May 31, 1984

LIB

Gilbert Parent

Liberal

Mr. Parent:

Clause 43 of the notice of Ways and Means motion to amend the Income Tax Act tabled in the House of Commons by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Lalonde) on February 15, 1984 indicated that for taxes in dispute which are payable at any time after that date, taxpayers should be permitted to provide security for payment satisfactory to the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Bussieres).

I am pleased to inform Hon. Members that Revenue Canada has modified its policy regarding accounts under notice of objection or appeal, so that the Department now accepts any negotiable security in lieu of payment for the duration of the appeal process. This means that the Department does not limit itself to bank letters of guarantee. Of course, where the security may be of fluctuating value such as in bonds or not immediately realizable, a satisfactory payment arrangement may be required as part of the agreement to protect the Department's interests. While the Opposition calls for an end even to the provision of security in cases where the tax is in dispute-and I believe that is what the Hon. Member for Don Valley West was alluding to-I am sure you can appreciate, Mr. Speaker, the dangers inherent in such a move. However, with the possible guarantees that I spoke of, guarantees against frivolous disputes intended only to delay the payment of tax, the question can be taken up for consideration and no doubt will be examined seriously.

My concern continues to rest with that vast majority of taxpayers, really the silent majority from whom we hear few if any complaints, whose taxes are deducted at source and who have little or no cause to dispute their tax assessments. I personally feel that the rights of these taxpayers must be protected at all costs.

We have heard figures in this House in answers from the Minister of National Revenue and the Minister of Finance that as much as $3 billion a year go uncollected. If that is the case, who is paying for that $3 billion if not the other taxpayers who have their taxes deducted at source? It is we who pay our taxes who are being penalized by those who do not. I have not heard anyone here dispute the fact that $3 billion more in taxes should be collected. I have not heard that addressed. If it has, by whom and when?

I now turn my attention to tax appeals. This matter was raised by the Hon. Member for Don Valley West in his request that we make the whole system more humane. The rights of taxpayers have become the watchword of the day, and rightly so. Every citizen in Canada-I should not say every one

because some are too young to pay and some do not earn enough to pay taxes, but the watchword is that the rights of these taxpayers have to be first and foremost. No doubt the wrongs of taxpayers are of somewhat less interest to my colleagues on the other side.

I would like to discuss briefly some of the rights that taxpayers enjoy under the current system, the changes which the Minister of National Revenue has already made in his Department and some of the measures that the Minister of Finance recently introduced that will further ensure the protection of rights of Canada's taxpayers. I will begin by talking about the tax appeals. The Canadian taxpayer has available a system of appeal that reaches right to the Supreme Court of Canada. I must point out that for the vast majority of people who object to a tax assessment, a resolution is found at a much lower level than the Supreme Court, and rightly so.

Let us look at the figures for last year. Of the 45,000 notices of objection filed last year, fully 35,000, as mentioned by the Parliamentary Secretary, were resolved at the local level to the satisfaction of the taxpayer. That is the overwhelming majority. Before examining this figure further, let me also point out that those notices of objection represent one-quarter of 1 per cent of the 16 million taxpayers in Canada. With all respect, that is not a high degree of dissatisfaction.

When the task force set up by the Opposition was going across the country-and perhaps the Hon. Member for Well-ington-Dufferin-Simcoe will ask some questions later-were there any people who appeared before the committee who thought the taxation system was fair, or did they only hear from those who, for want of a better term, had a beef to bring forward? Perhaps that could be addressed a little later.

With regard to the degree of dissatisfaction, not only does this performance seem inconsistent with the criticism levelled at Revenue Canada, the premise on which I started my remarks, but I would suggest that it represents a Department more than willing to listen to and accept the objections of taxpayers. Notices of objection are the means of redress for taxpayers written into the Income Tax Act, and the Department publicizes them.

There has been a great deal of talk concerning the cost to the taxpayer in taking this particular route. This too was alluded to by the Hon. Member for Don Valley West. Let me make the point that the initial review at the district office level does not involve cost to the taxpayer. If the taxpayer wishes to engage a representative such as a lawyer or an accountant, this cost is deductible for income tax purposes.

There are no charges in appealing to the Tax Court of Canada and if subpoenas are required, they are provided without charge. Again, if the taxpayer engages an agent, these costs are tax deductible. If taxpayers lose an appeal, they are not required to pay court costs. The Hon. Member must have had this information when he brought up this argument. I hope he does question me. Perhaps he could then let us know whether this information was available to him.

