Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Bloc MP for La Prairie (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 8% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Monetary Policy October 3rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

The relentless fight against inflation has been the Bank of Canada's policy since 1988, and this goal set by the former governor expires at the end of 1998. So talks on the monetary policy to be adopted for the next decade are now being held.

Could the Minister of Finance specify his government's position with regard to the inflation fighting strategy soon to be adopted by the Bank of Canada for the years 1998 to 2008?

Supply September 26th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I agree with what the Reform member is implying. We should immediately change the Canadian legislation, the Income Tax Act, to prevent, from now on, amounts of money as huge as those transferred in 1991 being moved out of the country a few hours before the end of the fiscal year.

I think that instead of trying to put the auditor general on the spot and to prevent him from carrying out his mandate, from acting like a real ombudsman for Canadian taxpayers, the finance committee should immediately review this aspect of the act and prevent, in future, anyone from transferring out of Canada and tax free such amounts of money.

Supply September 26th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary is telling us that it is a public document and that the opposition's objections are of a political nature. I would like to respond to the parliamentary secretary by submitting to him the three following elements.

First, I would like to inform him that the only ones who support the government are six experts out of the eight who appeared before the finance committee. And, as everyone knows, these six experts have very close and direct connections with rich Canadian families. Professor Brooks, whom I mentioned earlier in my speech, did not agree at all with their position.

I would also like to point out to the parliamentary secretary that the group Cho!ces, a newly formed group which agrees with the auditor general's recommendation, intends to challenge Revenue Canada's ruling in the courts.

I would like to add that even if the legality of Revenue Canada's ruling is questionable, I believe that we must also consider the fairness of the ruling for all Canadian taxpayers.

I would now like to point out the third element. As my colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, said this morning, this decision was taken on the sly 24 hours before Christmas. We know that the notice had been rejected by junior officials for a few months in 1991.

Suddenly, 24 hours before Christmas, as the member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot said, when the turkey was on the table everywhere in Canada, senior officials from Revenue Canada and Finance Canada examined the case and, at a few hours notice, allowed the $2 billion out of the country. This is really outrageous.


Supply September 26th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, for nearly two weeks now, the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Revenue have either evaded the official opposition's questions about this scandal concerning family trusts or attempted to trivialize the fact that $2 billion were transferred to the U.S totally tax-free.

There is indeed a political scandal when, for three years, a government prevented the auditor general from getting to the bottom of this issue and, after the auditor general finally succeeded in alerting the Canadian public to this financial scandal, the Liberal majority on the finance committee found nothing better to do than to attack this senior official who is accountable only to Parliament.

Instead of shedding light on this issue that reeks of political opportunism and patronage, the Minister of National Revenue has the gall to say that the Bloc Quebecois is misleading the public on this issue. To inform the public is to mislead the public, is that it? The government's approach is really quite amazing.

I would rather take the word of the auditor general, the real ombudsman of those who pay taxes in this country, over that of the Liberal revenue minister. According to the Canadian press, the minister believes that the problem is not family trusts, but rather the rules governing the transfer of funds abroad. What we know for a fact is that $2 billion were transferred outside of Canada without a penny being paid in taxes and that these funds came from family trusts.

The Liberals are out to destroy the credibility of one of the most important institutions of our parliamentary system: the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. In their report, they arrive at a distorted interpretation of the Income Tax Act in order to justify the inconsistency of the revenue and finance departments, relying blindly on the testimony of six experts from the private sector, who are clearly in a conflict of interest position.

In its report, the Liberal majority on the finance committee launched into an unprecedented attack against the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, one of the most respected institutions of our democratic system. Already, during the hearings of the finance committee, we witnessed disgraceful scenes where, for nearly two hours, the chairman himself outrageously and arrogantly attacked the credibility of the auditor general.

Analyzing the auditor general's role and mandate, one immediately sees the limits that the Liberal majority wishes to impose. The Office of the Auditor General plays a key role in making an independent evaluation of the information provided to Parliament by the government. A Revenue Canada ruling, which seems to contravene the spirit of the Income Tax Act, was made in great haste, without any notes or minutes, one December 23, and could cost Canadian taxpayers hundreds of millions, according to the auditor general.

