House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.


Government Programs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Medicine Hat


Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that we would get a question like this from the Bloc which, in the past, has called this program counterproductive and has said that it interferes with provincial jurisdiction.

I think that is very harsh criticism. I can say that this government is very interested in preserving jobs for students and in ensuring that not for profits are protected as much as possible from cuts that the Bloc, obviously, would inflict upon them if it were ever in that position.

Lloyd Francis
Oral Questions

3 p.m.


Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, 10 days ago, the Hon. Lloyd Francis died.

I have the honour, on behalf of the official opposition, to say a few words today in the memory of Lloyd Francis.

As has been said, his was a life of public service.

During the second world war, he joined the RCAF, where he served as a navigation instructor.

Post-war, he obtained a masters degree from the University of Toronto and a doctorate in labour economics from the University of Wisconsin.

After three years at the University of Buffalo, Lloyd and his first wife, Margery, returned to Ottawa to stay.

As a senior economist at Health and Welfare Canada, he contributed directly to the creation of the Canada pension plan. After that, he began his political career. After becoming president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, an alderman and deputy mayor of Ottawa, he was elected Liberal member for Carleton in 1963 and won reelection in 1968, 1974 and 1980, that is to say every other election.

In his 15-plus years in this House, while always putting the interests of his constituents first, he was successively and successfully committee vice-chair, chair, deputy whip and whip of the Liberal Party, parliamentary secretary, Deputy Speaker and, finally, Speaker.

In 1984, Privy Councillor Francis became Canada's ambassador to Portugal, a position from which he retired to care for his ailing wife.

When Lloyd retired, he was active, both internationally as electoral observer and leader of delegations, and locally pursuing his hobby as a lapsmith.

Throughout his life, Lloyd was not one to stand on the sidelines and throw rocks. He got involved for the betterment of his fellow citizens and he never hesitated to give his frank opinion, quite often whether it was wanted or not. As for rocks, as we know, Lloyd did not throw them, he collected them.

Many referred to him as a maverick. I disagree. I worked with Lloyd in the early eighties and got to know him reasonably well, and better since.

Rather than being a maverick, Lloyd was an open book. Lloyd fought for his constituents and his city, period. There were no ulterior motives, no hidden agenda and no guile in him. What we got was the real thing, unsweetened and unfiltered; a sort of precursor to CPAC.

On behalf of all Liberal members and, I hope, all my colleagues in the House, I would like to tell his family what a big difference Lloyd Francis made to this place. He left a House that was better run, a deeply grateful civil service, a city that had expanded, a well represented country and a proud and loving family.

Only with time will Lloyd's exemplary life of public service be fully appreciated. Time will polish its many facets as he polished the facets of the treasures he found or created in his private and public life. We will remember him.

Lloyd Francis
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.


Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is the first time that I rise from my seat to speak as the servant of the population of Ottawa—Orléans.

Ten days ago, during the parliamentary recess, the Hon. Lloyd Francis, who was Speaker in 1984, succumbed to cancer at the age of 86.

In our thoughts, let us commemorate the service to Canada of a man from that remarkable generation who defended this country during Word War II and who then continued with public service and public life in post-war Canada. He is among the brave men and women who built today's Canada.

Lloyd Francis worked on RADAR and trained navigators during his air force days, a vital building block in Canada's effort against Nazi tyranny. He then continued to build his city and his country.

Few know that Dr. Francis was an economist at the Department of National Health and Welfare and that he contributed to the design of the Canada pension plan.

Twenty years before my own election to city council, he was already serving the City of Ottawa as an alderman, commissioner and deputy mayor.

As a candidate for this House, he had a perfect record. He won the 26th, 28th, 30th and 32nd general elections and he lost the odd numbered elections in between. In this House he rose to the highest office, that of Speaker.

However, it was as Deputy Speaker that he truly made his mark. Along with the late Speaker Jeanne Sauvé, he focussed his efforts on reforming the administration of this House so as to make it more efficient and helpful.

I knew Lloyd Francis. Lloyd Francis was a friend of mine. I did not serve in the same functions at the same time but we worked together. Together we fought certain parochial interests to relocate out of Ottawa a huge number of federal employees from the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. It worked and his letter of thanks hangs on my wall.

Lloyd left Parliament in 1984 and yet for all of us he remains part of the House that we know today. His reforms live on.

