House of Commons Hansard #260 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was income.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more with the hon. member. The current conditions and the lack of access to opportunity for our first nations, especially the young indigenous people across this country, is shameful. Anything we can do as a federal government to invest in those young people will be key to their success. It is a fine example of what happens in a society when the growth is not shared by all. It perhaps should be the prime target of where we reinvest.

I agree that any money that is recouped by tax avoidance and going after tax cheats and tax havens would easily be put to much better use. That is a prime example of where that money should be invested. I agree wholeheartedly with the hon. member, and it is something that the government will strive to do.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal promise to go after the tax loophole was clear in the election campaign. It has not yet been done. We also are looking at going after offshore accounts. We know that it has not yet been done, although we are told it is in train. It is time in this country that we start looking at really progressive tax rates. We talk about what is happening with improving the minimum wage in some parts of the country. It is time we look at a maximum wage. It used to be accomplished through taxes.

I will astonish the hon. member by telling him what the tax rate was for the highest income earner rate at the time of the biggest economic boom in the United States. Post-war, everything was booming and they kept these tax rates in place for a very long time, right up until the 1960s. Members can check if they do not believe me, but the tax rate for people earning over $200,000 a year, which equates into today's terms to $2.5 million, roughly, was 94%. We have been so conditioned by neo-liberalism to believe that the best thing we can do for the economy is to cut taxes, that we have not looked at the evidence. The best time in employment and economic growth in U.S. history happened with the highest income earners facing a 94% tax rate.

I wonder if the hon. member thinks we should start looking in this direction at progressive taxation.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, like the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, I studied law at Dalhousie and actually studied, for a small part of it, tax law. I agree that a progressive tax system is the best way to share wealth in a country. It is the best way to distribute growth evenly. There will be arguments, and there have been historically, about what that best way looks like. There will be disagreements, for sure, and that is part of the process.

I do not disagree with the premise of the member's submission that a progressive tax system is a good way to develop growth. Our tax code over the years has become, in my opinion, overly convoluted and complicated. Much can be done to improve it, but that is perhaps an argument for another day or another week, or another month. However, I appreciate the hon. member's position.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here in the House waiting for my turn to speak.

I thank my friend, the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby for giving me the opportunity to talk about what our government is doing to ensure that our tax system is fair to all Canadians. We were elected on a promise to strengthen the economy and support the middle class and those working hard to join it. An important part of that promise is to ensure that our tax system is fair.

Therefore, on the one hand, the government has made intelligent investments to grow the economy and, on the other hand, it is ensuring that all Canadians benefit from these investments. I did say all Canadians and not just the wealthy. To that end we cut taxes for nearly 9 million middle-class Canadians and we created the Canada child benefit, which gives more money than before to nine out of 10 families with children. This money can be used to purchase school supplies or sports equipment, for example.

That is also why we are cutting the small business tax rate. As of January 1, it is 10%. On January 1, 2019, in less than 11 months, it will be lowered to 9%. The combined tax rate for small business will continue to be the lowest by far of all G7 countries.

We have helped small business create jobs. When entrepreneurs grow their business, they find new markets and create well-paid jobs, and that benefits Canada. However, when the system is used by fortunate individuals who incorporate to take advantage of unfair tax breaks, that is detrimental to Canada. We must take action and standardize the rules. That is why, in budget 2017, we announced that we would be looking into this issue.

Last summer, we held consultations and we met with Canadians across the country. My colleague, the Minister of Finance, will have more to say about that in budget 2018, but I can reassure my colleague opposite that tax fairness for the middle class remains one of our government's top priorities.

Over the past few months, we have heard from business owners, professionals, and experts on how to improve our proposals. We listened to what Canadians had to say and are acting on their suggestions. As a result, the government announced that it will no longer implement some of its initial proposals because they would prevent people from transferring their businesses or family farms to the next generation.

