House of Commons Hansard #269 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was organizations.

Topics

TaxationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Richard Hébert Liberal Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, since coming to power, our government has made every effort to ensure that economic growth benefits the middle class. Although the majority of Canadians work hard and pay their taxes, we know that some wealthy individuals and businesses use tax strategies to avoid paying their fair share.

Budget 2018 reiterates our government's commitment to fighting tax evasion and avoidance.

Can the Minister of National Revenue inform the House of the new measures that make our tax system fairer?

TaxationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

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

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean for being a strong voice for the regions of Quebec.

In the past two years, we have done quite a lot to fight those who avoid paying their fair share of taxes. In fact, the revised voluntary disclosures program goes into effect today in order to limit the abuse of its use by major accounting firms.

Budget 2018 provides nearly $100 million in new investments. We also announced that we are closing tax loopholes used by multinationals. The net is tightening.

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is bitterly disappointed in budget 2018. The mayor of Lévis is disappointed as well, because there is nothing in the budget for Davie shipyard workers and subcontractors in Lévis. This is the shipyard that delivered the Asterix on time.

When will the Prime Minister keep his word and start converting the four icebreakers, move forward with converting the Obelix, and include the Davie shipyard in Canada's national shipbuilding strategy?

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Delta B.C.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough LiberalMinister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for everything he is doing for workers at the Davie shipyard.

Workers at the Davie shipyard did excellent work on the Asterix. We have needs beyond the icebreakers. We are working and negotiating with Davie to meet these needs. When we have made a decision, we will share it with everyone.

TaxationOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know too many people who got a tax break in Tuesday's budget, except for major web giants such as Netflix—no taxes, a lovely little financial gift paid for by ordinary taxpayers. The government's only response to the Quebec consensus on taxing web giants is to conduct a five-year study and to talk about it with other G7 countries this summer. The government is going to look rather silly because all the other G7 countries are already charging sales tax.

Will the government acknowledge that we must immediately adopt the solution used by almost every OECD country? That takes piecemeal agreements with multi-nationals.

TaxationOral Questions

3 p.m.

Charlottetown P.E.I.

Liberal

Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we know that the media sector is facing many upheavals because consumer habits are changing. That is why we have made a commitment to modernize our policies so that they address digital issues. The Prime Minister has been very clear on the tax issue. We made a promise, and we are going to keep it. We acknowledge that over the longer term, we will have to develop a comprehensive solution to the issue of taxing digital platforms, and we are not going to take a piecemeal approach.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, indigenous children comprise 7.7% of all Canadians under 15 years of age, yet they represent a whopping 52% of children in foster care in private homes. Indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians alike, including my constituents in St. John's East, are demanding that this ongoing injustice be addressed. Can the hon. Minister of Indigenous Services please update this House on what our government is doing to champion indigenous children's welfare?

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

March 1st, 2018 / 3 p.m.

Markham—Stouffville Ontario

Liberal

Jane Philpott LiberalMinister of Indigenous Services

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for St. John's East for his advocacy on this issue. I hope that all members in this House were heartened to see that there are new investments in the order of $1.4 billion to support child and family services for indigenous families. This means that we will be able to achieve equity for first nations child and family services agencies. Even more than that, we will be able to support communities with prevention services, ensuring that children can be raised by their families, in their communities, surrounded by their language and culture. I hope we are all working hard to that end.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Oddly, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change shared a video of herself celebrating with the Canada Parks and Wilderness Society, a group that is suing her government. However, when it comes to meeting with organizations that are uniquely positioned to protect caribou in the communities in which they live, the minister suddenly has no time. Can the minister confirm that she refused to meet with the Northwest Species at Risk Committee and the Alberta Forest Alliance?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, in my job I am happy to meet with as many people as I can, as do my public servants and as does my political team.

I was very pleased that we announced $1.3 billion for parks and protected areas in budget 2018. This is amazing for Canadians. This is amazing to tackle climate change. This is amazing for species at risk. It also demonstrates that the environment and the economy go together.

