This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.

Topics

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister talks about EI premiums. The Conservatives are the ones who threatened to drive them up and now we are supposed to be grateful that their increase is only part of what they threatened. I suppose they are also proud of the fact that they are the only ones to increase EI premiums since Brian Mulroney.

For months on end the government denied there was a recession and denied there was a deficit, a deficit that it created before the recession. It even tried to redefine the term “debt” to hide the fact that it is the biggest borrowing, biggest spending government in Canadian history, but nothing for families.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, the Canadian business community and, of course, Canadian workers have responded extremely positively to this government's plans for employment insurance.

What they did not respond to as positively was the position taken last night by members of the Liberal Party on this issue when they voted for a 35% increase in employment insurance premiums. However, what is more shocking is that the leader of the Liberal Party, earlier in the day, said that the proposal was financially irresponsible.

I have news for Liberal Party members. When something is financially irresponsible, they should vote against it.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. I would remind hon. members that it is Thursday, not Wednesday. Could you calm down a little.

The hon. member for Wascana.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the fact remains that the present government is the first government to increase EI premiums since Brian Mulroney. We reduced them 13 consecutive times.

Across Canada today there are thousands of families whose kids have earned good grades but they do not have the money for college or university so they do not get to go to school. There are thousands of young parents who need to work, so they need child care, but they cannot find a decent space or afford one so they cannot go to work. There are thousands of families without adequate pensions so they cannot retire. Ordinary families are drowning in a flood of household debt. Why will the government not help?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I will tell you about the record of the Liberal Party on employment insurance.

While the Liberals were cutting benefits to workers, they took $50 billion out of the fund to use to pay for their deficits, something this government has not done. That is why this government is strongly supported by workers and by businesses.

Last night those characters voted for a 35% increase for the sole purpose of keeping their little coalition arrangement with the NDP and the Bloc Québécois. That is not in the interests of this country.

Firearms RegistryOral Questions

September 30th, 2010 / 2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have had two examples in the last week, when the House clearly made decisions on the long gun registry and on the census, clearly reflecting a sense of give and take, with all parties giving way somewhat to come to a conclusion and to come to a compromise.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister a very simple question. What is his problem with democracy? What is his problem with parliamentary sovereignty, and what is his problem with his party which makes decisions that are completely contrary to the will of Parliament?

Firearms RegistryOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think the compromise on the gun control issue has been very apparent for some time. Law-abiding Canadian gun owners support licensing. They support the registration of handguns and restricted weapons. What they do not support is a wasteful and useless long gun registry.

What does the Liberal Party have against law-abiding citizens? What does it have against farmers? What does it have against duck hunters? What does it have against aboriginal Canadians? Why does it not stand up for people in the regions of this country?

Firearms RegistryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is the man who said, “I make the rules.” That is the approach the government takes on Canadian democracy. Two examples of that are the census and the firearms registry. It is clear that the public is going in one direction, while the government is going in another.

My question is very simple: why are the Conservatives prejudiced against democracy in Canada?

Firearms RegistryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, those are two perfect examples of how this government respects the people of Canada. We respect people who are reluctant to share their personal information. We do not threaten them with sanctions. We respect people who use firearms in accordance with the law, and who are responsible with their firearms.

I do not know why the Liberal Party does not respect the people of Canada, especially those who live in the regions.

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, nearly 2,000 Canadian citizens have accounts with the HSBC Bank in Switzerland, allowing them to evade taxes. Those bank accounts contain at least $500,000 each. This means the government is losing out on millions of dollars in taxes. If 2,000 Canadians are using Switzerland to evade taxes, we can be sure that many others are doing the same thing in Barbados.

Will the Prime Minister make an official request to obtain the list of the 2,000 citizens that might be breaking the law?

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, our position is very clear. If Canadians are using Swiss bank accounts to avoid paying taxes in Canada, those people will face the full force of Canadian law.

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, what I am asking is if he will make an official request to France to obtain that list.

Then, once the evidence is obtained, will the Prime Minister commit to not reaching an out of court settlement with the individuals in question, and instead recover the money and bring criminal charges against the guilty parties? The government should punish these white-collar criminals, who are costing it millions of dollars.