We have also clarified the rules on income sprinkling, which allows high-income business owners to greatly lower their personal income taxes by shifting income to family members with little or no income. We want to better regulate this practice. However, we are going to make sure that we do not penalize family members of business owners who make a meaningful contribution to the business. There are now very clear criteria in place. Adults who are 18 and who work in the business at least 20 hours a week on average will not be affected by the changes. Adults aged 24 and over who own at least 10% of a service-based business will also not be affected.

The same goes for the spouse of a business owner, as long as the owner has made a significant contribution to the business and is 65 years of age or older.

Last fall, the government also reaffirmed its commitment to take steps to limit tax deferral opportunities related to passive investments. We already said that a detailed proposal would be included in the 2018 budget.

The government remains determined to improve the integrity of the Canadian tax system. By taking action to prevent tax evasion and close tax loopholes, we are contributing to fiscal sustainability.

The government’s priorities consist of looking out for the well-being of Canadians, growing the economy, creating jobs, strengthening the middle class, and helping the women and men working hard to join it. To do that, maintaining the integrity of the tax system is vitally important. Everyone needs to do their part, and ensuring that remains a goal of our government. I am convinced that the hon. member will agree that this is vital and essential.

In closing, I firmly believe that my colleague across the way will support this government’s efforts.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my learned colleague’s remarks. The issue is not whether we are going to support the government’s proposals. The debate today is about a motion that we have tabled to remind this government that it made promises during the election campaign and repeated those same promises a year ago, when we tabled the same motion, which is fully in line with its campaign pledge to close the stock option tax loophole.

Will the Liberals be accountable and keep their promise?

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague from Trois-Rivières listened closely to my speech.

The answer is very easy: what we promised is what we are going to do. In the 2018 budget, we will ensure tax fairness for all Canadians, and we will maintain the integrity of our tax system. The government will support those who use these funds to bring greater prosperity and create jobs. It will not help those who use tax loopholes to get out of paying their fair share of taxes. We have already said that we were going to take action to ensure that everyone pays their fair share of taxes.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his comments and perhaps a bit of a preview of what we might hope to see in the 2018 budget.

Today, we are reminding government members of not only promises they made to Canadians during the election, but also commitments they made here in the House to motions. In particular, I want to bring forward the stock option loophole, and capping it and getting rid of it. I would like to hear the member's comments on the possibilities that would be opened up on what we could do, including what I heard yesterday, which is being able to get rid of the backlog of over 10,000 indigenous post-secondary students who wish to access funding in order to access their treaty right of education.

I hope the member agrees with the motion and will encourage his government to follow through with the promises it made during the election, in particular, to that funding for indigenous students.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would love nothing better than to reveal all of the details of the upcoming budget.

That said, I am not privy to those plans. However, I can assure my hon. colleague that our promises about tax fairness will guarantee that people pay their fair share of taxes. We will certainly take the necessary action to grow Canada’s economy.

I hope that in the coming weeks, perhaps in a month and a half, until the next budget, they will support our measures. We will keep our promises, and we will be there to ensure greater prosperity for Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if my colleague could expand on how important it has been for the government to look at those who are trying to avoid paying taxes. One of the most significant things we have done as government to try to recuperate that money is we have invested close to $1 billion into Revenue Canada to go after those who are trying to cheat the system. Does the member have any comments in that regard?

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member's question gives me an opportunity to talk about the efforts that we have made.

It really comes down to a question of fairness for society, for civilized society to work. That means all its citizens need to play a proper role in making sure we are getting the activities done. There are some folks, unfortunately, who try to use some advantages for purely personal individual gain and they are not playing the role of citizens. That is too bad. There are a number of efforts we are taking to make sure, as the hon. member said, that the Minister of National Revenue has the funds and the personnel to go after those who try to take on tax avoidance measures.

There are a number of things we have done in that regard. Let me reassure my hon. colleague that measures have been taken since budget 2016, again in 2017, and I hope that we continue to do so in 2018, all the while making sure that those who want to create prosperity and put their money to good use and employ Canadians have the opportunity to do so with the help of their—

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Essex.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the fantastic member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, our new agriculture critic, who brings his perspective from Vancouver Island, which is well needed in this House.