His unfaltering commitment to the population of Carleton and Ottawa-West as well as to his colleagues in Parliament can serve as an example to us and to those who will come after us.

Today we extend our sympathy to my friends, Paul, Donald and Elaine Francis, and to their children and grandchildren. I also want to remember his late wife, Margery, who walked with me to cast my first vote in 1968. I offer my sincere sympathies and those of Canada's government to his widow, Mary.

Above all, we offer our thanks and the thanks of a grateful country. The Hon. Lloyd Francis set an example of public service to Parliament and to Canada.

Lloyd Francis
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.


Michel Gauthier Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, as many of us, I did not have the privilege of knowing Mr. Francis personally, a man who had a long and successful career here in Parliament. However, one thing struck me most of all when I looked at his bio to prepare this tribute, and it was the number of elections in which he took part throughout his career, some of which he won and some of which he lost.

It does not take a long experience in politics to know how much courage it takes to go through such a long, successful and sometimes disappointing political career. He did a wonderful job, or so I am told, in the various parliamentary roles he was called upon to assume, including that of chief whip for his party, which is not an easy job. Those who are here know that. He was even named Speaker of the House of Commons, a most important position in Parliament. When a Speaker of the House of Commons passes on, it is just fitting to reflect on his contribution to parliamentary debates and to the issues of justice and equity among all parliamentarians. The only comments we hear about Mr. Francis are that he was a good man and a fair man and someone who was reasonable in applying the rules of the House of Commons.

That is why, on behalf of my political party, I want to offer my most sincere condolences to Mr. Francis' family and tell them that his name will remain forever in our memories and in the political annals of Canada and of the Parliament of Canada.

Lloyd Francis
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.


Bill Blaikie Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, as the only current member of the House who was here when the Hon. Lloyd Francis was Deputy Speaker and Speaker of the House, I am pleased to have been asked by my NDP colleagues to speak on their behalf in tribute to my former colleague.

The Hon. Lloyd Francis led a life of distinguished public service stretching from his service in the RCAF during the second world war through a career in the civil service and municipal and federal politics, as an ambassador, and in more recent years as an international election observer.

Speaking of the war, I certainly have fond memories of discussions with him about his time in Manitoba with the Commonwealth air training program. I believe he was stationed at Rivers, Manitoba.

By his own admission in his book Ottawa Boy, it was his time as Deputy Speaker and Speaker that he felt was his greatest opportunity to contribute to his country.

The part he played in reforming the administration of the House of Commons, although very unpopular at the time, and the part he played in defending the Chair and by extension Parliament from an unruly mob during the debate on the patriation of the Constitution were both significant contributions to the evolution and preservation of Parliament. Let his refusal to be intimidated on the night that the Chair was threatened be his parliamentary legacy and a pointer for all of us to the value of a parliamentary culture in which yelling is no substitute for argument or wit or procedural acumen.

To his family we offer our sincere condolences and our gratitude for a life well lived in service to community and country.

Lloyd Francis
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.


The Speaker Peter Milliken

I now invite all hon. members to rise for a moment of silence out of respect for our distinguished former Speaker.

[A moment of silence observed]

Proceedings in Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.


Jim Karygiannis Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege.

Today in the citizenship and immigration committee during normal proceedings, I was questioning a witness, citizenship judge Raminder Gill. It is a well-known fact that Mr. Gill was the Conservative Party candidate for Mississauga--Streetsville in the last election. He also had political aspirations to run again in that riding. It is also a well-known fact that the current member for Mississauga—Streetsville changed political parties. Mr. Raminder Gill was appointed as a citizenship judge circumventing the required screening of citizenship judges.

I feel that my privileges were trampled upon by the committee chair in order that the truth not come out. The chair kept continuously interrupting me and abusing his position. I wanted to receive an answer from the witness. The chair brushed aside my questions in order to facilitate a cover-up of the government.

The Prime Minister and the member of Parliament for Mississauga—Streetsville have been cooking his defection to the Conservatives for a long time. My privileges of getting answers and to get to the bottom of this pork-barrelling scandal were pushed aside in order to provide a cover-up. This is the most crass feather-bedding patronage I have seen since Brian Mulroney bought Lucien Bouchard.

I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to look at today's proceedings and review this matter.

Proceedings in Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre


Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, clearly what the hon. member is trying to do here is score some cheap political points. Let me set the record straight as to exactly what happened in committee.

