five different engines of growth in Canada's economy, we hope to double the jobs they create.

Our party wants to create more jobs for Canadians and improve the quality of life for Canada's middle class. We are going to continue working on this goal. That is why the supercluster program will really have a positive effect. We want to help Canadian groups in the agriculture, mining, forestry, and fisheries sectors. We have received more than 50 funding applications from groups in these sectors. There are now nine groups across Canada in the running for the funding announced in the budget.

These are the things that will transform Canada and create the jobs we so sorely need. Our goal is to create that wealth. That is why I am very proud to support Bill C-63, to ensure a brighter future for all Canadians.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, the government is investing $500 million in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. That bank is currently funding two pipeline projects, one in Azerbaijan and another in Bangladesh, while the government has worked to kill northern gateway. The Prime Minister says one thing and does another with respect to Trans Mountain. The government's mismanagement of the energy sector has resulted in the cancellation of energy east.

Would the hon. member for Sudbury not agree that, instead of funding pipeline projects in Bangladesh and Azerbaijan, it would be better to build pipelines here in Canada to get Alberta energy to market?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Lefebvre Liberal Sudbury, ON

Madam Speaker, clearly the hon. member forgets the last 10 years when no pipelines were built by the previous government. We are on the cusp, and have certainly allowed Trans Mountain to move forward. We need to realize that industry will decide if it wants to invest in pipelines across this country. We want to make sure that the regulatory framework is there, and that it is a solid framework that Canadians can believe in. We have done that. We made sure that all aspects, environment, social, and indigenous communities, were properly consulted, something that had not been done by the previous government. We have done that, and now it is up to industry to decide if it wants to build its own pipelines.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I would like to talk about the environment. As members know, Fiji is presiding over COP23 in Bonn, which is in its first week.

An article currently in Le Devoir is headlined “Commitments too weak to avoid climate disaster.” It issues a warning about our weak greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments, which could result in disaster situations.

There is a tiny measure for geothermal projects, but does the member not think we should be going much further? For starters, the government needs to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. It is ridiculous that we are still spending billions of dollars on fossil fuel subsidies, when we made an international commitment quite some time ago to eliminate them. There is nothing to encourage greater emphasis on the energy shift towards renewables.

Why did the update not include a more serious plan? We are currently at COP23, in the middle of a conference on climate change.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Lefebvre Liberal Sudbury, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his important question.

With regard to the investments that we proposed in budget 2016-17, I would like to say that, when we talk about superclusters, we are talking about economic sectors that we want to transform in order to make them greener and more successful.

That will help us to meet our targets with respect to the environment. It is important to continue to invest because we firmly believe that investments in the environment go hand-in-hand with the economy. We need to strike a balance. That is what our government is proposing to do, and that is what we are continuing to do right now.

I am proud of the many initiatives that have been put forward, including those involving superclusters, which will create jobs while helping to make Canada's economy greener.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask a question about the form of the bill. It is a mammoth bill, with many pages, that affects a number of departments. However, the Liberal Party promised during the election campaign that it would not introduce any omnibus bills like this.

Is my colleague disappointed with the form of this omnibus bill?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise this afternoon to speak on Bill C-63, the budget implementation act.

During the last election, the Prime Minister criss-crossed the country, running on a platform entitled, “Real Change: A new plan for a strong middle class”. Given that BillC-63 would directly impact the middle class, as the policies and actions of the government over the last two years have, it is a fair time in this debate to ask how the middle class is faring under the Liberal government.

To begin with, the taxes of the middle class are going up. I know the mantra of the government is to say that it has cut taxes for the middle class while increasing taxes for the wealthy, except that is plainly false. According to one study recently issued by the Fraser Institute, 81% of middle-class Canadians have seen their taxes go up, on average, by $840 a year. For every tax reduction that the government has announced, supposedly targeted at the middle class, those cuts have been offset by tax increases elsewhere. In other words, this is a government that gives with one hand and takes with the other. What the bottom line means for the pocketbook of the vast majority of middle-class Canadians is that their taxes have gone up, not down. So much for a plan to strengthen the middle class. Instead of a plan to strengthen the middle class, what we really have seen from the government is a plan to nickel and dime middle-class Canadians.

The Prime Minister, who portrays himself as such a champion of middle-class Canadians and ran on a platform that was centred on the middle class, has led a government that has done such things as eliminate the public transit tax credit. I do not think there are many multi-millionaire CEOs who get around on public transit. Perhaps there are some and for those who do, the public transit tax credit pretty much meant nothing to them, but for the tens of thousands of Canadians who go to work each and every day by public transit, the public transit tax credit meant something to them, something that the Liberal government has taken away. So much again for a plan to strengthen the middle class.

