House of Commons Hansard #247 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was equal.

Topics

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine Québec

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, our government is fully committed to fighting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. The revenue agency has a very effective recovery process, which was strengthened by our investments of close to $1 billion. We now have the tools needed to effectively combat tax cheats. We are on track to recoup $25 billion as a result of audits conducted over the past two years. Every company and individual affected was notified of the changes to these audits, and new notices of assessment were sent out as needed.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the Standing Committee on Finance, the Minister of National Revenue said that all taxpayer files are confidential, that they would remain so, and that no parliamentarian would have access to Canada Revenue Agency files, or would otherwise face jail time, no less. However, the Prime Minister, a parliamentarian, cleared his friend, Mr. Bronfman. He said “we have received assurances that all rules were followed…and we are satisfied with those assurances”.

Can the minister tell us whether the Prime Minister had access to confidential information from the Canada Revenue Agency? If so, when will he face the consequences?

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine Québec

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague knows very well, I will not comment on a specific case, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. The law prohibits me from doing so. However, I can assure my colleague that no one is interfering with agency audits. As long as I am the Minister of National Revenue, that will never happen. Let me be clear: no one is above the law.

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister's ethical challenges are very concerning. He is currently under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner for introducing legislation that could benefit his family corporation. He has already been fined for failing to disclose his offshore corporation. The minister refuses to come clean about the contents of his other numbered companies.

How many ethics investigations will it take before the minister just does the right thing and resigns?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister, as is expected of all ministers and parliamentarians, has worked with the Ethics Commissioner. We have the utmost trust in the Ethics Commissioner to set the path forward for parliamentarians, which she has done with the Minister of Finance. When he arrived in Ottawa he followed all of her recommendations. He announced a few weeks ago that he would go above and beyond to dispose of all his shares in Morneau Shepell, place all of his assets in a blind trust, so he could continue to the work that he has been doing for two years for Canadians.

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance's lack of ethics is becoming quite an embarrassment to the government. The person responsible for the country's budget has woven quite a tangled web for himself.

He is refusing to explain why he sold his shares just days before introducing a new tax policy. He is now the subject of a comprehensive investigation by the Ethics Commissioner because he introduced a bill that could benefit his family company.

Considering all of these developments, will the Minister of Finance do the right thing and resign?

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the tax policy the member mentioned, which was announced on December 7, 2015, is one that we are proud of. We increased taxes for the 1% so we could lower them for nine million middle-class Canadians. That was one of our campaign promises, and that is why we were back in power in December 2015.

Members on this side of the House believe that making our tax system fairer by increasing taxes for the 1% and lowering taxes for the middle class was and is a good thing.

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister says that he has done nothing wrong, but he continues to deflect and dodge questions.

The Ethics Commissioner is looking into the sale of shares in his family's company just days before tax changes, he imposed, devalued those shares. He has been fined for hiding his offshore company. He has hid the fact that he was sheltering and controlling millions of shares in a numbered Alberta company.

If he has done nothing wrong, why is the minister refusing to answer simple questions about his behaviour?

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister has worked with the Ethics Commissioner and answered all of her questions. He will always work with the Ethics Commissioner to make sure all of the rules are followed, so he can continue the important work he has been doing the last two years, which has been to grow the economy at twice the growth the Conservative Party was able to achieve in the 10 years it was in power, creating more jobs than it ever could in their time in office. That is what the finance minister has been doing the last two years.

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance misled Canadians that his assets were in a blind trust when they were not. He hid from the Ethics Commissioner an offshore company. He is under investigation as we speak. To top it off, he refuses to disclose assets in multiple numbered companies.

With a record like that, there is only one thing left for the minister to do, and that is resign. Why will he not?

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is becoming quite obvious that the opposition want to talk about anything else but the economy. When we talk about the economy and this government's record, it makes the Conservatives' record pale in comparison. Over the 10 years they were in government, Canada had the lowest growth since World War II. They had high unemployment as opposed to what we have achieved, the lowest unemployment in the last 10 years.

That is why the opposition keeps focusing on playing politics while we work for Canadians. We will continue to work for Canadians.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister keeps saying she would like to reassure all Canadians who receive the disability tax credit that the eligibility criteria have not changed. However, a memo from her office says, “This is to inform you of updates to the current LST procedures and verses relating to adults with diabetes.” This means the eligibility criteria have, indeed, changed.

Why does she continue to insult Canadians by insisting updated procedures means they have not changed?

