House of Commons Hansard #144 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was parks.

Topics

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

February 21st, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the United States has managed to convict rich taxpayers involved in the UBS Swiss bank scandal and recover millions of dollars, Canada has not brought a single Canadian taxpayer to justice.

The best the Canada Revenue Agency was able to manage was the creation of the voluntary disclosure program, under which fraudsters are guaranteed confidentiality, do not have to pay any financial penalties, and are protected from prosecution. It is shameful.

When will the minister take concrete legislative measures to combat the use of tax havens? More importantly, when will she please stop giving fraudsters preferential treatment?

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

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

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, our government is very committed to the fight against tax evasion in order to ensure that our tax system is fair for all Canadians. Our government invested $444 million to crack down on tax havens.

I invite all Canadians who have any information in this regard to contact the Canada Revenue Agency through the informant leads program. The agency reviews all of the information submitted. I repeat: everybody must pay their fair share.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, she may want to talk to her own department because almost a decade ago, a whistle-blower named Bradley Birkenhead exposed billions of dollars in illegal offshore tax havens, yet when he phoned Revenue Canada and the justice department, they refused to act.

No bank was fined, no one went to jail, and hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes were never found. With only a quarter of the money recovered, Liberals patted themselves on the back and said, “Job well done”.

Clearly the government has two sets of rules: one for the wealthy and well-connected, and another set for everybody else. Who are the Liberals actually working for, their billionaire friends or the Canadian in the middle class and those working so hard to join it?

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

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

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind Canadians that we are working with all our international partners to combat tax evasion, because it is a global problem.

Our government is firmly committed to preserving the fairness of our tax system, and everything we do is intended to ensure that all Canadians pay their fair share.

Last year's announcement of a historic $444-million investment proves just how important this is to our government.

Human RightsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

Mr. Speaker, whether in my riding of Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle or anywhere else across this country, Canadians are proud to call such a diverse and vibrant place home.

We cannot afford to ignore incidents of hatred or violence directed against our minority communities, such as the incidents that occurred in Quebec City, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Hamilton.

Can the Minister of Canadian Heritage tell Canadians what measures the government is taking to combat racism and discrimination?

Human RightsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Ahuntsic-Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Mélanie Joly LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle for her important question.

I want to take this opportunity to condemn the acts of discrimination that were committed this past weekend in North York and Montreal.

On February 9, 2017, I had the opportunity to announce a call for projects through the community interactions program.

Our government will dedicate $5.5 million per year to organizations that submit projects to work toward the elimination of discrimination and racism.

We have said it many times, diversity is our strength and inclusion is a value that we as Canadians hold dear. We will continue to work and to fight for these values.

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week marks one year since the minister introduced the Phoenix pay system despite a number of reports advising against it. That decision has had some harsh repercussions for thousands of Canadians.

I have some examples to share. Mr. Little is a federal correctional officer who has not been paid for months and is in danger of losing everything. Ms. Leclerc wrote to tell me that she is under enormous stress. She has been serving the Canadian government for 35 years, but she is still missing whole chunks of her pay and other things she needs to retire with dignity.

There are thousands of cases like these. Does the minister regret the decision she made last February 24?

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bonavista—Burin—Trinity Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Judy Foote LiberalMinister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, this is a difficult time for a lot of public service employees, and it is totally unacceptable that anyone who has worked has gone without pay for work performed.

What I regret is the decision taken by the previous government when it laid off 700 compensation advisers, making it impossible for us to do the job that needs to be done. We are—

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. Members will come to order.

Most members from all parties are able to listen to things they do not like in question period. I urge other members who have not been listening to do so.

The hon. Minister of Public Services and Procurement.

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, NL

Mr. Speaker, we have taken extra measures to make sure that our employees get paid the money they are owed. We are putting in place extra satellite offices and hiring 250 additional employees that would not have been necessary had the right decisions been made when the previous government decided to go with this payroll system.

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, in this story, the government is not the victim, it is the accomplice of the Phoenix fiasco.

The opposition, the media, and public servants do not believe the Liberal government's story. It is refusing to take responsibility, and it is hiding behind excuses that nobody buys. The software should have been phased in to ensure that everyone was prepared to implement it properly. That was clear from the Gartner report commissioned by Treasury Board, whose minister is here.

On behalf of all Canadians, I am asking the minister to apologize for the bad decision she made last February 24.

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bonavista—Burin—Trinity Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Judy Foote LiberalMinister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, it is totally unacceptable that employees are going without pay for work performed. That is why we have taken so many extra measures to make sure they indeed get the pay they deserve. We have recognized that there was an injustice done to those employees. However, the injustice was done by the previous government, and we are now trying to fix the problem that it left us with. We will fix it, and the employees will have a payroll system better than they have ever had.

