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

Budget Implementation Bill, 1996 April 24th, 1996


The Liberal government has negotiated with three of the Atlantic provinces an agreement combining the provincial sales tax and the GST into a single national sales tax. The new tax will amount to 15 per cent. Current tax rates in the Atlantic provinces are quite high: 12 per cent in Newfoundland and 11 per cent in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

So, the federal government has forced these provinces to bring their tax rates down to 8 per cent, and to this end, their service tax base was broadened. The cost of this whole operation, or $961 billion, will be borne by the federal treasury.

The federal government will also look after collecting the tax. For this purpose, a national revenue commission will be created to take over the administration of the unified tax from the Atlantic provinces by January 1998. This is an attack in due form, aimed at eventually taking over all tax collection in Canada. The actual amount of the tax will be hidden in the sales price but will show on the bill. The government is creating a hidden tax, which will make

it easier to raise it later on. The minister also introduced a stringof technical changes to the GST that only an expert could make sense of.

Regardless of the actual words used in the Liberal's red book, the fact remains that a promise was broken. Two Liberal members, namely the hon. member for York South-Weston and the hon. member for Broadview-Greenwood have left the Liberal caucus, and this does them credit. They were strongly supported by their constituents in making this decision. There are at least a few members who stand on their own two feet. The same cannot be said about the Deputy Prime Minister, but at least some still do.

Budget Implementation Bill, 1996 April 24th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board told us a few minutes ago that Canadians are not interested in flowery rhetoric. And yet, that was what I seemed to be hearing last March 6 when I listened carefully to the finance minister's budget speech.

It was a lovely speech, but now we must go over it all again today, because today is when the real budget measures are being tabled in this House, in the course of the debate on Bill C-31, while most of the members of this House are in committee. And I have the feeling that that is exactly what the government wanted.

It seems to me that this Bill C-31, tabled yesterday at first reading and submitted to the House today at second reading, is a tactic by the President of the Treasury Board, who is doing the dirty work for the Minister of Finance, whose erratic management has not really succeeded in reducing the deficit to date.

The bill is an example of this government's inability to control the deficit and the debt through concrete measures and a fiscal policy that is consistent and fair for all groups in our society.

To put it another way, when we see the measures contemplated in this bill, the number of acts amended, the number of federal ministers and federal agencies affected, the staff upheavals, the planned cuts, this bill starts to look like a fire sale by a government that has lost control and that is trying with varying degrees of success to stop the leaks in the fast-sinking Liberal boat.

This Budget Implementation Act, 1996, will enable the Treasury Board to ensure the transition of human resources in the context of what is described as the diversification of ways of providing services. The Financial Administration Act is amended; it will allow tens of thousands of employees to be laid off, public services to be transferred in some cases, and measures designed to facilitate these transfers to be taken.

The Canada Labour Code and the Public Service Staff Relations Act are amended so that collective agreements and labour representation can be maintained when personnel is transferred to other employers as part of the public service restructuring described by the President of the Treasury Board.

Public servants who are transferred will lose certain rights. The changes made to the Public Service Employment Act will allow the Public Service Commission to delegate powers to non-public servants, thus eliminating de facto the right to appeal an appointment.

Transfers to the private sector must of course be made attractive, which means that benefits enjoyed by public servants must be reduced.

This is all that is being done here. The freeze on the salaries of non-commissioned members of the Canadian Armed Forces is ended. Instead of conducting an objective inquiry into the blunders of the army, particularly in Somalia, the government rewards first the military responsible, whose salaries will be the first to be unfrozen.

An amendment to the Public Sector Compensation Act will make these changes possible. A right for which workers fought hard is withdrawn for a period of three years. Indeed, an amendment to the Public Service Staff Relations Act will suspend compulsory arbitration.

We are told that the Public Service Superannuation Act is also being amended to facilitate the transfer of individual and collective pensions, and provide the flexibility required to maintain or suspend the application of the act to an entity and to its employees.

Transfer and flexibility: these are the key words. The government is cutting in the rights and pensions of its employees to better transfer them to the private sector. These transfers will affect thousands of public servants. According to the bill, collective transferability will be made possible thanks to amendments aimed at facilitating the conclusion of agreements between the government and eligible employers.

The government could not make it more clear that it intends to transfer a number of its responsibilities to the private sector. We are told about transitional protection, but what are the guarantees for the employees affected? The bill is silent on this and no transfer procedure is specified.

This bill also confers upon the Minister of Transport the power to dispose of railway cars belonging to CN which are used to move grain.

To show you the extent of the sales that will be coming, the bill states: "It would also provide for an increase in the maximum rates for movement of grain after at least 10,000 of the railway cars or rights with respect to at least 10,000 of the railway cars are disposed of".

All of this goes to show, without a doubt, that the government is selling out our heritage, the train-which was the first link between the various regions of our country-our assets and the government employees' expertise built up over the past decades. These massive sell-outs will only pay the grocery bill. The government's fire sale will not, in the end, reduce the deficit by any significant amount.

Another blow, this time not against its employees but against all workers. After having laid its hands on the $5 billion surplus in the UI fund, the government is changing the Unemployment Insurance Act by setting maximum insurable earnings for 1996 at $750. It also sets maximum weekly benefits at $413 for recipients who start receiving benefits in 1996, i.e. new recipients.

Bill C-31 also implements a number of measures with budget impact. The government is taking advantage of this bill to push a number of extremely controversial measures through. It is trying to use a back door approach, to rush through unpopular measures including some that penalize the unemployed.

The historically maintained tax pact between Ottawa and the provinces is being shoved aside. The Federal-provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act is amended. The Canada social transfer for 1997-98 through 2002-03, as well as the method for calculating the amounts to be transferred to the provinces, is defined.

All that this fine business reveals is that federal transfers to the provinces are in free-fall. In the end, all this complex accounting will simply produce smaller envelopes: $26.9 billion in 1996-97, $25.1 billion in 1997-98 and each year thereafter until 1999-2000. For each of fiscal 2000-01 to 2002-03, the calculations used will merely reduce the Canada social transfer even further.

The transfer to a given province is related to the calculation of a weighting value that decreases from 1.0 in 1997-98 to .5 in 2002-03. In other words, the amount will be reduced progressively by 50 per cent over five years.

The Government of Canada is changing the rules for distributing the Canada social transfer among the provinces. The new rule is based on the size of the population and no longer on need, as should be the case for social programs. Quebec, once again, is hardest hit by the cuts. The Canada social transfer now benefits the wealthiest provinces: Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, whose populations are growing the fastest.

By cutting its transfers to reduce the deficit, the federal government is passing the bill on to the provinces, dumping the deficit in their lap. There is less and less redistributing in the federal transfers. The cuts and the new rules for distribution mean in fact the end of fiscal federalism.

The only measure that is fair for taxpayers in Bill C-31 is the amendment to the Old Age Security Act, which will change the pension paid to people with fewer than ten years' residence in Canada after their 18th birthday. This pension will now be calculated according to the number of years they have actually lived in Canada after this birthday. This is only fair to all taxpayers.

The Canada assistance plan, the Radiocommunication Act and the Student Loans Act are amended, with the last one being changed to provide stricter terms for the repayment of student loans.

This all-purpose bill amends various acts and has a single purpose: to reduce the amounts spent by the federal government to pay its employees; to cut the number of federal public servants; to undermine the rights of those who will survive the cuts; to chop transfer payments to the provinces. National standards remain, but related funds are falling.

UI benefits are also being cut in order to augment future surpluses in the UI fund, where the Minister of Finance will take the amounts needed to hide his mismanagement and his real deficit. The deficit will also be reduced by selling crown assets, like the thousands of railroad cars used to transport grain across the country.

Collective agreements are being tampered with and the rights of public servants undermined. The right to appeal on appointments

of priorities is being eliminated and, more importantly, binding arbitration is being suspended for three years to make federal organizations more attractive to private sector buyers.

All this shows a blatant lack of respect for public servants, something the President of the Treasury Board did not brag about a few minutes ago. This bill mixes the sale of railroad cars with the doctoring of collective agreements so that entire components of the public service laboriously developed by the country since the 1940s can be sold off.

Above all, this shows the finance minister's inability to carry out his mandate to balance the federal budget. In fact, clause 64 in this bill provides for the payment of $961 million to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland as adjustment assistance for the purpose of facilitating their participation in an integrated national sales tax system.

The Liberals never keep their election promises, to say the least. After condemning the Tories so strongly, they are doing the exact opposite of what they promised.

As members may recall, in 1979-80, after vigorously condemning the 18 cent increase in the price of a litre of gasoline called for by the Tories, the Liberals were quick to raise the tax on a litre of gasoline even higher after returning to power in 1980.

History repeats itself. After slamming the GST during the 1993 fall election campaign, the Liberals are again trying in 1996 to harmonize the various provincial taxes with billions in hidden subsidies to the provinces.

Department Of Human Resources Development Act April 18th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the hon. member on his speech, which the government should use as a model for developing its employment and manpower policies.

The hon. member told us, and rightly so, that we can no longer afford to be ineffective. However, with a deficit that is now close to $33 billion and a debt of nearly $600 billion, I would like to ask the hon. member whether he agrees that it is time for the government to wake up and that the fight against unemployment is not incompatible with the fight against the deficit.

I would also like the hon. member to comment on whether the government responsible for human resources development could be a little more imaginative in its employment policies and leave this in the hands of the provinces, which have real expertise in the area of employment and manpower.

Bank Act April 17th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-15 amending and enacting certain laws relating to financial institutions is, in our estimation, a new attempt by the federal government to control the provinces, and especially Quebec, which, for the last 30 years, has developed several original tools of economic and financial development.

On the economic and financial side, the federal government's control is increasing daily. On the constitutional side, the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party of Canada proposed last weekend that Quebec now be recognized as "the principal homeland of French language, culture and legal tradition in North America".

The distinct society concept, which was part of the political landscape since the Meech Lake accord and was the subject matter of a motion in this House last December, and which the government seemed to want to enshrine in the Constitution, is suddenly put off indefinitely following some prevarication by certain premiers.

After the second world war, women were sent back home. Some right wing groups still regularly send women back home. Optometrists will often tell us whether bifocals will improve our sight. But what does this vague concept of homeland have to do with the constitutional issue and the recognition of a people?

Today, no longer sure about what to do with it, the federal Liberals are sending the Quebec issue back home. Even the leader of the official opposition in Quebec City tells us this has no legal meaning; it is like saying that Newfoundland is an island and that the Rocky Mountains are in the west. There are no intellectual giants in this government.

This whole farce of a principal homeland in America shows once again the true face of the federal Liberals and how little they know and understand modern Quebec. Less than six months after the Quebec referendum, the Prime Minister is once again going back on his word.

What are we discussing these days in the House? Homeland rather than distinct society, the importation of cheese made from raw milk, our soldiers' lack of discipline, the Somalia affair, the lightning search for missing documents ordered by the defence minister. Once again, our play soldiers, who still cost Canadian taxpayers $11 billion a year, are once again making fools of themselves. It is a good thing that ridicule does not kill. Is this why

Canada still has armed forces, to protect the country from ridicule? If so, they are not doing a very good job.

After nearly three years in power, the Liberal government has gone back on its promises to Quebec. They are making fools of themselves in the rest of Canada, in terms of both imports and defence matters. The Prime Minister has lost control of the situation. There is no leadership left in this government. Worse, there is no vision as to the future of this country.

This government, which is unable to renew the Canadian Constitution, to manage its armed forces in a modern and professional manner, to set credible import policies in a globalization context, is putting forward Bill C-15, which shows its inability to manage the federation at the economic and financial levels.

This bill contains a number of scattered, apparently unrelated measures whose only purpose is to strengthen the monitoring and regulation of financial services in Canada. Once again, the federal government is trying to take control, to increase its powers.

The Bloc Quebecois is not opposed to the principle itself of Bill C-15, but rather to some of the proposed measures, which encroach on major areas of provincial jurisdiction.

The most important measure in this bill would extend the Bank of Canada's payment settlement mechanism to the area of securities.

In fact, this initiative duplicates the clearing systems already regulated by the Quebec securities commission and allows the federal government to interfere in the regulation of securities, which is an exclusive provincial jurisdiction.

Under this bill, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation will be setting the participation premiums according to the risk a financial institution represents. This includes Quebec chartered institutions already regulated by the Régie de l'assurance-dépôts du Québec, where the deposit volume is the criterion. Thus, there will be two standards of evaluation, and the one based on risk could put Quebec institutions at a disadvantage.

The powers of the superintendent of financial institutions will be increased so that he may request the winding-up of Quebec chartered institutions. This duplication of services could lead to numerous disputes between the different bodies.

As we mentioned during the debate at second reading, this bill amends nine acts: the Bank Act, the Trust and Loan Companies Act, the Insurance Companies Act, the Cooperative Credit Associations Act, the Winding-up and Restructuring Act, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act, the Canadian Payments Association Act, and the Investment Companies Act, which is being repealed.

This bill is a new indication of Ottawa's centralizing attitude. By establishing Canada-wide compensation and payment systems, Bill C-15 infringes on the authority of the Commission québécoise des valeurs mobilières and of Quebec's Inspecteur général des institutions financières. This results in costly overlap and structures. Quebec's financial institutions will be subject to two monitoring systems.

Therefore, Bill C-15 is an unacceptable intrusion into the securities industry, which comes under provincial jurisdiction. In Quebec, the various governments have always strongly defended Quebec's jurisdiction over the securities industry. Even Daniel Johnson reaffirmed that position in a letter to the federal government on February 16, 1994, when he was Quebec's premier.

The authority given to the Governor of the Bank of Canada to issue directives or orders to financial institutions goes squarely against that traditional Quebec position.

This bill will result in even more unacceptable overlap. Beyond the issue of jurisdiction, the fact is that Quebec's financial institutions and individual savers will suffer from the duplication Ottawa is seeking to impose. This will result in additional costs and in a lack of consistency in government policies.

Let us now take a look at the clauses of Bill C-15 I feel will create the most serious problems.

The Bank Act will be significantly affected. Clause 12 of Bill C-15 provides that banks will have to disclose additional information. The various provincial securities commissions already request this type of information to banks and to other companies listed on the stock exchange. Therefore, this is a new type of duplication.

The Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act is also being amended. Clause 21 of this bill defines the notion of "affairs" and of the affiliates of the member institution. For example, if even one of the institutions affiliated to Desjardins is a member of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation, the federal government is entitled to give direction to all of Desjardins' affiliates.

Clause 22 will give the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation the opportunity to be instrumental in the promotion of standards of sound business and financial practices for members institutions. This is a good thing in itself, but it is also a kind of duplication in the case of provincially chartered financial institutions that are part

of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation, since the province of Quebec already has regulatory control over these institutions.

Clause 27 will allow the board of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation to establish a system of classifying member institutions according to the risk each of the institutions represents. Hence, the federal government will have no other choice but to set up a supervisory and monitoring system for these members institutions. Again, this will mean some duplication for the provincially chartered institutions, since Quebec already has a control and examination process in place for these institutions. Besides, such a classification system will put the smaller institutions at a disadvantage. We will have to see how the Mouvement Desjardins is reviewed. Will it be branch by branch or as a whole?

The purpose of clause 34 of the bill is to determine the parameters of the examination mentioned in clause 27. For the provincially chartered institutions, this is already done by the provincial authorities. Why the duplication?

Clause 60 of Bill C-15 specifies the circumstances under which the superintendent may take control of an institution in difficulty. Moreover, the superintendent has the obligation to notify the provincial minister responsible of the takeover of a central of a co-operative credit association which is incorporated under provincial legislation. Thus, the provincial authorities are completely pushed aside and the regulatory control a province has over its co-operative credit associations becomes practically irrelevant and even null and void.

The Insurance Companies Act is also affected by this bill. Once again, the bill gives more power to the superintendent to step in if an institution is in financial difficulty. Provincially registered insurance companies are not beyond the superintendent's increased powers of intervention.

According to section 66 of the same bill, the definition of businesses to which the law applies is also amended to include fraternal societies and provincial companies. The bill encroaches upon the powers of Quebec, which already regulates provincially registered institutions. Consequently, we are opposed to the bill's measures which apply to companies registered in Quebec and we are also opposed to all the sections relating to monitoring of provincially registered companies by the superintendent.

Section 93 will also allow the superintendent to make public the information gathered pursuant to the new law. It will force provincially chartered insurance companies to publicly disclose information concerning the compensation of their executives, as well as their business and internal affairs. Since provincial securities commissions already require that information, there will be more duplication. Furthermore, the federal government has no legal right to regulate provincially chartered companies.

Moreover, clause 95 provides that the superintendent will have his say on the composition of the board of directors of provincially chartered insurance companies in financial difficulty. There is already such a control system in Quebec. What then is the usefulness of clause 95?

The main objective of clause 103 is to allow the superintendent to impose standards of sound business and financial practices to provincially chartered insurance companies. Another unjustified encroachment on provincial jurisdiction.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act is also amended. Clause 105 clarifies the new objectives of the superintendent, stating in black and white that the purpose of the act is to ensure that financial institutions in all provinces are regulated by an office of the Government of Canada. This could not be clearer; the federal government has decided to gain the upper hand over the provinces.

As for clause 106, it gives more detail on the federal superintendent's objectives. No distinction is made between institutions with federal charters and institutions with provincial charters. Only federally chartered institutions ought to be covered by this clause.

Finally, clause 62 indicates that a totally new act, the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act, is being created here to allow the federal government to gain control over this area of provincial jurisdiction. The Canadian Payments Association Act is therefore done away with.

These amendments and creations of new acts, all of this legislative process is put into place in order to once again hem in the provinces. The government's throne speech could not have been clearer on this. It intends to create a national securities commission, one which will directly invade the area of jurisdiction and the activities of the securities commissions in the Canadian provinces. In this context, Bill C-15 lays the ground work for the arrival of this national securities commission which the federal government intends to create.

Once again, the government's firm intent is to establish wall-to-wall national standards, and financial institutions cannot escape from this unwavering trend. With Bill C-15, the government is expanding this principle of national standards to the financial institutions. It has now come full circle. The federal government has extended its grasp to the financial institutions, while on the constitutional level there are making a mockery of the historical demands of Quebec, by reducing it to the homeland of cultural survival in America.

The Budget April 16th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, on March 8, I took part in a television program called "Droit de parole" on the Radio-Québec network, along with representatives from various social and economic groups; employers, unions, women's groups, young people and chambers of commerce were represented.

A SOM-Le Soleil poll released during this program shows that only 33 per cent of the population rely on the budget to promote job creation, while 53 per cent rely little or not at all on this same budget to reach this job creation objective.

Also, when asked about the future of pensions, increasingly, fewer young people and members of the middle class say they rely on the federal government to ensure the future of the public pension system.

In a period of accelerated technological and social change, where confidence in democratic institutions should be high, the government is showing no leadership whatsoever. The government has lost all credibility with a growing number of Canadians. This had led, spontaneously, to the founding in Canada of about twenty new groups, such as the group Conference Confederation 2000, which met at the Château Laurier in March, following last October's referendum campaign, to fill the political vacuum left by this government. The emergence of these groups shows that nature abhors a vacuum, and at present, the vacuum is the government that is in place here in Ottawa.

What are the main causes of such a lack of credibility of the Canadian government with its citizens? Government rhetoric changes from month to month; federal ministers contradict each other, and policies put forward often cancel each other out.

This lack of direction is reflected in the deficit reduction measures and some job creation measures which are supposed to be found in the federal budget.

The Minister of Finance emphasizes in his budget that the deficit will be $24 billion next year and $17 billion in two years. The Minister speaks only of the future. But let us not forget that the deficit is now very close to $33 billion and that it was $37.5 billion last year. That is the reality. These are not projections.

And if we add the $5 billion coming from the unemployment insurance account surplus, which in actual fact belongs to the employers and the workers and which the Minister has appropriated, the real deficit for this year remains close to $38 billion, and the one for last year was $42.5 billion. This is the same deficit level that we saw during the last year of the mandate of the Conservative government. At that time, the Liberals condemned the deficit.

To justify rolling the surplus of the unemployment insurance account into the consolidated revenue fund and reducing the deficit accordingly, the Minister says that if there is a shortfall in the unemployment insurance account during the next recession or during the next major the increase in the unemployment rate, the government will make up the shortfall in the account.

Imagine the burden the minister is placing on the unemployment insurance account and future government deficits. What is even more disquieting about the minister's deficit projections is that we are currently in full economic upturn; recovery is under way. The U.S., for example, recorded over 700,000 new jobs in February, the highest since 1983.

What will happen to the deficit in the next recession, which the economists are predicting for around the end of this decade? The Liberals place much emphasis on the last two Conservative deficits, which hovered around the $40 or $42 billion mark after the recession at the beginning of this decade.

It must be kept in mind, however, that in 1990-91 and 1991-92 the deficits inherited from the Conservatives were in fact $32 and $34 billion, the same as this year's deficit. In the good growth years from 1987 to 1990, this deficit was $28 or $29 billion, even less than the current figure.

Even in the Conservatives' day, the deficit was under $30 billion in the growth years, and around $40 billion in the recession years. The Liberals have done no better, even after raising taxes and pillaging the unemployment insurance fund.

The next recession is, therefore, liable to plunge us back into a vicious circle, into a deeper whirlpool than before. Debt servicing will be close to $50 billion next year, and a 1 per cent variation in interest rates adds $1.3 billion to the deficit. Worse, in the medium term, it has a $3 billion impact on the debt.

The Minister of Finance has no room whatsoever to manoeuvre, given the size of the debt accumulated so far. The impact of any change in interest rates is far too great. There is but one solution: what should have been done was to clean up business taxation right away, instead of striking a committee of experts to examine the question. Clean up by fighting waste throughout government

machinery and by cutting the defence budget much more substantially.

The deficit should have been reduced to $35 billion last year, $25 billion this year, $15 billion next year and $5 billion two years hence so that there would be a surplus in 1999 of $5 billion that could be applied to the debt creating the financial manoeuvring room that is so lacking now.

This is the only consistent program needed, and the government was incapable of instituting it.

The Liberals created the debt in the 1970s and early 1980s. In the 1990s, they are going at indebtedness with renewed vigour. They have no budget sense and will never be able to manage a budget.

We have to get rid of this government before it becomes the cause of our demise. Ask our international creditors about the scope of the real political instability we all talk so much about. Ask them whether it comes really from popular consultation or the inability of our political leaders to balance the budget.

In terms of jobs, the budget tabled by the Minister of Finance is just as pitiful as it is in terms of the deficit and the debt. There is no major job creation measure. The budget for student jobs is increasing we are told from $60 million to $120 million, although it was already at $84 million before the Liberals reduced it.

So they double the budget for little summer jobs, but because the Liberals reduced transfer payments for post-secondary education by $450 million in two years, the provinces will have to double tuition fees. At this rate, many students will be unable to continue their studies and will have to keep for much of their life the little summer job created for them. This is what is commonly called dead end jobs.

There is always a double standard. The government gives with one hand what it takes away with the other. In the budgetary reallocation game, the President of Treasury Board makes up in new expenditures all that was saved in government cuts. All the savings should have gone to balance the budget. The whole accounting exercise of cuts and reallocations translates this year into a real net increase in expenditures of $34 million and barely $200 million in savings next year.

This government, therefore, is still far too interventionist, and the measures put forward in the Minister of Finance's budget fail utterly to resolve the problems of the deficit and employment.

Bank Act March 28th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary has criticized my Bloc Quebecois colleague for having spoken only three minutes on our three very technical amendments tabled, as were his, at the last minute this morning. I will attempt during the next ten minutes to provide further clarification to the parliamentary secretary so that he may better understand our three amendments.

Bill C-15 before the House today is a sort of omnibus bill, a collection of scattered measures, the sole objective of which is to tighten control and regulation of the financial services field in Canada. Generally speaking, the bill amends a number of Acts governing financial services and repeals the Investment Companies Act.

We are not opposed to the principle behind the bill but to some of the measures proposed, because they are an outright intrusion in provincial areas of jurisdiction. In order to eliminate this intrusion, the Bloc Quebecois is proposing three amendments to the bill.

The proposed amendments have to do with the system for payment clearing and settlement. Their purpose is to bar the federal government from this provincial area of jurisdiction. The first amendment proposes:

That Bill C-15, in the Schedule, be amended by replacing line 26, on page 124, with the following: "ment of foreign ex-".

This amendment thus removes the words "securities transactions" from the original clause, so that the federal government's jurisdiction does not extend into this provincial area of responsibility.

The second amendment also concerns the schedule to Bill C-15 and proposes adding after line 30, on page 127, the following:

"(2.1) A directive may not be issued under this section in respect of a participating institution that is a member of a system for the clearing and settlement of securities transactions by clearing houses."

The purpose of this technical amendment is to remove from the application of federal directives institutions participating in clearing houses for securities transactions. The first amendment, in fact, takes away the federal government's power to create a clearing

house and the second amendment takes away its power to regulate provincial clearing houses.

The third amendment amends Bill C-15, in the Schedule, by adding, after line 2, on page 136, a part III which sets out the fields of application of a system for the clearing and settlement of securities transactions and in which regulatory power is also limited. This amendment limits the power of the federal government to regulate payment settlement activities.

Moreover, the federal government can take action only for purposes related to systemic risk management, and for no other reason. So, the objective of the last amendment is to control more strictly the clearing and settlement systems for securities transactions.

Why did we propose these three amendments? Because Bill C-15 brings about changes that are totally unacceptable to the provinces, and, from our point of view, to Quebec.

The most important of those changes would widen the Bank of Canada payment mechanisms to include securities. That action would duplicate the clearing mechanisms already regulated by the Commission des valeurs mobilières du Québec and would open the door to federal interference in securities regulation, which is under provincial jurisdiction. So, Mr. Speaker, we oppose it vigorously.

With Bill C-15, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation could base its participation premiums on the risk posed by a financial institution, including Quebec chartered institutions which are already regulated by the Régie de l'assurance-dépôts du Québec, which uses the value of the deposits in the institution to assess its premiums.

There would therefore be two standards for evaluation, and the one linked to risk might place Quebec institutions at a disadvantage because they are relatively small-larger institutions often being considered less risky-and because Quebec has its own deposit insurance, premiums for which are not determined by risk.

A third major change is that the Superintendent of Financial Institutions would have increased powers, enabling him to wind up Quebec-chartered institutions. We can just imagine all the conflicts between the various provincial and federal bodies that will ensue.

Bill C-15 modifies nine important laws that are currently in effect: those governing financial institutions (banks, trust and loan companies, insurance companies and associations of credit unions), those governing winding-up and restructuring, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act, the Canadian Payments Association Act. As well it does away completely with the Investment Companies Act.

Quebec is already involved in the clearing system via the Commission québécoise des valeurs mobilières and the Inspecteur général des institutions financières. Schedule I of Bill C-15 creates new overlaps, by placing Quebec's financial institutions wholly under the directives and orders of the Bank of Canada.

Under the pretext of controlling systemic risk, Bill C-15 is allowing Ottawa to meddle in this area. The governor of the Bank of Canada reserves the right to issue directives, not just to clearing houses, but also to participating financial institutions, regardless of their charters.

Many essentially Quebec institutions, such as la Fiducie Desjardins or the brokerage firm of Lévesque, Beaubien, Geoffrion, may be directly affected by the Bank of Canada's orders and directives.

With Bill C-15, the federal government is demonstrating more of a desire to grasp hold of new powers than any wish to ensure the mobility of financial institutions and the safety of investors.

Once again, with this bill, Ottawa is letting its centralizing dynamic show through. Bill C-15 constitutes an unacceptable interference in the securities field, something that has even been denounced by Daniel Johnson Jr. in February 1994, as my Bloc colleague has already pointed out this morning.

These new prerogatives of the governor of the Bank of Canada are therefore in complete contradiction to another of Quebec's traditional demands. Even above and beyond the areas of provincial jurisdiction, Quebec's financial institutions and its investors will be the victims of the double supervision Ottawa plans to impose. The result of this will be additional costs, administrative inefficiency and a system that lacks cohesion.

To conclude, in order to minimize all of these risks in a system that is already too unwieldy and over regulated, in these times when balancing budgets requires less regulation and fewer resources to apply it, when all taxpayers need a chance to catch their financial breaths a bit, and when all of Canada's and Quebec's financial institutions, and business in general, need more flexibility, I would invite the members of this House, the Parliamentary Secretary included, to show good faith and to support the three amendments tabled by the Bloc Quebecois this morning.

Bank Act March 28th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, in Group No. 2, two motions have been added. In Motion No. 4, the Minister of Finance proposed:

That Clause 70 of Bill C-15 be amended by adding, immediately after line 6 on page 62, the following:

"(5) Subsections (2) to (4) do not apply with respect to a person or entity that was carrying on business in Canada under a reserved name on the day immediately preceding the day on which those subsections come into force".

The parliamentary secretary says this is only a technicality.

Then, in Motion No. 8, the Minister of Finance proposed:

That Clause 115 of Bill C-15 be amended by adding, immediately after line 43 on page 88, the following:

"(5) Subsections (2) to (4) do not apply with respect to a person or entity that was carrying on business in Canada under a reserved name on the day immediately preceding the day on which those subsections come into force".

We are dealing with the same thing, here. Again, the parliamentary secretary says this is only a technicality.

Mr. Speaker, through you, I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary this: Why has the government waited until this morning to add in these technicalities? Why did it not do this before, when Bill C-15 was introduced? In the first session, this bill was introduced as Bill C-100.

Considering that the finance department has hundreds and hundreds of employees at its service, why were these so-called technicalities not introduced at that time? How is it that the parliamentary secretary or the department came up with these amendments around 8.30 or 9 a.m., as my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot pointed out? We were informed of these amendments when we arrived at our offices this morning.

Once again, the Liberal government is not taking its responsibilities seriously. It is doing a sloppy job. Its goal is not to better inform the public, to bring forward specific technical amendments to improve the bill. Its only goal is to try to destabilize members of the official opposition at 9.15 a.m., in order to avoid being severely criticized by them.

This is a very important bill we have to discuss and, suddenly, the government decides to move ten amendments. Then, realizing that he cannot respond to the objections raised by the official opposition, the parliamentary secretary tells us that they are not important amendments, that we should not worry about that, that they are just technicalities. Then why were they not included in the bill when it was introduced?

I would also like to add that the amendments proposed by Liberals this morning do not respond to the repeated requests made by the Bloc Quebecois. Where in the second group of motions, Motions Nos. 4 and 8, as in the eight previous motions, can we find a reduction in governmental regulations? Where can we find the elimination of duplication and overlap that the official opposition has been complaining about for two years?

For several months now, the official opposition has been asking the government to let Quebec's legislation play its role. But, once again, the federal Liberal government prefers to increase its interference in areas under Quebec's jurisdiction. In the end, as my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot pointed out, these two amendments, like the previous eight, are nothing but cosmetic amendments.

This morning, my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot also talked about Moses' ten commandments. I think he was very generous in comparing these amendments to the ten commandments because at least, in the ten commandments, there was a lot of wisdom, shrewdness and insight, which I do not see in the parliamentary secretary's amendments. If the parliamentary secretary had a minimum of decency, he would withdraw his amendments.

Taxation March 26th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Port Moody-Coquitlam is asking the members of this House to support motion M-148 which reads as follows: "That, in the opinion of this House, the government should recognize the onerous burden of taxation upon the Canadian family, and the pressures that such taxation places upon the family, and that this government take immediate measures to provide the family with tax relief, including balancing the federal budget".

This motion has two important components: family income and balancing the federal budget. These two components can, in certain cases, be at odds. In fact, one of the ways of balancing the federal budget could well be to increase the tax burden on families. The

other possible ways of balancing the federal budget would be to increase the tax burden on businesses, or to cut spending.

For the Bloc Quebecois, the only real way to reduce the tax burden on individuals, in addition to balancing the budget without cutting social programs, is to find new sources of revenue. In all their interventions in this House for over two years, Bloc MPs have always made it clear that these new sources of revenue, this new money in the federal coffers, called for an immediate, in-depth review of business taxation.

Reformers, true to their own brand of logic, as always, are again suggesting spending cuts as the sole means of balancing the budget. We must remember, however, that federal spending consists primarily of transfers to individuals and to provinces, the latter amounts going a long way towards paying for the provinces' social programs. Spending cuts hit individual taxpayers the hardest and do not produce the desired results. We are therefore opposed to balancing the budget solely through cutbacks in federal spending, the approach now being taken by the federal government.

The Reform motion emphasizes the family aspect of taxation. Here, Reformers are making the same mistake as the Liberals, who are now basing the new seniors benefit on the family income of couples. When the family income has been established, the government will divide the amount of the monthly benefit into two equal parts. Is this the Liberals' way of lightening the tax burden on families? By limiting their suggestions to spending cuts, Reformers are on the wrong track. By targeting family income as the basis for government assistance to seniors, the Liberals are also on the wrong track.

We in the Bloc Quebecois want the budget balanced, but not at the expense of families and seniors.

The Bloc Quebecois is totally opposed to the government initiative to base old age pensions on family income. Taxation reform must address individual or business revenue, not family income.

For cohesiveness, the Reform motion would require a business tax reform. Successfully balancing the budget requires business tax reform rather than merely tightening up on expenditures, which will impact upon the transfer payments to individuals and to the provinces.

Given the size of transfer payments to individuals and provinces, major cuts in expenditures will, of necessity, impact upon those same individuals and families.

Essentially, these transfer payments comprise the old age pension, the guaranteed income supplement, spouse's allowance, unemployment insurance benefits, and the taxation agreements, health insurance and health care, the Canada assistance plan, education support, family allowances and the child tax credits, along with a variety of other transfer payments.

It can be seen that most of these are aimed at young people, seniors and low income families. Interfering with them would place the incomes of the least advantaged members of our society at risk. Balancing the budget cannot, therefore, go the route of cutting transfer payments, at least not in our opinion.

Between 1990 and 1995, these transfer payments accounted for between 67 per cent and 71 per cent of federal program expenditures. Their importance is therefore obvious, when we realize that the only other equally large government expenditure besides program expenditures is servicing the debt, which remains untouched. Other revenues must therefore be found.

On the other hand, individuals are already paying more than their share of taxes. Between 1990 and 1995, personal income taxes accounted for between 78 per cent and 87 per cent of federal tax revenues, while corporate taxes for that same period accounted for between 11 and 20 per cent.

In order to lighten the tax burden on families and balance the budget at the same time, we must look at the business tax aspect before making heavy cuts to the assistance available to individuals, which would only add to the pressure already being felt by our families.

We know what a heavy burden families have to bear, and we know that the only way to balance the budget without increasing the burden of individual taxpayers or making drastic cuts in social programs, as the Liberal government is doing, is to review the corporate tax system to collect the government's missing revenues from those who do not pay their fair share.

On March 6, in the budget speech, the finance minister announced the creation of a committee to review the tax system. Some members on this committee are experts in tax evasion: one is a representative of Price Waterhouse, a firm with several branches in countries considered as tax havens, such as the Bahamas, the Caiman Islands, and Switzerland; and one is a representative of Ernst & Young which is also a great user of tax havens.

For the past two years, the Bloc Quebecois has been demanding a true reform of business taxation, the only way to lighten the tax burden on Canadian and Quebec families while making it possible to balance the budget.

The business taxation review process must be public. Input from opposition members must be allowed to make the process as open and transparent as possible.

The government is promising there will be public consultation once the experts issue their report; in other words, people will have their say once the decisions are already made. Business taxation must be streamlined and businesses must be made to pay all the taxes they are exempt from. In 1994, tax expenditures on Canadian corporations amounted to $9 billion.

Before the budget, the government was saying it wanted to get businesses involved; the Prime Minister challenged them to create jobs. This rallying theme seems to have disappeared somewhere in between the throne speech and the budget. Businesses are yet to be put to task.

I fear that the Liberal government is once again going to ignore the necessary contribution of businesses to the tax system of this country, which badly needs it both to balance its budget and to lighten the tax burden on families.

Up to now, the only fiscal effort on the part of some corporations has been to contribute to the Liberal coffers; as we know, six of the eight members of the business taxation review committee come from businesses which contributed to the Liberal Party's coffers to the tune of $80,000 in 1994.

Supply March 20th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am completely in agreement with the remarks of the hon. member who just spoke. I think that the government should permanently abolish the GST and, in addition, transfer this tax field to the provinces. The government should streamline the bureaucracy, as the Bloc Quebecois has been asking it to do for two years. Military spending should be further reduced; the boom should be lowered on family trusts; a committee on business taxation should be created whose members are parliamentarians, not specialists in tax havens; a minimum tax should be set on the profits made by corporations and something should finally be done about the $6.6 billion in unpaid taxes not recovered by Revenue Canada that the auditor general has been complaining about for the last two years.

If the government did all these things, it would be able to make up the $16 or $17 billion it is now collecting in the form of the GST.

Supply March 20th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am in complete agreement with the hon. member who just spoke, because we in the Bloc Quebecois are simply asking that the GST be abolished and that this tax field be transferred to the provincial governments, and in our case, to the Government of Quebec.

I suspect that when the Minister of Finance tells us that he wants to harmonize this tax with provincial sales taxes, what he really wants is a single federal sales tax. He is going to change the name of this tax, call it something else. I also suspect the government of wanting to conceal this tax in the sales price so that it will no longer be noticed by customers. I think that as elected representatives, as parliamentarians, we must remain very vigilant, because I am

certain that the government will never abolish it. It will just give it another name and bury it in the price of goods and services sold.