Should this issue be debated in the House of Commons? To ask the question is to answer it.

The act setting out the auditor general's mandate is clear. Nevertheless, the Liberal majority attacks it, attempting to discredit his role for purely partisan reasons.

In his 1984, 1985, 1987, 1990, 1992, and even 1993 reports, the auditor general analyzed the application of the Income Tax Act, without anyone at the time questioning his mandate, his expertise, or even the appropriateness of his intervention. Quite the contrary, the Liberals, who were then in the opposition, did not hesitate to use the reports to attack the Conservative government. How is it today that the Liberal majority is systematically attacking a pillar of our system of parliamentary accountability?

The analysis of all the events which followed the tabling of the report underscores the overt partisanship of the Liberal government, which is attempting to hush the whole thing up.

Following the revelations of The Globe and Mail , the government gagged the Standing Committee on Public Accounts by referring the issue of family trusts to the Standing Committee on Finance whose chairman is, of course, not a member of the opposition.

For the Bloc québécois, it is obvious that this change of attitude shows the bad faith of the Liberals, who are trying, through stalling tactics, to hush up the scandal and, through unwarranted attacks, to undermine the credibility of the auditor general himself.

During the two years I was the chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, I remember how much respect all the members, even Liberal members, had for the auditor general. Why this sudden change of attitude? Why have the Liberal members who were sitting or are still sitting today on the public accounts committee suddenly been silenced? This about-face by the Liberals brings us back to the issue of influence exerted by partisan interests and probably by friends of the Liberal Party and contributors to the Liberals' campaign fund.

The conclusion to be drawn from this less than edifying saga for the members opposite is that the government is trying to protect people close to the top who benefited from the generosity of Revenue Canada, or even to hide a possible conflict of interest.

With the tabling of its report, the Liberal majority has shown how little respect it has for parliamentary institutions and has succeeded roundly in fuelling people's cynical view of politicians who are more committed to party interests than to good government.

Let us look at how this truly amazing story has unfolded. The auditor general reviewed two advance rulings on the transfer to the United States of assets worth at least $2 billion formerly held in Canadian family trusts, despite what the revenue minister had to say.

The Standing Committee on Finance was then asked by the Minister of Finance himself to examine the ambiguous provisions of the Income Tax Act pointed out in the auditor general's report. Meanwhile, in order to analyze and interpret the law correctly, the finance committee called several tax experts as witnesses. Now, in its report, contrary to all expectations, the finance committee has endorsed without reservation Revenue Canada's interpretation, and based its findings only on the evidence given by six out of eight experts called earlier this summer to give evidence before the committee without even ruling on the appropriateness of the evidence heard.

The Liberal majority accepted only those comments made by the tax experts who were in a position to devise such a tax planning scheme for their customers. However, the Liberals never saw fit to include in the report the comments made by a disinterested authority, like the distinguished Professor Brooks of the faculty of law in Toronto.

The matter the Standing Committee on Finance had to settle was whether what Parliament intended was clear. Can Canadian residents have taxable Canadian property or not? That was the issue at stake.

As the Liberal majority put it in the report, the crucial issue on which the decisions were ultimately to be based was whether such property could be taxable Canadian property belonging to a Canadian resident.

If the answer is yes, then it is possible for a Canadian resident to transfer property abroad and to avoid paying taxes in Canada immediately. In such a case, the taxes will be collected by the American government instead of the Canadian government, if the property transferred is sold more than 10 years after the transfer. However, if the answer is no, as we believe it to be, it means that the concept of taxable Canadian property cannot apply to a Canadian resident and that the capital gain is deemed to be taxable as soon as the property leaves the country.

Up until the advance ruling-because it was an advance ruling Revenue Canada made in 1991-taxable Canadian property applied only to non-residents. In all likelihood, Parliament intended to control the taxation of capital gains earned by non-residents. However, section 85(1)( i ) of the Act stipulates that capital stock of public corporations is taxable Canadian property when it is received as consideration for capital stock of private corporations.