May 31, 1984

We have recently taken steps to protect the taxpayer even further. Legislation proposed in the Budget presented in this House on February 15 which allowed a judge to award up to $1,000 in costs to the taxpayer has now been modified, removing the $1,000 limit and leaving the award of costs at the discretion of the Tax Court. This proposed legislation also specifically prohibits any such award to the Department of National Revenue.

There has also been a change in one other area. When the Minister appeals a decision of the Tax Court of Canada involving disputed tax not exceeding $2,500 or a disputed loss not exceeding $5,000, the Federal Court will order the Minister to pay all reasonable and proper costs of the taxpayer. The February Budget provides that these amounts be increased to $10,000 and $20,000 respectively, thus increasing the number of appeals eligible for costs. Surely Members opposite will agree that this is going in the right direction. I guess that wanting us to stand here and object to everything they said is not reasonable. I see my time is running out, so I will terminate my remarks.

In addition to the measures recently undertaken by the Minister of Finance, the Minister of National Revenue has also taken steps to ensure that the taxpayers are fully protected in their dealings with Revenue Canada. The Minister has recently advised his Deputy Minister that a complete evaluation of the appeals function be undertaken to determine its independence of the assessing or audit functions. I hope I will receive some questions. I will be very happy to answer them.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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PC

Henry Perrin Beatty

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Beatty:

Mr. Speaker, I would not want the Hon. Member to be disappointed. I want to take him up on his invitation. He put a question to me that I can respond to at this point. He asked whether the only people we heard before the task force in the over 300 submissions we received were those who had a gripe with the Tax Department. I suppose the implication of his question was that somehow the only people we would hear were chronic complainers who wanted to destroy the system.

If he put people like the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants in that category as well as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Organization of Small Business, the various arts groups which came before us, federations of agriculture and others, that would be a judgment which he would have to make. As a matter of fact, we went out of our way to solicit balanced views, to hear from experts, and indeed we went so far as to indicate that we wanted to receive representations from officials within the tax Department itself. We had hoped to hear from the Deputy Minister and from other senior officials within the Department.

When attempting to get this information, we found that the Minister took the trouble to send a memorandum to every single employee of the Tax Department indicating that they could not come near us and that in no way would they be allowed to speak before us. He put a gag on every single

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employee within the Department. Now the Hon. Member has the temerity to suggest that we were not seeking to hear other points of view. Of course we were, but the Minister put every possible impediment in our way.

Notwithstanding that, we were able, through groups like the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, to hear good, balanced and very fair opinions. I would be interested to know whether or not the Hon. Member agrees or disagrees with the submission that was made jointly by the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, a submission which was referred to earlier today.

I would like to ask a question of the Hon. Member. He can correct me if I do not quote him correctly, but my understanding is that he said that our system of taxation has the highest degree of trust and protection of the rights of taxpayers of any system in the world. I am interested in how the Hon. Member does his research. Exactly which authority did he refer to when making that statement?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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LIB

Gilbert Parent

Liberal

Mr. Parent:

Mr. Speaker, I have two things to say. The first is that the Hon. Member for Wellington-Dufferin-Simcoe makes the assumption that I am judging the people who appeared before him. To the contrary. He has said that he tried to get a balanced view. My question remains: did he indeed get a balanced view, or did everyone who came before him have a problem? I do not judge these people and these different groups to which he referred. If they came before him, I would hope that they put a balanced view before him.

As far as the appearance before the task force of employees of the Department of National Revenue is concerned, surely they are not the only Canadians in the country who are satisfied with the way the taxation Department is being run. What the Hon. Member would have us believe is that all Canadians are dissatisfied with the taxation system.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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PC

Henry Perrin Beatty

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Beatty:

False again.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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LIB

Gilbert Parent

Liberal

Mr. Parent:

I beg your pardon.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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PC

Henry Perrin Beatty

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Beatty:

Wrong again.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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LIB

Gilbert Parent

Liberal

Mr. Parent:

There you are. Whatever deductions we make are wrong and whatever deductions he makes and whatever groups he refers to are correct. That does not require argument. I will just let that pass and take it at face value.

