House of Commons Hansard #161 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-402.


Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

York Centre Ontario


Art Eggleton Liberalfor the Minister of Foreign Affairs

moved the second reading of, and concurrence in, amendment made by the Senate to Bill C-52, an act to implement the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Halton Ontario


Julian Reed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to see that Bill C-52 has now passed through the other place, unanimously, with an amendment.

The Senate amendment is a modification of the amendment of this House which inserted article 27.1(2), which reads:

The Minister of Foreign Affairs shall cause a copy of the report to be laid before the House of Commons on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the minister receives the report.

The Senate has amended the text of this amendment as follows:

The Minister of Foreign Affairs shall cause a copy of the report to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the minister receives the report.

We fully support the Senate amendment. We consider it important that pursuant to Canadian parliamentary tradition the annual report of the CTBT national authority should be presented to both houses of parliament.

Let me remind the House that for the past 50 years Canadians have worked hard to ensure the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the construction of an effective international non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament regime.

The passage of Bill C-52 will allow Canada to implement one of the cornerstones of such a regime. I am proud to be associated with the legislation before us today. I urge all of my colleagues to support this amendment and ensure its rapid adoption by this parliament.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.


Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the great people of Surrey Central and all Canadians, and as the deputy critic for foreign affairs for the official opposition I am delighted to speak to the Senate amendment of Bill C-52.

The Senate has passed Bill C-52, an act to implement the comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty, with the following amendment to clause 27.1. The senators want us to replace lines 6 to 10 with the following:

(2) The Minister of Foreign Affairs shall cause a copy of the report to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the Minister receives the report.

The House will actually be voting on the following motion:

That the amendment made by the Senate to Bill C-52, an act to implement the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, be now read a second time and concurred in.

We, the official opposition, offer our general support to the amendment. The chief critic for foreign affairs, my hon. colleague from Red Deer, addressed this bill at length when we were debating it in the House. Liberal members and in fact the whole House can learn a great deal from the hon. member's vast experience in foreign affairs.

I was also privileged to attend the numerous meetings of the foreign affairs and international trade committee where we discussed at great length the nuclear issue.

This seems like a reasonable amendment on a very critical issue. It is a step in the right direction and a step forward. But we remind the Government of Canada that it, along with its NATO allies, must remain on guard against rogue states and the terrorists that may threaten Canadians and the people on this planet with weapons of mass destruction.

The official opposition agrees with the amendment and hopes that as a result of this bill Canadians will become more interested in international affairs and the security of our great nation.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to rise in the House to indicate my support and that of my Bloc Quebecois colleagues for Bill C-52, specifically the Senate amendment moving that lines 6 to 10, paragraph 27.1, on page 13 of the bill be replaced by the following:

Tabling of report

The Minister of Foreign Affairs shall cause a copy of the report to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the Minister receives the report.

I am particularly proud that this amendment was the result of a Bloc Quebecois initiative. The Bloc Quebecois has always taken a keen interest in transparency and correspondingly in increasing the involvement of members of this House in the implementation of a treaty such as the one before us today, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

Furthermore, the Australian parliament has already approved a provision very similar to that in the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation Act. Thus, the report the person designated as the national authority has prepared and submitted to the minister will be tabled in that parliament.

Although this is another step in the direction of more democratic practices in our parliament, it would be a very good idea in future for this practice to become more widespread here in the House in Ottawa. Parliament should approve treaties before the government signs and ratifies them.

My colleague for Beauharnois—Salaberry, who is also the foreign affairs critic, has called upon the minister to submit this matter to the foreign affairs committee, in order to bring our treaty process in line with that of other Commonwealth countries, where a far more democratic process is in place.

The minister said he was open to examining this matter and the Bloc Quebecois will keep after him until he responds.

Now, returning to the contents of the bill, the Bloc Quebecois supports it for the values of peace and international security which it puts forward. It is an essential tool for attaining complete nuclear disarmament. For us in the Bloc Quebecois and for all parties here in this House it is important to promote, without a moment's hesitation, any legislative measure focused on those values of peace and security.

