House of Commons Hansard #244 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was terrorist.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

7:55 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, we agree to apply the vote, with New Democrats voting no.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

7:55 p.m.

Bloc

Marilène Gill Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois agrees to apply the vote and will be voting against the motion.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

7:55 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Green Party agrees to apply the vote and will vote yes.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

7:55 p.m.

Independent

Hunter Tootoo Independent Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to see so much unanimous consent in this room. I agree to apply the vote, and I will be voting in favour.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

7:55 p.m.

Independent

Darshan Singh Kang Independent Calgary Skyview, AB

Mr. Speaker, I agree to apply the vote, and I will be voting yes.

(The House divided on the remaining elements, which were agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #430

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

8 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare all the remaining elements of the bill carried.

The House having agreed to the entirety of the Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures at the third reading stage.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

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

Indigenous AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

8 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, partway through the 16 days of activism to end violence against women, I note with great sadness that indigenous women are seven times more likely to be murdered and three times more likely to be sexually assaulted compared to non-indigenous women.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, evaluating Canada's actions on violence against women found that the government is failing to act on “The continued high prevalence of gender-based violence against women...in particular against indigenous women and girls.”

Over two decades, more than 58 reports on violence against indigenous women have been compiled by governments, international human rights bodies, and indigenous women's organizations like the Native Women's Association of Canada.

Shockingly, researchers found that only a few of those recommendations have been implemented, and more than 700 recommendations to end violence against indigenous women remain unimplemented; 700 remain on the table, not yet acted on after all these years.

Nine months ago, I urged the Canadian government, along with my New Democrat colleagues, to demonstrate leadership by walking the talk, and dedicating the political and financial support, resources, and funding to meet Canada's long-standing international commitments, and its constitutional commitments to make this a safer country where indigenous women and girls live free of violence. It is far beyond time to put those words into action.

Following the interim report of the inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women, just a few months ago, the inquiry commissioners blamed Liberal interference for the slow progress of the inquiry. Eight out of the 10 challenges that the commissioners listed blame the federal government for bureaucracy and lack of resources.

For example, there were start-up issues, delays, and obstacles opening offices and hiring staff. There was an average of four months to hire a new staff person, eight months' delay in opening offices, which often lacked proper equipment, Internet, and office equipment, telephone connections, and shared drive. There was just an astonishing lack of support.

The Privy Council Office is repeatedly implicated, by the inquiry's interim report, but also by the Native Women's Association of Canada and a joint letter from 50 indigenous leaders and family members. On multiple occasions in question period I have asked the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs if funding was fully accessible for the commissioners, and if the government was doing everything it absolutely could to support the families of murdered and missing indigenous women.

The government has always said yes, and yet Maclean's magazine reported that out of the $5 million spent by the inquiry, $2 million was taken completely by Privy Council Office bureaucracy. Can this really be true? Are the Liberals really spending 40% of the inquiry's budget on Privy Council Office bureaucracy?

Indigenous AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

8:05 p.m.

Labrador Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Yvonne Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to this issue, on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

As a government, we want to end all violence against all women. We will not stop until we have eradicated violence against women in our society and until women feel safe. Do we think we are going to change this in an instant? We know it takes work, and that is why our government is committed to ending the ongoing national tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

We launched this inquiry as a national, independent inquiry to ensure the voices of women and families would be heard and that they would get the answers they deserved. We know families and survivors fought long and hard against the previous government for this inquiry. We are the first to recognize the necessity of this. We are the first to recognize that these are the steps we need to take in order to really end violence and, in this case, to end the ongoing tragedy against missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in our society.

The commissioner's mandate is very clear, and that is that families must be at the centre of the commission's work. The government took great care in ensuring the terms of reference authorized the commission to inquire into circumstances of individual cases in order to identify systemic issues at play, be it institutional issues or otherwise. It was also authorized to examine and report on the root causes of all forms of violence that indigenous women and girls experienced and their greater vulnerability to that violence.

The commission is looking for patterns and underlying factors that explain why the higher levels of violence occur. It has been clear from the start that policing would be looked into as part of that mandate.

Furthermore, we have heard, and take very seriously, the concerns that have been raised about how existing government policy and processes are impeding its work. A working group is being created to provide effective feedback and office support to the commission to ensure it is able to do its work effectively. Our government remains fully committed to ensuring families get the answers they have been waiting on for a very long time.

