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House of Commons Hansard #53 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was police.

Topics

National Citizenship WeekRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion as indicated a moment ago?

National Citizenship WeekRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Citizenship WeekRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

National Citizenship WeekRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. There is not unanimous consent.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to table some 2,000 signatures that are supporting the efforts of Mrs. Debbie Mahaffy, my constituent, in her quest to have serial killer cards banned in Canada.

These cards are published by a number of publishers including Eclipse Comic Books, Rigamor Press and others.

Canadians do not want these trading cards in their communities. We abhor crimes of violence against persons and we believe that killer trading cards offer nothing positive for children or adults to admire or emulate, but rather contribute to violence.

It is my great pleasure to support this endeavour and the minister's motion today.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Liberal Scarborough West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have petitions on two subjects. The first petition contains 800 signatures ranging from such diverse places as Alberta, Ontario and the maritimes. It concerns the subject of a unified national witness and informant protection program. The petitioners ask the House to enact such a program as quickly as possible.

I have another petition from my riding and the constituents reiterate what the previous petitioners have said. It also asks that the House enact Bill C-206 which is the bill I have put forward to provide for the relocation and protection of witnesses.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Liberal Scarborough West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a final petition from my constituents of Scarborough West. It reads: "Therefore, your petitioners pray that, first, Parliament ensure that the present provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada prohibiting assisted suicide be enforced vigorously, and second, Parliament make no changes in the law which would sanction or allow the aiding or abetting of suicide or active or passive euthanasia".

I want to go on record as saying I completely agree with my constituents.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am presenting a petition on behalf of slightly over 750 constituents of Wild Rose. They feel that the stop work order imposed on Sunshine Village that calls for yet another environmental study is an unnecessary cost to the taxpayers.

Numerous studies and public forums have already been held and expansion was approved by Liberal and Conservative governments during the past 16 years.

The petitioners therefore have called on Parliament to allow the expansion at Sunshine Village to go ahead as previously agreed to and without further costs to the taxpayers for repetitive environmental studies.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Audrey McLaughlin NDP Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present petitions signed by residents of the Northwest Territories and Yukon regarding the protection of the Porcupine caribou herd.

The petitioners call on Parliament to formally reaffirm the position stated in 1987 of the best way to ensure the future of the many shared wildlife populations of the coastal plain. Canada's preference would be for the United States to follow the example already set in both the adjacent Arctic national wildlife refuge lands and on the Canadian side of the border by designating the 1002 area as wilderness.

This was the position taken by the previous Parliament. I agree with my constituents and those of the Northwest Territories that the Porcupine caribou herd is a national treasure. I would urge the government and Parliament reaffirm that position as these petitioners request.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Reform

Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition from constituents of the city of Quesnel, British Columbia.

My constituents are unhappy that Canadians were not consulted before the Official Languages Act was entrenched in the Constitution.

They call on Parliament to enact legislation providing for a referendum of the people binding on Parliament to accept or reject two official languages, English and French, for the government and the people of Canada.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have petitions signed by 4,460 people asking the government to ban the product known as the serial killer board game.

These petitions are in addition to the 105,000 signatures I have tabled already for a grand total of 109,460 signatures thus far.

With the indulgence of the House, I would like to take a moment to thank a senior citizen by the name of Liana Cléroux of Rockland, Ontario, who arranged that most of these petitions throughout Canada were accumulated during the last two years.

I also want to thank the Minister of Justice for having tabled today legislation which in my opinion proved that Mrs. Cléroux is right.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from more than 100 residents of Peterborough and surrounding areas. It is on behalf of long service employees who lose their jobs and have locked in pensions.

These petitioners request changes to the Pension Benefits Act, 1985, which was revised in 1990 to bring that act they say in line with the economy of the 1990s and to improve the situation of displaced long term employees.

The petitioners suggest that consideration be given to releasing such pension funds in cases such as financial hardship, the loss of a job, where someone is starting a new business, or where there is no job available. They also suggest that the eligibility age should be reviewed and lowered. I have signed these petitions.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have several petitions with several hundred signatures of citizens who want to ban the importing of serial killer cards.

Canadians who are offended by these killer cards will be pleased that the minister has acted so quickly. Today draft amendments to the Criminal Code have been tabled which "would restrict or prohibit the sale or distribution of materials such as serial killer cards and serial killer board games to children under the age of 18". He has suggested that this would go to the justice committee which will be studying it starting next week.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I too have a petition to present on behalf of the constituents of Calgary North, several hundred of whom have signed this petition. They request that the serial killer board game be banned from sale in Canada.

They will welcome the speedy passage of the legislation that has been introduced today. It is clear these concerned citizens and many others firmly support this legislation demanding the banning of this alleged game from Canada.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rex Crawford Liberal Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am always honoured to rise in the House on behalf of the constituents of my riding of Kent.

