This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agency.

Topics

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the following question will be answered today: No. 117 .[Text]

Question No. 117—

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan Reform Vancouver Island North, BC

In the last five years, on the west coast of Canada, how many licences have been applied for, have been issued, have been denied, and have been revoked by the minister under the regulations to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act allowing foreign fishing boats into Canadian waters, broken down by year and by foreign country and by reasons that the licences were applied for and by reasons that the licences were issued?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

The attached tables list the licences issued under the coastal fisheries protection regulations allowing foreign vessels into Canadian waters and ports on the west coast of Canada:

  1. Table I—Foreign vessels licences issued by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, DFO, Pacific region, during the period 1993 to 1997. The licences issued to joint venture processing and transport vessels for participation in the Pacific hake over-the-side fishery were under section 5(1)(a) of the coastal fisheries protection regulations. The licences issued for port privileges were under section 5(1)(a) of the coastal fisheries protection regulations primarily to obtain fuel and supplies. The three licences issued to New Zealand in 1997 were under force majeure.

  2. Table II—Import landing licences issued to U.S. fishing vessels during the period 1996 to 1998. These licences are issued under section 5(1.5)(a) of the coastal fisheries protection regulations.

DFO Pacific region maintains records only of the licences issued. None of these were revoked. Records of telephone inquiries by agents of non-qualified countries under the coastal fisheries protection regulations are not kept; most of these were on behalf of U.S. fishing vessels seeking entry into Canadian waters for the Pacific hake fishery or to deliver groundfish to Canadian ports; callers were informed that formal requests for entry would be denied.

Table I

Foreign Vessel Licences Issued*

1997

Joint Venture Processing Vessels

Poland 7

Joint Venture Transport Vessels

Poland 3 Russia 4 Latvia 3 Bahamas 1

Port Privileges

Russia 2 Poland 2 New Zealand 3

1996

Joint Venture Processing Vessels

Poland 10

Joint Venture Transport Vessels

Poland 5 Russia 6 Cyprus 1 Ukraine 1

Port Privileges

Russia 1

1995

Joint Venture Processing Vessels

Nil

Joint Venture Transport Vessels

Nil

Port Privileges

Nil

1994

Joint Venture Processing Vessels

Poland 7 Chinese 7

Joint Venture Transport Vessels

Poland 4 Latvia 2 Japanese 1

Port Privileges

Nil

1993

Joint Venture Processing Vessels

Poland 6

Joint Venture Transport Vessels

Poland 4 Japanese 2 Bahamas 1 Russia 2

Port Privileges

Nil

  • 1998 statistics not yet available

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

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

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

October 21st, 1998 / 3:25 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers No. P-38 in the name of the hon. member for Skeena be called.

Motion P-38

That an order of the House do issue for a copy of all documents, reports, minutes of meetings, notes, memos, correspondence and briefings related to the aboriginal endowment fund.

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, with respect to Motion P-38, I ask that it be transferred for debate.

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The motion is transferred for debate pursuant to Standing Order 97(1).

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

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

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from October 1 consideration of the motion that Bill C-43, an act to establish the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and to amend and repeal other acts as a consequence, be read the second time and referred to a committee; and of the amendment.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to talk about Bill C-43, the Canada customs and revenue agency. I want to talk a bit about revenues and how they are applied and a bit about the agency. I also want to give a good example of application of revenues.

The government collects a lot of money and what it does with the money is important. I want to make a point about the difference between collecting money and spending it wisely.

I recently wrote a letter to the solicitor general about how the government spends those revenues. I want to relate a bit of that to the House. My concern was that the government has actually been cutting back on the services of the RCMP in British Columbia by way of budget cuts amounting to about $8.5 million. That does not seem like a lot of money, I suppose, in that the government takes in revenues of billions upon billions, $120 billion a year approximately, but it is a lot of money in British Columbia and it is a lot of money for the policing services.

Just recently members of the RCMP were advised that they had to eliminate their overtime and their training. They had to ground their airplanes. They had to stop running their boats. These are pretty basic functions for the RCMP in British Columbia.

The result of all this is that criminals have a free-for-all in some cases because the RCMP is not even available during the evening, after hours, to look at situations involving investigations of criminal activities in drugs. British Columbia has a serious drug problem.

With that in mind I wrote to the solicitor general and said that it was rather ironic that the government had to cut back $8.5 million in those operations but had a $3.5 billion surplus. Let us put this $3.5 billion into perspective. That is a three and a half thousand million dollar surplus, yet the RCMP has to cutback on its operations.

