House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senators.


Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits)Government Orders

1 p.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia Manitoba


Steven Fletcher ConservativeMinister of State (Democratic Reform)

Mr. Speaker, it is important to realize that Bill C-10 will apply to all the senators that the Prime Minister has appointed since 2008, upon royal assent.

The member has talked a lot about the fact, and I think we agree, that there is an undemocratic and unaccountable nature to the Senate that we would like to improve. The NDP's position is to abolish the Senate, but that will not happen, to be realistic. However, we can introduce term limits and we can also have Senate elections.

I wonder if the member could reflect on this scenario. We have term limits of eight years. We have the Senate selection act, where Canadians would be able to elect their senators to the other chamber. Canadians could end up with a scenario where Canadians elect an NDP member to the Senate, so the NDP could end up with senators. If there were problems like the ones on Tuesday night, NDP senators could stop what the member is complaining about. At least that would be an improvement. Would the member not agree?

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits)Government Orders

1 p.m.


Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

No, Mr. Speaker, I do not agree, because an appointed Senate, whether it is for 8 years or 45 years, appointed by the Prime Minister is still wrong. That is what we will get with the bill.

The bill does not change the fundamental problems with the Canadian Senate. The fundamental problem is that there is still no accountability to the Canadian people, given this legislation and given the way the current Prime Minister and the current government is using that body.

That body has no legitimacy. Here in the House of Commons we stand for election. We have to have the confidence of the people in our constituencies to take up the responsibilities we have here. Senators do not do that. The bill may limit them to eight years of unaccountable representation, but that is all it does and it is not enough.

It is a pathetic attempt at modernizing the Senate. It is a pathetic attempt at dealing with the problems of the Canadian Parliament and Canadian democracy. I think people will see through that, and they will see that it is just not good enough when it comes to the kinds of promises the government and the Prime Minister made to the Canadian people before he was elected and when he was running for election. I think there will be an accountability moment there for the government and the Prime Minister.

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits)Government Orders

1 p.m.


Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to speak to Bill C-10 to alter senators' tenure.

The Bloc Québécois opposes the principle of Bill C-10. This is not the first time the Conservative Party has tried reforming the Constitution without the provinces' approval. Personally, I am not a big fan of the Canadian Constitution, but the fact remains that outside of Quebec, Canadians identify with the Constitution.

In the late 1970s, the Supreme Court of Canada considered the capacity of Parliament, on its own, to amend constitutional provisions relating to the Senate. According to a ruling handed down in 1980 regarding that capacity, any decisions related to major changes affecting the essential characteristics of the Senate cannot be made unilaterally. Quebec has already informed the Conservative government that it will not accept any changes to the Senate, apart from abolishing it. That is a fact.

The Conservatives are still trying to turn a blind eye to the fact that the vast majority of Quebeckers want the Senate simply to be abolished because this political structure is outdated. I have statistics from a poll taken in 2010 to prove it.

I know what I am talking about because I have to live with the fact that a Liberal senator has decided that his son will be my opponent in the next election. I will not say his name because he does not deserve it. I have no problem with that. I had not seen him at all since 2000; I have been here for 10 years. He pushed to have his son be my opponent. I see this senator almost every weekend. He does fundraising for his son's election campaign. Senators are fundraisers for the Liberal Party, as seen by this example.

The same is probably true for the Conservatives; senators are fundraisers. I had never seen him or heard him. He is a former Liberal cabinet minister who had to step down because of a controversy he was involved in. I will have a chance to bring that up during the election campaign; I have a few more secret weapons that I am saving for the election. The fact remains that I find it completely ridiculous to have a second democratic system.

The people elect us here to the House of Commons to pass laws. This week, an environment bill was before the Senate for discussion and passage and it was supported by the majority of the House. The government needed to have its hands completely free before the Cancun summit and it decided to give orders to its unelected senators to cut short their study of this very important bill on the environment. The Conservatives are using the Senate for purely partisan purposes, as did the Liberals when they were in power.

Citizens who work extremely hard have seen their retirement savings eroded as a result of the economic crisis. Company pension funds were affected. People lost money on their RRSPs and other savings. In my opinion, this second system, which is costing the state a lot of money, should be abolished.

Quebec abolished its upper chamber a number of years ago, and Ontario did the same. We have to change with the times. This is not the first time that I have said in the House that the Conservatives are like the Liberals. They are two old parties that no longer deserve to govern Canada because they are doing things the same way they were done 100 years ago.

They have not changed. I see proof of this every weekend. There is a Liberal senator who is fundraising and trying to help set his son up as my opponent. This is the first time in the past 10 years that I have seen him. He simply decided that he was going to become involved in politics. I had never heard anything about him or read anything about him in the paper. Yet, for the past while, he has been trying to get out in the public eye to raise his political profile through his son's activities.

I do not have a problem. We will beat him; that is not a problem. It is just that it must be disappointing for the people watching these goings-on. I have heard all sorts of comments from people who have just seen him for the first time as senator. They are wondering what he is doing at certain events and so on. It is not good for him, but it is good for me. It is not good for democracy because people find it frightening that public funds are being used to finance a Liberal Party fundraiser, but that is what the Liberals used to want to do. The Conservatives want to try and change that. All this bill does is limit senators' terms to eight years. Replacing one senator with another will not change anything. We simply need to abolish this outdated institution outright since it has no virtues and only serves to raise funds for the older parties, such as the Liberal and Conservative parties.

That is the reality in an era where, every day, the people who listen to us work hard to pay their taxes. They pay taxes every day. They purchase items and pay sales tax, the GST, the QST. Some of their money is used to pay for these institutions, that is, the House of Commons and the Senate, among others.

I can provide statistics from a Léger Marketing poll carried out in Quebec in 2010. It is important. Whatever people thing, the fact remains that polls are used a lot, even in politics. We are living in the age of polls. As for Quebec respondents, only 8% believe that the red chamber—the Senate—plays an important role and that the system for appointing senators works well, whereas 43% want the Senate abolished. Another 23% do not understand how the Senate works and do not see the purpose it serves. They know so little about it that they have no opinion about the Senate. It is quite telling that 23% of respondents do not even know that the Senate exists. But that is the reality, and it can easily be explained by the fact that senators are just fundraisers who we see during election campaigns.

