An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (home security measures)

This bill was previously introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

Randy Hoback  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Defeated, as of June 9, 2021

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-234.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Income Tax Act in order to establish the home security tax credit.

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 9, 2021 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (home security measures)

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 9th, 2021 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Pursuant to order made on Monday, January 25, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-234 under Private Members' Business.

The House resumed from June 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (home security measures), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 4th, 2021 / 2:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank all members of Parliament for considering this bill, Bill C-234.

To provide the House some background, this came from town hall meetings we held back in my riding, where 300 or 400 people would show up, all talking about the seriousness of rural crime and crime in general. They talked about being broken into, not just once, but twice or three times. They talked about how they are no longer able to get insurance.

At these meetings, it was interesting that we would bring in members of the RCMP, who would talk about repeat offenders, crime watch and things they could do to protect them and their families. They talked about the tools they needed in order to get the appropriate prosecution and to arrest these individuals who, most times, were repeat offenders, attached to gangs, and in and out of the criminal system.

One of the things that came out of these meetings was this bill. It was not a Conservative plan to create a boutique tax credit and take care of the rich, as my colleague from the Liberal Party mentioned today. That is not true at all. Rather, it is to say that we need to do something at the federal level to address the issue. This was one way of doing it. When I introduced the bill, I said that it was not the be-all and end-all, but part of a package of measures we need to address the crime issue, especially in rural Canada.

I talked about how I would be more than willing to let the committee massage it, make it better and actually have the conversation on crime. That is why I was so disappointed today when I sat here and listened to my colleagues across the aisle and other parties. When I listened to the member from the Liberal Party, he did not mention crime. He did not understand the intent of the bill. The intent of the bill is to get us talking about a very serious issue that is going on in rural Canada and across Canada. He talked about taxation, unfairness, boutiques and partisanship. I am not an overly partisan person. Members know that and he knows that, too. I was looking for results.

I will give credit to the members from the Bloc and the NDP. At least they talked about the issue I was trying to address. If I have success with this legislation, even if it does not pass, it would be the fact that we brought the subject, put it on the benches in the aisles here in the House of Commons and started the debate on it. If the government is going to be deaf to the debate, it will do so at its own peril. This is something that rural Canadians and Canadians in general want to talk about.

What I find interesting about these crime watch meetings is that we get a lot of people who come out. The RCMP showed up, and even a prosecutor showed up and talked about the frustrations with respect to prosecuting these people, but we never see a judge show up. We never see the minister talk about these issues. The minister or the parliamentary secretary has never looked at the issue and phoned me to say that I was addressing an issue that maybe we need to address. There has been total silence. The response from the government with respect to crime is total silence and denial. This is a huge problem. It is a problem that Canadians want us to talk about in the House of Commons. It is a serious issue. This is an issue that if we did it right would actually benefit people right across this country and make people feel safer. It would address the crime issue.

Unfortunately, we are probably not going to see this bill move forward. I am hoping my colleagues in the Bloc and NDP will maybe have second thoughts, because there are dairy farmers in Quebec who want this bill; there are cattlemen in Saskatchewan who want this bill; there are unionized workers who live in the rural areas who want this bill. Hopefully, they will reach out to those parties and ask them to change their minds and at least get it to committee to debate it, maybe make some good suggestions and make it better.

If a boutique tax credit is not the right way to go, they should tell us what the right way to go is, but at least address the reality that this is a real issue. Let us put forward some solutions to address the issue. Unfortunately, if this bill does not pass, I do not know when the issue of rural crime or crime will ever come up again in the House of Commons in this session, unless we see another private member's bill from a member who understands how important this issue is.

I thank everybody in the House for considering the bill. I hope members will reflect upon it before the vote and maybe we will see it go to committee, because that would be the right place to address the issues and maybe see a really good piece of legislation come out of the House of Commons.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 4th, 2021 / 2 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Madam Speaker, I disagree very much with the previous three speakers, so much so that I am not even sure I am going to refer to the notes that I have in front of me, but let me see if I can make some sense out of the nonsense that I have heard and the falseness of the arguments that have been presented about this very important Private Members' Bill.

In recent years, we have seen crime rates rise across Canada and that crime is getting more severe. This is especially true in rural Canada. In 2017, the crime rate was 23% higher than in urban centres. In some parts of the country, particularly in the Prairies, it is staggeringly higher: between 36% and 42% higher. While provincial governments have responded with concrete measures to tackle this serious issue, the Liberal government has not only refused to take any meaningful action, but has actually made the situation worse.

I want to thank my colleague for Prince Albert for introducing this Private Members' Bill, Bill C-234. This bill seeks to create a non-refundable tax credit for home security measures. It is unfortunate that this bill is necessary, but the Liberal government refuses to undertake the necessary reforms to our justice system, something that no one from the Liberal Party, the Bloc or the New Democratic Party wants to talk about. This is necessary to protect rural Canadians. The issue is the justice system.

We need to do what we can to support Canadians in their efforts to acquire and put in place the devices and mechanisms so that they can feel safe, or at least have some semblance of feeling safe, in their homes.

During a recent study, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women heard testimony from two women who had been repeat victims of rural crime. These women spoke about the toll it takes on a person's mental health when they are constantly worried about being victimized over and over again. They spoke about how repeat offenders from outside their communities target them because they know that help from law enforcement is a long way away, and that if the police come to the scene the criminals are already usually long gone.

They told us how the vast majority of people in their communities have been victims of crime, often more than once, and that many people do not even bother reporting crime anymore: They do not see the point because the justice system continues to let them down. They also spoke about how these criminals are more often armed with firearms and are not afraid to use them, yet shamefully the Liberal government is cracking down on farmers and hunters and law-abiding firearms owners while softening punishments for criminals who use their firearms illegally.

The idea that Canadians are giving up on the idea of justice should be of deep concern to all members of Parliament. When people see that the system does not work for them, they lose confidence in it. When that system is the police and the courts, the consequences of inaction are dire. It is already starting to happen: An Angus Reid poll from January 2020 found that confidence in the RCMP, local law enforcement and the criminal courts has been declining steadily since 2016. The same poll noted that in 2020, 48% of Canadians said they noticed an increase in crime, while only 5% of Canadians thought there had been a decrease.

People may be wondering how we got here. I grew up on a farm. When I was a young man, we were not particularly worried about crime at all. We could leave our doors unlocked when we worked in the fields or went into town. We could leave keys in the ignition of our pickup trucks with the windows rolled down when we parked in town to go into a store for a few minutes. We did not wake up at night scared that someone was armed and prowling around our yards looking to help themselves to our property. The only problem we really ever had was that once in a while, somebody would come into the yard, pull up to the gas tank and fill up their car.

However, the world is a different place now. For the past five years or so it has been getting worse. When it comes to rural Canada out west, the Liberal government does not get it or simply does not care, as we have seen from the member for Kingston and the Islands. He never mentioned crime, which is what this bill is all about. He never mentioned the justice system, which is what this bill is all about. He never mentioned that businesses can write off all of the things that this bill proposes to do, but private citizens cannot. He never mentioned those things at all.

