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

April 29th, 2021 / 4:35 p.m.
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Fred Ghatala Director, Carbon and Sustainability, Advanced Biofuels Canada

Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. It's an honour to present to you today.

My name is Fred Ghatala. I'm the director of carbon and sustainability with Advanced Biofuels Canada. We are the national voice for producers, distributors and technology developers of advanced biofuels.

Our members are global leaders. They have built and operate plants on four continents, with the capacity to produce over 15 billion litres of advanced biofuels annually. In Canada, our members currently operate seven facilities with an annual capacity of over 670 million litres. We are developing new technologies and production facilities to meet increasing demand for advanced biofuels and other non-fossil clean fuels.

In response to policies such as the clean fuel standard, the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and provincial measures, a recent survey of our members identified over 60 capital projects planned to 2030, with over $15 billion of capital expenditure. Economic modelling of the clean fuel standard indicates that biofuels demand could increase by twofold to threefold by 2030, supporting 20,000 jobs and generating over $10 billion in new economic output.

Canadian feedstocks are fundamental to supporting investment in new domestic advanced biofuel capacity. Canadian crop and forestry sectors have established a global leading record of performance on the sustainability of harvested products, with sound data to evidence impacts on land, air and water.

As the global demand for sustainable agricultural and forestry products and non-fossil clean fuels has expanded over the past two decades, our biomass supply systems have invested broadly in innovation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts, all while increasing overall supply with less acres. Statistics Canada data shows that, since 2000, Canada has reduced total seeded acres by 0.4% per year, an eight-million-acre reduction. Canada has the proven capacity to sustainably harvest crops, supply low-cost and low-carbon agricultural and forestry residues and adopt circular waste management solutions to support expanding clean fuel production.

We have a wealth of clean fuel supply options: conventional crops, rendered animal fats, municipal and industrial wastes, direct air capture of carbon dioxide, biocrude and even expanded lipid production within existing crops. Ensuring Canadian farm and forestry sectors are strong participants in low-carbon markets is integral to realizing the broad benefits that new policies like the clean fuel standard present.

More clean fuels produced in Canada also mean reduced import reliance on refined petroleum products and biofuels products in western and central Canada. The Canadian Fuels Association reports that in 2019 these markets relied on over 12 billion litres of imported gasoline, diesel and jet fuels. We view the proposed amendment as a recognition that agricultural producers are indeed trade-exposed and that measures are needed to enhance their competitiveness.

Further, because the carbon intensity of biofuels has dropped significantly over the past decade, we know that farmers are working hard to improve their greenhouse gas emission reductions by investing in sustainable yield improvements and enhanced on-farm practices. Simply put, farmers are a key part of the climate solution, and we support policies that allow them to continue to deliver results.

To conclude, expanding advanced biofuels use is the most affordable, immediate and effective tool to reduce emissions in the internal combustion engine vehicles that drive our economy today. In the future, we will increasingly expand use of electric vehicles and low-carbon hydrogen. However, to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, we must address the hard-to-decarbonize transport sectors, such as the legacy vehicle fleets, long-haul transport, aviation, marine and rail that are in operation today.

The economic benefits of advanced biofuels are being realized across Canada's rural farming and forestry communities from coast to coast. For Canada to succeed in attracting investments in advanced biofuel production, innovation and supply chain and infrastructure expansion, it is critical that our domestic agriculture producers are positioned to participate.

Thank you again for the opportunity to appear today. I look forward to your questions.

April 20th, 2021 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Yes, but.... Excuse me. I am out of time. I don't mean to be rude, but we get about equal time to answer and ask questions.

There is no other alternative. The idea behind the greenhouse gas pollution act is, where there are elastic markets, to encourage people to go to greener solutions. In many places that may work, but here, there are no viable solutions. By not giving farmers this exemption, you're literally pushing some farmers into bankruptcy. What would you say to those farmers, sir?

April 20th, 2021 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Perfect. Thank you very much.

Now, for the CFA, are your members fully compensated by the credit provided in the greenhouse gas pollution act for the carbon tax?

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

November 23rd, 2020 / 11:40 a.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to start by thanking the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South for bringing the bill forward for debate. He has substituted on the agriculture committee a few times and I have sincerely enjoyed working with him. I look forward to having him join us again in the future, this time as a witness to defend his bill.

Before I go into the specifics of the bill, I want to say that the NDP believes there should be a price on pollution. The fact that human-caused climate change is occurring is no longer in dispute; it is a verifiable scientific fact. Canada is facing a climate emergency, one that will manifest itself in increasingly costly ways to our natural environment and economy.

A change in climate will bring more extreme weather events, and it is our farmers who will suffer. Changing precipitation patterns will bring increased frequency and longer durations of flooding and drought in different regions of the country. Fluctuating temperatures could have devastating impacts on livestock production. There will always be the increase of deadly forest fires. There will be real and catastrophic economic costs to this, both in adapting to the changes and in doing our best to mitigate them.

This will indeed be the fight of the 21st century. Unfortunately, the continuing political fight over the carbon tax ignores these realities and sidelines the leadership we as a country need to take against climate change.

