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

Supply March 20th, 1996

Thank you, Madam Speaker. The liberal government is still reneging on its promise to abolish the GST. Let me quote a few lines from the March 11, 1996, issue of the Globe and Mail , which are very enlightening in that regard. First: ``I have already said personally and very directly that if the GST is not abolished, I will resign''. That statement was made to the CBC by the current Deputy Prime Minister on October 18, 1993, one week before the federal election.

As for the current Prime Minister, he is quoted as saying, also in 1993: "We will scrap the GST". The red book, published in 1993, states as well, and I quote: "A Liberal government will replace the GST". Again, in March 1996, the Deputy Prime Minister stated: "If we do not replace it, I will resign. I really do not have much choice. It will be replaced".

You probably remember that the GST and its abolition where big issues during the election campaign in 1993.

It was a major issue and it greatly helped the Liberals get elected. Since then, the Liberal strategy has been to downplay the importance of that issue, so as to make it easier to renege on their election promises.

During the election campaign, the Liberals made no bones about the fact that they were going to abolish the GST. Now, they talk instead of replacing it, of harmonizing it with provincial taxes. The Liberals are doing that because they are quietly paving the way for a national sales tax. Instead of abolishing the GST, they will make it even more pervasive.

The Liberal government, with its commitment to harmonize, now stands exactly where the Conservatives were. Indeed, before disappearing from the political map in 1993, the Conservatives were thinking of the same thing, harmonizing the federal and provincial sales taxes.

You have to admit that the Liberals and the Conservatives are pretty much one and the same. In addition to proposing a hybrid GST which in no way solves the management problems created by the GST, the Liberals want to impose this rigid tax to the provinces.

In view of this all-out attack against the provinces' authority, the Bloc Quebecois totally distances itself from the Liberal position and proposes instead to abolish the GST and to transfer to the provinces the tax field currently occupied by the GST. We feel this is the only way to implement a single tax system that would benefit the provinces.

As for Quebec, such a transfer would reflect its specificity and its fiscal autonomy. Quebec and other interested provinces could thus define the parameters of the new tax field, such as the goods and services that are taxable and not taxable, as well as the type of tax to be applied. This single tax would be administered and collected by each provincial government. Finally, this single tax should not take more out of taxpayers' pockets than do the current provincial sales tax, the QST in Quebec, and the GST together.

The Bloc Quebecois understands that the transfer of this tax field to Quebec could result in a significant loss of revenue for the federal government and that the latter should be compensated for that loss. Without touching transfers of tax points and special abatements-a tax field already occupied by the Government of Quebec-the federal government could reduce the transfer payments it makes under the various provincial transfer programs by an amount equivalent to the current GST revenues collected in Quebec.

This would also reduce federal interference in certain sectors of exclusively provincial jurisdiction, thus helping to cut back on duplication. In addition, as long as Quebecers pay their income taxes to the federal government, an equalization program should be maintained, without additional cuts, in order to offset the differences in the provinces' fiscal capacities.

In practical terms, our proposal would eliminate the duplication resulting from the existence of two parallel taxes and would reduce administrative costs for businesses, which would have only one tax to keep track of.

What is the context in which alternatives to the GST have been analysed?

It is a difficult context financially and economically. Middle and low income taxpayers have reached their threshold of tolerance. Unemployment rates are high and public finances are in such a

poor state that they are resulting in a risk premium on interest rates that is detrimental to investments.

The labour market is in a sorry state. Remember that with the increase in the population, we need several hundreds of thousands of jobs more in Canada, just to return to the level of employment at the beginning of the recession in the second quarter of 1990.

If we look at the tax statistics by income brackets published by Statistics Canada, we see that the increase in the tax burden of middle and lower income citizens is indeed real. Between 1972 and 1992, taxpayers saw a jump in real tax rates of 22.7 per cent. During the same period, taxpayers in lower income brackets saw their real tax rates go up by 42 per cent.

The increased tax burden has triggered the emergence of a flourishing underground economy. As the Liberal majority report states, analysts estimate the underground economy to represent somewhere between 2 and 20 per cent of the GDP. Only a total revision of the taxation system could make it possible to contain and reduce the size of the underground economy, because it is linked to the overall tax burden or, in other words, is dependent on all taxes paid by the taxpaying public.

The question of abolishing the GST and transferring it to the provinces arises in this context. All the commotion focussing on replacing the GST illustrates, more clearly than anything else could, the necessity of a total review of the federal taxation system. An examination of that system shows that high income individuals and major corporations have the financial means and the legal expertise to take advantage of a number of tax loopholes which save them considerable amounts of tax.