By implementing the comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty, Canada will now be able to contribute to the ultimate objective of the total eradication of nuclear arms. In this way we shall be helping to solve a problem caused by using energy contrary to the interests of humanity itself, abusing of a resource the peaceful applications of which have contributed, and will continue to contribute, to the greater well-being of humankind.

The enactment relates to the implementation of Canada's obligations under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. The parties signing the treaty undertake not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion, to prohibit and prevent any such nuclear explosion at any place under their jurisdiction or control and to refrain from causing, encouraging or participating in the carrying out of any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.

Another important feature is the international monitoring system put in place under the treaty. The purpose of this system is to detect, locate and classify nuclear explosions. In addition, on-site inspections may be carried out under the treaty to clarify the situation following a nuclear incident.

Already the treaty has reaped positive results. A number of nuclear nations like France and the United Kingdom have made it clear that, in signing the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, they agreed to discontinue nuclear testing. Other nuclear weapons states, such as China, the United States and Russia, have suggested that they too would discontinue nuclear testing.

That said, we cannot claim victory yet. The nuclear threat still hangs over us. We need only look at India and Pakistan, which recently conducted nuclear tests, and at some other nations with nuclear capabilities, including Israel and South Korea, two countries whose intentions are still cause for concern. These nations have yet to confirm their willingness to stop conducting nuclear tests and to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

The Bloc Quebecois, the other political parties represented in this House, as well as the people of Quebec and Canada agree that it is essential that we rid the world once and for all of all nuclear weapons and nuclear tests. It is a matter of getting our priorities in order.

As the critic for international co-operation, I see shocking statistics on human misery every day. More than 1.3 billion people are living in abject poverty, living on less than a dollar a day. Every day, 34,000 children die from malnutrition and disease. Every year, 17 million people die of infectious and parasitic diseases.

The priorities of the world and of our governments must focus on basic human needs.

Everybody on this planet has the right to proper food, shelter, care and education. Yet, since 1945, it is estimated that the world has spent a whopping $8 trillion on nuclear weapons.

Members should try to imagine what could have been done with all that money in poor countries. Even now, the gap between the rich and the poor is constantly growing wider. The time has come to put a stop to this waste and to invest where it really matters.

As a medium size military power with no nuclear weapons, how can Canada help further and promote in a tangible way the comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty? Canada, through its Department of Foreign Affairs, has displayed great leadership in its crusade to ban land mines. The Bloc Quebecois wants to acknowledge the work done by the minister on this issue.

Even if Canada does not have nuclear weapons, and even if it is officially opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, can it claim that it has done nothing wrong?

We can think of China, to which Canada sold Candu nuclear reactors. There is also the fact that our country allows nuclear bombers to enter its airspace and use its low level flight ranges for pilot training.

Canada is on the right track, and we are very aware of the fact, but we are also aware of the fact that it could do even more. We in the Bloc Quebecois want Canada to go even further. Does this government have the real political will to be innovative in nuclear disarmament?

This challenge concerns the international community as a whole, and Canada has a duty to take concrete action and especially not to accept the status quo. On the contrary, it must be proactive and thus help the heads of nuclear countries translate the will of the people into decisive action.

At the dawn of the 21st century, the middle powers must make these heads of state take this opportunity in the name of humanity and the planet.

The Bloc Quebecois is acutely aware of the challenge nuclear disarmament represents. We will continue in our desire to build an international community where nuclear weapons exist only in history books, so that future generations may realize the dangers of nuclear arms.

I can tell you that a sovereign Quebec will not hesitate as a new country to sign the comprehensive nuclear-test ban treaty and to ensure its implementation both nationally and internationally.

With the approach of the new millennium, it is time to put an end to the scourge of nuclear weapons. This is our duty to future generations. Let us do so, to give all children on the planet the opportunity to enjoy life without the threat of nuclear arms.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

David Price Progressive Conservative Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, this treaty has been an arms control and disarmament objective of successive Canadian governments since the 1960s. The Right Hon. Joe Clark made this issue a high priority when he was foreign minister.

The comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty was open for signature at a special session of the United Nations general assembly in New York on September 24, 1996 and has now been signed by over 150 countries.

Canada played an important role in the treaty's negotiation, in particular in relation to the verification regime. Approximately 15 Canadian monitoring stations will be part of the international monitoring system as well as one radionuclide laboratory.

Canada has also worked with other countries such as Australia to find a way to open the treaty for signature and ratification. Twenty-one countries have now ratified the treaty, including two nuclear weapons states, the United Kingdom and France, and eight of the thirty-nine non-nuclear states designated under the treaty as having nuclear energy or research programs.

They therefore, along with the nuclear weapons states, must also ratify the treaty before it can come into force. Canada, one of the world leaders in nuclear technology for solely peaceful purposes, is a designated state. It is therefore most appropriate and important that Canada be one of the first group countries to ratify the treaty.

I do not underestimate the importance and complexity of this seemingly straightforward legislation. Bill C-52 criminalizes the carrying out of or aiding and abetting in the carrying out of nuclear explosions. It establishes a national authority to serve as a focal point for a liaison between Canada and the CTBTO in Vienna, with other states party to the treaty, and obligates Canadian industry to report large scale chemical explosions which might be confused with nuclear tests. Once passed, this legislation will allow Canada to ratify the treaty.

I want to take a minute to talk about Canada's record. This government made a very weak statement about France's testing in the Pacific. It was clearly a race to a large nuclear capacity for France before ratification. It is also disgraceful that Canada has not pursued more vigorously its assistance to Russia and the former Soviet Union states in demobilizing their nuclear capability.

The Conservative government started with a small fund in the early 1990s to help scholars so that they might remain within Russia and the Soviet Union and not sell their knowledge and dangerous expertise to other countries.

Equally disturbing is this government's lack of response to the troubled Arctic waters. Time and time again, both in Russia and elsewhere, concerns have been raised in relation to the nuclear waste that is embedded on the floor of the Arctic Ocean and, in the words of many, contaminating our waters around the world. This government has paid only lip service to this problem. If this government wishes to be consistent with this new treaty it must again raise these issues as we did in the early 1990s.

In the wake of the 1974 nuclear explosion test by India, using Canadian technology transferred in good faith solely for peaceful purposes, we learned a hard lesson. Under the leadership of my party Canada went on to become one of the first nuclear exporters to require International Atomic Energy Agency full scope safeguards on all our exports of nuclear material to non-nuclear weapons states. We also put in place arrangements to ensure that any transfers for peaceful purposes to a nuclear weapons state would not be diverted for military purposes. These are longstanding Canadian policies which were groundbreaking in their time.

Regrettably, however, against that backdrop of exceedingly high standards and practices must be set the seemingly casual way this government went about signing a nuclear co-operation agreement with China, a nuclear weapons state which still does not require full scope safeguards for its nuclear exports and whose record of proliferation of significant transfers has been dangerous. I want to know how this government can square the ease with which we entered into nuclear co-operation with a communist country with brutal non-proliferation credentials with a very high priority which this government purports to give to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

If Canada is to continue to play a leadership role in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and promoting their successive reduction, we must attend to all aspects of our nuclear policy with equal vigour and credibility. But the government never learns. Why? For money. From the events of last year's APEC summit we know the government cares more about money than human rights. We also know the government cares more about money than it does about world security. We should not so easily forget the lessons of India in the 1970s and the question being raised about our nuclear installations and uses in Canada.

The standing committee on foreign affairs and international trade in the other place has just finished a review of Canada's non-proliferation arms control and disarmament policy. The minister asked that we have full House support for the committee report. My party will be forthright. Nuclear weapons are not land mines. My party supported the minister's efforts in the land mine treaty and congratulate him on his success. We are in favour of stopping proliferation. We are in favour of arms control. The world has been, is currently and will be a dangerous place. Ridding our security system and calling for the U.S. to rid itself of its weapons in Europe is gutting our security system and will make the globe more dangerous, not safer.