Interests of QuebecOral Questions

3 p.m.

GPQ (ex-Bloc)

Gabriel Ste-Marie GPQ (ex-Bloc) Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's forests are infested with the spruce budworm and it seems like the federal government is doing everything it can to make matters worse. In 2014, the government gave twice as much money to New Brunswick as it did to Quebec to stop the infestation. The problem is that the spruce budworm does not recognize borders. The infested area in Quebec is larger than the entire province of New Brunswick. Our producers fare just as badly in the new budget: the government is giving $75 million to the Maritimes and not one cent to Quebec, not one cent.

What exactly is it going to take for Quebec to get its share?

Interests of QuebecOral Questions

3 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Jim Carr LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we understand the critical importance of forestry to the economies of eastern and western Canada as a source of jobs, prosperity, and opportunity. We are acutely aware of the threat that forest pests like the mountain pine beetle, emerald ash borer, and spruce budworm pose to Canada's forests. In budget 2016, we invested $87 million to support scientific research and infrastructure, including funding to combat destructive forest pests such as the spruce budworm and the mountain pine beetle. We are working closely with provinces, universities, and industry, all with the common goal of finding a way to keep these pest populations low—

Interests of QuebecOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord.

Interests of QuebecOral Questions

3 p.m.

GPQ (ex-Bloc)

Rhéal Fortin GPQ (ex-Bloc) Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, obviously, Quebeckers are ill-served by this government. Ottawa gave $225 million to help British Columbia when it had a similar problem in the past. This year, it allocated $25 million to the Maritimes but is giving Quebec absolutely nothing. Ottawa is doing nothing for forested areas the size of a province that are being ravaged by the infestation. It is doing nothing for forests that are becoming unusable and driving their owners into ruin.

How can this government justify helping the other provinces with Quebeckers' money while completely ignoring Quebec?

Interests of QuebecOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Jim Carr LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we are hardly ignoring the forest industry, including the forest industry in Quebec.

We were very pleased to announce an $867-million softwood lumber package in response to the unwarranted countervail and anti-dumping duties of the United States. We continue to have very important conversations with the Government of Quebec, with the Minister of Forests in Quebec, working to make sure that our forests are protected not only for today but for tomorrow.

Oral QuestionsPoints of Order

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to apologize to all of my colleagues in the House for holding up a document, the 1997 Liberal platform. That is the wrong way to remind Canadians of the broken promises of the government.

I would like to seek unanimous consent to table the 1997 Liberal election campaign platform, which promised Canadians universal pharmacare.

Oral QuestionsPoints of Order

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent?

Oral QuestionsPoints of Order

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Royal Assent

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

March 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 1st day of March 2018, at 1:06 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Assunta Di Lorenzo

The bills assented to on Thursday, March 1, 2018, are Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act; and Bill C-311, An Act to amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day).

Business of the House

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, it has been a bit of a different schedule, because we have just been here for one week and then we will be going back to our ridings for another two weeks, which is going to be great. I hope the Prime Minister stays in his constituency, or at least stays here, so he does not embarrass us anymore or cause any diplomatic incidents.

I am wondering if the government House leader could tell us what we will be doing for the rest of this week and then when we get back in two weeks.

Business of the House

3:05 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, I too look forward to having our two weeks in the riding.

I can assure the hon. member and all Canadians that the Prime Minister and this government will always stay focused on the needs of Canadians.

This afternoon, we will continue to debate the Conservative opposition day motion. Tomorrow the House will debate Bill C-69, the environmental assessment legislation, at second reading.

When we return after two weeks in our ridings, we will have the last three days of budget debate on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Bill C-69—Speaker's RulingPoint of Order

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on February 27, 2018, by the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé concerning the second reading of Bill C-69, an act to enact the impact assessment act and the Canadian energy regulator act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, under the provisions of Standing Order 69.1.

I would like to thank the hon. member for having raised this question, as well as the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for his intervention on this point.

