House of Commons Hansard #241 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Prevention of Radicalization through Foreign Funding ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to talk about the private member's bill introduced by my colleague from Parry Sound—Muskoka, which sets out to prevent radicalization through foreign funding.

This bill is laudable because we are in a democratic institution. In essence, the bill would create a list of foreign states, individuals and entities that sentence individuals to punishment based on their religious beliefs and promote such punishment, support activities that promote radicalization, or even limit freedom of religion. I am surprised at what I have heard some of my parliamentary colleagues say because we are in an exemplary democratic institution here, and I think we should be proud to give this bill second reading.

If we do not take this opportunity to talk about radicalization, and if the government flatly rejects worthwhile initiatives like the one my colleague has proposed, it is likely that further developments will be left in the hands of those who are actively making the situation worse. We know all too well that radicalization leads to terrorism, as we saw with the tragic events that we experienced here in October 2014. This bill strives to silence those who would corrupt people's minds. Contrary to what one of my colleagues said earlier, the only way to do that is to go right to the root of the problem by cutting off the money supply. Dark and shadowy forces finance activities that cause instability and erode the underpinnings of our democracy.

We live in what is probably the best place in the world to speak our minds freely without inciting violence. Unfortunately, there are some entities that seek to disrupt that reality. They use methods that we must protect ourselves against. My colleague's private member's bill proposes specifically to amend the Income Tax Act to recognize that there may be ways of funding organizations that promote radicalization resulting in violence. It is important to understand that we already have a list of terrorist entities in Canada, so clearly, if an entity promotes the use of violence, it can be banned and we can go after its sources of funding.

Where things get trickier is when rhetoric encourages or leads to radicalization and the creation of terrorist entities. My colleague's initiative is courageous because it aims to create a framework and give the government tools to protect itself against radicalization. Under the Income Tax Act, organizations can have their charitable status stripped if they encourage violence or are affiliated with terrorist entities, but there is a grey area. There is some vagueness, as we saw in committee. That is precisely why the Senate studied the matter and recommended that measures be taken to cut off the sources of radicalization.

Moreover, former national security advisor Richard Fadden confirmed that some sources provide funding, here in Canada, to different kinds of entities that encourage people to commit terrorist acts. That goes against the very principles of our society. Many organizations can make their views known, but accepting money from an entity conveying a message that corrupts the democratic principles we live by is forbidden. Sometimes, the message is subtle and insidious, but it results in acts of violence. We know this all too well.

Our intelligence services are very busy nonetheless.

What makes a young person abandon our democracy to go and fight abroad? How have we gotten to the point where youth can be exposed to a narrative that provides them with a justification to travel abroad to commit acts of violence?

That is at the heart of this bill. I would say that we are being proactive about dealing with people who go to the airport and say that they want to become foreign fighters and participate in the decapitations that we witnessed, to everyone's horror.

We are vulnerable, especially at a time when ISIS has disbanded and to some extent dispersed. As a society, it is important that we have the tools to say no to radicalization and to those who seek to radicalize our society by funding messages that result in hate and violence.

I was pleasantly surprised that my colleague quoted someone whom I greatly admire, Mrs. Raheel Raza, a Canadian journalist of Pakistani origin. She is a Muslim woman who supports this bill because she knows that money can be used to radicalize and disrupt the rule of law in our country.

Obviously, this bill deserves to be studied in committee. We heard from security experts, people like Raheel Raza, who support the bill and can help to fulfill the need we have as a society to develop the proper tools.

Is this a challenge? Yes, absolutely. That is why we, as parliamentarians, have the responsibility to explore the approach proposed by my colleague to stop radicalization. If we turn a blind eye to radicalization, radicals will gain control of the narrative and we will be left to pick up the pieces. Let us prevent that from happening by thinking about this and having a discussion. That is what my colleague is proposing.

Prevention of Radicalization through Foreign Funding ActPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Public Services and ProcurementAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, on November 3, I rose in the House to ask a question regarding the broken Phoenix system. Once again, the Liberals will be breaking their promises to fix this fiasco. The government announced that it would not be able to honour the new collective agreement implementation dates for more than 100,000 public servants. I think that now is the time for the government to step up and find a solution to the disastrous Phoenix system.

This new pay system was meant to modernize the previous1970s-era system. The government claimed that it could save $688 million with this new system, but in reality, the system has cost taxpayers half a billion dollars so far, and it simply does not work.