Very often it seems that rural Canadians are the last of the Liberals' worries. Policies that are touted as landmark achievements of the government are typically at the expense of rural Canadians: the carbon tax, the tanker ban, the no-more-pipelines bill and the gun grab, just to name a few.

Another extremely damaging policy that has contributed to the increase in rural crime is Bill C-75 from the last Parliament. Bill C-75 took a number of very serious offences and made them hybrid offences so that they could be dealt with through a fine or a minimal amount of jail time. It also made the requirement that bail be given at the earliest opportunity with the least onerous conditions.

My colleague's legislation was brought forward, in part at least, in response to the Jordan decision by the Supreme Court of Canada. This decision clarified that the timeline for a trial to begin is in order for the Crown to uphold the constitutionally protected right to trial in a reasonable amount of time.

One would think that if the justice system was backed up with numerous serious cases, to the point where trials were being thrown out, the logical decision would be to increase the capability and capacity of the justice system to appropriately deal with it.

This would have allowed accused individuals to have their right to a fair trial upheld in a timely fashion and kept public safety and the administration of justice as a key objective for the security of Canadians.

Instead, the Liberals took the path of least resistance and decided to clear up backlogs of serious offences by giving prosecutors the ability to offer light sentences for serious offences. They also ensured that more people got out on bail just for good measure. The Liberal government, through its changes, took the already quickly revolving door of the justice system and made it spin even faster.

For rural communities, this meant that offenders who regularly target residents would be back on the street shortly after being arrested. In rural Canada, where a small RCMP detachment can be responsible for a vast geographic area, the government has created an almost impossible task. Instead of getting tough on crime, which I vividly recall our current Attorney General of Canada referring to as “stupid on crime”, the government decided to put criminals' needs ahead of victims and their families in rural communities.

It is important to note that those tough-on-crime policies that the Minister of Justice smirked at were hugely successful at reducing the crime rate and the crime severity index and in instilling confidence in our justice system. Instead of doubling down on our Conservative formula and putting public safety at the heart of the justice system, the Liberal government has now also introduced Bill C-22. This bill slashes punishments for a number of serious firearms-related offences and ensures that all of the offences that the Liberal government hybridized in Bill C-75 are now eligible for conditional sentencing, which basically means jail time in one's house.

My constituents are absolutely shocked at the Liberal government's decisions to put the wants and desires of criminals above the needs and safety of law-abiding Canadians. Instead of providing them with assurances that the government understands the issue and that they are working to restore confidence in our justice systems, the Liberals have done the complete opposite.

That brings us back to Bill C-234. This bill is starting down the path of trying to correct what the Liberals have broken since forming government in 2015. Since that time, we have seen crime increase in frequency and severity, yet the Liberals have taken no meaningful steps to curtail it, only to exacerbate it. That is why my Conservative colleagues and I have formed a Conservative rural crime caucus to come up with solutions to this epidemic that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General cannot seem to be bothered with.

The legislation that we are discussing today is a great first step in addressing the rural crime epidemic. It will help Canadians get the tools that they need to protect themselves and their homes from criminals by providing a non-refundable tax credit. Tools like security gates and other access control devices to keep the yard safe could help deter criminals by preventing access and making it harder for criminals to target a rural property. Cameras and alarms could help provide valuable information that law enforcement could use to hopefully identify and catch these criminals, even if they are not able to respond while the crime is in progress because they are so far away.

While this bill is an important step, Conservatives understand that it cannot be our only step. Deterring criminals to find a less prepared victim is not a permanent solution. To that end, I was pleased to introduce my private member's bill, Bill C-289, back in April. It seeks to create an aggravating factor for targeting people or property that is experiencing increased vulnerability due to its remoteness from emergency police or medical services.

My bill would also seek to make existing aggravating factors for home invasion more inclusive of rural properties and face the realities of rural crime. Last, Bill C-289 would ensure that a judge would give careful consideration as to why an offender did not get bail when the judge is considering extra credit for time that was served before the trial.

Rural crime is a complex issue. Given the unique challenges posed by geography and more humble resources in many of the communities, it requires a thorough, multi-faceted approach, and the federal government needs to be an engaged partner. In fact, over a year ago, there was agreement for the provincial and federal government to create a pan-Canadian working group on rural crime. We have heard nothing about this since then from the Liberal government. While the governments across the west in the provinces have been quick to back up these words with action, we have seen no movement from the Liberals at all. The provinces have done an admirable job, but we cannot escape the reality that this is an issue that requires federal leadership.

This should not be a difficult decision for the government, so it raises the question of why the government is so opposed to doing the right thing. Is it because the government really has no understanding of the challenges facing rural Canadians? Is it because rural crime is disproportionately an issue based in the west and the electoral math does not portray it as a worthwhile initiative when there are plenty of policies that the government still wants to enact? Is it because the Minister of Justice is so blinded by ideology and so committed to his hug-a-thug plan that he is willing to let rural Canadians bear the cost of his inaction?

Canadians have a right to life, liberty and security of the person. For rural Canadians in many parts of our country, the Liberal government is not creating the conditions for those rights to be realized.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 4th, 2021 / 1:50 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am rising virtually today to speak to Bill C-234.

I want to recognize and express sympathy for residents in rural communities across the country who more and more are living under fear of being the victims of crime. This increases as the population in many rural communities diminishes. People are more isolated. They not only feel more vulnerable, but they are more vulnerable. It is important to recognize that we need to have a response to that increased vulnerability. The question is how best to do that.

One of the things to note about the bill to establish a tax credit for Canadians who install security systems in their home is that there is a cost to the program. Those tax measures come at a cost to the public purse, so the question is whether that money is being effectively spent for the purpose of reducing that vulnerability.

The first point I would like to make is a general one in respect to these kinds of tax rebates as a way of implementing policy. It is important to note that when it comes to this way of effecting public policy, the fact is that the assistance goes overwhelmingly to the people who already have resources. First, people need to have the money in the bank to get a security system installed and it is only afterward that they recover some of that cost. The more income people make, the more able they are to get the security service installed. The more taxes they pay, the higher ability they have and the more they can receive in benefit as a rebate on the taxes they pay.

There is already a fundamental issue here where it is the people who have the most resources to respond to the problem who get the most assistance. Of course, while their higher income correlates with a higher benefit under a program like this, people's vulnerability to crime in rural communities is not proportionate to their income. People with lower incomes are not less vulnerable to crime in rural communities. It makes sense as a matter of fairness to pursue solutions that will benefit people equally regardless of their income and the amount of tax they pay. What we need are solutions that work for everyone.