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, it has been a year since the start of the Liberal Phoenix fiasco. Thousands of government employees continue to be underpaid, overpaid, and some not paid at all. Internal documents prove that the minister was warned not to proceed, and yet she still did. She ignored these warnings, and a year later people are still caught in the Liberals' fiasco, with no end in sight. For a year the minister has agreed that the situation is unacceptable—when did we hear that—and spends all of her time blaming others for her incompetence. On what day will this fiasco finally be cleaned up?

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bonavista—Burin—Trinity Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Judy Foote LiberalMinister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, we are making sure that we are taking every possible measure we can to fix the Phoenix payroll system. We are doing exactly that by hiring additional employees, by opening satellite offices, by opening a call centre, and by making sure that any employee who was overpaid or underpaid lets us know about it, then we fix the problem immediately. This is totally unacceptable. We are no more in favour of what is happening with the Phoenix payroll system than the employees who are impacted, but we are going to fix the problem.

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, if the minister spent half the time fixing her errors as she does blaming others, we would not be in this situation. The minister can try to spin this all she wants, but the truth is this. She knew Phoenix was not ready and she decided to move ahead anyway. That was her decision alone. Now the government employees are getting incorrect T4s as they prepare to file their income tax, and no one is willing to help them or respond. What does the minister have planned to help people being penalized for her incompetence?

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bonavista—Burin—Trinity Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Judy Foote LiberalMinister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, we are working closely with the Canada Revenue Agency, with Revenu Québec, and with the unions to make sure that employees get the correct T4 slips. If any employees get T4 slips that do not have the correct amount, we will fix them immediately, so we are asking them to reach out to us. However, we are working closely with the unions, the Canada Revenue Agency, and Revenu Québec.

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning, I was surprised to read the comments of the Liberal Party's Quebec caucus chair. According to him, the government will support the industry in the event of a dispute and that the federal government is looking into potentially compensating for losses. For months we have been calling for a plan B to defend the forestry industry. I think the Minister of Natural Resources should talk to his colleagues so that they can get their stories straight.

To be clear, will the Minister of Natural Resources vouch for what his colleague told the media?

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Jim Carr LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, our government is taking the challenges in the forestry sector very seriously. We are working with our provincial partners to protect all forestry jobs across the country.

We are prepared for all eventualities and we will continue to work in the best interest of Canada's forestry industry. Canadians can count on us.

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no answer because there is still no plan in place to protect the Canadian forestry industry from incoming tariffs from the U.S., yet a Liberal MP told his local media that the industry will be protected in case of conflict and that his government is studying the possibility of compensation. Canadian forestry workers need to know what this means. Tens of thousands of jobs are on the line, which small communities depend on.

I have a simple question. If the Liberals are finally working on a plan to defend the Canadian forestry industry, what is it?

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Jim Carr LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we understand that the forestry sector is important for Canadians right across the country.

We understand that, in order to come up with an approach, it is necessary for ministers and officials to talk about what is in the national interest. Those discussions have already started. They will continue. We will be prepared for all eventualities.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, for months Ukraine has been calling on the Liberals to extend Canada's military training mission beyond its March deadline.

With escalating Russian aggression, our Ukrainian allies are concerned that the Liberals have turned their backs on them again. The Liberals have already cancelled life-saving satellite images, they have refused to provide the final signature on a defence co-operation agreement with Ukraine, and they backed down on a campaign promise to put sanctions on corrupt Russian officials. Operation Unifier must be extended.

Why are the Liberals not standing shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine in its fight against Putin's proxies?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, our government stands firmly in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

The minister reiterated this when she met with the President and Foreign Minister of Ukraine just last week at the Munich security conference. The annexation and invasion of Crimea was an illegal act. We say that to the world, and we say that to Russia.

The Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs are reviewing Operation Unifier. We will always be a friend and steadfast ally of Ukraine.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, although the Prime Minister and other ministers have offered very carefully worded reassurances that Canada's commitment to the beleaguered people and Government of Ukraine is undiminished, the Liberals have been pussyfooting around official extension of Operation Unifier and a direct response to Ukraine's appeal for weaponry to better defend against the Russian-sponsored war.

When will the Liberals speak up?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I reiterate that this government is unequivocal in its support for Ukraine.

We have condemned the illegal annexation of Crimea in the strongest terms. The minister reiterated this just last week with the Foreign Minister and the President of Ukraine in Munich.

We stand with the people of Ukraine. We have always been a friend and steadfast ally of Ukraine, and we will continue to be so.