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine Québec

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reassure all Canadians who receive the disability tax credit that the eligibility criteria have not changed. That being said, I am always open to hearing the concerns of all Canadians. If changes to Revenue Canada's procedures are needed, we will have that conversation with the experts who will be part of the committee that I will be making an announcement about tomorrow. We will ensure fairness for all recipients of the disability tax credit regardless of their disability.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a story for you. Once upon a time, there was a Minister of National Revenue who had a fabulous $25-billion treasure. Sadly, the minister had an overactive imagination. The treasure was all in her head, just like her conviction that her ministry of magic has not changed the rules for people with diabetes. This might be funny if it were just a fairy tale, but the truth is that people are suffering.

Can the minister leave her imaginary world behind and come back to Earth with the rest of us?

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine Québec

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to fighting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. Over the past two years, the government has invested nearly $1 billion to cracking down on tax evasion and tax avoidance. The Canada Revenue Agency levied more than $44 million in third-party penalties last year, and there are presently a number of criminal cases under way. The CRA has a full-time dedicated unit focused on offshore non-compliance, and this unit reviews money transfers over $10,000 that cross borders to and from Canada. In the past two years alone, the CRA has received information on more than $28 million in money transfers—

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Northwest Territories.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Mr. Speaker, the Arctic is one of our greatest treasures. As the member for Northwest Territories, I know how precious our coastlines, oceans, and fisheries are for the people of the north and for all Canadians.

As climate change changes our landscapes and ecosystems, we have a responsibility to protect them now more than ever.

Could the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard please update the House on what the government is doing to protect the high seas of the central Arctic Ocean?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalMinister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, last week, Canada reached a historic agreement in principle with our international partners to prevent unregulated commercial fishing in the high seas of the central Arctic Ocean. This is the first time an international agreement of this magnitude has been reached before any commercial fishing takes place on a region of the high seas.

We have taken a strong, proactive, precautionary approach to potential fishing activities in the central Arctic Ocean. We will continue to work with our international partners, indigenous groups, and northerners to protect the Arctic Ocean.

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, Jennifer McCrea is a young mom who was denied benefits while on maternity leave. Recently, she reached out to her local MP, the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, in order to seek his help.

In the two-minute meeting that the minister was willing to offer her, Ms. McCrea asked him why Ottawa was continuing to fight sick women, and he replied, “Well, Ms. McCrea, that is the old question, like asking ... 'When did you stop beating your wife?'”

Could the minister explain to Canadians what was meant by this statement?

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Centre Alberta

Liberal

Kent Hehr LiberalMinister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to improving the lives of all Canadians. I recognize that when speaking to people, I tend to be straightforward.

However, I regret my comments as I know they were brash and inappropriate, and I apologize. I remember the conversation with Ms. McCrea. It was a difficult conversation, and that is no excuse. I will take this opportunity to better myself as both an individual and as a parliamentarian.

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, there is straightforward and then there is altogether inappropriate.

We are starting to see a very disturbing pattern emerge here, and that is this. On Tuesday, it was thalidomide survivors and now it is new mothers. The minister released a public statement blaming this young mom for his inappropriate actions.

For a feminist government that claims men must take responsibility for their actions against women, how does the minister justify blaming this young mom for his condescending words? Is this not victim blaming at its finest?

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Centre Alberta

Liberal

Kent Hehr LiberalMinister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities

Mr. Speaker, I recognize 100% that my comments were inappropriate, and I apologize profusely for them.

I will continue to work on trying to improve both my individual self and myself as a parliamentarian. I know I will continue to work as hard as I can for my constituents. I know I will learn from this and move forward and better myself.

TaxationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, his comments were inappropriate, but he is the one who thought them.

This government claims to help our most vulnerable citizens, but in fact, quite the opposite is true. First, the Minister of National Revenue is caught taking money away from people with diabetes by denying them their tax credit. Then, the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities behaves in a totally condescending way towards mothers who come to him for help by speaking words that I dare not repeat.

It is not surprising that the Minister of National Revenue would go after the most vulnerable when the other minister, the one who is supposed to defend them, makes fun of them when they reach out for help.

Who in this cabinet is going to clean up this mess and give vulnerable people their dignity and their money back?

TaxationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine Québec

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I invite my colleague to repeat the same thing outside the House after question period. I invite him to tell me that I did not respect my diabetic husband, whom I stood by until his final days. I invite him to tell me that I disrespected all my clients when I was a social worker.

I am extremely sensitive to the challenges facing people with diabetes. As minister, my role is to make fair and equitable decisions for everyone.

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

December 7th, 2017 / 2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, vulnerable Canadians deserve better. We have ministers going out of their way to attack those who truly need help.

The revenue minister is targeting single moms and denying legitimate benefits. The Minister for Persons with Disabilities is refusing to help, and worse yet, belittling those who dare ask.

Does the minister understand that Canadians who reach out to him for help do not expect to be attacked for simply asking for it?