I am very pleased to speak to the NDP motion which asks that the government keep its promise to cap the stock option deduction loophole and take aggressive action to combat tax havens, and that the House call on the government to respect that resolution by ensuring that both measures are included in budget 2018.

There is no questioning the fact that all over the world, aside from climate change, poverty is the biggest problem humanity faces today. For over 50 years, New Democrats have consistently warned of the growing inequality in Canada between the haves and the have nots, between the 99% and the 1%.

Sixty-five years ago, people and corporations contributed equal amounts of income tax to the Canadian government. In 2015-16, Canadians paid $145 billion in income tax, while corporations paid $41 billion. We have gone way off track on tax fairness inside our country, and we are not seeing investment. We are not seeing our country grow from the model we currently find ourselves in.

By 11 a.m. on January 2, Canada's top-paid CEOs had already earned what the average Canadian earns in a year. In other words, the top Canadian CEOs earn more in a day and a half than millions of hard-working Canadians will take home in a full year. Canada's top CEOs earn 200 times the average person's salary. It is understood there will be more money being made by those sitting in CEO roles, but this has become extreme. When on the other end there is extreme poverty, we, as a country, have to take measures to address this. The Liberal government needs to take this issue seriously.

There are two Canadian billionaires who possess the same amount of wealth as 11 million Canadians. Eleven million Canadians are struggling. Greater numbers than that are struggling and for two people to be able to live their lives in extreme comfort is unacceptable.

The governing parties in Canada have often tried to portray themselves as fighting for the vulnerable in our society, but they continually pass legislation, create budgets, sign trade deals, or make backroom deals that ensure those who hold the power and wealth in our country, who have always held the power and wealth in our country, keep it and grow.

What have the Liberals been up to instead? They have gone after farmers and small business owners. They have failed to stop Revenue Canada's move to tax employee discounts, something on which we are still getting calls in our constituency offices on a weekly basis. These are people who earn minimum wage or people who receive this benefit as part of their wage package. We have signed trade deals with investor-state dispute settlement provisions that ensure power and profits stay in the hands of the wealthy elite and actually bypass the court system in Canada.

The finance minister, instead of eliminating precarious work, said to Canadians and our youth that they will just have to get used to it, to just accept it, that this is the way it is going to be. That is unacceptable to me and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party. What does it say to taxpayers, constituents, people in our communities when CEOs avoid paying their fair share while ordinary citizens have to play by the rules? It sends a message that the rules of this game are rigged completely against them.

I find it laughable that the Liberal government's two major champions of the middle class have no idea what that actually means. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance certainly have no idea what it means to struggle to pay the bills. They are extremely disconnected from the lives of Canadians. Saying that our country is improving and doing so well does not actually trickle down to Canadians in their everyday lives. That is not the lived experience of Canadians today in our country, regardless of what those numbers say.

New Democrats have always fought for and defended low-income families. As a matter of fact, there are many families in our communities right now who have no wage, who are relying on social safety nets because they are simply unable to find work. There are seniors who are now having to look for and go back to work because they cannot afford to live on what the government is providing them today. As New Democrats we know this inequality is completely unacceptable and we fight against that entitlement.

I want to talk a bit about my riding of Essex in southwestern Ontario and what poverty looks like for the people I know in the five municipalities I represent. My constituents are some of the hardest hit when it comes to poverty. According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, Windsor-Essex had the highest percentage of children growing up in low-income families in Canada, at 24%. This means that one in four children under the age of 17 in Essex is living in poverty. Their parents cannot afford to keep the lights on or pay the grocery bills. They are calling or coming to my office every single day. They are in tears, distraught, because they are struggling so badly under the way our current system is working.

The United Way of Windsor-Essex and the University of Windsor's Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research mapped this data. It shows increasing poverty concentrations in my communities, such as Lakeshore, Harrow, and downtown Essex. These are rural communities. These are very small communities. There is an increasing number of seniors in our communities. My constituency office cannot keep up with the need, nor can my provincial counterpart.