I have several hundred signatures pursuant to Standing Order 36 concerning the ethanol plant they hope to have in the city of Chatham through the help of the federal government.

They say: "Your petitioners humbly pray and call upon Parliament to maintain the present exemption on the excise portion of ethanol for a decade, allowing for a strong and self-sufficient ethanol industry in Canada".

I am pleased to note the Minister of Natural Resources in tabling her report was stressing energy conservation and clean fuels.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Shall all questions stand?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Shall the Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand?

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I wish to inform the House that because of a ministerial statement, Government Orders will be extended by five minutes, pursuant to Standing Order 33(3) (b) .

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

April 20th, 1994 / 3:30 p.m.

Portage—Interlake Manitoba

Liberal

Jon Gerrard Liberalfor the Minister of Finance

moved that Bill C-13, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act and a related act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity today to reaffirm the government's commitment to a fair and simpler sales tax system.

Our goal is to make it fair for consumers and business, especially small business, and to have a tax structure that promotes federal-provincial co-operation and harmonization.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance has already begun to explore alternatives to the current GST. The committee is focusing on the objectives of administrative ease for registrants, enhanced competitiveness for Canadian business and fairness for all taxpayers. It will also be mindful of the transitional impact on taxpayers of any proposed changes.

In addition the committee will have to be sensitive to the impact on revenue, for we need a sales tax system that can be relied upon as a stable source of revenue for the government.

The committee is consulting with Canadians. By June 1 it will report back to the House on ways in which we might achieve these goals.

The committee's report will help to set the agenda for consultations with provincial governments. We will invite the provinces to work with us to achieve a greater sales tax co-ordination. The lack of co-ordination in the tax system, particularly in the area of sales tax, increases the complexity for businesses and creates many extra costs for governments, both federal and provincial.

Through this process of consultation we will do our best to ensure that improvements to the tax system rest on a broad public and intergovernmental consensus. It will take time to build this consensus. It will take time to reform the sales tax system, to do it once and to do it properly.

It is therefore necessary for this government to take steps to make the GST easier to comply with in the interim. Bill C-13 proposes amendments that will accomplish this.

In several areas the GST legislation needs to be brought into line with what is practical on an administrative level both for the government and the GST registrants. The bill contains measures that have been developed and refined in consultation with representatives from the business community and other sectors affected by the changes. These measures will make the GST easier for businesses and other entities to comply with in their day to day operations.

Even though the GST will be replaced during the government's mandate, we will do what we can in the meantime to make the existing rules easier to understand for businesses, taxpayers and their professional advisers. The bill contains provisions that will ease the administrative burden on seasonal and part time businesses.

Bill C-13 is beneficial for charities as well. In fact it will allow some of the smaller charities to be excluded from the GST rules altogether. For charities that do remain in the system there are measures that would make the rules easier to follow.

This bill will also clarify and broaden the scope of the special treatment in the agricultural sector and certain exempt sectors.

I would now like to take a few minutes to tell my hon. friends about some of the specific measures in Bill C-13. I would like to begin with the changes we are proposing for the business community, especially small businesses, for it is in this sector that the need for change is particularly critical.

The bill contains provisions related to a simplified method for registrants to claim input tax credits, that is to recover the GST they pay on their business expenses.

This simplified method will be available to businesses with annual taxable sales of $500,000 or less. It will eliminate the need for them to identify the amount of tax payable on each and every purchase they make. Effectively this special approach will allow them to calculate input tax credits by using the same information they need for income tax purposes.

Other amendments in this bill will ensure that seasonal and part time businesses will no longer have to file GST returns during the off season.

Taken together, these small business measures will make the current sales tax system easier to comply with for many registrants in Canada.

There are other sectors of society that have special needs and practices to which the tax system must adapt. Bill C-13 contains provisions that respond to the concerns of the health, charitable and non-profit sectors.

For example, the legislation will guarantee the tax free status of adapting privately owned vehicles to the needs of the individuals who use wheelchairs. Another measure will broaden the GST exemption for homemaker services that are rendered to people who require special assistance due to age, infirmity or disability.

The bill will help charities by entitling them to rebates or input tax credits on allowances and reimbursements they pay to volunteers who have incurred expenses on the charity's behalf. It will also make it easier for them to calculate input tax credits on their meals and entertainment expenses. Another amendment will make it simpler for charities to determine whether or not they are required to register for GST purposes.

In the agricultural sector Bill C-13 guarantees the tax free treatment of rabbits produced for food.

For suppliers of exempt services particularly in the financial sector, the bill clarifies the extent to which they may claim input tax credits in respect of expenses they incur in support of both their exempt and taxable activities.

