February 15, 1983

PC

Donald Frank Mazankowski

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Mazankowski:

And so would the Parliamentary Secretary.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
PC

John Horton McDermid

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McDermid:

The debate that evening in November on Radio Station CKNW in Brampton proved one thing. It was clearly won by the Progressive Conservatives that night because most of the things defended by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fisher)-how he ever got there, Heaven knows-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
PC

Howard Edward Crosby (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Progressive Conservative Party Deputy House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Crosby:

That is why.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
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PC

John Horton McDermid

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McDermid:

Yes, that is why. He defended the indefensible. As I said, most of the things defended by the now Parliamentary Secretary have been taken out of the budget. It shows that there is no honour over there at all, not even in the Government's appointments. I cannot believe that he is there.

I have a couple of things I want to discuss here this evening. The first is the very excellent speech given recently in Ottawa by J. Lyman Maclnnis, President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario. This speech has been referred to earlier in the House. The contents of his speech pointed out very clearly the problem we have in the House of Commons in taking a look at a document which includes a number of amendments and is 300 pages long. We are asked to discuss this intelligently in the House of Commons and, in fact, pass the Bill rather quickly.

I watched the Minister of Finance (Mr. Lalonde) on "Canada AM" this morning with great interest. I watched and listened carefully to him yesterday and today in Question Period. The main theme of what he was saying is that the Opposition is delaying this Bill. I believe this is the fourth day of debate on this Bill, which was originally introduced on December 7 of last year. It represents a compilation of three budgets that this great country of Canada has had to suffer through. The Minister of Finance is now telling us that we are holding the Bill up and, as a result, holding up the business of the House because he cannot bring in another budget. It did not prevent the Government from bringing in budgets before. It brought them in so fast that Canadians did not know where they were.

I listen quite often to J. Lyman Maclnnis on radio station CFRB in Toronto. He spends a great deal of time studying the tax laws, and he spoke about this Bill. I believe it is worthwhile giving one example of what we as Parliamentarians who are not trained in the law have to put up with. I will read from paragraph 56(1 )(s) of the Act.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
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LIB

Paul James Cosgrove (Minister of State (Finance))

Liberal

Mr. Cosgrove:

That should take up four minutes.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
PC

John Horton McDermid

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McDermid:

The Minister of whatever it is now-they keep moving him around-says that I am taking up four minutes. I think it is important to put this on the record. The Minister takes up far too much time in the House as it is. He has no right to criticize any other Member of Parliament in the House of Commons for taking up time.

Let me quote from Section 56. It reads:

Without restricting the generality of Section 3-

We have to go back to Section 3. It reads:

-there shall be included in computing the income of a taxpayer for a taxation year, the amount of any grant received in the year under a prescribed program of the Government of Canada relating to home insulation or energy conservation by the taxpayer, other than a married taxpayer who resided with his spouse at the time the grant was received and whose income for the year is less than his spouse's income for the year, or the spouse of the taxpayer with whom he resided at the time the grant was received, if the spouse's income for the year is less than the taxpayer's income for the year to the extent that the amount is not required

February 15, 1983

by paragraph 12(1 )(u) to be included in computing his or his spouse's income for the year or a subsequent year.

I see one of the Elon. Members from Montreal looking puzzled, asking what I am saying.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
LIB

Henri Tousignant (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Liberal

Mr. Tousignant:

I am listening.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
PC

John Horton McDermid

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McDermid:

What did it say? That was Mr. Maclnnis' and our point exactly. I will give him the translation, for his benefit as well as mine. It means that if you receive a home insulation or energy conservation grant you have to include it in income. Unless your spouse has higher income, then he or she has to report it. That is all that it says.

Would it not be so much simpler for the poor taxpayer and the poor Member of Parliament who has to try to wade through this monster if it were put into that kind of language? When the Government begins to play with the tax law, I challenge it to take the tax law that it has now and put it into some semblance of order so that the individual at home who has to fill out the tax form can understand what he or she is doing. It is becoming increasingly complicated for Canadians to pay tax.

While we are discussing the tax Bill, I would also like to comment on the Department of Revenue. I have with me a file from a case that involves a reassessment of an individual who started a full time horse-breeding operation. The Ministry of Revenue forced him into bankruptcy, and I mean forced into bankruptcy. They have probably the most effective collection agency in the world.

