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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates



Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 10 a.m.



[Routine Proceedings]



Indigenous Languages Act

    (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)



Animal Welfare 

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a petition submitted by constituents in my riding of Calgary Midnapore. These individuals clearly care deeply about the welfare of animals and are asking that the sale and/or manufacturing of animal-tested cosmetics and their ingredients be banned in Canada moving forward.


    Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to introduce today, signed by many residents of Vancouver Kingsway and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
    The first is a petition to establish a national strategy to combat plastic pollution. Many residents point out their concern that plastics are making their way into various bodies of water via storm drains and are interfering with our global ocean currents, and this is causing massive problems for species and bodies of water around the world. They call on the government to adopt a national strategy to combat this immediately.

Public Transit  

    Mr. Speaker, my second petition is calling on the government to enact a Canadian public transit strategy that would provide a permanent investment plan to support public transit and establish funding mechanisms for that purpose and to work with all levels of government to provide sustainable, predictable, long-term and adequate funding.


    Mr. Speaker, my final petition calls on the government to immediately implement public, comprehensive, universal pharmacare. It points out that 20% of Canadians are unable to fill their prescriptions due to cost, that people have to struggle to pay for the medicine they need, that Canada is the only country in the world with universal medicare that does not include prescription drugs and that we can save billions of dollars while covering every Canadian. They urge the government to follow the New Democrat plan and to do so immediately.

Trans Mountain Pipeline  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise this morning with an e-petition signed by 15,577 Canadians. When the petition started, it was not post-dated, as things now stand. They were calling on the government not to do what the government has done. The 15,577 residents of Canada were calling on the government to immediately halt plans to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline or otherwise support its expansion. I submit that the petitioners would want it noted that they asked the government to take into consideration that shipping out raw bitumen is also shipping out Canadian jobs and that we do not know how to clean up a spill of diluted bitumen.



    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by residents of Akwesasne.


    The petitioners ask the government to provide funding for the clinical treatment of drug and alcohol abuse disorders for first nations, because drug and alcohol abuse disorders have significant impacts on first nations. People suffering from these disorders have a right to proper treatment and culturally appropriate treatment methods, and holistic approaches are essential to treat substance abuse disorders.
    They call on the government to make funding available immediately for treatment centres throughout Canada, such as in the White Pine Healing Lodge in Akwesasne.

Canadian Heritage  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition this morning that is a follow-up to a series of petitions I tabled in the fall calling on the government to invest in historic places in Canada, including with the reinstatement of $10 million per year for the national cost-share program. The signatories come from across Ontario. I am pleased to present this petition on behalf of those interested in heritage in Canada.


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to table yet another petition from the residents of Winnipeg North in support of the government looking into the possibility of having a national pharmacare program for prescribed medicines and working with the many different stakeholders to somehow make that happen.

Vision Care  

    Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to present two petitions in the House this morning. The first is from citizens calling on the government to commit to acknowledging eye health and vision care as a growing public health issue and to respond to it, particularly for Canada's vulnerable populations, namely children, seniors, diabetics and indigenous people, through the development of a national framework for action to promote eye health and vision care, which will benefit all Canadians through the reduction of vision impairment resulting from preventable conditions and the modification of known risk factors.

Falun Gong  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition I have the honour of presenting today has to do with the persecution of practitioners of Falun Gong in China and is particularly concerned with the apprehension of Canadian citizen Ms. Sun Qian, who was abducted by the Chinese government.
    The petition calls for Canada to condemn the illegal arrest of a Canadian citizen for practising Falun Gong and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Canadian citizen Ms. Sun Qian.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand at this time.
     The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.


    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Minutes ago I was able to table first reading of our bill to preserve and revitalize indigenous languages across the country. This is a historic moment and a great initiative of co-development.
    I thank the hon. minister, but of course, this is not a point of order. I understand, and I think members understand, why he wanted to do that, but it is not strictly a point of order.


[Business of Supply]


Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Single Tax Return in Quebec  

     That, given:
(a) the House has great respect for provincial jurisdiction and trust in provincial institutions;
(b) the people of Quebec are burdened with completing and submitting two tax returns, one federal and one provincial;
(c) the House believes in cutting red tape and reducing unnecessary paperwork to improve the everyday lives of families; therefore,
the House call on the government to work with the Government of Quebec to implement a single tax return in Quebec, as adopted unanimously in the motion of the National Assembly of Quebec on May 15, 2018.
    He said: Mr. Speaker, I am truly proud to rise in the House to talk about the motion we moved today. I want to thank my colleague Pat Kelly, the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge, for seconding it. He is also the Conservative revenue critic.
    To begin with, allow me to read out the motion, so that everyone can understand the sizeable impact it could have on Quebeckers if the government finally decides to drop its paternalistic, centralist approach and instead start listening to the public, the way we on this side of the House listen to the public.
    The motion that we moved today is fairly simple, and I cannot understand how anyone could be against it.
    I would like to give some background for those watching at home. This is not something we made up. It is a fact. The only place in Canada where people still have to fill out two tax returns is Quebec. This is a critical moment in Canada's history. For the first time, all of the political parties in Quebec—the right, the left, the federalists and the sovereignists—and members of the National Assembly from the regions and urban centres voted unanimously on May 15, 2018, to say that they want to do the same as the rest of Canada and fill out only one tax return in the spring. No one likes filling out their tax return, but we all have to do it.
    That is what we heard from people on the ground. That is what MPs, senators and our leader, Andrew Scheer, heard. Our leader kicked off his “Listening to Quebecers” tour last April and wrapped it up two weeks ago with a 75-plus-page report. I myself tabled the report, which details what the people of Quebec's 17 administrative regions told us. We are not making any of this up. We are just moving a motion that addresses the concerns and the wishes of the people of Quebec and those elected to represent them in the National Assembly.
    Acting on that evidence, at our first general council in Saint-Hyacinthe last May, the vast majority of Quebec members of the Conservative Party of Canada voted to pursue this matter even further.
    Last August, during our national convention in Halifax that brought together 3,000 members from across Canada, Conservative Party of Canada members unanimously voiced agreement with this resolution to support Quebeckers and the National Assembly's call to make their lives easier.
    Is it not our job to simplify things for people, cut red tape and ensure that government is working for the people? Surely we are not here to serve the machinery of government and the Prime Minister's ambition, though that is apparently what the Prime Minister and the Liberals opposite would prefer, given how freely they spend our money. Does our money belong to the government? No, it is the people's money. Maybe we can talk about this more later, but the Prime Minister's never-ending deficits speak volumes.


    The Conservative Party of Canada leader, Andrew Scheer, clearly stated—
    Order. The hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, the member referred to the Conservative leader by name, which is not allowed in the House.
    I believe the member has understood. That was the third time he did so, and I allowed it, but I am sure the hon. member will avoid doing so again. I invite the member to continue.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to apologize. I know the rules, but believe me when I say I got too excited about the upcoming election and I want to support my leader in everything he is doing. You are quite right, and I will try to be more careful for the rest of my speech.
    The leader of the official opposition and, I must say, the future prime minister of Canada, has clearly stated that the day after a Conservative government is elected on October 21, 2018, we will begin taking steps with the Government of Quebec to ensure that all Quebeckers, like the rest of Canadians, will have to file just one tax return in March, when they tackle the task in the spring.
    The Liberals and NDP will engage in fearmongering on this issue. They will bring up all kinds of stories rather than listen to the people of Quebec. We on this side will continue working for the people, because the Conservative Party of Canada is a party that recognizes provincial and municipal areas of jurisdiction. We support decentralization and want to put decision-making powers back into the hands of citizens as much as possible, whether that be the patients, the clients, the entrepreneurs, the students, and so on.
    The ultimate goal is to decentralize powers and make the process more effective and less expensive to make the public happy. That is our job here in the House. That is why people elected us. They elected us to manage the money they entrust us with.
    Barely two weeks ago, during a meeting with the newly elected Premier of Quebec, I heard the Prime Minister say that he would address the issue. Just yesterday, I saw two ministers and a parliamentary secretary unequivocally reject the idea by basically telling Quebeckers this will not be part of their electoral platform in October.
    The good news is that an election is coming up and there are candidates working on the ground making a strong and serious case in response to the public's concerns. Our party is working hard every day to propose strong measures that also respect the distinct nature of Quebec society within Canada and provide additional tools to the Government of Quebec so that it may do its job for the people of Quebec.
    Even as I give my speech, I hear our opponents whispering that these are merely electoral promises, but in fact, that is not the case at all. Conservative members have been very clear: the day after the October 21 election, once we are in power, we will begin taking steps with the Government of Quebec to ensure, once and for all, that we too can file a single tax return. We think it is ridiculous that our business people have to fill out and mail in two documents that have the same information. The same information is being input twice.
    For our part, we believe in the expertise of our federal and provincial employees. They are capable of sitting down together and finding solutions for Canadians. That is what we do in committee when we have discussions, go out into communities and talk to people to find solutions that improve their quality of life. The Liberal government, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Liberal caucus, in particular the Liberal MPs from Quebec, who did not stand up to tell their Prime Minister that that is what Quebeckers want, do the complete opposite.


    I encourage them stand up today and say that this makes a lot of sense. We will work on getting the Prime Minister to listen to reason, to common sense. He needs to understand that we work for the people and not for the government or for our own interests. That is not why we were elected.
    Right now, the Liberal government is increasing the cost of living for Canadians by creating the carbon tax and by eliminating the public transit and the sports and culture tax credits. This is important to note, since people need to understand that it was this Liberal government that eliminated these tax credits.
    This government also tried to tax the little perks of working in the restaurant industry. Some restaurant employees receive a free meal during their 30-minute break, and the government tried to tax this meal. Why did it do this? The government tried to tax these meals so that it could take even more money from Canadians. That is the reality. No matter how you look at it, the government tried to do this simply because our Prime Minister does nothing but spend, spend spend.
     In all of his debates and speeches during the 2015 election campaign, the Prime Minister and the Liberal members repeated over and over that they would run a modest $10-billion deficit for the first two years in order to invest in infrastructure and that they expected to return to a balanced budget by the end of their term. This government inherited a $1.9-billion budget surplus, yet its total deficit now stands at more than $80 billion.
     What does that $80 billion represent? Everyone in the House throws these big numbers around, but we do not really understand what they mean. Let me give an example. One year's deficit amounts to about $20 billion, which is how much it would cost to build 50 NHL arenas. That is 50 hockey arenas like the Videotron Centre or the Ottawa Senators' arena. The Prime Minister's irresponsible spending over the span of a single year is equivalent to the cost of building 50 arenas. At a rate of 50 arenas a year for four years of deficits, that adds up to 200 arenas. The way things are going, every city in Canada could have its own NHL arena. That is outrageous.
    The Prime Minister naively suggested deficits are not so bad, they pay for themselves, just like budgets balance themselves. We know better. We all keep budgets. We all work hard for our money, like the people who sometimes struggle to make ends meet. A deficit or a loan has to be paid off. Who is going to pay for the deficits? The public, workers, parents, citizens, and businesses, that is who.
    Businesses are trying to create jobs, but they are stuck with a government that is sabotaging all our international relationships. Every business is worried because our relations with China, the United States and India, key players in our economic development, are at risk.
    The current government is trying to take more money out of Canadians' pockets to pay for its reckless spending. Let me go even further. Anyone who has been following my work since 2003 knows that it was this type of situation that drove me to get into politics in the first place. I have always said that one of my primary motivations was to work on managing our public finances. I have three children. Most members of the House have children. Our children just want a better world and the same opportunities we had to accomplish their own goals.
    The problem is that this Liberal government and the Prime Minister are burying our children and our grandchildren under a huge pile of debt, running recurring deficits with no plan to balance the budget. I do not know how many times my colleagues, our leader and I have asked the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance if they could at least table a plan to balance the budget.


