House of Commons Hansard #42 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was family.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

As is our practice on Wednesdays, we will now sing O Canada, which will be led by the hon. member for for Victoria-Haliburton.

Canada Day Poster ChallengeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Anna Terrana Liberal Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I recently had the pleasure of participating in the ceremony held to announce the British Columbia winners of the Canada Day poster challenge.

In British Columbia, the winner is 9 year old Eric Stockand, a young man who loves to draw, play the piano, swim and go camping.

This is the second time I have had the pleasure of presenting the first prize for B.C. to one of my young constituents. Kevin Su won in 1994. Both Eric and Kevin had the same teacher, Mr. Kenson Seto. Mr. Seto is an art teacher who believes in Canada's multicultural nature and its unity.

Eric Stockand was also one of the Honda poster finalists for the Future of Transportation competition and has won several colouring contests. His drawing, representing a dove in a Canadian context, has been described by Eric as reflecting Canada as a land of joy, a land where all people can live together in peace and harmony.

Canada is lucky to have young people like Eric Stockand and Kevin Su and teachers like Kenson Seto. Congratulations to all of them.

Coast GuardStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, another voice has been added to the general vehement objections to the Coast Guard fees the government is preparing to ram through.

The Quebec urban community, which is directly affected, on April 23 unanimously adopted a resolution demanding that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reverse its decision and carry out an in depth assessment of the economic impact of the various options.

I am asking the government to halt this direct assault against the Quebec economy. I am asking the government to listen to the taxpayers, the municipal authorities and the economic stakeholders. Perhaps an equitable solution can then be found.

TaxationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, imagine for a moment that you have been working abroad for a number of years. You spent long periods of time away from your family and have endured many hardships. The only benefit to you was the overseas tax exemption.

Suddenly you find out there has been a big mistake. Even though Revenue Canada accepted your tax returns for all those years, it now turns out that your company and all of its employees did not qualify for the tax exemption. You owe back taxes all the way back to 1991, big time.

In my riding and all through Alberta's oil patch, there are people who now find themselves in this situation. These people should have been advised much sooner.

Revenue Canada was lax in its enforcement and lax in checking the credentials of the companies involved. Therefore, the minister must take another look at such circumstances which allowed this to happen. The minister must do something to offer relief to people who now owe thousands of dollars which they cannot repay.

Canada-United States Tax ConventionStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Independent

Gilles Bernier Independent Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the Canada-United States tax convention was modified, thousands of people living in Beauce, Quebec and Canada who are drawing American pensions are losing a sizeable chunk of those pensions. Their cheques have been cut 25 per cent, an extremely harsh penalty.

The new convention hits those receiving U.S. disability pensions even harder, since most of them have dependants and the pension is often their main source of income. Some have experienced cuts of several hundred dollars a month.

I am therefore asking the Minister of Finance to look at appropriate measures to lighten the financial burden we have recently imposed on these people, most of whom already had barely enough to live on.

FirefightersStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Liberal Winnipeg—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to bring to the attention of all members and all Canadians the hard work and commitment shown by our professional firefighters.

Firefighting is an honourable profession in which men and women place themselves at risk in order to serve their fellow citizens. It is important for all of us to realize the contributions our firefighters make to society.

This week members of the International Association of Fire Fighters are in Ottawa to discuss issues within their profession. I welcome them and I thank them. On behalf of all Canadians I say thanks for the services of our firefighters, their dedication and professionalism.

Canadian Fraternal AssociationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Walt Lastewka Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to welcome members of the Canadian Fraternal Association to the nation's capital. It is a pleasure to have members of the association in Ottawa this week for their annual meeting.

The Canadian Fraternal Association represents some 400,000 Canadians and their families from across Canada. There are 22 fraternal organizations which belong to the CFA, including several organizations from the United States.

Members of the Canadian Fraternal Association provide a range of services in their respective communities. They contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, scholarships and educational programs. Communities and individual Canadians from across the country benefit from this work. Members also provide financial products and services such as insurance, savings and investment vehicles as well as educational programs, volunteer services and social activities.

