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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Independent MP for Richmond—Arthabaska (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Budget Implementation Act, 2005 April 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her renewed demonstration that this budget is completely unacceptable for Quebeckers. She has shown once more that the Bloc Québécois is the party that really stands for the interests of Quebec.

One point that got my attention in her remarks concerns correctional officers. She said that the minister proposed to increase to 2.33% the maximum pension accrual rate in registered pension plans. The hon. member explained that very clearly. This is the 2% rate in defined benefit RPPs for public security occupations. This is good news.

Could the hon. member tell us why this proposal is in the budget and the government did not implement it? We cannot figure out what is going on, and correctional officers cannot either. We would like to understand what is going on. Would my colleague care to comment?

The Environment April 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister said in committee that he plans to sign bilateral agreements with each province. Does the minister intend to change his approach and can he commit to signing an agreement with Quebec, giving it full authority to implement the plan on its own territory?

The Environment April 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, to justify Quebec's treatment in the Kyoto implementation plan, the Minister of the Environment said that there was no target for hydro electricity because it does not produce greenhouse gases. What a thing for a minister from Quebec to say.

Is the Minister of the Environment's reductio ad absurdum reasoning not proof that with his plan, Quebec is a victim of its own success since its past efforts to reduce greenhouse gases are being completely ignored?

Quebec Solo and Small Ensemble Competition April 13th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's fifth annual solo and small ensemble competition will be held in Victoriaville, in my riding, from April 15 to 17. The theme this year is “Hats off to Musicians”.

More than 1,700 musicians between the ages of 7 and 42 will take part in this major event being held under the honorary presidency of Jean-François Harrisson, a popular actor with young viewers.

This competition is being organized by the Fédération des harmonies et des orchestres symphoniques du Québec, which has over 13,000 members.

More than 800 performances will be held in about 10 different venues during this prestigious competition. Over $30,000 in scholarships will be shared by the best musicians and musical ensembles.

The public will be able to attend a number of performances and concerts being held at various locations.

This is a unique opportunity for the public to enjoy our local talents.

Yvon Paré April 6th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the community of Warwick and the Bois-Francs region was immensely saddened to learn of the passing of Yvon Paré, a man who was very involved in his community.

During nearly 30 years, he worked for the sports service at the CEGEP in Victoriaville. This former football player with a heart of gold was an icon on the local sports scene.

He was committed to the development of young people and wanted as many student athletes as possible to be able to pursue their sports dreams.

Mr. Paré was also active in the union of non teaching professionals at the Victoriaville CEGEP.

Retired for a mere 18 months, he had continued his community involvement with many groups, including the Vulkins and Vicas football teams, the Warwick golf club, the recreation issue table of the Arthabaska RCM and the sports and recreation regional unit for the Centre-du-Québec region, to name but a few.

The Bloc Québécois extends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Yvon Paré. Goodbye and thank you, Yvon.

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2004 March 11th, 2005

Yes, just by chance, as my colleague from Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine says.

Since then, a foreign-incorporated holding company owning businesses engaged in international shipping is considered to be involved in shipping itself. It is therefore exempt from Canadian taxes, even if its profits are brought into the country. The provision is retroactive, again just by chance, to 1995, the year in which CSL International moved to Barbados.

The bill affects only a limited number of taxpayers. In fact, the Canadian Shipowners Association has only 11 members including eight active in international shipping, among them CSL International.

In 2000, a group of 13 countries, including Canada, proposed loosening the OECD regulations on tax havens. Since then, the correct term is no longer “tax havens” but “uncooperative tax havens”. This measure reduced to 11 from 35 the number of countries on the list of countries with which the OECD recommends not concluding tax treaties. In 2001, the same group of 13 countries, still including Canada, proposed even more flexibility in the OECD rules. As of that date, a country only needed to agree to share tax information in order to be considered cooperative. In 2002, the black list shrank from 11 to 7, and to 6 in 2003. Barbados is no longer on the OECD black list. It remains, just as my colleague from Joliette has said, a tax haven nonetheless.

In 2002, the government introduced Bill S-2, the Tax Conventions Implementation Act. Far from denouncing the 1980 tax convention between Canada and Barbados, Bill S-2 simply renewed it by amending its schedules.

To illustrate how to avoid paying taxes in Canada, let us take a random example. I will take Canada Steamship Lines, as a random example.

Its subsidiary in Barbados, Canada Steamship Lines International, may be nothing more than an empty shell, as I said earlier, that can declare exorbitant profits. The tax rate in Barbados is ridiculously low, between 1% and 2.5%. On average the tax rate is somewhere around 1.12%. Once these few taxes are paid, the parent company, a Canadian company, can bring these profits back to Canada and be completely exempt from paying taxes in Canada since the tax conventions prohibit double taxation.

As my colleague from Joliette said so well a few moments ago, this is a matter of roughly $103 million that could have gone to public services such as health and education, among other things, for the people of Quebec and Canada. It is just another scandal.

I will conclude by saying that it would be very easy for the government to shut down the Barbados loophole. It would simply have to abolish, by order, section 5907(11.2)( c ) of the Income Tax Regulations. Income brought back to Canada by Canadian companies with subsidiaries in Barbados would be taxable in Canada, at the applicable rate in Canada, less the amount of tax paid in Barbados.

This simple measure would generate at least $350 million in additional income for the federal government. It is a constructive solution. It is up to the government to act.

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2004 March 11th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Joliette on his excellent presentation. I have had the honour of working with him in recent years, in his capacity as the Bloc Québécois critic on finance. I can say that he has probably become—in spite of himself—an expert on tax havens. Still, unlike some other members of this House, he has never used them for tax evasion purposes.

As my colleague states, we are in complete agreement with Bill S-17, an act to implement an agreement, conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Gabon, Ireland, Armenia, Oman and Azerbaijan for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion.