When we look at the study that was done on rural crime in the last Parliament, as a consequence of the motion brought forward by then NDP MP Christine Moore, some problems were highlighted. When I had the pleasure of working with folks in the RCMP on the issue of collective bargaining, one of the things I heard loud and clear was that often the roster for local detachments was unfilled by 50% or more. I have heard this from RCMP members who live in Elmwood—Transcona, but are, in some cases, posted to communities outside of Winnipeg, so they have experience with policing in rural communities. While positions exist for policing in rural communities, often there is an insufficient amount of trained officers to fill those positions.

When we talk about public investment to stem rural crime, we should ensure RCMP detachments are staffed to the recommended staffing level instead of asking officers to make do with less and to work tons of overtime and, in many cases, to respond to calls alone. In some cases, they are leaving to respond to a call from a location that might be an hour or more away. It seems to me that investing in filling up those staffing rosters is a better use of public funds.

We also heard in the course of that report about the way the RCMP conducted its business. In many cases, rookie officers are assigned to rural postings and do not have a lot of experience. They do not have training particular to the circumstances of the rural communities and the indigenous communities that they are responsible to police.

They need investment in better training for RCMP officers, so they understand better the communities that they are working in. Hopefully they could then do a better job, particularly if they had the resources and adequate staffing levels to not be overextended the way that they are. They need to be supported with appropriate training so they can really do the right kind of policing work, alongside the communities they are assigned to protect, and to address some of the underlying causes and increases in rural crime.

It was stated earlier, and it is quite true, that the success of a security monitoring system is only as good as the response time of the local authorities. The fact of the matter is that, as long as our RCMP detachments and other rural policing forces are chronically understaffed, those response times are simply not going to be adequate to the task. At the very least, one could say that this bill puts the cart before the horse. There is a lot more to do in terms of not just investing in more police officers for rural Canada, but investing in the training so they can deliver policing in communities in the right way that has the appropriate impact.

One of the things that they need in order to do that, in addition to appropriate staffing levels and the right kind of training, is to make sure that the right kinds of supports are there in the communities. That may mean mental health supports, and we know that rural Canada is chronically underserved in a proportion even worse than urban Canadians, and they still do not have adequate mental health supports.

Mental health is not adequately integrated into our health care systems across the country, but that is felt even more so in rural communities. Having better services available to rural Canadians is an important part of the solution here, not just in respect to mental health, but also in respect to women's health, especially when some of the crimes of concern are sexual or violent crimes.

How do they address those problems and that feeling of vulnerability? While certainly adequate protection is part of that package, adequate services are also needed to make people feel that they are supported at the outset, and that, if something did happen, they are not going to be on their own. We do not want them to be isolated out in the place where they live with maybe just a handful of friends and neighbours who, nevertheless, live at a considerable distance.

This is an issue that has come up in some of the efforts of my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, who is concerned about certain behaviours that are not, themselves, what might be considered under law right now as acts of abuse but, through isolating people, set the stage for certain kinds of abuse. The more abusers can isolate people and get them into a position where they do not have other resources to rely on, the more the table is set for the kinds of abuse that we do not want to see any Canadians suffer. That investment in the right kind of supports is also very important.

As New Democrats, when we look at what is needed, we see a need to make sure that we have the appropriate staffing levels that are already recommended. They are there on paper, but not there in actuality.

We see the need for appropriate training and perhaps more experienced officers being assigned to rural communities, so it is not just a matter of new officers with little training trying to figure out how a community works and what the particular sensitivities are, cultural and otherwise, and finding their feet even as they struggle with these immense challenges.

Then, of course, there is the need to have the supports there for people who may commit acts of crime themselves. There is also the need for supports for potential victims of crimes, so they know they have the resources they need in order to live a good life, even though they do not live in an urban centre, which should be perfectly possible in a country like Canada. I know there are many people who are proud to live in rural communities, and they should be able to do that with a strong sense of safety.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 4th, 2021 / 1:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-234. Since my colleague from Joliette already announced it in a previous speech, it will come as no surprise when I say that the Bloc Québécois will vote against Bill C-234. We have serious doubts about the effectiveness of such a bill and feel it would only push people to spend more on security systems that would not actually make them safer.

This bill seeks to amend the Income Tax Act to create a non-refundable tax credit for individuals who purchase a home security system. It would grant a credit of up to $5,000 for the total of all amounts spent on home security. This includes the acquisition, installation, maintenance and monitoring of a security system installed in an individual's home. The eligible home includes any structure that is separate from the house, such as a garage or even a barn. The credit could be used every year. However, in cases where more than one member of the household claims it, the maximum amount eligible would be $5,000.

In my speech, I will approach this bill from three angles. First I will explain why we believe this money could be put to much better use. I will then talk about the issue of rising crime, which we discussed at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. Finally, I will propose some solutions to address this problem.

First of all, we oppose Bill C-234 because we believe that the money that would be spent to subsidize the purchase of such systems would be much better spent on provincial police, indigenous police and the RCMP. First nations police services are in dire need of resources, and the government needs to start by funding them properly to help remote communities. Just this week, actually, when I was filling in at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, we were discussing the problem of lack of resources at the RCMP.

Bill C-234, introduced by the member for Prince Albert, from the Conservative Party, says that rural crime is increasing at a higher rate than urban crime. It attributes this to the fact that rural areas are sometimes not as well served by law enforcement, which apparently leads some residents to install security systems, such as cameras or alarms. If the police already have a hard time responding, what is the point of investing in an alarm system?

Clearly, the police response would be too slow to prevent the crime anyway. I myself live in what would be considered a rural area, and I have sometimes come across this problem and this reality. The member even acknowledged that his bill will not fix the problem. The Bloc Québécois is not indifferent to this concern, of course, and neither am I, after hearing testimony at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. However, why not invest more in the RCMP and in provincial police forces by transferring that money to Quebec, the provinces and the territories?

This type of tax credit encourages people to spend money on systems that are not likely to prevent crime. The preamble to Bill C-234 nevertheless tries to justify the relevance of this bill by stating:

Whereas the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, in its Thirty-third Report of the 42nd Parliament, recognized that crime in rural areas is of growing concern to rural residents across the country; Whereas the Committee heard that while crime in rural areas is more acute in western Canada, eastern provinces are also experiencing high crime rates in rural areas; And whereas the committee heard from witnesses of incidents related to property crimes, such as break-ins, thefts and, in some cases, violent assaults, including sexual violence and violence towards women;

I will repeat that Bill C-234 will merely push people to spend money on goods and services that will only give them a false sense of security.

Indigenous communities are sorely lacking in resources and are often poorly served by police forces. Money spent by this bill would be much better spent on security in first nations communities, which are asking that this become an essential service. According to Jerel Swamp, the vice-president of the First Nations Chiefs of Police Association, indigenous police services work with limited resources. What we did realize at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women is that indigenous women are often the most affected by security issues. It is difficult to understand why indigenous police services are the only ones in Canada that are not deemed an essential service.

