Mr. Speaker, we are continuing the discussion on Bill C-82, which is a bill dealing with implementing certain provisions of an international agreement with respect to tax avoidance. In my remarks prior to question period, I discussed the particulars of the bill. I discussed our support for the bill. I also touched on a number of other issues that have been important in the debate on this bill and relate to its provision. I want to come back to those likely areas of disagreement among the different parties.
This bill deals with, in substantial part, the activities and operations of the Canada Revenue Agency. It has been interesting throughout this debate to hear various members of different parties talk about how the CRA interacts with different people, how it should treat people. All of us as members of Parliament hear these stories when people come into our offices. We hear of people who have just had terrible disruption occur in their lives as a result of actions of the Canada Revenue Agency, people who are treated unfairly, who may actually have been in the right but are put through a long, disruptive process and are ultimately not compensated for the disruption that is caused to them as a result of CRA activities.
Very early in this Parliament, a member of the Conservative caucus, the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge, decided to do something about this. My colleague from Calgary Shepard seconded that motion and was very active in this initiative as well. Motion No. 43 was put forward. It created the opportunity for progress toward establishing a duty of care, which should not be that revolutionary, that in interacting with individual taxpayers, the tax authority has a duty of care, that it ought to be fair to them and accord them certain rights and the taxpayers bill of rights ought to have some concrete enforceability. I think if any members asked their constituents whether CRA should have a duty of care, they would say yes. If they asked constituents whether the taxpayers bill of rights should be enforceable, they would say yes.
This motion is very reflective of a Conservative philosophy toward government, which is, in this case, that government ought to be formally constrained in a way that protects the fundamental rights of individuals and that restraint requires us to constructively pass motions and initiatives that ensure government is bound to behave in a way that is proper toward citizens and that respects their rights as individuals and as taxpayers. However, when the motion came up for a vote, every member of every other party who was present chose to vote against it.
Today, when these different issues of challenges that individuals face in their interactions with CRA come up, my colleagues in other parties, the NDP and the Liberal Party, are keen to tell us about the actions they are taking and about the impact on individuals, yet they were unwilling to take the clear, obvious action which would have constrained forever the CRA from engaging in abuses of power in their interactions with individual taxpayers. Maybe I will hear from them during questions and comments. Maybe we will hear from some of the different members who have spoken already today about why they voted against providing taxpayers with that basic protection to ensure they are treated fairly.
I made the point as well that when it comes to issues of tax avoidance, a complicated tax code that limits the manoeuverability of those who cannot hire expensive tax lawyers is particularly regressive. The government has sought to implement tax changes that have always protected the most well connected and well off, while imposing new higher taxes on individuals.
I want to highlight specifically the issue of income splitting, because this is quite revealing about the approach the government took. Under the previous government, we had a policy of allowing everybody to split his or her income, recognizing that two families making the same amount of money should be able to split their incomes such that two families with the same income pay the same amount of tax. The Liberals opposed income splitting and repealed it. They repealed income splitting for the wage earner, and then they said it was a problem to have income sprinkling that potentially allows income splitting for people in the small business world, that somehow that is an inequality, an unfairness that exists in the system. There are a lot of things that argument totally misunderstands.
One could also point out that to the extent there might have been an inconsistency in terms of the ability of some people to do that and others not, it was an inconsistency created by a policy decision of the Liberal government, which was to raise taxes on families by undoing what had been the previous Conservative tax cut for families, which was to bring in income splitting.
We see all these different ways in which Liberals are increasing taxes: the carbon tax, getting rid of income splitting and refusing to pass concrete measures holding CRA accountable. It is important to note these measures target those who actually need tax relief the most. It was Conservatives who targeted tax relief to middle-income and low-income Canadians. We raised the base personal exemption. We lowered the GST. We lowered the lowest marginal tax rate. We did not make any changes to higher income brackets. That is our record: standing up for those who need the help most by cutting their taxes and giving them more power over their own lives.