On November 1, the national inquiry's interim report was released. We are currently reviewing the commission's preliminary recommendations. However, government is also taking immediate action. We have been investing in women's shelters, housing, education, child welfare, and doing what we can to improve safety on the Highway of Tears. The government has also funded the family information liaison units to assist families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in finding the answers they need from government agencies, and other help with services to address the trauma they suffer.

A condition of the funding is that the services be trauma-informed and culturally-responsive, and jurisdictions are expected to work with indigenous organizations to achieve this goal. There are so many more—

Indigenous AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

8:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith.

Indigenous AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

8:10 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, I note that for the second time, the government has chosen not to deny the Maclean's magazine report that $2 million of the inquiry's money have been spent directly on Privy Council Office bureaucracy, so I take that as a yes. That is a very sad state of affairs.

Two weeks ago, the Liberal majority at the indigenous affairs committee blocked a motion to hear from the Privy Council Office witnesses on how they were handling money for the murdered and missing indigenous women inquiry. Last week, at the status of women committee, we learned that Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada had declined our request to participate in the status of women committee's study on indigenous women's experience in the justice and correction systems.

Could the government please reconcile these refusals in light of the Liberal government's commitment to ending violence against women, standing with indigenous women, and also operating in a transparent manner?

Indigenous AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

8:10 p.m.

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would like to, first of all, outline that the work of the committees of the House is at the discretion of those committees. It is their decision as to what particular witnesses they want to call or what issues they want to study.

I think it is also important to point out here that the Government of Canada has made substantial allocations of funding to ensure that the inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls is funded and is providing the support that is necessary. Where it is indicated that additional supports are needed, the Government of Canada has continued to step up.

We have not turned our back in any way, shape, or form on this independent inquiry. In fact, we have been there to support them on every part of this journey and to support the families that have been impacted. We want to ensure the success of this independent inquiry, and I can assure the member of that. However, in the meantime, we will let the inquiry do its work.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

December 4th, 2017 / 8:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals like to talk a lot about protecting the middle class and those working hard to join it. This is one of their tag lines. The reality is that this summer, the government introduced some tax changes that are actually incredibly unfair and hurtful toward those who are in the middle class and working hard to join it. I have heard from thousands of people in my riding who are worried about these small business tax hikes and how they are going to hurt them and their families.

I am not talking about the people who are at the very top, the 1% the finance minister would want us to believe these individuals are. Instead, these are the local coffee shop owners and restaurant owners in my riding. These are the hairdressers and the plumbers in our communities. These are men and women who are incredibly hard working and they are providing jobs, and they are making about $75,000 per year. These are the middle-class, hard-working Canadians the current government is attacking.

Lela is an entrepreneur who owns a diner in my town. She recently wrote to me and said, “I employ 6 people. With the minimum wage increases and then this tax proposed, it's going to be next to impossible to continue. I can't add more to my prices. The carbon tax has also affected my business. How can we pay more? It's impossible to keep going.”

Lela is one of many small business owners across the country who is asking this very question.

The Liberals are determined to make sure that these hard-working visionaries are put at a disadvantage in terms of running their business. They are not only making it difficult to save for retirement, they are targeting families that work together in family-run small businesses, such as in agriculture.

In my riding, of course, I have many farmers and egg operators. Often it is the whole family that works together: the mom, the dad, the kids, sometimes the grandparents, an aunt, or an uncle. They are part of the operation, making it a success. They work as a collective to make sure that the operation runs smoothly.

They are going to have their businesses scrutinized by bureaucrats in Ottawa, according to these changes that are coming up as of January 1, 2018. Parents will no longer be able to pay their children for the work they do on the family farm without a CRA tax person first going through the record and deciding what counts as farm work.

We are talking about people thousands of miles away who will be looking through these records. These people may have never set foot on a farm before in their lives, and they will dictate to farmers in my riding, and ridings across this country, what counts and what does not in terms of their taxes.

Hard-working farm families are going to have to spend time they do not have to fill out these log books, which will be incredibly strenuous and time-consuming. They will have a ton of paperwork to do just to be able to collect a paycheque at the end of the day.

We have seen Canadians from all across this country speak out against these unfair tax changes. Small business owners are worried about their future under the Liberal government, and rightly so.

The Liberals have informed us that they are consulting Canadians and that they are listening to the feedback they receive about these tax changes and will make changes accordingly. It is clear from what I have seen over the last two years of the Liberal government that it is not truly listening to Canadians, nor does it intend to. The Liberals have made many decisions contrary to hard-working Canadians, to those who are part of the middle class and those working hard to join it. They have raised taxes on families. We have heard the member across stand up and say that they will lower the small business tax rate from 10.5% to 9% in 2019. To that I say kudos, because that was actually a Conservative platform—

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

8:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

8:15 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. opposition member for raising the important issue of tax planning using private corporations.