This minister talks about 50 years ago. Maybe he should talk about 50 years from now.

Nuclear weapons have been the steadfast cornerstone of western security policy since the creation of NATO in 1949. Unless this minister can outline in the House with detail all the security risks the globe will encounter in the next 50 years my party cannot support the idea of unilateral nuclear disarmament.

While it is certainly an idealistic view, it is not based on reality. The reality is the Russian parliament will not implement START II any time soon. To delude ourselves that it will is very dangerous. The reality is the Chinese are developing more nuclear weapons, not fewer. To delude ourselves that they are not is also very dangerous.

My party is in favour of making the world safer, not making it more dangerous.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members


Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to, amendment read the second time and concurred in)

The House proceeded to consideration of Bill S-16, an act to implement an agreement between Canada and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, an agreement between Canada and the Republic of Croatia and a convention between Canada and the Republic of Chile, for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1998Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel Québec


Alfonso Gagliano Liberalfor the Minister of Finance

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1998Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt this motion?

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1998Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1998Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave now?

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1998Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members


Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1998Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel Québec


Alfonso Gagliano Liberalfor the Minister of Finance

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1998Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Stoney Creek Ontario


Tony Valeri LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity today at third reading of Bill S-16.

The purpose of the bill is to implement income tax conventions that Canada has signed with Chile, Croatia and Vietnam. Currently Canada has tax treaties in force with 64 countries. We have been building and updating this network of tax conventions for almost three decades.

Bill S-16 is part of the ongoing maintenance of Canada's system of tax treaties but that does not mean it is merely a routine housekeeping bill of no importance to Canadians.

In today's environment tax treaties are more relevant than ever to Canada's competitiveness and overall economic performance. Foreign economies are opening up, individuals are becoming more mobile and as the pace of international trade and investment quickens tax treaties are becoming increasingly important to investors and entrepreneurs tapping into these opportunities.

Like all of the other tax conventions that Canada and its trading partners have implemented over the years, Bill S-16 has two overriding objectives. One is to avoid double taxation and the other is to prevent income tax evasion.

The potential for double taxation arises when a taxpayer who is a resident of one country earns income in another. In the absence of a tax convention, both the country of residence and the country that is the source of income would be justified in claiming tax on that income.

Tax treaties address the problem of double taxation in one of two ways. The treaty allocates exclusive taxing rights either to the taxpayer's country of residence or to the country that is the source of the income. Or, if the income would be taxable in both countries, the treaty requires the country of residence to give credit for the tax paid to the source country.

Measures that reduce double taxation also serve the purpose of preventing tax evasion. Laws that limit the potential for double taxation normally include provisions that encourage the exchange of information between the participating countries. It is that sharing of information that helps these countries' revenue authorities to identify cases of tax evasion and in fact act on them.

Another benefit of this legislation is the certainty for taxpayers, certainty that a rate of tax limited under any of these agreements cannot be increased without substantial advance notice of any changes.

In addition there will be a reduced compliance burden for Canadian taxpayers who have investments or business interests in Chile, Croatia or Vietnam.

A key part of any tax treaty bill is the withholding tax rate reductions. In this regard Bill S-16 is no exception. Canada and other countries generally impose withholding taxes on various types of income paid to non-residents. In the absence of a bilateral tax treaty or a unilateral exemption from withholding tax, Canada's statutory non-resident withholding tax is 25%.

Under our network of tax treaties however, there are several rate reductions in effect, and these reductions apply on a reciprocal basis. Where such a tax treaty is in effect, the country in which the taxpayer resides can withhold tax.

Without going into a country by country explanation of the various withholding tax rates proposed, I would like to point out that the rate is generally limited to 5%, 10% or 15% on dividends in branch profits. In addition the withholding tax on interest and royalties is generally limited to 10%.

