Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1

An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.

Sponsor

Bill Morneau  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

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

Part 1 implements certain income tax measures proposed or referenced in the February 27,2018 budget by

(a) ensuring appropriate tax treatment of amounts received under the Veterans Well-being Act;

(b) exempting from income amounts received under the Memorial Grant for First Responders;

(c) lowering the small business tax rate and making consequential adjustments to the dividend gross-up factor and dividend tax credit;

(d) reducing the business limit for the small business deduction based on passive income and restricting access to dividend refunds on the payment of eligible dividends;

(e) preventing the avoidance of tax through income sprinkling arrangements;

(f) removing the risk score requirement and increasing the level of income that can be deducted for Canadian armed forces personnel and police officers serving on designated international missions;

(g) introducing the Canada Workers Benefit;

(h) expanding the medical expense tax credit to recognize expenses incurred in respect of an animal specially trained to perform tasks for a patient with a severe mental impairment;

(i) indexing the Canada Child Benefit as of July 2018;

(j) extending, for one year, the mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors;

(k) extending, by five years, the ability of a qualifying family member to be the plan holder of an individual’s Registered Disability Savings Plan;

(l) allowing transfers of property from charities to municipalities to be considered as qualifying expenditures for the purposes of reducing revocation tax;

(m) ensuring that appropriate taxpayers are eligible for the Canada Child Benefit and that information related to the Canada Child Benefit can be shared with provinces and territories for certain purposes; and

(n) extending, by five years, eligibility for Class 43.‍2.

Part 2 implements certain excise measures proposed in the February 27,2018 budget by

(a) advancing the existing inflationary adjustments for excise duty rates on tobacco products to occur on an annual basis rather than every five years; and

(b) increasing excise duty rates on tobacco products to account for inflation since the last inflationary adjustment in 2014 and by an additional $1 per carton of 200 cigarettes, along with corresponding increases to the excise duty rates on other tobacco products.

Part 3 implements a new federal excise duty framework for cannabis products proposed in the February 27,2018 budget by

(a) requiring that cannabis cultivators and manufacturers obtain a cannabis licence from the Canada Revenue Agency;

(b) requiring that all cannabis products that are removed from the premises of a cannabis licensee to be entered into the Canadian market for retail sale be affixed with an excise stamp;

(c) imposing excise duties on cannabis products to be paid by cannabis licensees;

(d) providing for administration and enforcement rules related to the excise duty framework;

(e) providing the Governor in Council with authority to provide for an additional excise duty in respect of provinces and territories that enter into a coordinated cannabis taxation agreement with Canada; and

(f) making related amendments to other legislative texts, including ensuring that any sales of cannabis products that would otherwise be considered as basic groceries are subject to the GST/HST in the same way as sales of other types of cannabis products.

Part 4 amends the Pension Act to authorize the Minister of Veterans Affairs to waive, in certain cases, the requirement for an application for an award under that Act.

It also amends the Veterans Well-being Act to, among other things,

(a) replace the earnings loss benefit, career impact allowance, supplementary retirement benefit and retirement income security benefit with the income replacement benefit;

(b) replace the disability award with pain and suffering compensation; and

(c) create additional pain and suffering compensation.

Finally, it makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Part 5 enacts the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and makes the Fuel Charge Regulations.

Part 1 of that Act sets out the regime for a charge on fossil fuels. The fuel charge regime provides that a charge applies, at rates set out in Schedule 2 to that Act, to fuels that are produced, delivered or used in a listed province, brought into a listed province from another place in Canada, or imported into Canada at a location in a listed province. The fuel charge regime also provides relief from the fuel charge, through rebate and exemption certificate mechanisms, in certain circumstances. The fuel charge regime also sets out the registration requirements for persons that carry out certain activities relating to fuels subject to the charge. Part 1 of that Act also contains administrative provisions and enforcement provisions, including penalties, offences and collection provisions. Part 1 of that Act also sets out a mechanism for distributing revenues from the fuel charge. Part 1 of that Act also provides the Governor in Council with authority to make regulations for purposes of that Part, including the authority to determine which province, territory or area is a listed province for purpose of that Part.

Part 2 of that Act sets out the regime for pricing industrial greenhouse gas emissions. The industrial emissions pricing regime requires the registration of any facility that is located in a province or area that is set out in Part 2 of Schedule 1 to that Act and that either meets criteria specified by regulation or voluntarily joins the regime. The industrial emissions pricing regime requires compliance reporting with respect to any facility that is covered by the regime and the provision of compensation for any amount of a greenhouse gas that the facility emits above the applicable emissions limit during a compliance period. Part 2 of that Act also sets out an information gathering regime, administrative powers, duties and functions, enforcement tools, offences and related penalties, and a mechanism for distributing revenues from the industrial emissions pricing regime. Part 2 of that Act also provides the Governor in Council with the authority to make regulations for the purposes of that Part and the authority to make orders that amend Part 2 of Schedule 1 by adding, deleting or amending the name of a province or the description of an area.

Part 3 of that Act authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations that provide for the application of provincial laws concerning greenhouse gas emissions to works, undertakings, lands and waters under federal jurisdiction.

Part 4 of that Act requires the Minister of the Environment to prepare an annual report on the administration of the Act and to cause it to be tabled in each House of Parliament.

Part 6 amends several Acts in order to implement various measures.

Division 1 of Part 6 amends the Financial Administration Act to establish the office of the Chief Information Officer of Canada and to provide that the President of the Treasury Board is responsible for the coordination of that Officer’s activities with those of the other deputy heads of the Treasury Board Secretariat. It also amends the Act to ensure Crown corporations with no borrowing authority are able to continue to enter into leases and to specify that leases are not considered to be transactions to borrow money for the purposes of Crown corporations’ statutory borrowing limits.

Division 2 of Part 6 amends the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act in order to modernize and enhance the Canadian deposit insurance framework to ensure it continues to meet its objectives, including financial stability.

Division 3 of Part 6 amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to renew Fiscal Equalization Payments to the provinces and Territorial Formula Financing Payments to the territories for a five-year period beginning on April 1,2019 and ending on March 31,2024, and to authorize annual transition payments of $1,270,000 to Yukon and $1,744,000 to the Northwest Territories for that period. It also amends the Act to allow Canada Health Transfer deductions to be reimbursed when provinces and territories have taken the steps necessary to eliminate extra-billing and user fees in the delivery of public health care.

Division 4 of Part 6 amends the Bank of Canada Act to ensure that the Bank of Canada may continue to buy and sell securities issued or guaranteed by the government of the United Kingdom if that country ceases to be a member state of the European Union.

Division 5 of Part 6 amends the Currency Act to expand the objectives of the Exchange Fund Account to include providing a source of liquidity for the government of Canada. It also amends that Act to authorize the payment of funds from the Exchange Fund Account into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Division 6 of Part 6 amends the Bank of Canada Act to require the Bank of Canada to make adequate arrangements for the removal from circulation in Canada of its bank notes that are worn or mutilated or that are the subject of an order made under paragraph 9(1)‍(b) of the Currency Act. It also amends the Currency Act to provide, among other things, that

(a) bank notes are current if they are issued under the authority of the Bank of Canada Act;

(b) the Governor in Council may, by order, call in certain bank notes; and

(c) bank notes that are called in by order are not current.

Division 7 of Part 6 amends the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act in order to implement a framework for resolution of clearing and settlement systems and clearing houses, and to protect information related to oversight, by the Bank of Canada, of clearing and settlement systems.

Division 8 of Part 6 amends the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act to, among other things,

(a) create the position of Vice-chairperson of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal;

(b) provide that former permanent members of the Tribunal may be re-appointed to one further term as a permanent member; and

(c) clarify the rules concerning the interim replacement of the Chairperson of the Tribunal and provide for the interim replacement of the Vice-chairperson of the Tribunal.

Division 9 of Part 6 amends the Canadian High Arctic Research Station Act to, among other things, provide that the Canadian High Arctic Research Station is to be considered an agent corporation for the purpose of the transfer of the administration of federal real property and federal immovables under the Federal Real Property and Federal Immovables Act. It also provides that the Order entitled Game Declared in Danger of Becoming Extinct is deemed to have continued in force and to have continued to apply in Nunavut, as of April 1,2014.

Division 10 of Part 6 amends the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Act in order to separate the roles of President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Chairperson of the Governing Council, to merge the responsibility to establish policies and to limit delegation of certain Governing Council powers, duties and functions to its members or committees or to the President.

Division 11 of Part 6 amends the Red Tape Reduction Act to permit an administrative burden imposed by regulations to be offset by the reduction of another administrative burden imposed by another jurisdiction if the reduction is the result of regulatory cooperation agreements.

Division 12 of Part 6 provides for the transfer of certain employees and disclosure of information to the Communications Security Establishment to improve cyber security.

Division 13 of Part 6 amends the Department of Employment and Social Development Act to provide the Minister of Employment and Social Development with legislative authority respecting service delivery to the public and to make related amendments to Parts 4 and 6 of that Act.

Division 14 of Part 6 amends the Employment Insurance Act to modify the treatment of earnings received by claimants while they are in receipt of benefits.

Division 15 of Part 6 amends the Judges Act to authorize the salaries for the following new judges, namely, six judges for the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, one judge for the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, 39 judges for the unified family courts (as of April 1,2019), one judge for the Federal Court and a new Associate Chief Justice for the Federal Court. This division also makes consequential amendments to the Federal Courts Act.