The chair of that committee made a decision that first, was upheld by all members of that committee. Second, it is quite clear should the member choose at any time either now or in the future to consult Marleau and Montpetit, he would find that the Speaker ruled in accordance with parliamentary practices and procedures. It states in Marleau and Montpetit that only questions about the competency of the individual shall be allowed. Anything dealing with the political affiliation of members or committee members or witnesses are considered to be outside the scope of the committee. Therefore, the Chair ruled quite appropriately. The member should know that. I am quite surprised that the member, being as experienced as he is, does not know simple parliamentary procedures.

Mr. Speaker, this is clearly not a question of privilege that you should consider.

Proceedings in Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.


The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank both hon. members for their interventions on this point.

I point out to the hon. member for Scarborough—Agincourt page 876 of Marleau and Montpetit, and I will read the paragraph:

The scope of a committee's examination of Order-in-Council appointees or nominees is strictly limited to the qualifications and competence to perform the duties of the post. Questioning by members of the committee may be interrupted by the Chair, if it attempts to deal with matters considered irrelevant to the committee's inquiry. Among the areas usually considered to be outside the scope of the committee's study are the political affiliation of the appointee or nominee, contributions to political parties and the nature of the nomination process itself. Any question may be permitted if it can be shown that it relates directly to the appointee's or nominee's ability to do the job.

It seems to me that the debate seems to centre around whether the questions had to do with the candidate's political affiliation. In any event, I understand, as pointed out by the parliamentary secretary, that the committee had an appeal from the hon. member of the chairman's ruling which was upheld by the committee, so in my view this is not a question of privilege. This is a matter of procedure in the committee.

Committees are masters of their own proceedings and there is not an appeal from a decision of a committee chair to the Speaker on matters that are within the jurisdiction of the committee.

In my view, this was within the jurisdiction of the committee. The committee has made a decision and I have no intention of interfering with the chair's decision in that committee which was upheld by the committee. Therefore, I feel the hon. member for Scarborough—Agincourt does not have a valid question of privilege in the House on this point today.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-40, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act, the Excise Act, 2001 and the Air Travellers Security Charge Act and to make related amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Sales Tax Amendments Act, 2006
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.


Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe I have some 15 minutes left in my time but I am not going to take all that time.

When we broke for members' statements and question period I was reviewing the importance of a government not making tax policy on the run and not making tax policy in a vacuum. I had made reference to the miscue in the government's announcement that it would revise the GST rebate for visitors, in fact the broken promise of the government in flagrantly going back on its commitment not to revise the trust unit taxation regime which affected thousands and thousands of Canadian trust unit holders, and the political desire of the government to extend a GST 1% tax reduction which affects big spenders.

If we do the math, when a big spender spends $10,000, there is a $100 tax reduction if there is a 1% reduction in the GST. However, for persons of very modest means who have to spend most of their money on rent and food which are either tax exempt or zero rated, there is virtually no tax reduction. As I said in my remarks, 1% of nothing is nothing if one is a poor person.

That particular tax reduction, in my view, is conspicuously manifestly regressive, not helpful, other than in terms of politics. It remains to be seen just how Canadians will view that.

This particular bill then, while I am not saying it is a shotgun blast without any strategic goals, I do say that Parliament has an obligation to look at every tax bill carefully to make sure that the tax objectives are strategic, useful and fit within our fiscal framework.

I am going to quickly refer to two or three of the components of this amendment bill because I think the provisions are useful. They are not major tax changes but they reflect a responsibility to execute a tax policy that is sensitive to different sectors of Canadian society. The first has to do with the extension or creation of exemptions in the health care area involving social work, speech language pathology, and the zero rating of plasma blood substitutes.

In another area, and I think this is quite an interesting tax change, occasionally a foreign bank which maintains a fully owned subsidiary in Canada will wish to Canadianize the branch and Canadianize the banking arrangement. In so doing, there are often potential tax implications to make the transfer; to make the flip of the assets there are tax implications. These tax implications are actually obstacles to the Canadianization of the banking operation. This amendment would remove at least a part, if not all, of that taxation obstacle when the banking changes are made. Those would be GST-HST taxation implications.

Another one is really a fairness provision. We are all familiar with taxation deadlines, applications for rebates, filing for taxes and really filing for anything where there is a deadline. The government believes, and quite properly, that there is an argument to be made that some discretion should be left with the minister to allow for late filings in exceptional circumstances.