The Conservative Party fuels this opinion, and its own position is quite archaic, as we can see when it comes to the environment. The Conservative Party is not very evolved, but it came out of the Reform Party, which was already not very evolved. The Liberals are determined to have a debate because they are likely going to vote against this bill. I commend them for that, but they have never talked about abolishing the Senate. I do not know of many Liberals who would want to abolish the Senate, because it serves them well.

The Senate will serve them in my riding, because there is a Liberal senator who is promoting and lobbying for his son and spending Senate money to attend events while fundraising and so on. He probably has the money. He is entitled to do what he is doing, but people are not fooled. People can see that a senator is ultimately just a political tool, nothing more.

Members will understand that the Bloc Québécois will vote against Bill C-10.

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits)Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia Manitoba


Steven Fletcher ConservativeMinister of State (Democratic Reform)

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's comments with interest. I find it ironic that the member talked about fundraising when the Bloc, by far, relies almost solely on a taxpayer subsidy from the Canadian taxpayer for the running of its party.

Bill C-10 does limit the term of senators. The member is advocating the abolition of the Senate, which is not possible without significant constitutional reform and would, by the way, reduce the number of representatives in Parliament for Quebec by 24. Therefore, the member is actually arguing to reduce the representation of Quebec.

We are arguing for Quebeckers to be represented in Parliament. We are arguing that there be some accountability and that in conjunction with the eight year term limit, there be voluntary elections by the provinces.

Why does the member not want Quebec to be promptly represented, democratically, in this chamber?

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits)Government Orders

1:15 p.m.


Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary knows the Bloc Québécois is fighting mainly to ensure that representation in the House is not changed. He himself introduced a bill that would give Ontario and British Columbia more seats in the House at Quebec's expense. So once again, we do not need to take any lessons from him. Maybe he would like to see Quebeckers represented in the Senate, an institution that serves no purpose. Maybe that is what he would like, but Quebeckers are smarter than that.

Before the Liberal Party reformed party financing, we fought election campaigns and won in Quebec. If further reforms were made, we would still win. The only problem is that government funding prevents friends of the party from corrupting governments. That is probably what the Conservative Party wants to do. It has already built up a war chest for several election campaigns, and it probably wants to surround itself with its friends, people who would give it money and whom it could be accountable to and pay back. That is not what the Bloc Québécois wants, because our party has integrity.

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits)Government Orders

1:15 p.m.


Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, many people in Canada have had two underlying suspicions about the government. The first is that the Prime Minister has absolute contempt for democracy and will step over the bounds of democracy whenever it suits his purpose. The second thing people feel is the government is little more than a front for big oil and the tar sands. Both those suspicions came together this week when the government used an unelected, unaccountable body to crush the will of the House of Commons. This is unprecedented and a very disturbing fact, particularly given that this was a climate change bill.

We look at who the government has been appointing into the Senate, after promising that it would do something different. I would like to quote the Hon. Irving Gerstein. As he was brought into the Senate, he said:

I am one of the 18 new senators appointed by the Prime Minister in December...Some commentators [called us] “bagmen.”...I want to tell you that I do not admit to being a bagman; I proclaim it.

I believe that the job of raising funds for the Conservative both necessary and honourable.

Why does my colleague think the government shows such contempt for Canadian people by putting such lowbrow hacks and pals into that chamber to thwart the will of the democratically elected people of Canada?

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits)Government Orders

1:15 p.m.


Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, worst of all, it does not even benefit the Conservatives in any way. There is no way they could get a majority government, nor could the Liberals. Quebeckers in particular and many Canadians outside of Quebec are becoming increasingly fed up with the old parties that operate like they did 100 ago. The most striking example is the Senate, which is full of Liberal and Conservative Party fundraisers. I see this every day, for my opponent is the son of a Liberal senator. It is frightening. Those parties do not even realize that the public no longer supports them and will not support them in the future. But my hon. colleague can rest easy, for he will probably win his seat in the next election and I will win mine.

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits)Government Orders

1:15 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-10 and the amendment proposed by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley today.

I would like to read the motion proposed by the member, which was:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

“the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate term limits), because the term limits do not go far enough in addressing the problems with the Senate of Canada, and do not lead quickly enough to the abolition of the upper chamber, as recent events have shown to be necessary.”

As I said and as was indicated by our previous speaker in regard to Bill C-10, the New Democrats had indicated that we would be supporting that bill to get it to committee, but things have changed in the last week with regard to developments at the Senate on Bill C-311, Climate Change Accountability Act.

This bill was passed not only once in this Parliament but had also passed in a previous Parliament. Of course, because of the election, it came back and had to be reintroduced and passed a second time. It then went to the Senate.

Now the unelected, appointed, Conservative-dominated Senate killed Bill C-311 without so much as giving it the proper debate and allowing it to go to a committee of the Senate and go through the proper process. Had it gone through the proper process and had they found some problem with it, perhaps they could have amended it. There were ways to deal with the bill in a proper way as opposed to the way it was treated. It was basically killed in the dead of night.

The Senate has not done something like this for many years. If this is setting a new precedent for how the Senate is going to operate, it is not very good.

Yesterday I listened to the Liberal member for Random—Burin—St. George's give the Liberal position on this bill. She was talking about the lack of consultation, as far as the provinces were concerned. I wanted to draw her attention and the attention of the House to a consultation process that occurred in my home province of Manitoba.

By the way, Manitoba did have a Senate created in 1870. Manitobans had the good sense to abolish it in 1876. Members should also know that four other provinces had senates as well. New Brunswick abolished its in 1982. Nova Scotia abolished its in 1928. Quebec created one in 1867 and abolished it in 1968. Prince Edward Island created its in 1873 and abolished it in 1893.

So we have the experience of five of our provinces that have had senates and have gotten rid of them, not to mention other examples in the Commonwealth. I fail to see any examples where jurisdictions are actually bringing forth and introducing new senates. If anything, there seems to be a move towards getting rid of them.

