We'll call the meeting to order. As I think all members certainly know, we're dealing with clause-by-clause consideration of Bill .
Before I start into the bill, would anyone have any problems if we stood part 4 and part 5 and started with them at 3:30 tomorrow? Are we okay with that? We'll deal today with parts 1, 2, and 3, and then part 6, divisions 1, 2, and 3, and so on. We'll hold part 4 and part 5 until 3:30 tomorrow. There are no officials on part 4 for today because they have to come from Charlottetown.
Are we okay with that? Okay. Then we'll start.
First of all, pursuant to Standing Order 75(1), consideration of clause 1, the short title, is postponed.
There are no amendments on clauses 2 to 12. Do you want to group those, with clauses 2 to 12 carried on division?
(Clauses 2 to 12 inclusive agreed to on division)
(On clause 13)
The Chair: The first amendment up is CPC-1, by Mr. Kmiec.
The floor is yours, Tom.
Pardon me. My apologies to the interpreters.
There is a description that continues on in terms of what the problem is. They also go into situations where the “inherited property exclusion” in the subparagraph won't apply, limiting parent-child, and say as well that “[a]rm's length borrowings with no personal guarantee should be arm's length capital”. It goes on.
I thought that this amendment as structured would avoid some of the issues and would be closer to what the joint committee of these two large organizations, the Bar Association and the CPAs, have said would be a means of making it fairer in situations where there is a spousal breakdown, and ensuring that the agreement they reach, and that the judge agrees to, would then be the way that they would be taxed.
Again, if there's a clean, friendly amendment to make this more effective, I just think this gets at a fairness provision in making sure that an outcome is fair in situation where.... Right now, as the rules are, they won't apply, and some people might get into a situation where they're taxed too much or taxed in a way that would be inappropriate. This would just be an easier way to plan the property settlement agreement through the court system. That's the overview.
The proposals in clause 13 of the bill operate within the general scheme of the act relating to property transfers on the dissolution of a marriage, the breakdown of a marriage.
In particular, there is already a provision in the “excluded amount” definition that relates to property transferred as a result of the dissolution of a marriage. It refers simply to subsection 160(4) of the act, which is a general rule that applies in respect to property transferred on the dissolution of a marriage. It has within it certain restrictions, and those are consistent with the rules in the general scheme of the act relating to transfers of property on a marriage breakdown.
This amendment would seem to apply where property is acquired directly or indirectly by an individual. Also, it seems to remove the requirement that they be living separate and apart at the end of the taxation year, which is in subsection 160(4).
The general rules in the act are designed to provide flexibility in the appropriate tax consequences on the dissolution of a marriage. There's a scheme, a coherent set of rules, that operates under very similar conditions so that things work well and appropriately together. The proposals in the excluded amount definition are designed to fit within that framework. That's why they specifically reference the general rule in subsection 160(4) on transfers as a result of the dissolution of a marriage, or of a common-law partnership—it's not just marriage.
In addition, another rule was added in response to comments by the joint committee and others relating to the dissolution of a marriage or common-law partnership. Where at the end of the year the two partners are living separate and apart, they would not be considered to be related for the purposes of the tax on split income. That was added after the December 2017 release and before the inclusion of the proposals in this bill. That's another circumstance to ensure that couples who have split are treated appropriately under the split-income rule. If you're not related to somebody, you won't be in a position to split income with them, and then you're appropriately cut under the rules.
There are rules currently in the proposals dealing with the dissolution of a marriage or common-law partnership. They exist within and, in the case of the deemed not-related status, go a bit beyond the current regime and the current set of rules that apply. They were considered to be appropriate to fit within how these events are taxed generally for income tax purposes.
Mr. Chair, this amendment was the more difficult one to draft, I found, so I want to thank the legislative counsel people. They were very understanding. I'll explain the scenario I'm trying to avoid.