That is what the trust argued in its request for an advance ruling. However, according to the spirit of the law, this provision only applies when capital stock of public corporations is bought by non-residents. In the Act, when the application of the concept of taxable Canadian property becomes relevant for a resident, it is usually made very clear, as the following examples will show.

Section 48(1)( a ) indicates, and I quote: ``any property that would be taxable Canadian property if at no time in the year he had been resident in Canada''.

Section 107(5) also stipulates, and I quote: "property that is or would, if at no time in the taxation year of the trust in which it was so distributed the trust had been resident in Canada".

In its ruling, Revenue Canada mentioned that residents can have taxable Canadian property, which in itself sets a very dangerous precedent based only on section 97(2) of the Act. The Liberal majority report never questioned the use of a single paragraph of section 97 concerning precisely the taxation of partnerships to determine Parliament's intentions on such an important issue.

Rather, the Liberal majority was satisfied with the analysis by six of the eight experts called who, as you will all remember, work for firms involved in such transactions for the benefit of private customers.

The proposal by the Bloc Quebecois could not be clearer: even though the issue is essentially one of the holding by residents of a taxable Canadian property, that matter was never examined by the majority report. Section 97(2) to the effect that Canadian residents can hold taxable Canadian property was never questioned.

Yet, in our opinion, invoking this section to determine the taxation of family trust property transferred outside of Canada is contrary to Parliament's intentions in the case of taxable Canadian property. Only non-residents should be able to use this taxable Canadian property concept, and that is well covered in the Act.

Therefore, section 97(2) c ) of the Act should be revoked, thus eliminating this type of tax planning, which the Auditor General of Canada so rightly condemned.

Our position is also shared by Professor Neil Brooks, a consultant whose impartiality is absolutely beyond doubt. He said, and I quote:

"My position is that the ruling the taxpayer received in this case is wrong in law and policy and common sense".

This could not be any clearer, as was emphasized by Professor Brooks:

"Wrong in law and policy and common sense".

Not one of the other expert witnesses challenged this argument by Professor Brooks. Parliament's intentions are crystal clear. Moreover, the auditor general argued that the Act-specifically sections 197(5), 115(1), 128(1) and 85(1)-shows rather clearly that Parliament did not want Canadian residents to possess "taxable Canadian property".

Consequently, in view of the auditor general's findings and the experts' testimony before the Standing Committee on Finance, we are compelled now to put forward three recommendations-and, in this regard, I fully support the three recommendations of the Bloc Quebecois minority report as well as the motion on family trusts tabled today by the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot.

Section 97(2) c ) must be revoked to eliminate the lack of clarity pointed out by the auditor general in his report.

The definition of "taxable Canadian property" must also be changed as soon as practicable so that residents cannot own "taxable Canadian property". This is the simplest and surest way to eliminate any tax avoidance by transferring property outside Canada.

Finally, the 1991 ruling must be cancelled so that no one can ever again refer to it to avoid paying taxes due to all Canadian taxpayers.

Job Creation September 23rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, on September 17 in New York, Jean-Claude Scraire, Chief Operating Officer of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, stated: "The political climate in Quebec has no impact on investors' decisions, and I do not see why it should".

It is high time that the Prime Minister and the members of his government stopped looking outside their own backyard for the causes of Canada's and Quebec's weak economy and start taking action to help unemployed Canadians regain their dignity by finding jobs.

Canada's official unemployment rate stands at 9.4 per cent compared to 5.1 per cent in the U.S. The reality is that, while more than 1.5 million Canadians are looking for work, their Prime Minister and his government are acting irresponsibly instead of looking for ways to help them. What is the Prime Minister waiting for?

Standards Council Of Canada Act June 18th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am going to take advantage of my remarks on Bill C-4, amending the Standards Council of Canada Act, to draw to the attention of the members of this House a series of legislative elements that I regard as extremely significant.

The Standards Council of Canada is a body created by the Standards Council of Canada Act, which is chapter S-16 of the Revised Statutes of Canada. It reports to the Minister of Industry. Its objects are "to foster and promote voluntary standardization" where this is not already "expressly provided for by law", in a number of fields set out in the act, including construction, manufacturing, production, quality, performance and safety of buildings, structures, manufactured articles and products and other goods.