Think, for example, of the family trust scheme by which rich families can put off, virtually forever, having to pay capital gains tax on the assets held in trust. It is hard to estimate what the tax losses are on such tax deferments, because the Department of Finance keeps the figures hidden. According to a study commissioned by the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise in 1990, however, tax losses can be estimated at several hundred million dollars.

In 1993, when the Liberals were the opposition, they-the present Minister of Finance included-voted against reinstatement of the tax breaks associated with family trusts. Now the Liberals are refusing to abolish those same breaks, but they show no hesitancy in the least to dump on the unemployed, couples with child support agreements, and the pensioners of the future.

In fact the Liberals, just like the Conservatives in 1993, have given in to the lobby of rich influential families who want to keep their assets safe from taxes, while the tax burden on low income families continues to spiral endlessly upward.

Another example of unfairness are the tax havens. In the Auditor General's report in 1992, it was pointed out that the Income Tax Act and the tax agreements made it possible for foreign affiliates of Canadian companies to avoid paying tax in Canada and to take advantage of the lower rates of taxation available in a number of countries considered tax havens.

In fact, the auditor general estimates that more than $16 billion were invested by Canadian companies in tax havens, thus avoiding paying millions of dollars in taxes to the federal government every year. This means that, in a roundabout way, several Canadian companies are declaring abroad revenue earned in Canada.

Taking advantage of tax loopholes, many high income earners as well as big profitable firms do not pay a cent in taxes. It is to put an end to this kind of inequity that the Bloc Quebecois is demanding a comprehensive review of the Canadian tax system, not this business taxation committee comprised mostly of advisors working for firms using tax havens and contributors to the Liberal election fund.

The Bloc Quebecois is of the opinion that, in order to prevent big profitable firms from using complicated schemes to pay ridiculously low taxes, the government should impose a real minimum tax on the business profits made by large corporations instead of an easily avoidable capital tax.

The GST is not the only component of public revenue that needs to be reviewed and changed. In the minority report on the GST tabled by the Liberals in 1989 while they were in opposition, it is recommended that the Conservative government abandon its plans to introduce a goods and services tax and immediately initiate consultations with Canadians and the provincial governments on a fair and integrated reform of the tax system as a whole.

Now that they are in power, the same Liberals are content with trying to harmonize the GST and bring down three consecutive budgets that do nothing to eliminate unfairness. It is wrong to believe that all federal tax problems can be resolved by merely reforming our sales tax.

Several examples show that the Liberals are victims of their own policy of analyzing the GST separately from the other sources of federal revenue. Chapter 2 of the report of the Liberal majority on the finance committee, tabled in June 1994, states that wealth transfer tax cannot be considered as a replacement for the GST as it would not generate as much revenue.

This kind of reasoning rules out alternatives like a real minimum tax on large corporations making profits, the taxation of family trusts, the elimination of tax shelters, and so on. They rule out all partial solutions that, together, could do the job.

Finally, the Liberals are making exactly the same mistake as their predecessors by changing their minds about reviewing all sources of government revenue. By tackling only one aspect of the problem, the Liberals will never arrive at a lasting decision, because the tax system is a complex and delicate equation in which fair taxation and a balanced budget cannot be achieved by imposing a new tax in isolation.

The Bloc Quebecois' proposal would allow the Quebec government to put in place a tax that really meets Quebec's needs and avoid the mess that would inevitably be created by 11 parties trying to negotiate the base, administrative details and characteristics of the tax.

Our proposal would also make the Quebec government less vulnerable to the federal government's unilateral cuts in transfers to the provinces. At the operating level, it would eliminate the duplication resulting from two parallel taxes, improve control and reduce administration costs for businesses, which would have only one tax to manage.

Some may argue that our position would encourage consumers to take advantage of provincial rate differences. In this regard, we would like to repeat what the Liberal majority on the finance committee wrote in its report, namely that the committee recognized that the national VAT might encourage consumers to take advantage of rate differences, but no more so than today's provincial sales taxes.

It must be understood that the Bloc Quebecois' proposal derives from the basic principle guiding our policies: Quebec sovereignty. Indeed, sovereignty means, among other things, that the Quebec government would have full control over all these budgetary and economic instruments. It would then be free to use these tools based on Quebec's specific needs and Quebecers' aspirations.