I am not sure of the experience of other Hon. Members, but for some reason there has been an inordinate amount of bullying by the Ministry of Revenue in the last year. There has also been an inordinate number of rebates for which my office has taken considerable time in attempting to locate. Most of them, quite coincidentally, are over $1,000. It makes one wonder if they are not holding back those funds as long as possible because the Government is shy of cash over there. Obviously, it is shy of cash because we will be debating shortly its request to borrow $5 billion. It has already borrowed approximately $31 billion in the last 20 months. And we will be debating about another $5 billion.

I want to conclude my brief remarks by saying that there are about 12 sections in Bill C-139 that we feel are wrong and on which I will be concentrating once the Bill goes through committee. Those sections need correction before the Bill is passed.

The Government has caused uncertainty about the economy of this country to every Canadian, including airline employees and even those with life insurance policies. The three budgets have affected absolutely everyone in the country in a negative way. They have caused a great deal of uncertainty. Once the Bill goes to committee, there are a number of items which we think should be withdrawn, and we ask the Government to give careful consideration to those changes.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Alvin Hamilton (Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain):

Mr. Speaker, anyone who has been listening to this debate on

Income Tax

income tax amendments will have detected a theme which is quite significant. The Hon. Member for Edmonton West (Mr. Lambert), who was the first speaker on this side of the House on the amendment, pointed out that the cause of all the trouble was that the philosophy of those who enforce the Income Tax Act was wrong. That philosophy is that the money belongs to the tax collector and not to the individual who earned it. This philosophy, that the individual has to prove his right to his own money, is the cause of the problem. This is true whether it applies to businessmen, farmers or other individuals.

We heard the same theme from the Hon. Member for Moose Jaw (Mr. Neil). Hardworking people simply do not understand that philosophy.

After the Benson reforms came in nearly a decade ago, schools were opened for accountants all across the country to study them. Every accountant who attended those schools has confessed to me that he is still unable to understand the system even after attending such a school. Yet they are the people from whom we have to seek help to fill out a simple income tax statement. The point originally made by the Hon. Member for Edmonton West is still true.

Years ago, newspapermen used to sit in the gallery and listen to the debates. One journalist in particular made a living as a humourist as a sideline. His humour took the form of reading the instructions in the telephone book on how to operate the telephone. It was the most humorous dialogue on a serious matter that one would want to hear. Eventually, Bell Telephone amended the directions to make them more understandable.

That is the advice that we are giving the Government. This has gone beyond a joke. We have heard two examples in the House today from Members who read sections of the Income Tax Act. The humour is there. Even a self-confessed schoolteacher cannot understand it. Even the son of a Minister cannot understand it.

My point is obvious. The remarks that were made by the accountant, as mentioned by the Hon. Member for Brampton-Georgetown (Mr. McDermid), were that no more changes should be made. His conclusion on the whole matter was, "Please do not make any more changes or amendments until we learn to understand what has already been done". However, his second proposal, which was not referred to by the Hon. Member for Brampton-Georgetown, is that what we must do during the next two years is to have someone rewrite the Income Tax Act in English.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Right on.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain):

Bell Telephone manages to do it, the insurance companies now produce policies in English, and rather than being a subject of humour, let the matter be handled on the assumption that the ordinary person should be able to understand what he is being asked to fill out.

February 15, 1983

Income Tax

This subject is as old as our history. Ever since the Normans came into England and took around the Doomsday Book and recorded every little thing in one's house or cottage which was then taxed, people have been fighting tax collectors. I have seen a nation ruined trying to fight tax collectors. We are not far behind in Canada. The Hon. Member for Surrey-White Rock-North Delta (Mr. Friesen) intimated what the danger was. France is a nation on its knees, economically, because it has developed as a nation which has been able to beat the tax laws, and we are very rapidly moving into that position in Canada. In order that we survive that ruin must be dissolved in the long run.