What happened in Manitoba on June 13, 2006, was Bill 22 passed the legislature. Bill 22, the Elections Reform Act, was approved by all parties in the legislature, including the Liberal Party. The act stated that they preferred abolishing the Senate but if the Senate could not be abolished then it should consist of democratically elected members rather than members appointed by a process involving patronage appointments.

As I had indicated, the Manitoba Senate was abolished in 1876. The feeling of the committee was that the province had been served quite well without having the Senate around.

An all-party committee was set up. Membership included the NDP, Conservatives, and a Liberal member, Mr. Kevin Lamoureux, who is currently running for the Liberals in the byelection in Winnipeg North. He may possibly be one of our colleagues in the future. Mr. Lamoureux was part of the committee that came up with final recommendations, which I will deal with in a few minutes.

This all-party committee met in Brandon, Carman, Dauphin, Flin Flon, Norway House, Russell, St. Laurent, Steinbach and Winnipeg. This has been a tradition for the last number of years in Manitoba whenever there is a controversial issue, whether it be Meech Lake, smoking in public places, or the Charlottetown accord. We have tended to get all the parties involved in an all-party committee process. We found that works quite well.

In fact, the committee heard 51 presentations at its public hearings. It had 32 written submissions sent in via mail. In fact, one of the written submissions was sent in by Senator Terry Stratton.

In terms of the people who presented at the public meetings held across the province, I will mention names that people in the House will recognize. We had the recent former MP, Inky Mark, make a presentation at the meeting in Dauphin. Also, there was Senator Sharon Carstairs, Senator Bert Brown and Daniel Boucher from the Société franco-manitobaine. As well, there was the former Conservative MP, and a chairperson for many years, Dorothy Dobbie. There was quite a substantial group of interested parties making presentations to this committee.

The question is, what did members of this all-party committee recommend after hearing from the presenters?

In the area of the term limits they were agreeable to the federal government's proposal. They did not have strong opinions one way or the other on it, but they felt the eight-year term for senators was reasonable. They had these recommendations.

Elections should be held in the province to elect nominees to the Senate to be forwarded to Ottawa.

The elections should be administered through Elections Canada with the cost being the responsibility of the federal government.

The method of voting they decided on was first-past-the-post. They looked at proportional representation and they ruled that out as that had been ruled out by several provinces in the past.

There should be regional representation among Manitoba's allotment of six Senate seats. They decided they wanted to have three in the city of Winnipeg with two in southern Manitoba and one in the north.

In addition, the current proposal of an eight-year term by the federal government is in keeping with what was heard from the presenters, as I indicated before.

What we have here is a process that was started in 2006, four years ago, involving all parties. So for the Liberal Party to suggest that somehow there has been no consultation on this issue, that it is being rammed through the House, is absolute nonsense. In Manitoba their member was part of the all-party committee. How can they say that somehow there needs to be more consultation?

It seems to me what the Liberals are interested in doing is coming up with all sorts of delay tactics to tie this idea up in knots as long as possible so another ten years will go by and things will just carry on their merry way and nothing will substantially change as a result of it.

I would suggest that the Manitoba experience seems to me to be the sort of direction upon which we should be looking to proceed in terms of consultations and involving as many people in the process as possible.

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits)Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia Manitoba


Steven Fletcher ConservativeMinister of State (Democratic Reform)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his constructive comments. We understand that the NDP brought forward an amendment as retaliation for another event. However, assuming that amendment fails and the bill reaches second reading and goes to committee, will the NDP be as constructive as the member's comments just were? I would like to work together with the NDP.

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits)Government Orders

1:25 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member for Burnaby—Douglas indicated prior to my speech that we in the NDP have supported the idea of getting Bill C-10 to committee. We obviously have to deal with the member's amendment, but certainly the original intention was to support the bill going to committee to get results.

We are here to make the minority Parliament work in spite of the fact that the government does not seem to be overly helpful or even interested in a lot of cases.

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits)Government Orders

1:30 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

1:30 p.m.


Peter Braid Conservative Kitchener—Waterloo, ON


That the Standing Committee on Finance be instructed to undertake a study of the current tax incentives for charitable donations with a view to encouraging increased giving, including but not limited to (i) reviewing changes to the charitable tax credit amount, (ii) reviewing the possible extension of the capital gains exemption to private company shares and real estate when donated to a charitable organization, (iii) considering the feasibility of implementing these measures; and that the Committee report its findings to the House.

Mr. Speaker, charities are vital to the well-being of our society. They touch the lives of all Canadians. They inspire us through the arts, enlighten us through education, heal us through health institutions and medical research, nourish our faith, support us through hard times and make us the caring and compassionate society of which we are very proud.

We all know how important charitable organizations are to improving the quality of life in our communities. That is why Canadians generously contribute to their chosen charities, and it is why our government supports various charities through program funding and encourages private support through charitable tax incentives.

Since 2006, this Conservative government has taken numerous steps to enhance support for the charitable sector. For example, we removed the capital gains tax on gifts of publicly listed securities in 2006 and reformed disbursement quota rules to reduce administrative complexity in 2010.

Today I am introducing a motion that continues this positive momentum. My motion asks:

That the Standing Committee on Finance be instructed to undertake a study of the current tax incentives for charitable donations with a view to encouraging increased giving, including but not limited to (i) reviewing changes to the charitable tax credit amount, (ii) reviewing the possible extension of the capital gains exemption to private company shares and real estate when donated to a charitable organization, (iii) considering the feasibility of implementing these measures; and that the Committee report its findings to the House.

If this motion passes, and it is certainly my hope that it does, the resulting committee study could lead to recommendations that would benefit both the charitable organizations that serve our communities and the donors who support them.

Through my own personal previous involvement with charitable organizations such as the United Way and the MS Society, I have seen first-hand the positive impact that these organizations have on the individuals and the communities that they serve.

I have also seen and have been inspired by the dedication and the commitment of both staff members and volunteers at these organizations. They all share and are motivated by a common higher purpose: to make a difference in the lives of others.

Since I was elected as a member of Parliament in 2008, I have been building partnerships and becoming more involved with the many charitable organizations in Kitchener—Waterloo. I am constantly impressed by the remarkable work they are doing, and I commend them for making our region such a caring and compassionate community.

