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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was french.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Liberal MP for Sudbury (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 41% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canadian Heritage October 27th, 2017

Madam Speaker, in the Sudbury riding, we are proud of our cultural and artistic sector, which is a major contributor to the prosperity and economic diversity of our region.

I was fortunate to take part in an announcement recently with the Minister of Canadian Heritage regarding an investment that will greatly benefit our region's creative economy.

Can the minister tell us how the government is promoting collaboration among artists and creative industries, while contributing to the vitality of francophone minorities in northern Ontario?

International Trade October 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as you know, I own a small business and had a career in tax law.

The discussion on tax reform created many concerns for small business owners throughout the country, including myself.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance update the House on what we are doing as a government to support small businesses to grow our economy?

Business of Supply October 3rd, 2017

Madam Speaker, what I said was that that is the system we have right now, and that is one of the things that can happen.

What the member did not mention is that, right now, a child under the age of 18, who cannot even sign a contract, can receive tax-free capital gains of up to $830,000 on the sale of shares. The Conservatives think that is okay and they want to keep allowing exactly that.

In our view, however, we need to rethink a system that allows a child under 18 to receive $830,000 in capital gains on the sale of shares. That is why we have to reconsider our system and continue the conversation. This is a good conversation to be having right now.

Business of Supply October 3rd, 2017

Madam Speaker, with respect to passive income, and I mentioned this in my speech, right now it is a hypothetical situation, because it is a discussion paper. We have heard a lot of comments from tax lawyers and tax accountants from across the country about ensuring that we are looking at this issue. They are asking whether it is the tax-policy result we want.

Right now, certain business owners can take out money from their corporation and pay only 15% in tax. Is that the situation we want? The corporate tax rate is 15%. If they pay it and pay a dividend, and have no other income, they can pay themselves a $40,000 dividend without paying any other taxes. That is a rare situation, but again, it is hypothetical, just like their examples are hypothetical until we have draft legislation we can deal with. Then we can move on with it.

Business of Supply October 3rd, 2017

Madam Speaker, I know that the Conservatives believe it is fair. I do not believe it is fair.

As well, one of the things that has come up in the draft legislation is whether these rules would be retroactive. What happens after July 18? Are people going to be affected by these new rules? Again, the minister has said that these rules would not be retroactive. However, if we read the draft legislation, there appears to be some retroactivity. That is why we need to listen. I have had a lot of documentation sent my way by different groups. Yesterday it was the Canadian Bar Association. They want to help us address inequities in the system. Certainly retroactivity is a major issue that needs to be addressed.

The party opposite wants us to vote tonight to extend the consultation, which I find a bit ironic. Earlier today someone said that there is uncertainty right now. Business owners do not know what the rules are, yet they want to continue this until January 31. What I am hearing on the ground is that business owners need to know what the rules are before they can make decisions.

A month ago, I talked to an old friend of mine who said he needs to draft his will and he is not sure what to do, because he is not sure how the rules will end up. The longer we continue this, the less certainty there will be in the markets. There need to be assurances, because when we are in consultations, the Minister of Finance cannot make pronouncements. He cannot give direction to the Canadian population, to business owners, and to the House. Now that the consultation period is done, he can do that, but before he can to that, he needs to take into consideration all the comments. Many good suggestions have come our way.

The debate will continue, even though the consultation period stopped yesterday. I will meet again with my constituents. I am returning phone calls. I want their suggestions. I am addressing these with the Department of Finance, with my Liberal colleagues, and with members in the House to try to make it right. As the Minister of Finance said, we are going to get this right. We want to make the system more fair to address the inequities that exist right now in the Income Tax Act.

When we talk about passive income, I know a lot of the comments from members of the opposition are about the whole issue of a 73% tax. Right now that is hypothetical. We have a discussion paper. There is a discussion paper that has provided certain hypothetical scenarios. We do not have draft legislation. The sooner we have draft legislation to study that we can question and improve, the better off small businesses will be.

I have had a few calls from concerned people who have saved money to invest. They are being told that they will have to pay an inordinate amount of tax on that money. I am telling them that this is not the way I am reading the draft legislation. That is not the way I am reading the discussion paper. However, before people do anything, they should wait and see what the results are to have certainty. That is normal. There will always be uncertainty in the law until we draft and bring a bill to the House to discuss and vote on.

I am very happy that the consultation period is over. The discussion will continue. It has to continue. On a go-forward basis, we need to address a lot of what is in the draft legislation and the discussion paper and how this will be rolled out.

I am very proud that we are tackling this issue and talking about tax fairness in our system. I have heard from many entrepreneurs and doctors who are very concerned about their situation. At the same time, obviously we want these entrepreneurs to succeed, reinvest their money in their business, and create the best possible lifestyle for themselves. We will continue to reinvest and give them opportunities to reinvest. We will not stop, and I am very glad that we are going to carry on with this plan.

Business of Supply October 3rd, 2017

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to rise to speak to this motion today. I would just like to say where I am from, what I do, and what I have done in the past.

I am a small business owner, and I am also a tax lawyer. I used to teach tax at the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa, and I used to teach corporate tax at the Faculty of Management at Laurentian University. As well, my wife is a physician and is incorporated.