I said we should look at it again to see if there is anything the government is spending money on that is unnecessary and could have possibly been applied to the RCMP to help it continue to be efficient in its operations. It took me about 10 minutes. I want to relate how some of our revenues are being applied. For instance, we have a little bit of a debt of about $580 billion.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Reform

Paul Forseth Reform New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

A little bit.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Yes, a little bit. That should be challenged because it is a significant amount of money. Around the world people would say Canada's debt ratio is the highest next to Italy's.

What has the government done? While we wallow in debt the federal government forgave some of the debt owed to it. For instance, it forgave Colombia's debt of $2.8 million, El Salvador's debt of $2.7 million and Honduras debt of $3.3 million. It is ironic that we are forgiving the debt of some of these places. It also forgave Nicaragua's debt of $900,000, Costa Rica's of $2.3 million and Egypt's of $9.6 million. That is $21.5 million.

Yet the RCMP, which is fighting crime in British Columbia, has to cut out overtime and ground its planes because it has an $8.5 million problem. I wonder what it is that makes those folks on the other side think like that. There must be some other perspective. That must be wrong.

The government has given out a bit of money this year. It gave $120,000 to the Prisoners Support Action Network; $54,000 to the United Steelworkers of America; $49,000 to the Prison Art Foundation; $46,000 to the Canadian Atlantic Lobster Association; and $51,000 to the BCTF, the British Columbia Teachers Federation. This amounted to $320,000. Yet at the same time the government cut back on RCMP overtime, ground its planes and ditched its boats. In a province rife with drugs we do not even have some drug investigations going on after hours. Must be something wrong with that.

I looked a little further to see how the government spent a little more money. It has given close to $1.3 million for the development of a more diseased resistant banana in the Honduras. Is it any wonder the average person including the police get quite appalled with a government that says “You have $8.5 million problem so we are cutting back on all our services that protect the people in British Columbia, but we are going to give $1.3 million to find a better banana in the Honduras?” Is it any wonder the average cop on the street sees the whole exercise as darn futile?

Let me give members some other ideas. The police know this because I have told them. I mailed a letter to them. Members ought to see the responses. They are appalled that this kind of money is being spent, this revenue taken in from the taxpayer is being spent this way, and much less small amounts are being taken from the RCMP to protect our citizens.

Did the government fund any conferences? It took about two minutes to look it up. Sure, it did. It gave the International Conference on Visual Poetry, $10,000; the annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, $10,000; Ukraine and the New World Order, $9,000; Canadian Association of Irish Studies, $8,700; Canadian Society for the Study of Names, $3,900; and the Society for Socialist Studies, $12,000.

When I showed this to the police they asked who were the rocket science people across the way who thought this stuff up and cut us back. Who are these people?

There must be something else. Maybe I should look at publications. I say to the RCMP that the government spent $90,000 on the Canadian Business Economics publication, $37,000 on the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, $28,000 on the Dalhousie Law Journal, $57,000 on the Osgoode Hall Law Journal and $45,000 on the Professional Regulation of Accountants.

Let us put this in perspective. These amounts of money are being spent but it is cutting back all overtime of the RCMP. It is grounding the RCMP's planes, boats and all its training. The RCMP cannot investigate drug investigations after hours. We have a 9 to 5 police force in British Columbia. Is there no perspective here?

I looked a little further. The Department of Agriculture developed an information kit for the 300 MPs in the House. I do not even know where it is, but it spent $200,000 developing it. Yet the government has the unmitigated gall to cut back on the services of the RCMP.

We must be getting close to the end. However the government likes to poll and find out attitudes about matters, perhaps APEC and the country's attitude toward pepper spraying students. The government spent $622,000 for one company to poll. The Angus Reid group received $688,000 and Ekos Research $1.3 million for a total of $2.6 million, which is more than 25% of what it took away from the RCMP which fights crime in British Columbia.

It gave $1.4 million to professional and technical support for municipal authorities in Czechoslovakia. It gave $473,000 for a grant to reintegrate Malayan soldiers back into their society for a total of $14 million, which is more than the whole problem in British Columbia. It gave a grant to provide Canadian built locomotives to Senegal. It gave $2 million in a grant to promote the use of electrical energy in Brazil and $450,000 in a grant to establish the Lebanese parliamentary institute. The Minister of Canadian Heritage gave $15 million for free flag handouts.

Let us put this into perspective. I come from a province which depends on the services of the RCMP, not a 9 to 5 operation. When the government cuts back on that money to spend on these projects, there is something seriously wrong in the House of Commons. There is something seriously wrong with the government putting things into perspective.

