November 28, 1997

BQ

Michel Bellehumeur

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur

I do not understand why the Liberals are not applauding me this morning, when what I am saying is a self-evident truth.

I think it is normal for the opposition parties, including the Bloc Quebecois, which are seeking the greatest equity for the people of Quebec and Canada, to try to get legislation that is as free of flaws as possible. We want to remedy those flaws. These two examples, I think, are striking. What is involved here is not to have huge quantities of international tax conventions. We just want to have quality tax conventions so that there can be proper follow-up and everyone can pay his or her fair share of tax.

Earlier, the government member, the hon. member for Broadview—Greenwood, was criticizing Reform members. He was accusing them of giving up on tax reform.

I understand why he did not say this about the Bloc Quebecois, because we have been talking about tax reform for a long time for both corporations and individuals.

If we look more specifically at this morning's topic, international tax conventions, I can refer you to two proposals made by us in the fall of 1996 focusing on corporate taxation.

This could have been included in international treaties as part of a mini-tax reform. It did not have to be a major reform, but they could at least have shown some degree of good faith in ensuring that it is not always the same ones who have to pay. I believe that a certain equity must be sought, and I can understand the taxpayers who are sitting in their living rooms and watching the government members over there. They are saying that the same ones always end up paying, and I understand that.

The government has thus missed a great opportunity to show its good faith with this bill. One of the proposals made by the Bloc Quebecois in the fall of 1996 is the deductibility of interest charges. When a Canadian company has a branch in a tax haven, not only does it first of all take advantage of very low tax rates on profits earned outside the country, but it can also deduct from its income earned in Canada the interest on loans used to invest in that offshore branch. We think the tax system is too generous in this case.

We would also have liked the government to amend the Income Tax Act to put a stop to this abuse. I think everyone has got the point, but so people understand better, I will give you a specific example. I have a company in Barbados; I borrow money in Canada to invest in Barbados to increase my profits in Barbados; I pay practically no taxes in Barbados, but, moreover, I deduct my interest costs in Canada. This is a bit crazy. I think the government could help people by putting a stop to these tax shelters.

The other proposal—and I will be brief, because time is passing quickly—concerns the deduction for intercorporate dividends. When a Canadian company has a subsidiary in a country Canada has a convention with, the dividends paid by the subsidiary to the parent company are not taxed in Canada. There are certain conditions, but they are easily met. This Canadian rule is much more generous than what is done in the States.

We asked the federal government to amend the Income Tax Act in order to tax foreign subsidiaries in Canada and to give a credit to them for tax already paid. That did not come about, but you know how determined the Bloc is. When we have an idea we do not let go of it, especially when it is a good idea like Quebec sovereignty and income tax issues. We will continue, we will keep at the government and perhaps soon, the government will concede as it did with Bill C-10 on the tax convention between Canada and the United States.

I repeat, and I conclude on this point, this was a real battle horse for the Bloc. We won. We were there for our constituents and we will be there again, every day, until Quebec becomes a country.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1997
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LIB

Susan Whelan

Liberal

Ms. Susan Whelan (Essex, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I believe the hon. member has just mentioned the importance of this bill and the time urgency of it as it affects Canadians receiving U.S. social security. This includes all Canadians, not just seniors but those who are disabled and spouses and children of those who worked in the United States.

I believe the hon. member has already partially corrected the record where the member for Edmonton—Strathcona earlier said that it was rushed through the industry committee.

As chair of the industry committee I want to confirm that I spoke to every member on the steering committee, including the member who represents the Reform Party. It was agreed by all parties that we would have no witnesses because of the urgency of this bill and get it back to the House as quickly as possible for debate. It was not that witnesses were disallowed.

For two years this bill has been debated. For two years this issue has been out there. If the Reform Party wanted to do its research, it would see that this has been going on for two years. As the member for the Bloc said, it has been going on too long. It is now before the House and we must deal with this as quickly as possible.

I hope that all members will recognize the importance of getting the refunds back to people as quickly as possible. We must recognize the importance of this bill to put Canadians on parity with their neighbours who live next to each other whether they are seniors or not seniors, that those who receive income will pay their taxes based on what they should pay. We recognize that they pay tax on U.S. social security by the fact that they are only going to include 85% and not 100% of their income whereas their Canadian neighbours who worked in Canada and receive only Canadian benefits will pay tax on 100% of their income.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1997
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BQ

Michel Bellehumeur

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur

Mr. Speaker, the member is right about not hearing witnesses in order to speed up passage of the bill, given the Bloc Quebecois' repeated demands, given that we understood that we would not be getting separate bills, as I was saying we would have preferred, but so as not to further delay implementation, given that the government had not acted as quickly as we would have liked.

