Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was billion.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Reform MP for Calgary Centre (Alberta)

Lost his last election, in 2000, with 22% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Budget Implementation Act, 1997 April 10th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I will do that. What bothers me is that the finance minister and the government have missed the problem. They are doing a half job. They could do a good job if they addressed the debt.

We have to get to a balanced budget. There is no commitment to do so. We have to create a surplus so we can service the debt and start repaying the debt in terms of a mortgage over 30 or 40 years. We need a long term plan. We do not have to pay it off all at once but we have to stop adding to it. Even if we add $9 billion to it, that is not breaking the back of the deficit. That is not solving the problem. We are still adding to the problem.

If people on diets who are overweight keep eating, they add to the problem. Even if they cut back on what they are eating but are still eating more calories than they burn off, even if it is less than it was the week before, they will still gain weight. They are adding to the problem. They are getting fatter.

The debt is getting bigger. The government is adding to the problem. It is not solving the problem. That scares me. Every Canadian should be afraid.

In the next election Canadians should be looking at which party is offering sound fiscal management. Which one is saying it will make government smaller, lower the overhead, offer tax relief, and put more money in the pockets of Canadians so that they will have more money to spend? It would mean less for government but it could get on with servicing the debt with a surplus. Those are the kinds of people to vote for, the ones who will stick to what they say they will do.

The Reform Party as a third party had the opportunity to keep only one promise. It walked away from the fat cat MP pension plan, which members opposite did not walk away from. Some 51 Reformers opted out of the pension plan. They will never qualify for a pension plan here. The finance minister and the Prime Minister made sure of that. Reformers did it gladly, to set an example.

I hope Canadians will remember that. Leadership starts at the top. This is the first group of politicians that ever put their money where the mouth is. They want to do what is right for Canada. It shows they are sincere. It shows where their hearts are. It shows where their pocketbooks are. They care about Canadians. They want to make the country better for Canadians. They do not want to throw out money on flags and TV programs and be loved by everybody. They are prepared to pay the price, sacrifice and do what is right for Canadians.

The finance minister made an $800 million commitment to the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which was very worth while. I believe it is a good program. Over the next five years it will provide many dividends for Canada and for Canadians. The finance minister chose to charge off the $800 million to last year's budget.

I accuse the finance minister of going against generally accepted accounting principles. It is a bad precedent. Cabinet ministers should be paying attention. The issue is not whether he is doing a good job. The issue is whether they are allowing a precedent to be set by a finance minister who might not be here the next time around. Another finance minister could abuse that power, based on precedent, and we could be in real trouble.

The Liberals should pay attention. They are the government. They have the responsibility-

Budget Implementation Act, 1997 April 10th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, we are now moving along with the budget bills, and this one is Bill C-93. Since I did not quite finish the comments I wanted to make on Bill C-92 I will continue along, finish my earlier speech and touch on a few things I feel are important for the Canadian public to know about the fourth budget of the Liberal government.

The government spent $1.3 billion in the budget on infrastructure type programs. We all know the last infrastructure program created about 10,000 permanent jobs with a $6 billion expenditure. By that criteria this $1.3 billion will create about 1,300 permanent jobs.

Had the federal and provincial governments agreed to cut taxes by $6 billion, they probably could have created 162,000 jobs by the year 2000. Over the next couple of years it is obvious that spending cuts and balanced budgets would mean a lot more to job creation than infrastructure programs.

As I said earlier, infrastructure money is a battle of budgets: the federal budget, provincial budget and municipal budget. There is only one taxpayer that feeds that three levels of government. If we take from one and give to the other and play games at this level, the taxpayer will still have to pay more taxes at one level or the other. It is just a fight about who will look better.

If the budget is so good, why do Canadians not feel better? Why are they not jumping up and praising the government? Unemployment is still at the same level with 1.4 million to 1.5 million unemployed. Bankruptcies are up. People get a raise and end up paying more in taxes. Why would they not get to keep more money?