The Hon. Member asked me what the source was for my remarks. There are tax systems in the western world, and if he wants a specific quote from a specific publication, I will be happy to table that for him in the very near future, if I can get the information for him. The Hon. Member for Crowfoot (Mr. Malone) laughs again.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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PC

Arnold John Malone

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Malone:

Indeed I do.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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LIB

Gilbert Parent

Liberal

Mr. Parent:

Indeed he does. You can see, Mr. Speaker, that whenever we do not have information that is documented to the nth degree right at our fingertips but say that we will get that information, it is always a cause for rejoicing on the other

May 31, 1984

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side. That is because their research is so slipshod that whether they had a day or a week, they would not be able to get the information to us.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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PC

Henry Perrin Beatty

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Beatty:

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pursue the question of the Elon. Member's research. Is he saying that he simply does not know where he got the information he used to make the assertion that there was the highest degree of trust and protection of the rights of taxpayers in Canada of any system in the world? How could he make a bald assertion like that if he does not have the foggiest idea where he found the information? Second, in what form will he be conveying this information to us? Will he be tabling it in the House or will he send us a letter? Can we release any letter that he sends?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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LIB

Gilbert Parent

Liberal

Mr. Parent:

Mr. Speaker, any information that I put forward can be released at the discretion of the Hon. Member. I said to him that I did not have the specific quotation. I also gave him my opinion after having looked over some of the tax assessment systems in the western world. I will get him direct quotations if that is what he wants.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

Mr. Speaker, could I ask the Hon. Member through you why he believes that if he were to receive an assessment that was improper, that he knew to be improper and that he could not get resolved at the lowest levels and were thus forced to go to the courts, it would be fairer for him or for any taxpayer to pay the taxes that are claimed to be owing prior to having his day in court? This can be compared with the system that we have recommended and that the chartered accountants and lawyers have recommended whereby the Hon. Member would not have to pay anything until he had had his day in court but interest on the moneys that the courts indicated were owing would run from the day the assessment was issued. In other words, if someone were to make an appeal and lose, they would wind up owing the taxes plus the interest. That is normal. Could the Hon. Member tell me why it is fair for any Canadian, including himself, to be forced to put up what could amount to a very large sum of money which may even bankrupt that person or his business before having his day in court?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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LIB

Gilbert Parent

Liberal

Mr. Parent:

Mr. Speaker, in my remarks I stated specifically that I do not agree that a taxpayer should have to put up money, so let us start from there. However, today, this very day that we are debating this issue and asking each other questions, it is possible to put up collateral which is not money. Is the Hon. Member saying that this is not the way it should be? Is he saying that he does not agree with this? Perhaps he could give me his views on that.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

Sure I can. Mr. Speaker. May I ask the Hon. Member whether he knows that that power to accept security did not begin with the Budget but has always been with the Department? If the Hon. Member were a small businessman who was reassessed and the Department claimed that he owed $50,000, and he had a working capital credit line of $20,000, $30,000 or $40,000, why would it be fair to require him to tie up his working capital in some form of security which, as the

Hon. Member knows, would be a liability on the books of his corporation? Why would that be fair when that liability might in fact shut his business down and put it into bankruptcy? That is exactly what has happened in several cases. Why would that be fair when it turns out in the end that his business does not owe a penny in taxes?

Let me ask the Hon. Member a supplementary question because it is part of the same issue. When a business is deemed by the courts to owe tax, why is it left entirely to the discretion of the Minister what security will be taken? Would it not be fairer, when there is a dispute about the payment process, to allow an appeal to the courts in order to find out whether the Department has been unreasonable in refusing the form of security that is available to that taxpayer? That is also a part of our recommendations.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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LIB

Jacques Guilbault (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Guilbault):

The Hon. Member for Welland (Mr. Parent) has one minute to answer the question.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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LIB

Gilbert Parent

Liberal

Mr. Parent:

Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member asked two questions. I agree with the proposition put forward in his second question, so we can put that one out of the way. With regard to the first question, it is my understanding that one can put up collateral which is not money or currency. For example, one can put up a collateral part of one's business or a structure. One could pay money for that later on. That does not tie up the cash flow to which the Hon. Member refers.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

Of course it does. That is the point.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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LIB

Gilbert Parent

Liberal

Mr. Parent:

In my view, if a man has assets in his business which are put up for collateral, that would be fair. As long as one has collateral, it should not be necessary to put up the money. I agree that that has happened and I agree that it should not happen.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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LIB

Jacques Guilbault (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Guilbault):

This puts an end to the question period. We are resuming debate.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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PC

Arnold John Malone

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Arnold Malone (Crowfoot):

Mr. Speaker, throughout the course of this debate, not only today but also over the course of this past year, the Hon. Member for Wellington-Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. Beatty) has been asking for a taxpayers' bill of rights. The speech made by the Hon. Member for Welland (Mr. Parent) has now underscored the need for precisely such a bill of rights.

Using some false form of logic, the Hon. Member suggested that if collateral is put up, it somehow justifies everything. He suggested that if one has been charged but not yet heard, it makes everything okay when one puts one's collateral forward. If the Member had had some business experience, he would have known that as soon as collateral is put forward, that limits collateral for any other business enterprise. He would also have known that in many cases tax reassessments are made many years before the hearing process. In effect, he is asking that we simply freeze the capacity of an entrepreneur who has developed some collateral to raise capital against the

May 31, 1984

collateral he has. Why? Because Revenue Canada has made an assessment that the taxpayer believes is wrong.