The federal machine can only move so quickly, however. We therefore did agree with the government not to hear witnesses. These were issues the Bloc Quebecois and the Liberal government looked at very closely. We therefore knew where we were headed. There were precedents: Canada had signed several international treaties; that was also on the agenda. There were also treaties with the OECD.

What it all boils down to is that we have this bill. It is not what we would have liked, but I think that at this stage, in the interest of speed, all parties, government and opposition alike, should cooperate in order to ensure the speediest possible passage of this bill, the purpose of which is to have everyone paying their fair share of taxes.

This does not mean, however, that there is no need for vigilance. It does not prevent the government from taking a very close look at its tax system to ensure that corporations taking advantage of tax havens are not encouraged but, on the contrary, watched very closely. We are therefore going to cooperate in ensuring that this bill is passed as quickly as possible.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1997
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?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Questions and comments. Hon. members, we have just a couple of minutes before we go to statements by members. If we have enough of the members in place, let us get started with statements and we will come back to the hon. member for Churchill on debate because he would have to be interrupted after about two minutes.

We will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 1997
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LIB

David Pratt

Liberal

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as the Canadian War Museum moves forward with plans for a long awaited expansion, I am very pleased that an advisory committee has been established.

The war museum holds a special place in the hearts of many with its mandate to stand as a memorial to those Canadians who defended peace, freedom and democracy.

It is essential that Canadians of all ages as well as future generations be informed and reminded of Canada's proud military heritage. Those concerned with the future of the museum, such as veterans groups should become actively involved in reviewing and commenting on future policy proposals.

It is intended that the Canadian War Museum advisory committee would work together with the war museum, the friends of the war museum and many other organizations that care deeply about the future of this institution.

Not everyone can make the pilgrimage to Vimy Ridge or Dieppe, but by working together we can ensure that the war museum explores new ways and continues to be a focal point for national remembrance.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Canadian War Museum
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REF

Philip Mayfield

Reform

Mr. Philip Mayfield (Cariboo—Chilcotin, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, two things happened this week to indicate that the wheels are falling off the Liberals' gun control scheme.

In a brief presented to the justice committee, the Canadian Police Association said the Liberal government misled them into believing that police could get into the firearms computer system when making emergency calls. After hearing this criticism the Liberals now say that the police on call will have computer access to the system.

We also learned this week that the justice department's mail-in registration system will be so unreliable and unsafe that it will actually endanger policemen into providing inaccurate information. For example, justice officials claim that any firearms serial number incorrectly recorded on a mail-in application and then put on a registration certificate will still make the certificate valid. This is ridiculous. This means police will be unable to count on the accuracy of vital information entered into the system.

Why do the Liberals not face it? Their gun registration system is falling apart and must be scrapped immediately. It is becoming obvious that this sloppy gun registration system gives police no security but instead greater risk.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Gun Control
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BQ

Richard Marceau

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Richard Marceau (Charlesbourg, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary wing of the Bloc Quebecois recently published a booklet entitled “Quebec—on the road to nationhood”.

This booklet is designed to be a credible and intelligent response to the world-wide disinformation campaign led by the federal government and its henchmen around the world.

It sets out in factual, non partisan terms the real political situation of Quebec and Canada, thereby giving its full meaning to the unaltered commitment of many Quebeckers to taking their destiny into their own hands.

On behalf of Quebec's sovereignists, I wish to congratulate my colleagues from the Bloc Quebecois who sit on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on a job well done. They have advanced Quebec's project to build a country of its own by the year 2000.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Bloc Quebecois
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LIB

Sophia Leung

Liberal

Ms. Sophia Leung (Vancouver Kingsway, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister for International Trade and the Secretary of State for the Asia Pacific on their important work during the APEC summit in Vancouver.

Their leadership has brought together the heads of state and senior officials of 18 countries to share their common concerns and their financial goals.

Some have accused the government of dismissing human rights issues. This is simply not true. Canada remains committed to human rights. This commitment was demonstrated in the government's support for the people's summit.

We make our voice heard through dialogue and co-operation, not through confrontation and accusation.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Apec
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LIB

Bernard Patry

Liberal

Mr. Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to Joe Beelen, a resident of my riding of Pierrefonds—Dollard returning from a voluntary assignment to Thailand for the Canadian Executive Service Organization, CESO.

The purpose of this assignment was to provide assistance to a pharmaceutical products laboratory. Joe Beelen used his skills and experience to develop an exhaustive index of all standing operating procedures as well as to provide technical information and assistance in preparing the products.

Later, he developed a personnel training program and designed a system for setting production standards to meet government requirements. This first class volunteer is one of the many Canadians who go on assignments outside the country for CESO.

