Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure I rise today to address the private member's bill, Bill C-274.
In looking at the bill it is important that we recognize that what we are talking about is the transfer of money among family. When we talk about our farmers, small farms, and entrepreneurs, this is something that we are very sympathetic to. I do not necessarily agree with the manner in which the New Democratic member has chosen to try to implement something that most if not all members are very sympathetic to, that being the plight of our small farms and rural communities. There is very much a concerned attitude.
I know within our caucus we have a rural caucus that spends a great deal of time trying to address the many different issues that our rural communities, in particular farmers, are having to deal with. It is a wide spectrum of issues. It is important that we recognize that there is the lifetime capital gains exemption on resulting capital when, let us say, a parent transfers property over to a child. There are already today things in place that at least in part deal with what the member is hoping to achieve.
It is important that we recognize that Bill C-274 would weaken two long-standing anti-avoidance rules, something that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance spent a great deal of time going over. It is very technical. I will avoid that because I believe that he covered it exceptionally well. I would also point out additionally that the bill would provide new opportunities for significant tax avoidance that would benefit high-net-worth individuals and result in the erosion of the tax base. We should all be somewhat concerned about that.
At times, we hear from members of this House, whether within our caucus or even from the New Democratic benches, more often than from the Conservative benches, about the issue of tax avoidance. We have a very proactive Minister of National Revenue who is constantly looking at ways to ensure that Canadians are indeed paying their fair share and looking at ways to close loopholes. Tax avoidance in Canada is a very serious issue. It is an issue that this government takes very seriously. If we can deal with that issue, it allows us to reshuffle that money in a more positive way, ensuring that there is a fairer sense of the way in which taxes are applied.
This weakening undermines the government's expressed intent to ensure that all Canadians pay their fair share of taxes, which ensures that middle-class Canadians have access to the government services that they truly deserve.
It is also important for us to recognize that this bill would send conflicting policy messages, given that we tightened one of the anti-avoidance rules that Bill C-274 proposes to relax, through the first budget implementation act. There is a contradiction there and we would suggest that the budget implementation is the best way to go because it is about tax fairness.
Again, I want to be clear that nothing currently prevents parents from selling the family company directly to their child and claiming the lifetime capital gains exemption on the resulting capital gain. That is a very important point to emphasize.
The proposal brought forward by the New Democratic member could easily be misused by corporations looking for tax-planning opportunities. It would cost the Treasury Board an estimated $800 million a year, a number that would significantly increase in later years. Tax fairness, once again, is one of our core beliefs. Here as a government today, we have had member after member stand in this chamber and talk about the issue of tax fairness. I, for one, have mentioned it on numerous occasions and, no doubt, in the months and years ahead, we will continue to raise the issue of tax fairness, because it is indeed a part of our core beliefs.
No doubt, in the months and years ahead, we will continue to raise the issue of tax fairness, because it is part of our core belief. In that vein, we are currently undergoing a review of all tax expenditures to ensure that they are fair, efficient, and fiscally responsible.
I can assure members that we are currently engaged in pre-budget consultations. We will carefully examine the issue of family transfers in the context of fairness.
I would suggest that we would find it very challenging to find a minister of finance who has gone so far out of his way to ensure that there is consultation in every region of our country, both rural and urban. When we think of the family farm, I can assure the member that when we talk about pre-budget consultations, these are issues that have been raised with the Minister of Finance. For this particular budget that is coming out for 2017-18, things of this nature will have been taken into consideration in terms of how we can help small rural farms and entrepreneurs, which are the backbone of the economy in many ways.
I, for one, am very sensitive to our farming community. As a teenager, I can remember riding on tractors in the fields of family friends. I had the opportunity to get first-hand experience at a very young age of what takes place on farms and the important role they play.
In recent years I have had the opportunity, as all members have, to visit rural communities. One thing that come to mind is the size of the farms. We talk about the cost of land, but when we look at the size, the infrastructure for farmers today is so much more than it was in previous years.
I think it was on highway 2, late at night, I could see a long line of lights coming at me. They were combines in the field in a long row taking the crops off the field. It was most impressive. It gives one a better appreciation of the role we play in providing food for the world. When I think of that, it goes back to, in many ways, the beginnings of the family farm and recognizing how important that community is to our country.
I can tell members that this is a government that is very sensitive to the needs of our farms. We see that virtually every day when the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food talks about the importance of supply management and the importance of taxation.
I understand that my time has run out. I look forward to being able to continue on another day.