Some particular incidents came to light recently involving GST-HST applications in the province of Nova Scotia. I think that a discretionary late filing exemption under exceptional circumstances is a good idea. I know that over time these exemptions can be taken for granted sometimes. We will have to keep an eye on that.

Another area that I noted, and I would commend the change, has to do with a taxation problem that hearkens back to the days of prohibition, when there was absolute prohibition on anything that produced alcohol. That includes a still or any of the equipment that would be used to make illegal alcohol in a business, a home, a basement or a shed anywhere across the country.

As a result of that structure, modern businesses in winemaking and provincial health laboratories that test and need some kind of a distilling operation to do their health care testing find that they have to pay taxes, GST and excise tax, when they purchase or maintain the equivalent of stills for making alcohol, and of course that is totally inappropriate. In the modern world, a provincial laboratory, a winemaking operation or a private laboratory doing health care testing, all of which are licensed, of course should not have to pay excise tax in addition to what they have to pay to set up these facilities. This exemption is quite appropriate.

Those are three things that the bill does. They may seem small to the parties affected and they may loom large, but it is an adaptation of our taxation regime intended to reduce the negative impact on these commercial and government operations.

All in all, the changes contained in the bill are not what one would call strategic. They are not large in tax implication. They mostly have to do with fairness and removing clogs or obstacles in the taxation system that the common sense of a Canadian would say should not be there.

On that basis, although the bill covers a number of different taxes, including the excise tax, the GST and the air travellers safety tax, the Liberal opposition is on balance quite prepared to support the bill. We hope the bill can move through the House and the other place quickly so that we do not have to waste too much time.

Sales Tax Amendments Act, 2006
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.


Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the member talked about the GST, I would like to ask him a question. What does he think about the visitors' GST rebate?

Sales Tax Amendments Act, 2006
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.


Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, that provision is not contained in the bill. There exists a GST rebate for visitors. It actually looks quite good to visitors coming into Canada and leaving Canada to know that the amounts they do spend on GST can be rebated. I think that is a great thing. It does not involve a lot of money. It does involve some money, but it is not a lot of money.

The problem we have is that the signal that we might want to remove it may seem discourteous or inappropriate when we are trying to foster tourism. Taking an overall look at the strategy of tourism and attracting visitors, it is our view that we should not be tinkering with this. We should continue to hold out a GST rebate to visitors to Canada.

Sales Tax Amendments Act, 2006
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.


Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have before us an extremely technical bill. It contains a whole series of measures. In terms of necessary adjustments, as well as the collection of GST and the various excise taxes, it is definitely a bill that makes sense. And this is why the Bloc Québécois will support it.

However we must say that it is not the most exciting of bills. Accordingly I found it quite characteristic, significant and symptomatic that the previous member should broach matters pertaining of course to finance, but that raise rather more issues than this necessary bill which, as I mentioned earlier, is not all that exciting.

Before going any further in describing the bill and the Bloc Québécois' assessment of it, I would point out, as the previous member did, that we in the Bloc Québécois are extremely concerned about the Conservative government’s decision to take another look at the visitor rebate program.

We know that a notice of ways and means was announced in this connection, but that it has not yet been put to a vote, which is a good thing. I hope that it is because the Conservatives have realized that they were on the wrong track, since this program is found in more or less all countries seeking to have a vibrant and productive tourism industry. It is a bit strange that the government and the Minister of Finance should want to reconsider a program that many countries are thinking about putting in place to attract, in particular, international conventions and groups coming from abroad.

So I take this opportunity to ask the Minister of Finance and the government to think carefully about what they hope to achieve by reconsidering this program. For example, when we go to Europe, everyone is very familiar with this program. Mexico is thinking of setting up an equivalent. So careful thought has to be given to the place of Canada and Quebec as tourist destinations, at a time when the Canadian dollar has risen significantly. Abolishing this program would increase the costs of large conventions in particular by 6%.

Obviously, there is probably room for improvement in this program. I hope that in the next budget, or at another time, the Conservative government will implement an effective program with the same objectives, in other words, to encourage conferences and groups of foreign tourists to come here.

There is another comment I want to make about this bill. It has to do with the fiscal imbalance and the reductions in the GST. We know full well that during the election campaign the Prime Minister announced a reduction in the GST from 7% to 6% and then from 6% to 5%. On July 1, we had the first reduction from 7% to 6% and were told that in a few years time there would be a second reduction from 6% to 5%.