No less an expert than the deputy minister, Mr. David Dodge, agrees with me on the following point. It is called the bracket creep. The finance minister will not acknowledge this point.

Mr. Dodge once wrote in The Canadian Tax Journal , Volume 22:

There are two fundamental sources of higher taxes as a consequence of inflation. Bracket creep and the erosion of the value of unindexed amounts in the system such as the basic personal credit and married credits. It is essential that the adjustment process offset both of these.

Apparently his political bosses do not agree.

People get a raise in pay that puts them in a higher tax bracket, but because the personal exemption stays at the 1993 level they are paying higher taxes than they were before. That is bracket creep. Another thing that is wrong with the budget is that it has not kept up with inflation or bracket creep. It has also entrenched the GST forever.

It is another example of why people are losing respect for politicians. In opposition as we are now and in government as the Liberals are now platforms are presented stating what will be done. The Liberals did in their red book. We did it in our fresh start platform. Everyone is beginning to do it. Are we not morally and ethically bound to deliver on the promises we made?

Why is it that we can promise one thing when on this side of the House and do the exact opposite when elected? Why is it that they can promise to renegotiate a treaty and they do not? They should be held accountable for promising to get rid of the GST and then not doing it. I guess the people will have a chance either in June or in the fall to hold the government accountable.

The Liberals were elected by going door to door saying they would get rid of the GST, especially in Toronto. They went door to door saying: "Over my dead body will we get a third runway at this airport". This was the same type of thing the justice minister and the environment minister said. Now they have changed their minds. I read where the Minister of the Environment said that they have found ways to reduce noise and to reduce the pollution. She concludes that she was not very smart then but is smarter now and the third runway is needed in Toronto.

I hope the Canadian public holds politicians accountable. They should be elected to deliver the promises they make. If I believe in something on this side of the House, I should implement that zero in three program on the other side. I should make those cuts that I promised. I should lower government spending. I should be held accountable if I do not. I should not flip flop. Canadians for too many years are letting politicians get away with it. It is time it stopped. This might be a good election in which to do that.

Every one of the key cabinet ministers, the finance minister, the current minister of defence and even the minister of national revenue and the Prime Minister, has said various comments to the effect that they have to get rid of the GST. The finance minister has said that if the GST is harmonized with a provincial sales tax it is entrenched forever. Those were his words. That is what he has done with the budget.

Shame on him. Shame on him for flip flopping. Shame on him for being a political opportunist and just trying to raise money in any way, shape or form he can. Shame on him for trying to impose this horrible HST on the Canadian public. It is poor politics and poor business. That prepayment to the provinces is costing taxpayers a ton of tax dollars.

What would the Reform Party do? If we were ever elected to form the government we would make government smaller. We would not expand to 301 members like the government is doing. We would reduce it. We would have lower taxes thereby creating more and better jobs. We would take 1.2 million of low income people off the payrolls because we would increase personal exemptions, give immediate tax relief to everybody at the low end of the scale who is paying income tax. That is a good way to help people to get more money in their pockets to pay for their daily expenses. We have an overall comprehensive plan to stop overspending, to attack the national debt and to overhaul government with jobs as the bottom line.

We believe that lower taxes is the key to prosperity. We believe that smaller government is the key to prosperity. The only way we can get there is by making government smaller and getting it off our back and out of our pocket.

The government believes it has now turned the corner on the deficit. It believes it now has the opportunity to spend money. It will not face and address the big problem. It brags in its budget about the fact that it has lowered the deficit by $23 billion, $42 billion to $19 billion. Tax revenues are up by $30 billion. It says that is just growth in the economy. None of it is due to the 35 tax increases in terms of tinkering in exemptions and deductions, et cetera. Let us accept those numbers because they are accurate. That is a $55 billion improvement in the source and application of funds.