The Standards Council of Canada is made up of representatives of the federal government, the provincial governments and industry, as set out in section 3 of the act. All standards are established on a voluntary basis by the relevant industries, and their purpose is to encourage and facilitate domestic and international trade.

Bill C-4, before us today for third reading, enlarges the mandate and powers of the standards council. In addition to advancing the national economy, the bill tells us, standardization will have to support sustainable development; in addition to benefiting public health, it will have to benefit the health and safety of workers.

The standards council will have an important promotional role to play, in addition to encouraging standardization where it is not already mandatory. In its annual report, the council will have to make recommendations to the minister regarding standards it considers should be mandatory.

Bill C-4 proposes significant amendments to the existing act. It chiefly seeks to make the council less ponderous by reducing the number of its members from 57 to 15. One of those members would be "a person employed in the public service of Canada to represent the Government of Canada".

The bill would also create two advisory committees: the provincial-territorial advisory committee, whose Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson would sit on the council, and the standards development organizations advisory committee, whose Chairper-

son would sit on the council. Provincial and territorial representation would thus be assured by the first of these new committees and representation of expert bodies by the second.

Eleven other people representing the private sector, including non-governmental organizations, would sit on the council, for a total of 15 members.

I think it is important to support Bill C-4 for three main reasons. First, the bill is designed to improve the operation of the Standards Council of Canada, a federal agency. Second, the bill is designed to promote economic growth by eliminating pointless irritants. And finally, Bill C-4 would help to pave the way for a flexible, efficient and viable partnership between Canada and Quebec.

These reasons deserve closer examination. First, the bill id designed to improve the operation of the Standards Council of Canada. Bill C-4 is designed to make the council less ponderous and more functional. This is a very important process. The federal government machinery is imposing, weighty, often not very efficient, and prone to expensive duplication.

The federal government machinery is omnipresent in the Canadian economy and often hampers economic growth by legislation or regulations that put a brake on, or put obstacles in the way of, economic progress.

In this context, measures designed to improve operations are always welcome. All taxpayers will benefit in the long run. The agencies and enterprises that do business with the federal government will also benefit.

Lastly, since governments are constant targets for criticism, the fact that the federal government wants to introduce some real changes may well make the public's view of it more favourable, and fairly quickly, too.

The end result will be the development and maintenance of functional, productive and viable relations between the government and the various components of our society.

Second, promoting economic growth. The importance of Bill C-4 lies in the status and mandate of the organization whose operation it is designed to improve. The standards council plays a key role in regulating economic processes. Its role is to promote voluntary standardization by industry; that is the very core of its mandate.

It would be difficult to argue that standardization does not matter. Without it, the propensity toward diversification characteristic of market economies would in the context of vast trading networks cause an immense variety of problems for the various transactors.

Apart from wasted resources, increased costs and consumer dissatisfaction, both domestic and foreign trade would be seriously affected. Scarcity of resources and the principles of rationalization and efficiency demand standardization. Standardization means fluidity, efficiency and effectiveness in trade. Standardization means the elimination of brakes on trade and of obstacles to trade.

Four factors militate in favour of standardization. First, the fundamental dynamic of the economy-the interdependence of trade, competitiveness, productivity, growth and employment. Second, the age-old dependence of the Canadian economy on raw materials: although the service sector has been developing steadily in Canada over the past 30 years, too many of our raw materials are still not processed in Canada, even now.

Third, the context of globalization in the framework of NAFTA and trade with other countries of the world. Forth and last, the trend toward forming local, national and international partnerships.

The principle of voluntary standardization is at the heart of Bill C-4. This key aspect of the standards council's mandate relies on promotion of voluntary standardization being done by industry stakeholders themselves. Encouraging stakeholders to adopt standards on a voluntary basis has obvious advantages.

This approach assumes that each sector knows itself, its products, its needs and its stakeholders. It uses a consensus approach, which minimizes government intervention and control. In the circumstances, and given the council's role and mandate in improving efficiency, this is an approach we support.