From the beginning of the public consultations we launched in July 2017, Canadians have taken part in an important discussion on proposed measures for addressing the issue of tax planning strategies involving the use of private corporations, which can result in high-income individuals gaining tax advantages that are not available to other Canadians.

During our consultations on the issue of tax planning using private corporations, the government heard from small business owners, professionals, and experts, and it is determined to make sure these measures do not have any unintended consequences.

Regarding passive investments, the government will move forward with measures to limit the tax deferral opportunities while providing small business owners with more flexibility to build a cushion of savings for business purposes to deal with a possible downturn, finance a future expansion, or deal with personal circumstances such as for parental leave, sick days, or retirement.

As the government moves forward with measures to improve the tax system, it is also making good on a commitment to invest in growth. In October 2017, the government announced its intention to lower the federal small business tax rate to 10% as of January 1, 2018 and then to 9% as of January 1, 2019, as my hon. colleague has rightfully pointed out. For the average small business, this will leave an additional $1,600 per year for entrepreneurs and innovators to reinvest in their business and create jobs. With this proposed change, Canada would have by far the lowest small business tax rate in the G7. This is part of the government's plan to grow the economy, create jobs, and help the middle class succeed.

The most recent steps in this plan were laid out in the fall economic statement. That is when the government announced the enhancement of the working income tax benefit by $500 million per year starting in 2019. This measure will improve the financial security of low-income working Canadians. This enhancement is in addition to the increase of $250 million annually already announced and set to come into effect in that year as part of the enhancement of the Canada pension plan.

In the fall economic statement, the government also announced its intention to strengthen the Canada child benefit by increasing the benefit annually to keep pace with the rising cost of living. As of July 2018, the CCB will be indexed to inflation. That is two years sooner than originally planned.

Going forward, our government will continue to take actions to support middle-class Canadians. It also will ensure that corporations that contribute to job creation and economic growth continue to benefit from a supportive tax environment aimed at helping them succeed.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

8:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the Liberals are not listening to Canadians. They have not listened from the beginning and they are still not listening today. They are making it incredibly difficult for families to work together to support a family-owned business. They are raising taxes on passive income, making it difficult for business owners to save for sick leave or maternity leave or retirement. They are consulting on how they will change the rules to tax the transfer of the family business to the next generation. The Liberals have claimed to consult Canadians on these issues but they have yet to show any signs of actually listening to those they are so-called consulting.

The Liberals have shown us again and again that they are out of touch with middle-class Canadians, so my question here tonight is very simple. When will the Liberals admit that they got this wrong, and cancel their tax changes?

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

8:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure that opposition member that, on the contrary, we listened to Canadians from coast to coast to coast. The minister and I held cross-Canada consultations. We also received online submissions from thousands of Canadians.

Regarding passive income, we announced the establishment of a passive investment income threshold of $50,000 a year. We will also have a grandfather clause protecting all past passive investments and the income earned from such investments, to ensure that companies that are not really there to create jobs are taxed more in the interest of improving tax equity, which has always been our goal.

I urge the member to read the parliamentary budget officer's recent report, which said that of the 1.8 million Canadian-controlled private corporations, only the wealthiest 2.5% will be affected. This means the small businesses in our ridings will not be affected. We are behind small business owners.

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak today to a matter of ethics as it relates to the Minister of Finance. The finance minister was told by the Prime Minister, through his mandate letter, what was expected of him when he was given the position of Minister of Finance for Canada. I will quote a little excerpt from that letter, which states:

As noted in the Guidelines, you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.

It is the contention of this side of the House that the mandate has not been met. I shall begin by setting out a brief outline of the events which transpired and then follow with my argument.

On November 4, 2015, the Minister of Finance implied to the CBC, when interviewed, that his assets would be put in a blind trust. Here there is a bit of a problem, because it is by convention that ministers of the crown place all their assets into a blind trust. A blind trust is exactly that: it is impervious to the view of the minister into his business affairs. It works both ways, creating an impervious shield.

The Minister of Finance, when explaining his situation, said that he had placed all his assets with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and that she advised him that the best way to arrange his personal affairs would be to use an ethics screen. A screen is exactly that: it is a screen. It is not impervious. It allows for the movement of information and flow of goods back and forth, because in essence it is only a screen; it is not a blind trust.