I am pleased to join with other members in this House to welcome the Canadian Fraternal Association to Ottawa.

Sir Wilfrid LaurierStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are in May 1896, and in approximately five weeks from now Wilfrid Laurier will be the first Quebecer to become Prime Minister.

He said, at the time: "I look forward to the day when Canada will have a population of 30 million people and when its word will shape the destinies of the world".

This and Canada's future were the subject of discussions by the people of Brome-Missisquoi last weekend at a forum bringing together the members for Burlington, Ontario, and Fredericton-York-Sunbury, whom I wish to thank.

Vigour, conviction and sincerity are what Laurier has to offer to those who would hear him. The same message may be heard today in Hamilton East.

Antipersonnel MinesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw the attention of the House to the agreement reached at the international congress on antipersonnel mines in Geneva last week.

Rather than completely prohibit the use of antipersonnel mines, the new protocol proposes that the 57 signatory governments make future mines detectible or self-destructible. These governments will even have nine years to implement it, and no verification process was established.

This absurd agreement completely sidesteps the present situation caused by existing mines.

The Bloc Quebecois would like to express its profound disappointment at this agreement, because, between now and the next review of the agreement, five years from now, 50,000 more people will be killed and another 80,000 will be wounded or mutilated. It is just shameful.

EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Paul Forseth Reform New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the words of the auditor general in his May report with regard to environmental stewardship: "Somebody needs to accept full responsibility for the overall implementation of the greening process. There is no one in charge who is reporting objectively on the status of the greening process across government and as a result there is no way to know if the government is meeting its objectives".

This is not the first time the auditor general has reported on Environment Canada's ineffectiveness. Like the past, probably nothing will change in the future.

Reform has repeatedly asked for the Minister of the Environment to show objectiveness and reason. Sheila Copps would scoff at our suggestions and say: "Look what we have done". Well Sheila, look where you are now.

The current minister is showing signs of moving in the same direction as Sheila Copps. If he continues to ignore the suggestions of the auditor general and of Reform, he may soon find himself in poor Sheila's shoes.

Bicycle Safety WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Lavigne Liberal Verdun—Saint-Paul, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 26, the bike path in Verdun linking Nuns Island to the mainland will be officially opened as part of Bicycle Safety Week.

The family biking activity to be held on that day in my riding of Verdun-Saint-Paul will be organized jointly by the City of Verdun, the Government of Canada, and the Optimist Clubs of Verdun and Nuns Island.

I therefore invite all members of this House and their families to take part in a bicycle safety day that will be filled with fun and surprises with good weather thrown in.

Order Of CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Morris Bodnar Liberal Saskatoon—Dundurn, SK

Mr. Speaker, I wish to bring to the attention of my colleagues in the House the outstanding contributions of two residents of Saskatoon who are being awarded the Order of Canada today.

The Hon. Sidney Buckwold is no stranger to Ottawa having served honourably in the other place representing Saskatchewan for many years. Today he is invested as an Officer of the Order. Mr. Buckwold also served as mayor of Saskatoon, having a record as one of the most progressive and forward looking mayors in the city's history. As well, Mr. Buckwold has served our community through work as a volunteer with many charitable organizations. He is one of the most prominent businessmen in Saskatoon.

Walter Podiluk is best known for his work at St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon but his contributions go well beyond to include service as superintendent of the Saskatoon Catholic Board of Education and as deputy minister of health in Saskatchewan.

I ask my colleagues to recognize the contribution of these two outstanding individuals.

Global VisionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Wood Liberal Nipissing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to announce that the 1996 Global Vision cross-Canada regional seminars will commence this week in Vancouver.

These seminars, which will also occur in Calgary, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, North Bay, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax give Canada's senior high school students the opportunity to interact with business, government and trade officials to prepare them to participate in the new global economy.