The third element I wanted to discuss is the implementation of a Quebec/Canada partnership. This is the third reason for our support of Bill C-4. We believe that very soon now, Quebec will have achieved sovereignty and, as it committed itself to doing in the agreement of June 12 of last year among the Parti Quebecois, the Action démocratique du Québec and the Bloc Quebecois, it will negotiate an economic and political partnership with Canada-essentially because Quebecers want to maintain a shared economic sphere, and stable, productive and viable political relations, with Canada.

From this perspective, Bill C-4, like Bill C-19 implementing the Agreement on Internal Trade, constitutes in our view an important step toward making such a partnership possible.

In both instances, an effort is being made to improve and consolidate government agencies that will be better able to serve our Canadian friends and that will be indispensable in negotiating the new partnership.

To sum up, our support for Bill C-4 is based on the three reasons I have discussed: it should improve the way the Standards Council of Canada, a federal government agency, operates; it should encourage economic growth; and it should help to lay the groundwork for a partnership between Quebec and Canada that will be flexible, effective and viable.

We hope that our future Canadian partners will understand that we are looking forward in all good faith to these improvements in federal political institutions.

In conclusion, I would like to add that the bill does not in our opinion seem to pose any major problems. The council's structure would be changed, and to a slight extent its powers, while the way it operates would be made less ponderous. The provinces and territories would drop from 12 representatives to two, but their proportional representation would be just the same. In addition, the proposed provincial-territorial advisory committee would give the provinces and territories the opportunity to make their voices heard.

Standardization is voluntary. This is simple common sense, as the economic sectors or companies that decide not to go along are penalizing themselves at a time when trade is so important, both within Canada and in North America and the rest of the world.

Given the increased trade among the provinces of Canada, between Canada, the United States and Mexico under NAFTA and soon with South America as well, and ultimately with the whole world, standardization will eventually have to be adopted by all parties. This is the only logical conclusion for those who want to trade.

Merit May 2nd, 1996

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Wetaskiwin has moved Motion M-154, which reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should support the rights of all job applicants to be evaluated solely on the basis of merit.

The motion moved by the hon. member is self-evident. All job applicants should be evaluated on the basis of merit. I agree with the hon. member on this point: every job applicant should be evaluated as objectively as possible, on the basis of merit and solely on the basis of merit. In fact, this is a fundamental principle in human resources management.

But to evaluate job applicants on the basis of merit and solely on the basis of merit does not always work. Several groups in our society are penalized and not evaluated on the basis of merit by their employers. This type of discrimination is usually based on their sex, their culture, or the fact that they belong to a visible minority or have a physical handicap.

This is exactly why the federal government, the provincial governments and major corporations had to act and set up employment equity programs. Market forces unfairly penalized some groups in our society.

It is easy to apply the basis of merit to job applicants, but without deliberate interference in favour of some of the target groups, individual merit is no longer the only element to be factored in, since women, natives, the handicapped and members of visible minorities are penalized to start with. This is why these four groups were designated as target groups for employment equity purposes by the federal government in 1992.

In December 1992, an amendment to the Financial Administration Act provided the employment equity programs within the federal public service their statutory authority. However, the basic elements of the employment equity programs remained the same as the ones listed in the 1986 Treasury Board policy on employment equity. It is important to note that the legislative basis for the employment equity program precedes the election of the current Liberal government.

Merit in the awarding of a position must be based on an objective system of evaluating positions. A system of evaluating positions must describe and measure the levels of complexity, responsibility, knowledge and working conditions associated with each position as objectively as possible.

But this objective mandate must be accompanied by a social mandate within an organization, and this social mandate is generally fulfilled in the field of human resources management through the creation of employment equity programs.

The beauty of all this is that the economic and social aspects are inextricably linked and mutually complementary. Thus, employment equity programs allow talented individuals, members of target groups, to make their mark at last, with the help of the recruitment and promotion policies set up in the wake of these programs.

These people come to light and make an exceptional contribution to their employer that they would never have been able to make without the existence of employment equity policies, because members of their particular group were excluded from the outset by the predominant or corporate culture of their organization.

