House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for South Shore—St. Margaret's (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

International Trade December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member already knows that the Canada-European Union trade agreement is by far the most ambitious trade agreement ever. CETA will bring benefits to every region of our country by opening new markets for Canadian businesses and creating new jobs for Canadian workers.

Like Canada, the EU is committed to bringing CETA into force as quickly as possible so workers and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic, including Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, can benefit from increased trade, opportunities and job creation.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, you would know and the hon. member would know that her question first is wrong, second is disingenuous, and third misrepresents the facts.

Let me explain how this works. According to the requirements that are now in place, the provinces and territories have no choice but to provide social assistance to failed refugee claimants whether they want to or not. If they chose not to supply the social assistance payments, they would have that money clawed back from their social transfers.

What would happen here is that for the first time, the provinces would be responsible for and capable of supplying social assistance if they cared to. If they were to decide that a failed refugee claimant should leave the country, they could actually hold back that social assistance payment.

The point to make here is that no legitimate refugees or claimants would lose their assistance. Only failed refugee claimants who have already gone through the system and have then been denied refugee status would not be provided with social assistance. That would only be the case if the province or territory decided to deny it. Ultimately, the provinces and territories would be responsible for making that decision, and in this case they would not have any of their social transfer clawed back because of it.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the member knows, and we all know, that the former of minister of finance said nothing of the kind. What he actually said is that he wanted income splitting, if we were to bring it in, to benefit more families.

With the changes to the income splitting regime that we will be introducing, there would be more Canadian families who benefit from that, and they would be middle-income and low-income Canadian families, precisely the people we are attempting to target.

I can tell members for a fact that, in my personal belief, our former minister of finance, who was a great minister of finance—arguably one of the best ministers of finance this country ever had—would have supported this legislation.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand and express my strong support for Bill C-43, the economic action plan 2014 act, no.2.

The success of Canada's economy is the result of the hard work and innovation of millions of individual Canadians and Canadian businesses. Our government wants to build on this success by creating the conditions that will continue to allow them to prosper.

Canada's economic action plan creates jobs and economic growth. It supports families and communities. It improves the fairness and integrity of the tax system. In short, it keeps Canada strong.

Canadian businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, are the engine of economic prosperity. They create jobs and growth in communities across the country.

Our government is committed to supporting Canadian businesses. That is why economic action plan 2014 includes our proposal for a new small business job credit.

The new tax credit would save small businesses more than half a billion dollars in the next two years. The small business job credit would lower the employment insurance premiums that small businesses are required to pay. The current legislated rate is $1.88 per $100 of insurable earnings. In 2015 and 2016, it would go down to $1.60 per $100 of insurable earnings. If a business pays $15,000 or less in employer EI premiums, it would be eligible for the new credit in 2015 and 2016.

These are more than just numbers to the millions of small business owners in this country. The effect of this change would be huge. It would effectively reduce EI payroll taxes by nearly 15% for eligible businesses, and almost 90% of all EI premium-paying businesses in Canada would be eligible.

Mindful of our commitment to red tape reduction, we have ensured that no new paper burden would be imposed on business owners in relation to the new credit. The Canada Revenue Agency would determine eligibility based on information in the business' tax return and automatically calculate the credit amount. There would be no additional application form to fill out to benefit from this new tax relief.

Furthermore, both employers and employees would soon see a substantial reduction in their EI premiums. A new rate-setting mechanism, which would come into effect in 2017, would make sure that EI premiums are high enough to pay for the EI program over time, but no higher than required.

The proposed small business job credit builds on the many other actions our government has taken to foster an environment for small businesses to grow and prosper.

We have delivered tax reductions totalling more than $60 billion to job-creating businesses from 2008-09 through 2013-14.

In 2012, we reduced the federal general corporate income tax rate to 15%, down from 22% in 2007.

We have also worked hard to reduce red tape and make it easier for business owners to meet their tax obligations. For example, we have introduced many enhancements to the Canada Revenue Agency's online services. Businesses can now complete 50 different kinds of transactions online with the CRA, including managing their banking information and signing up for pre-authorized debit services through My Business Account.

To help business owners remember what is due and when, the CRA has recently launched its first-ever mobile app. The Business Tax Reminders app enables users to create custom reminders and alerts for key CRA due dates related to instalment payments, returns, and remittances.

Earlier this year, the CRA launched the liaison officer initiative and consultations for the proposed registration of tax-preparers program. Both are designed to reduce red tape and help small and medium-sized businesses more easily meet their tax obligations.

These are specific examples of the real results we are delivering for small and medium-sized businesses across the country.

We are delivering results for Canadian families, too. In fact, families have been major beneficiaries of the numerous tax relief measures that our government has introduced since 2006.

With balanced budgets just around the corner, our priority is to continue to lower taxes so that Canadians can invest more of their hard-earned money in the economy.

One of the most popular family-related tax credits we have introduced is the children's fitness tax credit, which came into effect in 2007. What parents do not want to start their children on the road to a healthy, active lifestyle early in life?