Division 16 of Part 6 amends certain Acts governing federal financial institutions and related Acts to, among other things,

(a) extend the scope of activities related to financial services in which federal financial institutions may engage, including activities related to financial technology, as well as modernize certain provisions applicable to information processing and information technology activities;

(b) permit life companies, fraternal benefit societies and insurance holding companies to make long-term investments in permitted infrastructure entities to obtain predictable returns under the Insurance Companies Act;

(c) provide prudentially regulated deposit-taking institutions, such as credit unions, with the ability to use generic bank terms under the Bank Act, subject to disclosure requirements, as well as provide the Superintendent of Financial Institutions with additional enforcement tools under the Bank Act and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act, and clarify existing provisions of the Bank Act; and

(d) modify sunset provisions in certain Acts governing federal financial institutions to extend by five years, after the day on which this Act receives royal assent, the period during which those institutions may carry on business.

Division 17 of Part 6 amends the Western Economic Diversification Act to remove the requirement of the Governor in Council’s approval for the Minister of Western Economic Diversification to enter into an agreement with the government of a province, or with a provincial agency, respecting the exercise of the Minister’s powers and the carrying out of the Minister’s duties and functions.

Division 18 of Part 6 amends the Parliament of Canada Act to give each House of Parliament the power to make regulations related to maternity and parental arrangements for its own members.

Division 19 of Part 6 amends the Canada Pension Plan to, among other things,

(a) eliminate age-based restrictions on the survivor’s pension;

(b) fix the amount of the death benefit at $2,500;

(c) provide a benefit to disabled retirement pension beneficiaries under the age of 65;

(d) protect retirement and survivor’s pension amounts under the additional Canada Pension Plan for individuals who are disabled;

(e) protect benefit amounts under the additional Canada Pension Plan for parents with lower earnings during child-rearing years;

(f) maintain portability between the Canada Pension Plan and the Act respecting the Québec Pension Plan; and

(g) authorize the making of regulations to support the sustainability of the additional Canada Pension Plan.

Division 20 of Part 6 amends the Criminal Code to establish a remediation agreement regime. Under this regime, the prosecutor may negotiate a remediation agreement with an organization that is alleged to have committed an offence of an economic character referred to in the schedule to Part XXII.‍1 of that Act and the proceedings related to that offence are stayed if the organization complies with the terms of the agreement.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 6, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures
June 6, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (recommittal to a committee)
June 6, 2018 Failed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (subamendment)
June 4, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (report stage amendment)
May 31, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures
April 23, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures
April 23, 2018 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (reasoned amendment)
April 23, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures

June 6th, 2019 / 11 a.m.
See context

Philippe Dufresne Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair and members of the committee, following last week's letter from the Board of Internal Economy, I am pleased to appear before you today with my colleague Robyn Daigle, director of Members' Human Resources Services, to discuss the potential regulations on non-attendance related to maternity and paternity.

You will likely be familiar with this issue because, as the chair mentioned, it comes from a recommendation the committee itself issued in one of its reports presented to the House earlier in this session.

Under the Parliament of Canada Act, a deduction of $120 is to be made to the sessional allowance of a member for each day the member does not attend a sitting of the House of Commons beyond 21 sitting days per session. Days in which a member is absent by reason of public or official business, illness or service in the armed forces are not computed as days of non-attendance and no deductions are made in such circumstances.

There is, however, no similar exemption if a member does not attend a sitting due to pregnancy or providing care for a newborn or a newly adopted child. Your committee considered this issue earlier in this session. In its 48th report entitled "Support for Members of Parliament with Young Children", this committee, after reviewing the relevant provisions respecting deductions for non-attendance, concluded and recommended as follows:

It is the Committee’s view that a member should not be penalized monetarily for his or her absence from Parliament due to pregnancy and/or parental leave. Therefore, the Committee recommends

That the minister responsible for the Parliament of Canada Act consider introducing legislation to amend section 57(3) of the Parliament of Canada Act to add that pregnancy and parental leave be reckoned as a day of attendance of the member during a parliamentary session for the purposes of tabulating deductions for non-attendance from the sessional allowance of a member.

Following that committee recommendation, Bill C-74 was introduced in Parliament and passed. It amended the Parliament of Canada Act to authorize the two Houses of Parliament to make regulations regarding the attendance of their respective members and regarding amounts to be deducted from the sessional allowance for the parliamentarian missing meetings owing to their pregnancy or any parliamentarians missing meetings to take care of their new-born or newly adopted child.

Earlier this year, the Board of Internal Economy asked the House Administration to prepare a bill for its review. While preparing the proposal, the administration took into account the fact that members are not employees. Members hold public office and are not replaced when they are absent as would be, for example, an employee on parental leave. National emergencies or other important matters can always occur and force the member to return to the House or to take care of an issue in their riding.

So the issue before you is not a matter of leave in the strict sense. It is rather about whether absences related to maternity or paternity should be considered as less justified than those related to other motives such as illness, public or official business, or service in the armed forces.

The administration examined the rules in provincial and territorial legislative assemblies in Canada. We have also reviewed Great Britain's practice. That review helped us see that the majority of legislative assemblies allow members to miss sittings, without a financial deduction, by reason of maternity or paternity, over a definite or indefinite period of time.

The members of the Board of Internal Economy unanimously endorsed the following proposal in terms of potential regulation: first, that no deduction be made to the sessional allowance of a pregnant member who does not attend a sitting during the period of four weeks before the due date; second, that there be no deduction to the sessional allowance of a member providing care for his or her newborn child during the period of 12 months from the child's date of birth; and, third, that there be no deduction to the sessional allowance of a member providing care for a newly adopted child during the period of 12 months from the date the child is placed with the member for the purpose of adoption.

This proposal is in line, in my view, with this committee's 48th report, presented in 2017, and with new section 59.1 of the Parliament of Canada Act.

I note that the proposal is not about a period where members will not attend at all to their parliamentary functions, but rather, as mentioned, members of Parliament are not replaced when absent. They are not in the same situation as employees and there will always be issues of either national or local importance that will warrant members and require members to attend either to Parliament or to their constituency. As such, the aim of the proposal is to make sure that no deduction is made to the sessional allowance of a member who misses a sitting of the House because the member is pregnant or providing care for his or her newborn or newly adopted child.

The document entitled “Draft Regulations”, which has been circulated to the members of the committee, contains the legal text that, if adopted by the House, would implement what is proposed. I note that we've made small editorial changes since it was first sent to the members by the board. They do not affect the substance of the proposal. We also removed the coming into force provision, presuming that the committee and the House would want the regulations to come into force immediately upon their adoption, but if the will is otherwise, a different date could be inserted.

I also note that the letter from the Board Of Internal Economy to this committee indicated that the board was also supportive of having no deductions made for the period of four weeks before the due date for a member whose partner is pregnant. In so doing, the board recognized the important role that the non-pregnant partner plays in the weeks leading up to the due date.

That idea is certainly worth exploring. We have analyzed the provisions of the Parliament of Canada act to determine whether, in its current form, the act would make it possible to include those circumstances in the proposed regulations.

Following that analysis, I'm of the opinion that extending the application of the four-week non-deduction period to members whose spouse is pregnant would go beyond the wording of the new section 59.1 of the Parliament of Canada Act, which sets out situations where the House of Commons can make regulations. It states that non-attendance could apply to its members who are unable to attend a sitting of the House by reason of:

(a) being pregnant; or

(b) caring for a new-born or newly-adopted child ... or for a child placed with the member for the purpose of adoption.

The English version is similarly drafted and does not include the situation of a member whose partner is pregnant, and so I note that under the existing regime a member whose partner is pregnant could still be absent prior to the due date for some or all of the 21 sitting days without any deductions.

Under the circumstances, I am not suggesting that the committee recommend extending the application of the non-deduction period prior to the child's birth to members whose spouse is pregnant. The implementation of that suggestion would require an amendment to section 59.1 of the Parliament of Canada Act.

However, this is an important issue that is worthy of consideration. The committee could decide to explore this issue in the next session to find potential options. Those options could include legislative amendments or data analysis to clarify trends and measure the repercussions of the current rules on pregnant individuals' spouses.

Last, the board raised the issue of vote pairing for members who are absent from the chamber for family reasons. The committee may also wish to consider this as a topic for a subsequent report.

This will conclude my presentation, but we will of course be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Bill C-84—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2019 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, part of the minister's argument today has been that we need to get this legislation to the Senate to speed things up. I can understand that. We only have so much time.

That being said, by the same token, Bill C-75 has gone to the other place and it is a much larger bill. Would the member not agree that this particular bill, Bill C-84, should have been wrapped up in Bill C-75, gone to the justice committee and had full exposure to all of the different parts in that omnibus piece of legislation, so it could have maybe left a stand-alone bill for us to have a full discussion on the deferred prosecution agreements, an issue which was in Bill C-74, division 20?

That piece of legislation did not get a full hearing at finance committee. Only one witness from the justice department came to speak to it. I still get calls on a regular basis from people in both the academic and the legal communities who feel that the Liberal government's approach to that piece of omnibus legislation maligned Parliament and denied the proper hearing of major changes to the Criminal Code.

Would the member not agree that this place must be respected? Would he agree that that kind of sleight of hand by the government needs to change?

Bill C-84—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2019 / 4:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate that the Minister of Justice has not been the Minister of Justice throughout this Parliament, so he is taking on some legislation he had no role in crafting. However, he is the representative of the government today, and he needs to stand and answer and be accountable to the people and their representatives.

