Mr. Speaker, the House will be relieved to know that I do not intend to speak for very long on this fairly straightforward bill originating in the Senate, as is the tradition with these tax treaties.
Effectively, just to sum up, it brings about tax treaties with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Gabon and Oman. The idea is to ensure that we do not have double taxation for people who may be Canadian nationals living in one of these countries, for instance, so that they do not end up paying tax twice on income that they have received. The other part of it is to ensure that information is shared between countries so that we do not have a problem with tax evasion.
This is something that is eminently supportable, but of course I would be remiss if I did not stand up and say how much we regret that this is not a bill that brings about the reduction of taxes within Canada. I simply have to point that out. I never miss an opportunity to do that, especially as we get close to Christmas and people are struggling to find ways to meet their obligations. They are running out to the stores right now and purchasing gifts. It would be great if this were a bill to cut taxes. Sadly, it is not.
I simply want to say that the only concern the Conservative Party of Canada has with this is not really a concern with the bill. It is our hope that the government will use these new arrangements that we have with these countries to push to ensure that these countries are in fact respecting human rights.
We did a quick search on different websites to look at the human rights records of some of these countries. For instance, the human rights record in Azerbaijan is not good. In fact, it is deplorable.
While it is important to engage these countries on issues like a tax treaty, now that we have that kind of arrangement I hope the government will use its leverage with countries like Azerbaijan to insist that human rights be respected in these places. Their records are not good. If they are going to enjoy the popular support of countries around the world, they simply have to bring their countries into the 21st century and ensure that they do in fact respect fundamental human rights. That is certainly not too much to ask.
That is really all I have to say on this issue. The Conservative Party supports the idea of tax treaties. We support the idea of ensuring that there is commonality between countries when it comes to treatment of income. That is pretty fundamental.
I will simply end by saying once again that we very much look forward to the day when the parliamentary secretary stands up and brings in a tax bill that calls for a reduction in taxes so that in fact Canadians can enjoy more of their own income, which they work so hard to earn.