Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
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View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2017-11-23 10:04 [p.15491]
Pursuant to subsection 79.2(2) of the Parliament of Canada Act, it is my duty to present to the House a report from the parliamentary budget officer entitled “Analysis of Changes to the Taxation of Corporate Passive Investment Income”.
View Dan Ruimy Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Dan Ruimy Profile
2017-11-23 10:05 [p.15491]
Mr. Speaker, I have the hon. to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, entitled “Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer: Promoting Best Practices”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to the report.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2017-11-23 10:05 [p.15491]
Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, on Monday, November 27, 2017, when debate concludes on the motion to refer Bill C-59 (An Act respecting national security matters) to committee before second reading, every question necessary to dispose of the said motion, shall be deemed put, and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on that day.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2017-11-23 10:06 [p.15491]
Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have the unanimous consent of the House to present the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion, is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions from constituents in my riding of South Okanagan—West Kootenay, both relating to nuclear weapons. The first points out that 60 years after nuclear bombs devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, people around the world still very much desire a nuclear weapons-free world. Therefore, they call upon Parliament to enact legislation to make Canada an official nuclear weapons-free zone.
The second petition refers to depleted uranium weapons. Petitioners point out these are radioactively and chemically toxic on impact, and they have been used in recent wars. They call on Parliament to enact legislation banning the manufacture and stockpiling of these weapons in Canada, and forbidding Canadian Forces from using depleted uranium weapons in any of their actions.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today on behalf of the wonderful constituents of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.
In the first petition, petitioners recognize that in 2008, the House of Commons adopted a motion in support of the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, and that the truth and reconciliation commission has called on this in their calls for action. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the House of Commons to adopt Bill C-262, an act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
As evidenced by the sheer number—
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2017-11-23 10:08 [p.15491]
I would remind all members not to provide editorial comment or debate during this process.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is on bees and pollinators. The sheer number of signatures is evidence of the importance my constituents attach to the issue. They recognize that honey bees contribute more than $2.2 billion to Canada's agricultural economy each year, and are very concerned with the collapse in hives and the health of bees. Therefore, they call upon the Government of Canada to take concrete steps to solve the problem of the high mortality rate among bees and other insect pollinators and to develop a strategy to address the multiple factors related to bee colony deaths.
As a small-scale farmer myself, I can very much attach importance to this message.
View François Choquette Profile
NDP (QC)
View François Choquette Profile
2017-11-23 10:10 [p.15492]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to present a petition signed by hundreds of students at École secondaire La Poudrière in Drummondville.
The petitioners state that, because Saudi Arabia has one of the world's worst human rights records, the government should cancel the $15-billion contract to sell light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to end Canadian arms sales to countries that violate human rights.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise one more time to table a petition with respect to eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. It indicates that these types of illnesses have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, that children as young as seven are diagnosed with eating disorders, that more than one million Canadians suffer, and that families have been negatively affected. It also indicates that the damage it causes can affect the brain; cause hair, skin, and bone mass loss; and cause the heart to shut down. It states that the first cause of death is cardiac arrest, and the second is suicide.
The petitioners are asking the Government of Canada to support Motion No. 117, which happens to be my motion. They are also asking the government to work with the provincial and territorial governments and all stakeholders to develop a comprehensive pan-Canadian strategy for eating disorders to include better prevention, diagnosis, treatment, support, and research.
I would add that the petitioners are from Penetanguishene, Penetang, Midland, Tiny, London, Kitchener, Guelph, and Cambridge.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2017-11-23 10:12 [p.15492]
Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand at this time.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2017-11-23 10:12 [p.15492]
Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2017-11-23 10:13 [p.15492]
moved:
That the House agree with the Prime Minister’s statement in the House on November 1, 2017, that “sunshine is the best disinfectant”; and call on the Finance Minister to reveal all assets he has bought, sold or held within all his private companies or trust funds since he became Finance Minister, to determine if his financial interests have conflicted with his public duties.
He said: Mr. Speaker, we are called to this place to act in the public interest, to advantage the people we represent and not ourselves. No one has more power to advantage either himself or others than the Minister of Finance. He imposes taxation, tariffs, regulation, and subsidies. His department sells hundreds of billions of dollars of bonds on the market, which pay interest from Canadian taxpayers to lenders here and around the world. As the hon. member for Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, with whom I will be splitting my time, will point out later, those powers must always be carried out in the public interest.
There are two major dangers in allowing one man or woman to have so much financial power. The first is the danger of a conflict of interest, and the second is the misuse of privileged information. Let us begin with the first.
When any individual controls $330 billion of other people's money and regulates how businesses operate, then he or she can make decisions to favour companies or entities in which he or she has ownership. For example, the Minister of Finance was executive chairman of a billion-dollar pension administration company before he took his public duties. During that time, he advocated for a new hybrid model of pension called a “targeted benefit pension plan”. Those plans take from defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans, mix them together, and then provide people with a pension that has a benefit that is aspirational rather than locked in stone. In other words, the company would promise that it would try to deliver a certain benefit to future retirees who worked for the company, but acknowledge that market conditions may change, and therefore the benefit may also change with it.