What does the budget not dwell on? At the same time the government has lowered the deficit and increased tax revenues, what has it not talked about? What does the government not tell the Canadian public that the Reform Party will tell them at every town hall meeting and in front of every Liberal? The Liberals have added $111 billion to the national debt. That takes us over $600 billion.

Who wants to come back here as a member of Parliament three, four or five years from now when the debt is over $700 billion or $750 billion? The separatists who want to break away will have a $200 billion, $300 billion or $400 billion debt. Who will pay the interest? How will we sustain the interest payment?

There is only so much that can be cut. There is room to cut another $10 billion or $12 billion over the next couple of years, but after that there will be nothing left to cut. We need about $94 billion to $95 billion to run the country, along with all the exemptions and deductions that currently exist in the tax system. How are we to service the debt on $700 billion? I want the brains on the other side to figure that out.

They will raise taxes. That is what the Liberal government will do in the next mandate. It will promise to lower taxes. I have already read some speeches made by the finance minister. What will his choice be when the debt hits $700 billion? We are talking about increased taxes. They have no other choice because they will not be able to cut any more.

Your programs will be threatened. The only way you will sustain them is by increased taxes.

Income Tax Budget Amendments Act, 1996 April 10th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. When the hon. member who just spoke quoted Standing Order 73, she was thoroughly accurate.

The purpose of sending bills to committee prior to second reading is to give the committee an opportunity to look into a bill thoroughly and to improve it before it comes back to the House for second reading. In that way, a lot of valuable time of the House is not tied up. There is no question that that is the intent, the scope and the purpose of that standing order.

However, when you look at this bill and the other one we will be debating later today, what has to be pointed out is that the general principle of the measures contained in the budget have been adopted by the budgetary process.

The details of the principles of these measures were adopted when the ways and means motion was passed. Why is the bill being sent to committee prior to second reading when, in principle, in scope, in containment, in its content it is a fait accompli?

Puis parce que nous avons-I do not have very good French-to send it. Not to make light of this, how can we proceed to consider these bills in committee before second reading when the principle of the bill has already been fixed and determined? What is the Standing Committee on Finance going to do? What is it going to amend? What principle is it going to change? What scope is it

going to go back to? Will it spend less somewhere? Will it recommend cuts elsewhere? Will it change the amount of money, the $800 million, that is given to the foundation of innovation for science?

This is a misuse of the standing order, plain and simple. The argument that we are trying to put forward is that neither this bill nor the other bill we will be debating today, Bill C-93, should be sent to committee prior to second reading.

The very same point that the member from the Liberal Party, the former whip like myself, made about the purpose of Standing Order 73 is accurate and true. I support her when she makes that claim.

When the rules of Standing Order 73 are applied, any good lawyer-I see one sitting beside her now-will say that this is just smoke and mirrors and that the purpose of the government is to get it out of the House so that debate is limited. When it comes back the rule states that debate is limited. We do not have the number of hours to debate the bill after it comes back from committee if we send it to committee prior to second reading.

They are using a double whammy on the opposition members. It is another example of limiting the democratic rights and principles of the opposition parties. Our job here is to go through legislation, to go through ways and means motions, to decide whether it is in the best interests of the Canadian public to either support them or, if not to give them our full endorsement, then to make recommendations through amendments either here in the House, in committee or at report stage, then come back and work on them.

There was an agreement at the start of the 35th Parliament. A lot of bills come here at second reading, prior to going to committee and we make a lot of amendments. It ends up being a big waste of time. For certain legislation, for complicated bills, there are advantages in sending them to committee where the job of the committee is then to thoroughly go through the bill. Sometimes the committee has done it but sometimes it has not.

Agricultural bills have been sent to committee prior to second reading and the members in the committee just ram through clause by clause. They limit debate. We know all about the complaints we have had. They have misused their majority in committee. That is one thing.

However on this one, there will not be any debate on scope. There will not be any debate on principle. It has already been adopted. It is the law of the land. It is a done deal.