In fact, we are in favour of tax conventions with countries which have taxation systems similar to Canada's and Quebec's. That is the case with the conventions covered by Bill S-17.

But the same income must not be taxed twice, once when it is earned and a second time in the taxpayer's country of residence. That is only natural. Many tax conventions signed by Canada respect this principle.

The problems arise when Canada signs a tax convention with a tax haven. At that time, the tax convention makes it possible to avoid taxation entirely, and that is tax evasion. Believe it or not, Canada has signed such an agreement with Barbados, a recognized tax haven. As my colleague said, it has only 272,000 inhabitants but has become the third most popular destination for Canadian capital, behind the United States and Great Britain. This is no surprise when one sees the tax rates applied in Barbados.

In 1994, financial transfers from Canada to Barbados totalled $5 billion, a hefty sum. Less than 10 years later, in 2002, this amount stood at nearly $24 billion. That is nothing short of a 369% increase. The previous Auditor General, always ready to sniff out something fishy, and his successor both quite rightly denounced the danger tax havens pose to the Canadian tax base. Let us can take a closer look at this.

In 1992, the Auditor General brought the problem of tax havens to public attention for the first time.

A few years later, in 1996, the Auditor General raised the alarm again, stating this time that the results of Revenue Canada's program to combat it indicate that avoidance continues to pose a serious threat to the tax base.

The current Prime Minister, who was the finance minister back in 1996, responded to the report by saying, “the government is proposing to implement those recommendations swiftly and fully”. That was 1996, almost 10 years ago. The Liberal government has not acted on anything in that Auditor General's report.

In 1998, the Auditor General expressed concern for the third time about the growing use of tax havens and increasing number of bilateral income tax conventions. His report reads, and I quote:

—failure to take urgent action on these matters will severely limit Revenue Canada's ability to manage the risks to Canada's tax base that international transactions represent.

In 2001, the Auditor General raised for the fourth time the issue of tax havens. In his report of February 2001, he wrote, and I quote:

One of the biggest threats to the tax base lies in the international activities of Canadian taxpayers, particularly the use of tax havens.

Finally, the issue of tax havens was raised, for the fifth time, by the current Auditor General, who wrote in her December 2002 report:

Although Canada amended its rules in 1995, little has changed. Tax havens continue to attract Canadian money. For example, Statistics Canada reports that Canadian direct investment in Barbados has increased from $628 million in 1988 to $23.3 billion in 2001—over a 3,600 percent increase... Information provided to us by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency shows that in 2000, Canadian corporations received $1.5 billion in dividends from corporations in Barbados.

Another very instructive chronology demonstrates Canada's lack of action and this government's lack of ethics. Let us go back 1992 this time.

My colleague referred to Canada Steamship Lines, which then created CSL International. This is an empty shell that was incorporated in Liberia to take charge, on paper, of all CSL's international operations. CSL International does very little shipping. It is a holding company that owns businesses that do engage in shipping. At the time, it was possible to bring into Canada, tax-free, the profits generated by the Liberian subsidiary of a Canadian company.

In 1994, the current Prime Minister and then finance minister tabled his first budget. The date was February 22, 1994. At the time, he said he wanted to put an end to the use of tax havens, because some Canadian corporations were not paying enough taxes. Therefore, at the time, he wanted to take measures to prevent Canadian based corporations from using foreign affiliates to avoid paying taxes in Canada.

However, the budget implementation bill and the regulations that came into effect in 1995 left one loophole available: Barbados. So, in January 1995, CSL International moved to Barbados. On February 1, 2003, Pierre Préfontaine, the first vice-president of CSL International, confirmed to the CBC that the move had been motivated by the changes made to Canada's taxation rules.

In 1996, far from seeking means to stem the exodus of capital to Barbados by denouncing the convention with that tax haven, Canada encouraged the situation by signing a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement with Barbados on May 29, 1996. In 1996, while he was finance minister, the present Prime Minister introduced Bill C-69, the budget implementation bill proposing more flexible tax treatment for, oddly enough, international shipping companies. That bill died on the order paper when the election was called.

In 1998, the then finance minister and now PM, not having given up, introduced budget implementation Bill C-28, one of the clauses of which addressed shipping.

Aboriginal Affairs March 8th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, a promise made is not always a promise kept.

Knowing that aboriginal women are victims of violence more often than other women in our society, what is the government waiting for to keep its promise at last and hand over the money?

Aboriginal Affairs March 8th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Native Women's Association of Canada and the Quebec Native Women's Association are calling for the establishment of a $5 million education and research fund in order to document the number and circumstances surrounding the disappearance and violent deaths of native women.

Is the minister going to respond to the request by the Sisters in Spirit campaign and spend $5 million to fight violence against aboriginal women?

Steve Dumas February 25th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to extend my warmest congratulations to writer-composer-performer Dumas, originally from Victoriaville, in my riding, on winning the Jutra award for best movie soundtrack.

With his partner Carl Bastien, Dumas—whose full name is Steve Dumas—signed the score of the Quebec movie Les aimants , which I encourage you to see, Mr. Speaker, because it is an excellent movie.

A gas station attendant in another life, this local artist has come a long way since 1999, when he took home top honours in the writer-composer-performer category at the renowned Granby International Song Festival.

The following year, he won the people's choice award at the Festival en chanson song festival in Petite-Vallée. After putting out a very well crafted self-titled CD in 2001 and performing several shows, he signed on for a second CD Le cours des jours , released in 2003, which I encourage you to listen to, Mr. Speaker, because it is excellent.

With his creativity, Dumas is among the new wave of francophone writer-composer-performers who make Quebec proud and are an inspiration for the next generation of artists in Quebec.