If these new TOSI rules apply, the specified individual will pay the top marginal personal rate applicable to that income with no personal tax credits available. For example, let's assume it's a husband and wife who own shares in an operating company. Let's further assume that any dividends paid to the husband would attract TOSI. Both husband and wife are not in the top marginal rates of income, even if such dividends were received by the wife. If the husband receives dividends from this operating company, he will pay the top marginal personal tax rate on those dividends as a result of the application of the TOSI rules, even though, had the wife received those dividends on top of her actual dividends—in this scenario the same person is receiving all of it, with the husband not getting anything—she would still not have to pay the top marginal rates. I think that's unfair.
The scenario I have in my head is that maybe they have a successful micro-business. It's a family business. Maybe they earn $100,000 a year. Just to make the math simple, let's say they have $20,000 of operating costs they set aside. This is a year when they want to pay themselves out and pay themselves some money. The wife pays herself $60,000. The husband attracts the TOSI rules. She wants to pay him $20,000. In that scenario, he's paying the highest marginal rate on the $20,000, but if she took the $80,000, the whole amount to herself, she'd have a lower rate. The combined taxes are actually higher in this scenario. It just winds up in an unusual way.
I talked to Kenneth Keung and Kim Moody at Moodys Gartner about exactly how this would work. This amendment would at least get at that fairness concept, where both spouses may be working in the business but one spouse is not active enough to avoid the new TOSI rules. You would have a situation where you could overtax a spouse who is critical to the business because they're supporting the other one. The business is not successful enough to make a huge amount of money—the real target, I guess, of these TOSI rules would be the top 1%—and these people are just getting by. As I said, $100,000 a year in revenue is a pretty reasonable example, but paying out one of the spouses at a smaller rate would then attract this new marginal effective tax rate, the highest bracket they'd be paying on those dividends.
I'm trying to avoid the unfairness that I see here. Again, there may be a friendly amendment that would make this work better. This was a very difficult one to draft. I was told that if I had drafted it in the original format, it would have been very long and almost an entire rewrite of that portion of the Income Tax Act. I'm just looking for a way to avoid those types of scenarios where we unfairly overtax one person in a spousal relationship who is contributing to the business but not sufficiently to avoid the TOSI rules in a scenario where you're overtaxing them. I want to avoid that type of situation.
Mr. Chair, I'd be happy to go through the proposed amendment from a technical perspective.
The charging provision for the tax on split income is in subsection 120.4(2). As was noted, it currently applies the tax on split income at the highest marginal rate. That's defined in subsection 248(1) of the act as just the highest personal income tax, or the “highest percentage” in subsection 117(2), which is where you have the different marginal tax rates. It would make the tax on split income apply at the lower of the highest individual percentage and what's called the “appropriate percentage”. The appropriate percentage is defined in subsection 248(1). As well, looking back to the different marginal tax rates, it's defined as the “lowest percentage” that's listed in subsection 117(2), so the lowest of all personal income tax rates. The highest is 33% and the lowest is currently 15%. Of course, the lesser of 33% and 15% will always be 15%.
This would have the effect of applying the tax on split income at the lowest personal income tax rate, which would create an incentive to split income insofar as it would ensure that any income you're able to divert would be taxed at the lowest marginal rate, regardless of the tax rate of the actual income earner.
Mr. Chair, while we have the experts here, perhaps I could ask them a question.
Is there a way, then, to amend this to get at this example—the easy one, just because the math is simple—of $100,000 a couple, 60:20? In that scenario, it just doesn't seem fair to me that if you're trying to pay out your spouse, just because they're supporting you, and you're being helpful, and for whatever reason....
I understand you can just pay yourself $80,000 and just plan as a family, but is there a way to amend either this amendment or the act itself—perhaps you could point me in that direction for future use—that would get at the unfairness that I see? I know it's a normative statement, but I think it is unfair in a situation where you have a micro-business, you're successful, and you want to be able to pay out your spouse for the contributions they make to it.
