October 25, 2005


The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-64, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (vehicle identification number), be read the second time and referred to a committee.


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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-64.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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LIB

Karen Redman

Liberal

Hon. Karen Redman

Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it you would find unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House with Liberals voting in favour.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Is it agreed that we proceed in this fashion?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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CPC

Rob Nicholson

Conservative

Hon. Rob Nicholson

Mr. Speaker, members of the Conservative Party will be voting no.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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BQ

Michel Guimond

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Guimond

Mr. Speaker, members of the Bloc Québécois will be voting in favour of this motion.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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NDP

Yvon Godin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Yvon Godin

Mr. Speaker, members of the NDP will be voting in favour of this motion.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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IND
IND
CPC

Randy White

Conservative

Mr. Randy White

Mr. Speaker, I abstained on the first bill and I am voting the opposite on this one. I am opposed to the bill.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
Permalink
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

It being 6:08 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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CPC

Dave Chatters

Conservative

Mr. David Chatters (Westlock—St. Paul, CPC)

moved that Bill C-271, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tuition credit and education credit), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the motion for second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on Finance of Bill C-271, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (tuition credit and education credit) is deemed moved by the hon. member for Westlock--St. Paul and seconded by the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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CPC

Ted Menzies

Conservative

Mr. Ted Menzies (Macleod, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand this evening and support a private member's bill put forward by my colleague who, unfortunately, is unable to be here. The hon. member for Westlock--St. Paul has put a tremendous amount of effort into the proposed legislation and it is most unfortunate that his health will not allow him to be here to actually speak to this tonight. Therefore I will attempt to fill that spot.

Bill C-271 is an act to amend the Income Tax Act to do with tuition credits and education credits. It amends the act by extending the tuition credit and education credit to individuals who follow a formal course of instruction given by a qualified music teacher for students 16 years of age and older.

At first blush, one might say that this is a bit of a narrow focus but when we do the research on this, as my hon. colleague has, we find that it is a very important issue. Many studies have been done on the value of this sort of encouragement for further education specifically in this field of music.

Bill C-271 would level the playing field for students who wish to pursue music education and also for the music teachers industry. In doing the research we find that it is quite a large industry. A good number of individuals are involved in this.

A constituent of mine provided me with some information on this. There are currently 20,000 private music teachers in this country with an average studio size of 15 to 20 persons per week. We are talking about potentially 400,000 people, so it is much larger than at first might be suggested.

I would remind the House that constituents in my riding of Macleod are impacted by this and concerned enough about it that they have written letters to me and I am sure other members of the House have received those sorts of requests for us to give serious consideration to the bill.

The Income Tax Act currently allows for a tax deduction for individuals who are enrolled in an education institution that is certified by the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to be providing courses, other than those designed for a university credit, that furnishes a person with skills for or improves a persons skills in an occupation.

Bill C-271 would extend this same tax deduction to individuals pursuing an accreditation in music from a qualified music teacher, and that is an important part of this. It is only from qualified music teachers.

The formula for calculating the tuition credit and education credit for students pursuing an accreditation in music, as provided in Bill C-271, is simply the same formula that is used to calculate the standing current tuition credit and education credit for students who are already enrolled in post-secondary education.

This of course is certainly under the certification of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and provides courses other than those designed for university credits and it furnishes a person with skills for or improves a persons skills in an occupation.

Bill C-271 has several accountability measures that are very important to the Conservatives in the House because we are always concerned about accountability. We have seen such a lack of it in the House and in the government that accountability is very important. We do not support anything that does not bring accountability into it.

This accountability measure would protect against tax fraud, which also is important. Individuals can only claim a tax deduction for music lessons if they are enrolled in a course of instruction that leads to a diploma. There is an end to this that has to culminate in a diploma before any tax credits are allowable.

The course must be given by a person who is certified by the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to be a qualified music teacher and is in the business of giving music instruction. It is very specific in the accreditation of the teachers and of the roles of the students.