However, I also recognize that our charities face significant challenges that impede their ability to carry out their missions and achieve their goals.

Last week I hosted a round table with leaders from a cross-section of our region's community organizations. The round table included representatives from the United Way, Habitat for Humanity, the House of Friendship, Lutherwood, Leadership Waterloo Region, Focus for Ethnic Women, KW Access-Ability and KidsAbility. All of these organizations do incredible work in the Waterloo region and touch the lives of each of our families, our friends and our neighbours.

This forum gave me an opportunity to get their knowledgeable perspectives on the charitable sector in our community and to listen to their ideas and suggestions on ways that we could assist in strengthening this sector and developing strategies for the future.

An overriding and constant concern was finding adequate financial resources to carry out their mandates. Donations of individual Canadians continue to be one of the principle sources of funding for these organizations.

During difficult economic times such as we have seen recently, charities face significant challenges as they experience increased demand for their services but at the same time lower levels of charitable donations.

As we begin to emerge from the global recession, thanks to the economic action plan, we are seeing increased job creation and new opportunities for growth and prosperity. In Kitchener--Waterloo I am very excited about the enormous potential of our thriving high tech sector to generate long-term economic growth, create good quality jobs and ensure a very high quality of life for our citizens.

There is no doubt that we are on the right track on the economy, but as a community we must also ensure that everyone benefits from economic progress and that no one gets left behind.

That is why I believe that in addition to nurturing and supporting businesses, we must also nurture and support the not-for-profit sector and the charitable organizations that provide critical services to our community.

Besides providing the vital services that our communities need, there is another reason our government should continue to build strong partnerships with the charitable and not-for-profit sector. This sector is a significant part of our economy. It employs over 1.5 million people, generates an estimated $100 million or, in fact, represents 7% of our GDP. It is larger than the tourism industry, the automotive manufacturing industry or the agricultural sector.

It is in everyone's best interest to ensure a vibrant, innovative and response network of charitable and not-for-profit organizations.

My Motion No. 559 is just one step in strengthening government support for charities. I believe our government should be looking at ways to further promote charitable giving and finding new ways for Canadians to support the causes that are important to them.

Tax relief is not the main reason that Canadians choose to support charities. Over 85% of Canadians donate to charities and most do out of a sense of compassion toward people in need, to help a cause that directly affects them or to give back to their community.

However, tax incentives do play a role, especially among larger donors. The reduction and subsequent elimination of capital gains tax from donations of public shares stimulated substantial increases in charitable giving. In fact, Donald K. Johnson, a champion of this initiative, has estimated that over $3 billion in public securities has been donated to charities since these changes began in 1997.

With increasing levels of social engagement, many donors are becoming more strategic in their giving as well. They are looking for ways that their philanthropy will make a tangible impact and considering charitable donations in their long-term financial planning decisions. These changes offer a new method of giving and bring a new awareness to planned and sustainable donations.

The charitable tax credit also provides an incentive for charitable giving. The 2007 “Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating” found that 54% of Canadians would give more if they received a larger tax credit for their donations.

It is my hope that Motion No. 559 will result in a committee study that will investigate the many facets of charitable giving, consider the costs and benefits of any changes and put forward recommendations on measures that would further support charities through our tax system.

While providing incentives to increase charitable donations may ease financial challenges, charities face other complex challenges. As society and communities evolve, charitable organizations are faced with changing needs and priorities. Our community agencies are on the front line dealing with day-to-day realities and challenges and they are often the first to identify new areas of concern and responsibility.

However, these challenges also lead to new opportunities. I believe that our charitable sector has the ingenuity and the imagination to respond effectively to new challenges in our communities. In fact, the answer is innovation.

My riding of Kitchener—Waterloo is very well-known for innovation. This is not limited to only the high-tech sector. We also have organizations committed to social innovation, finding creative ways to engage individuals and businesses developing new models and building networks and partnerships to address the changing needs in our community.

One such organization is Capacity Waterloo Region. Although this is a new organization, it is already making waves, stimulating discussion and dialogue and creating collaborative opportunities for change.

As government, we need to further enhance our partnerships with this sector, better support it and equip it to carry out the role that our society asks it to do and work together to provide the best quality of life for all Canadians.

In Waterloo region, we have been very fortunate to have had the leadership of Dr. David Johnston, former president of the University of Waterloo, who applied the spirit of a traditional barn raising to community involvement.

Now he is our Governor General, and very proudly so. His vision of Canada as a “Smart and Caring Nation” inspires all of us to contribute and to build a society where all Canadians can develop their potential, all Canadians can succeed and all Canadians can serve their families, their communities and their country.

In my community, and all across Canada, we are blessed to have many dedicated volunteers and organizations that respond to the needs of others and contribute to building healthy, strong and compassionate communities.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who work in the charitable organization sector in Waterloo region. Their efforts are making a noticeable difference in our community and ensuring that it continues to be an ideal place to live, work and raise our families.

As the member of Parliament for Kitchener—Waterloo, I am committed to strengthening my partnerships with the many organizations in my community, celebrating their accomplishments, listening to their ideas and suggestions and working with them to ensure that they have a voice in Ottawa.

With our economy on the upswing, now is the time to collaborate and enhance our partnership so that everyone in our society enjoys the benefits of a revitalized economy and experiences a prosperous future.

In conclusion, I ask all members to support my motion, Motion No. 559. I believe it is incumbent upon all of us, as members of Parliament, to study this issue that could have a profound impact on the charitable organizations that make such a significant contribution to all communities across Canada. I encourage all of my colleagues in the House to become fully engaged in this important dialogue as we seek to assist our charitable organizations and work with all of them to improve our society.

1:45 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for presenting his motion. As a member of the finance committee, I am aware that a number of groups have come before the committee, proposing a number of changes.

The first item in his motion is to review the changes to the charitable tax credit amount, often referred to “just increase the rates of credit”. There is, however, an argument that by increasing the rate of credit, it simply is looking to increase the donations of those who already are giving generously. However, groups like Imagine Canada have been proposing something that is called “a stretch credit” to encourage new donors to start giving or those who are giving modest amounts to raise theirs.