Incomes are shrinking. Investors and small businesses are leaving, and services are no longer available. I will not even begin to describe the transportation challenges that exist in rural communities, because they are very significant and quite a barrier to people being able to access their daily needs.

Fifteen to 20 years ago, Windsor had some of the highest per capita income levels, due to the strength of our manufacturing sector. The provision of these good-paying, unionized jobs really sustained our communities. The research that was done shows that 25% to 40% of young people will not be able to pull themselves out of this destructive cycle of growing up in poverty. The one in four children already growing up in poverty will likely not be able to get themselves out of that cycle. I promise that it is not for a lack of trying or wanting something better. It is simply that there are so many barriers in front of them for them to achieve success.

I am proud of the United Way of Windsor-Essex. It has been running a pilot program to help youth who are impoverished to ensure they can make it through high school, because they are dropping out at a large rate in order to support their families. This is incredibly important.

My colleague from Victoria spoke earlier about the concept of identified money versus money actually captured. I think of the money we could capture, money that could go back into ensuring that in my riding of Essex we no longer have children living in poverty.

I implore the Liberals to think back on the motion they supported, where we would end this practice, and to look forward to budget 2018, where we can improve the lives of Canadians with the money we could potentially have.

My colleagues have spoken eloquently about the need for a pharmacare program in our country. It could be funded by the money we could repatriate. If we could get this money, Canadians would no longer have to struggle or decide between buying their medication or paying their hydro bills.

I mentioned seniors. The budget could increase the GIS. The GIS boost that seniors received of $1,000 a year for our most impoverished seniors has not dramatically changed their lives. We need to go further for seniors in our country. Seniors are feeling left out by the Liberal government. There certainly have been moves toward families, but our seniors have been left behind. Although we saw the movement toward improving CPP for my teenage children, which I am appreciative of, we need to improve CPP today for our seniors who are living in poverty.

There are many things we could be doing with this money. New Democrats are big thinkers. We are happy to provide the government with ideas on ways that we think Canadians' lives could benefit by getting this money, but we need the government to act, not just talk about what it is going to do.

We need it to act on this immediately. We heard the Minister of National Revenue talk about her efforts. Her efforts are not returning results, and we have to question that when we look at the moves other countries have made.

New Democrats will continue to fight for tax fairness in our country.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, according to an Oxfam report, 82% of the wealth created last year went to 1% of the global population. That means 3.7 billion people in the world, who form almost half of the world's poorest, saw no increase in their wealth at all. In Canada, last year, the wealth of Canadian billionaires grew by $28 billion, which is enough to pay for universal child care and lift 4.9 million Canadians out of poverty. Liberals have taken steps in this regard.

Why did my hon. colleague vote against our proposals to increase the tax on the richest Canadians in previous budgets?

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that my colleague is putting forward New Democratic Party's argument of inequality that exists in our country. What I did not hear is what the Liberals are doing about that inequality.

In fact, what I see happening on the Liberal side is this flip-flop on stock option loopholes and tax havens. To me and other Canadians, this just shows that the Liberals are under the influence of very powerful lobbyists and corporations, and are not actually standing for the interests of Canadians, like New Democrats continue to do every single day in this House.

Therefore, I have a question for the member. Why does the Liberal government refuse to act, and not use this money to address the inequalities that he himself raises?

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her excellent speech.

I know that my colleague has a lot of hope in general, but on this issue, I wonder whether under the current Liberal government she will still be able to keep that hope alive.

Two of the most influential people in cabinet, namely the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, have no idea what it is like to not be able to eat three meals a day. When they say the words “middle class”, they have no idea what that represents. Their idea on paper is of a middle class that earns between $80,000 and $160,000 a year, because in their tax cuts for the middle class, those are the ones who will benefit the most.

Does my colleague really believe in the government’s will or its understanding to solve the problems of inequity in our society?

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not believe they do understand. To the Liberals, in particular, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, the idea of the middle class is someone over here, a group of people they know are out there. They are not necessarily people in their families, people who they interact with every day, or people who go to them with very serious issues that they are trying to overcome, such as poverty. This is the reality of Canadians.