In addition, individuals must prove their enrolment by filing a certificate issued by the qualified music teacher with the government. We are never too excited when we see more government interference but if we are going to provide accountability then this is a necessity in this case.

Bill C-271 sets out criteria for the Minister of Human Resource Development to apply when determining eligibility for qualified music teachers. Under the bill, the minister must certify any person who holds an associate or licensed diploma in music, teaching or as a solo performer and that is granted by a designated educational institution, holds a bachelor of music degree or higher in instrumental music, voice or theory, or is a member of a provincial music teachers association.

I am sure a lot of members of the House are not aware that there are provincial music teachers associations. In fact, the author of the bill has consulted very closely with these music teachers associations to ensure they are i comfortable with this and understand all the implications. They were all very supportive of it and are looking forward to seeing it happen.

The Conservative Party believes in greater accessibility to education by eliminating as many barriers to post-secondary education as possible. The transfer will be distributed to provinces and territories on the basis of the numbers of enrolled students. We believe strongly that provincial jurisdiction must be respected. I am sure there will be some people who would suggest that certainly this is provincial jurisdiction but it is important to remember the overarching role of the federal government in this. It does have to play a role in addressing tuition and standards.

Analysis conducted by the Library of Parliament suggests that the costs associated with the bill would be negligible. It makes everyone on this side of the House quite happy when we can actually accomplish something without a burden on the taxpayers.

In addition, the cost to the treasury of extending the tuition credit, an education credit to individuals who follow a formal course, would be partially offset by the tax collected from the music teaching business as a result of increased enrolment. That is a strong argument for supporting this because not only will it encourage students to further their educations but it will expand on an already existing and vibrant music industry. We all know that it will help make the world a much happier place if we have more people who actually know how to play musical instruments.

I would take myself as the exception because I am not much good at playing any instrument but I envy those who can and, especially for those who have the talent, we need to provide them with the opportunity to take part in this at a reasonable cost. We also need to encourage those teachers to continue their business. Lots of these teachers have had wonderful careers in the music industry and can impart some good information, knowledge and advice to the students. Any way we can encourage that I think would be great.

This would create greater access to an alternative form of education. Not everyone fits in the mould like we all think they should. I know some very talented young people who would benefit if we were to extend the tuition credit and the education credit.

We must also be aware that Bill C-271 is a job-creating bill. It is designed to help the students but it is also designed to help the teachers. It would serve to not only create more and better paying careers for music teachers as a result of increased enrolment but it would also provide individuals who receive music accreditation with better paying careers. Hopefully it would increase their musical talents or at least help them to take advantage of that.

The music teaching industry has started a letter writing campaign in support of this legislation. I am sure that hon. members have been aware of this and I certainly hope have answered in the affirmative that they are going to support this bill. The Conservative Party believes that greater access to education is an essential component to creating a more productive economy.

Further to that, I might remind the House that it was only a few weeks ago that our leader actually put forward a very positive education proposal to help those who are not necessarily going to pursue a university education. We very much require more tradespeople. We will never see a more glaring example than in my province of Alberta. We are so short of labour in Alberta right now, with the booming oil industry, that we cannot find enough tradespeople to build the facilities that we need to help produce the oil and gas that heats the homes all across this country and also in the United States of course.

We are very much encouraged with the support we have of continuing the unfettered flow of oil and gas across the border, much to the surprise of some of the members opposite who might suggest we use that as a tool. That cannot happen. It is not a federal jurisdiction. We do not want to see that happen.

I am getting a little off topic. The issue is that it is not only the music industry that can benefit from looking outside the box. Not everyone needs a university education. Our leader put forward ideas to encourage tradespeople by helping them buy their equipment, encourage instructors to add to their programs to help students get the required trades skills that will be needed in the future, and to encourage the industries to develop apprenticeship programs. This bill very much fits into the mindset that the Conservatives have of encouraging education not only for youth, 16 and older, but for all those interested in contributing in other than just university roles.