We can be proud of the work accomplished by these volunteers who represent Canada so well abroad.

Thank you, Mr. Beelen, and congratulations on your involvement in this important project.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Joe Beelen
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REF

Peter Goldring

Reform

Mr. Peter Goldring (Edmonton East, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, Edmonton was shocked this week by yet another failure of our justice system. A man with a long history of abuse, including a recent arrest for assault with a weapon and death threats against his wife, was jailed and then released on bail. He then proceeded to do exactly what he was arrested for threatening to do. He killed his wife.

A victim of abuse in life, a victim of justice failure in death, Jennifer's calls for help went unanswered. Two tragic deaths and one orphaned child is the legacy of the failure of our justice system. The law must ensure jail until trial for such obvious threats to society.

A two year old girl now cries out alone.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Justice
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LIB

Susan Whelan

Liberal

Ms. Susan Whelan (Essex, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, during our November constituency week I held a very successful pre-budget consultation meeting in my riding of Essex. Interestingly my constituents did not find that a tax cut was desired or needed.

I say “interestingly” because it was reported in today's Globe and Mail that a C. D. Howe Institute report, authored by economist William Robson of the institute and William Searth of McMaster University, recommends that the government hold off on any tax cuts in favour of using budgetary surpluses to aggressively pay down the national debt.

Although my constituents acknowledged our national debt as a problem, and some felt it was a priority, they also have basic concerns for our social programs, pension plans, health care and education. Our 50:50 election promise is what they want.

I urge the finance minister to make careful consideration of the advice being offered through the pre-budget consultation process. I congratulate those Canadians who took the time and effort to participate in the process.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Taxation
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BQ

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, we are supposedly living in an brand new Canada that bears no relation with the centralizing and domineering Canada of old. As evidence of that, we are often told that the issues relating to forestry, tourism, mining and social housing have been settled.

However, in the last 60 days, the Liberal government announced that it will develop a plan to ensure Canadians get appropriate education. It also announced programs that will deal with young people, health, rural communities, school adjustment, not to mention the social union, and centralizing bills such as the legislation on drinking water.

In spite of the rhetoric, the Liberal government's attitude remains the same. It is more centralizing and domineering than ever. When the federal government takes a step forward, provincial governments take a step backward. The only way for Quebeckers to move forward is to achieve sovereignty and they will do so.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Canadian Federalism
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LIB

Mac Harb

Liberal

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, Child & Youth Friendly Ottawa is an organization dedicated to promoting children and youth issues. By developing partnerships among young people, business groups and political leaders, local youth are able to experience a sense of citizenship and responsibility.

Founded by an outstanding community leader, Max Keeping, Child & Youth Friendly Ottawa is run in partnership with young people. Its successful work includes inspecting and assisting local businesses in the area to become child and youth friendly. It also promotes student arts, advises regional government on civic issues affecting youth, and has established a youth volunteer corps.

Children in every part of our country are Canada's promise for the future. With the millennium just around the corner, Child & Youth Friendly Ottawa is calling on all members of Parliament to help organize their constituencies so that Canada will become the first child and youth friendly country in the world.

I support its call and congratulate Max Keeping and everyone at Child & Youth Friendly Ottawa on a job well done. Keep up the excellent work.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Child & Youth Friendly Ottawa
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REF

Rob Anders

Reform

Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, let me read a little shopping list: over 6,000 bags of Humpty Dumpty cheese popcorn, 12,600 bags of Hostess Cheezies, and 57,540 bags of potato chips.

Some would think this is for the Reform snack pack caucus meeting but it is not. Correctional Service Canada has ordered 89,493 bags of snacks for Canadian criminals from coast to coast to coast. That is a convict snack bill of $45,000 that we are sending to the Canadian taxpayers. Never mind stopping patronage pork; we have to stop prison pork rinds.

It is time for the government to get the message. Prisons are not convenience stores and taxpayers do not want to pick up the tab for convicts' snacks. No more chips at the convict snack shack while taxpayers take the dip.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Correctional Service Canada
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LIB

Nick Discepola

Liberal

Mr. Nick Discepola (Vaudreuil—Soulanges, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to mention another initiative of our government that will promote the economic development of a strategic sector of the Canadian economy.

On November 25, the Secretary of State responsible for the federal office of regional development in Quebec inaugurated the new offices of the Institut de pharmacologie, in Sherbrooke. This high-tech centre, which specializes in medical chemistry and pharmacology, is the only one of its kind in Canada.