Why such a different approach? On this piece of legislation, we have a stand-alone piece of legislation that has gone through committee process and whatnot, and through debate, yet shamefully, in Bill C-74, an omnibus piece of legislation, the Liberals pushed through a provision for deferred prosecution agreements. They did not have a single witness from the academic community or bar association come for a thorough discussion about that particular regime, which is unlike any that has been used in the Criminal Code before. Why did they do that while giving a stand-alone bill to this, when they could easily have taken that DPA section from division 20 of Bill C-74 and put it in Bill C-75, another piece of omnibus legislation? Why is there such a mismatch in how they present to this place and with where their priorities are?

February 27th, 2019 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Ali Ehsassi Liberal Willowdale, ON

You were also Minister of Justice and Attorney General on June 6, when Parliament voted in favour of Bill C-74 and you yourself voted in favour of Bill C-74.

Opposition Motion—Standing Committee on Justice and Human RightsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 25th, 2019 / 5:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in this debate, even though, as a Canadian, I would have preferred if this sad story had never happened.

What we want to know is how much political interference, by the Prime Minister or the PMO, occurred in a criminal case.

One of the cornerstones of our democracy is the separation between politics and justice. There has to be a wall between the two. However, unfortunately, there has obviously been political interference in a criminal case.

Let us review the facts. In 2015, criminal charges of corruption were brought against a large corporation in Montreal regarding its dealings in Libya. Unfortunately, this same company was found guilty of corruption less than a year ago in the case involving the McGill University Health Centre, or MUHC, in Montreal.

Then, on June 21, the government passed omnibus Bill C-74. At the very end of the bill, there is a measure concerning remediation agreements that has absolutely nothing to do with the budget.

Over seven or eight pages, the government clearly defined a process to allow a company that is facing serious international prosecution, as is the case here, to sign an agreement with the government. If, by chance, this were ever to happen, the bill explains the procedure.

I want to remind members that subsection 715.32(3) explicitly states that “the prosecutor must not consider the national economic interest”. The prosecutor is the Government of Canada.

This omnibus bill passed with clauses regarding agreements, as defined earlier, that have absolutely nothing to do with the budget. This happened on June 21.

In similar cases, the director of public prosecutions could look into the matter, make a decision and inform the respondent. This is exactly what happened. On September 4, the director of public prosecutions informed the company in question that she would be moving forward and that an agreement was not possible. There we go.

Nearly three weeks ago, The Globe and Mail reported that strong pressure on the former attorney general allegedly led her to quit her job, a very prestigious position in our parliamentary system if ever there was one.

What happened?

On September 17, the Prime Minister of Canada contacted the former attorney general to discuss this case. On December 5, the Prime Minister of Canada's principal secretary contacted the former attorney general to discuss this case. On December 19, Canada's top public servant, the most powerful man in the public service of Canada, the Clerk of the Privy Council, picked up the telephone and directly contacted the former attorney general. On January 14, the former attorney general was relieved of her duties by the Prime Minister. Those are the facts.

We now want to find out just how much undue pressure was applied to influence the former attorney general.

I should mention that last week, The Globe and Mail, the newspaper that broke the story that has been tarnishing the government's image and consequently Canada's image abroad for the past three weeks, published another story claiming that the former attorney general told cabinet that she had been subjected to undue pressure.

Was she subjected to undue pressure, yes or no?

Last week, Canada's top public servant clearly stated three times that, yes, there had been pressure, but that it was not undue pressure.

Of course it was not undue pressure. It was just pressure from the Prime Minister, his principal secretary and Canada's top public servant.

One, two, three people pressured the former attorney general about a specific matter, and that was not undue pressure? Clearly, there was undue pressure on Canada's former attorney general.

Canada's highest-ranking public servant testified that, yes, there was pressure, but it was not undue pressure. With all due respect to that important figure in our political hierarchy, I have something to say to him. If the question is whether the pressure was undue, I would rather hear the person who was pressured, not the party applying the pressure, say whether it was undue or not, whether it was appropriate or not. In this particular case, the end result was the former attorney general's departure, since she was relieved of her duties.

As I said, The Globe and Mail exposed the whole affair three weeks ago. What happened then? The government and the Prime Minister have treated us to a comedy of errors ever since. The Prime Minister changed his story at least five times over the first few days. He contradicted himself at least five times. He started off by saying that no one could comment on the matter due to cabinet confidence. Canada's highest-ranking public servant contradicted the Prime Minister last week when he said it was never discussed in cabinet.

The Prime Minister clearly stated that the continued presence of the former attorney general in cabinet spoke for itself. Fifteen hours later, she quit cabinet for good. It does not get much clearer than that. That is what happened.

A few days later, a teary-eyed Prime Minister apologized for not being quick enough to condemn the bad people who had attacked the former attorney general. An hour later, here in the House, she said she was eager to speak her truth.

I was here in my seat. The Prime Minister was 10 or 12 feet away from me. I can say one thing. If looks could kill, it would not have been pretty. He was not happy when the member said she was looking forward to sharing her version of events.

From the start, we have wanted everyone to testify, from the former attorney general to the Prime Minister's chief adviser or the Prime Minister himself. Initially, when we asked for that, government members called it a witch hunt and a distraction. Eventually, they realized it was the right thing to do. The country's top civil servant and the former attorney general can testify. That is a win.

We need the whole truth to come out. That is why, in this motion moved by the leader of the official opposition for the good of Canada, we are calling on the Prime Minister, the one who ignited this scandal, to give his side of the story.

Today I heard the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons say at least 10 times that the Liberals have confidence in the work of parliamentary committees, that they respect the committees. Let them prove it. The best way to shed light on this is to allow the key players in this affair, unfortunate as it may be, to give their version of the facts. So far we have only heard the version of Canada's top public servant, the Clerk of the Privy Council. God knows that that testimony was spectacular to say the least, given all the revelations there have been. He talked about the famous phone call that he himself had with the former attorney general during which he said there was no pressure and that he simply reminded the attorney general of the significance of her decision. There was nothing wrong with that. It is just the most senior public servant in Canada.

A few days earlier, the Prime Minister's principal adviser had set everything in motion. That is not a problem in the least. It is totally normal. Not to mention that, on September 17, the Prime Minister had a conversation with the former attorney general.

Canadians want the truth—the whole truth. The best way to get the truth is to allow the Prime Minister to testify in parliamentary committee.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

February 21st, 2019 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise on behalf of the official opposition at this stage of Bill S-6.

As I mentioned earlier, I want to assure members right off the bat that the official opposition supports this bill, the spirit of the bill and the measures it proposes, and we understand that there is still a lot of work to be done to combat tax evasion. We believe that this bill is a step in the right direction.

First, I want to give some background about what we are talking about. Bill S-6 is a Senate bill that seeks to facilitate work and trade between Canada and Madagascar by cracking down on tax evasion and eliminating some of the problems that could be created by differences in administration in Madagascar and Canada and the taxation principles underlying trade relations between the two countries.

This bill contains measures to eliminate double taxation, which is good for international trade. The bill also contains measures to eliminate discriminatory taxes. The field needs to be as open as possible to facilitate trade. Every country has its own measures, which is fair. However, some tax measures can undermine things more than others. The bill would therefore eliminate discriminatory taxes. It counters tax evasion. We will be able to talk about this later, but tax havens obviously warrant closer scrutiny, and this is not an issue that can be solved with a snap of the fingers. It takes time, co-operation and the support of some 180 countries on this planet. This is not a problem that can be fixed overnight, but we must do everything we can to fix it, and this bill is a step forward.

Furthermore, this bill would create mechanisms in the unfortunate event of a challenge on either side. These mechanisms will help find a way forward for finding a way forward with trade agreements.

Lastly, this bill will enable different administrations to share information when an investigation is required, for a company or individual, either in Madagascar or in Canada.

In essence, there are five measures in this bill: eliminating double taxation, countering tax evasion, eliminating discriminatory taxes, allowing for information sharing, and creating mechanisms to settle disputes.

We agree with these principles. We also agree that this should become Canada's 93rd treaty with other trade partners to simplify the tax system and boost trade. This is not a free trade deal per se, but it will allow for better agreements and greater flexibility. Madagascar may not be the best-known country in the world, or indeed among Canadians. It is an island in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa. It is actually quite a big country. The island is about 1,500 kilometres long and 800 kilometres wide. Fifteen hundred kilometres is like the distance from the Alberta Rockies to the Ontario border, spanning the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. That should give everyone a rough idea of the size of this country, which has a population of 25 million.

History tells us that Canada and Madagascar share similar roots, because Madagascar is a francophone country. We both belong to the Francophonie. We know that the Francophonie summit was held there a few years ago and that Madagascar was a French colony that gained independence in 1960 when a wave of decolonization swept through British and French societies around the globe. The decolonization movement reached Madagascar in the 1960s.

We should also know that Canada and Madagascar have had a trading relationship for years, particularly in the mining sector. A Canadian company has set up shop there, so to speak, to operate one of Madagascar's biggest mines. Furthermore, trade between Canada and Madagascar hovers around $100 million or $115 million.

Canada buys roughly $100 million in goods and services from Madagascar and in return Madagascar spends roughly $20 million buying in Canada. For the record, that represents 0.001% of our volume of trade with our biggest partner, our friends and neighbours, the U.S. Yes, that is significant. We recognize that, but we should still maintain some degree of perspective in terms of Canada's trade with Madagascar and our trade with the U.S.

The thing about this bill that we need to discuss is the issue of tax evasion. I addressed it briefly earlier. Tax evasion is an ongoing challenge facing every country in the world. Yes, we must make an effort. We certainly did when we were in government, and efforts to combat global tax evasion must continue. That is why the 180 or so countries on this planet cannot work in isolation in that regard. Everyone must join forces, work together and share the knowledge, efforts, energy and potential talent of each country and each country's experts in order to combat the scourge of tax evasion.