The Bloc Quebecois makes this proposal from a Quebec perspective. However, it could also apply to any other province wishing to take control of the tax field currently occupied by the GST.

For these reasons, we will support the Reform motion to abolish the GST. The Minister of Finance wants to harmonize the GST with provincial sales taxes. This is a new centralizing attempt by the federal government. Why not harmonize that tax with the support of every province? As for Quebec, our proposal seeks, as I said, to abolish the GST and to transfer to the province the tax field currently occupied by that tax. Abolishing the GST does not mean merely changing its name, as the government might think.

Supply March 20th, 1996

Madam Speaker, the motion put forward by the Reform Party reads, and I quote: "The GST should be killed, scrapped, abolished". The Bloc Quebecois will support this Reform Party motion, because the GST should

purely and simply be abolished, although our reasons are different from those set forth by the Reformers.

How much money does the federal government make with this goods and services tax? When it was first established in 1991, it brought in $2.5 billion; the following year, in 1992, $15.2 billion; in 1993, $14.9 billion; in 1994, $15.7 billion; and last year, 1995, $16.8 billion. This is a tax that puts $15 or $16 billion in the federal coffers year after year.

Our position on the GST is not new. It was elaborated upon in the minority report presented by the Bloc Quebecois members of the Standing Committee on finance in June 1994. As far as we are concerned, this position is still valid, and I welcome this opportunity to outline it for the hon. members.

Madam Speaker, would you please ask the hon. members to let me speak in peace? I notice that certain members are in deep conversation in the back.

Supply March 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for Trois-Rivières for his question. I think the government has gone half the distance. I concur with the Minister of Finance, who this week told the member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, the official opposition finance critic, that the government wanted tax haven expertise in setting up this committee.

I agree with him that the members of this committee on corporate taxation, a committee of experts, are well qualified in matters of tax havens. But only half the distance has been covered. In technical terms, the necessary expertise will be there. What the committee lacks, however, is political credibility-the other half of the distance to be covered.

For it to have political credibility in the eyes of Canadians and Quebecers, I think it would have to include-and this is what the member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot calls for in the motion he tabled this morning-elected representatives, members of Parliament, to show Canadians and Quebecers that the committee would not be just in the hands of tax haven experts.

I would also like to point out that, in terms of credibility, the greatest weakness, as the opposition pointed out in question period yesterday, lies in the fact that six of the eight members of the committee annually contribute, and contributed in 1994, $80,000 to the Liberal Party.

I would have included parliamentarians, which is what the Minister of Finance should have done to increase the committee's credibility. With what we see of contributors to the Liberal Party, they-and I showed this earlier in my speech-will save tens of millions of dollars a year for their clients investing in tax havens. There is no credibility because there are no parliamentarians on the committee.

Supply March 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I think that even if we do not take into account the debt of regional and local governments, what we call towns and municipalities in Canada, we could quite easily consider the debt or deficit of provinces. Since data are not always comparable between local, regional or municipal governments, it is true that they can hardly be added to the total amount.

If you consider only provincial deficits and add them to the federal deficit, there is no doubt that even next year or two years from now we will still be above 3 per cent of GDP. To be very conservative I would say that the percentage will be 5 per cent and in the case of provinces which are more indebted, like Newfoundland and Quebec, it could even be higher.

I concur agree with the hon. member when he says that an increasing number of provinces are eliminating their deficit. A majority of provinces will eliminate their deficit, in some cases this year but even more next year, but Ontario and Quebec still have large deficits. Therefore, if you add the deficits of the two main provinces to the federal deficit, I do not believe it will be at 3 per cent, but probably much closer to 5 per cent.

Supply March 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his two very pertinent questions. I will answer the second one first. How did I arrive at the figure of 5 per cent rather than 3 per cent? Because in the case of countries of the European Economic Community, debt is defined as the total of a country's existing debt and deficit, including local, regional, municipal, provincial and federal levels. Whereas here, if we add the provincial government's debt-the Government of Quebec in the case we are looking at, but it could be the Government of Ontario or any other province-if we add that to the federal government deficit, even if the federal government reached its goal of 3 per cent next year, or in two or three years, if we add the provincial government debts, we would still have 4, 5 or 6 per cent.

In the European Economic Community countries, all levels of government are included in the deficit. In other words, Canada's 3 per cent would mean 1 per cent for the federal government, 1 per cent for the Government of Quebec and 1 per cent for regional local governments. That would truly bring us to 3 per cent, as it is calculated in the European Economic Community countries.