Has the member considered the advisability of something like a stretch credit as opposed to just simply changing the tax credit rates?

1:45 p.m.


Peter Braid Conservative Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, in fact I am quite aware of Imagine Canada's proposal for a stretch credit. Of course my motion suggests and directs the finance committee to study these various measures, including the possibility of reviewing and/or increasing the charitable tax credit, and as part of the finance committee's study, I would certainly expect that it would consider Imagine Canada's proposal.

I also want to go back to an important statistic that I cited in my remarks. In fact, surveys and research have indicated that 54% of Canadians would give more if tax incentives were increased, so we need to keep that in mind.

The second important part of the study will be considering the exemption of capital gains tax from gifts of shares in privately held companies. I believe that this particular change has great potential.

1:45 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Kitchener—Waterloo for his work on Motion No. 559, but I would say that before we go around raising the hopes of charities that something is actually going to come out of this, I would like to ask him whether he has at least run this idea by the finance minister and other people in the government.

We know that the government is a very tightly controlled group, and I do not believe for a moment that the member is coming up with this idea simply on his own without checking with the parliamentary secretary, without checking with the finance minister. So once again, before we raise the hopes of the charities out there, I just want to be reassured that he has actually vetted this idea through the finance minister and the parliamentary secretary.

I would also like to know what the revenue shortfall or revenue loss would be. We are dealing with a $56 billion deficit. Surely he has some idea of how much revenue the government would lose as a result of making these changes.

1:45 p.m.


Peter Braid Conservative Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, suffice it to say that I certainly hope that my colleagues on the other side of the floor, including in the NDP, are as supportive of this motion as I know my colleagues are in the Conservative government, including the finance minister.

Second, in terms of potential cost, again I reinforce that the motion asks the finance committee to study these potential new measures. Of course as part of that study, there will be a cost-benefit analysis, but I would suggest to my colleague that we need to consider, in addition, public cost and public good.

1:45 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. M-559, which ostensibly addresses how we may improve charitable giving. The two suggestions are general changes to the charitable tax credit amount and, second, the possible extension of capital gains exemptions to private company shares and real estate when donated.

The finance committee has conducted its prebudget consultations. It has had, I believe, some 450 submissions and has heard from about 150 or 160 witnesses. Many of these were giving representations in support of numerous changes that had to do with handling the charitable sector. The committee is now in receipt of its draft report and will be reporting very soon. As a consequence, it is not possible to undertake such a study, so that will probably be put off for some time.

That said, just so we do not raise expectations that this is something the committee will stop, we do have the second budget implementation bill. We also have the minister and officials coming before us on that.

It is interesting, though, if we were to look at the dimension, and I did get some statistics on Canadian donations. The average annual donation was $437, the median annual donation was $120, and 50% of donors who contribute $120 or less account for only 5% of the total amount contributed. The top 10% of donors, who contribute more than $1,000, account for 62%. So it is very much tracking in terms of income levels. Clearly, I am not sure whether this is the most efficient way to generate the dollars. In any event, these are areas in which work can be done to look at where there are some efficiencies.

I also had an opportunity to look at a C.D. Howe Institute report, just to give the member an idea of how many people have really looked at this. Canada has something like 80,000 registered charities, having $100 billion in annual revenue, and more in net assets, and the total charitable sector in Canada is about the size of the economy of British Columbia. So when we touch things, we are talking about big dollars.

As others have raised, the economic circumstances of the country obviously have to be taken into account, because to enhance the charitable credits or make additional assets available for contribution and to be creditable, that money comes straight out of the government coffers.

Obviously the key is whether or not we are giving enough to the charitable sector to do the job it wants, which I think is what Canadians would like to see. There is an awful lot of work. This is an enormous undertaking and should not be taken lightly, and would not be taken lightly by the finance committee, but it may very well have to farm it out to others who have the expertise to work the numbers, like the C.D. Howe Institute.

I want to raise as well, and the member will be aware, that there have been a number of ways proposed in dealing with the charitable sector. I just happened to notice that there were tax principles involved. I thought three of the models were interesting, just so the member understands how many people have really thought about this.

The first model is that the better the charity is at enhancing the quality of life for citizens, the greater the tax subsidy should be. It is really cause and effect. If we are enhancing the quality of life for citizens, we should get a higher tax subsidy. That would be one model.

The second model would be less responsive to the amount donated, and that is the after-tax cost of donations, the lower the tax subsidy should be received, so it depends on the financial impact to the government.

The third one I noted was the redistribution. If redistribution is a goal, charities that have high-income donors contributing disproportionately should receive a lower tax subsidy than others. Some are actually more successful than others and some have more money than they can possibly deal with, but they happen to be the ones that hit a chord, which tends to give them a benefit. It is another way to consider how we might deal with this.

I want to be sure I get on the record the fact, as I am sure the member is well aware, that some have written and expressed concern about the ethical situation within charities. Not to take this too far, there is a strong view that we should not consider any further changes until further actions are taken to enhance the transparency of charities and improve their governance.

The member will also be aware that there is a private member's bill now before the finance committee, which will be considering it before the end of November, and it has to do with the amount of compensation to charitable executives and the overall cost of operations. I know that the Canada Revenue Agency has benchmarks. If a charity were to use 75% of the moneys collected for operating costs and only 25% would in fact benefit the target audience, as it were, that sends up a red flag. There are a lot of tentacles and there is much work to do.

Having said that, I want to encourage the member by saying that I was very impressed by the people who appeared before the finance committee with regard to the need to enhance charitable giving. I know Mr. Johnston, who has been visiting Parliament for many years and knows many members of Parliament, and he makes a very good case.

Certainly the idea with regard to the exemption on the capital gains and expanding it for private companies turns out to be, ultimately, a question of how much impact that might have in terms of the government treasury and how it ranks in terms of priority with regard to the other needs of Canadians, as well as the imperative of being fiscally responsible at a time of financial duress.