1 want to make a positive suggestion which applies not only to the Bill but also to what I hope comes forth in the next month or two in the new budget. I think that every Party in the House would like to see the nation move more and more toward the most reliable form of energy that we have, namely, renewable energy. As I consider the budgets and programs of the Government over the last number of years in trying to carry this philosophy out, supported by all Parties, it has been ruined in every case by the language when it is put into law, ruined by the regulations which come out to administer the law, and then triply ruined by the forms one must fill in to gain use of these particular programs.

My suggestion is very simple. Let us write our regulations in the budget paper on renewable energy very simply. Let us simply say in the budget issued in the spring that we have been trying for years to use renewable energy in preference to nonrenewable energy for the safety of the nation and also because in many cases it is cheaper, cleaner, and in our interest to do it. There should simply be a resolution which says, in English, that all the tax laws applying to renewable energy companies and individuals who utilize renewable energy are the same for the people who use the energy as for the mining industry and for the oil and gas industry. That simple clause should be written in clear, Anglo-Saxon English, and then it should be ensured that the regulations speak just as frankly. We should get this renewable energy industry going. Since the Government is-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
NDP

Ian Deans (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Deans:

I rise on a point of order. Briefly, I just wonder if the Hon. Member might indicate whether he would also include it in French.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
PC

Ronald Alexander Stewart

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stewart:

Yes, and in Portuguese too?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
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PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain):

Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member displays an unhappy characteristic. He is a barrack room lawyer, and if he does not understand what that means, he should join the Army.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
NDP

Ian Deans (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Deans:

I know exactly what it means. 1 am just tired of the lecture.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain):

Mr. Speaker, the people of Canada, for their economic and security interests, want to shift from one form of energy to another. It is cheaper, cleaner and safer. The Government wants it. The

Opposition wants it. We have had task forces and reports, yet because of the very nature of the language in which we draft our laws, most of the Income Tax Act, the regulations and then the forms one must fill out, the program flows to a dead halt. All the Government can do is to offer grants, and if the grants are unobtainable because of the complexity of the forms, the program stops there, too.

I make that suggestion seriously because I see hundreds of individuals across this country and smaller companies going out to do their level best to translate the research of scientists into a provable operation of manufacturing in Canada. Developments in the field of renewable energy are of use to us and I see the tremendous potential. One can understand the feelings that I have when I speak on this subject.

The Minister knows that I have been speaking in this manner ever since I came here. One of my opening remarks as a new Member 26 years ago was that there is more money in trees than in grass, and I am not referring to marijuana. I am referring to grass used to produce grains or anything else. Everyone laughed at that time. It was great for the cartoonists across the country, showing me as Johnny Appleseed. I did not have the figures then which I have compiled in the last 20 years.

At this very time I am holding in my hand the most recent report of the University of Saskatchewan, which has done something which we have known about for 25 years. It has taken the ordinary aspen poplar tree and, on a continuous basis, is harvesting 42 pounds of oil from every 100 pounds of sawdust from the aspen tree.

The people of Ontario are on their posteriors economically, and the people of Quebec are sitting in the same spot. People are unemployed all over the place, in the Maritimes, all through the northern Prairies and all through British Columbia. Here a group of university people have demonstrated what the scientists said years ago was possible, that one could take 42 pounds of oil from a common poplar tree. We know from the American work that we can take 90 pounds of oil from 100 pounds of pine tree. I am simply asking, what stops us from moving in and using it? It is the way in which the tax laws are framed and the regulations come out. Instead of the so-called marginal farmers of Ontario trying to get along on an income of $30 or $50 per acre of production, that same acre, growing trees, could serve a useful purpose and provide 500 gallons of oil every year. This would be sulphur-free, cleaner, safer and, of course, much cheaper.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
LIB

Cyril Lloyd Francis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

I hesitate to interrupt the Hon. Member but the time allotted to him has expired.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
LIB

Yvon Pinard (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Pinard:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. If Hon. Members of the Official Opposition are interested in debating the second reading stage of the Bill even longer, I would confirm that we on this side are willing to give the unanimous consent required to sit beyond normal hours. I would like to believe that the Opposition is not intending to filibuster, and I therefore seek unanimous consent to sit beyond six o'clock

February 15, 1983

tonight in order to complete the second reading stage of the Bill.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO STATUTE LAW
Permalink

February 15, 1983