Then there was the mean-spirited attempt by the government to tax employee discounts. In other words, the government decided to go after waiters and retail workers who might have gotten a discount on a pair of jeans or maybe a cheeseburger at the end of a long shift. I guess that is what the Prime Minister means by being compassionate. I guess what the Prime Minister means by standing up for the middle class is going after retail workers, going after waiters, and going against the most vulnerable members of our society.

Of course, we now learn that the Prime Minister has a new target, namely, diabetic Canadians, because the government is making it harder for diabetic Canadians to take advantage of a disability tax credit. Before the Liberal government was elected, about 80% of applicants received that tax credit. Today, it is the exact opposite: about 80% of Canadians are denied that tax credit. The average cost to a diabetic Canadian annually, in terms of cost for care and so on, is about $15,000. I know that for the silver-spooned Prime Minister and his multi-millionaire finance minister, $15,000 is chump change.

However, for the vast majority of Canadians, $15,000 is a lot, and $15,000 on anything can make the difference between putting food on the table and paying down a mortgage to stay in one's home. Instead of helping those diabetic Canadians who incur, on average, $15,000 in expenses annually, and instead of helping to make their lives as littler easier, the government is making it more difficult for them to receive that tax credit. It is absolutely shameful. It is just disgusting.

Of course, in the last few months, the Prime Minister announced that he was going after another group of middle-class Canadians, namely small business owners and farmers. He insulted them. He called them tax cheats. The Prime Minister's solution to deal with these middle-class tax cheats, as he called them, was to, without consultation, try to ram through some of the largest changes to the Income Tax Act in more than 40 years, which in turn would result in massive tax increases on small business owners and farmers, mostly a middle-class group of people that the Prime Minister calls tax cheats.

Well, as it turns out, the real tax cheats are not hard-working, middle-class small business owners who create jobs and take risks. No, the real tax cheats are the Prime Minister's friends and cronies, including none other than Stephen Bronfman, who was the Prime Minister's leadership campaign chairman. He was the chief fundraiser for the Liberal Party. We know from the paradise papers that he has been funnelling millions of dollars to tax-free offshore accounts in such places as the Cayman Islands. If the Prime Minister is looking for tax cheats, he should not look to the middle-class small businesses and farmers, but he should look among his own friends. I think he would find plenty of tax cheats among them, including his chief fundraiser.

What is the deal in terms of hiking taxes on middle-class Canadians, shaking down waiters and retail workers, declaring war on small business owners and farmers? There is really a very simple explanation, which is that over the last two years, the current government's spending has been absolutely out of control.

We all remember when the Prime Minister made the commitment to Canadians that he would run short-term deficits of no more than $10 billion in the first year and no more than $10 billion in the second year, but not to worry, because Canada would return to a balanced budget in 2019. However, what we have seen from the government instead is a deficit in the first year that was more than twice what the Prime Minister promised. This year, it is going to again be twice as large. Instead of a plan to return to a balanced budget, we see no plan at all. Indeed, there is no end in sight to the writ red ink. The government is projected to add as much as $70 billion in new debt by the end of its term in 2019. Talk about fiscal vandalism. As a result, the government has tried to find revenue wherever it can.

The Liberals have been looking to shake down and squeeze hard-working middle-class Canadians. The Prime Minister offered Canadians a new plan to strengthen the middle class, but what he has actually delivered is a plan to shake down middle-class Canadians. Bill C-63 is all about that. Sadly, it should come as no surprise. We have seen a Prime Minister who has not kept his word, who breaks promises, who says one thing and does another, and who genuinely believes there is one standard for middle-class Canadians and another standard for Liberal elites, himself and his finance minister. It is why he was so busy working overtime to target middle-class small-business owners, while doing absolutely nothing to increase taxes on big multinational publicly traded companies.

Bill C-63 deserves to be defeated.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I always enjoy hearing my colleague speak, including during question period when he is not asking a question.

I want to address something the member said at the beginning of his speech. He talked about the middle class and how it was not being helped out. He said, “so much for strengthening the middle class”. However, we know the economy is thriving. We are the leading country in growth among the G7 countries. More is being invested in the middle class, as we can see. This party believes that when the middle class is doing well, the economy is doing well.

Given the fact that the economy is doing well, does the member not believe that creating a strong middle class makes a strong economy?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, the government inherited a strong economic foundation as a result of nine and a half years of prudent Conservative economic policies. Quite frankly, over the last two years the Liberals have been doing everything to screw it up. That is really the fact of the matter.