The government wanted to save taxpayers money, but the complete opposite is happening. Employees are either not receiving their full pay or are being paid too much and live in fear of having to file an incorrect income tax return thanks to the mismanagement of the pay system. Many federal public servants will have to repay the federal government large amounts of money.

Ultimately, what happened was that the government wanted to save money at any cost, without considering the risks, and now here we are.

At a press conference, the President of the Treasury Board was quick to lay the blame on the Conservatives, but it was this Liberal government that gave the green light to launch Phoenix, without testing it, and it was this government that ignored the warnings from our party and the unions. Perhaps it is time that the government listened to the experts.

This fiasco has been going on for a year and a half now, and once again, the government is not being transparent. Members of unions like the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which represent over 50,000 federal employees, are frustrated by the countless problems they have had to deal with since the federal government implemented Phoenix. They believe, and rightly so, that the government needs to be more honest with the employees affected by the failures of the pay system.

More than 265,000 federal employees are having pay problems. The Liberals need to understand that more than 50% of our public servants are affected, and that is huge. The nightmare is not over for the victims of the Phoenix pay system.

As I mentioned in my question, the government promised to honour the collective agreement of more than 100,000 public servants. Once again, the Treasury Board has gone back on its word. As a result, wage increases and retroactive payments, for example, will not be paid as set out in these collective agreements.

This is a tragic story. There are people suffering from chronic stress and anxiety, and who wonder every day when or whether they will be paid. This is a travesty. How can the government remain unmoved by this situation? This story makes the headlines almost every day. The NDP has brought it up over and over again, the unions and public servants have been sounding the alarm for a long time, but the government is still turning a deaf ear. The government must act now to put an end to this disaster. We cannot allow our fellow citizens to go without income or benefits. Even worse, as if that were not bad enough, the Auditor General revealed in his most recent report that it will take years to fix this fiasco.

When will the government finally take steps to set up a pay system that works? I do not think that is too much to ask.

Public Services and ProcurementAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Gatineau Québec

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

We have noted and appreciated the constructive attitude the hon. member and her party have brought to this debate, at times. As the member for Gatineau, there is no one more motivated than I. My riding may not not have the highest concentration of federal public servants in Canada, but it comes close. We have applied that passion and motivation to resolving the Phoenix pay problems.

I can assure my hon. colleague that we have made great progress, which is not to underestimate or minimize the problems associated with the pay system. We are concluding new collective agreements.

The former government made it so that we inherited this Phoenix pay system; we had no choice but to move forward. It is not like we could choose the Phoenix pay system or the old system. The choice we had was between the Phoenix pay system and no pay system. The whole thing has been clearly documented by the Auditor General, as well as his predecessor, who said in her report that the Phoenix pay system was a ticking time bomb. We had no choice.

Furthermore, when we came to office, 300,000 public servants were working without a collective agreement. That is nearly the entire public service. The President of the Treasury Board quickly got to work negotiating new collective agreements with our partners in the public service unions. Naturally, the new agreements applied retroactively to the years when the previous government was in power.

It takes thousands or even hundreds of thousands of transactions to issue retroactive pay to our public servants. As a result, we had to reassign compensation advisors to implement these new collective agreements, even though the number of compensation advisors we had inherited was already not enough for the transition to the Phoenix pay system.

The good news is that we were able to pay nearly all of our public servants. True, we did not always meet our deadlines, but we paid our employees retroactively. We have always been very transparent with the unions in this regard. Every month, we process more transactions than the month before, amounting to hundreds of thousands of transactions.

There has been some progress. We are putting resources towards this. This is the federal government's number one priority. I want to assure my hon. colleague that the problem is not a lack of will. We are allocating all the necessary resources and doing everything in our power to fix the problems with the Phoenix pay system.

Public Services and ProcurementAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I feel like I keep hearing the same speeches and the same answers.

In the beginning, the government chose to do the necessary trial runs before moving forward. In my riding, hundreds of public servants and retirees were victims of the Phoenix pay system and still are. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the work of Mario Lavigne, who came to our office when the Phoenix troubles began to give us a petition signed by hundreds of people affected by this fiasco. These people are calling on this government to do something about it.

More than half the public service is either being overpaid or not being paid enough. Two hundred and sixty-five thousand is not just a number, it is human beings and families living under tremendous stress every day.