Every year, millions of Canadian families register their children in supervised programs of physical activity: basketball, baseball, gymnastics, karate, soccer, figure skating, folk dancing, and the like. Activities such as these, which require a significant amount of physical activity, are all eligible for the children's fitness tax credit.

The children's fitness tax credit allows parents to claim a 15% non-refundable tax credit for expenses up to $500 each year. They may claim the credit for registering their children in eligible physical fitness activities, as I have just outlined. Until now, this has meant that they could receive a credit of up to $75.00 per child each year. Our government wants to double the maximum amount that could be claimed under the credit, and we want to make the credit refundable so that more families could benefit from tax savings.

These proposals would fulfill a commitment we made to Canadians in 2011, and they are contained in the legislation we are debating today. The new limit of $1,000 would come into effect for the 2014 tax year, so families could see the savings when they file their tax and benefit returns next spring.

The children's fitness tax credit would then become a refundable tax credit starting with the new 2015 tax year. This would mean that people with no tax owing might be eligible for a refund of 15% of the amount claimed. As a non-refundable credit, the children's fitness amount could only be applied against taxes that they owed.

The children's fitness tax credit provides about $115 million in tax relief to 1.4 million Canadian families each year. With the changes we are proposing, about 850,000 families would benefit from this additional tax relief.

In addition to the two tax credits I have highlighted today, the economic action plan 2014 act, no. 2, contains many other measures that would affirm our government's commitment to economic growth, families, and communities.

The facts speak for themselves. Canada has one of the strongest job creation records in the developed world; our performance, in terms of real gross domestic product, is the best in the G7; our economy is growing; and our economic action plan is working.

I sincerely hope that all members on all sides of this House will join me in giving Bill C-43, the economic action plan act, no. 2, their full support.

This country is moving forward. We are moving forward in a judicious manner. There is tax relief in the bill and economic policies that would benefit all Canadians. I ask for the total support of the members in this House.

Halifax Explosion December 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, December 6, is the anniversary of the Halifax explosion.

Ninety-seven years ago, the SS Mont Blanc, a French munitions ship, and the SS Imo, a Belgian relief ship, collided in Halifax Harbour. Minutes later the SS Mont Blanc ignited and quickly exploded. That explosion was the largest prior to the atomic bomb. The blast was heard and felt over 200 kilometres away. About 1,600 people were killed immediately, and another 9,000 were seriously injured. Hundreds more perished in the resulting fires. Worse yet, that evening a winter nor'easter dropped freezing temperatures and heavy snow on the survivors.

Much of Halifax was a destroyed city, and relief trains were sent from the rest of the country, but the first to reach Halifax, carrying doctors, nurses, and supplies, was from Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1919, the province of Nova Scotia sent a giant Christmas tree to Boston as a thank you. In 1971, that tradition was continued, and every year since, a 15-metre-tall Nova Scotia Christmas tree is lit in the Boston Common as a reminder of our gratitude for Boston's assistance long ago.

Health Care December 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, recruiting and retaining health care practitioners can be difficult in rural Canada. This is often further challenged by the lack of modern office space designed for health care professionals.

In my riding of South Shore—St. Margaret's, a dedicated group of local volunteers is working to change that. They are fundraising to build a collaborative health care facility to service the municipality of Chester, the Hubbards area, Tancook Islands and my hometown of New Ross.

Our health centre will attract and provide space for primary care practitioners, wellness professionals and visiting specialists. The building will include a main reception area, information centre, six medical offices and additional clinic space.

This is an ambitious project and I would like to congratulate all who have worked on or contributed toward it. This group of dedicated volunteers has already raised $3.1 million with a goal of raising $4.5 million.

Please visit to follow this terrific project and see how to donate.

Canada Revenue Agency December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the hon. member, his comments are nonsensical, incorrect, and incoherent.

To begin with, we do not know who is audited. The only way anyone knows who is audited is if that person or group that is audited chooses to tell. We have no idea who else is being audited in this country, because there is no way to track that. That is private information, kept within CRA.

As I mentioned previously, audits are an important element in CRA's balanced approach to compliance. When CRA identifies non-compliance, it can use a series of progressive compliance measures ranging from education letters and compliance agreements for less serious cases to tougher measures like financial penalties, suspension, or even revocation for the most egregious cases. However, the truth is that the overwhelming majority of charities selected for audit are able to correct identified non-compliance concerns and continue their charitable programs. The CRA's approach is clearly working.

To close, in case the member opposite missed what I said earlier, in a recent message to all CRA employees, the commissioner and deputy commissioner said:

To be clear, the process for identifying which charities will be audited for any reason is handled by the Charities Directorate alone and, like all audit activities, it is not subject to political direction.

There are 86,000 charities in this country and $14 billion in charitable money out there. The hon. member thinks that there should be no audit of any of that. That is not responsible.