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, this government will not tolerate Canadians using use Swiss bank accounts to avoid paying taxes.

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, it was with the help of the Liberals that the Conservative government facilitated the use of tax havens in its last two budgets. The Bloc Québécois has long been proposing solutions for doing away with access to tax havens like Barbados and eliminating double interest deductions.

Instead of delivering monotonous speeches full of empty words, why does the Minister of Finance not draw some inspiration from France, which is requiring its banks to close their branches in OECD-identified non-cooperative tax havens? As a favour to the banks maybe?

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the majority of Canadians pay their taxes. It is the law, and they abide by it. There are some who have chosen to place money in offshore accounts in foreign countries. Our government has taken aggressive action, both domestically and internationally, to recover money owed to Canadians.

Our government knows that Canadians recognize that paying taxes is the law and that tax cheating is a crime. We will use any necessary measures to ensure that this law is abided by.

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, the proof that the Conservatives are encouraging tax evasion is that they signed the free trade agreement with Panama. That country is one of the tax havens on the OECD's list of states that do not respect their commitment to exchange tax information.

Will the government agree that, before ratifying the agreement, it should first require Panama to sign a tax information exchange agreement with Canada based on the OECD model?

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I have written to my counterpart in Panama asking that it undertake its obligations. Indeed, the Government of Panama has made a commitment to undertake its obligations for tax information sharing with the OECD.

However, I note that that party is one that is inclined to look for any excuse to avoid creating trade opportunities for Canadian workers and Canadian businesses.

We are interested in seeing Canadian workers and businesses prosper, especially at this critical economic time.

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, Revenue Canada loses millions of dollars every year because of tax evasion. According to a UQAM study, the top five Canadian banks used tax havens to avoid paying $16 billion in income tax. Most taxpayers do their part to keep the country going, but the government is doing nothing to eliminate the scourge of tax evasion.

Where is the government's law and order agenda for major banks and those who are avoiding taxes?

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, the government's policy is to reduce taxes. When the government is owed taxes, we expect Canadians to respect the law, and the majority do. If some citizens use Swiss bank accounts to avoid paying lawful taxes, the government will prosecute them to the full extent of the law.

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that this government is letting some of the big money players play in les paradis fiscaux. They are just having a good time, tax free. That is their strategy.

Statistics Canada estimates that the amount of money Canadians have socked away in these places amounts to $88 billion. Think of what the fair taxation of that revenue could do to provide affordable medications to families, decent pensions, or maybe some EI help for people who are out of work. Instead, what we see is no action. In the U.S., 1,500 experts are on the trail of these tax evaders.

Could the Prime Minister tell us how many Canadian gumshoes are going after the evaders here?

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in 2009 alone the Canada Revenue Agency uncovered $1 billion of what we would categorize as aggressive tax planning and obviously dealt with those cases.

I listen to the NDP. Of course, nobody anywhere in the House would support tax evasion. I have to tell the NDP that hiking EI premiums by 35% or raising taxes on business or raising them on consumers is not dealing with tax evasion. It is just high taxes against Canadians, and we do not support that.

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, some members are pointing to the HST imposed by this government.

The fact is, the amount of money Canadians are squirreling away in the Cayman Islands is eight times greater than that country's own GDP. In Barbados it is six times. In Bermuda it is four times. This is outrageous.

The government, with the help of its Liberal predecessor, is turning a blind eye to these tax evaders. Law-abiding Canadians are being fleeced while some of our biggest corporations and richest individuals are playing away with their money under beach towels in the Cayman Islands.

When will the government have its action match its words?

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, let us be really clear on the issue of the federal sales tax. It was this government that cut the federal sales tax for Canadian consumers twice. The federal NDP voted against it twice, and it was the NDP in Nova Scotia that raised it by two percentage points.

We know where the NDP stands on taxes. This government will continue to go aggressively after tax evaders, but we will not allow the NDP to use this as an excuse to try to raise taxes on ordinary Canadians.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the cost of living continues to rise. Canadians can no longer make ends meet. GDP is dropping, debt is skyrocketing, and the Conservative deficit is the largest in the country's history. This looks like déjà vu for the minister of Finance, who ransacked Ontario's public treasury just a few years ago. Why has the Conservative deficit had to be revised upward for the third time?