Furthermore, in Canada, if we were to add, in the case of Quebec, the debt of municipalities, the city of Montreal or the Montreal urban community, we would be much closer to 6 or 7 per cent than 3 per cent.

When the Prime Minister keeps trotting out this 3 per cent, he is referring strictly to the federal government's deficit, which is not comparable to or which does not correspond to the same concept as that used by the countries of the European Economic Community.

To reply to his first question, what I find most unfortunate in the federal government's proposal with respect to pension reform is that it is now looking at family income. Previously, the system was based on individual income. In my view, women will be the first ones to suffer under the family income approach.

As far as what I would suggest, I could say to the hon. member that it would have been better to stick with individual income. Given that we already have graduated income tax, we could taken the approach of a tax on income and people could have continued to be taxed directly, even if it means going with a percentage of the tax payable and reducing or even eliminating all tax credits. I think that the concept of basing the entire system on family income will penalize women.

Supply March 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I will take advantage of this allotted day to show that the lack of a coherent business taxation policy has a negative effect on the fiscal situation in general and on the government's chronic indebtedness.

At the end of the 1996-97 fiscal year, the federal net debt will be over $600 billion. According to the Minister of Finance's own projections, by the end of its mandate, this government will have added $110 billion to the country's debt. The minister keeps shouting from the rooftops that he has the government's finances under control and that he has finally managed to slow down debt growth. This is definitely not the case. The minister has no precise plan to eliminate the deficit, and he refused to commit himself to balance the budget according to a specific timetable.

He is making cuts to program spending and transfers to the provinces, taking over the UI fund surplus, penalizing families

with unfair individual taxes, and going after the pensions of those who have saved all their lives to enjoy some leisure in old age, instead of making the urgent cleanup required in business taxation, instead of closing tax loopholes and collecting as quickly as possible the $6.6 billion in unpaid taxes.

The government has not solved the public finance problem, even if it would have us believe so. According to the budgetary plan tabled on March 6, Canada's net public debt represents close to 75 per cent of the gross domestic product, while Europeans countries insist on a maximum debt of 60 per cent of the GDP as a condition of joining the European Economic Community.

The Prime Minister keeps saying that the government's objective for next year is to bring the deficit down to 3 per cent of the GDP. Let us not forget that European countries impose that criterion as a condition of joining the community, but it includes all levels of government. From that angle, Canada's deficit will be much closer to 5 per cent than to 3 per cent of the GDP.

Let us now take a closer look at corporate taxation in terms of tax avoidance and federal tax expenditures.

In the July 1995 issue of CA Magazine , the publication for chartered accountants, it was said that: ``Substantially all major Canadian multinationals use firms based abroad as part of their tax strategy''.

Tax havens provide several tax benefits. As early as 1987, the Conservative finance minister had pledged to conduct studies on tax havens. But these studies have yet to be done, even though the auditor general and the revenue department have been most insistent about them.

However, it should be recognized that in the 1994 budget, following repeated demands from the official opposition, the Minister of Finance finally amended the Income Tax Act provisions relating to foreign affiliates. These amendments reflect the recommendations made by the auditor general and by the public accounts committee, which tabled a report on the issue in 1993.

Several experts, including Mr. Corcoran from the firm Arthur Anderson, recognize the effectiveness of these new measures, but they also see their limits, since they will not prevent multinationals from continuing to use foreign affiliates to improve their tax planning.

Other experts also point out that these major changes to the foreign affiliates taxation system were not those announced several years earlier. Major tax evasions are still possible in spite of the changes made in the 1994 budget.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to estimate the amounts the Canadian tax system has lost to tax havens. However, certain indicators can give us a good idea of the extent of the moneys lost. Instead of relying on the revenue department to measure the extent of these tax losses, let us listen to the experts and the representatives of the consulting firms specializing in tax havens who are making their services available to corporations and individuals.

International Privacy Corporation, a firm specializing in tax havens, says it has hundreds of Canadian clients. Moreover, most of the 16,000 corporations incorporated in the Turks and Caicos islands are Canadian owned. Several hundreds of millions of dollars have gone out of Canada, according to that firm.

Mr. LeBreux, another expert on tax havens, estimated that several billion dollars are moved out of Canada every year. Mr. Naylor, a McGill University professor and an expert on the flight of capital at the international level, considers that the total capital flight out of Canada amounts to tens of billions of dollars.