I am going to present my amendment, which would amend clause 13 of the bill by replacing lines 21 and 22 on page 18. As you will see, it's quite simple. Its goal is to change the date the rules on the distribution of revenue would come into effect. The bill proposes that the rules apply in 2018 and subsequent taxation years. As the announced last December, new rules on the distribution of revenue will apply retroactively. We are voting on a bill that will implement rules retroactively.
The purpose of my amendment is to give enterprises or individuals affected by these new rules time to adjust. Its purpose is to change the year 2018 to 2019, so that all of those concerned may have time to adjust.
We are discussing amendments to the Income Tax Act that will apply retroactively. In other words, since January 2018, enterprises and individuals should already have adjusted to a law that has not yet been adopted but which was announced in December 2017.
This concerns the fairness of the application of the Income Tax Act. Ideally, we do not adopt rules retroactively. The new rules should only come into effect in 2019.
Mr. Chair, this is a very reasonable amendment.
We're already almost in June, we haven't even passed the rules, and the government wants them to apply as of January 1 of this year. In other words, people are going to know exactly what the rules are probably in early July, and they will have to retroactively adjust their plans back to the beginning of January.
That's not how good policy is done. Typically, you implement a tax change, particularly in the case of an increase, before it actually takes effect. In this case, we're making people live by laws that were not even in place when they took effect. I think that at the very least the government could push implementation back to the beginning of next year to give family businesses the ability to plan ahead.
Mr. Chair, I would like to follow up on what Mr. Poilievre has just said, in that many small business owners, if they don't have access to proper tax planning or an accountant on an ongoing basis, will not know how these changes will affect their income tax. To be switching it halfway through the year—this legislation still has to go through the other place—is not fair.
Witnesses have come forward and have said that CRA will need to have solid evidence if it's going to be able to face a challenge in the Tax Court on these things. Entrepreneurs should have been given notice of these rules so that they could talk with their accountants, with their tax planners, and arrange their affairs in a way that's tax efficient and fair, and in a way such that they could show that their spouse or children have been working in the business on an active basis and they can prove it.
As we know, there are many small family operations right across this great country. In British Columbia, 90% plus are small businesses, and I'll tell you what: many of them trust family members, because they do infrequent tasks and may not necessarily record their hours. I do think that the government has not been overly generous.
In fact, to now be saying to people this late into the process that these are the rules that they have to apply as of January 1.... I think it would be better policy to give a bit of a reprieve. I give my colleague from the NDP a nod. I disagree with these policy changes in general. I think this is going to make it.... There are so many rules, and many small business owners who do not have access to an accountant that can give them clear-cut answers will simply not split income, so we'll see less investment in our small family businesses.
I'll be supporting this motion, although I have to say that I do not support a new regime, just because I think the government did all of this in haste and did not consider the many impacts on Canadian small businesses.
I thank my colleagues who supported my concept of reasonable public policy.
With all due respect to my colleague, I must say that there is a difference between the fact of announcing measures, consultations or a draft bill, and the adoption of these measures by Parliament, which brings laws into effect. There is an enormous difference.
In addition, I'm afraid that my colleague, Mr. Fergus, lives in the Ottawa bubble a little too much. Entrepreneurs in my area or elsewhere in Canada who do not read the pronouncements of the on a daily basis may not even be aware of these changes.
This amendment simply aims to give people more leeway so as to ensure that those who are affected by the new law, that is to say the bill which is about to be adopted, will be well aware of the changes. I am thinking particularly about the measures that ask entrepreneurs to prove through time sheets the number of hours during which they or their children or a member of their family worked in the business. In this way, the Canada Revenue Agency would be convinced of their participation in the business.
According to the bill, people must have begun as of January 1, 2018, to fill out these time sheets in order to prove the participation of employees in the business. It would be reasonable to postpone that to next year to allow everyone to adjust. By doing that, the law would apply in an effective and efficient manner, because as many people as possible would be aware of the new rules.
Okay, amendment NDP-2 is withdrawn.
There are no amendments proposed on clauses 14 to 18.