I have another example from the Rama police service in Ontario, which does not have money to fund forensic and crime investigation units or to provide aid to victims. This is essential in cases of sexual assault.

In its throne speech, the federal government committed to accelerating the implementation of a legal framework to recognize first nations policing as an essential service. It promised to take action on this shortly after the 2019 election. These promises were renewed after indigenous protests against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Columbia. Those indigenous peoples are still waiting for royal assent.

Again according to Mr. Swamp, Public Safety Canada currently funds services through the first nations policing program, but the funding received is inadequate to provide the services the communities require.

The federal promise to make first nations policing services an essential service is a step in the right direction. Our departments, Public Safety, have said that passing legislation to make indigenous policing an essential service will require developing a better funding framework.

The first nations policing program was created in 1991 to provide funding for agreements between the federal government, the provincial or territorial governments, and first nations and Inuit communities to provide policing services to these communities. The federal government contributes 52% of the funding for the first nations policing program, with the remainder coming from the provincial and territorial governments. The program provides policing services to nearly 60% of first nations and Inuit communities.

In 2018-19, the Department of Public Safety spent more than $146 million through that program to support 1,322 police officer positions in over 450 first nations and Inuit communities. According to Mr. Swamp, however, the funding is inconsistent and always allocated for the short term. This makes planning difficult and creates a lack of predictability. Even so, the police chief believes that these services are effective in investigating violent crimes using their limited resources.

Second, as part of its study on women living in rural communities, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women addressed the issue of crime, not only in urban settings, but also in rural areas.

Some of the other potential solutions proposed by witnesses in committee include a suggestion that the government transfer operational funding, on an ongoing basis, to Quebec, the provinces and the territories for the community-based shelters and halfway houses that help women affected by violence. Another suggestion was that more money be sent to Quebec and the provinces to help survivors of violence.

Some recommended better training on the realities women face, in particular for the RCMP, to help stamp out bias and teach officers how to respond to the trauma these women may have experienced. Others said that we need to work on lifting women out of poverty by, for example, getting them better access to the job market by supporting universal child care services.

Speaking of universal child care, I want to point out that the government must give Quebec the right to opt out of the federal program, with full compensation, since Quebec already has its own program, which has been proven to lift many women out of poverty.

I am calling for the government to take a feminist and economic approach to this crisis that recognizes that the programs are often poorly suited to women entrepreneurs.

Third, we also need to work on prevention by enhancing social programs that improve our health care system, particularly in the area of mental health. There is no magic solution for that. It will take more resources, financial resources in particular. It is absolutely essential that the government increase health transfers significantly, permanently and unconditionally so that they cover up to 35% of health care system costs. That would enable us to take care of our people.

In closing, I believe, as does my colleague from Joliette, that the fight against crime begins with the fight against poverty. We need to work proactively to improve the situation and to ensure greater equality of opportunity. That is a value that is important for Quebeckers. The end justifies the means. If we help people stay out of a vulnerable position where they have no food and live in unsafe, inadequate housing conditions, then we will be helping to reduce opportunities for crime. We have a duty to act.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 4th, 2021 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to talk about Bill C-234, another Conservative attempt at introducing a boutique tax credit. We know that Conservatives were extremely popular for doing that back in the day because, of course, Conservatives like to give tax credits to the rich at the expense of everybody else, and that is exactly what Bill C-234 is about.

The proposed legislation being considered today would amend the Income Tax Act to provide a non-refundable tax credit at a rate of 15% for up to $5,000 in eligible expenses incurred by the taxpayer for home security measures. Qualifying home security measures would include expenses for the purchase, installation, maintenance and monitoring of a security system installed in one's home.

In responding to the proposal, I would first note that our government is committed to a tax system that is fair and works for the middle class. Second, I would note that this proposal in the bill falls quite short of aligning with this objective. The benefits of a tax credit for home security expenses are expected to be skewed toward higher-income households, which are more likely to have the means to pay for such expenses. By disproportionately benefiting high-income Canadians, this bill would undermine the goal of sustaining a fair tax system.

As hon. members are well aware, the personal income tax system raises revenues based on the ability of individuals to pay. In this context, tax credits and other kinds of tax relief are mainly meant to recognize and offset the effects of factors such as income, family composition, age and health status on a person's ability to pay tax. The Canadian income tax system generally does not, as is proposed in Bill C-234, recognize personal and discretionary expenses of other individuals. A tax credit for home security expenses would, therefore, be subsidized by all taxpayers, including those who choose not to incur those expenses, those who cannot afford it, as well as those who are not able to claim the credit at all, such as renters.

Rather than asking Canadians to subsidize the spending of Canadians who can afford a home security system, our government has undertaken in the last few years to eliminate poorly targeted, unfair and inefficient tax exemptions and has committed to undertaking another tax expenditure review to ensure this process continues. The government has cut taxes for middle-class Canadians, raised them for the wealthiest 1% and increased benefits for families and low-income workers.

Our government has also improved tax fairness by closing loopholes, eliminating measures that disproportionately benefit the wealthy, and cracking down on tax evasion. We all need to pay our fair share, especially during a crisis. All Canadians deserve a fair and equitable tax system. The proposed tax credit for home security measures that would disproportionately benefit higher-income Canadians, which, as I indicated earlier, has always been a priority of the Conservative Party, would be at odds with the government's stance on these types of boutique tax measures.

Our government's approach has been to target support to the middle class and those working to be part of it. The government estimates that the annual federal cost of the proposed tax credit would be approximately $130 million. This aspect of the proposal should also be taken into consideration, especially at a time when the government is focused on helping Canadians through the challenges they face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government is also focused on tackling the work of recovery to create the conditions for new employment and new growth, now and in the years ahead.

As part of our COVID-19 economic response plan, we introduced the Canada emergency response benefit, which supported over eight million Canadians. Then, last August, the government transitioned the support to a suite of new temporary benefits: the Canada recovery benefit, the Canada recovery caregiving benefit and the Canada recovery sickness benefit. Each of these three latest programs will remain in place to deliver support to individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 through to the fall of 2021. Last year, in the early days of this pandemic, we also introduced a special goods and services tax credit top-up payment for individuals and families with low and modest incomes, as well as a special Canada child benefit top-up payment for families with children.

Our government is providing additional support to low- and middle-income families with young children in 2021 by providing up to $1,200 through the Canada child benefit for children under the age of six. We are also making payments in recognition of the extraordinary expenses faced by persons with disabilities and seniors. With budget 2021, the government has a renewed pledge to do whatever it takes to support Canadians right through to the end of this pandemic.

As we continue to navigate through this pandemic, we will continue to assess the needs for additional support where it is needed. This enormous responsibility must be central to our considerations when looking at new proposals. I would also like to add that tax changes should ideally be undertaken through the budget process, which enables the government to fully consider trade-offs, balance priorities and undertake new fiscal commitments only to the extent that they are affordable. At a time when we are making unprecedented fiscal commitments to support Canadians through the challenges posed by COVID-19, this has never been more important.