As the parliamentary chair of this non-profit organization, I would like to thank the many sponsors of Global Vision which include: the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Canadian Airlines, ACOA, Multiculturalism Canada, Corel Corporation, FITT, Laidlaw Waste Systems, Microtronix, Mitel, Nova, Western Star Trucks, A-Wear and in my riding, Boart-Longyear Limited and the Redpath Group.

I would also like to thank the universities that host the seminars and the members of this House who continue to support Global Vision.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, we now know the Reform Party's position regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation. The hon. member for Macleod, with a lack of consideration unworthy of a member of Parliament, has associated the word "sexuality" with disease and physical degeneration. Moreover, sounding quite sure of himself, he stated, and I quote:

The specific problems promoting this lifestyle relate to HIV, gay bowel syndrome, increasing parasitic infections, lowered life expectancy and finally, the one I have chosen to highlight today, an increase in hepatitis in Canada.

Not to be outdone, his colleague, the hon. member for Lisgar-Marquette, said that if Canada went ahead and banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, it could well become the Liberia of North America.

These analogies are unacceptable. The Reform leader has more cleaning-up to do within his party.

Canadian Forces Base Goose BayStatements By Members

May 8th, 1996 / 2:10 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, at the same time the people of Goose Bay, Labrador are being told the Liberal government has to cut back the local military base, they learn that a military general has thrown himself a $250,000 cocktail party.

The government is thumbing its nose at the taxpayers of Goose Bay. It downsizes at the base but has no problem funding free spending party animals in the military. The government cannot afford updated equipment and new military hardware but still has money for fancy office furniture for the top brass.

The people of Goose Bay, Labrador and all Canadian taxpayers have once again been let down by this government which refuses to crack down on outrageous and flagrant abuse of taxpayer's dollars. There is no defence for this careless and indiscriminate waste.

If the defence department can afford to do things like host a $250,000 party for an egotistical general, why can it not help save a first class military installation and keep the base at Goose Bay fully operational?

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jag Bhaduria Liberal Markham—Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

Mr. Speaker, discrimination in any way, shape or form should never be tolerated anywhere in our country. While I strongly believe that all members in this House agree on this important issue, they will also agree that the sanctity of marriage is paramount in our society.

The government's proposed amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act has caused a fury within our ridings. The overwhelming majority of Canadians believes that this legislation will ultimately change the definition of the traditional Canadian family in the courts.

There is a very simple solution to this dilemma. Today, all members in this House can support a number of motions at report stage of Bill C-33. These motions will protect the definition of family status or marriage. This gesture would show all Canadians that our federal government is committed to the sanctity of the traditional Canadian family.

What It Means To Be CanadianStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Parrish Liberal Mississauga West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to read a statement today of what it means to be Canadian to 12, 13 and 14-year old visitors from the Froebel School in my riding.

We want to continue to live in a united Canada. Being Canadian to us means safety and peace. We are protected from fear and war, we feel secure. We have splendid cities. Canada is a great and beautiful country. We are working on pollution. We are all treated equally and respected regardless of race. We have freedom of thought. I am free to be me and able to make my own choices. We enjoy our freedom of speech and the right to believe in our own religion. We have a government that listens to Canadians and is fair. We help other countries in need. We can enjoy all the opportunities Canada has to offer.

We are proud to be Canadian.

Raising The Irving WhaleStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, a number of socio-economic and environmental groups, as well as professional fishermen, have formed a major coalition to condemn the alarmist and inappropriate comments of the Quebec environment and wildlife minister.

Last week, at a press conference on the raising of the Irving Whale , the minister mentioned various alarmist scenarios, including the possible contamination of snow crab stocks, to justify his opposition to the project.

The minister should remember that a security perimeter has been in place around the wreck for over ten years to prevent any contamination risk.

At a time when the fishing and tourism season is getting into full swing in the Magdalen islands, the PQ minister would be well advised to avoid fearmongering, for such comments can only hurt economic activity in the region.