I submit very humbly that this point of order be considered, Mr. Speaker, and that you rule that this bill not be sent to committee prior to second reading for the very reasons that I have outlined. To summarize, it is unnecessary. It is just a way that the government has figured out to once again stifle and limit freedom of speech and the time that is supposed to be allocated in the giving of opinions on bills.

This legislation will pass. We all know that. We all know how important the budget is to the nation. We all know it is necessary for the budget implementation act to pass, so money can be borrowed and that kind of thing. But what we object to is limiting the time that we can discuss the bills.

I believe this bill should not be sent to committee prior to second reading because the principle and the scope are clearly established. Nothing will be changed. It should just remain in the House for second reading.

Income Tax Budget Amendments Act, 1996 April 10th, 1997

A Liberal said: "That's true". They raised excise taxes on gasoline by 1.5 cents per litre, which amounts to an increase in government revenue of $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion. That is a tax increase, is it not? It is a tax increase. I got that concession as well.

In response to the petition, here is what the Department of Finance, perhaps under the influence of the finance minister, claims: "-that the past two budgets presented to the House of Commons in March 1996 and February 1997 contained no tax increases in any area. In particular, these budgets did not propose any increases in the excise tax on gasoline".

It went on to say: "Since taking office the government's budget savings have been secured principally from expenditure reductions rather than tax increases. Ninety-one per cent of the $28 billion reduction in the 1998-99 deficit is due to expenditure reductions. These budget initiatives will enable the government to keep moving toward budget balance".

Let us see how close that is to the truth. Let us see how close that is to borderline misrepresentation.

These are bureaucrats that work for the Canadian people. Are they not supposed to be honour bound? What they said in the first sentence is true. They did not increase the excise tax on gasoline in this budget or in last year's budget. The increase was contained in the budget previous to that.

That is playing mind games. That is playing word games. We all know that. This kind of stuff makes me sick. It is one of the reasons I am getting out of politics. We do not have enough people who are prepared to tell the truth and hold the course. That is why politicians are held in such low esteem in the country. They do not keep their election promises.

Provincially it is slowly changing. Alberta especially has done an excellent job of holding the line. Ontario appears to be following, although it might be wavering on a few promises because of the pressure of the 98 federal Liberals in Ontario who want the Ontario government to start spending money.

There have been 35 tax increases. The department says there have not been revenue increases, but that there have been expenditure cuts. That is not true. Tax revenues have increased by $30 billion. Yes, a lot of it is due to growth in the economy.

Let us talk about that wonderful growth. It is 2.5 per cent. Boy, that is a booming economy. Darn, that is almost the rate of

inflation. It has been just a bit higher in the last couple of years. Boy, they have done a great job. Two per cent per year for four years. That is wonderful. We should all clap and be happy.

Yes, that has increased tax revenues. However, the 35 tax increases, which represent $30 billion in revenue, amount to about $12 billion in extra tax revenue due to tax increases. It is not all attributable to growth in the economy. If any member opposite says it is all due to growth in the economy they are misrepresenting the issue. He knows that.

Do I have time to wrap up my comments, Mr. Speaker?

Income Tax Budget Amendments Act, 1996 April 10th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise to add my two cents worth to this debate and to talk about the 1997 budget. I will discuss five or six points.

First, the budget projects a deficit of $19 billion. That is an awful lot of money. Yet the government is bragging that this figure means that the back of the deficit has been broken. It spends $19 billion more than it brings in and it claims that it has broken the back of the deficit. It came in with a deficit around $42 billion. It boosted it to $42 billion from $38 billion. It has reduced it to $19 billion

which is a little over half. It has taken the government four years to cut the deficit by $23 billion. In my estimation that is just half a job. It is only half good which means it is also half bad.

It is a shame this finance minister brags to the nation that our finances are in good order. We are spending more than we bring in. He is giving the Canadian public a false sense of security. It is one thing to hold out hope-which is important-but it is another thing to claim victory before you have won the battle.