With this in mind, and taking into account the concerns we have with this bill, it would be very difficult to support Bill C-234. I would add that we have seen boutique tax credits like this before from the previous Conservative government. We have seen time and time again that the Conservative Party is interested in only helping the wealthy. They have absolutely no consideration for what the impacts of this bill would be.

As I asked in my speech, how do they think we are going to pay for the efforts that are proposed in this bill? We would pay for them from the general tax revenue, which is essentially going to be affected by this measure. That includes everybody in the lowest part of the spectrum and in the middle. This bill is asking low-income Canadians to subsidize a boutique tax credit for people who have home security systems in their house. Who has home security systems in their house? It is people who can afford them. Home security is not something that is a need or a requirement, especially not in a country like ours.

The House resumed from February 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (home security measures), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 18th, 2021 / 6:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my remarks, I want to take a moment to talk about my friend and Conservative colleague from Prince Albert who introduced this private member's bill, Bill C-234. I know that my colleague from the NDP touched on a lot of different areas, but this bill focuses on one issue that can make a difference.

Since he was first elected in 2008, the member for Prince Albert has worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents. I have worked with him in some of these areas, particularly on crime, and witnessed first-hand his commitment and enthusiasm on the many issues near and dear to my constituents as well, whether it be agriculture, international trade, or anything else he has worked on with regard to the United States, including transport, and now this particular rural crime issue.

Across the Prairies, we have seen a steady increase in criminal activity in recent years. Criminals are no longer just stealing gas and diesel for their vehicles, but more expensive items such as farm machinery, tools and trailers.

In the last Parliament, my colleague from Lakeland, Alberta, passed her private member's motion, which instructed the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to undertake a study on rural crime. In response to that study, I held five rural crime town halls throughout my constituency to get a better understanding of the types of crimes being reported.

Being proactive in these five town halls, I actively sought people's policy proposals to improve public safety, not only for themselves but also their entire community. Soon after, I wrote the public safety committee outlining 13 proposals, because it was doing the study at the time, and one of them happened to be this very bill we are debating here today.

Before I speak about why I am supporting this legislation, it is important to highlight what happened with the public safety committee study on rural crime back in May 2019, almost two years ago. After eight committee meetings, the Liberals at the time used their majority to ensure that the report would contain absolutely nothing of substance.

In all my years in politics, I have never seen a committee report that was that thin. The Liberals did not allow a single recommendation to be included in that report, and after hearing from a multitude of witnesses, the entire report was just two and a half pages long. I do not know how much it cost to do, but I imagine it was almost $100 a word.

Worse yet, due to the committee's report being so short, the opposition filed a dissenting report that was no longer than the report itself, which prevented the opposition parties from including substantive additions to the report to improve it. I cannot think of any better example of how little time the Liberals have for some of these prairie issues. It was clear from the results of the last election.

Having said that, every MP in the Prairies knows this is a growing problem, and it is not just a prairie problem either. For example, police-reported crime rates are higher in rural than urban areas. In some cases, and I know my colleague from Joliette mentioned this in his speech tonight as well, crime is even 30% higher in rural areas than in urban areas.

In my constituency, we have seen an increase of property crime violations. We have also seen a rise in break-and-enter crimes. I met and spoke with individuals who were the victims of these crimes and they shared how violated they felt after someone broke into their home, farm or business.

In one instance, the thief was brazen enough to break into the home in the middle of the night while the family was sleeping, stole the car keys and drove away with the vehicle. While luckily no one was hurt in this instance, the fact remains that someone broke into their home while they were sleeping in their beds. They woke up the next morning with the frightening realization of how vulnerable and exposed they were.

People living in rural and remote communities know that due to their distance from major urban centres, response times by the RCMP, fire and ambulance are not as quick as they are in communities like Brandon or Prince Albert. Thieves and criminals also know that, which I believe is part of the reason they are now preying on rural communities.

Those who have ever lived on a farm or in a small town know that the relationship and connection with those in their community is something truly unique. They rely on their neighbours, they look out for each other and they make sure that when something needs to be done, they raise their hand to volunteer and get it done. That is what has been happening across the Prairies as rural crime watches have been resurrected.

People are now taking extra precautions, such as taking notice of vehicles are entering people's yards and reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement. I know many who used to pride themselves on not having to lock their doors or even leaving the keys in the console of their vehicles. Sadly those days are pretty well over.

The reality is that criminals are getting better organized. We found out that they are even using drones to check out people's farmyards to see if anyone is home, or to go hunting for what they want to steal next. No one who lives on a farm expects the RCMP to be able to respond to a call within 10 minutes.

This private member's bill will provide a financial incentive for families to better protect themselves. By creating a non-refundable tax credit for home security measures, it will help reduce the costs of getting a system installed. This tax credit would be applied to the installation, maintenance and monitoring of a security system installed on an individual's property to monitor structures such as homes, garages and barns.

As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By making it just that much more difficult for thieves or criminals to go undetected, it will undoubtedly discourage future crime from occurring and provide valuable evidence to help solve a crime. By increasing the risk of the criminal getting caught, either by catching their face or a vehicle on a camera, or by alerting law enforcement of the crime in real time, this bill is a common sense bill that will produce results.

If this bill is passed, it is my hope that the security companies will also help communicate this new tax credit to the public, in the same vein as what happened with the home renovation tax credit. I firmly believe encouraging this conversation about steps families can take to better protect themselves and their property will have a tangible impact on crime rates.

This bill is just one step to curb the rising rural crime rates. Our Conservative caucus knows there is still so much more work to be done. Solving this rural crime epidemic will take all three levels of government working together.

I want to applaud the Government of Manitoba for adopting one of the recommendations that came out of my rural crime town halls. Under the leadership of the former minister of justice, the Hon. Cliff Cullen, it established a dedicated RCMP rural crime task force in Manitoba, which the province calls the RCMP crime reduction enforcement support team.

It has already been involved in numerous province-wide operations, including the seizure of $76,000 from illegal goods and 150 weapons, and more than 20 recovered stolen vehicles. The team's good work and investigations have led to criminal charges against 43 people. This concept is something that both the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments have already implemented, and I suspect they are seeing similar results.

In closing, I urge all of my colleagues in the House to support this legislation. It is time for action and leadership on this issue. The Liberals are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a very ill-thought-out buyback program, which only impacts law-abiding firearms owners and sport shooters. Instead, let us spend time and resources on something that will make a big difference.

I thank my colleague from Prince Albert for all of his efforts on this file. I will be voting in favour of Bill C-234. As I said earlier, this is only one of the solutions in a vast suitcase of things that can be done and differences that we can make, but I think it is a big one. I believe that my colleague brings this forward in a responsible manner, which will be able to an impact on rural crime across Canada, never mind just on the Prairies.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 18th, 2021 / 6:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak on Bill C-234, an act to amend the Income Tax Act, home security measures.