    When someone wants to buy a new house, a cottage or a new car, they go to the bank and meet with a financial advisor. They ask if they can borrow some money. The advisor asks them whether they have any collateral. Would a bank lend someone money without coming up with a plan for that individual to pay back the capital and the interest? Never. No one can get away with that, except the Prime Minister, who is managing our money so irresponsibly.
    As time goes by, I think that Canadians are starting to realize that. It is a good thing that the election is approaching. On October 21, Canadians will have the opportunity to decide whether they want to spend another four years with this Prime Minister, who manages the public purse this way. The answer is no.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Alain Rayes: Mr. Speaker, people are applauding to show they are happy to say “no”. That is the reality. The party is over.
    We are going to clean house. We are going to put money back in Canadians' pockets. We are going to work to make life easier for Quebeckers and Canadians, workers and business people, those who invest their money to create jobs and to support Canadians so that they can achieve their ambitions.
    What became evident on this tour was that Quebeckers want a single tax return. We also heard proposals that would benefit everyone, such as prohibiting the dumping of wastewater into our waterways and our environment. In Quebec alone, there have been 62,000 incidents of wastewater discharge into our waterways. We want to put a stop to that.
    We want to sit down with municipalities and experts. We want to invest in infrastructure, unlike the current government, which waited until the last year of its term to start making announcements about such projects. The Liberals waited for three and a half years. They talked. Now they are recycling old announcements about projects. Just yesterday, near my riding, they announced an investment in a Revenue Canada building that will not be made in the near future, but in 2024. What kind of timeline is that? It is not even in this mandate. They had four years to make their announcement. It is not even in the next mandate, but in one later in the future. That makes no sense.
    On the plus side, at least it will be a Conservative cutting the ribbon, because Canadians have had enough of this government and this Prime Minister.
    We want real solutions that will improve the lives of Canadians, which starts with this resolution. Today we moved a motion calling on the government to immediately work with the Government of Quebec to implement a single tax return for Quebeckers as soon as possible. Otherwise, we will take care of it on October 21. We will get things moving and support the public.


    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague. He is talking about a single tax return for Quebec. We are talking about more than 5,500 Canada Revenue Agency employees, most of whom work in the regions of Quebec.
    How do the Conservatives plan to save the more than 5,500 CRA jobs in Quebec?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of National Revenue for her question. It is a very relevant question, but I do sense something a bit vicious about it, since it implies that we want to eliminate these jobs. The answer is a categorical no. Our leader has been clear that this initiative is in no way intended to cut jobs. Its only purpose is to make people's lives easier.
    The reality, which they will not admit, is that these highly skilled Canadian government employees, whom I thank for the work they do every day, do not just process tax returns. Their job also involves recovery and other problems that have to be taken care of, as the minister knows full well. This goes for Quebeckers and for all Canadians as well. There is an important issue that she has not managed to address in the three and a half years she has been Minister of National Revenue, and that is tax evasion in tax havens. These employees could use their expertise to go after that money and increase the Government of Canada's revenues, which will allow it to fulfill its commitments and do the work it needs to do for Canadians across the country.
    I repeat, we have no intention of cutting jobs, despite what the Liberals will keep repeating day after day until October 21.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
    The NDP supports the idea of simplifying Quebeckers' lives, and we adopted a resolution calling for a single tax return during our federal convention. However, we included one very important clause: the implementation of this idea must not result in a loss of employment for Quebec workers in regions such as Mauricie and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.
    How is the member going to take this work, much of it seasonal, away from workers without cutting any jobs? We have done our homework, we have done the analysis, and that looks like a pipe dream.
    I would like the member to comment on that.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question, which I find rather strange. Not even a year ago, he was bragging about this at the NDP national convention in Quebec. I could show you newspaper articles to prove it. Members of the NDP were getting all worked up saying that they wanted a single tax return without any job losses. That is what we want too. Then, someone somewhere tried to scare people and all of a sudden the members of the NDP changed their tune and decided to side with the government.
    I repeat: no jobs will be lost. That is the last thing we want. When we toured Quebec, individuals and business people across the province told us that it is ridiculous that they have to fill out two forms. I personally participated in that tour. I travelled over 10,000 kilometres and I visited those two regions. Why would Quebec not be able to make this system work when it works for the rest of Canada?
    Quebeckers are proud, and we are saying that we are going to keep our promises. We will not change our tune because someone tells us that jobs will be lost. The government is the employer. The government will be a Conservative government, with our leader leading the troops.
    Our leader has been clear. The day after the October 21 election, we are going to begin working with the Government of Quebec, as per the National Assembly's unanimous request, to ensure that Quebeckers only have to file a single tax return and that no jobs are lost in those two centres.


    Mr. Speaker, it is always interesting to hear the member opposite repeat himself over and over again, yet he never has any answers. We are asking him once again what his plan is to preserve these jobs, to strike a balance while also saving money, as the Conservatives have promised. As with the environment, there is no plan. He mentioned waste water. Once again, what is their plan, apart from saying they are going to resolve the issue, that they are travelling around Quebec and they are going to solve the problems?
    What the member is doing is preaching, and interestingly, this is an election year. In an election year, the Conservatives are offering something to Quebec and refusing the rest of Canada the same thing. I look forward to seeing what happens in the rest of Canada.
    What is happening? Does the member opposite, my colleague, have an answer? Will he share his plan with us? We are still waiting for the Conservatives' plans. I look forward to a plan.
    Mr. Speaker, forgive me for smiling. I should stay serious because this is a serious issue. Every time I hear members on the other side of the House talking to us about plans, I laugh. The Liberals spent the election campaign telling us about plans and promises and they did not even keep them; but they are in charge, they are in power.
    I want to go over some history. The word “history” makes it seem as though it is far away. I could talk about the Liberal sponsorship scandal, but I will not go that far back. In the current mandate, the Prime Minister and his ministers repeated about 1,000 times in the House—not to mention all the times they kept saying it during the campaign—that the 2015 election would be the last one under the current electoral system. What happened? That is a broken promise.
    The Prime Minister repeated over and over again throughout the campaign—just as every other Liberal MP parroted it on the campaign trail—that he would balance the budget in 2019, after running small deficits in the first two years to invest in infrastructure. Where are we at? All the facts are there: we will not return to balanced budgets in 2019. Our children will have to pay.
    The Liberal member wants to lecture the opposition even as we point out the Prime Minister’s shortcomings, mistakes and failures and suggest that Canadians will have to pay for his incompetence. We will offer Canadians a serious option. We will clean up this House on October 22, the day after the election.


    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank our hon. colleague for bringing forth this motion. It is laughable to hear the message from those across the way. Much as the seven members of Parliament from Newfoundland stayed silent on other issues, the 14 members from Quebec have stayed silent about the millions of litres of raw sewage that has been dumped into our rivers, lakes and streams. They have been silent in terms of the single tax form for Quebec.
    Our hon. colleague has brought forth an incredible motion. Not only does our leader stand up and say what he is going to do in Quebec, but he says the very same things consistently all across our nation. He said the same in B.C. He said the same things right across our nation. That is unlike the member for Papineau, who is now our Prime Minister, who said a lot of things in 2015 to get elected, but seemingly forgot them.
    Could our hon. colleague talk about the deafening silence from the 14 members of Parliament from Quebec?



    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. I am glad he brought up the fact that our adversaries are trying to scare everyone and make people believe a number of unfortunate things. The fact is, we do not change our tune.
    If there is one thing the Conservatives are known for, it is doing what they say they will do. The Liberals say things but do not follow through. Sometimes they even do other things entirely. Because of their incompetence and their failures, people will end up paying more. Those are documented facts. People are paying more now and have to deal with more red tape under this government.
    The Liberal government has had three and a half years to implement its agenda, but it has not done so. Our party will keep its promises from coast to coast, from east to west and west to east. On October 21, we will follow through and make sure that all Canadians, including Quebeckers, need fill out only one tax return. It is in their best interest. We will do what people expect of us.
    Mr. Speaker, once again, the Conservatives are playing politics by making empty promises that they have no intention of fulfilling.
    My colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable—who, I should point out, was mayor of a single-industry town in a region of Quebec that was hit hard by a difficult employment situation—has been accusing me these past few days of fearmongering regarding the single tax return.
    What we are saying is that we are always prepared to work with the Government of Quebec to make life easier for Quebeckers, but we will not blindly do so at any cost.
    The Conservatives would rather use fear, instead of science and thoughtful action. As I told my colleague yesterday, I need only remind the House of when the Harper Conservatives tried to bring in their EI reform. The reform forced workers to find jobs that paid 30% less, were far from home, and were in fields unrelated to the workers' skills.
    I remember that their human resources minister misled Canadians, saying that her investigators did not have a quota to meet. However, Le Devoir got its hands on an internal document from her department, which stated that each investigator had been tasked to recover $485,000 a year from seasonal workers.
    That creates a climate of fear.
    When I see the Conservatives ready to dive head first into a matter as complex as Quebeckers' income tax returns and ready to do anything for a few votes, it takes me back to the era of the Harper Conservatives.
    It will come as no surprise to realize that today's Conservative Party is prepared to leap into this single income tax proposal without doing any studies or collecting any facts. One would think that they learned their lesson given the results of the last election, and yet, away they go again as though they need Canadians and Quebeckers to tell them once more that they are not interested in their reforms. That is quite all right. There is another good opportunity coming along this fall.
    Contrary to what the Conservatives would like people to believe, we are not fixated on one option. We are open to having discussions, but with the facts on the table. We are not going to dive head first into a lake without checking how deep it is.
    If the Conservatives were serious about simplifying Quebeckers tax return, they would not have cut Canada Revenue Agency services. Over a 10-year period, they cut staff, stopped mailing income tax forms to Canadians' homes, closed service counters and cut call centre hours.
    We are not the only ones saying so. I would like to quote a report by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada entitled “Undermining Tax Fairness”:
    The single most destructive event occurred as a result of the 2012 budget when, in one fell swoop, $250 million and 1,200 jobs were cut from CRA's budget. All told, successive austerity initiatives resulted in almost $900 million in projected cuts and the scheduled elimination of almost 3,000 jobs.
    I will take no lessons—and I mean none—from the Conservatives on improving services to Canadians. Today the Conservatives are trying to say that one measure alone will make it easier and more accessible for Quebeckers to file their tax returns, namely, instituting a single tax form in Quebec.


    They are wrong. Currently, the federal government, nine provinces and the three territories have harmonized their definition of income. Quebec has different definitions, different rules and different exemptions. To have a single tax return in Quebec, either the federal government, the nine provinces and the three territories would have to harmonize their framework with that of Quebec, or Quebec would have to harmonize its framework with that of the rest of the country. Are the Conservatives going to have the same message in Montreal as they do in Edmonton? I doubt it.
    What is the Conservatives' real plan other than to buy Quebeckers' votes? Spoiler alert: they have no plan, just like they have no plan for climate change.
    The Canada Revenue Agency employs more than 5,500 people in Quebec and is a major economic driver in towns such as Shawinigan and Jonquière. Let me be clear: unlike the Conservatives, we are not going to jeopardize those jobs. Yesterday I was in Shawinigan along with my colleagues, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, to announce the construction of a new building that will house the 1,350 or more CRA employees in Mauricie.
     We delivered a very clear message to the Agency’s employees and their families. I would also like to say that we reassured the employees we met yesterday, unlike what the Conservatives are doing. They are sowing fear. We are investing in Shawinigan because, unlike the Conservatives, we believe in the importance of maintaining and creating decent jobs in Quebec’s regions. My colleagues and I are working hard to improve the quality of life of Quebeckers, no matter where they live.
    That is why we have reached out to our Quebec counterparts by making ourselves available to them. We have initiated bilateral discussions and confirmed our commitment to continue a constructive dialogue based on co-operation and respect. Most importantly, we have confirmed our commitment to action and results.
    Since 2015, our government has increased major federal transfers to Quebec by $3.3 billion. Today, these funds amount to nearly $24 billion. As part of our commitment to protecting infrastructure, our government has pledged to lend $1.28 billion over 15 years to fund the Réseau Express Métropolitain, REM, a major rapid transit project that will provide the Greater Montreal region with a more efficient and environmentally friendly means of transportation. This loan is administered by the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
    We have reached an agreement to transfer responsibility for the ports of Gros-Cacouna, Rimouski, Matane and Gaspé to the Government of Quebec. We will provide $163 million to help with the operating and maintenance costs of these ports. This transfer will take effect on March 30, 2020, and it will certainly benefit us at home, in the Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands.
    In December, we announced that our government would invest $230 million in SCALE AI to create nearly 16,000 jobs in this Montreal-based artificial intelligence innovation centre. This initiative is at the heart of the strategy of—



    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I fail to see the relevance of the minister's comments on the motion under discussion today. The minister is rambling on about investments or some could say the Liberals' intent on buying votes in the Quebec area.
    The discussion today is germane to the motion put forward by our hon. colleague. I would like to see if the minister could get back on topic.
    We will leave it to the hon. minister to continue her speech. I am sure she will come around and make a point of it. I have heard different things said in the House that go in different directions, but the speaker often comes back to the topic. I am sure she will make a point soon and close in on where she is aiming.
    The hon. minister.