Canada is very rich in musical talent and I envy people from the Maritimes. They seem to have much more talent. Albertans seem to be quite talented at extracting oil and gas from the earth, but we see the talents that the folks have in Atlantic Canada. Maybe we can teach more of these young Atlantic Canadians and they can impart some of their talent on those of us in western Canada. That is not to say we do not have a lot of talent in that part of the country.

I found some other interesting notes that I would like to share with the House. According to a benchmark study done for the Coalition for Music Education in Canada, funding for music programs is not keeping pace with demand and, hence, the need for this new piece of legislation. Quebec and Ontario have seen the largest decrease in the size of music programs, and time and financial resources are the biggest impediment to implementing these programs.

Other studies have found that the benefits of musical instruments are numerous other than giving us a lot of entertainment value. We all enjoy listening to those who are talented. Students involved in music programs actually show an increase in their IQ. I will not go into any further comments about how much music is needed in the House, but I think we all know that it would certainly help.

Music increases SATs, and the ability for students to retain more knowledge. It lowers their stress levels and increases their enjoyment of school, and goodness knows we could use more of that.

I will wrap up by quoting a researcher from the University of California in Irvine which stated:

Taking piano lessons improves specific math skills in elementary school children, according to a study by UC Irvine researchers. Piano instruction is believed to enhance the brain's “hard-wiring” for temporal reasoning the ability to visualize and transform objects in space and time. Music specifically helps with fractions and proportional math.

I support this bill and urge my hon. colleagues to do the same.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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LIB

John McKay

Liberal

Hon. John McKay (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, there is not much doubt on all sides of the House that this is a commendable initiative.

I want to ask my hon. friend a number of questions. What would he say to a parent who has a child who is not musically inclined but is a dancer for instance? Would he extend this kind of tuition credit to somebody who is interested in art, or somebody who likes horseback riding, or somebody who plays hockey?

If this kind of personal enrichment credit were extended to people outside the formal education system, why would any of the demands from other parents with children who are personally enriched in other areas be less worthy than those in this particular bill? Is my colleague aware of what credits and deductions the Government of Canada already gives for music students and other students?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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CPC

Ted Menzies

Conservative

Mr. Ted Menzies

Madam Speaker, we look at this as a wonderful first step and we are not suggesting this should be the end. Unless I am mistaken, this Liberal government has been in place for almost 13 years and we have not seen this type of forward moving, encouraging legislation for young people. I guess we need a private member's bill to do the government's work. It is interesting to note that those members stand up and criticize a good step like this when they have had 13 years to bring it forward.

I would put this as step number one. We would certainly like to take it further, but one step at a time. If we can get the members on the opposite side of the House to support this, and I certainly hope they do, then we would be encouraged enough to bring some other forward looking legislation before the House again.

I do not have all of the dollars and cents on the credits. As I said in my remarks, it is very minimal, almost nonexistent. It would be offset by the tax credits and the taxes collected by the teachers who have more jobs.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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CPC

Joy Smith

Conservative

Mrs. Joy Smith (Kildonan—St. Paul, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I am very excited about this private member's bill because at one point in my life I was a music teacher. This bill is exciting and forward thinking. It would build small business and enhance the music that we need in this world.

Research has shown that if children are musically trained their brain develops. Mathematics and music and all those kinds of things do good things toward the development and the educational potential of our students.

We know in terms of credits that any small businesses get write-offs in terms of their homes such as hydro et cetera. However, it is very expensive to pay for music lessons. Over a number of years the costs add up. How many students would be encouraged to keep up with music studies if there were some financial benefits?

We have two daughters who are violinists. It is very costly to keep those kinds of lessons up. This happens to many families across our nation. Members on this side of the House are trying to speak to the needs of middle and low income families. Could the member please speak to this issue?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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CPC

Ted Menzies

Conservative

Mr. Ted Menzies

Madam Speaker, I will refer back to some of the research that was done by the hon. member from Westlock—St. Paul. I once again commend him for the tremendous effort that he put into this. We are looking at 400,000 people involved in the present program. I would not want to speculate how much that number would grow, but in 10 seconds I think it would grow immensely.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
Permalink

October 25, 2005