The Liberals have assigned this $40,000-plus amount to the middle class. A report just came out that says the median income in Canada is around $33,000. The tax cut that Liberals claim they gave to those in the middle class was not really for the middle class in Canada, because there was absolutely no tax cut at $33,000 and under. Therefore, the most vulnerable in society have received no break from the government.

It is really New Democrats who continue, as we do today on this opposition motion day, to push the government to act in the interests of Canadians, so that we can move toward reducing inequality.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the member said she stands up every day for the disadvantaged. The days that I have seen the member stand include the days she voted no to a tax increase on Canada's wealthiest 1%. Members of the NDP stood and said no to the increase to the Canada child benefit. The NDP stood and said no to the increase to the guaranteed income supplement. The NDP even stood to say no to the budgetary measures that included almost $1 billion to go after individuals who avoid paying taxes.

Does my hon. colleague regret standing up against those types of progressive measures that would help everyday Canadians? That does not include the time she stood to vote no against the middle-class tax break.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I applaud the member for bringing up his love of omnibus budget bills, and bringing Conservative tactics back to this House to make sure that the Liberals can ram through legislation. When it comes to omnibus budget bills, I understand that the member opposite supports that, because his government has actually participated in that more than the Conservative government did previously.

What I would like to talk about is where the Liberals have failed to act. It is interesting to me that we are talking about tax havens, and that was left out of the member's question. Talking about how we capture that money, and talking about tax fairness was left out.

Since our motion on March 8, 2017, the Liberals have not just failed to act, they have signed new tax information exchange agreements with Cook Island, Antigua, Barbuda, and Grenada. These agreements are an exchange for information from these countries that allowed Canadian companies to repatriate the income of their subsidiaries in these countries. In other words, the Liberal government just made tax evasion that was illegal, legal.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is always tough to follow the member for Essex. She is a very passionate defender of her people, and it is an honour to serve with her in the House.

I congratulate my colleague from New Westminster—Burnaby, our new finance critic, for bringing forth this debate. It seems that, once again, we on this side of the House are calling on the government to honour a promise. I am starting to lose count of how many times we have had to do this.

The motion that was adopted by the House happened almost an entire year ago. It is because we have seen failure by the Liberals to act on these proposals that we have to again bring forward this motion. We are very glad to be doing so, but we want Canadians to know that, on this side of the House, we are doing our job to hold the government to account.

We will make sure that Canadians know we are fighting for tax fairness on this side of the House. I hope to see budget 2018 reflect some of the promises and hopes that Canadians have in seeing the power that we wield in the House actually used for some good, because we do collectively wield a lot of power in the House of Commons, and we can have that ability to make a real difference in Canadians' lives.

Our motion last year and again today is asking the government to address tax loopholes that primarily benefit the wealthy, including keeping the Liberal campaign promise of closing the stock option deduction loophole. The second part is that we want the Liberal government to crack down on the use of tax havens. We want to see the tightening of the rules for shell companies, renegotiating tax treaties that let companies repatriate profits from tax havens to Canada tax free, as well as ending penalty-free amnesty for deals with individuals who are suspected of tax evasion.

I got into politics because of the availability given to me in the previous seven years, before 2015, where I worked as a constituency assistant. I was primarily responsible for case work. In that seven years, I really got to see up close and personal the financial details in meeting with my constituents. I really got to see that there were a lot of families out there who were playing by the rules, working extremely hard, but the system was kind of gamed against them because of low incomes.

The tax system really exists in two worlds, and they just needed a little more help. However, I saw that the policies and legislation enacted in Ottawa were increasingly not looking after those who needed it the most. Therefore, when the opportunity came for me, I decided to enter politics, because I was not quite ready to say goodbye. I felt compelled to come to this place to continue on the fight for what so many of my constituents and so many Canadians deserve. We really do have an opportunity before us to do the right thing.

In Canada, we are increasingly seeing two worlds, and the world for most Canadians is increasingly unaffordable. It involves more precarious work, and it is a harder place in which to get by. The second world is an exclusive club for the wealthy and the well-connected who get that special access, and are exempt from rules the rest of Canadians play by.