I want to start by saying that I have a lot of respect for the member in question. I have worked with him, and I disagree with him profoundly on many issues, as he is well aware, but I respect the work he brings to the House of Commons. Also, having travelled through his riding numerous times, going into northern Saskatchewan and coming back as well, I understand the importance of this issue of folks feeling secure in their own community.

I will preface my remarks by saying that I certainly understand why the member has brought forward the bill. However, that being said, we believe that it is the wrong direction to take, and I will explain why.

First off, when we are talking about a non-refundable tax credit, we are actually talking about a tax credit that benefits those who have higher incomes. This is the same problem we are seeing with the disability tax credit, which is non-refundable. As members are well aware, it means that many people with disabilities, often the poorest of the poor, cannot access the disability tax credit because it is non-refundable.

As a result of that, and we saw this most recently during this pandemic when so many people with disabilities were struggling, in so many cases, they are not able to access the $600, which is a minimum amount to actually provide supports for those people with disabilities. Therefore, when we are talking about non-refundable tax credits, we are talking about people at the higher income threshold who will benefit from them.

That being said, this proposed tax credit for home security measures has been evaluated at costing close to $250 million. That is the starting point. The evaluation by the PBO is at $220 million, but that is rising, and with inflation we are talking about $250 million. However, if we are going to spend a quarter of a billion dollars, then what is the best way of making investments to protect and support our communities right across the country?

I will reference the valuable report that was put forward, and the NDP's complementary report a little later, but I do have to flag, because it is important, how a smaller amount made an extraordinary difference in community safety right across the country. That was with the crime prevention programs, which were actually stopped by the former Harper government when it cut $100 million from crime prevention programs and basically wiped them out right across the country. However, crime prevention programs, often staffed by very dedicated volunteers, made a huge difference in ensuring that community safety was paramount.

Every dollar that was spent in these crime prevention programs actually saved six dollars in policing costs, court costs and prison costs. So every dollar spent in crime prevention saves six dollars elsewhere and prevents crimes from being committed in the first place. I am a strong supporter of crime prevention programs. The ones we had in New Westminster and Burnaby, and the ones that existed right across the country, were an extremely important way of providing more safety and security for everybody in the community.

The former Harper government slashed and eliminated those programs, and the NDP caucus spoke out vehemently against that. It made no sense at all. It certainly was not cost effective. We know without crime prevention programs, the costs in policing and court costs are much higher than it would be to actually make those investments in the first place. It is important to note that for less than half the cost of this particular income tax measure, we could be seeing far more safety and security right across the country.

This is a stain on the record of the Harper government, which I do not think will ever go away. However, it is surprising to me that a new Liberal government, now five years later, has never acted to put back in place the crime prevention programs that were so effective right across the country. It is a tragedy.

The NDP, which has presented a building safer communities policy, has believed all along in those investments. Because they are cost-effective, and because they demonstrably lead to better community safety right across the country, they are the way to go. We disagree with the old parties that believe in being simply punitive after the fact. We believe the best route to public safety is ensuring that crime does not take place in the first place. That means removing the massive and growing inequalities we are seeing across this country.

During this pandemic, Canada's billionaires have increased their wealth by over $60 billion, yet so many Canadians are struggling to make ends meet. Investing in crime prevention programs, reducing inequality and putting in place a broad social safety net are all tools to ensure a broader level of community safety and security for everyone.

Earlier I said I wanted to reference a report on the topic of public safety in rural areas. This is very important, because this topic was studied by a House of Commons committee a few years ago. I want to reiterate that we are talking about a quarter of a billion dollars. Better investments could help make everyone safer.

The NDP's dissenting report was quite clear. Former NDP MPs Georgina Jolibois and Christine Moore were also part of the process. Our report addressed the indigenous situation and suggested investing to ensure that indigenous communities have the resources they need to improve quality of life, health and safety in each of these communities. The report also spoke about awareness raising and suicide prevention in rural areas. This is a problem that is becoming increasingly serious across the country.

My colleague, the member for Timmins—James Bay, also called for a national suicide prevention action plan. Rather than spend a quarter of a billion dollars on a tax credit for the wealthy, investing in a suicide prevention plan can make a huge difference.

There is also the issue of supporting victims, meaning women in rural areas who are victims of sexual or domestic violence. As we know, on any given day, 400 women in Canada are unable to find shelter from this kind of violence. That is appalling. This is something the NDP caucus has been calling for for a long time. Keeping people safer means making those investments. We have to invest to ensure that those 400 women have a safe place to go. Even if they are experiencing violence, that would make a huge difference. That is the kind of investment that counts.

Moreover, in the NDP's dissenting report to the committee's report, we brought up access to 911 emergency service. That service has to be available so that people in rural areas can call to get emergency services.

Although relatively inexpensive, all of these things could make a big difference in the safety of people living in rural areas.

Clearly, if we are talking about $0.25 billion, $220 million and then $250 million over the next few years, there are much more effective ways to spend that money on safety in rural areas and for everyone. Of course, this begins with using what has worked in the past, such as crime prevention programs. They were cut by the former Conservative government. The NDP will surely reinstate them if it ever gets the chance.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 18th, 2021 / 6:35 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-234.

This bill amends the Income Tax Act to create a home security tax credit.

First, I wish to inform you that the Bloc Québécois will be voting against this bill. Our party and I recognize the challenge of home security, especially in rural areas. I come from a rural village called Saint-Jean-de-Matha. I commend the great passion that the hon. member for Prince Albert, for whom I have a great deal of respect, put into his speech.

This issue is very important, but we believe that the solution proposed in this bill is not effective enough.

We believe that the bill would only push people to spend more on security systems that would not adequately protect them. I am talking about keeping people safe, not property. As far as property is concerned, I do not know if the same thing happens in Saskatchewan, but in Quebec when we install security alarm systems, our insurance costs go down. There is also compensation for this. I will therefore focus on personal security.

Instead, we think that the money that would go towards subsidizing the purchase of these kinds of systems would be better spent by giving it to provincial police, indigenous police and the RCMP, as members have pointed out in discussions on this bill so far. I remind members that first nations police services are in serious need of resources and that the government needs to start funding them properly to help remote communities.

This bill would amend the Income Tax Act to establish a non-refundable personal tax credit for purchasing a home security system. The credit is for a maximum of $5,000 a year and includes the total of all amounts spent on home security. We have heard a number of arguments in support of this bill. One such argument is that crime in rural areas has risen higher than in urban areas. The member shared some compelling stories about people with addictions who resort to crime after losing their jobs. Since these areas are sometimes poorly served by law enforcement, residents may choose to install security systems, such as cameras or alarms.

The argument I want to advance here is that, as we see it, if the police are already having a hard time responding, investing in a security system that alerts the police would be an ineffective way to protect people, as I said, because police intervention is too slow to prevent the crime and keep people safe anyway. Let me reiterate that we appreciate the significance of this issue, but we think it would be better to invest more in supporting the RCMP, police services in Quebec and the provinces, and first nations police services. We think that introducing this tax credit will encourage people to spend money on systems that will probably not do much to prevent crime. From our perspective, it will actually give people a false sense of security.