The member talks about the economy doing so well, but in fact there has been a slowdown in GDP. GDP is expected to be less this year than it was in 2015. With respect to jobs created, nearly half of those have been created in the public sector rather than the private sector, which is not sustainable. With respect to the relatively minor drop in the unemployment rate, a large part of that is attributable to the fact that labour participation rate has decreased.

Therefore, I beg to differ when the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands says that the economic picture is rosy. It, in fact, is cloudy and stormy.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is going to vote against the budget implementation bill, mainly because of the way it was introduced. Bill C-63 is a 318-page omnibus bill. It amends 19 acts and creates a new one. Some of the measures are budgetary, but others have absolutely nothing to do with the budget. What is more, they are all mixed in with such a hodgepodge of technical measures that we cannot debate the bill properly. Here is what the Prime Minister had to say about omnibus bills during the election campaign, and I quote:

Stephen Harper has also used omnibus bills to prevent Parliament from properly reviewing and debating his proposals. We will...bring an end to this undemocratic practice.

What a great promise. Yes, this is an undemocratic practice, and I am not the one who said it. Members can read it for themselves on page 30 of the Liberal Party's election platform. However, we are starting to get used to the government's shell games.

Every time the Liberals introduce a new bill, it is the things they do not say that we need to be careful of. For example, six months ago, they hid a measure in their last mammoth bill, Bill C-44, that would do no less than give investors in the Canada infrastructure bank the power to disregard Quebec's laws. There was no agricultural zoning, no environmental protections, and no municipal zoning. Under the bill, Toronto bankers were considered agents of the federal crown and could do whatever they wanted in Quebec.

Six months before that, the Liberals sought to give Toronto bankers another gift with Bill C-29, another mammoth bill. On that occasion, the government was seeking to allow bankers to circumvent Quebec's consumer protection legislation. To heck with consumers and the little people who are getting ripped off, we know that the government reports to Bay Street.

Today, we are being presented another omnibus budget implementation bill. Once again, the government has a nasty surprise for us. On page 277 of the document and on the following pages, we see that the government is amending the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act. With this apparently innocuous, or at least highly technical, amendment, it is establishing the legislative architecture for imposing a federal tax on cannabis.

We all know that cannabis will be legal in eight months. From that point on, the federal government will no longer have a role to play. All it will have to do is pocket the tax it is setting up in this bill. Healthcare services, prevention, drug treatment and public safety will all be under Quebec’s jurisdiction. It will be very expensive.

In other words, the government is creating a problem, telling the provinces to deal with it and making money all at the same time. Quebec and the other provinces are saying that they need more time. We understand that the Prime Minister is really intent on rolling his joint in front of the cameras on Canada Day 2018, but the government’s attitude toward Quebec is nothing less than scandalous. It is shovelling problems into Quebec’s and the other provinces’ yards, and has the gall to make money as a result.

The government cannot hide behind the fact that Quebec can impose further taxes if it so desires. It does not work that way. There is a maximum price beyond which black market cannabis will be less expensive for consumers. The Parliamentary Budget Officer said so. He issued a warning. If the government tries to make marijuana a cash cow, it might very well foster organized crime. In Bill C-63, the government is opening the door to this possibility.

The Bloc Québécois recently introduced a bill to prevent outlaw motorcycle clubs from acting like rock stars, waving their banners, intimidating citizens and making a show of force. However, the Liberals and the other parties did not even want to read the bill, and rejected it out of hand. I am therefore not surprised that the government is not concerned about organized crime. However, with Bill C-63, it will be giving organized crime yet another break.

The provinces will have to lower taxes and forgo revenues so that the Hell’s Angels’ cannabis is not a better deal than cannabis sold legally. For that reason alone, I encourage all hon. members to oppose the bill. It is scandalous.

However, there is more. The main reason why we are disappointed with Bill C-63 is because of what it does not contain. There is nothing at all in the bill to solve the problem of tax havens.

Madam Speaker, you may not have noticed, but we are celebrating an anniversary today: it has been exactly four months since the government signed the OECD’s multilateral convention to prevent tax evasion and tax havens.

Canada signed the BEPS Project agreement on July 7, but it has not yet ratified it, because Canadian law, essentially the Income Tax Act, does not meet the agreement’s requirements. Today, four months later, how many measures from the international agreement are included in Bill C-63? Not a single one.

We are extremely disappointed, but not particularly surprised. I have been a member of the House for two years now. Almost every day, I see the exceptionally powerful lobbying of the five major Canadian banks on Bay Street in Toronto. The Minister of Finance, himself a major shareholder of Morneau Shepell, uses tax havens, is involved in financial schemes and advises people to use tax havens to divert money from Canada.

For example, his company advised the Bahamas on how to better attract Canadian insurance companies. It is written on the website of the Minister of Finance’s company. It is also written that he advised Barbados, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands in methods of fostering access for his client companies.