We live in a Canada where by 11 a.m., on January 2, Canada's top-paid CEOs had already earned what the average Canadian earns in a year. They earned approximately 200 times the average person's salary. The top 20% of Canadians in 2015 owned 67% of all the net worth in Canada. Therefore, we live in a Canada where wealth is becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few.

I salute people who are successful and able to generate wealth for themselves, because we have to salute those people. However, it is increasingly a sign of instability for our society when we have the top 1% accumulating massive amounts of wealth, and the rest of us are not seeing any noticeable increase in our standard of living. This is an unstable situation, and if we allow it to continue, we cannot survive as a country. Something must be done to address this.

Successive Liberal and Conservative governments have given up billions of dollars in tax revenue over the past three decades due to the loopholes that exist, by invoking trickle-down theories to defend a loophole that benefits mostly the ultra-rich. We all know about trickle-down economics, how wealth will magically trickle down to the people who need it. If we just allow the people at the top to earn all the money they can, they will in turn allow that money to trickle down. There is no evidence out there to show that this has actually worked. That is not sound economics.

Increasingly, we are seeing that wealth continues to accumulate at the top. Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories, which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in this world, but that is an opinion that has never been confirmed by the facts. Indeed, even the International Monetary Fund recognizes that trickle-down economic theories are absolute bunk.

Tax avoidance and evasion by the rich undermine our democracy by starving the social programs and public services that many of us depend upon. When we are not collecting that money, we are actually losing the availability of that revenue to fund social programs that we could very much use. It significantly undermines the government's ability to provide funding for urgent priorities, such as affordable housing, public transit, health care, green infrastructure, education, and other public services.

It is estimated that the use of offshore tax havens, which is at its highest in history, is costing Canadians $10 billion every year. Canadian corporations stashed almost $40 billion in 2015 in the top 10 tax haven destinations for Canadian capital, which brings the total since 1990 to $270 billion. These are places like the Cayman Islands, Barbados, and other jurisdictions. In fact, the top five tax havens are Barbados, Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, and Bermuda.

Liberals did vote in favour of the motion last year, but since then they not only have failed to act upon it but have also gone on to sign other tax haven treaties with the Cook Islands, Antigua, Barbuda, and Grenada. With the budget fast approaching in 2018, we really need the government to live up to its promise and address these loopholes.

The flip-flop on the stock option loophole and on tax havens shows the influence that powerful insider lobbyists have on the government's policies. My constituents do not have access to high-priced Bay Street lobbyists. They do not have that inside track with the Liberal cabinet. I just wish that the voices of ordinary Canadians would actually make it into tax policy. This is an area where the government can clearly make a difference, and the Liberals will find support from the New Democrats on this issue. We will gladly support them. In fact, I encourage the finance minister to consider putting these measures in budget 2018.

It is going to take a strong political will to reverse the trend of rising income inequality, which began decades ago and has continued under both Conservative and Liberal governments. There are a number of things we could do. We need to change the corporate tax rules that allow for the use of shell companies. We need to review the tax treaties that let companies declare profits in tax haven countries and then repatriate them back to Canada absolutely tax-free. We absolutely need to end penalty-free amnesty deals for individuals.

We have to show that people engaging in this kind of practice are going to have the book thrown at them. Absolutely no ands, ifs, or buts, we have to stand by our word. When a parent starts bending the rules, kids always look for a way to continue going after it. It is the same with people who avoid paying tax. If they realize that the government is willing to negotiate, they will simply use that to continue the same kind of behaviour.

In conclusion, there are so many areas where we could do some good with this money. We could have a national pharmacare plan or a national child care plan, or end boil water advisories for first nations reserves. I really hope that these measures make it into the budget. The government has willing partners on this side of the House to actually see these measures adopted. Let us use our collective power as members of Parliament to finally get these measures passed, do a good job for Canadians, and make this a fairer country. Ultimately, every single Canadian who voted in the last election would like us to live up to that ideal.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague did a fairly good job of knocking down a straw man in some of his discussions about economic philosophy. Certainly, I have never heard anyone in this House defend the idea of the so-called trickle-down economics. Very often that is simply a caricature used by someone on the left.

