Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to conclude this debate on my private member’s bill, Bill C-274.
In each of our ridings, there are small and medium-sized business owners, farmers and fishers. At present, these people do not belong to the wealthiest class, in spite of what the government is trying to say. They are the very definition of middle-class, and people who start up a small business are often people who aspire to join the middle class.
I am extremely disappointed that the government is opposing this bill. I believe they are opposing it for reasons I think are absurd, and I will explain why.
First, the Minister of Finance and his parliamentary secretary believe the bill will cost between $300 million and $1.2 billion. I worked with tax experts on this bill to make sure it will not be too costly for the government. We estimated that, in terms of lost revenue, it will cost between $75 million and $100 million. Is that excessive? The goal is to level the playing field.
In Montreal, the owner of a small window and door business who wanted to transfer his business to his child had to pay over $110,000 more in taxes than if he sold it to a stranger, a person who was not family.
Obviously, there will be costs in terms of lost revenue, but the goal is to level the playing field and allow these businesses to stay within the family for a second or third generation. The figures the government is suggesting can and must therefore be disputed. They should be examined in committee.
That is why I am asking the government and all members of the House to adopt the bill at second reading, so that we can analyze these figures and compare the analyses I have done with various tax experts and the figures from the Library of Parliament, the Union des producteurs agricole, and Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton and other accounting firms, with the government’s figures.
Another argument that the government has made against the bill is the fact that at present, parents may transfer their business to their children and receive a capital gain. That is true, if the child is not incorporated. However, children increasingly are incorporated, since incorporation carries several advantages, including lower interest rates when they borrow and less tax on the amount to be paid to the parents.
I know there are extremely complex issues and tax policy is complex. Nonetheless, Bill C-274, which I have brought forward, is an appropriate response to the injustice that is an incentive for owners of small businesses, family farms and fishing boats to sell their businesses to strangers rather than to their children. They do not do that because they will get rich; they sell their business so they can retire.
I would like to reassure the government that my intention is not for the bill to be too costly. The intent is to bring the bill to committee so it can actually be studied and if needed, if it is really too costly, to be amended. I can guarantee every member in this House that with the numbers the government is putting forth, if the bill will be as costly as it is saying, I will volunteer to actually withdraw it from consideration. I am saying that because I am sure it will not be.
In conclusion, I encourage all members of the House to consider how this bill will affect their constituents. I have the support of more than 150 organizations across the country in Quebec, Ontario, the west and the Maritimes, organizations such as chambers of commerce, municipalities, and organizations that represent farmers and fishers.
If this bill dies before going to committee for an in-depth study of the costs and impacts, those people will be extremely disappointed. They are not likely to have forgotten this by the time the next election rolls around.
I therefore urge all members of the House to vote for this bill at second reading so we can study it in committee.