In terms of economic policy, there is not much difference with the previous government. The Prime Minister is a great communicator, but the fact remains that this is an old government that is more interested in finances than in Canadians. The financial lobby runs Ottawa when it comes to economic matters. This is nothing new. Paul Martin had a shipping company registered in Barbados so he would not have to pay income tax.

If you look at the Income Tax Act, the Bank Act or the Canada infrastructure bank, you can see that Canada’s economic development is wholly based on the interests of the financial lobby in Toronto. After Barbados in the 1990s, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government legalized 22 more tax havens in 2009 by signing tax information exchange agreements.

Last spring, the Liberals added the Cook Islands to the list. That is the history of Canada. The financial community has the government’s ear, and, really, who is governing who? The Minister of National Revenue keeps repeating that we are investing historic amounts, “zillions and zillions”, in the fight against tax evasion and that the net is tightening. I am all for prosecuting fraud, but the problem lies elsewhere. Essentially, the use of tax havens is perfectly legal in Canada. That is the real problem. As legislators, that is the problem that concerns us here in the House.

When the minister says that the net is tightening on those who abuse the system, she is mistaken. It is still wide open. For example, Canada accounts for 2% of global GDP, and yet, last summer, the IMF reported that three Canadian banks, the Royal Bank, Scotiabank and the CIBC, represent 80% of all banking assets in Barbados, Grenada and the Bahamas. In the eight other tax havens that make up the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, Canadian banks own 60% of banking assets. That is considerable.

Canada is not an economic superpower, but it is a superpower in tax havens. Nothing in Bill C-63 addresses this problem. Every Canadian has to pay the income tax that these freeloaders are not. The middle class that the government is so fond of talking about will be footing the bill. The regulatory framework was written specifically to allow banks and multinationals to avoid paying income tax in Canada.

I say “regulatory framework” because the problem is in the regulations. No tax treaty condones the use of tax havens. Even the treaty with Barbados does not cover the empty shells that enjoy tax breaks in that country. As for the other tax havens, Canada has not signed tax treaties with them. When you look at the Income Tax Act, it does not condone tax havens, either. When Parliament passed the act and adopted the treaties, it never condoned tax havens. Members of Parliament did their job and prohibited them. It is the government that failed in its task. In obscure regulations, it contravened Parliament’s decisions. It decreed by regulation that the act and the treaties adopted by Parliament do not apply, and that bank profits can be exempted by having them go through the West Indies.

For this reason, and because of what this mammoth contains and does not contain, we will be opposing it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Joliette for his well thought out speech.

He spoke about tax havens, and I would like to remind him that several experts have mentioned that they are in effect a legalized scam. I still cannot believe that more information has been revealed last Sunday. After the Panama papers, we now have the paradise papers. We now know that the Liberal Party's top bagmen, the people very close to the Prime Minister, profited from tax schemes that can be described as a legalized scam. The hon. member mentions that it is unbelievable that this is not included in the economic update.

In his opinion, what does it mean that there is nothing in the bill about doing away with tax havens?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Drummond for his intervention.

The paradise papers reveal a huge scandal. As far as I know, it is the largest document leak we have ever seen pertaining to tax havens. What do they reveal? Thousands of Canadians are using this scheme lawfully, or right up to the very line of legality. What do we learn from them? We learn that former Canadian prime ministers, both Liberal and Conservative, are on that list and that the Prime Minister's bagman and close friend was caught red-handed.

Now we begin to see why the Liberals seem so unwilling to address this problem. Their own cronies are the ones benefiting from it. This has to change. Canadians needs to stand united, challenge the government, and speak out. We need to demand change. The government is increasing its debt load and slashing services, while claiming that its hands are tied and it has no other choice. Meanwhile, its millionaire friends head down south to tax havens with their golden tickets. This has to change.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his good question.

The Minister of Finance is supposed to pass legislation affecting the economy and guide his government on economic matters. We now know more about his business interests and might wonder whose interests he is serving. Is he governing for the entire population or for his company?

Just before being appointed Minister of Finance, he was still a senior executive at his company. He recently announced that he would sell millions of shares, but for the past two years were his decisions primarily motivated by how they could potentially benefit his company financially?

When I moved a motion to combat tax evasion in Barbados, every member of the Liberal Party voted against the motion with one exception. We wonder whether the Minister of Finance had a say in that. We know that his company has a subsidiary in Barbados. On the company's website it says that its work on Canadian pension funds includes arrangements in Barbados and people are invited to contact the company. When the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister, and the entire government are making decisions, whose interests are they serving? That is the question. This seriously undermines our trust in him, that is for sure.