The hon. member argued that Bill C-69 is an omnibus bill, as she feels it contains several different initiatives which should be voted on separately. She noted that the bill would delete two existing acts, would enact new ones, and would amend over 30 other acts. The hon. member requested that the Chair divide the question at second reading to allow for a vote on each of the three main parts of the bill.

Part 1 would enact the impact assessment act and repeal the existing Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Part 2 would enact the Canadian energy regulator act as well as repeal the National Energy Board Act. The hon. member argued that this second part deals more with natural resources than with the environment and should therefore be voted upon separately.

Part 3 consists of amendments to the Navigation Protection Act, which would be renamed the Canadian navigable waters act. As this deals with matters relating to transportation, she felt that this part should also be subject to a separate vote.

The hon. member helpfully identified which of the consequential and coordinating provisions, contained in part 4, she believed were associated with each of the other parts. I am grateful for her specificity in this regard. I would note that these consequential and coordinating amendments represent the changes to the 30 other acts referenced by the hon. member. In the vast majority of cases, the changes are to reflect updated terminology relating to the names of new agencies or statutes created by the bill. The fact that there is a large number of them is not a significant factor in determining whether or not this constitutes an omnibus bill.

The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader agreed that the bill amends several acts, but argued that there is in fact a common element to link together all of the changes. He stated that the bill represents a comprehensive review of federal environmental and regulatory processes and that to consider them separately would create unnecessary uncertainty about the overall framework.

As members will recall, Standing Order 69.1 took effect last September. It gives the Speaker the power to divide the question on the second or third reading of a bill where “there is not a common element connecting the various provisions or where unrelated matters are linked”. The critical question for the Chair, then, is to determine to what extent the various elements of the bill are linked.

To date, I have been asked to apply this standing order on two instances. On November 7, 2017, I declined to allow multiple votes in relation to Bill C-56, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Abolition of Early Parole Act, as I felt the two issues raised by the bill were sufficiently related and that they were essentially provided for under the same act. On November 8, I agreed to apply the standing order in relation to Bill C-63, the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2, as I considered that there were several issues contained in the bill that were not announced in the budget presentation. On November 20, in relation to Bill C-59, the national security act, 2017, I ruled that the standing order could not apply to a motion to refer a bill to committee before second reading, though I invited members to raise the issue again prior to third reading of the bill if necessary.

I would underscore, as I did in my ruling on Bill C-63, that the Chair does not have the power to divide a bill into different pieces of legislation to be considered separately. The Standing Order only allows me to divide the question on the motions for second and third reading for the purposes of voting.

Bill C-69 does clearly contain several different initiatives. It establishes two new agencies, the impact assessment agency and the Canadian energy regulator, and makes a series of amendments to the Navigation Protection Act. One could make the case, as did the parliamentary secretary, that there is indeed a common thread connecting these various initiatives, in that they are all related to environmental protection. However, the question the Chair must ask itself is whether the purpose of the standing order was to deal only with matters that were obviously unrelated or whether it was to provide members with the opportunity to pronounce themselves on specific initiatives when a bill contains a variety of different measures.

In presenting arguments relating to Bill C-63, the hon. member for Calgary Shepard raised an interesting concept from the practice in the Quebec National Assembly. Quoting from page 400 of Parliamentary Procedure in Québec, he stated: “The principle or principles contained in a bill must not be confused with the field it concerns. To frame the concept of principle in that way would prevent the division of most bills, because they apply to a specific field.”

While their procedure for dividing bills is quite different from ours, the idea of distinguishing the principles of a bill from its field has stayed with me. While each bill is different and so too each case, I believe that Standing Order 69.1 can indeed be applied to a bill where all of the initiatives relate to a specific policy area, if those initiatives are sufficiently distinct to warrant a separate decision of the House.

In this particular instance, I have no trouble agreeing that all of the measures contained in Bill C-69 relate to environmental protection. However, I believe there are distinct initiatives that are sufficiently unrelated that they warrant multiple votes. Therefore, I am prepared to allow more than one vote on the motion for second reading of the bill.

