Mr. Richard (Ottawa East):
I appreciate the attitude taken by my hon. friend opposite in expressing his views on this subject. I am happy to hear him admit that there is no bad faith on the part of the department and, as he has said, on the part of the minister.
I must nevertheless say that we are right in drawing to the minister's attention a rather regrettable situation. I admit that there is
no bad faith involved but I do think that the form adopted was not such as should have been sent to such a large number of our fellow citizens. I know that it is meant not only for those who belong to such and such a religious denomination nor for those of a certain racial group, but for everybody.
Nevertheless, since most of the citizens living in my constituency are French-speaking and Catholic I have received many representations from those who are sincerely convinced that they were complying with the rules and regulations laid down by the income tax division in sending in receipts obtained from their priest, believing -that it was the proper method to follow in regard to income tax.
I believe, as I said before, that it is not a case of bad faith. However, since the officials' attitude may always be wrongly judged, it seems to me that it would have been possible to send a somewhat different form, one which would have said, for instance: contributions to such and such organization are not deductible; only those contributions directly concerned with the maintenance of the church and its priest are considered as charitable donations. So that, when mistakes had been made, they could have been served with a formal notice requesting them to apply to their local income tax inspector in order to make the necessary adjustments and, in certain cases, an inspector could even have been sent to obtain further details. If that method had been adopted, all this fuss and bad publicity which the department does not deserve in any case, would have been avoided. The sending of this form comes at a very bad time for those who sit on this side of the house. However, I am not blaming the officers of the department, because I believe they have tried to do their duty as well as they could. Unfortunately, the method to which they have resorted has not given the results they expected. In my opinion, the minister and the officers of his department now realize that there might be other ways of securing the information they want.