The exception is the agreement with Chile, which provides for a 15% rate. In some cases royalties on copyright, computer software, patents and know-how are exempt at source.

Another feature of Bill S-16 is that it respects Canada's right to tax pension and annuities paid to non-residents. The agreements with Vietnam and Croatia provide for pension payments to be taxed in both countries with the source country collecting no more than 15% of the total payment. In both Vietnam and Croatia, social security benefits will be taxable in the source country with no limitation. Under the Canada-Chile income tax convention, pension and social security benefits will be taxed by the country from which the payments are made.

Another issue that is addressed by Bill S-16 is the treatment of capital gains realized by non-residents. In these cases the source country would retain its right to tax capital gains on the sale of real property, business assets and shares in real estate companies or interests in real estate partnerships or trusts.

The provisions of Bill S-16 are in fact tailored to the realities of international commerce. Reduced withholding taxes and the other benefits of this legislation are reciprocal in nature. This tax convention entails no revenue loss whatsoever, not for Canada and not for any of the other signatories.

When Bill S-16 received second reading in the House of Commons, it received support from members of all parties. Earlier in the week the bill passed through the finance committee without amendments. It is well understood among hon. members that this is legislation that will prevent double taxation and facilitate trade.

As a nation, we all know that almost 40% of our wealth depends on exports, foreign commerce and direct foreign investment. Tax treaties help to ensure that Canada's tax policies are applied consistently in transactions that reach beyond our borders. They also contribute to an environment of stability and certainty for investors and traders.

Bill S-16 will therefore increase our ability to compete and to harness the opportunities of a vibrant and modern economy. For the reasons I have indicated, I urge hon. members to support this bill.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1998Government Orders

10:35 a.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-16.

I do not know whether everybody here knows the full implications of the bill. It is certainly a good housekeeping bill. As has been indicated, it went through committee and there were no amendments because the bill as it stands presumably is fairly good. It solidifies and gives legislative approval to some very necessary provisions. It provides that we should have agreements with countries with which we have a flow of capital, in which people are investing and where there is money earned. It is reciprocal.

The bill is an act to implement agreements between Vietnam and Canada, between Croatia and Canada, and between Chile and Canada. Whether some of their people invest in our country or vice versa, this bill has some tax provisions to avoid double taxation.

Before I discuss the bill's provisions I will talk about the S in Bill S-16. This is very relevant to the bill. A bill that begins with a C originates in the House of Commons, the House to which people are elected and whose members are obligated to represent their constituents. On the government side in particular there are numerous examples of situations in which MPs are not permitted to represent their ridings and the people who elected them. On command they stand up and vote the way they are told.

At least every four or five years, or three and a half years if the government gets scared as it did the last time, voters have the opportunity to put an x on a ballot and give either their approval or disapproval for what a particular member stands for and to indicate whether they believe that member did a good job in representing the riding.

It is significant that in the last election the number of Liberals elected went down quite a bit. The Liberals went from having a very healthy majority which allowed them to go off and do whatever they wanted without having to worry about having enough people in the House, to what is now a very marginal majority.

The Liberals have very few members to spare. As a result, there were two occasions in this parliament in which there were no Liberals in the House at all. This allowed us to pass things that are good for the people. The latest example is the changes made to the Private Members' Business procedure. The changes give members some freedom to represent their constituents despite the draconian control of the party over its members. Private Members' Business is a very important part of representational democracy.

The C at the beginning of a bill number indicates the bill comes from the House of Commons, which represents the common people. That is where bills like Bill S-16 should come from. On the other hand are the S bills which originate in the Senate.

I forgot to mention that while the number of Liberal members went down in the last election, the Reform membership went up by 20%. It is an absolute indication that Canadian people are ready for a higher degree of democracy. They are ready to have people in this House who will represent them.