I also want to reiterate that indigenous communities are sorely lacking in resources and are often poorly served by police forces. We think the money tied to this bill would be better spent on community security and safety, especially in first nations communities.

More fundamentally, the Bloc Québécois believes that the best way to fight crime is to fight inequality too. For example, although Quebec's social safety net is not perfect, it acts as a good foundation to ensure Quebeckers are protected. We have social programs to support families and the those most in need, including support to help women access the job market through family policy, such as subsidized child care and parental leave, which help combat poverty, since the two are linked. There is also the public school system, which has been mismanaged in recent years, not to say decades, but which is very important and has a wealth of knowledge and competence.

On that topic, this week is Hooked on School Days, so I salute all the young people and encourage them to continue their studies. I also commend the commitment of teachers in this mission.

Quebec's social safety net is part of a strong state that redistributes wealth. As we know, the Quebec model lies somewhere between those of northern Europe and western Europe. I actually have two books to recommend to any of my colleagues who would like to understand more about the importance of the state in the fight against inequality and in crime reduction.

The first one, which I do not believe has been translated into French yet, is called Combating Poverty: Quebec's Pursuit of a Distinctive Welfare State. Published by the University of Toronto, this comparative analysis explains how Quebec moved away from Canada in its approach to its social safety net in response to the federal government's budget cuts of the Chrétien and Martin years. Despite those cuts, Quebec managed to create important and bold new programs in health and social services. Elsewhere in Canada, services to the public were declining because of federal disengagement, but Quebec expanded its offerings.

The Bloc Québécois is obviously watching very closely to ensure that the current deficit is not reduced through the same Liberal practices as those used in the second half of the 1990s.

The second book I will refer to that could be of interest to my colleagues was written in 1990 by the Danish economist and sociologist Gosta Esping-Andersen. In The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, he explains the various reasons behind Quebec's choices regarding the best ways to establish public policies to fight social inequality, which, I should mention, the Bloc Québécois believes is directly linked to the crime rate.

I believe that rather than covering the cost of security systems, the money that would be allocated under the bill could be put to better use by increasing transfers to the provinces and to Quebec for police services, especially those in indigenous communities. In that regard, the Speech from the Throne took a first step by recognizing the latter as essential services. They were the only ones not deemed essential up to that point. The First Nations Chiefs of Police Association, supported by the Assembly of First Nations, called for this recognition, as well as for funding provided in a more stable manner than through agreements, which only last two to five years and must be constantly renewed. We expect that recognizing these police services as essential services will be accompanied by the funding required to ensure they can continue their operations and work on crime prevention.

Again, from our point of view, this bill does not really help reduce harm. Instead it offers a tax credit to those who install these devices, which could lower their property insurance premiums, as I was saying at the beginning of my speech. In Quebec, having an anti-theft system may lower our insurance bill by tens or hundreds of dollars a year and reduce the risk of theft when we are away.

However, what is even more dangerous than having someone break in while the homeowner is away, to steal valuables or commit the crimes my colleague from Prince Albert was mentioning, is to be home when it happens. Even with the best system, the danger is not reduced if the police fail to show up.

In closing, I want to reiterate that we are of course very sensitive to this issue. I have a great deal of respect for all the remarkable work that my colleague from Prince Albert does, including in the area of agriculture. It was clear from his speech that he is listening to his constituents. However, we do not believe that a tax credit is the best solution. Again, we are more in favour of additional support for law enforcement, starting with indigenous police services, and we strongly encourage ramping up efforts to reduce social inequality, which would reduce crime.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 18th, 2021 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

moved that Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (home security measures), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, this is something my constituents have been talking about. It is an issue that is near and dear to their hearts, one they have been dealing with over the past few years. They are glad to see that something is finally being done.

I am proposing Bill C-234, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (home security measures). It was reinstated from second reading in the previous Parliament. The bill would help make home security more affordable for Canadians by creating a home security tax credit. This non-refundable tax credit would be applied to the installation, maintenance and monitoring of a security system installed in an individual's home. This would include any structure that is separate from an individual's home, such as a garage or a barn. The maximum dollar amount eligible for the tax credit application is $5,000 a year.

I am proud to mark the first hour of debate on this important piece of legislation, which would make a real difference in the lives of Canadians, especially those in rural areas. Like many parts of rural Canada, my riding of Prince Albert continues to suffer from increasing crime rates, and my constituents have made it very clear that they expect action on this file.

The bill came about through a variety of different ideas and consultations among colleagues in the Conservative Party. More importantly, it came to fruition through a meeting I had back in 2016. I have to give some context for the meeting.

On a Friday afternoon I got a phone call from a guy named Terry in my riding, who was very mad. He was upset. He informed me that he had another break-in. Someone broke in on his farm. His insurer was telling him that it may not be able to reinsure him, and he wanted to talk about it. I told Terry I was in the Christmas parade in Prince Albert, and I suggested we get together Saturday morning after the parade and talk about it.

When I was in the parade, I remember quite vividly that all of a sudden my phone went off. I hit the speaker button and Terry said there was going to be a few other people at the meeting. I told him it was not a problem; it was fine. He said some neighbours wanted to talk about it too.

I got to my office after the parade and there were 25 people in my office. This was with six hours of notice. They proceeded to tell me their property had been vandalized. They had been targeted, had things stolen out of their shops and had gas and vehicles stolen. They felt the police force was not doing anything about it and the legal system was letting them down.

They wanted action. They were upset. Of course, a lot of the actions are not federally regulated; they are provincially regulated. Having said that, they wanted to vent and let people know what was going on, and to look for solutions.

We came to the conclusion that we would hold a town hall meeting, so we put together a meeting at the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Centre for the next Saturday morning. They asked me not to advertise it, because they did not want the criminals to know they were not going to be home. I did not advertise it. I just let them spread notice of it by word of mouth.

That Saturday morning when I got to the hall I was nervous. All of a sudden, there were cars in the parking lot and it was full. There were cars parked all the way down the street. I got downstairs and there was probably 200 to 300 people packed into this hall. We had no sound system, no speakers. We were expecting maybe 25 to 35 people, but it was a huge crowd.

I have to thank the mayor of Prince Albert. He quickly grabbed his sound system and brought it back so we could present. We brought together RCMP, city police, provincial colleagues, MLAs in Saskatchewan and Crime Stoppers, and we proceeded to talk about the options and what was available.

As we went through the meeting, there was a recurrent theme: People's property had been broken into once, twice or three times. Some felt a lot of this was gang-related, and some felt it was drug-related. People were looking for solutions. They seemed to know exactly where these culprits were coming from. The police were looking for advice on how they could best handle it, and even the municipalities wanted to know what they could do.