I want to talk a bit about farmers and the important role they play in this conversation. This centres on carbon sequestration. The only way we are going to solve climate change is if we significantly reduce the amount of carbon we are putting into the atmosphere and find new and innovative ways to sequester the carbon that is already there.

One of these ways is through good agricultural practices and giving farmers recognition of agriculture's potential for carbon sequestration. It is estimated in scientific literature that agricultural soils have a storage capacity of 30 to 50 tonnes of carbon per hectare. Ecological, agricultural practices, which include low tillage, no-till and intercropping, already sequester more carbon in soil than farmers are currently given credit for.

Recently, I took a trip to the interior of British Columbia to talk with ranchers who had won sustainability awards. They were using proactive management of their grasslands with their cattle herds. This is the leadership we need to see, and farmers are indeed taking it. We can all use this as a good example of what Canada is doing right. Also, our farms in Canada have great renewable energy potential, both in harnessing the sun and wind, and of course in their production of biomass for biofuels.

Despite the advances we have made and the potential that good agricultural practices offer in the fight against climate change, it is still an inescapable fact that farmers today depend on fossil fuels. This is especially true when it comes to drying grain.

The unseasonably wet autumn of 2019 was called the “harvest from hell”. It saw extensive and prolonged rainfall right before and during harvest time in many parts of Canada. Early snowfalls and frost also ruined many crops. Farmers had to use propane and natural gas heaters to dry their grain. Without the use of these grain dryers, their cash crops would have become worthless, as rot would have set in. That would have been a huge economic hit. As it stands, there are currently no viable alternatives to the use of propane and natural gas for the operation of these dryers.

With a changing climate, the new reality is that there will be many future years during which significant amounts of grain drying will be necessary for farmers across Canada. As certain pockets of western Canada are losing workers at harvest year after year, grain drying is now moving from something nice to have to something they need to have.

Let me outline the value of this sector to the Canadian economy.

Canola alone is worth $26.7 billion and pays out $11.2 billion in wages, and 90% of it is exported. It is Canada's largest agricultural export.

Let us look at other grain sectors, wheat in particular. We exported 20.5 million tonnes of wheat in 2017, and that was worth $21 billion in export sales.

This is a significant part of our economy. If farmers are suffering, as they have been with recent harvests, I believe, through the spirit of the bill, that they require some help.

Now let me turn to a more specific discussion on Bill C-206.

As the NDP agriculture and agri-food critic, I can say that the NDP will be supporting the bill at second reading. I believe the principle of the bill is sound and that it deserves to make it to committee for further examination. In fact, I wrote to the Minister of Agriculture in February to bring this particular issue to her attention.

Let us look at what the bill does. The bill makes amendments to the interpretation section of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act to broaden the definition of what a qualifying farm fuel is. The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was brought about through the enactment of an omnibus budget bill, Bill C-74, in the previous Parliament. Bill C-206 would add natural gas and propane to the definition, which is currently limited to gasoline, light fuel oil or a prescribed type of fuel.

This is important because the term “qualifying farm fuel” is used in several important sections of that federal statute. It is referred to in section 17 and again in section 38, as two examples. This is important because those sections specify that a charge for the carbon tax is not payable. If we list these two additional fuels, natural gas and propane, as qualifying farm fuels so they are understood to be used only on the farm for farming purposes, the charge for the carbon tax would not be payable.

As my colleague, the sponsor of the bill, correctly noted, there are provincial precedents. In my home province of British Columbia, coloured fuel purchases can be made, such as coloured gasoline and coloured diesel. These are exempt from both the motor fuel tax and the carbon tax in British Columbia. British Columbia also lists propane as having an exemption from the motor fuel tax. It is understood that propane is going to be used by a qualifying farm for a farm purpose if certain conditions are met.

I believe there is strong provincial precedent, and that is why the bill deserves to go to committee for further examination. Hopefully we can hear from some qualified witnesses there.

Seeing that my time on the bill is wrapping up, I believe that Bill C-206, at this second reading stage, does deserve to go to committee. I am happy to be supporting it for that discussion.

As part of the broader discussion on the bill and the costs that farmers are bearing, we need to recognize, as has been detailed by the National Farmers Union, that Canadian farm debt is now listed at over $100 billion and has nearly doubled since 2000. Since 1990, the corporations that supply fertilizers, chemicals, machinery, fuels, technology services and credit have captured nearly all farm revenues, leaving farmers with just 5% of the total revenue.

While the measures provided in Bill C-206 would have a measurable impact and benefit, especially when farmers are having to dry their grain, I hope we can use the bill to broaden the discussion on the other costs that farmers are having to bear. As a country, we all need to come together to tackle the farm crisis. It is going to required a sustained effort to actually put our support in the farmers' corner.

I will conclude there. I would like to again thank the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South for bringing the bill forward. I hope the House sees fit to vote in favour of it at second reading so we can have a more specific discussion at committee.

June 6th, 2019 / 11 a.m.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?