Let me get back to the S bills, which originate in the Senate. Who are the senators? Some look at them as being hockey players. The only problem is they do not really have to answer to anybody. If the coach says to go and play somewhere, well they can or they cannot. It depends on who the coach is. If it is the Prime Minister who appointed them, then they will jump to attention. But it is the people they represent who pay for their salaries, pensions, travel, offices, and for their Mexican—but I should not say that as it is over. They do not have to listen to people in their ridings. And there are actually Liberals in the House who continue to defend this.

Last night we debated a private member's bill that said that senators should be elected. What can possibly be wrong with that?

Ask any Canadian what he or she would rather have. We all acknowledge that the Senate is part of parliament. Would Canadians rather have a person in parliament who is elected by the accumulation of more votes than the other candidates in the area that he or she represents, or would they rather have someone else pick them? I do not think we would find one Canadian in a thousand who would say “I think it is important that they be picked because we are not smart enough. We do not want democracy. We do not want to have a say in that”.

It is absolutely absurd. Yet this government continues time after time, year after year to break election promises on it and to do nothing about it. The Prime Minister said “We will have an elected Senate”. He said during the 1993 election campaign that within two years of a Liberal government being elected that we would have an elected Senate. Then he went on to say that as the Prime Minister he could make that happen.

I guess that was as good a vote getter as promising to kill the GST and it went the same way. After the Liberals came to power they did not kill the GST. They increased it by about 100%. That is what happened with the harmonization.

And what has happened on the promise with making the Senate elected, something the Prime Minister could do just by simply saying that he would do it? All he would have had to do instead of giving a great big insult to every Albertan in the country was to say “Yes, people, if you want to choose your own senators, I will be honourable enough and will appoint that one because that is the way it is right now. I will appoint the one that you select. You give me the list and I will choose from that list instead of from my own list of Liberal hacks”.

Sure, every once in a while he picks somebody who does not have Liberal credentials. Every Canadian can see through that ruse. That is a way of trying to legitimize it. Yesterday in the debate one of the members opposite said that Mr. Manning was an appointed senator. That is Mr. Manning, the father of our leader so I am not breaking any House rules. He was appointed. Well of course.

There are people appointed to the Senate who do not have tight Liberal connections. Every once in a while there is one. Why? Because it only takes a little bit of salt to affect the taste of the whole bowl of soup. Put in a few of these little grains of salt, really honourable people who have credentials beyond just being Liberal Party supporters and participators and that gives some air of respectability to the process. But it is a phony process and it needs to be stopped. It is time on behalf of Canadians to stop this charade of appointing people. Democracy is not served by it.

The purpose of the Senate should be to balance powers. Power only works properly in a democracy if there is a proper balance. Checks and balances we call them. We need in the Senate a balance against the dictatorial power of a single person in the House who can control majority members in the government and then can turn around and control majority members in the Senate.

Since the bill is about taxes, I should talk about the GST. During the GST debate several parliaments ago the majority of Canadians said nyet . I should speak English or French; they said no or non. They said they did not want the GST. In my riding 85% of the people were reputed to say that the GST as proposed was bad. They did not want it, but the prime minister of the day sat in his seat and told his members they would vote for it whether or not they wanted it.

The MP for Elk Island voted for the GST. It was one of the things I heard more often than any other during the campaign. People said they would not vote for him again because he did not vote for them on the GST. He voted against them.

I said the Reform policy is that I will represent them. If there is a clear indication from my riding that my constituents have a certain wish on a bill, I will represent that. I am so proud to be a part of a party where that is not only permitted but required. I would be in trouble with my party if I failed to do it. In the other parties, whether it is Liberal, Conservative, NDP, or even Bloc, I suppose, if members do not vote the party they get punished. It is just the opposite in my party. It is time we had a truly democratic Reform government.

What did the prime minister of the day do when the GST bill went to the Senate? In that chamber of sober second thought there was a majority of Liberal senators at that time and the present Liberal government was on the opposition side of the House. They said no to the GST. The present Prime Minister who was then the leader of the opposition said that if they got in they would kill it.