In the normal legal process an individual pays, or receives punishment for a charge, after the hearing has been held. However, the Hon. Member for Welland would like to see the full payment made and only then hearing held. Had he applied that method to capital punishment, we would be executing people and then, on some occasions, finding that the person was innocent. In effect, he is proposing the same kind of punishment. It will prevent capital flow by causing people to pay the price. Often it is an extensive price for an extended period of time. The damage is done.

Throughout the past year, the Government denied that there was a problem. Then it admitted that there might be a problem with Revenue Canada. Then it admitted in the House of Commons that there was a problem. However, it admitted only that the problems were isolated examples which existed in Kitchener. Then, when it found out that these problems existed in other places, it was basically a day by day and pick by pick method by the Opposition which exposed the Department's incompetence.

Frequently, many issues are raised by all Parties in the House of Commons. However, one of the interesting things about this issue was that shortly after it was raised there was immediate public reaction. People said to our Party, "You are on the right track on this one". The people immediately understood and believed that there was something wrong with Revenue Canada. As all of us will quickly concede, there is no great love affair between Revenue Canada and taxpayers. There are not many Canadians who love to pay income tax. In spite of that fact, most of us believe that in many cases our taxes do some good. I know the old Will Rogers' saying of, "Thank goodness we don't get all the government we are paying for", but nevertheless, we concede that we need a public Treasury.

However, the public is saying that there is something fundamentally wrong with Revenue Canada. We have heard today Hon. Members from the Government side praising the system. They have said that it is a great self-assessment system. When I was elected to Parliament in 1974, about 80 per cent of the farmers in my constituency filled out their own income tax forms. That is my own estimate, and I will have to swallow those words if I am wrong. Today, I doubt if 10 per cent of those farmers fill out their own income tax forms. Whether those are the precise figures or not, certainly that is the trend. Fewer and fewer small business persons today fill out their own income tax forms. I doubt if I could go to any community in my constituency and get two accountants, working separately and apart, to fill out a business person's income tax form and arrive at the same number on the bottom line. The specialists in the field look at this boondoggle of a mess called Revenue Canada regulations and guidelines. The truth is, the specialists will come up with a different set of numbers every time. If that is what the professionals are faced with, then we

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cannot claim to have a self-assessment system. When I heard the Hon. Member for Welland telling us in his speech that we have the most trustworthy system in the world-ignoring Australia, New Zealand, England and the United States-and claiming that ours is the best, I believe that all that I am hearing is one more Liberal speaker trying to defend the undefendable.

There has not been any action. Interestingly enough, one of the leadership candidates for the Liberal Party, the Hon. Member for Bay Street, Mr. Turner, proclaimed that the report of the Hon. Member for Wellington-Dufferin-Simcoe was one of the finest reports he had ever seen. If that man should by some chance happen to win the Liberal leadership race, I do not know how we could possibly be effective in instrumenting such a program because of the nature of persons such as the Minister and those who stood up today to defend the status quo. I submit that if that is the defence, it is not a question of the leadership of the Party, it is a question of the Party. Truly, there needs to be a whole rethinking of the question of how taxes are collected.

I would like to turn to some specifics. First, I would like to deal with Section 31. It indicates that farmers who work beyond their farms must classify those farms as hobby farms because they have other income. The truth of the matter is that we are in a situation today in which interest rates are very high. Not only are those interest rates high at the banks, but they are high at the Farm Credit Corporation. Farmers are also faced with fuel taxes imposed by the federal Government and the provinces, royalties and the like. For example, today when a person buys $15 worth of gasoline, he pays $5 for the gasoline and $10 goes to tax. Actually, the gasoline is not expensive. The tax is expensive. The result of that, added to the fact that there is the PGRT-the front-end taxing on fertilizers and natural gas which makes nitrogen fertilizers-is that we are experiencing record farm bankruptcies.