Canada is making an effort. With Bill S-6, we have a treaty that will help us move in that direction. That is largely why we support this bill. It is important to always be alert and always keep in mind that tax evasion is a blight on our planet that must be tackled in a serious and rigorous manner. However, no one can do it alone. Major countries need to join forces, and tax havens, the smaller countries that unfortunately serve as tax shelters for some people, need to do their part to combat this situation. We completely agree with the principle that everyone must pay their taxes fully and legitimately. Everyone must pay them, and no one should be able to resort to tax havens, for when they do, Canadians do not get value for their money.

I am very concerned about this bill. We agree that this situation should be debated in the context of a truly independent bill. How many issues are never properly debated here in the House of Commons? This is a problem.

A year ago, the government tabled Bill C-74, an omnibus bill that is almost 800 pages long. Ostensibly, the bill implements budget measures, which is fine because that is how things work. However, scattered throughout the 800-page bill are measures that have absolutely nothing to do with the budget tabled by the Minister of Finance.

Need I remind the House that the Liberal Party was elected nearly three and a half years ago? I would say it was a sad day, but democracy is what it is, and we respect the choice Canadians made. Those people were elected on the strength of a clear promise.

I have here the Liberal Party's platform, which was called “Real Change: A New Plan for a Strong Middle Class”. The title sure sounds good. On page 30, under “Prorogation and omnibus bills”, it says:

We will not resort to legislative tricks to avoid scrutiny.

How interesting. That is exactly what is going on with Bill C-74.

[The former Prime Minister of Canada] Stephen Harper has used prorogation to avoid difficult political circumstances. We will not.

That is the Liberal Party of Canada saying that.

Stephen Harper has also used omnibus bills to prevent Parliament from properly reviewing and debating his proposals.

That is exactly what is going on with Bill C-74. Here is the end of the paragraph:

We will change the House of Commons Standing Orders to bring an end to this undemocratic practice.

That is the Liberal Party promise.

Bill C-74 flies in the face of the party's promise. This reversal should certainly not come as a surprise. I remind members that in their document the Liberals said that they would run three small deficits in the first three years and would then balance the budget in 2019. In reality, the three small deficits they promised were three times higher than projected. The budget that was supposed to be balanced will be presented soon, as the Minister of Finance announced yesterday, but we know that it will not be balanced. There will be a deficit in the neighbourhood of $20 billion or more.

In that same document, the Liberals also spoke about electoral reform. Did that happen? No. This is the very essence of the Liberal Party's privilege. It was elected on its promises, but it did not keep its word. On October 19, 2015, Canadians elected the Liberal Party. I respect democracy, but as they say, the people's will is not foolish, but the people can be fooled. This is exactly what is happening here.

Bill C-74 is supposed to implement budget measures, but dozens of items that have nothing to do with the budget were slipped into the bill, in particular clauses 715.3, 715.31, 715.32, 715.33, 715.34, 715.35, 715.36 and 715.37. This is no small matter. These clauses are found in the section “Remediation Agreements”. I do not have the time to read all of them. They directly address the problem that the government and, unfortunately, Canadians are grappling with today, and have to do with the special agreements that the government can enter into with corporations that, sadly, have failed to fulfill their responsibilities and find themselves in court on fraud charges.

That is exactly the crux of the SNC-Lavalin scandal, which broke two weeks ago. Every day new situations arise that are an embarrassment for the government. The problem is that they are not only an embarrassment for the government but also for Canadians, who want answers.

I would like to remind members that these clauses were inserted into an 800-page bill. Earlier, the parliamentary secretary said that we could have discussed it in committee. Quite frankly, how would he expect us to directly address this issue if we have to study an 800-page bill. Today, we are spending many hours, and rightfully so, studying Bill S-6 on trade and tax agreements between Canada and Madagascar. However, we did not have the time to appropriately debate a matter that has embarrassed the Government of Canada and, consequently, Canada and Canadians.

Unfortunately, that is typical of this government, which says one thing and then does the opposite. When it comes time to get to the bottom of things, the Liberals trip on their own shoelaces, which results in what we have been seeing for the past two weeks. It has been a real comedy of errors on the part of the government, which is incapable of telling Canadians the truth about the Liberal SNC-Lavalin scandal. What is more, the government is preventing the former attorney general from giving clear and specific explanations.

Day after day, we have been asking the Prime Minister very simple questions. On September 17, 2018, he met with the former attorney general. Yesterday, in the House, the Leader of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister more than a dozen times what was said at that meeting and who asked for the meeting to discuss what has now become the Liberal SNC-Lavalin scandal. The Prime Minister never gave a clear answer to the very simple question of who asked for the September 17 meeting. The same goes for the other very important meeting in the Liberal SNC-Lavalin scandal, the meeting that took place on December 5, 2018, at the Château Laurier, between the former attorney general and the Prime Minister's former principal secretary, Gerald Butts.

Once again, yesterday, the leader of the official opposition asked the Prime Minister a very simple question: who asked for the meeting between the Prime Minister's top adviser and the former attorney general?

The Prime Minister did not give anything remotely resembling an answer, even though it was a very simple question. Which one of them requested the meeting? He was not even able to answer that. Canadians want answers. They have the right to know what happened.

Canadians deserve clear and simple answers to clear and simple questions on this issue. The Liberal SNC-Lavalin scandal is totally unacceptable to Canadians.

What we have noticed is that we are debating this bill in the House for many hours today, which is fine. I agree we have to debate Bill S-6, with respect to taxation between Canada and Madagascar. This is an important issue and we have to take the time to address it. On the other hand, why did the government dodge its responsibility to address the specific issues we find in proposed sections 715.32 to 715.37 of Bill C-74, an omnibus bill of more than 800 pages? Those sections in the bill addressed the specific issue that we have today with the Liberal SNC-Lavalin scandal.

This is the trademark of the Liberals. They say one thing during their electoral campaign and do the exact reverse during their mandate. Do members remember that they had clearly indicated in their platform that they would never table omnibus bills containing other issues that do not address the main omnibus bill, which is the budget implementation bill?

Unfortunately, they failed to do what they had promised Canadians, just as they failed to bring about the electoral reform they promised in their electoral campaign. Everybody knows they failed to budget the Canadian economy properly. During their campaign, they said there would be three small deficits in the first three years to invest in infrastructure and then a zero deficit in 2019. This is not the situation. During the last three years, the current government has tabled three huge deficit budgets. That is the reality of the situation. It is three times more than was expected and what they promised.

Also, 2019 was supposed to be a zero-deficit year. That is not the case. We are talking about at least $20 billion of deficit. The government has failed its responsibility and nobody in the government knows when the budget will balance, or I should say, when the budget will balance itself. That was the famous economic theory of the Right Hon. Prime Minister of Canada, who is the only person in the world to table that economic theory, which is absolutely stupid. However, this is the Liberal trademark.

Talking about deficits, let me remind members that, during the election, the Liberals said they would run small deficits because they wanted to invest in infrastructure. Let me remind hon. colleagues that the plan was to invest $180 billion in infrastructure over the next 10 years, starting in 2015. Only 10% of that amount has been invested in infrastructure. Therefore, the huge deficits were not for infrastructure but for the daily business of the government, which was not elected to do that.

I want to reiterate that our party supports Bill S-6, but unfortunately, although we are spending plenty of time debating the omnibus Bill C-74, which is perfectly normal, there are other very important elements that the government snuck in and that should have been debated. If they had been, maybe the Liberal SNC-Lavalin scandal we are facing today would not have happened.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

February 21st, 2019 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by acknowledging and thanking my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. I have often enjoyed serving and crossing swords with her at the finance committee. I imagine we will have the pleasure of debating many economic issues over the next few weeks and months, and obviously during the election campaign.

I want to mention at the outset that our party, the official opposition, supports this bill. We support any and all measures to help combat tax evasion and ensure greater flexibility to facilitate trade between Canada and countries around the world. We will have another chance to talk about that later.

I would like to point something out, however. The bill was introduced, yes, and while we recognize this is an important bill, a number of important aspects could not be debated properly here in the House.

For example, let us not forget Bill C-74, which was more than 800 pages long. Technically that bill would implement the budget passed by the House of Commons. However, there were clauses slipped into that omnibus bill, clauses 715.3 to 715.37, that were on everything but the budget. We call that an omnibus bill with clauses slipped in for the purpose of passing something without properly debating it in the House of Commons.

Bill C-74 and the clauses I mentioned included content on the remediation agreements, the very topic at the heart of the Liberal government scandal involving SNC-Lavalin.

If the government had acted as swiftly on Bill S-6 as it did on the very important issue of remediation agreements, things might be different—but they are not.

I have a very simple question for the parliamentary secretary: does she believe that Bill C-74 could have been split to allow for a fair and equitable debate on the issue of remediation agreements, as we are currently doing with the Canada-Madagascar tax agreement?

Opposition Motion—Transparency and AccountabilityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 19th, 2019 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased rise after my colleague from Timmins—James Bay to speak to the important revelations that have emerged, some of which came to light last week.

We already had concerns about potential political interference by the PMO and the Prime Minister himself in the case against SNC-Lavalin when we left to go back to our ridings over a week and a half ago. This is a very important criminal case, given that the company has engaged in many rather shady dealings involving corruption in other countries. Many questions were raised at that time which have yet to be answered. No clarification has been given since the first time this allegation was raised a week and a half ago.