That is what happened at that time, but the prime minister of the day wanted the GST. He had all his Conservative MPs rise when their strings were pulled. Then it went to the Senate where bad bills are supposed to be stopped. Indeed the Senate stopped it because a majority senators, either for the sake of discipline to the Liberal Party of the day or for Canadians as a whole, said no to it.

What was the response of the then prime minister? He pulled out of the hat some obscure rule and was able to load the Senate up with extra members. He stacked the Senate with members whose only qualification was that they had enough energy to stand up when asked to vote whether they were in favour of the GST. He found eight such members, put them in the Senate and the bill was jammed through. That is not democracy.

That is why we need an elected Senate. That is why we need a Senate that truly represents the people from the provinces in which senators originate. That is long overdue. What is so totally disgusting and annoying is that the Prime Minister, who promised he would do it and could do it if he had the will, refuses to do it. That is what is disgusting. He could have simply said when the opening came up in Alberta that he would let democracy rule.

Under the current legislation he does not have the right to appoint senators. Strictly speaking that is to be done by the Governor General, but of course the Governor General is also a favourite appointee of the Prime Minister. They work together in this regard.

The Prime Minister could simply say whomever the people select is the person who will be there. I am proud to say that this coming week these elected senators will be in Ottawa. Maybe they will be observed. They will be around. We hope they will be able to get some media interviews and perhaps breathe a breath of democracy into this place that is so much in need of it.

I am going to take a little pause and have a drink of water before I get to stage two of my speech.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1998Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I know the hon. member for Elk Island at stage two will want to talk about the tax consequences of the bill.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1998Government Orders

10:50 a.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

I am very happy now to speak about taxation because that is what the bill is about. The other part of my speech was very appropriate because it is Bill S-16. As I said before it cannot be ruled irrelevant. It is very relevant.

I applaud the principle of the bill to make sure that people pay taxes which they should be paying in a fair manner. It does two things. It helps to prevent people from avoiding paying the taxes they should and it prevents people from paying twice the taxes they should.

When people make money in a country sometimes the country charges them tax on it. When they bring their money home they have to pay taxes on it again. That is called double taxation. Very frankly it is not good for the economy of a country.

This is a fine bill. It is regrettable that it was not brought in, in the House of Commons. It would have had the same support from us that it has from us now in principle. Instead it was brought in from the other place.

Speaking about double taxation, it occurred to me not very long ago that we have too much double and even triple taxation. Let us talk about gasoline. I used to teach mathematics. I did a few calculations. I do not remember the exact numbers so I will have to do the calculations all over again on the run. I think I can do that.

Let us say I earn $2.77. At my marginal rate of taxation and at the rate of most middle class Canadians, I have to pay about 40% of my earnings marginally to income tax. Those are federal and provincial income taxes.

If I take 40% away from the $2.77, that leaves me with $1.66. Having earned $2.77 I have only $1.66 left. Then, if I go to the gas station to buy some gasoline with the $1.66 in my pocket, I notice that the pump says 40% of the price is taxes. I end up with another 40% taken off. Finally I buy $1 worth of gasoline. For $1 worth of gasoline $1.77 went into taxes and $1 went for the gasoline. Now $1.77 in taxes on a $1 purchase is a 177% tax. That is double taxation.

The government in taxing us for gasoline. It even taxes the taxes. Part of the price of a litre of gasoline is the federal tax which is 10 cents or 11 cents. That is added to the price. Then what happens? The GST is computed on that amount including the tax.

The government says that it has not increased taxes. I will never forget that in its first budget the government increased the tax on gasoline by 1.5 cents per litre. At least that is what it said at the time. It was inaccurate. When the GST is added to the 1.5 cents, it is 1.605 cents. In other words, the government said it was taking 1.5 cents more but what it really got was 1.6 cents because of the insidious GST which was brought in by lack of MP representation in the House and by the lack of an elected Senate in the other place. It all ties together. We have double and triple taxation in Canada, taxes being put on taxes.