    Mr. Speaker, this initiative is a key component of the government's export diversification strategy, and it provides irrefutable proof of our support for Quebec's artificial intelligence sector.
    As part of our efforts to improve infrastructure across Canada, we plan to invest upwards of $7.5 billion in major infrastructure projects in Quebec over the next decade. Furthermore, in 2018-19, Quebec should receive $504 million for municipal infrastructure.
    By 2023, $293 million could be injected into strategic initiatives in Quebec under the Canada-Quebec bilateral agreement implementing the Canadian agricultural partnership. Sixty per cent of the funding will come from the Government of Canada, and 40 per cent will come from the Government of Quebec.
    The Government of Canada will provide $2.5 billion by 2022 for home and community care under the Canada-Quebec asymmetrical agreement on health care funding.
    We have also made a commitment to transfer more than $262 million to the Quebec government between 2017 and 2020 under the Canada-Quebec asymmetrical agreement on early learning and child care.
    We are negotiating new agreements to improve the employment and housing situation in the province. We proposed an investment of over $5 billion for training and skills development in Quebec between 2017 and 2023, as well as an investment of nearly $2 billion over the next 10 years to help respond to housing needs.
    When it comes to immigration, under the Canada-Quebec accord relating to immigration and temporary admission of aliens, the Government of Quebec received $490 million in 2017-18. Negotiations are under way to compensate Quebec for costs related to the temporary accommodation of asylum seekers in 2017 and 2018.
    These are just a few examples of completed, in-progress or proposed funding and partnership programs that the Government of Canada established with the Government of Quebec. We will continue to work in close co-operation with the province to strengthen Quebec's economy and improve people's lives.
    Efforts to restore and strengthen ties between the Canadian and Quebec governments have been very successful on several fronts.
    Rather than making empty promises, we, on this side of the House, will continue to invest in services that make a real difference in the lives of Quebeckers.
    We on this side of the House know that access to services is what really matters, regardless of where one is in the country.
    It is with that objective in mind that Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec have long been working together as part of a collaboration that dates back nearly 30 years. This long-standing collaboration allows the two agencies to share best practices and ensures that all recipients of benefits across Canada receive the best possible service.
    Contrary to what the Conservatives would have us believe, collaboration with Revenu Québec is based on a solid foundation and has resulted in concrete improvements for Quebeckers.
    Collaborative efforts between the two agencies resulted in new, secure self-service options that were introduced in October 2018 for GST registrants in Quebec.
    To date, the new service has resulted in over 1.5 million transactions, which is a huge step forward for businesses. Such progress would not have been possible without that close collaboration.
    I would also like to point out that Canada Revenue Agency is responsible for administering a fair and efficient tax system that serves all Canadians, including the residents of Quebec.
    It is with that objective in mind that Canada Revenue Agency has implemented a number of new services designed to make it easier for all Canadians to file their tax returns.


    Many of these new services are designed to improve access for Canadians who file their tax returns electronically. It is clear that Quebec residents are also benefiting from these improvements, as more than 85% of Quebec taxpayers file electronically. Many services such as auto-fill my return, file my return, express NOA and ReFILE have already been put in place to make it easier for Canadians to file their returns.
    Other benefits for Quebec residents include updates to the tax preparation software to make it easier to complete both forms. The basic information that is the same for each form can be automatically generated using the new features. That is what co-operation with Quebec looks like.
    The important thing is to ensure that Canadians receive the best possible services so that they can easily file their income tax returns and receive the benefits and tax credits they are entitled to. We will never renege on that commitment.
    Where were the Conservatives for 10 years? They were certainly not in the Gaspé or the Magdalen Islands. For 10 years, they terrorized seasonal workers in my riding by treating them like criminals, when all they did was apply for employment insurance. For 10 years, they totally ignored our crucial fishing sector. For 10 years, they neglected rural infrastructure. For 10 years, they treated the people in my riding like second-class citizens. That is the Conservative legacy for people here and other regions of Quebec. There is no difference between the Harper Conservatives and today’s Conservatives.
    It was their leader himself who said he was “Harper with a smile”, “Harper 2.0”. That is scary.
    In the coming months, we will see two categories of Conservative promises: promises in Quebec and promises in the rest of Canada.
    Divide and conquer is the same tactic that Canadians rejected in 2015, and it is the same tactic that they will reject again in October.


    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be able to remind Canadians that it was our party that launched the debate a year and a half ago in Quebec on whether Quebeckers would like to continue using two tax returns or whether it would be better to have a single tax return like everyone else in Canada. We initiated the debate and our—
    Order. There seems to be a technical problem with interpretation.
    I am told it is working again. The hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent may continue with his remarks.


    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the issue.


    I am pleased to remind parliamentarians and all Canadians that it was our party that began the debate in Canada a year and a half ago with our “Listening to Quebeckers” tour. It was our party, gathered for a provincial convention with nearly 500 people, that decided to propose the idea of having a single tax return. After that the four parties at the National Assembly voted in favour of our proposal. Then there were the 3,000 party supporters from coast to coast, from British Columbia to Newfoundland, the vast majority of whom, or 90%, voted in favour of this proposal. Contrary to what some are saying, people in Vancouver, Quebec City, or St. John's, Newfoundland, are saying the same thing in English and French.
    Earlier, the minister spoke about the good relations between Quebec and Ottawa and between Ottawa and the premier. I am not sure that the Minister of Revenue heard what her boss said earlier. He was, once again, fearmongering, saying that jobs would be lost. Our leader, the future prime minister of Canada, was very clear, just 10 days ago in Montreal. No public servants will be laid off. Anyone who claims the opposite is flat out lying.
    Why does the minister think that everything is going well with Quebec, when this morning, her leader, her Prime Minister, and, unfortunately ours for the remaining months, once again sowed the seeds of fear in Quebeckers and directly attacked the duly elected Premier of Quebec?
    Mr. Speaker, the federal government, nine provinces and the three territories have harmonized their definitions of income.
    As I said in my speech, Quebec has a different definition, different rules and different exemptions. For Quebec to have a single tax return, the nine other provinces and the three territories would have to amend their framework or else Quebec would have to amend its own.
    Which option do the Conservatives prefer?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her remarks. Not all ministers participate in debates on opposition motions.
     Nevertheless, my question is about the Minister of National Revenue's, the government's and the Prime Minister's lack of openness to this idea. The NDP has been on board since this debate began, which was long before the Conservatives moved their motion—regardless of what the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent may think. We adopted a motion about this at our federal convention on February 17, 2018, which was well before the Conservatives began to take an interest.
    We have been open to this idea, but the Minister of National Revenue and her government have not. They have never wanted to consider the possibility or talk to the Government of Quebec about it. They have no interest in discussing it, just as they had no interest in constitutional talks when the Government of Quebec broached the topic a few years back. The Liberals just slammed the door in Quebeckers' faces then, and they are doing the same now with respect to a single tax return for Quebec.
    Why is the minister so condescending when it is time to talk to Quebec? Why does she believe that Ottawa is always right and that she always has to have the last word? Why was she not more open to having a discussion on this issue rather than slamming the door shut when Quebec first floated the idea?
    Mr. Speaker, there was no condescension on my part. As a Quebecker, I will also not be condescending towards myself.
    If my colleague has listened carefully to what I said, he knows that we have worked with Revenu Québec for 30 years. We held two joint consultations with Quebec small businesses, one in 2016 and another in 2018. We exchange information in order to improve services for Quebeckers and Canadians.


    I would like to remind members that they need to be in their seats in order to speak. Otherwise I cannot recognize them, and I would not want them to rise for nothing.
    The hon. member for Edmonton West.


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of National Revenue for an excellently read speech. I am sure this morning is the first time she has seen it.
    She went on and on, as she has in previous times in the House, misleading Canadians by stating that the Conservatives cut positions to the CRA. I have a document here from the Library of Parliament that shows that from when the Liberals took over from the Conservatives, they cut 800 jobs, and the minister's own departmental plans—which I am sure she had not even read, although she signed off on them—show further cuts next year of 700 jobs.
    I wonder why the minister continues to stand in the House and mislead Canadians on the facts.
    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I wonder why the member opposite feels the need to engage in personal attacks and assume that the minister has or has not read certain documents. That is disgraceful and unbecoming of a member of Parliament.
    I am afraid that is not a point of order. That is more debate.
    The hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.


    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
    I am sure that if you seek it you will find the unanimous consent of the House to table the document my colleague mentioned.
    Is there unanimous consent?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like remind the member opposite of something. We were talking about tax evasion earlier. Suddenly the Conservative Party wants to champion fighting tax evasion, although their former national revenue minister, Mr. Blackburn, publicly stated that it was not even a priority for the Conservatives. In our current mandate, we hired 1,300 new auditors to work on combatting tax evasion, and un like the Conservatives, we have invested nearly $1 billion.
    I will take no lessons from them regarding services. They cut volunteer services, which help the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society, people who cannot afford to hire accountants. When it comes to services, I will take no lessons from them.
    Mr. Speaker, in his speech, the member for Richmond—Arthabaska bemoaned the elimination of the public transit tax credit. However, that tax credit attracted widespread criticism, including from Équiterre, because it was not fulfilling its objective. It cost $1,000 to reduce one tonne of greenhouse gas, whereas a carbon credit costs $15 on the carbon market.
    Why would we trust a party that pays $1,000 for something that costs $15 on the free market? Why would we download version 2.0?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives claim that no jobs will be lost. However, Premier Legault admits that jobs will in fact be lost. I want to come back to the Conservatives' plan. What is the Conservatives' plan for the regions? Yesterday, I met with 1,300 employees, not jobs, but human beings, parents with families. Most of them were women who were scared and worried about losing their jobs. We went there to reassure them, because we need these Quebec employees to serve all of our francophone Canadians. There are francophones in every province and territory. Quebec is home to the largest Canada Revenue Agency division capable of offering bilingual services.


    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today to speak to the opposition motion moved by the Conservatives. I, too, moved a motion yesterday, but on a different matter. I am pleased that the Conservatives are changing the subject. They are obsessed with taxes, a balanced budget and the carbon tax. They are always harping on these three topics, but there is never a substantive debate or any concrete proposals. They just keep rehashing ideas.
    That is why they deserve some credit for deciding to debate a very interesting subject. Much has been written publicly about this issue, which has drawn the attention of several stakeholders, especially the Government of Quebec. The National Assembly of Quebec has also taken an interest in this matter. The Conservatives are finally interested in having a serious debate on an important issue, rather than fruitless debates on the same subjects every day.
    The idea behind the single tax return is that Quebec taxpayers would be treated the same as taxpayers in the other Canadian provinces and territories, who file a single tax return every year. This return is processed by Ottawa, and the tax revenue is then distributed to the provinces, based on their individual tax rates.
    This issue has been raised in the public arena in the interest of fairness. A number of stakeholders, such as accountants and people who have an interest in tax collection and the effectiveness of this system, started to talk about it to see what could be done to make life easier for Canadians and, in this case, for Quebeckers.
    I think that, ultimately, every member in this House has good intentions and wants to make life easier for Canadians. Taxpayers in other provinces definitely have it easier when it comes to filing taxes. There are a number of potential solutions for making life easier for taxpayers by allowing them to submit a single tax return.
    That is why this idea has stuck around for years through good times and bad, but it was only when the NDP brought it up that it became a hot topic. No offence to the Conservatives and the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, who wanted to take all the credit for being the first to raise the issue, but this idea has been around for a long time, and it was the NDP that first proposed exploring it. Initially, the idea was to explore it in Ottawa, and then the NDP adopted a resolution during its February 2018 national convention to make this proposal.
    I will now read the resolution adopted in February 2018, well before Quebec's National Assembly voted on the issue on May 15, 2018. A lot happened between February and May. For example, the Conservatives realized they might want to take an interest in this idea. Our resolution read as follows:
     WHEREAS having two tax returns in Quebec is costly, inefficient and an exception in Canada; WHEREAS simplifying Quebeckers' returns would result in major savings in public funds; WHEREAS having a single tax return would enable taxpayers and businesses in Quebec to save time and money; WHEREAS having a single tax return would enhance Quebec's fiscal autonomy, which is perfectly consistent with the principles set forth in the Sherbrooke declaration...
     Let me just note that the Sherbrooke declaration is part of our official policy. Without getting into too much detail, it respects Quebec's autonomy and its decisions. I will continue with the resolution.
...WHEREAS various stakeholders and specialists have worked to bring about this change for many years; WHEREAS the Government of Quebec is already responsible for collecting GST for the federal government...