(Clauses 14 to 18 inclusive agreed to on division)
(On clause 19)
The Chair: For amendment PV-1, the mover isn't here, but it is inadmissible in any event because it requires a royal recommendation, as I understand the English. I should perhaps read into the record why.
Bill introduces the Canada workers benefit. The amendment attempts to amend the definition of “adjusted net income” to remove some income that would otherwise be included in the adjusted net income. As a result, the income would be lower and therefore allow an individual to obtain more benefits.
As House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, states on page 772:
||Since an amendment may not infringe upon the financial initiative of the Crown, it is inadmissible if it imposes a charge on the public treasury, or if it extends the objects or purposes or relaxes the conditions and qualifications specified in the royal recommendation.
Ms. May, this is in relation to your amendment PV-1. In the opinion of the chair, the amendment could impose a higher charge on the public treasury than the one envisioned in the bill. Therefore, I rule the amendment inadmissible.
With that ruling, shall clause 19—
Mr. Chair, I was required to be here due to a motion passed by this committee. Many members may have forgotten about that. Identical motions were passed in every committee. I had a moment to explain to the chair that, whereas in the normal parliamentary rules I would have the right to present amendments that were substantive at report stage, this committee passed a motion which says I can't do that because I have an opportunity to present the motions and amendments at clause-by-clause consideration in every committee.
While report stage can only happen once a day for any particular bill, clause-by-clause can happen simultaneously in many places. Today, I find myself called before the committees to deal with Bill in the fisheries committee, Bill in the environment committee, as well as Bill in the finance committee, all at the same time, all in the same day, so I have to apologize that I've been in and out.
I need to plead with individual members to consider that if you're asked to pass a similar motion—for those of us who are re-elected in the next election—this motion imposes an extremely arduous and unfair process on members of smaller parties. While I would have liked to speak to this to support the evidence of the Canadian Labour Congress that the way the bill is functioning will unfairly reduce the Canadian worker benefit entitlement, I accept the chair's ruling that it's out of order for the reasons the chair has stated.
I did want to put on the record that I may not be here for one of my subsequent amendments because of the pressures of clause-by-clause in a simultaneous committee.
I hope this process of putting members through this through the motions passed by every committee will be reconsidered, because it's extremely unfair.
(Clause 19 agreed to on division)
(Clauses 20 to 68 inclusive agreed to on division)
(On clause 69)
The Chair: Part 2 is amendments to the excise tax, tobacco taxation, and related legislation. We have Mr. Coulombe and Mr. Mercille from Finance in case there are questions or clarifications. Thank you, officials, for coming.
The first amendment proposed is from the NDP.
Just for clarification, the vote on NDP-3 applies to NDP-4, as they are consequential.
On NDP-3, the floor is yours, Mr. Dusseault.
I was just going to mention that this amendment is the first of a series of two related amendments. This is a topic we have heard about repeatedly at this committee: the taxation or the levying of excise fees on cannabis used for medical purposes.
I know that the committee received many letters about this. I don't know the latest figures, but I believe that over 4,000 Canadians wrote to MPs or to the committee to oppose this new excise tax regime on medical cannabis. Many witnesses mentioned the disastrous consequences this could have on the current users of medical cannabis. It should be said that there is already a medical cannabis regime, and that it is a legal regime. There are many users: according to the testimony we heard at this committee, there are more than 260,000. People criticized this new tax on medication vehemently. This is indeed what it is, strictly speaking. In this case, in this part of the bill, we are talking about imposing an excise duty on the production of cannabis, including cannabis used for medical purposes.
My amendment consists in adding a definition, among the others that the bill adds, to section 2 of the Excise Tax Act, 2001.
In its current form the bill proposes to add a definition of “prescription cannabis drug”. It is quite a limited definition of what would be considered cannabis used for medical purposes.
There are two conditions to meet for a product to be considered a prescription cannabis drug.
First of all, the bill refers to “a drug or mixture of drugs that may, under the Food and Drugs Act or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, be sold to a consumer, as defined in subsection 123(1) of the Excise Tax Act, without a prescription”. This means that it would be considered a medication. In several places, the bill refers to prescription cannabis that must be prescribed by a physician.