There is another thing I do not like about this budget and the finance minister. The finance minister plays games. He cooks the books. He does what the previous member just talked about. He borderlines on representation and sometimes comes close to misrepresentation. He reduced the social transfer by $7.5 billion, which I believe is an accurate number. I believe it covers health care, welfare and education. I believe it affects all the provinces. I believe it means they have less money to put into health care, education and welfare, which means they in turn have to do something and the problem has been transferred to them. It is called downloading, I believe. I believe all those statements are accurate and true and not a misrepresentation.

To justify this painful decision, which I also agree had to be done, the government said it would cut $9.5 billion or $9.8 billion from departmental program spending. That is the amount of money that is spent, excluding these transfer payments to provinces. After four years only $4.6 billion has been cut. There are $5.2 billion missing.

The President of the Treasury Board tried to explain it to our finance critic and our deputy critics. He almost had them hoodwinked. Talk about misrepresentation. Talk about cooking the books. Talk about keeping on the straight and narrow and being honest with the people and telling them the way it really is.

I am not going to distort this, I am going to be very accurate. What really happened in this case is that the government, in order to come up with an explanation on why it is $5.2 billion short of its projected $9.8 billion promise after four years said, "wait a second, there is another year". Plus the government has changed the definition of departmental spending between what it was in 1995 and today. That is accurate because it came right from the Treasury Board officials when we met with them.

That is how the government can claim that it kept to 18.8 per cent and how $4.6 billion now represents 18.8 per cent in program spending reductions versus the $9.6 billion, the definition in 1995. This is how the government plays games, and I am tired of it. I hope that the Canadian public is tired of it as well.

The finance minister has gone against generally accepted accounting principles. The auditor general slapped his wrist for it in the last budget.

The public accounts committee will be meeting in two weeks. I have asked for finance minister's presence but he cannot make it because he is busy. However, the deputy minister will be there. I want to know how they can get away writing off $961 million on the harmonization of the sales tax in the budget two years ago when the money just went out last October.

There are $800 million for the foundation for innovation that will be spent over the next five years which is written off in this budget. That is not right. There had better be a darned good agreement with that foundation. There had better be a darned good signed agreement with all the provinces on where the money is going and who is going to get the money for innovation. If not, the books are being cooked. Public sector companies get fined by Revenue Canada for doing things like this.

Money cannot be written and charged off to a year's expenses unless that money has been spent or there is an agreement in writing in which the money is committed to be spent in a short term, meaning one year, not five. We will see. The meeting is coming up in two weeks.

I have already heard government members say twice now that the government has not raised personal taxes. I agree. It is a true statement. Then the finance minister and even the Prime Minister in question period say, "We have not raised taxes," which is a much different statement. Is that not misrepresentation? Is that not borderline with what the member just talked about and that he wishes members would not do? I wish he would talk to his finance minister and to his Prime Minister and tell them not to do it because they are giving Canadians a false sense of reality.

Finally, after being pushed by our finance critics they agreed: "Yes, if you mean that we have eliminated loopholes for wealthy companies, yes, we have increased taxes. If you mean that we have done insurance things, yes, we have increased taxes". We finally got it out of them. Then a day later they said: "We have not raised taxes".

There are two ways to raise taxes. If it is the personal tax rate, they have not done it. I agree. But they have raised taxes through the elimination and reduction of the sizes of exemptions and what can be deducted. Therefore, they have raised taxes 35 times.

Let me give another example of the games they play. My colleague from British Columbia submitted a petition prior to the 1995 budget about not raising taxes on gasoline. We are afraid of it, and were saying, do not do it. They claim they have not raised excise taxes. We know they have. We know that two years ago they

raised the excise tax on gasoline by 1.5 cents. Is that true or not true?

Criminal Code April 8th, 1997

We supported that clause. The whole bill was not entirely good enough, so the party may have voted against it, but that particular issue we supported.