This burden is not theirs to bear, it is the government's. It is not right that people are losing their homes and struggling to feed their family and pay their bills. We cannot be callous about this. It is imperative that we resolve this situation.

Public Services and ProcurementAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

Madam Speaker, again I thank my hon. colleague.

I would reiterate that we are not trying to minimize the problems. Obviously, we deeply regret that we are still not at the stage where we are providing the correct pay to many or our employees or paying them on time.

I am committed, both personally and on behalf of the government, to assigning all the technological, human, and financial resources necessary to resolve and stabilize the pay system. We will get there. I offer that assurance to the House. We will redouble our efforts. We are working day and night. I wake up every day feeling very motivated, and knowing that my government is very motivated, to fix the problems with the pay system, which we inherited from our predecessors.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act has a provision, commonly known as excessive demand, used when determining if a family should be granted permanent resident status. Essentially, if someone in the family unit has a disability, that individual is automatically singled out for additional assessment. The assessment process only sees the individual's disability and assumes that the person is a burden on society. It is blind to the benefits the individual and his or her family might bring.

Take the case of Professor Montoya and his family. He came to Canada with his wife, daughter, and son in 2012. He and his wife worked, paid their taxes, and contributed to their community. Their son and daughter attended a Canadian school, but the entire family was deemed inadmissible because his son Nico has Down syndrome.

Despite the fact that Nico was not using any special social services, IRCC concluded that Nico may use more than the average value of select social services. Never mind that Professor Montoya was paying double the amount in taxes that IRCC had suggested Nico's so-called excessive demands would cost. That does not include the contributions of his wife or the future contributions of his daughter and son. It completely ignored social contributions as well.

This so-called cost-benefit analysis does not taken into account any benefits. Additionally, the so-called basket of services examined as costs are arbitrary at best. For example, housing costs are not part of the baseline calculation of social costs for average Canadians with a disability. However, under the excessive demand assessment process, they are. By the way, when the baseline costs were calculated in 2004, they were done incorrectly. Different services had costs from different fiscal years, and the figures were not adjusted to inflation to make them comparable.

Finally, this policy is discriminatory. It contradicts our charter, federal and provincial human rights legislation, and our international commitment to respect the rights of people with disabilities. Frankly, this policy reminds me of a sci-fi movie I saw some years ago. The whole premise of the movie was based on a hunt for people with defects, disabilities, and they were to be wiped out. I wonder how different this is from the premise of that movie.

Effectively, we have an immigration policy that aims to bar people with a disability and their families from being permanent residents in Canada. The minister recently said, "From a principled perspective, the current excessive demand policy simply does not align with our country's values on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in Canadian society."

The minister has been reviewing this policy for two years now. The policy continues to discriminate. Families continue to be hurt by it. If the minister is going to be true to his words, he needs to repeal the excessive demand provision. In the words of Professor Montoya, “Section 38(1)(c) is flawed...the Charter isn't being applied as it should be, nor the United Nations convention that Canada ratified”.

Given all of this, will the government commit to repealing paragraph 38(1)(c), the excessive provision demands in IRPA?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Serge Cormier LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for sharing her concerns on this important issue. I also thank her for the work she is doing on this issue in committee. This is important, and I share her concerns.

The excessive-demand provision is indeed an outdated policy, and my colleague provided some examples. This policy is now 40 years old. This is why our government conducted a comprehensive review of the provision and why the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is currently examining this issue.

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has openly stated that this review is necessary and long overdue.

From a principled perspective, the current excessive-demand policy simply does not align with our country’s values on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in Canadian society. Currently, the objective of the provision is to strike a balance between protecting publicly funded health care systems and social services and facilitating immigration to Canada, while also supporting humanitarian and compassionate objectives in Canada’s immigration policy.

However, there is now a recognized need to realign the policy to also make it more fair and inclusive for people with disabilities, as the minister mentioned.

As my colleague is no doubt aware, the health inadmissibility provisions are designed, in part, to reduce impacts on Canada’s publicly funded health and social services systems.

There are a number of guiding principles underpinning our review of the excessive-demand policy, but the need to continue to protect health and social services also plays a role.

As part of the government's review of this policy, the department launched consultations with the provinces and territories in October 2016. Departmental officials also got stakeholders, including disability advocates, involved. The results of these discussions, together with consideration of public perspectives, judicial decisions, media reports, and the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, will inform the development of options that the government will present for decision.

As the minister said in committee, the government shared potential areas of change with the provinces and territories. This information will give the provinces and territories the opportunity to assess these options and the potential impacts on their jurisdictions.

At the federal-provincial-territorial forum, all the ministers responsible for immigration, be they Conservative, New Democrat, or Liberal, committed to ensuring that the policy continues to recognize the need to protect health, education, and social services while treating applicants fairly.

We are eager to pursue our collaboration with the provinces and territories in the context of this review, and we are very much looking forward to the recommendations from the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration that will guide and inform our review of the policy.

The department is currently considering all of its available options, and any change to the policy as a result of the review will be announced to the public once a decision has been made.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, continued delays to act means the government is complicit in the discrimination against people with disabilities. There is no way around this. The witnesses were nearly unanimous. The Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario, Parkdale Community Legal Services, the Canadian Association for Community Living, Disability Positive Consulting, Caregivers' Action Centre, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, Community Living Kingston and District, several legal experts, and more than 1,000 Canadians who signed an open letter on this have all called on the government to repeal paragraph 38(1)(c).

My question is quite simple. If the government agrees this is wrong, will it simply repeal that provision?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

Liberal

Serge Cormier Liberal Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Madam Speaker, as I said to my colleague, we are very involved in this file. The minister appeared before the committee, and he himself said that the policy was outdated because it was over 40 years old. We have consulted extensively with the provinces and territories on this issue.

The committee is currently studying this issue. The member is on the committee, and we have heard from a significant number of witnesses on this issue. We are serious about looking at all possible options and everything available to us to ensure that the policy takes our current obligations into account.

Once again, the minister made it very clear that the policy was due for a review, and that is what we are doing now. We will look at all of our available options.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

November 29th, 2017 / 7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, the Liberals' small business tax hikes continue to target hard-working middle-class families in Canada. Thousands of people in my riding are terrified that their businesses might go under due to the tax changes announced this summer.

These changes not only jeopardize their business, but also their economic well-being as families. For example, Charmaine, a new Canadian in my riding, shared her heartbreaking circumstances with me. I want to quote her directly. She said, “I am the sole breadwinner for my family. My husband is abroad.... I have three children struggling with university and high school studies. My father-in-law stays with me who is dependent on me.... These taxes would leave me in more debts and would adversely affect the entire family and create an obstacle for us to settle down in Canada.”

Unlike the finance minister, local business owners in my riding and all across Canada do not have the luxury of tucking away millions of dollars for a rainy day. They are hard-working, visionary, risk takers. They are Canadians who make approximately $75,000 or less per year. The minister calls these individuals “fat cats”; I call them job creators.

My riding is home to many farms and ag operators or producers. When I talk about this, I am talking about small businesses. I am talking about families who work together. I am talking about parents, children, and perhaps grandparents, who are all part of the operation. Together, they work as a collective to make sure their business thrives.

The Liberal government has promised to target these hard-working families, who will now have their businesses scrutinized by bureaucrats here in Ottawa. The CRA tax men who have not spent a day on a farm are going to dictate what counts as farm work and what does not. As we have seen over the past few months, we know not to trust CRA staff. They really do not know what they are talking about when it comes to being able to discern the difference between a legitimate claim or not.

Let me give an example. Diabetics who used to receive the disability tax credit for many years suddenly have CRA agents deciding, no, their claims do not meet the mark anymore. They have been told they do not qualify, and because the CRA has changed its “interpretation”, it says, of the seriousness of the illness, those with diabetes will no longer be given this tax credit.

These are the types of people who are going to decide what counts as farm work and what does not. These individuals, thousands of miles away from my riding in Lethbridge, Alberta, will dictate to my ag operators what is determined to be equitable work and what is not, what is to be fair and what is not.

Why are the Liberals choosing to do this? Why are they choosing to put such power in the CRA?

Agriculture is a hard and uncertain business. Farming does not result in trust funds, like the Prime Minister's. The inheritance that comes from farming is in fact the farming operation itself, the land, the equipment, the work.

Maurice from my riding told me that “These tax changes...will take our dream of passing down the business to third-generation family members, and for the most part wipe out our retirement funds.” The Liberals' proposed tax changes to capital gains would indeed make it nearly impossible for family farms to be kept within the family. How is that fair?

Instead of cancelling these changes, the Liberals have said they are going to put them on pause for a while and will consult. However, the truth is that we have seen them consult before. Consultation for the Liberals does not look like listening.

My question is simple. Will the Liberals admit that their tax proposals are fundamentally flawed, and will they finally do the right thing and back down?

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

7:40 p.m.

Gatineau Québec

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Madam Speaker, I listened attentively to the member's remarks. I suspect that we need to update her on some of the recent developments in taxation.

The government has come forward with what I think, for the agricultural community and the stakeholders we have heard from, including a number of stakeholders from the member's own province, are salutary changes for the farming community in the Prairies, Alberta, and right across this country.

The changes that the minister has indicated will not go forward, namely with respect to the treatment capital gains, will ensure that farmers are able to comfortably plan for the succession of the family farm and enable these hard-working people, whom we consider very much, to plan their futures in a way that would allows their children to continue to farm and work hard.

As for small business, we were incredibly pleased to offer to our hard-working small business owners a tax reduction that brings about the lowest small business tax rate in the western world. It was contained in our election platform.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

That was a Conservative promise originally. That was proposed in our 2015 budget, and a measure that you guys backed out of.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order, please. I want to remind the member that when she was speaking, the House provided her the respect to allow for her speech. She will have a chance for reply. There will not be any questions and comments from anyone else. Therefore, I would ask her to wait her turn.

The hon. Parliamentary secretary.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

Madam Speaker, we will be going from the current rate of 10.5% to 10% as of January 1, which is in 31 or so days, then to 9% as of January 1, 2019. For the average small business person, this will mean an additional $1,600 per year. For entrepreneurs and innovators, men and women, people who work hard, who risk money, who risk their future on their dreams, ideas, and ambitions, it will leave that money where it belongs, in their pocket. Up to the maximum of $500,000, there is a potential of $7,500 in tax savings that can be used toward new equipment, hiring new staff, and taking the kinds of decisions that will grow their small businesses.

The government is very pleased to have come forward and met this very important platform commitment.

That is not all. We have worked very hard to ensure that the middle class get a better deal. I know the decision to climb what is often called the “welfare wall”, to make that decision between leaving social assistance and entering the workforce, is sometimes a hard one. I was working with former Prime Minister Martin when he and the current member for Regina—Wascana brought in the working income tax benefit. It is a very efficient measure that helps those Canadians who are looking to climb that welfare wall and getting into the workplace. That WITB, the working income tax benefit, will be increased by $500 million a year, starting in 2019.

I would be happy to discuss more, but these are the measures this government is taking to ensure entrepreneurs, workers, and people who are in the middle class and those who are working hard to improve their lot continue to benefit from the policies of this government.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank the government for finally adopting the Conservatives' good idea, and what was promised in our 2015 budget, to take the tax rate down from 10.5% to 9%. Kudos to the government for that, and I thank it for listening.

It is clear that the Liberals do not listen to Canadians overall. They are making very judgmental changes. They have revised income sprinkling, and they have not released those revisions yet. They are keeping that a secret from Canadians.

In addition to that, the Liberals did back down somewhat on their passive income investment changes, but not enough. However, they are not going to be facilitating or looking after the complexities that come with things like sick leave, maternity leave, and retirement, those types of things about which everyday, hard-working small business owners have to worry. The government does not understand that. As well, when it comes to handing down the family business to the next generation, the Liberals have simply hit the pause button and decided to consult, but we have no evidence of that.

When will the Liberals admit they got this wrong and back down?

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

7:50 p.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member certainly is true to her party's philosophy. Our philosophy is this. In the case of passive investment, some 3% of the corporations have over 80% of the passive investment, and our changes are aimed squarely at that category. All others are able to benefit from this lower tax rate, while keeping this passive investment income inside their corporations to do with as they choose, and that is as it should be.

The government is squarely aimed at ensuring we have a business and economic climate in the country that is propitious for business owners, innovation, job creation and one that is propitious as well for the people who work in these small businesses all throughout the country, to ensure, through things like the child benefit and the working income tax benefit, our middle class continues to benefit from the policies of this government.

Vote on the Designation of an ItemBill C-352—Canada Shipping Act, 2001Private Members' Business

7:50 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Pursuant to Standing Order 92(4), I declare the vote on the designation of Bill C-352, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to provide for the development of a national strategy on the abandonment of vessels, completed.

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:51 p.m.)