There is another point that is mentioned in a few places in the bill, and I will get back to it later: you have to obtain a DIN, that is to say a drug identification number. It is quite complicated to obtain: you have to be able to confirm or prove the effectiveness of a drug in order to obtain a drug identification number from Health Canada, which is not currently done for any cannabis product used for medical purposes, and this may not happen for several years. It's not impossible; some witnesses told us that they were working on it.
That being said, my amendment would add a new definition. The point is not to remove those that already exist, but to add the following definition of “medical cannabis”:
||Cannabis that is intended to be sold for medical purposes under a licence or a permit issued under the Cannabis Act [...]
This would broaden the definition of medical cannabis regarding the imposition of an excise tax on cannabis.
In addition, producers testified before us and stated that it is possible for them to divide their production or to differentiate between cannabis for medical purposes and recreational cannabis. It's extremely important to know that producers are ready to make the distinction in their own production facilities. If that were the case, cannabis destined for the medical market could be exempted from the excise tax since it would be used as a medication. Later I will present an amendment on that topic. Who, around this table, wants to tax medication? I am anxious to hear the position of my colleagues here regarding such a tax.
We are discussing imposing a tax on vice, as this is often known. It is true that there are currently excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol. Now, we propose to extend those excise taxes to cannabis. It's okay to tax recreational cannabis, but it's a whole other matter to tax medical cannabis.
It goes without saying that the committee agrees with the experts and the many statements we heard from the members of civil society who demanded this amendment. Many of the fellow citizens of all my colleagues around this table also wish to be able, in this case, to continue to use tax-free and excise tax-free medication.
I hope all of my colleagues will support me.
Thank you to my colleague for the amendment. I think at the end of the day, though, the excise duty does not apply to products, as pointed out, that have drug identification numbers, DINs, or that are prescribed by a physician. I think that's an important clarification. For example, under the current system, doctors provide authorization, not a prescription, for medical cannabis.
Moving forward, I think accessing a DIN, or going through the rigorous process and the trials to receive a DIN, is an important step in this country toward ensuring that when prescriptions and products receive DINs, it's done so in a process that I think all Canadians come to expect with these types of products. There is an avenue. I do think we'll get there one day. Cannabis producers for medical purposes will go through that process, and I think they should. Once they have the drug identification number, then it is already built into the legislation that they have the excise duty exemption.
I think we're creating a system that is fair. I don't think we want to go down the road where people start arguing about why certain products shouldn't have to go through the drug identification number process. I'm perfectly comfortable that there is an avenue to be exempt for medical cannabis as long as they go through the process that I think other products have to go through as well. Moving forward, a doctor can then prescribe it in the same manner.
I'm happy that there's a path to get there. As I said, I think we will eventually get there, but it's up to those cannabis producers to go through the rigorous testing that I think all Canadians would expect. That would then automatically kick into the existing legislation. So I won't support the amendment, because I think that's an important step that should be taken in order to have this exemption.
The idea is somewhat similar.
These are two amendments to clause 73, on pages 60 and 61 of the bill.
The first part of the amendment refers to the new section entitled “Imposition and Payment of Duty on Cannabis”. The wording reads as follows: “Duty is imposed on cannabis products produced in Canada...[...]”. The purpose of the amendment is to specify once again that that duty applies to products “other than prescription cannabis drugs”. In fact, this refers to the bill's original definition, which has just been adopted by the members of the committee. The amended wording would thus read: “Duty is imposed on cannabis products produced in Canada, other than prescription cannabis drugs, at the time they are packaged in the [...]”.
The other part of the amendment aims to introduce a similar change, by replacing line 27 on page 61, in the part entitled “Duty on imported cannabis”. The amendment would add “other than prescription cannabis drugs”, regarding the imposition of duty on cannabis.
So this is similar to what was discussed earlier. The purpose is to exempt prescription cannabis from duty imposed on cannabis.