    This is where we get to the heart of the matter, our February 2018 resolution, which reads as follows:
    BE IT RESOLVED THAT the NDP propose the idea of a single tax return administered by the Government of Quebec, which would subsequently transfer federal tax to the federal government.
    Today, I want to focus on the second “be it resolved” statement in the convention resolution, which shows the merits of the work done by members of the NDP before proposing this resolution. It states:
    BE IT RESOLVED THAT the implementation of this idea must not result in a loss of employment within the federal public service, and therefore this policy proposal must be made in collaboration with the unions and representatives of federal public servants.
    The second part of the resolution specifically seeks to ensure that the federal government collaborates with representatives of federal public servants so that this idea is implemented without any jobs being lost in Quebec. The potential loss of jobs in Quebec if this proposal is adopted is something that keeps coming up in today's debate. This condition was put in place by members at the convention. Their intelligence and quick thinking led them to include this condition in the resolution to ensure the maintenance of these high-quality, well-paying jobs, which are an economic driver for the regions.
    The NDP then took steps to find the ideal solution, one that would make life easier for Quebeckers while protecting federal public service workers, particularly those working for the Canada Revenue Agency in Quebec’s regions. That was when we started a frank and open discussion with union representatives to explore the viability of this idea. During these long discussions, we came to understand that, if this proposal were implemented under the current circumstances, there would be few options for safeguarding jobs in Quebec. There are several reasons for this.
    It would not be possible to transfer employees from the Government of Canada to the Government of Quebec. Jobs cannot be transferred to Revenu Québec to handle the resulting workload, because the conditions of employment and benefits are very different. Another solution that was explored was to offer alternative assignments to the affected CRA employees. Again, employees have skills in different areas, whether it be audits, collections or investigations. They do not all have the same skills, and they cannot learn to do another employee’s job overnight. They cannot exchange work, because certain skills and requirements are needed for certain positions. It was obvious that this was not a good option.
    We therefore realized that, under the current circumstances, it is difficult to support this proposal because we cannot meet the condition of protecting jobs in Quebec.
    Today, the Conservatives are raising the same issue in their motion. I have the impression that they are taking up the issue for reasons different from ours, reasons that they have not admitted.


    At the end of my speech, I will propose an amendment to the main motion. It will allow us to see the Conservatives' true colours. The amendment seeks to protect the federal public service jobs in Quebec. The Conservatives say that they want to protect jobs. They keep saying that their leader has said as much in various forums, that the jobs will be protected, that the federal public service employees need not worry, that everything will work out and there will be no job losses. We shall see whether the Conservative leader's words translate into action and into protecting the federal public service jobs in the text of the motion. It is all well and good to say that these jobs will be protected, that no one needs to worry, and that all CRA employees will be able to keep their jobs. When it is time to put their money where their mouth is, we will see how they really feel about this issue. We will finally see the Conservatives' true colours.
    Although they will not admit it, the real reason the Conservatives proposed this motion is that they want to bring back the austerity of 2011. If that is not true, let them prove it. If they do not support this amendment, then we will see that the real goal of the Conservatives' motion is to bring back the austerity of 2011, when thousands of federal public service jobs were slashed on the pretext of balancing the budget. That is what we are going to see in the 2019 election campaign. They are going to propose an austerity agenda in order to balance the budget by cutting public services and public service jobs. According to current figures, 5,000 federal employees of the Canada Revenue Agency are located in Quebec. That is why the Leader of the Opposition jumped on this proposal. He spotted his chance. Here are 5,000 jobs that can be axed overnight, using Quebec's request for a single tax return as an excuse.
    The Conservative leader thought that would be a key piece of his election platform to achieve a balanced budget once he is elected to power. What the Conservatives will not admit, is that the single income tax return has the support of the Conservative leader and Conservative MPs across the country because they see this as an opportunity to introduce a new austerity program. Here is a chance to easily get rid of 5000 jobs that cost hundreds of millions of dollars. That is the real reason why the Conservatives support this motion. We will see what they say later. If they accept my amendment, we will see that they are more concerned about the overall public well-being by making Quebeckers’ lives easier and protecting good jobs that drive the economy in important regions, including that of my Conservative colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. I think he would be very sad to see the Conservatives vote against an amendment that aims to protect jobs. He must receive a lot of phone calls and emails from his constituents. He will have the opportunity to say it later in his speech. I think that his constituents will be concerned about the motion if we do not include a condition protecting jobs. The Conservatives will have their say, and we will see what they really believe in.
    A large number of taxpayers are angry. They are angry because of they way our tax system is managed in general. Taxpayers who pay taxes every year usually tell me that they are angry with the Liberal government’s laissez-faire approach toward those who are better off, those who can afford to hire lawyers, tax specialists and accountants specializing in tax avoidance. They are angry, and that is why they insist that the government listen to their demands. These taxpayers do everything they can to pay their taxes when they are due. Sometimes, because of errors made in good faith or because of an omission in a form, they are set upon in record time by the Revenue Agency demanding arrears plus interest. However, they read in the paper that wealthy taxpayers, who do business with companies like KPMG, create tax evasion schemes with the Isle of Man to send their money to another country where income tax rates are low if not non-existent.


    A major scheme of this sort was uncovered by the Canada Revenue Agency. These millionaire taxpayers are given amnesty or backroom settlements. A secret deal is made, and everything is settled. They are asked to pay what they have owed for a number of years, then the books are closed, all is forgotten and they go on as if nothing had happened.
    The Canada Revenue agency never offers the average taxpayer this sweet deal. The average taxpayer is pursued and hounded by public servants who do what the Canada Revenue Agency asks them to do. It is not their fault, but they do their job and hound taxpayers.
    The Minister of National Revenue goes after people with disabilities who merely want the tax credit for persons with disabilities. She treats them like criminals. Earlier, the minister said that agency employees, victims of Stephen Harper’s EI reform, were viewed as criminals.
    That is exactly what the Minister of National Revenue is doing to people with disabilities who claim their tax credit. They are seen as criminals who want to take advantage of the system.
    Standing here today, I understand why taxpayers are angry and why they are insisting that the government be more attentive to their demands. This motion is an important potential solution. We must consider it and continue to try to find a solution to make Quebeckers' lives easier while protecting jobs in Quebec.
    That is why we adopted a responsible approach. We did our homework, discussed the issue and spoke with the people involved in order to help simplify the lives of Quebecers filling out their income tax returns.
    The Conservatives have not done that. We will see later on where they stand on the issue of protecting jobs.
    We assumed our responsibilities and did our homework, unlike the government. Rather than doing its homework, sitting down, reading the documentation and speaking to representatives of Quebec and the union representing employees, it decided to shut the door without discussion, as if making Quebeckers' lives easier were unnecessary and not a priority, despite what my constituents in Sherbrooke are telling me. I am certain that, in all of my colleagues’ ridings, people are saying that they want to simplify their tax returns.
    The government simply refused, as it has in other areas, and slammed the door on Quebec. It said no thanks, it is not interested in Quebec’s proposal, since it does not agree with it. End of discussion.
    That is a prime example of the government's condescending attitude towards Quebec. It is the same condescending attitude we have seen in several other areas when it comes to respecting Quebec and its autonomy.
    That is very different from our respectful approach, which aims to find effective solutions for Canadians who pay their income tax every year and act very responsibly and in good faith—only to be slapped on the wrist at the first opportunity. That is why the underlying principle is good. We want to simplify life for Quebeckers and at the same time respect public servants.
    Since my speech is coming to a close, I move, seconded by the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, the amendment that will show us what the Conservatives really believe in: I move that the motion be amended by adding the following after the words “May 15, 2018”: and must not result in a loss of employment within the federal public service.
    It is my duty to inform hon. members that an amendment to an opposition motion may be moved only with the consent of the sponsor of the motion.
    Therefore, I ask the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska if he consents to this amendment being moved.


    Mr. Speaker, last January 25th, the leader of the NDP clearly stated that he did not support the idea of a single tax return. We are not going to amend our motion just because the NDP has changed its position over the past year. We have made it very clear that there would be no jobs lost.
    The motion will remain as is. We invite all parliamentarians who want Quebeckers to be able to file a single tax return to support our motion.
    There is no consent.
    Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 85, the amendment cannot be moved.
    The hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît.
    Mr. Speaker, what the member for Richmond—Arthabaska just said is absolutely shameful.
    He rejected an NDP amendment proposed by my colleague from Sherbrooke. The amendment simply called for ensuring that the jobs would be saved or protected if Quebec moved to a single tax return.
    The Conservatives are boasting that the purpose of the motion is to save jobs. However, they were specifically asked, and the member for Richmond—Arthabaska said that this could not be added to the opposition motion being debated today. The message is clear. The Conservatives have absolutely no plan to save the 5,000 good jobs affected by the motion, including about 1,000 jobs in the Saguenay region. A Conservative member from this region could lose his seat in the next election because of this proposal.
    The member for Sherbrooke pointed out that the unions have looked at potential solutions to bring the jobs back to Quebec. As members know, about $230 million in wages could potentially be lost if Quebec took on this responsibility. This has a big impact on jobs and wage losses. The Conservatives should look into this and suggest solutions, if their solutions have been analyzed, which I doubt. They just clearly said that they have no intention of keeping these jobs. Otherwise, they would have voted in favour of our amendment.
    Does my colleague from Sherbrooke agree with me on that?
    Mr. Speaker, I got the answer to my question.
     The answer from the member for Richmond—Arthabaska allowed us to see the Conservatives' true colours. He gave a very convoluted answer to try to explain that his leader has said that he will protect the jobs in question. However, we are seeing the Conservatives' true colours because, after the member concluded his brief remarks, he simply said “no”. He showed the Conservatives' true colours on this issue. The Conservatives are refusing to add a simple phrase concerning job protection to the motion.
    The member said that his leader would protect the jobs, so why does including something to that effect in the motion pose a problem? His leader is already saying that that is what he will do. The problem is that the Conservatives do not believe in protecting jobs and they are using this proposal to eliminate jobs in the federal public service. I got the answer to my question. The member rejected a rather simple amendment that would uphold what his leader said. If his leader is prepared to say that he will protect the jobs, then the member should be willing to include something to that effect in the motion. This shows the Conservatives' true colours. Unfortunately, they are using this issue to support their budget-balancing ideology. They see this as an opportunity to cut 5,000 jobs in the federal public service.


    Mr. Speaker, the minister addressed the issues of the importance of jobs in the region. The government is very much aware of this and wants to be sensitive to it. There are wonderful opportunities going forward. I would be interested in my colleague's thoughts on the importance of the national government continuing to have that positive dialogue and maybe looking at ways that it can be enhanced.
    My colleague made reference to tax evasion. This government has invested close to a billion dollars to ensure more work is done to go after those who avoid paying taxes. What could the government do that it currently is not doing with respect to this?



     Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
    The answer to his question is simple. Although the Liberals claim they are fighting tax evasion by investing $1 billion and have a plan that is working, the missing piece of the puzzle is the results.
    If my colleague wants a clear answer to his question I would suggest that the government can do more by sending people who commit tax fraud to prison, and the same goes for those who make arrangements offshore to avoid paying their fair share of taxes in Canada. That is what is missing from the current government's track record. There are no convictions or even charges related to offshore tax evasion.
    My colleague wants to know what more his government can do. The government can show Canadians that it is serious about fighting tax evasion. It can do so by sending people to jail if they game our system to avoid paying what they rightfully owe for our public services.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sherbrooke for his speech, but I would like to request some clarification about the doublespeak we are hearing from the NDP members. Last year, they were right beside us in standing up for Quebeckers and supporting the National Assembly's request for a single tax return. All of a sudden, on January 25, their leader, who, as everyone knows, is having a hard time making headway in Quebec right now, decided to oppose this initiative.
    I find it hard to understand how the NDP's Quebec members can suddenly change their mind and decide not to respect Quebeckers' wishes.
    Our resolution is perfectly simple. All it says is that we want to respond to the National Assembly's unanimous request, which reads as follow:
     THAT the National Assembly ask the Québec Government and the Federal Government to implement a single tax report for Québec taxpayers, to be filed with Revenu Québec, while preserving Quebec's fiscal autonomy.
    I will ask the member a simple question, without getting into everything he wants us to believe by fearmongering like the Liberals. To the best of my knowledge, the NDP and the Liberal Party are parties with different policies, and yet, oddly enough, they are becoming aligned. Will he respect the unanimous motion of the National Assembly and vote for the motion we moved today in order to apply pressure to the government so that discussions about a single tax return for Quebeckers can begin immediately?
    Mr. Speaker, to give my colleague a simple answer, yes, we are prepared to work on that. It is what we have been doing since we passed a resolution at our February 2018 convention. He may have missed the beginning of my speech, but the key element of that resolution was the second paragraph, which reads:
     BE IT RESOLVED THAT the implementation of this idea must not result in a loss of employment within the federal public service, and therefore this policy proposal must be made in collaboration with the unions and representatives of federal public servants.
     That is the resolution made by our party's members, which we have backed. That is why we support the concept of simplifying Quebeckers' lives by allowing them to file a single tax return.
    As things stand, that condition cannot be satisfied, but that does not mean we are against the underlying principle. Things need to be done properly, not in some kind of ad hoc way that disregards the workers involved, that does not respect the dignity of those workers, who have been making a big contribution to the economy in communities like Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. That is why we chose a responsible approach. That is my answer to my colleague's question. We did our homework, and that is the conclusion we came to. We are nevertheless open to the idea and to discussion with a view to finding a solution that will make life easier for Quebeckers. That is the responsible way to go about this, and it is exactly the opposite of what the Conservatives are doing.
    Mr. Speaker, I just want to say what a shame it is that a political party with 15 representatives here in the House of Commons would change its mind. That is their right. They have consulted their friends and their union partners. They are free to do that. We all know that any issue that could affect unions or unionization is a total non-starter for the NDP. That is why the NDP decided to change its mind even though Quebec members from all opposition parties in the House of Commons had joined forces to make life easier for Quebeckers. The NDP has the right to change its mind, but it has to live with the consequences of doing so.


    Mr. Speaker, I am sorry for upsetting my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent. Unfortunately, yes, we in the NDP respect workers. If the Conservatives do not feel the same and do not respect workers and their families, that is their choice. They will see how that works out for them in the affected regions come election day. They might find that people care about their jobs, about providing for their families. The Conservatives are making entire families suffer.
    This is another opportunity to remember that today we are seeing the Conservatives' true colours, since they do not care about workers and their well-being. They are doing everything they can to eliminate public servants from the public service of Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Lévis—Lotbinière.
    First off I would like to point out to the government that many employees at the Jonquière tax centre fear that their centre will be sacrificed in favour of the one in Shawinigan. Their level of concern following yesterday’s announcement of a new, larger, modern building, has increased tenfold.
    I would also like to remind my colleagues that, despite the Prime Minister's promise to build a respectful relationship with federal public servants, the fact remains that negotiations for CRA employees’ next collective agreement are at a standstill. That is another broken promise, and another mistake made by the Liberal government.
    Conservatives keep their promises. That is why, in the first term of a Conservative government, we will introduce a single tax return after negotiating with Quebec, while maintaining employment levels at the Gilles-Marceau building in Jonquière.
    I therefore support the motion introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska, which asks the government to work in tandem with the Quebec government to introduce a single tax return.
    The Conservative Party is the party that is most attentive to the provinces and regions. We believe in the importance of good, stable jobs and the benefits of decentralizing the economy in favour of the regions.
    Come tax time, the Canada Revenue Agency employs almost 1,000 people at the Jonquière tax centre in the riding next to mine. A number of these brave workers live in my riding and studied at Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, also located in my riding.
    Yesterday, the members of the Saguenay city council ratified a resolution asking the Premier of Quebec to formally commit to maintaining current employment levels at the Jonquière tax centre should Quebec introduce a single tax return.
    Although I appreciate the level of confidence of the members of the Saguenay city council, with a newly elected Conservative government attentive to Quebeckers’ needs in October 2019, there will still be work to be done.
    The motion asks the government to work in tandem with the Quebec government to introduce a single tax return.
    The process will have to be negotiated, and will be implemented gradually. The Conservative Party undertakes to harness the expertise of the Canada Revenue Agency and ensure that the transition does not involve any job losses in Quebec’s regions.
    To be even more clear, the level of employment at the Gilles-Marceau building in Jonquière will be maintained. My leader, a real honest leader who takes his responsibilities, has said so. Public service jobs will not be eliminated. We need public servants to ensure that our federal laws are upheld. We can also make more effective use of the people who work for the federal government. Those who are currently working on processing Quebeckers' federal tax returns might work on something else instead.
    Employees of the Jonquière tax centre and the Chicoutimi tax service office are skilled and for the most part bilingual.
    These employees are also model citizens who are engaged in democracy and involved in the community whether by contributing to the United Way, promoting blood and plasma drives, or making donations to soup kitchens. They work hard and will not be out of work.
    However, in light of our deficit situation and our government's reckless spending, we have to be responsible and ensure that none of the work is duplicated.
    It is also important to point out that it is hard to find skilled labour. There is a reason the Government of Quebec would like to have the more than 5,000 CRA employees working in Quebec for the province.


    However, we believe that the Public Service of Canada will always need its 5,000-plus competent employees who work for the Canada Revenue Agency in Quebec. Those jobs are there to stay.
    The Canada Revenue Agency's mission is to administer tax and benefits programs, and to ensure compliance on behalf of governments across Canada, thereby contributing to the ongoing economic and social well-being of Canadians. It has a very broad and important mission.
    Right now there are workload duplications because of the two tax returns, but there will be no shortage of work with a single tax return.
    All Canadians will benefit from this new efficiency on the part of the CRA, because the agency ensures compliance across Canada and administers benefit programs, such as the Canada child benefit and the disability tax credit.
    The government will be able to allocate more resources without increasing its spending in order to simplify life for all Canadians, improve the CRA's services and fight tax evasion.
    These new financial resources, obtained without any increase in government spending, will open up new opportunities for the CRA and will result in better jobs in terms of employment stability and wage security.
    Of course, this will not reduce the cost of the accounting software or the accountant's services. However, this measure will make life easier for Quebeckers.
    Who can explain why the income reported in box A of my RL-1 slip is not the same as that reported in box 4 of my T4? Why are business-use-of-home expenses not calculated in the same way for the Quebec return and the federal return?
    Unlike the Liberals, who will have to increase Quebeckers' and Canadians' taxes to manage their spending spree, the Conservatives are looking for solutions so they can do more without increasing government spending and reduce the tax burden on families.
     Quebec families would save hundreds of dollars if the Government of Quebec would adopt the federal government's definition of income and stop collecting tax on the taxable benefit consisting of the employer's contribution to health and dental insurance.
    We want to make life easier for Canadians and Quebeckers. We want to responsibly manage government spending. We want to reduce the tax burden on Quebec families. A Conservative government would sit down with the province's representatives and have a constructive discussion to make this request a reality.
    The Conservatives respect provincial jurisdictions and have full confidence in provincial institutions. There is already an agreement with the province concerning the administration of the GST.
    Quebec is the only province in Canada where people have to fill out two tax returns. That is a major irritant for Quebeckers and we, the Conservatives, are the only ones showing any leadership on this issue. We want to correct this situation.
    The Liberal government and the NDP are being irresponsible by wrongly raising the spectre of job losses. As I said throughout my speech, they should instead be focusing on listening to the provinces, simplifying life for Quebeckers, improving the Canada Revenue Agency's services, fighting tax evasion, and maintaining stable, good-quality jobs at the Jonquière and Shawinigan tax centres.
    In closing, I would like to remind members that the principle underlying the Canadian Confederation is that of a contract between the provinces for the management of common interests. It is founded on the power of the provinces.
    The Conservatives have always understood that principle. They will continue to decentralize and to listen to the provinces, particularly Quebec. We learned through our “Listening to Quebeckers" tour that a single tax return is a priority. A Conservative government would begin negotiations with the Government of Quebec and make that a reality.


    Mr. Speaker, I just came from Shawinigan, where we announced the construction of a new building. We made this announcement because we support the CRA employees who work in the regions of Quebec.
    However, even though jobs in Jonquière and Chicoutimi are on the line, the member will not stand up to his leader and to his entire party, which has decided to wipe out all CRA positions in the regions of Quebec, including those in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, Mauricie and the Outaouais.
    Can the member explain himself? What, exactly, is his job if not to protect jobs in Chicoutimi?
    My colleague is trying to get into the details instead of debating the principle.
    The Liberals know full well that the details will be resolved after several hours of negotiation with the provincial government. They should listen to Quebeckers, like our leader, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, has done in recent months. The member would have learned that having to file two returns is a major irritant.
    We need to find constructive solutions, and our proposal to move to a single tax return is a constructive one. The problem with the Liberals is that they centralize powers in Ottawa instead of better serving the interests of ordinary Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his remarks. He obviously cares about this issue.
    However, he will have to explain to his constituents in Chicoutimi—Le Fjord why his colleague, the member for Richmond—Arthabaska and the sponsor of the motion, opposed an amendment that sought specifically to protect jobs, when he had spent most of his own speech talking about defending them. Furthermore, the member's speech was not well thought out, since he proposed solutions that made no sense to the people involved. I therefore have a very simple question for the member.
    Why did the Conservatives refuse to include any mention of protecting jobs in their motion? If they truly believed in it, they would do more than talk about it. They would include it in their motion.
    Why did they refuse such a simple motion that sought to do exactly what the member said repeatedly during his speech, but that the Conservatives refuse to put in writing?
    Mr. Speaker, we believe in our leader and our party, and we will keep our word.
    Mr. Speaker, this issue of protecting jobs is essential. It is important to us in the Bloc Québécois as well. We believe that the government would have to negotiate with the Government of Quebec and the unions to ensure that these workers are properly protected. That goes without saying. I do not think that a debate on this in the House is necessary. I hope that we do not need a debate to tell government members how they should act on these issues.
    However, the purpose of the House is to serve the people, and the people of Quebec are tired of having to file two tax returns. They are asking for the single tax return. This is a long-standing request. Minister Séguin asked for this back in 2004, and it has always been recognized that the jurisdiction best prepared to manage the issue of tax returns is the Government of Quebec.
    Today, our colleagues in the Conservative Party have joined us in making this request. I thank them for that. However, we have to wonder why, since they were in power for 10 years, after all, and could have taken action on this back then. At least they are taking action this year. We cannot fault them for doing so, and we are very happy about it.
    That said, there needs to be some movement. We are here to serve the people. The people need this government to step up and take responsibility, without putting the blame on collective agreements. It makes no sense. It is disgraceful and unworthy of a Parliament.