On the contrary, many other questions have been raised since we left the House on February 8. At that time, the veterans affairs minister was still in cabinet, but she resigned last week. What is more, the Prime Minister's principal secretary also resigned last week.

Today, the Liberals would have us believe that they have absolutely nothing to hide, that the government is being transparent and that we have to get our answers somewhere else. However, all these events happened within a week, not to mention that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner has launched an investigation into the matter, which only happens when there are questions on the issue brought to his attention. Today, I am sure that the government will keep trying to have us believe that this is a non-issue, but that is absolutely not true.

A lot of questions need to be answered. That is why the NDP is calling for an independent public inquiry. What is more, the Liberals used their majority on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to simply refuse to shed light on whether the Prime Minister's Office interfered with the former attorney general of Canada regarding the SNC-Lavalin trial. This is a fundamental question that deserves answers. Given that the standing committee refused to look into this, we are calling for a public inquiry. Clearly, the Liberal majority has no intention of shedding light on this issue.

In reality, the Liberals are trying to distract us by calling people who are not involved in this issue to testify. They are trying to create distractions to divert our attention. They obviously have something to hide. I find it hard to believe that a minister and the Prime Minister's principal secretary would resign when a scandal broke if they had nothing to hide. That is why we need to shed light on this whole business.

We need to launch a public inquiry to clear up the issue of political interference, because our justice system is founded on the independence of the courts and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. That independence is enshrined in law. The Attorney General cannot give these kinds of directions willy-nilly, or with a simple phone call. The Attorney General is required to follow clear procedures when giving directions to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to influence the conduct of penal and criminal prosecutions.

These protections exist for a reason. Our laws are designed to guard against political interference in the judicial process, in order to avoid the slightest suspicion that the justice system might be politicized. That independence is the cornerstone of our system. Today, the independence of the court system is being called into question because of potential, attempted or actual political interference by the Prime Minister, his office and his principal secretary. The public inquiry will determine which one of those it was. For now, we do not know why the Prime Minister's principal secretary resigned, but I believe that launching an independent public inquiry is warranted.

The NDP also feels that we need to consider the employees of SNC-Lavalin. In the wake of this political interference scandal, they are worried about their future, and I can understand why.

That is why the focus today is not SNC-Lavalin, but the Prime Minister's government. His very office has brought the independence of our country's judiciary into question. That is the issue, not SNC-Lavalin, which is currently dealing with legal problems and irregularities with the awarding of foreign contracts. Naturally, this raises questions, but the employees work in good faith to support their families and they do their best every day.

The SNC-Lavalin executives are the real focus. That is why it is important to ensure that the most senior executives of the company, who were involved in the corruption at the time, are brought to justice. It is unfortunate that today we are seeing these executives get off scot-free, even though they have committed serious crimes, because of the administrative delays in the justice system.

I can understand that Canadians are worried about a company getting off so easily in such a terrible case of foreign government corruption. That is why we must absolutely look into this issue and into the political interference in our judicial system. It is extremely important to ensure public confidence. Canadians are increasingly under the impression that the government only looks after the interests of Canada's biggest players, the corporations and their executives. The government seems to listen to them very carefully when they want something. Whether it is SNC-Lavalin or KPMG, for example, the Liberal government seems to lend them a very receptive ear when some of their business practices are called into question.

SNC-Lavalin is a good example. KPMG is another. When push comes to shove, the Liberals always give priority to corporate interests over the interests of workers, as we saw with Sears and GM. They could care less about the workers, which is why we need to be thinking about them today. We must make sure that workers and the public interest are foremost in our discussions and in our minds, in every decision the government makes. It is quite clear that, in many areas, the government cares only about its buddies who give them hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the past, some companies that seem to have this government's ear have sometimes made illegal donations.

The other part of the problem I want to talk about is the political influence that SNC-Lavalin had in the debate on Bill C-74. I was on the Standing Committee on Finance when the bill was studied. I asked the official what motivated the idea of a deferred prosecution agreement, and she seemed to be rather alone and a little unprepared for the many questions from the opposition and the government. The member for Hull—Aylmer asked a number of questions, including some on division 20 of Bill C-74. Although I asked which cases and files could have motivated such a bill, this official was not able to provide a single specific case. She was obviously trying to evade the question, but there was clearly something fishy going on.

This part of Bill C-74 seems to have been drafted for a specific case, namely, SNC-Lavalin. This company had been asking for such a measure for many years, and it kept asking until it was successful. Once this happened, the company continued to lobby to get this bill passed and to make sure that the Attorney General would grant this deferred agreement.

This deferred agreement has not yet been granted, which may be why the former justice minister stepped down. We must adopt this motion today so that we can get to the bottom of this affair and make sure that there was no political interference and that there will not be any under the next government.

I move:

That the motion be amended by adding the following after the word “Act”:

“and to report back to the House no later than May 31, 2019,”

February 5th, 2019 / 9:10 a.m.
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Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, CPC

Dan Albas

More requirements....

Anyway, thank you all for being here today. I'd like to focus on regulatory red tape from the perspective of proportionality as well as opportunity costs.

Before we go there, I'd like to ask Mr. Greer first of all about the national carbon tax that the federal Liberal government has imposed upon many provinces and territories.

I remember that Bill C-74, the implementation act for it, was about 300 pages long, and that was just the legislation, not the regulation, saying this is who you charge tax to and who you don't charge tax to. You can't charge a farmer for purple gas, but you can charge a farmer for regular gas, and on and on it goes. Whether we're talking about flying between Ontario and a territory such as Nunavut, you would have it, but in British Columbia, obviously they don't charge a carbon tax on jet fuel.

Would you please explain what impacts that would have on many of your members, particularly the small ones that proportionately have a heavier compliance burden and and where this is the most challenging?

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2PrivilegeOral Questions

October 31st, 2018 / 3:10 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, the bill is 850 pages long. Last night, at the finance briefing, I asked how many clauses and subclauses were in the bill. Nobody there from the finance department was even able to tell us how many clauses and subclauses exist in this massive piece of legislation. When the finance department itself is unaware of just how many clauses and subclauses are in the bill, thousands surely, we have to wonder about the intention, which the Liberal government has clearly signalled, to ram the bill through the House as quickly as possible.

My contention is that the government wants to push it through with a scant few days of debate, which means, in terms of each clause, that at best, they would be getting a few seconds of parliamentary scrutiny.

As the House is well aware, we wear many hats in the House. We represent our ridings, each one of us, as members of Parliament, and we are proud to do so. I am proud to represent New Westminster—Burnaby. We represent our party caucus often, except for the independents. We represent the policies that have been put together by our respective parties, so there is a partisan part to the job we do.

A key part of our job is to vet government legislation, to go through that government legislation to make sure that the wording is right and to make sure that the legislation would do what it purports to do. That is a key part of the job of a member of Parliament, and has been since the very foundation of our country.

Vetting the laws, making sure that the amendments brought forward are well written, making sure that the changes the government seeks would accomplish what they are supposed to, is a key part of being a member of Parliament.

Many of us have seen a myriad of cases where legislation was not properly vetted. It had to go through the court system and was then returned to the House of Commons, because that vetting process, the work of members of Parliament to actively look through legislation and ensure that the legislation adopted would be effective legislation and well worded, was not done in that way. It went to the courts, and then it came back here.

Words matter. Actions matter.

What I am submitting today is that it is impossible to do our job effectively with the incredible size, the almost clownish size, 850 pages, of the legislation that was tabled by the government just 48 hours ago.

The government's intention to not even take the time to respect parliamentary procedure and work through the committee structure to allow for appropriate debate so that we get more than a few seconds of scrutiny of each clause and subclause, to my mind, indicates a breach of privilege.

On page 60 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, it reads that contempt “does not have to actually obstruct or impede the House or a Member; it merely has to have the tendency to produce such results.”

On page 81, it also says:

Speaker Sauvé explained in a 1980 ruling: “…while our privileges are defined, contempt of the House has no limits. When new ways are found to interfere with our proceedings, so too will the House, in appropriate cases, be able to find that a contempt of the House has occurred”.

I would submit that this is a question of privilege that deserves the attention of the House.

Here is the recent history behind omnibus legislation in this place.

When Stephen Harper's government was in power and the Liberals were in opposition, they criticized, and rightly so, the undemocratic tactics of the Conservatives, who used omnibus bills on numerous occasions.

Here is what the current Minister of Public Safety had to say about the Conservatives' budget implementation act in 2012 when he was a member of the opposition.

This is what he said at the time:

On the procedural point, so-called omnibus bills obviously bundle several different measures together. Within reasonable limits, such legislation can be managed through Parliament if the bill is coherent, meaning that all the different topics are interrelated and interdependent and if the overall volume of the bill is not overwhelming. That was the case before the government came to power in 2006.

When omnibus bills were previously used to implement key provisions of federal budgets, they averaged fewer than 75 pages in length and typically amended a handful of laws directly related to budgetary policy. In other words, they were coherent and not overwhelming.

However, under this regime the practice has changed. Omnibus bills since 2006 have averaged well over 300 pages, more than four times the previous norm. This latest one introduced last week had 556 sections, filled 443 pages and touched on 30 or more disconnected topics, everything from navigable waters to grain inspection, from disability plans to hazardous materials.

It is a complete dog's breakfast, and deliberately so. It is calculated to be so humongous and so convoluted, all in a single lump, that it cannot be intelligently examined and digested by a conscientious Parliament.

That was the Minister of Public Safety speaking, and I could not agree with him more. The idea that we must intelligently examine legislation that is brought before us is something that is fundamental to our rights as parliamentarians and our responsibility as parliamentarians.

