Mr. Guy Marcoux (Quebec-Montmorency):
Mr. Speaker, since I do not wish to have the sad honour of killing this motion introduced during the hour reserved for private members' business, I will make but a few remarks about it.
At the beginnig of my comments, I must say that I am quite surprised that the old stalwart of the socialist party, who just spoke, is very happy that all parties in this house support this motion, since he and other members of his group always request greater action from the government while insisting that its sources of revenue be constantly decreased.
However, if the government must relinquish some revenue, I believe that it should be the revenue coming from citizens with modest means rather than that from those citizens who have a much larger income.
Personally, I have dealt on several occasions with the problem of small businesses which are unfavourably affected by the Income Tax Act when, for example, they must pay the sales tax within 30 days after the contract of sale of some items, while they get paid for the same goods six months or a year later. This places small businesses in a very difficult situation, since they must bear for six months or a year the cost of a sales tax which has not been paid back to them.
I must say that frequently some businesses and industries must sell their assets because they cannot meet the requirements of the department. In this case, it is about the same thing. Even if the minister has a discretionary power, under the act, the persons concerned must go through the whole series of officials of the Department of National Revenue, first at the local level, then at the regional level and finally, if they are lucky, the office of the deputy minister. If they are unlucky, and if they know their member of parliament, it will be the latter who will try to intercede with the minister in order to protect his constituents.
In my opinion, it would be much better if the act would contain a section stipulating that the officials themselves have the authority to grant to estates the right to act along the line of the motion introduced by the hon. member for Wellington South (Mr. Hales).
May 19, 19S5
Estate Tax Act
He mentioned a while ago some businesses which fall into foreign hands. I appreciate that it is sad, but it is equally sad to see family, personal and individual businesses fall into the hands of large companies, even if they are Canadian.
Individuals who worked hard all their lives, who saved money by tightening their belts so as to make a success of some industry or business see-or do not see because they are dead-that business or that industry fall into the hands of extremely wealthy corporations which take over small businesses, often at give-away prices.
These large limited companies have always been treated with particular consideration by our governments. Under our system, legislation has, in most cases, been drafted with a thought for those foreign companies or their Canadian branches. One has only to take a good look at the legislation passed by this parliament to notice that, in many cases, these limited companies, these big and extremely powerful corporations receive every consideration from our governments.
I think it is to the credit of the hon. member to have had a thought for the small business, the individual and the toil of those persons who have worked hard all their life to set up a business and, especially, their successors who, in most cases, would be interested in carrying on the work of their predecessors but who, because of the long arm of the estate tax, are forced to surrender the business to foreign hands or to larger companies.
I merely wanted, Mr. Speaker, to congratulate the hon. member and tell him that we agree with him. I hope the government will not consider necessary to refer the study of this motion to the banking and commerce committee but will take a decision immediately, or as soon as possible, since it is evident that this problem exists and that it can be settled to the satisfaction of everyone only through government action.
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR PAYMENT OF ASSESSMENT BY INSTALMENTS