The member has raised an excellent motion, but it is opening up, in my view, a very significant undertaking, which could not be done very easily or very lightly. It may take a very long time to do. I am not sure whether his committee would be prepared to take on something that might take months to do, but I know there has to be some consideration as to the scope and recommendations.

I understand where the member is coming from, and I can assure him that I will be voting to move it to our committee to have a look at it. As the member and the House will know, committees may from time to time have to report back to the House circumstances that do not permit it to do a full arrangement. Or they may propose other ways in which we can satisfy the questions the member has raised with regard to specific initiatives and generally with regard to the condition of the charitable sector.

1:55 p.m.


Robert Carrier Bloc Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to motion M-559 concerning charitable donations, moved on September 16, 2010, by the hon. member for Kitchener—Waterloo, whom I would like to congratulate.

The motion calls on the Standing Committee on Finance to undertake a study of the current tax incentives for charitable donations with a view to encouraging increased giving. The motion specifically proposes “reviewing changes to the charitable tax credit amount” and “the possible extension of the capital gains exemption to private company shares and real estate when donated to a charitable organization”. The motion also calls on the committee to consider ways to implement these measures and report its findings to the House.

I can assure this House that the Bloc Québécois will support this motion, because it recognizes the essential role played by charitable organizations in Quebec society and around the globe. Volunteer associations like the United Way and Sun Youth Organization, along with other charitable foundations and international aid agencies like Oxfam-Québec and the Red Cross—just to name a few—all do invaluable work for society.

In Quebec, we can count on the dedication of 16,000 charities registered with the Canada Revenue Agency. The Bloc Québécois believes it is vital that charitable organizations be able to focus on their activities, rather than on fundraising.

Accordingly, we supported the campaign to eliminate the capital gains tax on donations of publicly listed securities and private equity holdings to charities. In addition, the Bloc Québécois is open to the idea of extending the tax credit for charitable donations. That is why we think it is important for the Standing Committee on Finance to examine these measures.

The Bloc Québécois is listening to charities, which do not hesitate to let us know about their funding needs and to share their complaints about the Conservative government. Since these organizations are the ones affected by the funding issues, we think it is essential to invite them to testify in committee, so we can hear what they have to say about the measures proposed in the motion.

All charities need predictable, long-term funding in order to fulfill their mandates. So, as part of its 2010 budget suggestions, the Bloc Québécois demanded that the federal government stop extending certain programs on a temporary basis and stop being so secretive about its intentions regarding funding for organizations that depend exclusively or partially on federal money. In doing so, the government creates uncertainty among the most vulnerable, our community groups and the charitable organizations that help them.

In response to the 2010 budget, the Bloc Québécois deplored the fact that the government did not consider the issue of charity funding. The survival of these organizations is especially important given that the Conservative government has used terrible methods to reduce the deficit, which could lead to reduced public services. The decisions related to health transfers are one example of this.

When it comes to international aid, we are concerned about the government's major withdrawal from the international aid field and the politics of fear it imposes on non-governmental organizations. The Conservative government is keeping various non-governmental organizations in limbo in order to impose its vision and values on them. Reputable NGOs such as KAIROS and Alternatives, which are registered charities, do not share the Conservative ideology and have had their funding cut drastically for ideological reasons.

Women's groups are saying the same thing. On the one hand, the government is cutting the funding of more than 12 women's groups and, on the other, it is funding religious groups. As Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth said so well, NGOs have to shut up if they do not want to lose their funding.

The Bloc Québécois called on the federal government to put in place a realistic plan to achieve the UN target of 0.7% of GDP in development aid as quickly as possible.

The federal government, which refuses to increase the envelope for development aid, is greatly hindering the important work of charitable organizations in developing countries.

We believe it is appropriate for the Standing Committee on Finance to examine the changes that could be made to the charitable tax credit amount, particularly the introduction of an extended tax credit, and also the capital gains exemption on donations of publicly listed securities and private equity holdings to charities.

Studying this motion in committee will allow us to ensure that measures aimed at increasing donations to charities will be part of a rigorous fiscal framework, are developed in a responsible manner, and will not plunge the federal government into recurring deficits.

The Bloc Québécois has always done a thorough job. Moreover, our commitments are always costed and our election platform comes with a strict financial framework. We will be guided by that as we study this motion.

The Bloc Québécois recognizes the important role of charitable organizations. They do vital work in Quebec society and elsewhere in the world. For example, following the earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people in Haiti on January 12 of this year, Quebeckers turned to charities to support the earthquake victims. They contributed some $66 million to humanitarian and development organizations that provide relief for victims. This amount represents about a quarter of all the funds raised in Canada.

The Bloc Québécois feels that the some of the Conservative government's policies are hampering the work of charitable organizations.

The survival of these organizations is especially important as the Conservative government often looks for ways to reduce the deficit, which could mean reduced services for the public.

The Bloc Québécois would like the Standing Committee on Finance to discuss the proposals in the motion.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Finance, I look forward to questioning the witnesses who are coming to further educate us about the work they do and the role they play in our society. They will also be able to enlighten us on the provisions related to the Canada Revenue Agency that concern them.

Of course, the Bloc Québécois will be supporting this motion, which we are proud to be discussing here in the House.

2:05 p.m.


Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise on behalf of the people of Timmins--James Bay who elected me to come here and bring their concerns and review the legislation that we deal with at different times.

I am proud to rise today on Motion No. 559 on the question of working with charities and encouraging the ability of people to give to charities, and getting that to the finance committee.

It is certainly an issue that we should bring forward in the finance committee. There will be a number of questions about the efficacy of the approach that is being suggested, but if we hear witnesses and we work with all four parties, we could actually move toward a better role for charities.

I think of my riding of Timmins--James Bay and some of the phenomenal work that goes on. I would like to begin by talking about the Lord's Kitchen, which is still in the basement of old Nativity Church, although the parish has moved over to St. Antoine's. Some might say the Lord's Kitchen Society is a charity, but to me it is a community centre where seniors and young aboriginal kids come, where families come for weekly dinners. It is one of the most welcoming environments I have seen.

I think of Ed Ligocki in South Porcupine who has been running the Good Samaritan Inn for 10 years, and the amazing work the inn does in dealing with the homeless.