Then on Bill C-45 the government introduced more Criminal Code amendments and then in that bill it removed the automatic right of a victim impact statement by deferring it to the year 2012. What kind of justice minister passes into law a victim impact statement automatic and then brings in another piece of legislation that defers it, eliminates it, until the year 2012? Does he really care about the victims? Does he really understand about the victims and the impact that crime, deaths and all these things have on them?

This is an admission of failure because the government passed two laws that contradicted each other on this particular issue. Now it wants to bring in an amendment to rectify the situation.

Somebody caught it. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice in committee caught it. I said perhaps. It has now been clarified. The Reform Party members in the justice committee caught it. They pointed this out and the intelligent Liberals in that committee listened.

Today in question period the justice minister took credit for ordering the committee to do this. We know otherwise.

Now there is an amendment before us that rectifies this and reintroduces the automatic victim impact statements. We believe it is for political reasons. We believe it is because an election is around the corner. If it is not in the next month or so, it will be in the fall. The Liberals will be able to claim they have looked after the interests of victims. So be it. The people will make that decision themselves, but we are glad that it is in here. We are glad that this is now law. I do not care whether it is for election

purposes or not, I am glad it is in here. For that purpose we are supporting the amendments.

Why did the government not bring back Bill C-55? We have a fear in our society by people who are worried that there are dangerous criminals out there, high risk offenders, repeat offenders and how we are going to handle them. That is another issue that came up today in question period when we asked the justice minister what he was going to do for those 200 families that sent letters to the member for Red Deer about this pedophile being let out. This is the ninth time this individual has been let out and repeating the same crime. He goes in, comes back, does the crime, goes back and the answer was "we are going to send him a copy of Bill C-55". Who understands that as a solution?

The real solution is to bring that bill back and let us debate it. I talked to our critic for the solicitor general, the member for Calgary Northeast, and he informed me that the real problem with the bill is that the government, specifically the justice minister, is worried about dangerous offenders, and he is hanging his hat on the word dangerous, and pedophiles are not considered dangerous. They are considered habitual. I am just a businessman and I do not care whether he habitually does dangerous things or does dangerous things once in a while; either one is equally bad, either one should be punished under the law and they should be punished the same. We have to do something about pedophiles in our society because they are becoming dangerous.

If we do not do something about it we are going to put more fear into the lives of average Canadians, our neighbours, people who live beside us with kids.

The solution we recommend is bring back that bill and amend it. It talks about victims and victim rights and what to do about high risk offenders, repeat offenders, dangerous offenders, habitual offenders and we can take care of it. Let us build a prison for them and keep them there for life, those who are certifiably incurable.

If they can be cured and have served their time and are released, that is the law. But if they do it a second time, that is it, they are gone. But nine times is ridiculous. Every expert from psychiatrists to police officers has said he is going to do it again. Is it going to your daughter or my daughter? Whose son will it be? Yours or mine? Do we have to wait? Why can something not be done? Why not build a home for these people and put them away for life? But no, we are not debating that. We have to go on to the other failures of this government.

The justice minister has acted irresponsibly on innuendo. Perhaps the Pearson airport deal was something that came from the Prime Minister, I do not know. But he acted on it and he denied the rights of ordinary citizens to go to court to file a statement of claim for damages, taking away the rights of individuals. Two days ago in question period the defence minister said "we respect the rights of the courts and citizens before the courts". Yes, that was really doing it in the Pearson airport deal.

That fiasco has cost us over $200 million already and we are not finished with it yet and we do not know what is going to happen with it. However, we have a justice minister who claims the contract is going to be cancelled because the developers are going to make too much profit.

Then in discoveries we found out that the government's defence will be that it is denying them the right to go to court because it was going to lose money. That is contradictory.