In 2015, the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party agreed with that point. Here is what was in the Liberal Party platform about omnibus legislation:

We will not resort to legislative tricks to avoid scrutiny....

Stephen Harper has also used omnibus bills to prevent Parliament from properly reviewing and debating his proposals. We will change the House of Commons Standing Orders to bring an end to this undemocratic practice.

As members know, the Standing Orders were changed slightly in June 2017. Standing Order 69.1 was supposed to be the Liberals' answer to the abuse of omnibus legislation. Unfortunately, since then, we have seen a number of new omnibus bills being tabled by the government. Bill C-63, the 2017 second budget implementation act, was divided for votes at second and third reading, because it contained many provisions that were not in the budget documents.

Then there was Bill C-74, the spring 2018 budget implementation bill. It was over 550 pages long and affected over 40 different acts. It dealt with matters as diverse as veterans' compensation, changes to the Parliament Act with respect to maternity and parental arrangements, and the establishment of the office of the chief information officer of Canada.

The second budget implementation act for 2018 is 850 pages long. It is without precedent, certainly in living memory. It has thousands of clauses to study. As I mentioned yesterday, no one is capable of telling us how many clauses and how many subclauses exist in this legislation. That indicates to all members of Parliament that there is a problem with legislation that might have been rushed.

We have an important job: to scrutinize, to examine and to review the legislation to make sure that it actually does what it purports to do. This massive bill, this clownishly sized bill, includes seven different stand-alone pieces of legislation inside the bill itself. Each one of them merits consideration. Each one of them merits review and examination. They have all been thrown together in a massive omnibus bill.

I would argue that we cannot simply qualify this bill as an omnibus bill. It is much more than that. The government tabled this monstrosity on Monday, and it expected the MPs in this House to be ready to start debating it and offering amendments only a few hours after it was tabled. It seems obvious to me that such measures are an obstruction to the performance of the parliamentary duties of all members of Parliament in this House.

Surely, Mr. Speaker, we have reached a point where you must intervene. We have reached the point where this is over the line of what is acceptable in any parliamentary democracy. We have to ask ourselves where this will end. If 850 pages and thousands of clauses are acceptable, could the government table a thousand-page bill or a two thousand-page bill, allocate a minimum amount of time for debate and then ram it through the House? If that would not be acceptable, then surely we can agree that there is a limit somewhere. I would argue that this limit has been reached with Bill C-86.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I hope that you will find a prima facie case of privilege here. If you do, I will be ready to move the appropriate motion.

June 20th, 2018 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

In Bill C-74, division 20, you've made a change that includes a schedule in the Criminal Code that includes money laundering that gives, effectively, large corporations a “get out of jail” card. Do you not remember your own legislation?

Opposition Motion—Carbon PricingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2018 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

moved:

That, given the government’s failure to provide a clear explanation of the costs of its carbon tax policy, and given that the people of Ontario have rejected the carbon tax, the House call on the government to table, by June 22, 2018, how much the proposed federal carbon tax of $50 per tonne will cost a median Canadian family.

Mr. Speaker, though I speak here and now, and in the present, I want to reach back into our ancient history to discuss our ancient rights and liberties as parliamentary people.

We inherited this place from our British ancestors, who gathered in the fields of Runnymede to force King John to sign the Magna Carta. Among the demands made by what we today would call “citizens” but then were called “subjects” was that the crown could not levy funds for which there had not been provided general consent. In other words, King John and his predecessors had plundered the people in order to fund endless foreign wars and costly ventures, and had done so without the consent of the people actually paying the bills. From that grew a principle that would eventually be called in American terms “no taxation without representation”. In other words, the government cannot tax what legislatures do not approve. That principle remains here today.

As members know, governments are banned from levying any tax or in fact making any expenditures before it is approved by this here, a gathering of the commoners. It is not enough for the Senate, which historically represented the aristocracy, to make that approval. It does not represent the common people who pay those costs. We do. We are the representatives of the commoners, and that is why we are here in the House of Commons standing, as we are, on this green carpet representing the fields from which the original commoners came and for whose consent we are the ones delegated to provide.

Before the House of Commons at present is a budget bill that would levy a new tax, a carbon tax. That tax would apply to any good that uses fossil fuels in their production or transport to bring it to consumers. As a result, the tax will raise the cost of almost every consumer good people buy, not only those products that are directly made with fossil fuels but those that are transported or produced by those fuels. Not only will our gas prices, home heating prices, and other fuel costs rise, but our groceries, which come by truck and train, will also become expensive. Consumer goods like furniture and clothing, which also have to be transported to retail outlets, will become more expensive. The government will collect the revenues on those increased costs.

However, unlike other taxes, the costs were not itemized for everyday Canadians. If we pay income tax, we file and we find out what we pay. If we pay HST, we look at our bill and we see how much tax formed part of our purchase price. Therefore, Canadians can generally, if imprecisely, calculate what each tax is costing them. Carbon taxes are far more insidious. Their costs are embedded inside the products and services that people buy but they are not itemized on any receipt. Therefore, if grocers raise the costs of fresh fruits and vegetables to feed our kids, we might assume that they are to blame, when in fact they are not behind the cost increase; rather, it is the government and its carbon tax that is causing that price inflation.

The government is proposing to move forward with this tax to embed all of these price increases in the purchases that Canadians make without telling them what it would cost. One defence it might otherwise have made for this secrecy is that it does not know what it would cost. However, that is not true. I have obtained numerous documents, which I have attempted to table in this House, in which the government has calculated the costs. It says that it has tables in which the costs for the average household is calculated, yet it blacks out the numbers, denying Parliament the information it needs in order to vote on this budget bill.

I spoke earlier about the principle of no taxation without representation. Well, there can be no representation without information. The government cannot tax what Parliament does not approve, but Parliament cannot approve what it does not know. Therefore, there can be no taxation without information.

The government has that information but refuses to release it. Why? What is the motivation for keeping all of this secret? I think it is the same motivation that a high-priced retailer has when trying to sell an excessively expensive product. They do not put the price on a product, but ask that a person bring the item up to the front and make a psychological decision to buy it. Only after, when one has one's credit card out, does one find out what it costs.

My experience is that when I walk through a retail outlet and there is a product that does not have a price tag on it, it is because it is too expensive and I cannot afford it. That may well be why the government is trying to sell the carbon tax without telling people what it will cost them. Even worse, unlike the retailer who at some point prior to the transaction must reveal the cost, in this case, the Liberals do not even propose to reveal the cost after the purchase is made. In other words, people will be paying sums of money to the government without even knowing they are doing it, because those sums are buried in literally millions of products and services that Canadians buy every week and every day.

We, on this side of this House as Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, cannot countenance this violation of our ancient right to know what the government costs us. That is why I am announcing today that we have put forward over 200 motions to object to the spending bill the government has just tabled before the House. We will keep the government here voting for as long as 30 hours until it releases every single document it has since the last federal election indicating what this tax will cost the average Canadian family.

I notice that we have a very enthusiastic group of Conservatives here who are prepared to stand and do their duty, to stand and defend taxpayers, to stay here all night if they have to, and stay as long as necessary to defend the people they represent. However, there is no enthusiasm on that side of the House of Commons. I hear nothing but deafening silence, and I see nothing but glum faces. Many of the backbenchers on that side are actually decent and conscientious people, but I am sure members will forgive me for saying that they feel no comfort in watching their privileged front bench cover up the facts from their constituents. I know that they will find it miserable to sit there and vote time after time to protect the secrecy of the front bench as it moves forward with this new, insidious, secretive tax. We know that the Liberals have a majority, but we will use our numbers, such as they are, the strong mandate of the official opposition that we have been given, to make it as difficult as possible for the government to pull off this rip-off.

If members want any proof that this is anything but a tax grab, look at how the Liberals are taxing the tax. They propose to impose the GST not just on products people buy but on the carbon tax cost of those products. Let us say that a Canadian buys some furniture at a furniture store, just like any other middle-class suburban family would do to furnish their home. Of course, the furniture would be subject to a goods and services tax, but there is also another tax hidden within the cost of that furniture, and that is the cost of the carbon tax that has been borne by those who produced the furniture and then transported the furniture.

All of those costs get transferred to the customer. The customer always gets the cost passed down. The government not only proposes that the GST should apply to the furniture but also to the carbon tax cost on that furniture. In other words, it is a tax on a tax.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer says that in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia alone the federal government will collect a quarter billion dollars in GST on the carbon tax. Imagine what those costs would be right across the country in the form of GST on the carbon tax. Canadians are being forced to pay a tax for the privilege of paying another tax. I asked the government about this and it said this is how the GST works. According to the government, it applies to all the goods and services Canadians buy.

Is the carbon tax a good or a service? I am not sure it is any good except in being of service to the government's plan to take more money from everyday taxpayers. As my friend to the left of me said, it is a disservice to everybody else.

We are calling on the government to release all the documents in its possession. I know the government will try to get out of this voting session tonight by coming up with some phony number that it will invent at the eleventh hour in order to let all of its MPs go home. I want to be very specific about this. We want every single document produced by every single department that calculates the cost of the carbon tax to every single Canadian that has been produced since the last election.

There is no reason why the government cannot do this. We are not looking for commercially sensitive information. What commercial sensitivity could possibly exist in telling people what they are going to have to pay? There is no national security reason the government should not do this, although ironically, the government might go so far as to make an argument for such exemptions. It did use an exemption under an access to information request, that it says in the act that revealing to Canadians the cost of the carbon tax would imperil the government's ability to manage the economy. That was the exemption the government used in the existing Access to Information Act in order to justify withholding information.