Homelessness is not just an issue in urban centres. We see it in the north and of course we see it in frightening numbers in our aboriginal communities. We see that level of grassroots charitable work, but we have it at a number of levels that shows the complexity of charitable giving in this country, for example, the work that is done by the Literacy Council of South Temiskaming. We see it with groups such as the Timmins highland dancers who are raising money this week for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The Cochrane Temiskaming Children's Treatment Centre does amazing work with its integrated services for the northern children program.

All across the vast region of Timmins--James Bay there are people who are volunteering and who are doing so much of the work that needs to be done in order to make civil society a truly humane society, where people who are falling through the cracks are cared for. We see it with the support for arts in our area. We see it for the cultural organizations in our area. We want to encourage that people are able to continue giving money.

When I look at this motion, one of the questions I have is that perhaps a more efficient way of dealing with charities is to clear up what actually should be a charity and what should not be. There are many groups competing for charities and some of them perhaps should not be able to get charitable donations. If we cleared that up, there might be a better pool of money for the groups that are legitimate charities.

One of the groups that I think of right off the top of course is the Fraser Institute. The Fraser Institute claims that it is there to represent the free market. Of course, the Fraser Institute attacks all manner of public institutions, yet it does so under the guise of being a charity. I look at where the institute gets its money from.

It is very disturbing that Exxon Mobil, the oil company, could funnel money through the Fraser Institute to do so-called studies on climate change. We know what kind of climate change studies the Fraser Institute has come up with. The Fraser Institute has attacked the Kyoto protocol. Here is a quote:

The climate change activists are exaggerating the certainty in the linkage between human action and climate change.

The institute is bought and paid for by Exxon Mobil, and I certainly would not want to have any more sweetheart deals for Exxon Mobil being able to funnel money to the Fraser Institute.

Another group that gives money to the Fraser Institute is big tobacco, Rothmans and Phillip Morris. We see how the Fraser Institute, working as a front for big tobacco, led the fight supposedly for freedom against all manner of bylaws when it came to smoking bylaws in this country. We know how brutal the deaths from passive smoke have been for the waitresses and the people who have worked in the service industry, yet there was the Fraser Institute pocketing money from Rothmans and then going out and being interviewed on radio and television as somehow a disinterested third party just giving its opinion.

I do not have a problem with these right-wing think tanks. What I have a problem with is they use charitable donations in order to take money from corporations to basically subvert good public process.

When I look at a group like the Fraser Institute and its pals at Rothmans, Philip Morris and big oil, I certainly do not want them to get another dime through charitable giving. It undermines the phenomenal work that legitimate charities do.

I suggest for my hon. colleague that perhaps if we cleaned out the bad apples who are misusing charitable numbers for political purposes, then we would be able to ensure that the money goes to organizations such as the hearing society and the society for the blind, which do phenomenal work. The money that goes to them is so vital and important. I think of groups like the seizure and brain injury group in Timmins, which has done amazing work with little resources. If it did not have that charitable status, it would be unable to carry on that work.

I think of the groups all through Timiskaming that are dealing with the food banks. For example, the Cochrane Food Bank in our region is a centre for distribution of food throughout the north. It helps support the food banks in Iroquois Falls, Timmins, Englehart, New Liskeard and Kirkland Lake. These people volunteer their time day after day. If we go into the Cochrane Food Bank on any given day, we will see numerous volunteers. They are doing phenomenal work.

If there is a way we can, through the finance committee, look at aiding groups like the Cochrane Food Bank, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Seizure and Brain Injury Centre of Timmins through changing the tax measures, the New Democratic Party and I would certainly be interested.

However, we believe we need to close the loopholes so the bad apples, who are misusing charities on behalf of big oil, big tobacco and basically acting as a front for everything the neo-con Conservative spills on the Canadian public on any given day, cannot hide behind charities. They should have to go out and compete in the marketplace with their bogus ideas.

If Rothmans want to give money to fronts like the Fraser Institute to help groups like the Conservative Party, they should have to go out and compete for that dollar for dollar. There should be no incentive for this kind of money through the back pocket.

It is a slap in the face to the volunteers and the people who do such good work and the people who give with their hearts day after day, without thinking of the personal gain, unlike our friends at Rothmans, or at the Fraser Institute, or in the big oil industry who give money to the Fraser Institute and expect charitable money back and charitable breaks for usurping and subverting public process.

2:15 p.m.

Macleod Alberta


Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to talk about the motion rather than a rant about NDP ideologies.

I want to speak in strong support of today's motion brought forward by the member for Kitchener—Waterloo, which has nothing to do with the Fraser Institute or in fact Greenpeace, the one about which he obviously avoided even talking. I do not think we want to address the funding of that.

Let me first of applaud the member for Kitchener—Waterloo for his hard work on this motion and his noble goal of helping Canada's charitable sector. What is more, since being elected in 2008, the member has been an intelligent and effective representative for his constituents, ensuring their voices are heard in Ottawa and their concerns are addressed. Without a doubt, Kitchener—Waterloo has a strong representative in Parliament, putting their best interests first.

Today's motion calls for the finance committee, of which I am a member, to conduct a study on charitable giving in Canada. Specifically, it asks the committee to examine how current tax incentives may be made more effective to encourage increased giving.

Unlike some other private members' proposals we see too often in Parliament, chiefly from the opposition, this is an intelligent way of developing good public policy. Instead of unilaterally dictating a solution to an issue, the member for Kitchener—Waterloo has asked the finance committee to study the issue first. He is asking for hearings to talk directly to Canadians, to listen to the experts, to listen to those who are involved in the charitable sector and to listen to them together across partisan lines.

I believe in working together, consulting with Canadians, looking at the facts, considering the costs and doing all of this in an open, public forum at our finance committee. I see this as a positive and constructive way to approach this issue. I am entirely confident my fellow committee members will be eager to undertake such a study and ensure it has a fulsome study.

Again, I strongly support the motion and truly hope all members would as well.

For the remainder of this speech, to help inform the discussion, I would like to provide some background on the framework for charitable giving in Canada and how tax incentives help support it.