How much time do I have, Mr. Speaker? I am splitting my time.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

The Speaker

You are splitting your time. There are eight and a half minutes left. Perhaps you would like to wrap up and we could go to your colleague.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Langley—Abbotsford, BC

I would like my colleague to participate. I guess it is time. I wish it was election time because I know the RCMP is damn sick of what is going on.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Maybe darn sick.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, in speaking to Bill C-43 one of the things that I have a deep concern about is the present power of Revenue Canada. I do not see anything in the bill that would do anything to restrain the power of Revenue Canada.

I would like to refer to tax cases where in my judgment Revenue Canada has been excessive and has been punitive toward people in my constituency. In January of this year I asked for a meeting with the revenue minister. It took until April 30 to arrange that meeting with him unfortunately. What is even more unfortunate is that since April 30 I have not been directly contacted by the minister on this issue.

I find it very difficult as a member of parliament to truly represent the people of Kootenay—Columbia. I should be able to have access to the revenue minister, particularly on important issues for my constituents. I have a meeting and he does not respond to me.

What is this case? In my constituency there are many people who have ranches, farms and rural property. On those ranches, farms and rural properties there are trees which in many cases can be selectively harvested. In 1993, 1994, 1995 and through to 1996 there was a demand for timber, softwood lumber. Manufacturers have been looking for a source of timber. They have come to these ranchers, farmers and rural property owners and have made deals with them.

These people all independent of each other went to their professional accountants, whether they be CAs, CGAs, CPAs or whatever the professional designation. Their accountants either checked directly with Revenue Canada or went on the standing practice of Revenue Canada that these logs, because they do not form part of the normal income of the ranches, farms or rural property, would be treated as capital gains. After they had received the revenue from the softwood lumber manufacturers, these people went to their accountants, received professional advice, and paid their taxes.

What appears to have happened is that the tax department in Kelowna looked at these returns and said that there were enough of these things happening, that this was something new and it was going to reassess on the basis of those trees and the income from those trees as being part of those people's ordinary income. It is not part of their ordinary income. In fact, this is just found income on the part of my constituents.

My point is that tax practices cannot be changed retroactively. If Revenue Canada in 1996 when it woke up to the amount of money that in its judgment was being left on the table, had sent a bulletin to all of the accountants and affected people not only in my constituency but indeed throughout the interior of the province of British Columbia that this was going to be the practice from now on on their future income, I could accept that within reason.

The difficulty is that all of these people, and I have at least a dozen cases in my office and more are coming in every day, at least a dozen of my constituents in good faith went to a professional accountant, received advice and paid their taxes. When Revenue Canada realized that this was something new that was happening within my constituency and within the interior of the province of British Columbia, it decided retroactively that it was going to go after these people.

What is involved here? In some instances my constituents are retired people. This was a portion of money. To quantify this, their income could have ranged anywhere from $10,000 to $400,000 from the sale of these logs from their property. In many cases these are retired people who then took that income, paid their taxes and then made other investment decisions. In fact, in the case of a couple of my constituents, they actually gave their money away to their families. In other words, the money is gone.

Now all of a sudden Revenue Canada, with a retroactive tax grab, is coming around and saying “Oh well, now we will just bill you another $8,000, $9,000, $50,000, $80,000 in taxes because we have decided that we are going to change our way of assessing”.

The real injustice is that these people cannot even deduct their farming expenses, if they have expenses, against this income, because it is not a standard form of their income. Yet Revenue Canada is calling it a form of their income.

What has happened? One of my constituents took it to a tax court for review and he won hands down. There was absolutely no question about it. Revenue Canada has in turn taken it one ratchet up with the tax money from our pockets and these people's pockets. It is going after these people in tax court. In the very vague possibility that this higher court rules in favour of Revenue Canada, Revenue Canada will reap the benefit of all of the interest or penalty accrued on the money it says these people owe.

My specific concern is that I do not see anything in this legislation that gives me any feeling of comfort that we are going to end up with a fairer jurisdiction. I realize that to a certain extent the United States IRS has been mythologized. The problem is the agency has the probability of becoming a fierce tiger, as fierce a tiger as the United States Internal Revenue Service which is one of the most feared bureaucracies in the country south of the 49th parallel.

This legislation is seriously flawed if it does not stop Revenue Canada from retroactively grabbing money out of the hands of people like my constituents, honest, law-abiding, taxpaying Canadian citizens who pay what is rightfully and justly owed to Revenue Canada. It is my responsibility to speak on behalf of my constituents. I do so. The people in the constituency of Kootenay—Columbia have to know that as their member of parliament I am going to continue to push this issue as hard as I possibly can.