We will not be supporting Motion M-154 brought forward by the member, because evaluation for a position solely on the basis of merit must not override the federal employment equity policy introduced in 1986 and recognized through legislative amendment in 1992. And in order for the principle of evaluation on the basis of merit to be as strong and objective as possible, the groups discriminated against from the outset must be recognized, so that the most talented applicants are selected, regardless of the group to which they belong. Recognizing merit alone would be short sighted and would be to lose sight of merit itself ultimately.

Where have we got to with employment equity in Canada and in the various provinces, in the public and in the private sector? The situation varies from province to province. According to Morley Gunderson, Director of the University of Toronto's centre for industrial relations, who has looked at the situation in Ontario, the public sector and large businesses have raised their female employees' salaries by 20 per cent, in order to improve the employment equity situation.

The corrections have been far more modest in smaller businesses. Initially, the only initiatives outside Quebec came from the federal government or businesses under federal jurisdiction. Quebec recognized male-female employment equity as early as 1976, while five other provinces followed suit in the mid and late 1980s. Equity here means equal pay for equal work.

The public sector has led the way in male-female employment equity. Generally, large businesses have inaugurated pay equity programs, but this is far from being the case for smaller ones.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is recommending, even to the Harris government in Ontario, an increase from 10 to 50 in the number of employees a business may have before it is obliged to establish an employment equity program. This would exclude two thirds of the workforce there.

Clearly, salary discrimination is more common in the private sector. In the federal government, the cost of establishing pay equity is currently estimated at $1.5 billion, as the result of a decision by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. It recognized the results and the relevance of the independent study requested jointly by Treasury Board and employee unions. The federal government has given itself the months of April and May to evaluate the back pay and salary increases that would affect the pay of 80,000 female employees.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada contends that the federal government owes $1.5 billion to 80,000 women working in six

classifications of jobs occupied predominantly by women, such as clerk, secretary and typist, key punch operators, librarians, hospital workers and educational support workers. The Alliance is calling for salary adjustments to be made retroactive to 1986.

Some unionized workers are concerned that salary retroactivity, while legitimate, will result in further lay-offs by the government. The federal government has been revelling in employment equity terms for more than 10 years, but the court decision is continually being put off.

Therefore we cannot support motion M-154 because it demonstrates short-sightedness with regard to professional or on-the-job performance. If we evaluate all job applicants solely on the basis of merit we risk eliminating at the outset talented candidates from discriminated-against groups. The present government should conform without delay to the court ruling and definitely do justice to its own employees in target groups-Natives, the handicapped, members of visible minorities and women-giving them the retroactive payments and raises they are entitled to.

Only then will we see if the government can, for once, act on what it says.

Equality In The Workplace May 2nd, 1996

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for North Vancouver has tabled motion M-141 before this House, which shares the same political philosophy as Motion M-154 by the Reform member for Wetaskawin, which we shall be debating within a few minutes. Motion M-141 reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should support the elimination of section 15(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982, as it derogates from the principle of equality enunciated by section 15(1) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and, that the government should work towards enhancement of equality in the workplace by ending the discriminatory hiring programs that have resulted from the affirmative action provisions of section 15(2).

Sections 15(1) and 15(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982, to which the hon. member refers, address the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and more specifically the rights to equality within Canadian society. These two sections, which have been in effect since April 1985 and which the hon. member wishes to have eliminated, read as follows, and I quote:

  1. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Subsection (2) deals with positive action programs the member for Vancouver-North would like to see abolished, and reads as follows:

(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions fo disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Whether the member for North Vancouver likes it or not, this in fact does not preclude legislation, programs or activities aimed at improving the conditions of disadvantaged groups based on the personal characteristics of the individuals making up these groups.

The member wants to maintain subsection 15(1), which reaffirms that everyone is equal before the law and entitled to equal benefits and equal protection under the law, but he also wants to eliminate subsection 15(2), which in his view contradicts subsection 15(1); in other words, he wants the government to put an end to

programs facilitating job equity through hiring programs the member calls discriminatory.

The Supreme Court of Canada handed down 23 decisions regarding section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, some are better known, such as the Thibaudeau case dealing with making support payments part of income. Others, such as the Andrews case, are precedent setting. This case dating back to 1989 led to the drafting of an interpretation code for cases dealing with equality rights. In that case, the appellant was successful in contesting the need to be a Canadian citizen to be called to the Bar Association of British Columbia.

Mary C. Hurley, a researcher for the Law and Government Division of the Library of Parliament, conducted an in-depth study on equality rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: section 15 as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada in its decisions.

According to Ms. Hurley, the framework established in the Andrews case has so far been used as an authoritative guide in this matter and the Supreme Court's flexible analysis of the first section-of which the hon. member for North Vancouver wants a rigid, legalistic interpretation-provides for greater judicial restraint in making legislative choices in so-called socio-economic cases in which the government must weigh competing groups' legitimate demands for limited resources. But all these arguments are too subtle for the hon. member for North Vancouver.

In her outstanding analysis, Ms. Hurley goes on to say: "Equality is a comparative notion perceived in relation to other people's social or political situation. Consequently, a law is not necessarily flawed because it makes distinctions. Legislative classifications must be made so that a modern society can be administered. For the purposes of section 15, discrimination is defined as an intentional or unintentional distinction based on motives linked to personal characteristics of the individuals or groups affected, which imposes disadvantages or burdens others do not have to suffer or bear, or deprives them of benefits or advantages available to others."

All this information and all the arguments I have cited in describing the legal analysis framework on which section 15 of the 1982 Constitution Act is based do not meet with the approval of the hon. member for North Vancouver, who is reacting like a real political dinosaur and whose notion of equality refers to the basic reflex of fighting for life, in which the law of the jungle should replace the entire social infrastructure modern Canadian society has given itself in the 20th century.

On the contrary, affirmative action programs for historically disadvantaged groups promote equality in the workplace, to which the hon. member is referring. This equality in the workplace is parallelled by subsidies, especially to new businesses, aimed at helping them get over some crucial growth stages. At the collective level, social programs are designed to give everyone equal opportunities. As for transfer and equalization payments, their purpose is to help the have not provinces. All these policies seek, to various degrees, to correct inequalities that are part of nature and that influence the evolution of life in a society.

The hon. member would want to eliminate graduated taxes and go back to the natural or wild state. Social darwinism no longer has a place in modern society. Abolishing all assistance and equal opportunities programs would lead to anarchy by marginalizing several groups in society.

I understand the member's reaction. He is from western Canada, a young land, a new frontier. These descendants of pioneers have learned to rely on themselves alone. However, as a country matures and evolves, it develops its structure while also defining its social mission. Historically, most of the oldest European countries have had the strongest leftist tendencies, even though the state of their public finances sometimes forced them to go back to a more centrist position. We must evolve. Equal opportunities often reflect a country's degree of evolution and civilization. Achieving a balance between the economic and social components is a complex task. We must work at it in a gradual way, not through sweeping changes as advocated by the hon. member for North Vancouver.

If we try to abolish all assistance programs for people, many poor individuals or groups will lose hope or rebel. In this context, if the Reform Party rejects any form of gun control, is it because its members feel threatened by all those whom they deprived of any hope to improve their lot?

In conclusion, I ask the hon. member to give this some thought, to mature a little bit, and to show us the level of civilization to which he can rise. What live in an advanced country of 30 million people, at the dawn of the 21st century, not in Dawson City in 1898.

Death Of A Cum Police Officer April 29th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, at 10 o'clock this morning, we learned about the death in the line of duty of an investigator assigned to road safety for the police department of the Communauté urbaine de Montréal, District 11, in Senneville.

During a routine operation, three shots were fired, and the victim was mortally wounded. The unfortunate man was only two months away from a well-deserved retirement after years of work for the Montreal community.

We vigorously condemn this vicious murder of a law enforcement officer. I join with all my colleagues in expressing our heartfelt condolences to the victim's family and fellow officers at the CUM.

I invite my colleagues from all political parties in this House to observe one minute of silence in memory of this law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty.

Budget Implementation Bill, 1996 April 24th, 1996

Yes, exactly. The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot is right.

This goes to show the Liberals have reneged on their promises and the public knows it.

Just one week before the 1993 election, the Deputy Prime Minister stated on the CBC, and I quote:

"I have already said personally and very directly that if the GST is not abolished I will resign".

The Prime Minister himself said, and I quote:

"We will scrap the GST".

In May 1994, he added: "We hate this tax and we will make it disappear".

It is quite something when a Prime Minister says that he hates a tax. Did the Prime Minister suddenly fall in love with the GST? Or is he the victim of a love-hate affair? I personally think that the Prime Minister is a great comedian who uses all means available to him.

There is no harmonization. The provincial sales tax will disappear. It will become part of the GST. The GST will literally absorb the provincial tax and its management will be the exclusive responsibility of the federal government, which will thus increase its control over indirect taxation in this country.

By including the tax in the price of goods, the government shows it could not care less about consumers and is making it easier to increase the tax later on. Several associations, including the Consumers' Association of Canada and the Association des manufacturiers du Québec, opposed including the tax in the price of goods.

The federal government is making all Quebecers and Canadians pay for the harmonization of sale taxes in the maritime provinces. Given the amount of money to be paid by the federal government to these provinces, Quebec will have to contribute close to $250 million but will get nothing in return. The government's goal is still to integrate the GST to sale taxes everywhere in Canada. If it must compensate every time an agreement is reached, how much will it cost in the end?

The government itself says that compensation will also be necessary in the case of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island. Quebec has already harmonized its sales tax and no adjustment is anticipated in the future. This means that there is no possibility for compensation in the case of Quebec. Such is the price that Quebecers must pay when their province co-operates with the federal government.

Provinces joining the national tax system will lose their autonomy, because they will no longer have full control over their taxation rate and their tax base. "The federal government will assume responsibility for all aspects of administering the provincial value added tax". This is what it says in the memorandum of agreement on the harmonization of sales taxes, an indication of the extent to which the provinces that sign will give up their fiscal autonomy to the federal government.

The Bloc Quebecois is offering the government an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. The first step would be to abolish the GST, to turn the whole field of indirect taxation over to the provinces and to offset federal losses resulting from the abolition of the GST with an equivalent reduction in cash transfers to the provinces. In this manner, the federal government hangs on to its financial equilibrium, the Government of Quebec controls all indirect taxation within its borders, and the result is less federal interference in the health, education and social assistance sectors.

This approach, the one the government is suggesting, is completely out of date. The savings generated by all the sales and cuts resulting from bill C-31 will be spent on paying the provinces to accept a national sales tax.

Financial management under the Liberals is a bottomless pit. They do not realize the efforts they are asking of everyone: public servants, taxpayers, the unemployed, seniors, the provinces. They are asking all these groups to make significant spending cuts, and then, at the end of the bill, in clause 64, they wipe out, in one fell swoop, close to a billion dollars in efforts so that they can bring three provinces on side with their national sales tax.

Why pass this Bill C-31 if, once again, they go back on election promises and eliminate with one hand all the efforts made by the other hand. The Bloc Quebecois cannot in all decency support this bill. This bill the government is rushing through contains major amendments to at least ten statutes that have a very large impact on government management. I will summarize them here to show you the importance of all these legislative amendments that will flow from Bill C-31.

The following statutes are amended: the Financial Administration Act, the Public Service Employment Act, the Public Service Superannuation Act, the Unemployment Insurance Act, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, the Old Age Security Act, the Canada assistance plan, the Radiocommunication Act, and the Canada Student Loans Act.

The common denominator in all these amendments is the withdrawal of the federal government from its responsibilities as an employer and from its historic commitments to the unemployed, seniors and the provinces.

The Liberal government is abdicating its responsibilities. Bill C-31 is admission that it is abdicating before the voters send it packing for good. This morning's La Presse described the plan proposed yesterday by Ottawa as "somewhat frantic".

In closing, I would like to draw the hon. members' attention to the fact that the Liberals have a worse record than the Conservatives as far as the Constitution and taxation are concerned. In the first instance, by reducing Quebec to the "principal homeland of French language in North America", and in the second, far from eliminating the GST as it had shouted from the rooftops that it was going to do in 1993, by reinforcing it, trying to bury it in the price.

So what about the transparency this government was promising? Through this double failure, the Prime Minister and his Minister of Finance are once again demonstrating their incompetency, which far exceeds that of their predecessors.