So we are at this time discussing the Excise Tax Act. We mentioned the GST. It is somewhat different from excise taxes, as I was saying earlier. This amendment intends to broaden the definition or to ensure that prescription cannabis will not be subject to the GST or other sales taxes in Canada.
What was particularly denounced by the groups that came to testify before the committee was the fact that sales taxes currently apply to cannabis. Although the bill is attempting to solve that issue, it repeats the definition that is found in the Excise Tax Act, 2001, which is too restrictive, according to witnesses, and to me as well.
According to the wording of the bill, the only type of cannabis that will be exempted from the GST and other sales taxes will be prescription cannabis, that is to say cannabis for which a drug identification number has been obtained. Medication is not taxed in Canada, of course. However, some people who are currently using cannabis for medical purposes would see sales taxes added to the cost of the product. If we adopt the bill in its current form, the cost of medical cannabis would be higher than it is now.
That is why I am submitting this amendment to clause 95 of the bill at line 13 on page 78. I hope my colleagues will support me.
Then we set aside clauses 120 to 198, I believe, just to be sure, until tomorrow at 3:30 p.m.
(Clauses 120 to 198 allowed to stand)
The Chair: We'll start with part 6, division 1, clause 199.
There are no amendments to clauses 199 to 403.
I'm double-checking here to make sure we don't make a mistake, folks. There are no amendments to part 4. I'll just go through them.
To part 4, division 1, there are no amendments.
To part 6, division 1, there are no amendments.
To division 2, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act, there are no amendments.
To division 3, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, there are no amendments.
To division 4, securities issued or guaranteed by foreign governments, there are no amendments.
To division 5, the Exchange Fund Account, there are no amendments.
To division 6, on bank notes, there are no amendments.
To division 7, the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act, there are no amendments.
To division 8, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act, there are no amendments.
To division 9, the Canadian High Arctic Research Station and applications of an order in Nunavut, there are no amendments.
To division 10, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Act, there are no amendments.
To division 11, the Red Tape Reduction Act, there are no amendments.
To division 12, the Communications Security Establishment, there are no amendments.
To division 13, the Department of Employment and Social Development Act, there are no amendments.
To division 14, the Employment Insurance Act, there are no amendments.
To division 15, the Judges Act, there are no amendments.
To division 16, the financial sector legislative renewal, there are no amendments.
To division 17, the Western Economic Diversification Act, there are no amendments.
To division 18, the Parliament of Canada Act, there are no amendments.
To division 19, the Canada Pension Plan, there are no amendments.
That takes us to clause 402.
I will put the question on clauses 199 to 403.
(Clauses 199 to 402 inclusive agreed to on division)
The Chair: Now we're on part 6, division 20.
I see no amendments to clause 403. Shall clause 403 carry on division?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Clause 403 carried on division)
(On clause 404)
The Chair: There's a proposed amendment. Copies are being made.
Mr. Chair, I certainly appreciate the spirit in which Mr. Fergus is trying to improve upon this. Obviously, I'm from a party where we want to put victims at the heart of the justice system.
The unfortunate part about today's amendment actually further elaborates the concern I have with this government deciding that it would make large-scale changes through an omnibus bill. I have no problem with some of the compensation for justices or some of the other portions of the bill, Mr. Chair, but you've heard me say this before, that we did not have substantive evidence from witnesses on division 20. Many of us rose and expressed concerns, Mr. Fergus included, about the whole process of including a large section [Technical difficulty—Editor] a departure from the Criminal Code, and putting it in front of this committee when we could not study it.
I know we have some lawyers who are currently practising or have formerly practised, but again the justice committee would be the better venue, considering that the government has Bill , as well as other pieces of omnibus legislation that it could have included to have a proper study done. The justice committee could have brought forward victims' groups, academics, and other groups, whether they be from the legal side or otherwise, to basically argue whether or not this legislation is good or not.
