Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague from Hamilton pointing out the poor attendance in the House, although I know we are not supposed to talk about who is or is not here.
This is a very important issue and it needs a full and complete debate. We should not simply let the government off the hook because the legislation it brought to us is routine and perfunctory. We should not simply allow the government to skirt through the legislative process without being reminded about its promises.
In the end we are going to support the bill. However, we still have not received any indication from the government as to why it has not addressed the tax loopholes and why they continue to exist. We still have not received any indication from the government as to why it has not closed the Barbados tax haven, which it has talked about for many years. If the debate continues, I will ask the Conservatives about this. This issue begs for the full attention of the House. It requires a major commitment on our part to deal with this very egregious situation.
The statistics about these tax havens and offshore investments indicate that not only did the increase in the use of offshore financial centres go up eight-fold, but the largest growth in Canadian direct investment occurred in the Barbados, the very tax haven the Conservatives talked about vis-à-vis the member for LaSalle—Émard's Canadian Steamship Lines. Is this something that is useful in a pre-election period only and then dropped like a hot potato because the government is afraid to take on the corporate world? Is the government afraid to take on the wealthiest in our country? Perhaps this is what we really are talking about.
There is no evidence in the last budget or the minister's most recent economic update to indicate that the government is committed to finding a way to reduce the burden on ordinary working families. There is no evidence that the government is prepared to provide the supports and services that working families need in order to be productive members of our society. Every day we hear about people struggling. Every day we hear about people dying on the streets, about the homeless in Vancouver and Victoria who have no shelters. There has been no commitment on the part of the government to treat this as a serious emergency situation. It is mind-boggling.
Here we are in the comfort of this place while people are basically dying on the streets in cities that have no preparations for emergency response in terms of serious weather conditions, yet the government will not close a tax haven that causes us to lose billions of dollars. If we could get our hands on that money or if the government had the commitment to reign it in, it could be put to good use.
Canada is a wealthy country, yet people are dying on the streets, aboriginal people are living in third world conditions and Status of Women offices are being totally eliminated. The North End Women's Centre in Winnipeg, which provides services for women to help them become financially knowledgeable so they can build a future for themselves and their families, was totally eliminated because the government did not have a couple of hundred thousand dollars to support it.
That is the dilemma we face today and that is why my colleague's question is so important. This is a serious issue. It is about how we build a country. It is about our priorities. If we can sit back and let that money disappear through our fingers because we do not want to trouble the big corporate entities or big families like the Bronfman's, which was named in the project loophole, and we do not want to touch issues around Canada Steamship Lines any longer, then we will continue to be in a disgraceful and embarrassing situation for Canada on the world scene.