I have one little story which has been bubbling along for a short period of time, perhaps a year to 18 months. In that period of time I or my office assistant have asked some of these taxpayers if they would permit us to publicize this matter so that we could expose what Revenue Canada and the revenue minister are doing. They were scared. They were afraid that if they permitted this matter to publicized, that if their names became part of this whole process, Revenue Canada would come down on them on other issues in future years. That is shameful.

We understand the necessity of collecting revenue. We understand the necessity of collecting taxes. When the people of Canada are scared of Revenue Canada and the potential for the auditors to come down on them, I say shame on Revenue Canada, shame on this minister, shame on this government for not doing what is right. Give a proper balance to the rights of Canadian taxpayers. Change this legislation so it does that and then perhaps we can support the legislation.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

Just as the hon. member was running out of time, I knew he would come back to the bill and to the body of it. I knew he was going to get there.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, as I speak to this legislation, to my colleagues, parliament and the people of Canada, I will briefly outline an initiative I took awhile ago. As I describe it I will relate it to the legislation.

A couple of years ago I asked an independent lawyer for an analysis of the bills that were before the House of Commons. I requested an examination of the bills before the House to determine which pieces of legislation were taking power away from the people of Canada through their elected representatives and giving it to the bureaucracy. What bills before parliament were enhancing or reducing accountability to the people of Canada?

Members may find this very, very interesting because it relates directly to what we are doing in parliament this afternoon and the member's speech which just took place.

I put the question forward because many people were coming to me expressing concern that the government was out of control, that it was growing bigger and bigger and becoming less accountable.

As was mentioned previously, Canadians are afraid of the tax department. They are afraid of Revenue Canada. Why? Because the bureaucracy wields great power and the ordinary citizen feels quite helpless before it. It appears to extract the maximum amount of money from them without informing them of their rights or the minimum amount that would be payable. The Income Tax Act is overly complex, as we know, and it is intimidating. The key point is that Canadians would rather have a thief break into their house than deal with the tax department. People have told me that.

My point is that this bill will only make things worse. There will be less accountability. I can only support this initiative if there is a built-in structure. I would like to ask for the member's comments with regard to the proposal I am putting forward. There should be a built-in structure that protects taxpayers and those importing goods into Canada or exporting goods out of Canada.

We have to look at what happened with harmonization in eastern Canada. Has it improved efficiency? Not that I am aware of. In fact, I understand there are provinces that want to pull out of it, like Nova Scotia.

We need an agency to protect taxpayers, one that will make sure they are treated fairly and justly and not in an arbitrary manner. We need an agency that will help resolve disputes or problems with Revenue Canada. I think before we can support this bill, we have to have that agency in place. I would like to know if my colleague has any comments in that regard.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, yes I agree completely with the comments of my colleague. As the House may know, the Reform Party has the objective of protecting the rights of Canadians. With that, we desire to put forward an office for taxpayer protection.

Clearly, part of this legislation must be the protection of the taxpayer. We cannot allow ourselves to slip into the Internal Revenue Service model that there is in the United States.

This legislation is grossly inadequate in that respect. Therefore there is no way we could possibly support it in its present form.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have a quick question for the member for Kootenay—Columbia.

I was listening to his comments about cutting the timber on the ranches and the very real fear among constituents straight across this country from coast to coast to coast of capital gains. There is a misunderstanding of the whole problem of dealing with capital gains and income within a family for future generations. The understanding is that all this capital gains has already been taxed, that we have paid tax on everything we have acquired throughout a life.

Very quickly, I think part of the problem especially in forestry issues is that there is no way the Income Tax Act can accommodate the growth of capital in forest land prior to the 40, 50 or 60 years it takes to produce that fibre. All of a sudden there is a windfall profit and it cannot be claimed in the ensuing 10, 20 or 40-year period after it has been acquired.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I understand there is current legislation that applies to official woodlot operations. Those are commercial woodlot operations that will probably have some kind of a sustainable cycle within the production of wood.

I think what the member is referring to and certainly what I am referring to is where there is timber available and a desirability on the part of the lumber producers to buy that timber, how is taxing the revenue from that timber handled?

The decision that was a standing decision by Revenue Canada was that log would be valued on the basis of capital gain as opposed to income because we could not write off expenses against that log.

That was the way these people paid their taxes and I submit that because there was so much revenue left on the table according to Revenue Canada when it looked at all these returns, Revenue Canada simply retroactively said it is not going to do it that way, has gone back to them and is trying to extract money after the fact by retroactively changing the law.