It was the Conservative government that focused on cutting taxes for low- and middle-income people. We lowered the GST and the lowest marginal tax rate, introduced universal benefits, and, yes, we also lowered business taxes. The problem with the New Democrats is that they do not seem to understand how providing tax cuts to small and other kinds of businesses actually provides significant benefit, not only to consumers, employees, and the economy as a whole, but also to union pension funds and other important funds that invest in businesses and generate a return from their success.

I wonder if the member would be willing to at least reframe his arguments to contend in a more serious way with what people in other parties actually believe, rather than focusing on trying to construct this caricature and then knock that down.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, we only need to look at the policies that successive Liberal and Conservative governments have implemented to see that they benefit a very select few at the top. What is unfortunate about my Conservative friends is that they fail to understand that implementing national plans, like a national pharmacare plan and a national child care plan, can have very real effects and a positive benefit.

When I was knocking on doors in the 2015 campaign in the city of Langford, which is home to many young families, they were all talking about the fact that the lack of child care availability and the high costs were real barriers to the other parent getting a job. It was too expensive for him or her to get another job. Similarly, I talk to seniors in my riding, many of whom are cutting back on their prescriptions. They are unable to afford them because the cost of pharmaceuticals in this country is so high.

The Conservatives fail to understand that, yes, we may be able to elicit some positive benefits with tax measures, but as a collective body, as a nation, we work better when we put our efforts together in these national nation building programs. That is why I am proud to stand on this side of the House to advocate for those plans, because I know they are going to do well by my constituents and all Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Tax Fairness in Budget 2018Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

There will be two minutes and 30 seconds remaining for questions and comments following the speech of the hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford when the House next resumes on this topic.

Trans-Pacific PartnershipStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I am proud to rise in the House to acknowledge all the members from all parties who are formally committed to fully protecting supply management in the new trans-Pacific partnership.

The motion we adopted is unequivocal: that this Parliament ensure that there is no breach in supply management. “No breach” means no part of the market, none, zero.

I am pleased to see that the government, like us, recognizes that Quebec farmers have already made more than their share of sacrifices in the name of Canadian international trade.

With this commitment comes the responsibility to act. The government must keep its word and immediately resume talks with the 10 partners of the new TPP. We have given our word and registered it on the parliamentary record for posterity. We will not accept any concessions whatsoever on supply management.

Orthodox ChristmasStatements By Members

February 8th, 2018 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Peschisolido Liberal Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, January 6, I joined the parishioners at the Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox church to celebrate Orthodox Christmas Eve.

It was a beautiful ceremony led by the Very Reverend Michael Fourik, who kindly introduced me to some of the teachings of the Russian Orthodox faith. He also generously allowed me to bring greetings to the church community. It was a great honour and humbling experience.

I would also like to thank Sergei Poversky and his lovely family for inviting me to their Christmas Eve celebration. The Poversky family are proud members of the vibrant and substantial Russian Canadian community in Steveston—East Richmond.

The Russian Canadian community continues to contribute to the vitality and strength of our great country.

Helen Evelyn CarstedStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Helen Evelyn Carsted, who passed away peacefully at the age of 86 last week.

Helen was a nurse, small business owner, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and loving wife of 64 years to George.

George would move to Winnipeg, where Helen studied nursing. He would brave frigid Winnipeg winters on a bicycle every day. Helen was worth it, he said.

A devout Catholic, she raised funds to build St. Albert the Great parish.

Born with a green thumb, Helen transformed her backyard into a garden that would make any gardening editor jealous.

Politicos will tell us there was not a more stylish lawn sign installer. She was elegance personified in her immaculate white Cadillac stuffed with Reform Party of Canada lawn signs, and a sledgehammer for good measure. Helen was always the picture of elegance.

She is survived by her beloved husband, five children, 11 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

A wonderful life has now returned to the Kingdom of God. Helen lived life doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways.