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House of Commons Hansard #43 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendment.

Topics

The SenateOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are aware of the 19th century concept of the Senate but we are talking about the Senate in the 21st century.

I also appreciate the tribute to my late father but we ought to remember his famous comment on the Senate, that its three priorities are alcohol, protocol and Geritol. That is why it ought to be reformed.

It took Brian Mulroney nine months but at least he eventually recognized the democratic will of Albertans and appointed Stan Waters to the Senate.

The Prime Minister does not need a constitutional amendment to do the right thing. Why has the Prime Minister changed his tune on Senate elections? Is he prepared to break the promise made by him and his party in 1992 to provide an elected Senate?

The SenateOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I fought to have an elected Senate but the leader of the third party campaigned across the nation to defeat the Charlottetown accord. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. Because he did not have the judgment to look at the whole package, he decided to kill it and he has to live with the decision.

At a time when a lot of the senators are Tories and the House of Commons is building legislation to be passed, I will use my privilege and exercise my duty to name a senator who will respect the will of the House of Commons.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. First, I want to remind the minister, who accuses us of being afraid regarding the tax avoidance issue, that, for two and a half years, the Bloc Quebecois-

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

If the hon. member would put his question.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

When the time comes to tax individuals, Revenue Canada does not beat around the bush. However, when it deals with family trusts, capital gains or tax avoidance-

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The question, please.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Does the Minister of Finance realize that, because he is not taking immediate action regarding tax evasion, billions of dollars are being transferred to the United States, free of tax?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, in a very calm way I will remind the House what we are doing on this very important file.

The Minister of Finance has changed the law with regard to family trusts. We have passed legislation which demands that not only corporations but individual trusts and partnerships have to record and report their offshore earnings and offshore assets.

We have very, very capable auditors on this file who have returned to the government coffers over $500 million in revenues in the last year. And I thank the Minister of Finance for another $50 million so that we can augment our work in that regard.

We are dealing with other countries to develop tax treaties so that we can exchange information on this very important file.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, my supplementary is also for the Minister of Finance.

How does the minister explain the fact that his government is so quick to hit low income taxpayers, but so slow to deal with major corporations and large fortunes? This is a disgrace.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I will just reiterate our commitment to ensure fairness and equity in the tax system.

I will add another point now that I have time. I am very proud of the people in my department who are working not only here at home but with their counterparts around the world to ensure that we move toward international standards and the exchange of information in different banks.

This is very important. We take this file extremely seriously. I commend the Minister of Finance for all that he has done in the last two years, and that is just the beginning.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the innuendo of corruption that tarnished the reputation of the previous government is setting in on this government.

Yesterday the auditor general said that the tax ruling which provided hundreds of millions of dollars of tax relief for one family was kept confidential while the exact opposite opinion was issued by the Department of Revenue denying the same tax relief to all other Canadians. That one was made public.

Will the Minister of Finance please explain why this government continued the duplicity for two and one-half years? Will he tell Canadians whether the Income Tax Act applies to all Canadians or are the friends of government exempt?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, let us remember again that the decision we are speaking about was a decision back in 1985 and 1991, a time when neither the hon. member opposite nor I was here. It was some time ago.

The auditor general drew it to our attention in his most recent report and we have acted expeditiously. The Minister of Finance has directed the finance committee to look at those aspects of the Income Tax Act and report back as to the integrity of those portions of the act.

For our side, we knew that the auditor general's report would go to the public accounts committee. I encouraged its members to pose some questions.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about the innuendo of corruption affecting this government. The minister is here. I am here.

This morning the Commissioner of Official Languages said that the Clerk of the Privy Council approved for him and he is still receiving today a $15,000 tax free apartment in Ottawa and a tax free chauffeur driven limo ride from Montreal to Ottawa every week.

Every other Canadian has to pay tax-

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The question please.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is that every other Canadian has to pay taxes on this kind of benefit. Will the minister please explain why this government ignores the requirement of the Income Tax Act for patronage appointments?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the official languages commissioner is a responsible official of the House of Commons, and the matter may be debated in committee, but it is not the responsibility of the government to debate it at this time. This issue is well known. I think that when he was hired, this situation was foreseen, and I, for one, have no other comment to add.

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

May 9th, 1996 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Natural Resources stated, and I quote:

"We never said we were to get out of forestry and mining if you read the speech from the throne".

We read the throne speech, and the governor general said, and I quote:

The government is prepared to withdraw from its functions in such areas as labour market training, forestry, mining, and recreation, that are more appropriately the responsibility of others, including provincial governments, local authorities or the private sector.

Can the minister tell us today whether the government intends to honour the promises made in the throne speech or whether the government is once again getting ready to break its own promises?

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Edmonton Northwest Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, let me reassure the hon. member that this government has every intention of delivering on its promise in the speech from the throne.

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

What about elected senators?

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Anne McLellan Liberal Edmonton Northwest, AB

Let me say to the hon. member that-

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Elected senators?

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Anne McLellan Liberal Edmonton Northwest, AB

Would you be quiet?

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I do not think we have moved the Chair yet. The hon. minister.

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Anne McLellan Liberal Edmonton Northwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I think the hon. member raises a very important question which deserves an answer. That is the point I was trying to make.

Let me reassure the hon. member we intend to deliver on our promise in the speech from the throne. What this promise is about is sorting out appropriate responsibilities between the federal government and provincial governments. It talks about determining who can most appropriately do what functions in the area of forestry and mining.

My department for the past two and half years has been hard at work on this and we will continue to work on it.

I ask the member to consider that my department by 1997-98 will be reduced by some 60 per cent and 1,500 employees. It seems pretty clear to me-