In the last decade, farm input costs have increased 150 per cent. Statistics Canada has projected that by the year 1988 the farm input costs will have increased another 110 per cent. The prices today for farm commodities on the average are the same as they were in 1973. So we are comparing 1973 receipts with a 150 per cent increase in farm input costs. Obviously, because of that situation, the economy of our nation has driven many farmers to seek second jobs to supplement their farms. High interest rates have meant that many young persons who want to start farming for the first time cannot do it unless they work as well in the oil fields, drive a truck, or earn income in some other way. Often it is the farmer and his spouse who are both out earning income to contribute to the farm. Yet the Government has the harshness to say that that farm is just a hobby. They do not allow that farmer to write off any normal deduction which would be presumed for a full-fledged farmer. What the Government is doing by that policy is saying that the only people who can continue to farm are the ones who are already farming and have their debts paid. One of these days those people will die and we will end up with no food in the country. The truth of the matter is that we have frightened

May 31, 1984

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away an enormous potential number of young people who could be coming into the farm enterprise sector. Section 31 obviously needs to be amended, because the only way for people to establish themselves in farming today is by either winning a lottery or taking an extra job.

I would like to focus also on a subject which is of considerable concern to me. That is the question of third party demand. I agree that a third party demand on a person's account is probably a tool which the Government should have, but it should be exercised with very strict control under the authority of someone at the highest level of Revenue Canada. That is not what is happening today, however. If you talk to the manager at any bank in the country you will find that he has had third party demands put on his bank. And who is it who is doing this? Someone new to the Department, often young in age, arrives with a briefcase with forms which have a rubber stamp of a person's signature on them. He can say to the bank manager, after showing his identification, "Do you have the account for a certain person"-and name him or her-and then with that rubberstamped signature he can close that person's account.

It is shoddy, Mr. Speaker, to destroy a person's credit in this country in that way. It is too easy to do this. In my constituency it was happening with some regularity. It was brought to my attention by a banker who was concerned. I was very interested to find out, Sir, that with the exception of two, every one of those third party demands was reversed within 24 hours. Someone might say, "In that case, what are you crying about? What are you giving a speech on that for?" I come from a small community, Mr. Speaker, and news travels fast in a small community. City people think they have some advantage with their telephone service, but I can tell you that news travels much faster in a small community without the benefit of a telephone. I can tell you, Sir, that a lot of financial reputations were severely damaged when people found out that the Department of National Revenue had come in and, not with a stroke of the pen but with a rubber stamp, closed out a person's account.

I found out something else, Mr. Speaker. When people wrote letters, made phone calls and had personal conversations with Revenue Canada personnel trying to set up arrangements for a pay-back because they did not have the amount of money owing at that time but were expecting some money very soon and wanted to pay what they owed in some regulated way that they could afford, Revenue Canada preferred to bring down the guillotine and just throw them right out of business. I will not give you the name of any particular business, but I can tell you that one of the firms employed four people, and when it was closed down, not only was its capacity to pay taxes ruined from then on, but the four people who worked for it became unemployed. And that has repeated itself throughout the country. Surely, the danger of third party demands ought to have been recognized.

I would also like to raise the matter of the insensitivity of those persons who put into effect those third party demands on behalf of the Department. They did not do it in the private back office of some bank. Right out in the public rotunda of a bank, they filled out third party demand forms, side by side with the people who were making a withdrawal or deposit or in other ways doing business with the bank. There is a notion, Mr. Speaker, that the subject of income tax is absolutely private and personal to the person involved. But here was an employee of the Department of National Revenue, standing where one could look over his shoulder and see him, closing out accounts. One official stood in one bank that I know and did that for ten different accounts. He closed them out right there in that public area. I tell you, Mr. Speaker, that that kind of behaviour is shoddy. No wonder the Hon. Member for Well-ington-Dufferin-Simcoe brought forward a motion calling for a taxpayers' bill of rights.

It is not a question of whether or not we live by the rule of law. That has never been the question. The question is whether or not we have a recognition of where power comes from in this country. The presumption has been since the Magna Carta that power belongs to the people. All this place is is an institution where we work on behalf of the people. That is why it is called the House of Commons. It is where we work for the common people. The common people said that the king will not have the control, that we, the people, will. But Revenue Canada is all-powerful. As a matter of fact, it is so all-powerful that people have more protection under the Criminal Code of Canada. A criminal who commits such atrocious sins against society as Clifford Olson, even though he mass murdered young girls in the Vancouver area, has more rights than the taxpayer of Canada. At least under the Criminal Code you are presumed to be innocent until you are proven guilty.

I believe very strongly, Mr. Speaker, that there should be no third party demand unless it is signed in pen and ink and unless someone at a high level in Revenue Canada accepts the responsibility. No one today accepts the responsibility. No one admits that he or she did this. Someone just shows up with a briefcase and closes out accounts, and you cannot find out who ordered it. We cannot trace this action back to anyone who will accept the responsibility.

I see you are indicating, Mr. Speaker, that my time is up. I am sure my colleague will take over where I left off in debating this motion.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-REVENUE CANADA
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May 31, 1984