Not only will the carbon tax that the Liberals have designed damage the economy, mere knowledge of its cost could be damaging to the government's ability to administer the economy, according to the government. Let us be realistic here. If the carbon tax is going to damage the economy, keeping its cost secret is not going to mitigate those damages. That excuse does not work.

The Liberals say the carbon tax is a provincial policy, that it has nothing to do with them, so they cannot possibly release any information on it. Bill C-74 is a federal government bill introduced in the House of Commons to impose a carbon tax at a national level. If it were simply a provincial issue, we would not need federal legislation, so therefore it is a federal issue.

Then the Liberals say some of these numbers are outdated, that they go back two years. They claim the whole world has changed in two years, so members do not need that crazy old data; they will keep it to themselves. Well, if it is so old, just release it and explain to Canadians why it is not applicable anymore. They should just say the numbers are very high and that they will damage the middle-class Canadian household. They should just tell us that there is no reason to worry because it is old information and it is no longer relevant, that they have new information with which to replace it, and that they will let Canadians look at all those facts and in their wisdom decide who to believe. That objection does not work.

I am very curious to hear throughout the day specific justifications from members of the government for keeping these costs secret. Even those who support a carbon tax should be in favour of telling people what it costs. If it is worth what it costs, then why not provide those costs and justify them in making the case? However, the government will not do that. It wants to keep those costs secret because if the costs become known, then one of the claims the government has made will be disproven. It has claimed that the carbon tax is going to be revenue neutral. To be revenue neutral the government would have to tell people what it is collecting and what people are paying in the first place.

How can we believe the Liberals are going to neutralize a cost if we do not know what that cost is? If they were really going to neutralize the effect on middle- and working-class households of this new tax, they would first need to say, “Here's what it costs and here's what you're getting back in some other tax reduction”. However, they will not do that because this is not revenue neutral. The reason we know that is because I specifically asked officials with Environment Canada and Finance Canada at the committee whether the government would use the proceeds of the tax to lower other taxes, in other words to let people keep more through income tax savings in order to compensate them for what extra they pay in carbon taxes. The officials in both those departments confirmed that the government intends to do no such thing. It will not use the revenues to reduce any other tax. In fact, it will use these revenues in order to spend more money. That is the Liberals' definition of revenue neutral. If Canadians send it, they will spend it. Saying they are going to raise a tax, but not to worry, they will spend every penny, is not revenue neutral. It is a tax grab.

We know we cannot trust the government on money. Just yesterday, I stood up in the House of Commons and quoted a Fraser Institute study showing that 81% of middle-class Canadians are paying more income tax today than when the Prime Minister took office. The Prime Minister stood up and said, “That's not what the report said at all. Come on”. It turns out he had similar denials on the floor of the House of Commons, and he had so offended the report's authors that they actually took what is perhaps the unprecedented step of asking newspapers to run a guest column where they could correct the Prime Minister and point out that indeed Canadian middle-class taxpayers are paying more because of the policies of the Prime Minister, which is exactly the opposite of what he promised in the last election.

After I disproved his claim about the report, he stood up and said, “Okay, Liberals have raised taxes, but they've just taken away boutique tax credits from rich people”. By rich people he means anyone who used the public transit tax credit to take the bus. If someone takes the bus they are too rich for the Prime Minister. He takes a limousine; they take the bus. Taxpayers who used the children's fitness tax credit to put their kids in soccer and hockey are too rich, according to the Prime Minister, and they deserve a tax increase. Students who used the textbook tax credit to buy their expensive books in order to learn are too rich according to the Prime Minister, and according to him they deserve a tax increase. All of this is just a bit rich coming from our trust fund millionaire Prime Minister, who has never once raised taxes on himself.

On this side of the House, we will continue to stand up for working-class taxpayers to give them the chance to earn a better life and keep more of what they earn. We believe in putting people before government, a principle that is 800 years old, a principle that helped inspire the very creation of the parliamentary system in which we operate and debate today, and in which we will stand and vote hour after hour for the rights of taxpayers tonight.

Opposition Motion—Leadership on Climate Change and Clean EnergyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, a lot of the environmental programs we see do not have to be a windmill or solar power panels we see outside buildings. In fact, they can actually be about energy efficiency and the things we do on a day-to-day level to ensure that we actually save energy and use the good types of energy.

For instance, our government is ensuring that we are a model for sustainability by greening our government. We are on track to reduce the government's own greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and by 80% by 2050. Even when I was in the Canadian Armed Forces, there were many times, 20 years ago, when someone would leave the door open. We would be heating the outdoors, because someone thought it was too hot, and we were not able to actually turn down the heat. The government today is actually reviewing a lot of the policies on how we conduct ourselves in our day-to-day operations to see if there are energy savings. It is listening to people on the ground, asking civil servants, and even our military personnel, what we can do to ensure that we can meet that target. That takes a lot of effort, because it is going to be an effort by all Canadians to ensure that we actually get there.

I am proud of our government. Not only are we committed to those agreements but we are intent on actually trying to achieve those targets. It is not simply empty rhetoric. It is actually something we hold in our hearts to be true that we will get there if we work day in and day out, and we are doing that.

We are passing a number of bills that are repairing the damage from the decade of darkness. We are engaging with our international counterparts to ensure that we are going to be meeting those targets. For instance, we are changing legislation through Bill C-69 and Bill C-68. We have also introduced Bill C-74, and the list goes on.

Opposition Motion—Global Climate Change and Clean Energy LeadershipBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

North Vancouver B.C.

Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Mill Woods.

I am very pleased to stand in the House today to discuss the motion of my colleague, the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

I appreciate the call for Canada to be a global climate change leader. I agree, and Canada is. However, this motion fails in a number of areas, including its failure to recognize the actions the government has taken in ensuring that the environment and the economy go together as we build a clean energy economy. Our government has been steadfast in its belief that a strong economy and a clean environment go hand in hand. The NDP motion completely ignores the historic investments that the government has made through successive federal budgets that specifically address Canada's environment, coastlines, waterways, and wildlife, as well as the introduction of government legislation such as Bill C-69, Bill C-68, Bill C-57, and Bill C-74, which would further strengthen our ability to protect the environment and grow the economy in sustainable ways.

Today, I will highlight the global market for clean technologies and the enormous opportunity Canadians are already taking advantage of that is estimated to be in the trillions of dollars, with demand only increasing, and at an incredibly rapid pace.

This is an area I personally know very well, having spent the past almost 20 years as a chief executive officer and senior executive in the clean technology and renewable sector. The clean technology industry presents significant opportunities for Canadian businesses from all sectors of the economy. That is why investing in clean technology is a key component of our government's approach to promoting sustainable growth and to addressing key environmental challenges.

Our government also recognizes that clean technology is a source of good, well-paying jobs for Canadians. Therefore, when it comes to clean technology, Canada has the opportunity to be a true global leader, creating good, well-paying jobs for Canadians, while helping to meet our climate change and other important environmental goals.

Clean technologies are central to Canada’s low-carbon, globally competitive economy that provides high-quality jobs and opportunities for our middle class and those working hard to join it.

Clean technologies are by definition innovative technologies. Our government understands that innovation is a key driver of economic success. That is why we developed an innovation skills plan that will assist in making Canada a world-leading centre for innovation.

Today, clean technology already employs over 170,000 Canadians, and we sell about $26 billion annually in goods and services. Of that $26 billion, about $8 billion is exported.

Clearly, there is a strong appetite for Canadian innovation, but we have only just scratched the surface and there is so much more room to grow. That is why our government set aside more than $2.3 billion for clean technology in budget 2017. For the record, that is Canada's largest-ever public investment in this field. Prior to making this historic investment, we worked closely with industry to develop a comprehensive strategy that will successfully accelerate the development of the sector.

This $2.3 billion will support clean technology research, development, demonstration, and adoption and the scaling up of our businesses.

We know that access to financing fuels the growth of companies and provides the capital needed to hire new staff, develop products, and support sales at home and abroad, which is why we have set aside $1.4 billion in new financing for clean-tech providers. This is in addition to the $21.9 billion investment in green infrastructure, which will create jobs and position Canada for the low-carbon economy of the future.

We have also allocated $400 million to recapitalize Sustainable Development Technology Canada. This fund is helping our Canadian businesses develop world-class expertise in clean technology engineering, design, marketing, and management. To date, the fund has invested $989 million in 381 Canadian companies, supporting projects across the entire country. The funding has helped these companies develop and demonstrate new clean technologies that promote sustainable development, including those that address environmental issues, such as climate change, air quality, clean water, and clean soil.

There is also the Business Development Bank of Canada with its $700 million commitment to help clean technology producers scale up and expand globally. Since mid-January, I am pleased to say that four investments worth $40 million have been made. Through our participation in mission innovation, the Government of Canada will work with the international community to double federal investment in clean energy research and development over five years.

These are very significant and substantive investments, and we will drive for strong results. The government will carefully monitor the results of its investments both in terms of economic growth and jobs, as well as the environment.

Through a new clean-tech growth hub within Innovation Canada, the government will streamline client services, improve federal program coordination, enable tracking and reporting of clean technology results across government, and connect stakeholders to international markets. The clean growth hub is the government's focal point for all federal government supporting clean technology. Since launching in mid-January, the hub has served over 450 companies. This one-stop shop is a major innovative win for government that industry is already recognizing as a key step forward.

The 2017 Global Cleantech Innovation Index, which investigates where entrepreneurial companies are most likely to emerge over the next 10 years, ranked Canada fourth, up from seventh in 2014. Further, in January of this year, the Cleantech Group released a Global Cleantech 100 list. The list recognizes the clean-tech companies that are most likely to have significant market impact over the next five to 10 years.