As each of the first two parts of the bill does indeed enact a new act, I can see why the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé would like to see each one voted separately. However, my reading of the bill is that the regimes set out in part 1, the impact assessment act, and part 2, the Canadian energy regulator act, are linked in significant ways, reflected in the number of cross-references. For example, the impact assessment act provides for a process for assessing the impact of certain projects, but contains specific provisions for projects with activities regulated under the Canadian energy regulator act. There are also obligations in the Canadian energy regulator act that are subject to provisions in the impact assessment act. Given the multiple references in each of these parts to the entities and processes established by the other part, I believe it is in keeping with the Standing Order that these two parts be voted together.

With respect to part 3, which amends the Navigation Protection Act, I find that it is sufficiently distinct and should be subject to a separate vote. While there are some references in part 2 to changes made in part 3, I do not believe they are so deeply intertwined as to require them to be considered together. There would be an opportunity to correct these references as part of the amending process if part 3 should not be adopted by the House.

As I stated earlier, part 4 of the bill is made up of consequential and coordinating amendments arising out of the other 3 parts. In my ruling on Bill C-56, I recognized that the analysis and division of a bill into different parts can sometimes be quite complex. Based on my reading of part 4, which differs slightly from that of the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé, clauses 85, 186, 187, and 195 seem to be related to part 3 and will be voted with that part. The remaining clauses in part 4, with the exception of the coming into force clause, specifically 196, appear to relate only to parts 1 and 2 and will therefore be grouped with those parts. The schedule relates only to part 1 and will also be grouped with it.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a unique relationship with the Canada summer jobs program. In fact, it is probably a relationship that most other MPs have. I have a great attachment to it.

When I first started to work at the Dairy Queen in Sidney, Nova Scotia, it was because of the fact that the company received a grant, as we used to call it. That allowed for some of the pay of the employee to be covered by the government. That got me started in the workforce. Ironically, 10 years later, when I went back to Sidney, after doing my first year of law in Osgoode University, I ended up, again, having my first law job come from the fact that it was a Canada summer job grant.

I have always been appreciative of it, because I know how important it is for those who are looking for jobs in the summer, especially in areas like Cape Breton, which is severely unemployed. As a result, I have a great affection for the program and I am always very concerned about it.

I also know these jobs and this program are incredibly important from the point of view as an employer. Employers get to have students come in and they have the ability to train new workers. They get to expand their business during the time they are having that little help with respect to what they pay somebody. Of course, it is incredibly important for not-for-profits to ensure they can cover off their duties and responsibilities.

As an MP, I got to see just how important the program is to our communities.

I reflected upon a number of the places that had received Canada summer jobs help and aid in the past, such is the Royal City Soccer Club, the Milton Youth Soccer Club, the YMCA, the John Howard Society of Peel, Halton and Dufferin, the Community Foundation of Halton North, Conservation Halton, the United Way Milton, and the Milton Chamber of Commerce. The list continues of companies and not-for-profits that are made up of good people, good work, and solid community builders.

Therefore, I have been watching this issue of an attestation associated with the summer jobs program with great interest. I have read much about the issue. From what I can understand, in November 2017 the government was obliged to settle a lawsuit with three groups that were turned down summer job programs in the summer of 2017. They applied to the court saying that they did not know that one of the criteria upon which they were denied was the criterion they would have to attain. In fact, the court found that the criterion on which the denial was given was not listed in the application guide. We can assume it was this decision and this payout that caused the government to decide the attestation would be attached to the Canada summer jobs program.

This is where I have great concern. It seems to me that this attestation was very arbitrary, incredibly unprecedented, and also quite odd. Therefore, I thought there must be something else in government legislation that could explain or maybe have something to do with the attestation.

I went back and looked at my list. I decided to look at the places where I thought the individuals in charge would have a very difficult time ticking off the attestation box. As I went through the list and looked at these, I realized that a lot of them were churches and registered charitable organizations, like St. George and St. Abanoub Coptic Orthodox Church, True North Church, the Milton Bible Church, Tansley United Church, and the Milton Christian School.