I want to take this opportunity to warn the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance against confusing the issue of resolving the fiscal imbalance with the issue of reducing the tax burden on Canadian and Quebec taxpayers.

I remember the election campaign very well. The Prime Minister was a candidate and leader of the Conservative Party and made his GST reduction announcement standing next to a cash register. In no way could this reduction be interpreted as the tax room that could have been left to the provinces who wanted it to resolve in part—since this is not enough—the fiscal imbalance.

I am therefore warning the government and the Minister of Finance not to try to have it both ways in the next budget by announcing the reduction of the GST from 6% to 5% and by announcing that the provinces, such as Quebec—perhaps—that want to recover this tax room, will be able to do so as part of a solution to the fiscal imbalance. This would be totally unacceptable. It would be unbelievably cynical. I think the public, Quebeckers in particular, would not fall for it. I prefer to let the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister know right away that such a move would be totally unacceptable to the Bloc Québécois.

This bill has given me the opportunity to relay my two messages. I hope they will be heard.

I will now talk a little about what is in Bill C-40. This bill amends both the GST and the excise tax collection. It is comprised of four parts. First, some changes are aimed at improving and specifying certain measures pertaining to the collection of the GST. Second, the act is being changed to exempt certain goods and services from the tax, particularly medical and social services. I will get back to this. Third, the government is amending the excise tax to specify different measures concerning the taxation of wine, beer and spirits. Finally, a fourth part changes the rules pertaining to the air travellers security charge, a charge that is currently collected at different airports.

Let us start by examining in greater detail the bill as it concerns the measures affecting the GST and the harmonized sales tax. In Quebec, it is the Quebec sales tax. These measures are comprised of five distinct categories. Thus, the bill changes the rules concerning health, charities and business arrangements. These rules also affect governments, particularly municipalities. Furthermore, some provisions change the GST administration process.

Concerning health measures, the first category under the goods and services tax, the government is amending the act so that speech-language pathology services will now be tax exempted. For parents who use speech-language pathology services because their children have language difficulties, this is excellent news. This will make it easier to access these services and minimize costs. This is true for parents of children with speech problems, but also for many of our fellow citizens who have had strokes. Often, they are forced to re-learn to speak and also need speech-language pathology services. In a sense, costs will also be reduced there and access to these services will be easier.

I think it is interesting that in its bill, the government decided to exempt health-related services rendered in the practise of the profession of social work from the GST. Here too, there may be groups, institutions, families and individuals who need the expertise of a social worker. They will no longer have to pay the GST. For people who have insurance, this means their deductible will be lower. Insurance rarely covers the entire cost of social workers. This reduction would therefore apply to the cost paid by the institution, the organization or the individuals for the services of a social worker.

Next, in its bill, the government wants to zero-rate sales and importations of a product that can, to a certain extent, replace blood. This product, plasma expander, is a blood substitute that can be injected during treatment of major hemorrhaging, serious burns or open fractures. Although they do not contain the red blood cells and anticoagulants found in blood, these substitutes offer an alternative at various stages of critical intervention to save the lives of seriously injured patients. Here too, I think it is simply humane to exempt these products from the GST, an indirect taxation measure.

The government will also zero-rate a group of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which includes Valium, Ativan and other similar drugs.

These drugs are used to treat anxiety, for example, during withdrawal in cases of detox, and as preanaesthetic medication. Once again, it is simply of question of humanity to not tax these products, which are used in extremely difficult situations and when there is no other choice. It is not a matter of saying: “Should I take this or not?” The patient has no choice but to use these products.

Lastly, the government is going to rebate the GST on motor vehicles that have been used subsequent to being specially equipped for use by individuals with disabilities. We see a number of amendments on the health side that are most welcome, that are not likely to be the subject of any history classes in the future, but that are certainly consistent with common sense.

As for charities, that is the second category regarding the GST and other sales tax. These amendments will ensure that the exemption of supplies by charities of real property under short-term leases and licences extends to any goods supplied together with such real property. For example, a charity leases a building and, at the same time, leases a photocopier, phone service and computer system. At present, those products must be supplied not only at a cost, but taxes must also be paid on those goods and services. Charities will be able to use the same supplies without paying the GST. Obviously, anything that can help reduce the operating costs of charities is most welcome. In that sense, this is also a step in the right direction. A step, once again, that will not answer all of the funding problems facing charities in terms of the support they need from our government, but at least some openness has been shown in this regard. Let us hope that the government will take such steps even further in the future.

