Mr. Speaker, Bill S-3, an act to implement an agreement, conventions and protocols between Canada and Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Algeria, Bulgaria, Portugal, Uzbekistan, Jordan, Japan and Luxembourg, is a good bill in many respects.
It leads to some of the things to which the parliamentary secretary made reference. I have a bit of a problem with the bill. Once again we have a bill before the House which originated in the Senate, that unelected, unaccountable body. I find that quite problematic.
The Canadian Alliance has always supported measures that might in some way lower the tax burden for Canadians. Avoidance of double taxation would be a very significant result in lowering taxes. The government needs to remove impediments that discourage trade and to foreigners coming to Canada for fear of double taxation. The legislation also has the benefit of reducing tax avoidance concerns.
One point is very clear. Canada is very good at collecting taxes. We have almost as many tax collectors, somewhere around 45,000, as members of our armed forces. Our armed forces are poorly equipped and overtasked. Our tax collectors can be assured that this deterioration will not be allowed to occur in their bailiwick.
The irony of the legislation is that we had a harmonization of taxes in Canada that was almost complete. The GST and PST were rolled into a harmonized sales tax in some jurisdictions but not in others. Other phenomena happened with respect to income tax. Quebec has had a separate collection of personal income tax for some time. Other provinces are now moving in that direction. A lot of this is occurring because we cannot lessen Liberal dependence on a high appetite for taxation.
We were not reassured when the Prime Minister said recently at a Liberal convention that the era of tax cuts was over. Most of us had not realized that it had started. Was he talking about Alberta or Ontario? He surely was not talking about the federal arena.
It is sad to say that total personal income tax revenues in Canada go toward paying the rough equivalent of interest payments on the debt. We have no schedule to pay down that debt and we need that discipline.
Another point I would like to make is that income tax treaties such as the one we are discussing today contain rules that are different from the Income Tax Act. As such, these treaties need enabling legislation. They need an act of parliament to give the treaty precedence over the legislation. That is ironic when most of the treaties our federal government signs require no ratification in this place whatsoever.
Some treaties are much more binding and much more consequential to the nation as a whole. The first example that comes to mind would be the commitments we made on greenhouse gas emissions at Kyoto. That treaty requires ratification in our neighbour's congress and that brings a different discipline to the exercise. We do not have that in Canada but we need it. That will bring a whole new discipline to our negotiators and their political masters. We can be sure that when it comes to tax collection, however, the Liberals will smooth the path in whatever way is required to ensure it happens.
Despite my comments, this bill has merit. The Canadian Alliance will be supporting the legislation.