Family TrustsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, at a time when governments table their budget, and at a time when taxpayers are convinced that the fiscal burden could be better shared, we learned from the auditor general that some family trusts are believed to have transferred assets of $2 billion to the United States, free of tax, with the government's approval. In fact,

senior officials from the Department of Finance made Revenue Canada reconsider its position and grant these exemptions.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. How can the minister justify the fact that two family trusts were allowed to transfer over $2 billion worth of assets to the United States, without paying any tax on capital gains, this with the government's approval?

Family TrustsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Minister of National Revenue answered this question quite satisfactorily yesterday. This was something that happened under the previous government, in 1990-1991. Since taking power, we have put into place many measures to rectify this sort of situation.

That being said, as the minister announced yesterday, we, too, are concerned about statements such as this one, and she therefore thought it best, and I agree with her, that the matter be referred to the finance committee for thorough examination.

Family TrustsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I would certainly not wish to play cat and mouse with the finance minister on a question such as this. He knows full well that the very minimal measures he has put in place do absolutely nothing at all toward resolving the case we have mentioned here. His measures will not resolve this case. It could happen again, it could have happened again yesterday. We need some clear answers, some real answers.

We will simply ask him how he can explain that senior officials of the finance department, his department, who are still there, according to our information, applied very strong pressure on Revenue Canada to allow this tax free transfer of $2 billion in assets to the United States. How does he explain that these officials still have their jobs and that they work in his department?

Family TrustsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we obviously have here a situation calling for very serious consideration. Indeed, I would say that the questions asked by the Leader of the Opposition in a very serious and responsible tone are to the point.

That said, the auditor general did not mention any pressure from finance officials. He said discussions took place, but there were no transcripts.

Let us be quite clear. Since coming to office, we have put in place many measures dealing specifically with family trusts. In fact, not only were measures dealing with family trusts introduced by our government in our February 1995 budget, but they went much further than recommended by the finance committee.

Family TrustsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Finance will not dispute the fact that, ever since the Bloc Quebecois was elected to the House of Commons, as everyone will recall, we have always condemned the unfair advantages attached to family trusts. The minister will also recall repeatedly turning the official opposition's claims to ridicule, saying that family trusts are no big deal.

But the auditor general cited examples. After reviewing two cases, just two, he found that $2 billion in assets had been transferred. That does not seem insignificant to me.

Will the Minister of Finance acknowledge today that the carelessness he has displayed over the past two and a half years, while we were demanding aggressive action on his part, is costing a small fortune to ordinary Canadians, who do pay their taxes and do not benefit from family trusts? If only two cases led to the discovery of $2 billion in capital being tax-sheltered abroad, you can imagine what the overall amount could represent for Canadian taxpayers.

Family TrustsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, first of all, the minister said yesterday that she would refer the matter to the finance committee. The auditor general himself has admitted that this is a grey area, and one that is highly complex. Because we feel transparency is of the utmost importance, I believe an open discussion in the finance committee is the best way to discuss the matter and find a solution. I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition will accept this as a responsible reply.

Having said this, yes, the Leader of the Opposition is right in saying that the Bloc Quebecois were the ones to raise the matter of family trusts. That is, moreover, the reason we referred the matter of family trusts to the finance committee right at the start of our mandate. The Bloc Quebecois has continued to talk, while we have acted, doing away in our latest budget with any possibility of using family trusts as a means of evading taxes owed to the people of Canada.

Family TrustsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, there must be no more attempts to pull the wool over people's eyes. The February 1995 budget contains no measure for avoiding such cases, for stopping Canadian capital from being siphoned off to the U.S., nothing. As for referring the matter to the finance committee, that would require the committee to meet. We have been calling for that for two months now, and there have been no serious meetings yet to review the taxation system.

Since it is obvious that senior finance officials have intervened, and in highly dubious circumstances, does the minister acknowledge that it is his duty to cast light on the circumstances surrounding a decision which will mean the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the federal government and to Canadians?