Then there is Airbus. Allegedly through newspaper reports and from a little tweety bird whispering in his ear he heard that perhaps former Prime Minister Mulroney did something he should not have done. He then conducted an investigation and claims he did not. Somehow it happened and now there has been an out of court settlement. We all know the story. I will not bore the House with the details. That cost us some money.

The government through this amendment is admitting that it has failed to serve the justice needs of the country.

The Criminal Code is confusing. It is almost as bad as the Income Tax Act. When we try to clarify things and make our streets safer, make our citizens feel more comfortable that the law is being applied, what do we get, even with this amendment? We leave it to a judge to decide whether he or she is satisfied that the accused who is serving a sentence in the community would not endanger the safety of its citizens.

The problem with our laws is that they are too discretionary. There is too wide a range for judges to decide. It is too hard for them to pinpoint and they always err on the side of caution. That is why sentences are weaker than they should be. That is why the punishment does not fit the crime in a lot of cases. We should narrow the range.

The Young Offenders Act is a disaster. It is not punishing young offenders the right way. Young kids are still getting away with committing serious crimes.

I submit that these amendments are an admission of failure by the government. We are glad it is finally being admitted. We are glad that government members listened to Reform members in the justice committee and that they are doing the right thing and restoring the automatic right of victims to produce an impact statement should they desire to do so. Nevertheless, they should not be harassed by judges. They should be allowed to give statements freely in a way which would communicate their feelings.

Justice is served only if we do it right. If we just trade words back and forth here in the House of Commons saying that we took action and got legislation it will not be right. We in the opposition are saying that the government does not have it right. It had the

opportunity to do it right, but it is not doing it right. It will not listen. I believe it should. Maybe this is an example where it will.

Criminal Code April 8th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I rise today as well to give my thoughts on the two amendments that we are debating and most specifically this latter one before the House.

What I find, after listening to the debate today and the comments made by my colleagues from the Reform Party, is that when one really listens to what is being said and what is being done here, the Liberals are trying to play catch up. The Liberals made a lot of mistakes in this legislation. These two amendments are two examples of admissions of failure, the failure of the justice minister to get it right the first time.

For those who may not understand what I am talking about, let me give a brief history here. Somewhere along this session of the 35th Parliament we brought in Bill C-17 which is basically an omnibus bill, technicalities to improve things for legislatures, police officers and so on, and then we went on to Bill C-41. Bill C-41 had a provision that gave an automatic right for victims to issue an impact statement or a victim statement at a trial, should they so choose. That was an automatic right. We supported that. Then the government brought in Bill C-45-

Committees Of The House March 19th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you would be so kind as to let me know when I have one minute left in my speech. With all these interruptions I am losing track of the points I want to make, and I want to make sure I finish with a bang.

I am concerned about this third report. After the government finally accepted the auditor general's criticism, looked into the matter and had the Standing Committee on Finance and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts review it, it became clear that something had to be done and the government acted.

Personally I feel the government has gone too far. It put in some strict rules that ultimately led to something everyone will see on their income tax form this year. They will see a foreign asset declaration section. Never in the history of the country has an income tax form been used to find out where everybody's assets are offshore. Because of this overreaction the government has put it in the income tax forms. It was done prematurely, with arrogance and with anticipation that the bill would pass and it has not passed. It is not even law.

Now we have confusion across this land. This will simply ensure the Canadian taxpayer will become more frustrated and angrier than ever with our taxation policies. Instead of simplifying our tax policies the government continues to complicate them in such a way that I think more money will go into the underground economy and more money will go offshore because of high levels of taxation.

More people will start investing in tax free jurisdictions through tax exempt companies. They will put their after tax dollars into those tax exempt companies. There are people from tax haven countries who tour across the country and advise people on how to do it. It is legal. Because of our high levels of taxation that is what will happen.

