Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague, the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, for his speech on the NDP motion on tax evasion that is before us today.
Like all Canadians, we are concerned about the individuals and companies that try to dodge their obligations to our country and pay as little as possible in taxes. Everyone is affected by this. Like my colleague just told the House, clearly, all 338 members condemn this practice and are outraged that some individuals take steps to avoid paying taxes or to pay as little as possible.
That is why, from 2006 to 2015, the Conservative Harper government took concrete action to deal with the problem. I am talking about initiatives such as the requirement for financial institutions to report funds transfers of $10,000 or more to the Canada Revenue Agency, and the extension of the reassessment period so that the CRA has more time to reassess when certain provisions were not respected, for example, the mandatory reporting of foreign assets. We also implemented the stop international tax evasion program, which encourages Canadians to report fraudsters and even offers incentives when the information provided leads to the recovery of unpaid tax dollars in Canada.
Those are all measures that we brought in, not to mention the legislation to close 85 tax loopholes between 2006 and 2015. This allowed the previous government to recover billions of dollars, and therefore, it also allowed the minster to stand up in the House today to proudly say that she recovered $13 billion last year. The Liberals were elected a year ago, so it is not thanks to any policies they have put in place that the minister can say such a thing; it is thanks to policies that we put in place to combat tax evasion. It also allowed the previous government to recover billions of dollars and to balance the budget without increasing the tax burden on ordinary Canadians. We cannot say the same thing about the current government, which is taxing us more and more.
The Canada Revenue Agency, which receives notices regarding transfers of large sums of money from other countries, can verify whether a taxpayer has properly declared all income earned abroad, and if he has not, the agency can knock on his door and ask him to explain where the money came from.
By encouraging people to report fraudsters, the CRA can now target its investigations thanks to information that would otherwise not have been found. People boast about earning money under the table or hiding money in tax havens all the time. Such individuals say their illegal acts are okay because they already pay enough tax. Well, as they say, loose lips sink ships, and it is now easier for ordinary citizens to report fraudsters thanks to the former Conservative government.
I encourage Canadians who have relevant information to call the investigators using the tip line we set up a few years ago at 1-855-345-9042. Ordinary Canadians who witness things they want to report because they feel they are being robbed when others do not pay their taxes can call that number.
Tax evasion costs us all dearly, and we can all do our part to discourage and report it. That said, we have to understand that it is human nature to want to hold on to what we have and try to pay as little tax as possible. Like all Canadians, we always look for the best price on the things we buy. Our initiatives over the past 10 years have borne fruit, but they are just part of the solution.
We need to combat not only tax evasion, but also its root cause. Why do people want to pay less taxes? It is because they pay too much or feel as thought they are paying too much. The goal should be to make it useless and redundant to seek out ways to avoid paying taxes. Just look at the new carbon tax, which has just been introduced by the Liberal government. This tax will be applied to all products, because it basically applies to energy and shipping. It will therefore inevitably have an impact on the products and services ordinary Canadians buy every day.
I am talking about the issue of economic competitiveness, which was one of the previous Conservative government's focal points and the key to Canada's success before the Liberals came along.
Under our leadership, the corporate tax rate dropped to 15%, one of the lowest in the G7, making Canada one of the best countries in the world in which to do business in the G20, according to Forbes magazine.
Under those conditions, companies were discouraged from going elsewhere to pay less taxes. At the same time, this also encouraged foreign companies to come and set up shop here.
One of the last, but certainly not the least, examples is Burger King Corporation, which announced in 2014 that it was merging with Tim Hortons and moving its head office to Canada. It would therefore pay taxes here. Why did it decide to put the head office of this new merged firm here in Canada? Because we have competitive tax rates.
This money serves to provide benefits and social programs to all Canadians, as my colleague put it so well earlier. This means more revenue for the state in order to meet the needs of the people, as well as more job opportunities for all Canadians.
I find it a bit ironic to see the NDP, through the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, move a motion to denounce tax evasion when its policies would do the opposite. The NDP has always said that it would increase taxes in order to be able to provide more services to all Canadians. That would inevitably make businesses flee.
While our government constantly tried to make businesses more competitive, the NDP kept voting against these tax cuts over the past 10 years. In its electoral platform, the NDP even wanted to increase the corporate tax rate from 15% to 17%, and more one day.
Does the hon. member not believe that businesses would want to leave if the NDP formed the government? I have little doubt about it, myself.
The Conservative Party absolutely agrees that we must ensure that Canadians pay their fair share of taxes and that the law is upheld. Everyone agrees with that.
What does the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie hope to accomplish with a motion that is purely symbolic? A motion is a good thing. It allows us to have a discussion and share our points of view with the House. However, the reality is that a motion does not change much in the House of Commons. If there are tax loopholes that need to be closed, will the hon. member introduce a private member's bill that identifies precisely which section of the Income Tax Act needs to be amended, repealed, or added? Is he going to propose amendments to the Criminal Code in order to eliminate the practice of penalty-free amnesty?
These are all things that the member could do by introducing a bill in the House. I understand that the member has good intentions, but he is not a journalist at TVA whose job is to criticize without providing solutions.
With all due respect, that is the basic difference between two parties that have the opportunity to form a government and lead a country, and a third party that is relegated to being the opposition that criticizes instead of providing real solutions by introducing new legislation.
If a bill with concrete measures were introduced, as good legislators we would definitely take the time to carefully read it and to evaluate its merits.
I find it difficult to support a symbolic and nebulous motion, which makes reference to loopholes and tax deductions and exemptions without identifying them, and which seems to confuse tax avoidance and tax evasion, which are two completely different things.