Through its contribution of close to $4 million, the federal government has recognized the expertise of the Eastern Townships in the area of medical research. It has also shown the confidence it has in partnerships with the private sector and with educational institutions to develop a promising sector for Canada.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Institut De Pharmacologie
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LIB

Sue Barnes

Liberal

Mrs. Sue Barnes (London West, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, in recent weeks my riding and others across Canada have been contacted by very concerned Canadians about the seal hunt. There are a couple of comments I would like to put on record because I know there has been a lot of misinformation about the seal hunt.

There has been a televised advertising campaign put on by Canadians Against the Commercial Seal Hunt. It has launched an advertising campaign against Canadian sealers loaded with inaccurate and misleading allegations.

CATCSH alleges that Canadians are subsidizing an industry that kills baby seals. That is absolutely false.

CATCSH alleges that the seal harvest provides few economic benefits. That is also false.

CATCSH alleges that Canadians paid $3.4 million in subsidies and administrative costs in 1996 for a seal harvest that is uneconomic. That is absolutely false.

Contrary to the impression conveyed by this organization and other anti-sealing zealots, the commercial harvesting of seals in Canada is more tightly regulated now than at any other time in our history.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Seal Hunt
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NDP

Bev Desjarlais

New Democratic Party

Ms. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, it has been quite a week in parliament. Reform members supported record bank profits made from the service charges paid by Canadians.

Reform told Canadians that despite mounting evidence Canada need not join the rest of the world to fight global warming.

Reform showed no respect for working men and women or for the collective bargaining process.

Perhaps most disappointing, Reform spoiled its motion on the future of Canada and the process of reaching a national consensus through the Calgary declaration, a process we in the New Democratic Party support, especially the idea of Canadians finding common ground on unity, by moving an amendment that could be interpreted to stand in the way of aboriginal treaty rights and self-government.

The New Democratic Party supports the process which began in Calgary. Shame on the official opposition.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Reform Party Of Canada
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PC

Peter MacKay

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC)

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to pay tribute to one of Canada's greatest legal minds, the late Supreme Court Justice John Sopinka.

Much has been said this week to describe the life and accomplishments of Justice Sopinka. From modest beginnings he attained stature as a professional football player, respected criminal litigator and a member of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Whether catching a football or writing a thoughtful dissenting judgment, he did so with a class and unique style all his own. In his 64 years John Sopinka demonstrated numerous personal qualities that one could not help but admire and wish to emulate.

He was passionate about his vision for the law, often able to forge consensus over difficult issues at the Supreme Court of Canada level. Justice Sopinka had the ability to build coalition without watering down principles. He was unafraid to stand up to the changing winds of public opinion in making a decision if he felt that it was consistent with legal and social principles.

As an athlete, attorney, judge and family man, Justice Sopinka set new standards for greatness. If the magnitude of one's loss is the measure of life's gifts, this loss seems immeasurable.

His family and Canada mourn his departure for a higher court. Our sincere condolences to Mrs. Sopinka and the Sopinka family.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   The Late John Sopinka
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LIB

Raymonde Folco

Liberal

Ms. Raymonde Folco (Laval West, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as in previous years, the Laval Volunteer Centre is organizing again this year the 13th edition of its Christmas Basket Campaign, and has set as its goal to collect 500 tonnes of food.

The purpose of this operation is to provide assistance to families who are going through serious economic difficulties because, of illness, bankruptcy or job loss, for example.

By enlisting the co-operation of 600 businesses and with the commitment of 1,400 volunteers and the contributions of the population of Laval, the centre expects to distribute 1,300 food baskets to about 4,000 persons on Sunday, December 21.

There are also in these families children and young people who, unfortunately, cannot enjoy some of the simple pleasures they so justly deserve.

Therefore, the Laval Volunteer Centre also organizes a large campaign to collect new toys so that these children too can enjoy Christmas.

In conclusion, I congratulate the organizers of this important charitable event and I encourage Canadians everywhere in Canada to also become involved in their own community.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Christmas Basket Campaign
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LIB

Mauril Bélanger

Liberal

Mr. Mauril Bélanger (Ottawa—Vanier, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to be negative, but I would like to point out that there seems to be a contradiction between what our Bloc colleagues are preaching and what their PQ counterparts in Quebec are doing.

Presently, TVO, the English language educational television network in Ontario, is broadcast to certain regions in Quebec based on a monthly wholesale pass-through rate. But in the case of TFO, the French channel of that network, Télé Québec and the Government of Quebec refuse to allow its broadcasting based on such a rate.

Instead of feeling sorry for French Canadians and throwing up their hands in despair, as they unfortunately have a tendency to do sometimes, my colleagues in the Bloc should pick up the phone, describe to their PQ counterparts how great TFO is, and remind them of their own policy on French Canadians outside Quebec.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Tfo Television Network
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November 28, 1997