The recovery of these amounts would make the Canadian deficit and debt melt away like the snow. In his book, Hot Money and the Politics of Debt , Mr. Naylor said the situation was alarming. It can be said that the popularity of tax havens is reaching today unheard of proportions and that they have a disastrous impact on Canadian tax revenues.

A few years ago, Harris and Harris, the biggest firm in the tax haven business, represented some 30 to 40 companies abroad. This number has now reached 400 to 500, a 13-fold increase. Numerous reports on this growing phenomenon are published in newspapers and magazines, but the Liberal government just sits on its hands.

Let us have a closer look at the impact these tax havens have on the behaviour of Canadian companies. A number of countries considered as tax havens have very low taxation rates, something like 2 or 3 per cent for foreign countries, whereas the Canadian taxation rate stands at 40 per cent. This spread makes for unfairness in taxation and can cost millions of dollars to the Canadian government. Foreign subsidiaries can also transfer their dividends to the Canadian corporation tax free, even if the corresponding revenues have not been taxed at a rate similar to the Canadian rate.

Companies that want to benefit as much as possible from these two situations can implement the three following strategies: They can transfer to the Canadian parent company the losses of foreign subsidiaries, they can transfer abroad revenues of the Canadian company, and finally they can convert into exempted revenues the revenues of Canadian companies-revenues that would normally be taxed are not, because of transfers to the foreign subsidiary.

What is the government doing to fight tax avoidance, which has become an alarming problem, and the measures used by the corporations to get the most out of it? One could argue that the government has finally become aware of the problem. But the government says that it cannot get rid of tax avoidance made possible through tax havens, because its tax system has two conflicting objectives, which are to be efficient and to remain competitive.

The government maintains that, even though several corporations are using these tools to avoid paying taxes, given the globalization of the economy, Canadian tax rules must remain competitive.

In 1994, the federal government finally reduced the number of countries where tax avoidance is possible, by withdrawing from the designated countries list the countries which had yet to sign a tax treaty with Canada. All this despite the reassuring statements by the deputy minister of Finance, who said, before the public accounts committee that I chaired during two years, that all the countries with which Canada has a tax treaty have high corporate taxes.

There are still 11 countries which have signed tax treaties with Canada and which have lower tax rates than we have. Among the major ones are Barbados, which a maximum tax rate of 2.5 p. 100; Cyprus, Malta and Switzerland, with a maximum tax rate of 10 p. 100; and the Bahamas, with a tax rate of 0 p. 100.

Moreover, there are 11 other countries who offer tax exemptions which help to significantly lower their tax rate. Among the major ones are Barbados, Ireland, Malta and the Netherlands. When you compare their tax rates with the 40 p. 100 tax rates Canadian corporations have to deal with, you can easily understand the many financial benefits these companies get by setting up business in these tax havens.

How can we stop this massive outflow of exempt dividends from foreign affiliates? The government solved part of the problem by reviewing its list of designated countries which are given an exemption to ensure that the listed countries had signed tax treaties with Canada. Nevertheless, the problem remains, because some of the designated countries have much lower tax rates than Canada.

The problem can easily resurface if the designated countries lower their tax rates after the fact, that is, once they have signed tax treaties with Canada, since Canada cannot constantly monitor these countries' taxation system.

The government is using the competitiveness of Canadian businesses as an excuse not to act. This argument does not hold. Our main competitors in this field are our neighbours to the south, the United States, whose reputation is firmly established when it

comes to opening up to businesses. They solved the problem by establishing a system where foreign affiliates are subject to U.S. taxation, with deductions for taxes paid in foreign countries.

Great Britain has a similar system. Thus, the competitiveness argument is no longer valid, since our main competitor and trade partner has rules that are less attractive than ours. This system is already in place in Canada but only with countries that have not yet signed tax treaties with us. The gap is thus closed in part although significant tax revenues still evade the Canadian tax system.

The Bloc Quebecois' position on this is crystal clear: The Canadian government must urgently revise all its tax treaties with countries that are considered tax havens to make sure that foreign affiliates are subject to tax rates similar to the Canadian rates.

When the tax rate in a foreign country is not similar to the one in Canada, this country would be subject to the same rules governing revenues on foreign affiliates' exempt dividends.

I would now like to talk about tax expenditures, a major component of business taxation. According to a very conservative estimate of the Department of Finance, the cost of tax expenditures was $9 billion in 1991 and $10 billion in 1990.