On July 18, many MPs and members of the general public were quite interested in the guidelines our party was going to release regarding the tax reform we want to bring in.

Considering my family background, I was very lucky to become a tax lawyer and to have studied the law, much like my wife. My father was a welder at the pulp and paper plant in Kapuskasing, and my wife's father was an electrician. We come from modest families, but we were lucky, because we managed to go to university back in the day. This dream is becoming increasingly harder to achieve.

That is why we need to take a closer look at our tax system to make sure it is fair and equitable. We need to determine whether looking into our social ladder is the right way to correct the inequities that exist in our society and give everyone a chance to fulfill their dreams. It is not easy these days. My party and I agree that we need to have a closer look at these growing inequities.

As soon as I found out what the reform was going to be, I sat down and read the whole document. I looked at the draft legislation as well. I had multiple discussions with colleagues, tax lawyers, tax accountants, and business owners across the country. I met with the chamber of commerce. I had town halls. I replied to many phone calls from people from different walks of life: small business owners, very successful physicians, very successful dentists, tax lawyers on Bay Street, and tax lawyers in rural areas of Canada.

At the end of the day, when we take a step back and look at what we have in Canada, right now we have the lowest small business tax rate of the G7 countries. It is 15%. The government could decide to raise it, and at the end of the day, everything would be fixed, but we do not want to do that. We want to continue having small businesses with the lowest tax rate. Why? It is because we want them to continue to invest. It is important that they continue to invest in equipment, grow their companies, and hire more people. In my opinion, that is the purpose of having a low tax rate.

A lot of people have made their plans and structured their companies legitimately, and the Minister of Finance has said this multiple times. Everyone has the ability to follow the rules and do this legitimately. However, I certainly believe that there is reform to be made in the Income Tax Act.

Right now, people can use what we call surplus stripping. If there is a high amount of cash in a corporation, one can do a fictitious transaction by using a family member or by incorporating another company, and after signing a few documents, one can convert what would be a dividend into a capital gain and reduce the tax rate by 20%.

Over the last 60 years, the Department of Finance has been trying to address this problem in the Income Tax Act. Actually, in the 1980s, when the Conservatives were in power, they brought in the general anti-avoidance rule, or GAR, to address surplus stripping. However, after 30 years, clearly the courts have not followed.

Therefore, there needs to be a fix. Every tax lawyer and every tax accountant I have talked to says that this needs to be done. The minister has talked about unintended consequences. There are other issues that have arisen in the draft legislation and in the discussion paper, which is why the minister has said that there are issues, we have heard from people, we are listening, and we need to address them.

The other thing I find unfair, and I am surprised that the Conservatives are not talking about it, is the fact that if people set up their affairs properly, right now, with the current rules we have, if they sell their business, they can actually have their child, two months old, get a capital gains exemption of $830,000. A child who cannot even contract but is a beneficiary of a trust can have a capital gains exemption of $830,000. Are you saying that is fair? I do not think so—

Gaétan Gervais September 25th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, on this September 25, Franco-Ontarian Day, I want to honour a man to whom we Franco-Ontarians owe a big part of our identity: Sudbury's own Gaétan Gervais.

Through his teaching and contributions, Gaétan passed on the Franco-Ontarian heritage to generations. He authored a number of literary books that are still read today. A true leader, he wanted to change things in the post-secondary and research worlds in French. He helped found the Institut franco-ontarien. In recognition of his contributions, he received the Order of Canada in 2013, and I had the privilege of attending that ceremony.

We will always be grateful for the efforts he made during his time as a history professor at Laurentian University, when he co-created a green and white flag with the fleur-de-lys and the trillium, our Franco-Ontarian flag; it was raised for the first time on September 25, 1975, at the University of Sudbury.

Gaétan, thank you for your tremendous contribution and thank you for giving us our beautiful flag.

Committees of the House June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has proven something beyond reasonable doubt: investing in official languages was far from a priority for the former Harper government. Our priority is to ensure the sustainability of Canada's official languages by making major investments.

Is Canada a truly bilingual country, yes or no? Under the previous government, that was not the case. The official languages were not at all respected. That government kept making cuts. For us, official languages are a priority, and our investments prove it.

Committees of the House June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, several recommendations have been adopted and several of them have already been implemented.

First of all, a CEO has already been hired. A chief quality officer will now have to be hired, but that will be up to senior management, obviously. Furthermore, hiring 50 students a year for the next five years is very important, since this measure is intended to ensure the sustainability and quality of the Bureau.

These are just some of the recommendations that have been made and have already been implemented in a timely fashion. Nothing like this ever happened in 10 years under the Harper regime. Instead, there were repeated cuts.

My colleague also mentioned the bilingual Supreme Court justices. This is obviously a priority for our government. We have already appointed bilingual justices. We even reinvested in the court challenges program.

There have been many advances in official languages in the 18 months since our government came to power, while absolutely nothing positive happened in the last 10 years under the Harper regime.

Committees of the House June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, clearly official languages are a priority for the government. I have full confidence in the Minister of Canadian Heritage when it comes to official languages, which are part of her mandate. She is responsible for ensuring continuity and making sure that everything gets back to normal thanks to our investments. That is not something that can happen overnight. There have been significant investments in human resources and the positions that should be filled shortly. I am satisfied that this will happen in the very near future.