Then I got to thinking a little about charitable organizations in general, and I did a bit of digging. What I found extremely interesting was that there were general requirements for charitable registration. In fact, it is an incredibly complex and very difficult process for an entity to go through. There are many hoops. The application form is at least 15 pages long. The information that is gathered is deep and goes to the very core of what the organization is. All of this is reviewed by the Canada Revenue Agency, and a decision is given.

If a decision is given that an entity will not receive charitable registration status, it then has the ability to appeal this decision. It is treated in such a way that it knows how important it is.

As I went through the requirements, I found it very interesting that the CRA officials would look at the charitable purposes and activities, at the public benefit for charities, at political activities of charities, at business activities, at operating through intermediaries, and also wanted to ensure that purposes and activities that were illegal in Canada or contrary to Canadian public policy were prohibited. They are very specific on that. They say that entities are not eligible for charitable status if they are taking activities that are contrary to Canadian public policy.

I went back to the list and looked again to see what kinds of entities there were. They have gone through many different iterations, obviously, of ensuring they would receive charitable status. I began to wonder why this attestation would be baffling to me and I came up with two reasons.

One, if the reason that the attestation is attached to the Canada summer jobs program, because officials want to ensure companies are adhering to Canadian public policy, why not have a more robust system rather than self-regulating tick off a box? They already do that with the CRA. It has been deemed already that in order to ensure an entity is onside with public policy to receive breaks from the Canadian government, it would have to go through an in-depth review of its activities and have a third party determine whether it was in adherence of Canadian public policy.

The second thing that crossed my mind was this. If these entities have already passed this incredibly in-depth process and after writing everything they do as a charity and talking about public policy, and it has been determined that they are to be charitable organizations, why is that not enough for the Government of Canada to determine that they are in compliance with Canadian public policy? If a charity is registered, it has passed stringent tests and should be deemed to not be contrary to Canadian public policy. It is a very simple tick it can put on the Canada summer jobs program that accomplishes what the officials are seeking and at the same time alleviates the concerns that had been read into the House record today.

Then I thought, maybe this attestation was not really about Canadian public policy. Maybe this is about creating a new definition of Canadian public policy and a new determination of what it represents, which has been ripped from the Liberal platform. I wondered whether this now would be determinative for charitable status.

There is a registry on the Canada Revenue Agency. If we type in the search term “church”, there are 15,210 churches alone in Canada. That is just churches. Many others on the list that would not willingly want to sign or tick off the attestation that would also be on that list.

The hon. member across the way just laughed when I indicated my concern was that the CRA would approach applying a more stringent public policy test to charitable organizations. He would be remiss to not remember that the CRA, in past experience, did make decisions without consulting ministers on the disability tax credit and also on the decision to ensure that taxes were taken from those who received any kind of compensation through breaks or discounts while they were on the job.

We can absolutely have the problem where officials of the CRA take it upon themselves to determine that the new definition of Canadian public policy for the purposes of charitable organizations is the one that the government has slammed into the Canada summer jobs attestation. That is not good public policy. That is not the way this public policy should happen in our country. As a result, I am more than happy to stand here today and say that the attestation is ridiculous and offensive. If the Liberals want to change Canadian public policy, do it in an honourable way.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share an experience. I worked as a high school chaplain for 20 years. There was more than one occasion when I went to school that there was a group of demonstrators outside the school holding pictures of aborted fetuses. As students went into the school, they had to look at those pictures. They had no choice. As a chaplain in the school, I then had a number of those students come to me. They were devastated at what they saw.

I go back to this. The attestation is not about values and beliefs. I am a big believer in charitable work. The attestation is about activities. Our government is trying to get at the activity I just mentioned. Does the hon. member believe activities of holding pictures of aborted fetuses for young girls to see as they enter their high schools is an activity a government should fund?