There are 59 tax expenditures associated with the tax on profits of corporations. Seven of them, namely the low small business tax rate-over $2 billion; the low tax rate on manufacturing and processing profits-another $353 million; R and D tax credits-$543 million; the partial inclusion of capital gains-$415 million; the surplus between the capital cost allowance and book depreciation-$886 million; the Part I tax refund on investment income of private corporations-$876 million; and non-capital loss carry-over-nearly $1.3 billion; all these made up, in 1991, 71 per cent of all the tax expenditures associated with taxes on corporate profits, for a total of $6.4 billion.

The concept of tax expenditure includes all deductions, exemptions, tax deferrals, tax credits and other such provisions which reduce taxes payable by a corporation or an individual. Therefore, they are a substitute for direct spending by the government: the latter does not subsidize directly, but it decides not to collect funds from certain taxpayers, which is the equivalent of a subsidy.

The implicit aim of a corporate tax expenditure is to change, with this incentive, the behaviour of certain companies in a desirable manner for the community. Tax expenditures create, however, two main problems: first, they diminish the government's tax base, which puts a heavier burden on all taxpayers who cannot afford them; second, they cause many inequities by allowing certain taxpayers not to pay their fair share of taxes. The concept of the ability to pay is not respected anymore, and this gives rise to a feeling of injustice among the people.

The greater the number of tax expenditures contained in a taxation system, the more complex the system gets, and this requires the consultation of experts whom only the well-to-do can afford. So the government misses out on revenues. We must also weigh the benefits gained against the cost to the tax system, as well as the inequity which can ensue for all taxpayers.

The Bloc Quebecois believes that, in terms of taxation, a threshold has been attained where collective benefits-these are very difficult to evaluate; in fact, they are only assessed by those who benefit from them-are less important than the inequities and the loss of earnings by the government. The various federal tax expenditures are far from attaining the objectives for which they were designed, and, often, their objectives are not consistent with society's best interests.

To improve the effectiveness of our tax system, especially our business tax system, we should consider a minimum tax on corporate profits. This form of taxation already exists in the United States. Its implementation may be complex depending on the tax base used. However, to be effective, this minimum tax must go hand in hand with a tax expenditure base that does not substantially reduce corporate taxable income.

Instead of constantly trying to plug holes in the legislation as it is doing now, Revenue Canada could make the business tax system more flexible. This system is extremely complex and cannot provide for every possible situation. Making it more flexible could mean using section 145 of the Income Tax Act, which is a general anti-avoidance clause. This section gives the minister the discretionary power to take action against anyone who tries by whatever means to avoid taxes. In fact, this section gives the minister the power to enforce the spirit of the law. Right now, such power is seldom used, if ever.

In closing, I would like to say that business taxation is complex. Everybody knows that. However, while continuing to be competitive globally, Canadian businesses have to carry their fair share of the tax burden, even though specific sectors of our economy need preferential treatment. All this is based on equity, and equity depends on the political will of a government to bring together experts and parliamentarians by setting up a parliamentary committee which will determine what kind of business tax system Canada needs.

In this sense, I strongly support the motion brought forward this morning by my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot. However, the Canadian government has not shown this political will so far, and we cannot be overly optimistic with regard to our chronic debt and deficit problem.

Taxation March 18th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the government gives contracts to defeated candidates and provides government committee seats to those who contribute to the election fund. The Liberals have come full circle.

To ensure the transparency of the decision making process, does the minister commit to at least expand the committee to include parliamentarians, so that the taxation review will be public and that

the recommendations and decisions will be made in the public interest?

Taxation March 18th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. On page 94 of the red book, we can read, and I quote: "The integrity of government is put into question when there is a perception that the public agenda is set by lobbyists exercising undue influence away from public view".

What are we to think about the credibility of the taxation committee, six of whose eight members contributed more than $80,000 to the Liberal Party in 1994?

The Budget March 7th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the minister that it is not the case of the CSN fund, in Quebec, which is just starting, and of several workers' funds across Canada.

Will the government admit that, of all tax havens, those used to create jobs should be the last to be revised, as opposed to those used to shelter profits made by major corporations?

The Budget March 7th, 1996

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

In yesterday's budget, the government talked from both sides of its mouth. It has the nerve to talk about stimulating job creation while being extremely harsh on workers' venture capital funds, a favoured job creation tool in Quebec. The Fonds de solidarité de la FTQ alone is responsible for the creation of 40,000 jobs over the last few years, a good number of which in the regions.

How can the government justify attacking a tax haven which benefits mostly the middle class, instead of reducing the number of tax havens available to major corporations and the rich?