However, he implied that his assets would be put into a blind trust and the Prime Minister's mandate letter indicated that the minister should embody the spirit of the law and that the obligation went beyond merely acting within the law. Acting within the law would have meant a blind trust. He chose not to go that route, but chose, rather, to use an ethics screen, and I submit that the two are very different.

On November 30, 680,000 shares in Morneau Shepell were sold for $10.2 million. A week later, the minister tabled the budget, introducing tax changes which would have caused the share value to drop by half a million dollars. No one has admitted to selling those shares yet and I would be curious to know exactly who sold those 680,000 shares.

On October 19, 2016, Bill C-27 was introduced, which would reform pension plans. This would potentially benefit the share value of Morneau Shepell's shareholders, the minister's own company. On September 22 of this year, the Minister of Finance disclosed his ties to a private company, but failed to disclose that private company for two years. This company held the villa in France. On October 31, the Ethics Commissioner levied a fine on the finance minister under the Conflict of Interest Act.

A minister of the crown has many privileges and rights that the average Canadian would not have. This is necessary for the proper functioning of the country. However, a minister of the crown has the responsibility to act ethically and to be seen to do so. It is not enough to follow the letter of the law. A government minister must embody the spirit of the law that he or she represents. The dual role of following the letter of the law and embodying the spirit of the law is all the more vital if the minister in question is the finance minister. It is to the finance minister that the business community looks for reassurance and to structure its long-term planning.

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

8:25 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his intervention.

It is important to remember, as I have said many times in the House, that the Ethics Commissioner is the institution that is in charge of ensuring the integrity of Parliament. The Commissioner also provides the road map for ministers, parliamentary secretaries, and members of Parliament in relation to their individual assets and situations.

When the Minister of Finance was elected in 2015, he sat down with the Ethics Commissioner, who charted a course for him to ensure that he was in perfect compliance with the rules that govern all elected members of the House. She recommended putting in place a conflict of interest screen. The very same screen was good enough for the hon. member for Milton when she was in government, and was also good enough for Denis Lebel. That is what the Ethics Commissioner, who has the full confidence of our government and I hope of all parliamentarians of the House, thought was the best measure of compliance possible.

With respect to the sale of shares in 2015 to which the member alluded, I am still trying to understand what allegations he is trying to make. Late last week, the National Post, the Financial Post, the Globe and Mail, and the CBC stated that there was not even a shadow of a doubt concerning this sale of shares and that the Conservatives' attacks of the sale of shares were starting to be unethical.

Contrary to what the member said, the minister never denied having sold shares upon his arrival in Ottawa. In fact, he told the House several times that he sold his shares in November 2015. It is frivolous and also vexatious to claim, as the Conservatives did last week, that there could be some insider trading related to the ways and means motion announced on December 7. That is why they are not repeating these allegations outside the House.

This side of the House intends to work with the Ethics Commissioner to ensure compliance with the rules that govern us and to follow all her recommendations. That is what the minister has always done.

Furthermore, the minister announced that he would go above and beyond the Ethics Commissioner's recommendations by selling all of his shares in Morneau Shepell, which he did. He also said that he would place his assets in a blind trust, in order to continue the work he has been doing for Canadians for two years now. I remind members that the minister has done some remarkable things for the Canadian economy: 600,000 jobs have been created in Canada in the past two years, and we have the fastest-growing economy in the G7. This record makes the previous government's pale in comparison, to say the least. In 10 years, the previous government had the worst job-creation record since World War II and the worst GDP growth. In 2015, we were even debating whether Canada was in or heading into a recession.

This is what the Minister of Finance has accomplished for Canadians in two years, in addition to reducing inequality, which the Conservatives never thought was a good idea.

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate that the question I asked the Minister of Finance in question period was when he told the Prime Minister that he had not done what he said he would do? He told CBC on November 4, 2015, that he would be placing all his assets into a blind trust. He never did that. He did not disclose all of his assets.

My question still remains. Why has he been less than honest with the Prime Minister and was the Prime Minister aware that he had not put his assets into a blind trust? If he was aware of that, why did the Prime Minister not hold his Minister of Finance to the highest ethical standard that he had indicated in the mandate letter?

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

8:25 p.m.

Liberal

Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the first thing the Minister of Finance did was disclose all of his assets to the Ethics Commissioner, so that she could advise him on how to comply with all the rules. He did so in full transparency.

The minister has always worked with the commissioner and will continue to do so to ensure that he complies with the rules. This is what he has done from the beginning, and this is what is expected of every single member of the House of Commons.

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

8:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

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 8:30 p.m.)