I take issue that the government put a small section in their budget bill that applies more to restitution and how we process criminal proceedings or not. People can take issue with the previous government on many different parts of it. I have defended, actually, the use of omnibus legislation by the previous government and this government because sometimes you have to have a process to move things forward. But this is the wrong process.
I heard from members of the NDP, the Liberals, as well as our own caucus who were quite taken aback by the government's approach. I think this is doubling down by offering an amendment. I certainly appreciate where Mr. Fergus is coming from. I don't necessarily disagree with including provisions to make sure victims are included; that's not the issue I'm taken with here, Mr. Chair. I'm taking issue with the fact that this Liberal government is putting through, without very much scrutiny, a wide departure. I think it needs to be registered clearly. I think it is wrong for the government to be using the finance committee process. Again, and I can be corrected, I don't believe we heard from witnesses in direct reference to division 20, with the exception of an official from the government.
This has not been studied in the proper way. It has not been a proper process. I am going to be voting against the overall process, Mr. Chair, because I don't think this is the right way for the government to carry this forward.
Again, through the justice committee would have been a more ideal process, and for the government now to be introducing.... We all had a timeline, Mr. Chair, of when we were supposed to have our recommendations for amendments in. To have this tabled, dropped, at this time, I have to ask you if it is in order, because I don't think this is the proper process. The rest of us work very hard. We don't have the government resources where we can call upon the 's staff or the Finance Canada staff, or the and her staff, to advise us on these things, and yet we can make a deadline.
I think the fact that they are adding these changes, Mr. Chair, in this committee after hearing very little evidence on division 20 is troubling. I think it points to the government running a haphazard process. I think that Parliament suffers. I think that we should not support any further movements. In fact, this should be given to the justice committee or, if not, the government shouldn't proceed with this until a proper process has been done. They have other pieces of legislation, Mr. Chair, that they could have tacked this on to that would have been far more appropriate than a budget bill.
I think I've heard stronger things off the record from the chair in the past.
Under “Duty to inform victims”, I'm just reading the section one more time, and I should mention that the amendment may be in order, but there are no Justice officials here to explain to us the impact of the amendment. We don't even have the experts in the room this minute so that members of the opposition can at least ask them what they think. I don't see them here, and I don't see anybody coming up to speak to this. I am not a lawyer, so I would rely on them to explain to me the impact of the amendment.
After reading the original section, I actually don't fully understand the goal of the amendment to the budget bill. It reads to me like victims are already looked after under the duty to inform. It says, “as soon as practicable”, and it goes into it. We should be amending other sections.
Apart from the discussion that Mr. Albas already said that we need to have, this whole section should have been cut out of this budget bill. It doesn't belong in an omnibus budget bill. We should get a fulsome discussion on how this interacts with the Magnitsky Act, which was passed by the House unanimously. I think it was in this room that we were considering the amendments to the Magnitsky Act in a bipartisan fashion, and this whole section will have an impact on the implementation of that act and how companies interact with it.
In proposed subsection 715.36(3), the prosecution can elect not to inform a victim or third party. If we are looking to ensure that the rights of victims are looked after, that's the subsection we should be amending so that prosecutors are obliged to present the facts.
I'd just like to hear more from Mr. Fergus on the impact and purpose of this amendment. As it is right now, I don't see what this would do apart from deleting paragraphs (a) and (b) in that section. We don't even have the Justice officials here to explain to us the repercussions of doing so.
I have a suggestion. We didn't think we would get this far today on this bill, so if you want to stand down these sections that relate to division 20 until tomorrow, we can do that and have the Justice officials here. That's entirely up to the committee. This means we would deal with part 4, part 5, and part 6, division 20, tomorrow. That's possible to do if there's agreement from the committee to do it.
Is there agreement to do that?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Clause 404 allowed to stand)
The Chair: I think that's fair. We really should have officials here on those three parts.
That really concludes all we can do today, and tomorrow we will deal with clauses 120 to 198 and clauses 403 to the end, and the other regular motions that we would do. Are we okay with that?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: The meeting is adjourned until tomorrow at 3:30 p.m.