They set up a lot of people, a lot of Canadian companies. Large corporations have set up their head offices offshore so they will not have to report their income to the Canadian government. If Canadians are able to make investments in tax exempt companies legally with after tax dollars as the money grows and accumulates in whatever it has been invested in offshore; if they do not take a dividend; and if they do not take a salary, they can still live in Canada and enjoy our wonderful health care and education systems, which are shrinking thanks to the Liberal government.

Then what happens? The offshore money grows tax free. They can reinvest the offshore money tax free. Does that not sound like a good idea? More Canadians will look at that. They will find that it appeals to them, that they like it, that they enjoy it. They will do it. That is where they will invest their money. That is what will happen.

Fewer and fewer Canadians every day have disposable income, including the Liberal Party whip who I know has some problems meeting his financial obligations in his household these days because he is taking home today much less money. I am making the same salary except for the whip money. He is taking home $3,000 less today than he was four years ago thanks to his own government. I hope he finds he can make ends meet with $3,000 less. In his tax bracket that is what the government and the finance minister have cost him.

Why are Canadians investing offshore? I made a list of why I think more people will invest less in companies in Canada and will go elsewhere because of the growing global economy. Here is what most Canadians feel about our country's taxation system. The current system is not fair. People perceive it to favour the rich and politicians at the expense of hard working taxpayers.

People question the value for money they are getting from politicians who do not know how to invest their money and do not have the business acumen to invest in businesses. Why are government officials investing in businesses and competing with the private sector? We could look at the bungling of the Pearson airport and the huge grant to Bombardier of over $1 billion over the years. This past year the company made a $400 million profit.

The Saskatchewan Conservative Party is being raked over the coals and being sent to jail for misuse of funds and raising money the wrong way. These are the things that scare people.

Let us look at the changes to the RRSPs for retired people. Now they have changed it from 69 to 71. Reducing taxes is difficult. Because of our confusing, complicated and convoluted Income Tax Act there is a fine line between tax avoidance which is legal, taking advantage of the loopholes, the exemptions and everything that is there, versus tax evasion. I have no respect for those who are guilty of tax evasion. Our bureaucracy in Revenue Canada is huge and costs a lot of money.

Yesterday in the public accounts committee we were reviewing the issue of large corporations. Of the large corporations there are 6,000 plus 200 super huge conglomerates that they audit 100 per cent every year. I asked whether any of them ever got through without having to be reassessed. The answer was not one.

That does not mean these people are trying to evade taxes. It means they are trying to avoid taxes wherever they can legally but there is always a difference of opinion. Five or six people disagree.

There is a reluctance to address debt. I could go on and on, but before my time is up and since I am having a hard time getting everyone's attention I move:

That the House do now adjourn.

Committees Of The House March 19th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, this concurrence motion on the third report of the public accounts committee deals with a very important issue. The issue is the fact that tax havens are a big concern to the government. I got that straight from the mouth of the Minister of National Revenue. I know she is concerned about this, as we should all be. It is a very important issue.

Apparently the government feels that it has closed this loophole, that the matter has been handled very fairly, and that in no way, shape or form will rich people be able to transfer assets within trusts, or assets outside trusts, outside the country without paying a fair percentage of taxes that one would consider to be right and fair.

My big concern is with the way the matter was handled. Right from the start the government was upset with the auditor general, our watchdog on government. Lord knows we need a watchdog on government. When we have cabinet ministers loose with a bunch of money, billions of dollars without having someone audit them, we can imagine what they could potentially do with it.

It should be the same as what we do with private citizens and corporations. We audit large corporations and small corporations. We audit individual taxpayers to ensure, as the Minister of Natural Resources likes to say, that we have integrity in our tax system and the volunteer system continues forward.

I do not think the government was very smart in attacking the auditor general. After all, there was confusion with respect to this family trust. It was a very wealthy trust. If the government is worried that they have done something wrong then it should have complained. If it was not worried it should not have complained. It looked bad for the government.

Committees Of The House March 19th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think you will find, on my point of order, that we had more than five members rising. We want a standing vote.