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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was colleague.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Brome—Missisquoi (Québec)

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

Statements in the House

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 October 28th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague to comment on the article by conservative National Post editorialist Andrew Coyne. I will summarize the article about omnibus bills, such as Bill C-4, in just a few words: the bill makes a mockery of the confidence convention and serves to shield bills that would otherwise be defeatable in the House. It is impossible to know how legislators intended to vote. There is no common thread that runs between these different items and no overarching principle that unites them. They represent a sort of compulsory buffet. There is something alarming about the government wanting to oblige Parliament to rubber-stamp its whole legislative agenda at one go.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 October 28th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, if I understand correctly, there is a blatant lack of transparency in Bill C-4. This is yet another mammoth bill for which debate is being limited by a time allocation motion. It is not good for consumers, workers, veterans, the public service or the environment.

That being said, there is one issue that is particularly worrisome to me. I would like to ask my dear colleague, who so ardently defends his constituents, why the Conservative government would move forward with its harmful $350-million tax on labour-sponsored funds. What effect will this have on workers and the economy in general?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 October 28th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the member said “growth and prosperity”. That is not what I read in The Economist, the authoritative magazine that wrote about the Canadian economy. It said that consumption is starting to falter and growth is projected to reach only 1.6% this year. It adds that the government is desperately looking for other sources of growth, but does not seem able to find any. The Toronto Star ran an article along the same lines, in which David Olive said the same thing in a different way.

Budget equals choice. The Conservatives are happy to spend millions of dollars on advertising for the economic action plan while telling Canadians that they have to tighten their belts because there is no money for essential services, employment insurance, old age security and so on.

I would like my colleague to comment on that.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 October 28th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I would like my hon. colleague to comment on the statements made by Michael Harris on iPolitics.ca, who wrote that “apart from pitching a free-trade deal with Antarctica, the PM has nothing to offer on the economy besides glowing self-appraisals, bad commercials on the public dime, and discount-rate foreign workers inflating his dismal job creation numbers.”

For all he bragged about being a champion of the economy, things certainly are not going well.

Rail Transportation October 17th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, 80 cars from MMA are at a standstill on tracks in Farnham, unmonitored, close to a main road, a park and homes. These cars carry the same type of oil that was involved in the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. The Conservatives talked about targeted measures for railway safety. DOT-111 cars in Farnham, now that is quite the target.

What is preventing the Minister of Transport from having these cars moved quickly and safely?

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013 June 10th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin for his excellent question.

The NDP wants everyone to pay their fair share, whether we are talking about big or medium-sized companies, but especially the big companies that have the means. The big oil companies must pay their fair share and contribute to Canada's growth. We want SMEs and employees to pay their fair share. We want everyone to do their part. That is the only way we can achieve social justice and equity within our current economic system.

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013 June 10th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question, which is excellent, as always.

I would not go so far as to say that this situation is a result of the Conservatives' incompetence, but it is a result of their interference and gross mismanagement. They are protecting their interests, big oil companies and big banks, as usual. The working poor are left out in the cold, as always. That is why we are standing up for workers.

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013 June 10th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I will use Bill S-17 to talk about tax evasion.

People take advantage of our excellent economy, our extraordinary education system and our infrastructure to make money, but some refuse to pay their fair share. They keep their profits in offshore bank accounts in order to avoid paying taxes in Canada. According to the OECD, an estimated $10 trillion is hidden in tax havens around the world.

Every year, this scourge deprives Canada of $5 billion to $8 billion in revenues. According to Statistics Canada, between 2003 and 2008, Canadian investment in tax havens went from $94 billion to $146 billion. This is a quarter of our direct foreign investment.

As I already said, this is money that is owed to Canada. It is money that is not being spent here to renovate infrastructure or pay for services that would allow Canada to have a better social safety net. In the meantime, those who do not have the means to use tax havens are the only ones paying the bills. That is what my colleague calls tax fairness. Those who do not pay their fair share are often those who say we need to reduce spending. It is a great injustice that undermines the very foundation of our society. Tax evasion is one of the greatest challenges the federal government must face. Bill S-17 is a step in the right direction, but the step is far too small. Even though we will vote in favour of the bill, it is woefully inadequate.

Bill S-17 implements four tax treaties with Namibia, Serbia, Poland and Hong Kong. It also implements amendments to the treaties between Canada and Luxembourg and Canada and Switzerland. The purpose of the tax treaties is to avoid double taxation and prevent tax evasion. We support harmonizing tax laws and complying with OECD standards, and that is why we will support the bill. However, the government could do more.

Bill S-17 does not make any changes to Canada's policy. It is considered standard legislation of a routine nature.

To hear the Minister of Finance tell it, this bill is a major step forward in the fight against tax evasion. While it does contain provisions that will be useful to the government, it does not make up for the government's failure to take the major tax haven problem seriously.

The last budget was proof that the government is not taking the problem seriously. On March 20, 2013, 900 Canada Revenue Agency employees, including 400 tax auditors, received notices that they were in danger of losing their jobs because of budget cuts.

The Canada Revenue Agency's budget will be cut by about $460 million by 2015. How is the agency supposed to fight tax evasion with fewer employees and resources?

My NDP colleagues on the Standing Committee on Finance proposed several recommendations to combat tax evasion. I would like to share some of those recommendations.

First, the Canada Revenue Agency should require Canadian corporations and all of their subsidiaries to disclose all taxes paid in other countries. This measure would result in greater transparency concerning their activities in offshore tax shelters.

Second, the auditor general should evaluate, on a regular basis, the success of the Canada Revenue Agency in prosecuting and settling cases of tax evasion.

Third, the federal government should create an efficient system to identify tax evasion enablers including accountants, lawyers and other professionals.

Last, the federal government should to move towards a system of automatic tax information exchange with other countries. This would be a much more effective way to fight tax havens than the bilateral agreements covered in this bill.

We made clear recommendations to ensure tax fairness for all Canadians. They deserve to know how much tax evasion is going on.

Despite our repeated requests, the Conservatives are refusing to measure how much tax fraud costs us. The Conservatives' failure to collect lost revenue means that Canadians who do pay their taxes are on the hook for a larger share of the cost of government programs.

Why do the Conservatives insist on doing the bare minimum with respect to the serious problem of tax evasion and tax havens?

We hope that the government will introduce major changes to solve this serious problem instead of giving us routine measures like Bill S-17. This bill will not solve the problem. As I illustrated earlier, tax evasion is serious. The government must act now. I urge the government to consider our recommendations.

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013 June 10th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, for his very persuasive speech. Clearly the numbers are no longer a mystery to him.

Speaking of numbers, there is one that grabbed my attention. According to Statistics Canada, $146 billion—one-quarter of our direct foreign investment—is hidden away in tax havens. That is money the government should be collecting, money that is not being spent here on infrastructure and services to improve our social safety net.

I would like my colleague to comment on the following two observations: people who do not have the means to use tax havens are the ones footing the bill, and people who are not paying their fair share are often the very same ones telling us that we have to cut spending.

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013 June 10th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Chambly—Borduas for his energetic and fiery speech.

I would like to ask him a question. In addition to the social justice it would create, why is it important that everyone pay their fair share and why is it important that the money not be invested in far-off tax havens? I would like the member to explain how that works, whether in relation to the social safety net or infrastructure.