The measures contained in Bill C-13 will lessen the administrative burden of the GST. They will resolve some of its technical shortcomings until we, together with our provincial counterparts, have an opportunity to forge a solid consensus for a fundamental reform of the sales tax system.

I therefore urge the hon. members to give their full support to the bill.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Maurice Bernier Bloc Mégantic—Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, the House will consider three bills, including one which concerns the Department of National Revenue and, more specifically, the merger of customs and excise. The other two bills deal, respectively, with legislative provisions concerning the GST, Bill C-13 and Bill C-15 which deal with certain Income Tax amendments.

The Official Opposition will support the government on the adoption of Bill C-13. As the hon. member for Vancouver South just pointed out, this bill, whose purpose is to revise or adjust certain provisions of the GST legislation, will affect small and seasonal businesses, charities, health care services, agriculture, financial institutions and other exempt suppliers, and also sets requirements for payments and remittances of $50,000 or more.

I would like to take this opportunity to discuss why the government has to revise these bills from time to time. In the case of Bill C-13, the bill before the House today, I must admit this is an admirable attempt by the government to make our taxation system more straightforward and more equitable.

The Official Opposition certainly welcomes this initiative, especially since it also aims to correct some technical deficiencies in legislation adopted previously. However, I think this would be a good time to explain how important it is for us, as legislators, to produce legislation that is clear, concise and consistent. The trouble with most of the legislation being passed today, especially when the government is trying to move a large number of bills through Parliament, is that the implementation of all this legislation often creates problems that are even worse than those it was supposed to resolve, which are often quite simple. The result is that today, we have hundreds of laws that merely complicate the lives of most citizens.

I think we should realize, as legislators, that there is the federal government, the House of Commons, which passes bill after bill, and the provincial legislatures which also produce a considerable number of bills and regulations every year. There are also municipal governments across Canada and Quebec which adopt by-laws to be observed by all members of the community. There are also school boards, each with their own by-laws.

My point is that the well-known principle that ignorance of the law is no excuse is often difficult to maintain in the maze of legislation we find at all levels of government. Often the only people who can be sure of enjoying the benefits of these laws are the experts in the field, including lawyers, notaries and accountants, for whom I have tremendous respect; but the fact remains that more often than not, they are the real beneficiaries of this maze of legislation at all levels of government.

How do you expect ordinary people whom we are supposed to represent in this House to find their way through the incredible labyrinth of legislation in this country? A law is never perfect, but we should at least ensure it is worded as simply as possible. Legislation that is not clear will inevitably be misinterpreted or misused, sooner or later. As I said before, there are hundreds of laws in Canada that would gain by being simplified or at least clarified.

Bill C-13 fills that need to some extent, and that is why the members of the Bloc Quebecois support it. We, on this side, are able to recognize it when the government does it right and we will never hesitate to support any measure or bill such as Bill C-13 that makes it possible to simplify the Canadian legislative system. Unfortunately, such is not the case with all Canadian legislation. In some cases, it is almost ridiculous and Canadians get the impression, in fact the conviction, that the legislator does not know where he is going, that he has no vision and that all we are asking of our fellow citizens is that they trust their government and obey the many laws passed just about everywhere.

Survey after survey shows that current Canadian public opinion on the confidence of the people in their governments and elected representatives in general -and Quebecers agree with their fellow citizens in English Canada on that- is lower than the interest rates set by the Bank of Canada, although these are relatively low.

All this to say that neither increasing the number of laws nor enforcing them will improve the public's perception.

I will come back to that later, but we will also be debating Bill C-15, which is a good example of the kind of legislation that should be put before this House to make some sense of the legislative and administrative jumble created by previous legislation.

Bill C-13 clarifies the legislation that governs us. While a step in the right direction, such efforts remain very modest in the face of the masses of legislation which continues to make the lives of people and corporations miserable in this country because of their lack of clarity and transparency.

Let us not forget that each time a flawed piece of legislation is passed in this chamber, that a statutory regulation providing for the execution of a law is misinterpreted or applied incorrectly, and that this has an impact on the everyday lives of our fellow citizens. As legislators, we often acquire the annoying habit of forgetting that the various bills we pass impact on the daily lives of our fellow citizens.

Those were the main comments I wanted to make as the Official Opposition critic concerning Bill C-13. In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that the opposition will support this bill because, as I pointed out, it improves several legislative provisions on the GST. We hope that, under the GST review initiative referred to by the hon. member for Vancouver South-we know that public hearings and consultations are being held on a new

act, perhaps, or an in-depth review of the GST-the government will take the time needed to table before Parliament a bill that will make sense to Canadians, that will be equitable and that will, in the end, benefit our society.