    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from my colleague.
    In this matter, it is essential to listen to Quebec. Let us not forget that both times that Quebec wanted to separate from Canada, the federal Liberals were in government. In the Conservative Party, we always respect provincial jurisdiction. That is the way we operate.
    Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to take part in the debate on the motion moved by my colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska on a request that is very important to my constituents in Lévis—Lotbinière and to all Quebeckers.
    This motion addresses a clear and legitimate request from Quebeckers and the National Assembly, namely to cut the paperwork burden on Quebeckers significantly by allowing them to file a single tax return. Currently, all Quebeckers are required to file two tax returns as soon as they start earning an income, even if they have not reached the age of majority.
    This noble and legitimate request for a single tax return will save time and money for Quebec families and all Quebeckers. Let us be clear: Quebec is the only province in Canada that still has to take on this onerous task. The Liberal government does not seem moved by this fact by one iota, because saving time and money is simply not part of its values.
    I have a real-life example. Not so long ago, all our children were still living under our roof. That meant 14 personal tax returns for a single household, in addition to the two returns I had to file for my small farming business. Think about it. That adds up to 16 tax returns for one humble abode. Families, students and young workers are being asked to do repetitive, counterproductive work when they just want to be active on the labour market.
    We Conservatives are loyal to our values, and we care about making Quebeckers' lives easier and saving them time and money. By contrast, the Liberals keep raising taxes more and more to feed their insatiable appetite for spending money here, there and everywhere, all over the planet, in the hope of burnishing their image at our expense.
     We, the Conservatives, are capable of building bridges and ships and making sure that Quebeckers only have to file one tax return. It takes leadership and political willpower to change people's lives in a lasting and positive way.
     The Liberals are so eager to do whatever it takes to help their buddies get rich that they managed to legalize marijuana, but when it comes to doing something that would help all Quebeckers, they are totally against favouritism and preferential treatment. Their adamant refusal is baffling.
    The Minister of National Revenue comes back to us in the House with simplistic arguments, such as the fear of massive job losses, but all those claims are unfounded. There is no evidence that this would change anything for the millions of students working across Quebec.
    A Liberal government that starts dancing just in time to get noticed simply does not deserve to be in power.
    With all due respect to the role of minister, I cannot help but think that the Minister of National Revenue's only role is to serve as the spokesperson for a centralizing government that turns a deaf ear to Quebeckers' legitimate demands.
    Fortunately, on October 21, 2019, Quebeckers will be able to decide who is more likely to listen to their wishes, the Liberals or the Conservatives, and who will be more likely to work for a more productive Quebec, a stronger Quebec, a richer Quebec, a Quebec that is a partner in Canada's success, a Quebec that is proud of its culture and heritage, a Quebec that is worthy of the French language, a Quebec that is respected by the Conservative Party of Canada for what it has achieved, a proud partner in the success of all Canadians from all provinces.
    As my mother always said, beauty does not put bread on the table. October 21 will see the end of the Liberal government and its princely and spendthrift Prime Minister, who does not respect provincial jurisdiction or, by extension, Canadians, and who refuses to accept perfectly reasonable requests like having a single tax return.
    Historically, the Conservatives have said yes to Quebec’s requests. We said yes to the construction of the new Champlain Bridge, yes to the future third link in Quebec City, yes to the Asterix and Obelix ships for Davie, yes to more power over immigration for Quebec, yes to a single tax return.


    That is open federalism. That is a government working for the people. Imagine what life and the future will be like for Canadians with this collaborative federalism supporting concrete, positive actions for the benefit of all Canadians.
    The Conservative Party proved it once and is prepared to prove it again, since we have always said what we would do and done what we said we would. We have always kept our promises, even at the risk of losing Liberal support.
    Our first concrete action will not be to imitate the grasshopper from the fable or to take selfies, but to deliver a single tax return for all Quebecers.
    Canadians’ future is their own, and it will soon be time to decide. This will be a historic turning point for Canadians, and I can assure you that the voters of Lévis—Lotbinière understand that a vote for any party other than the Conservatives would only result in the re-election of a princely, extravagant and arrogant Prime Minister. Canadians will soon have real hope of seeing a healthy, competent administration make sound choices for future generations. Canadians deserve only the best, and they deserve an efficient administration to lead our country.
    I believe that representing Canadians in the House of Commons is an immense privilege, an honour and a serious responsibility. It is high time that our Prime Minister reflected these values, which only the Conservative Party of Canada can translate into concrete action.
    It cannot be denied that the Liberals are doing everything they can to hinder the sound, fair and equitable representation of Quebeckers and all other Canadians. They have taken over a bureaucracy that jealously guards its budgets so they can use it for their own partisan interests. That is unacceptable and unjustifiable. I would ask my esteemed Liberal colleagues to open their eyes and, above all, not to forget why they are here: to serve Canadians fairly and honourably. Following the lead of a Prime Minister who thinks nothing of spending taxpayers’ money freely is no longer a viable option, since we are already feeling the consequences.
    In conclusion, my message to the people of Lévis—Lotbinière is that they should consider an easier day-to-day life, consider our children, consider tomorrow, and consider the Conservative Party, which can deliver a bridge, a ship and a single tax return.
     Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, I just got back from Shawinigan, where we were proud to announce the construction of a new building to accommodate the growing number of Canada Revenue Agency employees in Mauricie. Those new jobs are in addition to others that are being created in Jonquière, Chicoutimi, Gatineau and all over Quebec. I was also in Matane a week ago to see our offices there, which are providing more and more services to the whole of government.
    The member for Lévis—Lotbinière is proud that the Bloc Québécois supports his proposal. I think the top priority must be to protect jobs in Quebec, especially in the regions. The member needs to make things somewhat clearer for us than his colleague from Chicoutimi did and tell us why he did not stand up to his leader in defence of jobs in the regions all over Quebec. Why is the member not standing up for jobs in Quebec?


    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I would like him to stop fearmongering. Yes, Quebeckers working for the Canada Revenue Agency are doing outstanding auditing work, and that work will not stop. The Liberals are exaggerating. We think Quebeckers should be able to submit a single tax return, and there is no reason to believe that would cause job losses. Quebeckers want to waste less time, do less paperwork and have more money in their pockets, and that is what we are going to deliver for them within our first 100 days.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I realize that we were the first to raise the idea of examining the possibility of a singe tax return for Quebeckers. It was adopted as a resolution at our federal convention, but it stipulated that the single tax return must not result in any job losses for the people of Mauricie or Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean in the interest of keeping good jobs in the regions.
    The Conservatives are saying that it is no big deal, since we are voting only on the principle today and we should believe their assurances that they want to achieve this without any job losses. We tested them by suggesting an amendment to their motion, adding in writing that no jobs would be lost in the federal public service. Can my friend from the Conservative Party explain to me why he rejected the NDP's amendment?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I am pleased to be able to have this debate with my NDP colleague regarding the possibility of Quebeckers filing a single tax return.
    Everyone here has the same rights. We can all talk about our concerns and our desire to protect jobs, which is worth mentioning. What matters, however, is that at the end of the debate, and ultimately, in two or three years, or perhaps after the October 21 election, Quebeckers will fortunately be able to file a single tax return. That is the ultimate goal.
    Mr. Speaker, I believe that just about everyone agrees that having a single tax return makes the most sense and would save time and money.
    We know that individuals spend $300 million and businesses spend $400 million every year to prepare their tax returns. I do not understand the Liberal's very weak argument. It is as though they are telling us that even though having a single tax return would save money, it would result in job losses. Could these people not be used to fight tax evasion or improve the efficiency of the Phoenix pay system? I think these public servants would be very happy with that.
    Then we have our Conservative friends who, with an election looming and even though they have not taken action on this issue, are suddenly presenting this request. We agree that it is a good thing.
    However, we do not agree with their assertion that the Conservative government respects provincial jurisdictions. We have seen their response concerning Quebec: they refuse to reconsider multiculturalism, and they support institutional bilingualism and kick-starting energy east.
    The NDP says that it is not necessarily against the principle, but they will not support it in order to save jobs. I believe it would be more logical to support the principle—
    We only have time for the answer.
    The hon. member for Lévis—Lotbinière.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question is very broad. I can tell him that the Conservative Party is the only party in the House that will be able to fulfill the election promise of bringing in a single tax return to improve the everyday lives of Quebeckers.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my esteemed colleague from Gatineau. Before I get to my speech, there are a few things that I heard here in the House that I cannot help but comment on.
    When the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord was asked what would happen to the 5,500 Canada Revenue Agency jobs at risk in the regions of Quebec, he told us that this is a detail to be ironed out. The 5,500 families who depend on these jobs do not see this as merely a detail. When asked how the Conservatives would solve this problem, he said that he believes in his leader. Quebeckers are not fooled. They know very well that before the election, the Conservatives try to sweet-talk Quebeckers. They smile broadly and try to sell them on the concept of open federalism.
    We heard the member for Lévis—Lotbinière talking about the Conservatives’ yeses in Quebec and giving a list of promises for the future. However, historically, the Conservatives said no to appointing bilingual judges to the Supreme Court. The Conservative government appointed two unilingual anglophone judges to the Supreme Court of Canada despite the opinions of the National Assembly, the entire legal profession, and Quebeckers. They appointed unilingual anglophone officers of Parliament. In Quebec, they destroyed the data from the firearms registry, while the National Assembly and the entire political class in Quebec wanted to keep it. That was the open federalism of Stephen Harper’s government that they are so proud of. Quebeckers are not fooled, and they have a long memory. They will not soon forget it.
    In short, unlike what the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and the bunch opposite are saying, 5,500 jobs are not mere details.
    I will now get to my speech on the motion before us today. This may sound attractive, but the issue is much more complex than my colleagues on the other side of the House think. I wish to begin by enlightening them on a few aspects of their motion.
    The Canada Revenue Agency is our national tax administrator and has developed a great deal of expertise in harmonizing the federal tax rules with the various provincial and territorial ones. The CRA has signed a number of ever-evolving collection agreements across the country, so it understands best what kind of flexibility is needed when considering the social and economic policy objectives of each province or territory.
    So far, the federal government, nine provinces and three territories have harmonized their definitions of income and have a single tax return for individuals, which is administered by the federal government. Quebec has different definitions, different rules and different exemptions. For Quebec to have a single tax return and for these taxes to be administered effectively, harmonization would be required. However, the Conservatives are not saying how this would happen. They are saying that, just like with the jobs, these details can be sorted out later, and that they believe in their leader. They cannot tell us how this harmonization would work. Would Quebec harmonize with the rest of the country, or vice versa? This was my first point.
    Second, since it administers harmonized regimes, and like any good administrator, the CRA was able to achieve economies of scale. In fact, administrative costs for managing the provincial and territorial programs are covered by the federal government when the programs are identical.
    We can agree that administering two programs that are not harmonized costs money. That is the rub. Harmonizing two programs comes at a cost. The Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec agree on that. However, if the Premier of Quebec asks for a refund for the administrative costs borne by Quebec for administering the federal program, as he said he would, that is where the two governments no longer agree. Why pay that kind of money?
    The CRA is more than qualified to administer its federal tax program. We can see why the Government of Canada thinks that this type of scenario would not be beneficial to Canadians or Quebeckers.
    Third, my colleagues across the way seem to be unaware of the CRA's considerable expertise internationally, even though they formed the government for 10 years. The Canada Revenue Agency is a world-class tax administrator and represents Canada among many international partners. This expertise is put to use for fighting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.
    Over the past three years, our government has invested over $1 billion in the fight against tax evasion. Clearly, the Stephen Harper government, which the Conservatives are so proud of, never made fighting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance a priority. In fact, the revenue minister of the day, Mr. Blackburn, even told the Journal de Montréal last summer in a burst of candour and honesty that, under Mr. Harper, the fight against tax evasion was never a priority and they did not even talk about it. It was not important to them. Obviously, the more things change, the more they stay the same.