Let me give another example. I will confess about all the big money I earned before coming to the House of Commons. Actually my salary is about the same or a little higher than it was when I was an instructor at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology where I earned $4,000.

What did I do? I paid my income tax on that $4,000 of approximately 40%. What did I have left? I had $2,400 left. What did I do with that $2,400? I took out my chequebook and wrote a cheque for my municipal taxes which that year were around $2,400. I do not have it with me; I could not use it anyway, neither a flag nor a chequebook.

My $4,000 earnings were taxed and then with the money I had left I paid my taxes. When the municipality said that I had to pay $2,400 in taxes, how could I reconcile that with the fact that I had to earn $4,000 to pay my taxes? It is double taxation.

Mr. Speaker, you will notice how relevant I am. I applaud the principle of Bill S-16 which says that we should avoid double taxation. It is not good for entrepreneurs. It is not good for investors. It is only good for the governments that suck us dry.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1998Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member will have to contain himself and carry on his remarks after question period when he will have 18.5 minutes to complete his remarks. I know all hon. members will look forward to that.

AbortionsStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1948 the World Medical Association adopted a Hippocratic oath to guide the ethical practice of medical doctors. It reads in part:

I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception.

In the early 1970s medical schools stopped requiring new doctors to take the oath and the Canadian Medical Association code of ethics no longer requires any reference to abortion. The medical profession has abandoned its responsibility for the unborn child and now it is up to Canadians to assume that responsibility.

Last year there were over 110,000 abortions in Canada with a cost to our health care system of over $10 million. That is over 300 abortions each and every day. It says that each year 110,000 mistakes are made at the expense of all Canadians by those who fail to act responsibly.

Is it too much to ask Canadians just to be responsible for their actions? We do have a choice and that choice should be made before we act, not after we have failed to act responsibly.

Canadian Merchant Navy VeteransStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Peter Goldring Reform Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canada's merchant navy veterans have suffered imposed poverty since World War II. The minister says no to retroactivity for merchant navy war veterans but ex gratia lump sum payments have been made in the past. Stonewalling on terminology is disgraceful. Merchant navy veterans are not seeking great wealth, just equality.

The merchant navy concerns are to be recognized as war veterans, to receive prisoner of war benefits, to receive compensation for years of inequality, and to receive recognition on ceremonial days.

A motion in committee asked the minister to address these four concerns. Not one, two or three of them but all four. The motion has support from all opposition parties. Will the government not finally add its support and end this sordid affair?

HelicoptersStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to congratulate one of the many vibrant high tech companies in my riding of Nepean—Carleton, which will have an impact on helicopter safety around the globe.

DRS Flight Safety and Communications was awarded five contracts earlier this month totalling $10.2 million for the supply of emergency avionics systems for Agusta and GKN Westland Helicopters joint Cormorant helicopter program.

The helicopter industry's version of the black box, the first 15 DRS devices, will be a vital feature of the new Cormorant search and rescue helicopters the federal government is buying to replace the Labradors.

The state of the art technology which allows rescue crews to locate downed helicopters by tracing satellite signals will also be used in more than 80 other helicopters for the British navy and air force, the Italian armed forces and Tokyo's metropolitan police force.

DRS' launch into the market is a prime example of a government investment success story. Over the past decade the company has spent approximately $10 million, including federal research money, to streamline and make the technology the most advanced on the globe. That is what I call an investment in our future.

United Nations Convention On The Rights Of The ChildStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1989 Canada co-chaired and signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Article one of the convention states: “For the purpose of the present convention, a child means every human being below the age of 18 years, unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier”. While most of our commitments have been fulfilled, this article has not.

Today, however, I have great news. The Minister of Transport has committed to introducing new legislation regarding the Canada Shipping Act which will ensure that the definitions of child and infant are interpreted consistently with the definition of child proposed in article one of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This new act will accomplish the objectives of my private member's bill, Bill C-333, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act.

I would like to congratulate and thank the Minister of Transport for his outstanding initiative, foresight and leadership and for his commitment to the children of Canada.