People knew that the one place where the criminals were hanging out was the only place on that road, so one solution came up: Maybe the road should not be graded. They wanted to let the snow blow in to keep the criminals home. Different ideas were tossed around, but what became very apparent was that people wanted to see action on this issue.

This is not unique to Prince Albert. In Alberta, former Alberta justice minister Doug Schweitzer wrote to the Minister of Justice asking for more serious penalties for rural crime. There was an Alberta task force, and the issues in my riding were issues right across Alberta. They are issues right across Saskatchewan, right across rural Ontario and in Quebec. They are right across the country.

One thing that was really unique, which the RCMP made me aware of, was the addictions issue and what they had seen or suspected when we had a slowdown in the oil patch. People who were making good money were all of a sudden out of work or no longer had a job, but they still had addictions. They still had issues.

What did they do? They resorted to crime, to stealing or whatever they could to feed their addictions.

There are many different issues in the background that need to be addressed and there are different things that we should be looking at as parliamentarians on how to solve this problem or make it better for our constituents. This is just one way. We will hear other ideas and suggestions from the Conservative Party to deal with this in a holistic manner.

One may ask what a home security system does? It actually does a lot. When one thinks of the idea of a tax credit for a home security system, first, people would have a good security system in place. What does that system do? It deters people from breaking into facilities or homes. That is one thing. Second, if people do break in, it allows police to have good identification factors to make the appropriate arrests, and hopefully those identification factors will stand up in a court of law. It provides a chance to identify who the culprits are. In a lot of cases, they are repeat offenders who are already known to the RCMP or the police, and the police need the evidence to proceed with arrests and to put the accused through the courts and to get convictions. That is one thing.

There is another thing that has come about, which I did not expect. It was a surprise. It should not shock me now, but it did at the start. People want action. They want us to do something. They want us to take action. Not only that, they want us to acknowledge that there actually is a problem. They want Ottawa to realize that they are in a situation for which they cannot seem to get a resolution. More people talk to me now, since the announcement of this bill, about how they have been personally impacted. I encourage all members to go to people not only in the rural areas but also in towns and cities, and they will find all sorts of examples of break and enters and crimes where a security system might have been the thing that would have deterred that action.

The head of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association called me on Saturday. He wanted me to know that the company was going to send a letter of endorsement for my bill and that he had been talking to APAS and SARM, who were thinking of doing the same thing. We are starting to see the need for action for people in rural Canada. They are looking for hope and this would give them some hope. This bill would allow us to talk about the issue, and it is a good issue that we should be talking about. This is very relevant to pretty well everybody in rural Saskatchewan, rural Canada or even in urban centres or cities. People want to feel safe in their homes. They want to make sure their families are safe, that their homes are their castles that will not be violated by any means. This will be one step in doing that. This will provide some of that comfort and safety for families. It is something that we should look at doing.

It is not just the family home. Like I said, it is the garage, the barn or the outbuildings that farms may have on their acreage. The bill would allow people to position the appropriate tools in the appropriate place so they can get the appropriate coverage to do what they need to do. This looks to me like a small step moving forward to deal with rural crime.

I look forward to hearing the debate and this bill's going to committee. This is a bill that people can work with quite easily. It is very simple: it is a $5,000 tax credit, which is easy for people to include on their tax returns. It shows them that we care and it starts the conversation about exactly what we need to do on rural crime. We are going to see different examples and ideas come from our colleagues in all parties on how to address this issue and hopefully find some solutions. If this bill gets people talking about it, then it is a success. I am looking forward its going to committee, and if there some things the committee wants to do to expand it or make it better, I look forward to those, too.

At the end of the day, when this bill hopefully passes and all parties agree that it makes sense and is something we want to do, I hope we can look our constituents in the eye and say that we started down the road of fixing this problem. Hopefully we will be creative enough as parliamentarians to discuss what we are going to do about the other parts of the problem, namely, what we will do about addictions, what we will do about the economic situations that a lot of people have been forced into, and what we will do about getting people jobs so they do not have to resort to crime in order to feed their families. Those are the types of things that we also need to discuss, and not just home security systems or home system monitoring and protection. Hopefully this is the start of those types of conversations among ourselves.

I hope to have intelligent conversation on this. This is something we can all look at and say we can get behind: that it makes sense and we can move it forward. If we can make it better, let us make it better. I have never been one to say that it is my way or the highway, and I am not about to say that with this bill.

I look forward to the spirit of the bill being recognized and appreciated, and the spirit is that we need to be doing something to help our constituents in rural areas and cities to protect their houses, to protect their families and to provide the security that they need. We are seeing lots of groups and individuals stepping on board. They are looking at this and saying this is a start.

As I said, when I talked with Arnold for about 15 minutes, he gave me an example of cattlemen in a rural area. People had gone out to their farms and shot cattle. We had a scenario just outside of Saskatoon, I think this spring, where somebody went in and shot some buffalo. They actually cut the gates and let them go. Buffalo wandering around in small towns is not something good. Again, we can see there is a recurring theme here that we need to provide better protection for people in rural Canada.

I want to stress that it is not just rural Canada. There are other examples. A person called me today saying that in urban centres they could use something like this bill to protect themselves. It would just provide that extra sense of safety.

I do not think I need to go on to use my full 15 minutes. I will stop there and I look forward to seeing support from all parties on this. I look forward to this moving through the House, to the debate and to positive suggestions that all members may have, participating in this dialogue to address things like rural crime and break and enters, and see some resolution and benefits for all our constituents.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

February 18th, 2021 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Pursuant to order made on Monday, January 25, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, February 24, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

It being 6:08 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 37, the House will now proceed to the consideration of Bill C-234 under Private Members' Business.

October 21st, 2020 / 4:55 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ginette Petitpas Taylor

I'll speak closer to the mike.

We'll go back to Bill C-231. Is everyone okay with that one? Are there any questions or comments? No.

Next we have M-36, Bill C-226, Bill C-234 and last but not least, M-18.

We're efficient. We can proceed by unanimous consent, I'm assuming, to move forward.

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

February 26th, 2020 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (home security measures).

Mr. Speaker, I am truly honoured today to rise to introduce the bill.

Before I do, I would like to thank the many residents in my constituency who have reached out to me and provided input on this very important matter. I would also like to thank the member for Red Deer—Lacombe for his guidance and leadership and for seconding the bill. I would also like to thank the Conservative caucus for its support in moving this file forward.

Like many constituents in rural Canada, my constituents in Prince Albert are being ravaged by increasing crime rates. During the last Parliament, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security recognized that crime in rural areas was a growing concern and that rural crime rates in both eastern and western Canada were increasing.

The bill I am introducing today would create a non-refundable tax credit for home security measures. It would also assist rural residents in purchasing the home security they need to protect themselves, their families and their property. While it is not a complete solution, it is a step in the right direction, a step that individual legislators can take together to begin addressing this problem.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)