    On the contrary, the government is determined to ensure that all individuals and all businesses pay their fair share of taxes. We are determined to make it much harder for those who choose to avoid paying their taxes.
    Because of the over $1 billion in investments that we made in the past three budgets, the CRA now has the tools and means to work and exchange financial information with tax authorities around the world.
    We also greatly surpassed our goal to recover $319.5 million in additional tax revenues in 2017-18 by recovering $500 million in additional taxes. We made investments in the CRA to hire over 1,300 more auditors, enhance infrastructure development, improve the risk assessment system, and strengthen its capacity to target cases of tax evasion for investigation and criminal prosecution purposes.
    As soon as the investments were announced in 2016, my colleague, the Minister of National Revenue, announced the creation of an independent advisory committee on offshore tax evasion and aggressive tax planning. Thanks to those investments, the CRA now has better data and better approaches for combatting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, and it is achieving better results.
    Canadians and Quebeckers can be proud that this country now has one of the largest tax treaty networks in the world, with 93 tax treaties and 24 tax information exchange agreements with other nations around the globe.
    The CRA also plays a leading role as a member of the Joint International Tax Shelter Information Centre, a network of close to 40 countries, in which Canada works closely with other tax administrations to coordinate tax compliance activities across the spectrum of international tax risks.
    Our collaboration with our international partners is vital for successfully fighting tax evasion. However, only Canada can ratify international agreements. As a signatory to international tax treaties and tax information exchange agreements with other countries, Canada has a key role to play. Like the other provinces and territories, Quebec does not have the same legal means as Canada does to recover money it is owed that is held in other territories.
    That means that if a taxpayer decides to transfer their assets to another province or country, Quebec would have neither the legal standing nor the extraterritorial jurisdiction to follow those assets outside Quebec's territory. However, as I mentioned, Canada does have that authority.
    For all of these reasons, I invite my colleagues opposite to follow the NDP's lead and reconsider their position on this matter.


    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech, although he was using all sorts of diversions throughout much of it.


     There were many red herrings in that speech.
    When it comes to the question of the government's inability to understand what to do with the public service workers now filling out this redundant second filing of income taxes in Quebec, I wonder why one would not simply reassign those jobs. This could be done most productively, perhaps, in the pursuit of offshore Canadian tax evaders. It could be done long distance, done at a computer. That is what the minister's staff on that assignment are doing now. Why not do this?


    Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to finally see a Conservative member take an interest in cracking down on fiscal evasion and propose to redeploy resources to that end.
    That is precisely what we have done in our past three budgets. We hired more than 1,300 auditors to go after those who try to dodge their tax obligations in Canada and who resort to excessive tax avoidance.
    However, for 10 years, while the member was here in this House as part of the Harper government, he and his colleagues did not care one iota about combatting tax avoidance. As I mentioned during my speech, former minister Blackburn said that they did not really talk about it and that it was not a priority for the Harper government.
    Maybe something positive will come out of this debate: finally, a Conservative member woke up and said that we need to crack down on tax avoidance. It is too little, too late, unfortunately.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I agree with him on certain points.
    Since we are talking about Revenue Canada, I am also interested in tax avoidance. I cannot understand how the Liberal government could sign new tax treaties with tax havens. It is making the problem worse.
    A few years ago, the Conference Board—not exactly a bunch of leftists—reported that the federal government lost between $9 billion and $49 billion a year because of millionaires and billionaires hiding their money offshore to avoid paying their fair share of taxes here at home. The rest of us are paying for that.
    I would like to know the number of millionaires and white-collar fraudsters the Liberal government managed to put behind bars. Last time I checked, it was zero.


    Mr. Speaker, information exchange agreements provide useful and necessary information to the CRA, allowing it to identify taxpayers who engage in tax evasion or aggressive tax avoidance. That is precisely why such agreements exist with different foreign entities. Prosecuting tax evaders is much more complex than it seems. We need all this information and international co-operation to succeed.
    The fact is, since we came into power, we have invested $1 billion in the CRA to ensure it has the necessary resources to catch those who engage in aggressive tax avoidance. That is an ambitious goal, an ambition that was sorely lacking for a decade under Stephen Harper. I encourage my colleague to read an interesting article published recently in La Presse about the CRA. It explains how the CRA is able to hire more auditors and catch more fraudsters thanks to these investments.
    Mr. Speaker, as usual, my colleague from Louis-Hébert gave an intelligent and eloquent speech.
    In the speeches from the other side of the House, they claim to have Quebec’s interests at heart, but they contradict each other. They forget to mention why there are two tax forms in Quebec. It is not to annoy Quebeckers: it is because Quebec wanted to have a mechanism to pursue special economic and social objectives.
    Why does the Conservative Party want to take away this flexibility in Quebec?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his kind words and his question.
    On this subject, it should be pointed out that our government is always willing to work with our provincial partners, particularly Quebec. We need to come up with ways to make life easier for Quebeckers and Canadians and to work together better in order to be as effective as possible.
    It is really difficult to take everything coming from the other side of the House seriously. For 10 years, Prime Minister Harper, who they keep praising in the House—and I would like Quebeckers to hear this—refused to even meet his provincial counterparts. He did not even attend the Council of the Federation.
    We have no lessons to learn from this so-called open federalism, which they trampled on for 10 years.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a real pleasure for me to speak. I have been waiting a long time for the opportunity to take part in a debate that not only concerns a very important issue for Canada, but is also central to our respective visions of the role of government. I am referring here to the role of the Government of Canada, and to the role of government in the daily lives of Quebeckers and Canadians.
    I want to talk about this party’s total disregard for our public servants and the modern machinery of government, but first I will talk about the issue at hand, which is tax collection. Obviously, the average Quebecker would like to have to file only one tax return, just like everyone else in the rest of the country, in the nine other provinces and three other territories. There people only have to file one return. However, the Robillard Commission, which was set up by the Government of Quebec not so long ago, pointed out that Quebec taxpayers could save about $400 million by harmonizing with Revenue Canada, which currently enjoys economies of scale across the country.
    The Government of Quebec could give $400 million back to its taxpayers while maintaining the social and economic objectives mentioned by my colleague from Lac-Saint-Louis. It would mean keeping an eye on these objectives, while at the same time saving Quebec taxpayers money. This deserves our attention.
    We say yes to co-operation and to making life easier for all taxpayers in Quebec and Canada. I note that 85% of taxpayers, when they file their returns, do so electronically. They press a button, and their federal return is sent to Revenue Canada, their provincial return is sent to Revenu Québec, and that is it. That is our perspective on this issue.
    I want to talk about the contempt that is expressed every day on the other side of the House for the state, for the Government of Canada. Since this is an election year, I think it is important that all Government of Canada employees, particularly those in the National Capital Region, hear what the Conservative Party is really saying.



    My colleagues from the national capital region will be running in an election this year. They will be running against Conservative opponents who are going to promise unicorns and rainbows, but here is what the record says.
    What did the Conservative Party leave us? They left us crumbling infrastructure. They left us office buildings with bricks falling off them so that we have to put netting on them. Why? It is because they would not invest, they said, in federal infrastructure, in offices for bureaucrats.
    Here is what else the Conservatives left us: The member for Parry Sound—Muskoka, their esteemed colleague, left that dreary DRAP program, which yielded what?
    Let us talk about job losses. Let us talk about the Phoenix pay system. Let us talk about the order given by Stephen Harper to summarily fire 700 public servants.


    They laid off the 700 most experienced compensation specialists without notice and left us with a computer system that could not pay civil servants.
    It is not a problem for the Conservatives, since reducing the deficit is the only thing that matters to them.
    What about the Government of Canada jobs not only in the national capital region, but across the country and Quebec? Today, we are talking about the 5,500 families that have one member working for the Canada Revenue Agency. I have met people who work for the CRA and for all Canadians in the regions of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, Mauricie and Matane, and at the Promenades de l'Outaouais mall in Gatineau. Quebeckers here in Gatineau or Ottawa and in the various regions of Quebec are proud to contribute to shaping this magnificent country. They are proud to do their part to help make Canada the best country in the world.
    The cynics across the aisle are telling us that a single tax return is what matters, not jobs in the regions. I was surprised to hear my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord say that.
    I asked him what he would do to protect his constituents. First, he said that he believes in his leader, a guy from Regina. Then he told me that the thousands of jobs are just a detail. These jobs are not a detail at all. Yesterday, I met with the president of the Union of Taxation Employees. He does not see these jobs as a detail. He does not see working conditions in Chicoutimi as a detail. The people of Chicoutimi certainly do not see the future of their jobs and the well-being of their families as a detail either.
    The members opposite feel contempt for civil servants. They despise the Government of Canada's bureaucracy, infrastructure, employees and computer systems, which are all details for those who belong to the Conservative Party. Earlier, they were patting themselves on the back for having the support of the Bloc Québécois. A proud party, whose leader at the time was among the founding fathers of Canada, is delighted to get the formal support of the Bloc Québécois in the House. I cannot believe my ears.



    Not only people in Ottawa and Gatineau but all employees of the Government of Canada need to understand and listen very carefully to what these people talk about when they talk about government programs and the people who deliver them and the ways that we do that work.
    In the next election the Conservatives are going to be talking a lot about these things and will never say what their agenda is, but that is what we will be talking about, because we have starkly different visions about the role of the Government of Canada.
    We believe that the Government of Canada and the people who serve it are there to serve people, to make people's lives better—and yes, to catch tax cheats all over the world, and yes, to make sure people get across borders safely, and yes, every day to build that infrastructure and those things that help make Canada the number one country in which to live.
    The people who serve the Government of Canada in this Chamber will always have our support.


    People in the regions of Quebec deserve as much support as people here in the capital, especially from their MPs.
    That is why I, like all my colleagues, will tirelessly travel around Quebec and across the country to talk with people, reassure them, and provide them with the tools and infrastructure they need to do the work they are very proud of, namely to serve all Canadians, help us build this country, and make Canada a fairer, more prosperous place. That is the issue at the heart of today's debate.
    Mr. Speaker, unfortunately for Canadians, this is not the first time that members of the Liberal Party have used scare tactics to frighten people by saying that there would be job losses, that this would be the end of the world and that it would be terrible.
     We do not need to go back decades. Just a few months ago, in May and June, there was an election in the riding of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. Week after week, prominent Liberals came forward to say that the Conservatives were in favour of a single tax return and that this would result in job losses. The people of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord spoke. While we finished fourth three years ago, 53% of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord voted for the Conservatives this time.
    Enough with Liberal fearmongering. In fact, I must point out to my Liberal colleague that Quebec's former finance minister just responded by saying that he found this unfortunate. He said that he was extremely disappointed because this was something in the public interest of Quebeckers, and that what he really wants is for the two agencies to continue working together. This is a provincial Liberal whose party balanced the budget, unlike the federal Liberal Party.
    My question to the member is, why does he want to scare Canadians when they are not fooled by this fearmongering?
    Mr. Speaker, I need only repeat what my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord said in answer to my question.
    Why did he not stand up to his leader about these jobs that would disappear? Why did he not stand up for his thousands of fellow Quebeckers and their families who depend on these jobs, which they do so well? What did that member say? He said it was a detail and that he believed in his leader.
    Whoever claims to be speaking on behalf of the regions of Quebec in this debate absolutely must explain what will happen to each and every job if the worst happens, that is, if this party is elected and carries out its plan.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his contribution to the debate.
    His speech proved that on this subject, only one party is serious, responsible and ready to tackle this issue, to discuss it and to try to find a solution to make things easier for Canadians. On the one side, we have the Conservatives, who would do anything to get rid of 5,000 public service jobs for the sake of their balanced budget ideology. They would jump at an opportunity like this to balance the budget, even if it meant sacrificing families and entire regions whose economies depend on these jobs.
    On the other side, we have the Liberals, who are stonewalling. They would not even consider discussing an important issue that would make life easier for Canadians.
    Why did my colleague, as a government member and as parliamentary secretary, not do the responsible thing, which is to sit down and try to find a solution to make life easier for Canadians, especially Quebeckers, instead of shooting the idea down completely?


    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. The reason we invested $1 billion in CRA systems and a new call centre is to improve service to the public, to fight tax evasion more effectively and to align our practices with those of our partners, like Revenu Québec.
    Our government has proven itself. In fact, just yesterday, we officially announced to the people of the Mauricie region that the future of their tax centre is assured and that a new building will be built to accommodate more public servants.
    We are investing and improving services for Canadians, and we will continue to do so.


    Mr. Speaker, it is shameful that the parliamentary secretary is using our public service employees as political pawns, fearmongering them into thinking their jobs are at stake. What is at stake is the opportunity for Quebeckers' lives to be made more simple, to make things easier. I am wondering what the parliamentary secretary has against Quebeckers, or is this just another Justin Trudeau mistake?
    I call on the hon. member to use either the titles or the riding names of hon. members in his next interventions.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Mr. Speaker, I would invite the hon. member to the beautiful riding of Gatineau, Quebec, where he can explain to public servants the record of his party. He can explain that dreary DRAP program and the Phoenix pay system it left behind to the Quebeckers who work for the Government of Canada. He can explain to them that he believes that standing up in the chamber and defending the role of the Government of Canada and the work of federal public servants is somehow using them as pawns. He is the one using them as pawns. He is the one showing a total classless lack of respect for the employees of the Government of Canada.