Canada Revenue Agency December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, there was so much factually incorrect about the statement from the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North that I really do not quite know where to start. Maybe if I could get him to step out from under that umbrella of conspiracy theories, we could just talk about the facts instead of some fictional conspiracy theory he has.

Here are the facts. Charities registered under the Income Tax Act are afforded the valuable privilege of providing tax receipts to their donors. In fact, in Canada, as the hon. member should know, 86,000 registered charities issued receipts worth more than $14 billion in 2012. The idea that none of those charities should be checked is ludicrous.

The reality is that in return for those tax receipts, Canadians expect that the government will take all the necessary steps required to ensure that their charitable donations are used for charitable purposes. All registered charities are required by law to have exclusively charitable purposes. Some political activity may be allowed, provided that it is not partisan in nature and that it is connected and subordinated to the charity's purposes.

These rules are not new. They have been around for decades. I know the CRA goes to great lengths to support charities and help them meet their obligations as easily as possible. In recent years, it has provided a wide range of new tools and resources and has updated and improved existing ones to help charities better understand the rules, including those rules that relate to political activities.

Fostering voluntary compliance and helping charities get it right from the start is always the number one priority.

The CRA ensures compliance through a balanced program of education, guidance, and responsible enforcement. Audits are an important part of the CRA's overall approach, as they allow CRA officials to better understand a charity's activities to confirm whether it is complying with the rules.

Whenever the CRA conducts an audit, whether related to political activities or any other issue, it follows an education-first approach and uses the full range of compliance measures at its disposal, including education letters and compliance agreements, to ensure that the rules are followed.

Let me be clear. The rules related to political activities apply to all registered charities, and the CRA's compliance efforts also apply to all charities. No charity, no sector, is singled out. The process for identifying which charities will be audited for political activities is handled by the CRA alone in a fair and consistent way. As with all CRA audit activities, it is not subject to political guidance.

Frankly, the member opposite is attempting to politicize something that is completely removed from the political process, and it is absolutely shameful that he would do that.

That member, along with a few others, should be asking himself why he is attempting to score cheap political points at the expense of public servants. I have full confidence in the professionalism, integrity, and fairness of CRA officials who administer the charities program on a day-to-day basis. I can assure the members of this House that these officials are doing their jobs professionally, competently, and free of any political direction.

Canada Revenue Agency December 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as I said, CRA is committed to improving its communications with taxpayers and has already taken steps that address the member's concern.

It should be noted that in a typical year, the CRA sends out approximately 129 million pieces of correspondence. The approach we are taking will make sure that the highest volume streams of correspondence are improved first.

We are committed to improving communications with Canadians. As I mentioned previously, internal program evaluations, audits, and reviews are an integral part of how CRA monitors and improves the management and delivery of its programs, and we have already taken action to improve communications. This includes improved plain language in CRA's tax forms and guides, internal training and tools for employees on the use of plain language, and, more recently, it has focused on providing simple to use online services, including online mail.

Canada Revenue Agency December 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member from Quebec for her question.

I think the member said that the question was asked on October 29. I believe the minister answered very clearly and precisely on that day. However, if the hon. member did not understand the answer, I am happy to take more time and go into more detail in answering tonight.

Our government regularly seeks and receives feedback from businesses, individual taxpayers, and experts on our communications and how these can be simplified and clarified, as clarity is essential. We are taking action. As part of its commitment to continuous improvement, the CRA routinely conducts evaluations to assess the effectiveness of its programs and the performance of its services.

The most recent third-party evaluation was initiated by the agency as part of this ongoing effort, and it is a critical input to its focus on reducing red tape and supporting taxpayers in complying with their tax obligations and assessing the benefits to which they may be entitled. The recommendation from this evaluation will lead to changes and improvements for all taxpayers. In fact, the CRA has already taken action on the file.

On October 9, the minister announced that the CRA is taking advantage of red tape reduction consultations in all provinces and territories across the country to solicit feedback on correspondence sent by CRA and how communications with taxpayers can be improved. These consultations will seek the views of small businesses and tax service providers, whose feedback often reflects that of individual taxpayers. The minister has also requested that CRA further engage Canadians to solicit their opinion on how to improve its correspondence with them.

Just last month, the minister also announced that the CRA is launching a new e-services initiative to improve correspondence with Canadians through the expansion and improvement of our secure online mail services for individual taxpayers. Over the next 18 months, the most common letters and notices that CRA generates, constituting more than 60 million pieces of correspondence a year, will be available online to Canadians in simplified, easier-to-understand formats. This includes the launch in February 2015 of our manage online mail service, which will be available for individual Canadians to receive their notice of assessment. The online mail service will be significantly expanded over the subsequent 12 months to include other mail to Canadians, such as benefit notices and statements. It was on October 9 that the minister started this initiative and she will continue to take action on it.

In the meantime, the member said that she had an individual case in her riding. I would certainly suggest to her, if she has not done so already, to approach the minister on that individual case and ask for some clarity on it.