These are highly technical, very specialized pension products, and very few companies offer them. I have had my research team scour the financial system and they have found that there are only three companies in Canada that have any specialization in offering these unique products. One of them is Morneau Shepell, the very company that the Minister of Finance helped create and for which he was the executive chairman. Up until only weeks ago, he had continuing interests of approximately $20 million in that very company. He then introduced a bill that would allow that company to provide these highly specialized financial products, or targeted benefit pension plans.
Let me be clear about the specificity as opposed to the generality of this particular initiative. Generally, he introduced a bill on pensions while owning shares in a pension company. Specifically, he introduced a unique financial product, which this company provides, through a bill in the House of Commons. Even more specifically, he used the unique model that exists only in New Brunswick as the prototype for the bill he would introduce here in the House of Commons.
Who helped unveil and design that model? It was Morneau Shepell. When? It was while the minister himself was the executive chairman of that very company. Therefore, this is not a matter of general application, but a matter of high specificity.
The law says that a minister of finance can advantage himself as long as he is advantaging everybody else at exactly the same time. When Jim Flaherty got a discount on a hockey stick at Canadian Tire, because he cut the GST, he was not in a conflict of interest, because anyone else could have saved two percentage points on a hockey stick, all 35 million Canadians.
This bill, by contrast, is so unique, so specialized and technical, that not only are there only about three companies in all of Canada that could provide the product created in the bill, but of those three, the one that had previously designed the product in question, and all the detailed contours of that product, was the minister's company, a company named after his family, a company in which his father is a board member, a company in which, until discovered, the minister himself held $20 million in shares. It is a highly specific, clear conflict of interest.
There is another issue, and that is the advanced use of privileged information. Ministers have the ability to make stock markets rise and fall, because they make announcements on regulation and taxation that influence and affect the markets. That is why we have to ensure that they do not make financial decisions of their own on buying and selling stocks, using that information before it is available to everyone else.
The basis of the free market system is that buyer and seller have at their disposal the same information so that neither has an unfair advantage over another. One might do a better job of researching or accessing that information, but as long as it is equally available, there is no problem. That is precisely why we have a tradition, a very carefully guarded tradition, that no market-moving information is to be introduced before the closing of the markets.
Typically, big announcements by government are made throughout the day, but not big market-moving announcements. They are made in the evening so that nobody can get the news, get online, and make a trade. That is how seriously we take the commitment that everyone in the marketplace is on the same, equal footing and that no one has an informational advantage over anyone else.
That informational advantage is not an academic question, because if the buyer knows more than the seller, or the seller knows more than the buyer, the person who has the advance knowledge is actually, in a strange way, robbing the person with whom he or she is carrying out the transaction.
If John knows more than Jim because of this privileged information, and John sells stocks to Jim on the basis of that privileged information, he may, for example, get a better price than he would have if Jim knew what was really going on, so Jim is shortchanged, because he has to pay more than he would have paid if he had had the same information as John. That is why John and Jim and Bill and everyone else should know exactly the same things when they agree to the voluntary exchange of securities in the stock market.
That latter danger, the danger of allowing some to have privileged information over the rest of the marketplace, has been an under-explored aspect of the finance minister's personal controversy, one we will explore in greater detail, and one way to explore it is by opening up his books.
The minister has a vast array of numbered companies and trust funds in which he has assets, which he has not revealed, that he held over two years while making important decisions that could enrich himself at everyone else's expense. If he has nothing to hide, he will stand today with us in the House and support the motion. He will tell Canadians everything he has owned, both personally and through these companies, so that all of us can judge his conduct and ensure that he has always acted in the public interest and not in his private interest.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2017-11-23 10:23 [p.15493]
Mr. Speaker, former prime minister Stephen Harper affirmed the Ethics Commissioner and the role she played. In fact, the rules this government is operating under are identical to the rules the Conservatives operated under when they were in government.
The other thing that is worthy of noting is that this particular minister has been under attack virtually since day one as he has provided many wonderful initiatives for Canada's middle class. I will have the opportunity to expand on some of those initiatives.
The office of the commissioner is independent. We have a joint opposition across the way that continuously wants to attack the character of the Minister of Finance. Since day one, the opposition has been after the Minister of Finance, and he has done exactly what other ministers, including ministers under the Harper government, did.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2017-11-23 10:24 [p.15494]
Mr. Speaker, the member's logic is that because the minister has done so many wonderful things, he does not have to be accountable to Canadians. I would question the pretext of his argument.
I am not going to concede that the minister has done any wonderful things for anybody other than himself. If that member disagrees with me, he will vote for the motion, because if he believes that this minister has acted with unimpeachable integrity, he will throw open the blinds and let in the sunshine, which the Prime Minister has called the greatest disinfectant. He will let all eyes see what there is inside and behind those blinds.
I will conclude by saying this. The member continually says, no problem, the minister has filed everything in a secret report to the Ethics Commissioner. The Ethics Commissioner works for the House of Commons. Let us be clear; so does the minister. In our parliamentary system, we are all accountable to Parliament, not to a bureaucrat or an official somewhere in the apparatus of the government. We are accountable to this place, because this is the place that is elected by the Canadian people, and it is in this place he should be.
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