As for business arrangements, I think there are some good changes. A foreign bank that has a subsidiary in Canada will now be able to restructure it into a Canadian branch in its own right and enjoy GST relief during a transitional period.

The Finance Committee, this House and the various governments we have witnessed recently have all tried to foster competition in the financial institution sector and especially among banks. Unfortunately, though, there is still not enough competition for us to really speak of a marketplace where supply and demand play a key role. We know very well—and have had recurrent debates about it—that many of the bank fees added over the last few years are due to the fact we have oligopolistic competition, that is to say, just a few big players, especially five large Canadian banks. Despite the legislative changes made over the years to encourage the establishment of banks or foreign banks to move to Canada, there is still not enough competition to generate sufficient pressure to ensure that consumers get their money’s worth. There are certain other group relief provisions as well, but I will not get into that.

In another area, the bill simplifies the application of the GST to beverage container deposits refundable to the consumer because this was a rather bureaucratic obstacle to recycling and the collection of the tax on these cans. This measure excludes the container deposit from the GST and will thereby facilitate recycling, the protection of the environment, and the lives of all the small retailers who now handle these deposit returns.

There are a few other technical measures as well. For example, there are provisions on agents who sell products and have bad debts that they cannot recover. When this happens, they will have GST deductions.

The same applies to persons acting as billing agents—they are not the ones who will have to pay the GST—and for special arrangements between businesses in certain situations where goods are supplied outside Canada to Canadian customers. Things will be made simpler in this case also.

The bill also ensures that GST group relief rules cannot be used to exempt from the GST otherwise taxable clearing services that are provided by a group member to another in order to avoid a situation where a third-party purchaser outside the group would benefit from the GST exemption even though the services were provided by one member to another.

It also confirms the policy intent and Canada Revenue Agency’s existing practice that no GST or provincial sales taxes on a passenger vehicle are included in calculating the maximum allowable value for input tax credit purposes.

In the case of governments, the bill will exempt a supply of a right to file or retrieve a document or information stored in an electronic official registry. This means that the GST will not apply, which will facilitate the transfer of a certain amount of information by municipalities and government agencies. In some way, this is what the bill is all about. It will facilitate the flow of information. It will also ensure that a small supplier of a municipality is treated in the same manner as a small municipality.

Other amendments deal with the application of the law with regard to the GST. For example, the bill adds a discretionary power for the Minister of National Revenue to accept late-filed applications for the GST new housing rebate and the Nova Scotia HST new housing rebate in exceptional circumstances.

A number of measures such as these give some latitude to the Minister of National Revenue as well as to the revenue agency to take into account exceptional circumstances.

A number of amendments were made with regard to the excise tax. For example, the rules pertaining to tobacco were tightened. Everyone here will agree it is very important to tighten the rules because of smuggling. There will have to be greater compliance in terms of the origin of tobacco products and their source, in particular for duty free shops.

In the case of alcohol, the bill contains measures to support the development of the Canadian wine industry. This industry is flourishing, particularly in Île Ronde in the Lanaudière region, which is producing wines comparable to those being imported. Once again, this measure will help this increasingly important and high-end industry—associated with regions such as Lanaudière—to develop.

I would like to close by saying that there has been some relief with respect to the air travellers security charge. Under this legislation, airports that should not have been included, in our opinion, on the lists have been removed from them. For example, La Grande III airport and La Grande IV are not commercial or tourist airports. Some tourists use them, but the majority of users are workers.

In conclusion, although this bill does not represent a tax revolution, it is moving in the direction of common sense. The Bloc Québécois will support this bill because it corrects certain shortcomings, reduces the cost of access to some medical services, reduces the tax burden on charities, assists small producers of wine, tightens provisions pertaining to the sale and production of tobacco in order to help the fight against smuggling, and adjusts the air travellers security charge to reflect reality, particularly that in Quebec. We are therefore pleased, not in the name of revolution but rather in the name of common sense, to support this bill.

Procedure and House Affairs
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.


Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place between all parties with respect to the membership of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, and I believe that you will find consent for the following motion:

That the membership of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be amended as follows:

Lucienne Robillard for Marlene Jennings.