First and foremost, all parliamentarians have long recognized the immense importance and good work of charities in communities across this country. There are currently over 85,000 charities registered with the Canada Revenue Agency. Being a registered charity under the Income Tax Act provides a unique privilege, namely the ability to issue tax receipts to donors for gifts.

Donors, in turn, are entitled to claim a tax credit for donations made to registered charities, thereby reducing the amount of income tax that they pay. I should note that even though Canadians can receive tax benefits for their giving, in most cases that is only a secondary consideration.

In the words of Peter Nicholson, an experienced investment adviser:

The last reason that someone is going to give is because they are going to get a tax break. I show clients how they should give but prior to me showing you how, there has to be a 'why' and a 'who,' and that is all done on emotion.

Clearly we all know Canadians support charities because of their desire to help others or to support the causes in which they believe. Make no mistake about it, Canadians firmly believe in the importance of charities.

That is why we are among the most generous people in the world. In fact, Canada recently ranked third on the 2010 world giving index, an international comparison of giving and volunteering generosity in over 153 different countries.

As I have already noted, the tax system encourages Canadians to support the charitable sector by allowing individuals to claim a tax credit for gifts made to charities. For instance, the charitable donations tax credit allows Canadians to increase their charitable giving by providing tax relief. This credit provides federal tax assistance of 15% on the first $200 of donations and 29% on accounts above $200. Combined with the provincial tax relief for donations, the total average tax assistance for giving is about 46% for donations over $200.

In addition to the general tax incentives for charitable donations, special incentives are provided to encourage Canadians to donate particular types of property. Donations of ecologically sensitive land, Canadian cultural property and publicly listed securities are generally exempt from capital gains. As a result, the total tax assistance provided on these types of donations can be even higher, in fact as high as 60% of the value of the donation.

Since taking office in 2006, our Conservative government has taken key steps to build on that framework by increasing the generosity of tax incentives to better help the important role charities play in communities across Canada. For example, we have introduced a complete exemption on capital gains tax associated with the donation of publicly listed securities and exchangeable shares to public charities and private foundations. We also extended the exemption to donations of ecologically sensitive land to public conservation charities.

I note that our Conservative government's actions have been warmly welcomed by charities across Canada.

For instance, the Community Foundations of Canada has noted it would “help philanthropy continue to grow and will benefit charities across the country. We all win when the government encourages people to give. This tax relief will be welcome news”.

The steps have already had a positive impact on charitable giving in Canada.

For instance, commenting on our change in 2006 to encourage the giving of publicly listed securities, the Saskatoon Community Foundation has publicly declared, “in less than two years the foundation's endowment has grown by several hundred thousand dollars through donated stock. We've had some pretty significant donations so far in terms of size”.

We continued to build on our record of supporting charities earlier this year in budget 2010. We did this when we significantly reformed the disbursement quota rules for charities, reducing administrative complexity to better enable charities to focus their time and resources on charitable activities. This made it easier for charities to raise the funds they needed to help people who needed it most. Again, this action was warmly welcomed by charities as well.

In the words of the Salvation Army, the reform would “provide the Salvation Army, one of Canada's largest charities, with increased flexibility in meeting the needs of Canadians...allow(ing) us to better respond to the needs of the people we serve in 400 communities across Canada”.

We have also taken steps to encourage more giving in response to specific international crises in Haiti and Pakistan by matching dollar for dollar the donations of Canadians to those relief efforts.

Clearly our Conservative government has been a strong supporter of charities and charitable giving in Canada. Nonetheless, we recognize it is always important to study whether we could increase charitable giving in Canada to keep the charitable sector vibrant. That is why I strongly support today's motion as it calls for a finance committee study.

Moreover, I am confident that I and other finance committee members will give careful consideration to both the effectiveness of any new measures we might propose and their cost, ensuring they are affordable and sustainable.

I strongly hope the motion will be successful and we can undertake this study. I again applaud the member for Kitchener—Waterloo for his leadership on this issue and for the great work he is doing in Parliament on behalf of his constituents.

2:25 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, once again I want to thank the member from Kitchener—Waterloo for his motion and certainly the contribution of the other speakers on this, particularly the parliamentary secretary.

It sounds as though we are on the right track. We know there has been a decline in charitable giving over the last couple of years. It may be as a result of the recession, but there could be other issues that are at play here.

I know there is another bill before the House that deals with the disclosure of the salaries of the top managers and CEOs. There is the issue of what portion of the donations actually reaches the people it is supposed to help and how much is used in administration.

It is conceivable that when these two bills reach the finance committee together we will be able to look at them as one big piece of the puzzle, but certainly there is some merit in what the member says. The reason I asked him the question initially was because I was not sure whether this was just an idea that he had, something that he had been promoting on his own for a while, or whether in fact it was being endorsed by the finance minister and the parliamentary secretary. Clearly the government seems to be reasonably behind this particular idea.

What we are doing here is simply fostering and approving that a study begin. We all know how quickly the current government moves at the best of times. Glaciers move faster than the parliamentary secretary, although I must admit that on the pension issue he seems to be getting some of the results that we in the NDP have been pushing for. We have been reasonably happy with him up to recent times; however, some of his recent speeches have cast some doubt on that.

The fact of the matter is that we are probably looking at an election in another few months anyway, so with all the good work we are doing now in getting these bills through the process, we are likely to see these bills again after the next election. However, this idea looks as though it is one that should be proceeded with.

The finance committee is looking at studies. We are going to have to look at the cost to the treasury and what impact that would have on the budget, where the government is not in very good shape right now with a $56 billion deficit and no clear idea of where we are going to be another 12 or 24 months out. By the time this study is concluded, we could be well beyond the next election. It could take a couple of years and the government may end up saying that it is going to cost too much money, that it cannot afford to give up the revenue and that it is going to phase it in over a period of time.

That was my original caution. I wanted to make certain that the members did not raise hopes among the charities that somehow they would be called to meetings, which I am sure he has had them attend, and think that somehow they are going to get some results from the government in short order. I think he should dampen those expectations a lot, given the past history of the government.

2:30 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

It being 2:30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until next Monday at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:30 p.m.)