Under the Harper government, Canada's share of the global clean-tech market shrunk by half. In partnership with the clean-tech industry, we have successfully turned this around. This year, a record 13 Canadian clean technology firms comprised the top 100. All the winning companies are clients of the Canadian trade commissioner service, and seven of the 13 companies are Export Development Canada customers.

We know that is only a small sampling of the innovative clean technology companies that are doing amazing work every day across the country to create economic growth, and solve our most pressing environmental challenges.

For example, in Montreal, GHGSat has developed the technology to monitor industrial greenhouse gas emissions using satellite technology. They launched their first satellite in 2016. In my own province of British Columbia, Carbon Engineering is developing a process to turn carbon dioxide in the air into a clean fuel. I could go on and on, speaking about all of the fantastic and innovative clean technology companies working across the country in so many industries and sectors of the Canadian economy.

In order to ensure their continued success, we will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders and jurisdictions across Canada to meet our climate change commitments and bring innovative and competitive clean technologies to market.

We have developed strong international linkages that promote Canadian technology as solutions to global challenges and attract private sector investment. This government is focused on scaling our great Canadian clean technology success stories, and in the process, helping to solve the world's most pressing environmental challenges.

As we move forward, the Government of Canada will continue to be a strong partner for clean technology producers. Our government is incredibly proud and impressed by the innovative work being done by the entrepreneurial women and men working in this sphere and we will continue to support them and their work, and with their success, generate future wealth for Canadians, while safeguarding the environment for future generations.

Main Estimates 2018-19—Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 6:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on the points of order raised on May 29, 2018 and May 30, 2018 by the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona regarding vote 40 under Treasury Board Secretariat in the main estimates 2018-19, also known as the budget implementation vote.

On May 29, I ruled on an earlier point of order of his regarding the same vote. In that ruling, I indicated that speakers have generally been reluctant to rule that an item in the estimates was out of order except in clear cases where the supply item had a legislative dimension and was not pure supply.

The hon. member, in his intervention of May 29, argued that the funds sought under vote 40 do not appear to be for a purpose under Treasury Board's legal mandate, as defined in the Financial Administration Act. Instead, it is a central fund from which Treasury Board will allocate money to other departments and agencies for them to carry out their mandates. He felt this circumvented the usual practices for supply. He also contended that this vote cannot reasonably be compared to other central funds under Treasury Board, which are all either consistent with its legal mandate or otherwise justifiable.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader responded to this point by arguing that the hon. member's reading of the Treasury Board's mandate was too narrow. In his view, there was no question that these matters fall within the legal mandate of the Treasury Board. He also cited my earlier ruling indicating there is ample precedent for monies to be granted to a central fund.

On May 30, the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona argued that some of the specific initiatives in vote 40 lack proper legislative authority. In particular, he noted that initiatives relating to employment insurance and cybersecurity seem dependent on measures contained in Bill C-74, Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1. As this bill is not yet law, he felt it was not proper for the government to seek appropriations for its implementation.

Finally, given that vote 40 will fund a variety of initiatives in various departments and agencies, the member felt it problematic that the vote had been referred to a single committee, the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. In his view, it would be more appropriate for the initiatives in vote 40 to have been studied by the committees directly responsible for those departments and agencies.

I will deal with this last point first. When the estimates are tabled, they are automatically referred to committee in accordance with Standing Order 81(4). As is the case with documents tabled under Standing Order 32, it is the government that determines to which committee each vote will be referred. While this used to be done by motion, the Standing Orders were amended in 2001 to make the referral automatic. The minister now provides the Table with the list of committees to which separate votes are sent for study. In the case of vote 40, it was referred to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, a committee with a fairly wide-ranging mandate on matters relating to estimates. In its study of vote 40, the committee is free to invite whomever it feels appropriate. I do not believe there is any role for the Speaker to become involved in the matching of votes and committees.

On the matter of the legal authority for the spending, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, at page 873, indicates:

The Chair has maintained that estimates with a direct and specific legislative intent (those clearly intended to amend existing legislation) should come to the House by way of an amending bill.

My predecessors have addressed this issue in a number of different rulings. Speaker Jerome, in a ruling found on page 607 of the Journals of March 22, 1977, explained:

...the government receives from Parliament the authority to act through the passage of legislation and receives the money to finance such authorized action through the passage by Parliament of an appropriation act. A supply item in my opinion ought not, therefore, to be used to obtain authority which is the proper subject of legislation.

Nothing in the wording of vote 40, as I read it, seeks to amend existing legislation. The hon. member acknowledged as much in his intervention. He questioned whether the Treasury Board has the legal authority to spend for the purposes of the initiatives contained in vote 40. It is clear, however, from the vote wording that the funds are to be granted to the Treasury Board so that it can transfer them to other departments and agencies. As the hon. member himself concedes, the vote wording specifically says that expenditures of the funds must be for purposes “within the legal mandates of the departments or other organizations for which they are made.”

The hon. member's objection, really, is a matter about which department is seeking the funds. He does not feel it appropriate that Treasury Board requests money for a central fund on behalf of other departments or agencies. As I stated in my ruling on May 29, 2018, there is ample precedent for central funds. The hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona cited many of these in his intervention. While he argues that vote 40 is of a different nature than other central funds, I am not convinced that Treasury Board lacks the legal authority to manage it. As the hon. parliamentary secretary argued, this would require a rather narrow reading of the Financial Administration Act. I do not believe the vote can be ruled out of order on that basis.

Again, as I indicated in my earlier ruling, it is up to the government to determine the form its request for funds will take. It is for members to decide, in studying and voting on the estimates, whether or not the money should be granted. In the case of vote 40, some members may wish that the request had been in a different form. In the end, they are left to make a decision on the request as the government has presented it. The Chair's role is limited to determining if the request for funds is in a form that does not require any separate legislative authorization and if it respects the limits of the supply process.

This brings me to the final point raised by the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona. He argued that certain initiatives do not appear to have existing legislative authority, but instead appear to be dependent on legislation currently before Parliament or yet to be introduced. Speaker Sauvé, in a ruling found at page 10546 of the Debates of June 12, 1981, indicated, “the Appropriation Act should only seek authority to spend the money for a program that has been previously authorized by a statute” and that, by seeking funds for programs where the legislation had not yet been introduced, the government was putting the cart before the horse.

On March 21, 1983, she addressed a similar matter. Vote 10c under Industry, Trade and Commerce in that year’s supplementary estimates provided for payments under the Small Business Investment Grant Act, which was still before the House in the form of Bill C-136. In ruling the vote out of order, she stated at page 23968 of the Debates:

Vote 10c clearly anticipates legislation and, in that sense, seeks to establish a new program in the absence of other legislative authority and seeks the funds to put it into operation.

The matter to be established, then, is whether existing legislative authority is lacking for the initiatives identified by the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona. Absent this authority, it would be premature for the government to be seeking funds. Previous Speakers have noted that it is not always easy to identify the legislative authority for particular initiatives in the estimates. Unfortunately, the parliamentary secretary, in his response, did not directly address this point. This information would have been helpful for the Chair in determining whether such authority is lacking.

The hon. member asserted that, as the budget indicated that certain initiatives would be the subject of legislation, it follows that such initiatives should not receive funding through the estimates until that legislation is passed. It is not entirely clear to the Chair, however, that these activities have been shown to lack existing legislative authority. To take, for example, the matters relating to cybersecurity, according to annex 1 of the main estimates, the funds are to be transferred to the Communications Security Establishment, CSE, which has an existing legislative mandate under the National Defence Act. While Bill C-74 does indeed provide for the transfer of certain employees from other departments to the CSE, I believe that the CSE does have a mandate under existing legislation to spend for such purposes. Were the government proposing to grant funds to an organization not yet created or for an entirely new purpose, I believe there would be a valid objection, but that does not appear to be the case in the examples enumerated by the hon. member.

I must admit that, at the outset, the matters regarding Employment Insurance caused me some concern. The main estimates themselves explain, at page I-9 and I-10:

Costs related to Employment Insurance benefits and Children’s benefits are the largest components of the items excluded from the estimates. Most Employment Insurance costs are paid directly out of the Employment Insurance Operating Account, rather than a departmental appropriation, and are therefore not specifically included in estimates.

The authority to spend funds for the purposes of paying employment insurance benefits is statutory, pursuant to the Employment Insurance Act. It is not entirely clear why this request has been included in vote 40, whether it is truly additional funds or whether the amount has been included for information purposes. Regardless, the question to determine is whether legislative authority for the request is lacking. The hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona indicated that the funds were to make permanent an existing pilot project for people working while on claim. While the provisions in Bill C-74 make this change to the Employment Insurance Act, it is clear to me that there was legislative authority under the existing act for the pilot project.

While the hon. member raised important questions, Speakers have generally ruled items in the estimates to be irregular only when they clearly lacked a legislative basis or when the items themselves sought to amend existing legislation. I do not believe that to be the case with vote 40, and therefore I rule that it is indeed in order.

I appreciate the hon. member’s vigilance in ensuring that proper practices are followed regarding the estimates. As this is the first time the House has been presented with a budget implementation vote of this nature, it is important to ensure that the limits of the supply process are respected. That said, I also want to remind the hon. member of my ruling of June 4, 2018, when I underscored the importance of being concise when presenting a point of order. Even on a matter as complex as the estimates, it should not require multiple lengthy interventions to make one’s point. I am certain all hon. members will keep this in mind in preparing their arguments.

I thank hon. members for their attention.