    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge.
    What I am hearing from the members across the way is unbelievable. The Liberals are out of touch with reality, and they are not working for Quebec. It saddens me.
    I would like to remind the House that our political lieutenant for Quebec tabled a motion this morning. I am very proud that the member for Richmond—Arthabaska tabled a motion that is in the interest of Canadians, especially Quebeckers.
    We are here to stand up for Quebeckers. We are the Quebec caucus within the national caucus of the Conservative Party of Canada, and our colleagues listen to us very carefully. However, that does not seem to be the case across the aisle. As Conservatives, we work together in the interest of all Canadians, but today in particular, we need to think about the interests of Quebeckers and the single tax return.
    I would like to remind the people listening to us at home what topic we have been discussing this morning in the House. As I was saying, my colleague tabled the following motion this morning:
    That, given:
(a) the House has great respect for provincial jurisdiction and trust in provincial institutions;
(b) the people of Quebec are burdened with completing and submitting two tax returns, one federal and one provincial; and
(c) the House believes in cutting red tape and reducing unnecessary paperwork to improve the everyday lives of families; therefore,
the House call on the government to work with the Government of Quebec to implement a single tax return in Quebec, as adopted unanimously in the motion of the National Assembly of Quebec on May 15, 2018.
    In my view, letting people file a single tax return is the least we could do. I do not understand why the Liberal government are so stubbornly opposed to the idea. Quebeckers are the only people in Canada that have to do twice the work in February, March or April when they file their tax return. I do not understand the motives behind the Liberal government's decision to say no to Quebec, no to Quebeckers and no to a single tax return. That is unacceptable.
    What is the basis of that refusal? The Liberals justify it by saying that they want to protect 5,500 jobs in Quebec, meaning the jobs of Canadian public servants working for the Canada Revenue Agency.
    Before being elected to the House, I was an entrepreneur. If entrepreneurs in Canada and Quebec acted this way, it would be irresponsible for the future of their companies.
    It is 2019, and the technology exists. Can we at least consider the possibility of finding a solution so Quebeckers have less paperwork to fill out? The Liberal government’s position is a categorical no. Why is this centralizing government saying no to Quebec? To protect jobs.
    The leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, the leader of the official opposition in the House of Commons, has very clearly said that no jobs would be lost. It must be said that we have a better record of keeping our word than the Liberals do. When the Liberals say things and make promises, we have our doubts, because they have a long list of broken promises.
    However, when our party, the Conservative Party of Canada, formed the government, we kept our promises, whereas the current government has caused a mess over the last three years. Our “score” is almost 100%, which is excellent.
    What is important to understand is that we must undertake a reflection. Personally, I think that the 40 Liberal members from Quebec, and I am not talking about Ali Baba and his 40 thieves, should be realistic and fair. They should have the trust and willpower to get things done. They should respect Quebeckers.


    It is acceptable for the GST. Revenu Québec can collect the GST and remit it to Ottawa, but maybe the Liberals see Quebeckers as second-class citizens when it comes to filing tax returns. The Liberals have not even considered the possibility of finding a solution and studying the feasibility of a single tax return. Is that trust? I do not think so.
    We need to be realistic. As I mentioned earlier, there is reality. It is 2019, and the technology exists. We can reduce the paperwork today. It is a matter of putting numbers in columns, but the exercise must be multiplied by two and by the number of residents of Quebec. How many additional returns is that?
    Where there is a will to make things better, there is a way. Where there is no will, excuses will certainly be found. Scare tactics will be used. We need to be realistic. Being realistic means looking at the system that exists now and considering the feasibility of the issue. However, the Liberals' answer is a categorical no, and they refuse to commit.
    Why ask twice the effort from Quebeckers in the name of fairness? Quebec is the only province to complete two income tax returns. To be fair, will the Liberal government announce a tax credit in its next budget for Quebeckers who are required to pay an accountant twice as much because they file two tax returns? Maybe we will have a surprise in March when the Minister of Finance tables his budget. If we follow the government’s reasoning regarding fairness, there should be compensation for Quebeckers.
    What is lacking is political will. The minister is hiding behind the argument of lost jobs. I repeat, as our leader mentioned, that no jobs will be lost. I asked the Prime Minister a question last week. We were discussing the income tax return and the reason why he was saying no to Quebeckers. I will read his answer to my question in the House. I do not know what planet he was on, but he replied, “Mr. Speaker, how interesting. The Conservatives are saying one thing in French and another in English.”
     I do not know if he was talking about the Liberals. We Conservatives are saying only one thing.



    I can speak English and French.


    We will work for Quebec and to meet the needs of Quebeckers. Quebec has a labour shortage. More than 1,000 positions are vacant according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. We will continue to work with Quebec on its files.
    Here in the House last Wednesday, the Prime Minister himself said that there was a labour shortage. The Minister of National Revenue says she wants no lost jobs. I have quite a few ideas for her to consider. Take employees and send them to work on tax evasion. For three years, the Liberals have invested millions of dollars without any results.
    Why not use that expertise? Public servants are skilled workers. We will respect Canadian public servants, and we will ensure that they are paid, which is very important. At the very least, public servants need to be paid by the government for the services they provide.
    I am getting carried away. I should return to my notes. Speaking of the Minister of National Revenue, a few months ago, she developed a new slogan, “the net is tightening”. Last week it became, “Chop, chop, chop”. This is not the theatre; this is the House of Commons. This is serious. Quebeckers deserve our respect. This is unacceptable behaviour on the part of a minister. It is as if she were on a stage. She is putting on a play. It is unacceptable as well as irresponsible.
    I do not understand how this Liberal government can say no to Quebeckers and no to a single income tax return.
    Speaking of theatre, Mr. Speaker, I think what we have just witnessed is an excellent example of play-acting. It even ends up being believable. However, the ones who do not believe it are Quebeckers, because they saw the Conservatives play that movie so often. They come to Quebec all smiles to show openness just before an election, but after the elections, they only say no to Quebec.
     Let us not forget when two unilingual anglophone judges were appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada by Stephen Harper, whom my colleague from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier admires so much. Let us not forget the appointment of unilingual anglophone officers of Parliament and the destruction of data from the gun registry. Let us also not forget how my colleague from Lévis—Lotbinière and the whole bunch from Quebec were decked out in their stylish Nordiques jerseys just before the federal government decided not to fund the Quebec amphitheatre at the time.
    Now, we hear them say that they will protect these 5,500 jobs and that these are just details to be sorted out at a later date. However, they are not details for the 5,500 families who depend on these jobs.
    I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about that.
    Mr. Speaker, it is quite impressive to hear my colleague from Louis-Hébert say that the Conservatives are not to be believed.
    As for the amphitheatre, it was Mr. Harper who said no. He stood firm in the interest of protecting taxpayer dollars. There was a principle and guidelines and he followed those rules. Unfortunately for Quebeckers, there was no investment, but Mr. Harper was fair, just, honest and loyal.
    How can this member stand and tell us that we do not keep our word? What has he done since June 30, 2016, when he asked voters in Louis-Hébert to vote for him by promising to have the Quebec Bridge painted? It is 2019 and the Quebec Bridge has yet to see a drop of paint, so he cannot lecture anyone.


    Mr. Speaker, if there is anyone who cannot lecture anyone about painting the Quebec Bridge, it is certainly a Conservative member who did nothing for 10 years, especially after the Quebec NDP members pressured him to do so. The Conservatives never did anything when they had the chance.
    Today, they are talking a good game as though this were important to them, but their actions speak volumes. In fact, as actions speak louder than words, I had the opportunity to table an amendment to include respect for workers and the protection of federal public servants in the motion. It was an extremely simple amendment that pretty much said the same thing the Conservatives are saying, but obviously, they have no intention of walking the talk, since the sponsor of the motion, the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, rejected my amendment.
    Why are the Conservatives refusing to add a simple clause to protect jobs? When a party says something but refuses to put it in writing, they show their true colours.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is completely wrong about the Quebec Bridge.
    The Conservative government of the day put $75 million on the table, the Government of Quebec put $23.5 million on the table, the City of Quebec put $1.5 million on the table and the City of Lévis put $500,000 on the table. The latter two were talking at the time, so we took action. We did not find a solution, but we never made a promise with a deadline. We will take no lessons from the NDP.
    Speaking of lessons, the NDP introduced an amendment today. The New Democrats are all over the map. Sometimes they say yes and sometimes they say no. Sometimes they are in favour of a single tax return and sometimes they are not. Today, we are debating a principle. We are not trying to make political hay like the NDP. We are taking care of Quebeckers. The motion that we moved this morning was very clear and we will debate it until the end of the day.
    Mr. Speaker, not too long ago, in 2004, Yves Séguin, then the Quebec finance minister, called for a single tax return. In 2008, the Bloc Québécois took up that call on behalf of Quebeckers. Fourteen and a half years have passed since then, four and a half under a Liberal government and 10 under a Conservative one.
    Why should we now believe the Conservatives and their call for a single tax return?
    Mr. Speaker, I admire my colleague and I thank her for her question.
    We cannot change the past; we can only change the future. We must not look backward; we must look forward. Maurice Duplessis' provincial government asked for this, and the matter could have been settled then. Now it is 2019. We are standing up and we are saying yes to Quebeckers because Quebec's National Assembly recently adopted a motion. We are here to serve Canadians and Quebeckers.
    I can see that many members have questions and comments to share. I can assure all members who have risen that I will give them the floor when it is their turn. We will keep going, and I will make sure those members have an opportunity to participate in the debate.
    Resuming debate. The hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge.


    Mr. Speaker, it is certainly my pleasure to speak to today's motion, and to follow up on that great speech from my colleague for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.
    In the 2015 election, the Liberal Party made a number of promises. Many of their best-known promises were spectacularly broken early on in their government, like the promise to run a relatively small deficit, strictly for the purpose of building infrastructure, and then to balance the budget by 2019. They blew every part of that campaign promise.
    They promised they would create a brand new voting system. They promised to do away with the first-past-the-post system. They promised to hold an open competition to replace Canada's aging fighter jets. They promised to hold themselves to the highest possible standards for openness and accountability.
    We know that all of these promises have been thoroughly broken. The government does not even admit to having ever made any of these promises in the first place.
    However, today I want to draw to the attention of members of the House and those who are watching this debate or who will read about it in Hansard, that the Liberals in 2015 promised to deliver a “client-focused Canada Revenue Agency”. That was their promise. I would like to draw everyone's attention to page 33 of the Liberal Party's platform, where it says:
    The Canada Revenue Agency exists to serve Canadians. We will overhaul its service model so that people who interact with the CRA feel like valued clients, not just taxpayers.
    Today's opposition motion is a perfect opportunity for the government and its Liberal caucus to actually deliver on an election promise, and at the same time give Canadians in Quebec something that will make their lives simpler and less expensive: a single tax return. Most Canadians who have never lived in Quebec probably did not know that Quebeckers have to file two separate tax returns and have had to do so for decades.
    This is a long-standing irritant to Quebec tax filers and something that any Canadian can understand. Nobody relishes filing their tax returns. It is complicated enough just to file one return, so today the opposition calls upon the government to work with the Government of Quebec to implement a single tax return in Quebec, as adopted unanimously in the motion of the National Assembly of Quebec on May 15, 2018.
     All parties in Quebec support the idea of the Quebec government working with its federal counterpart to give Quebeckers a single return. This is not a controversial proposal in Quebec. Quebeckers are tired of having to file two forms or having to pay a third party to file two forms. The Liberal government that has done so much to make life more expensive for all Canadians, including Quebeckers, has an opportunity today to make good on its promise to make the Canada Revenue Agency more client focused, and give Quebec a single tax return.
     After being elected with a campaign promise to improve the taxpaying experience of Canadians, let us examine what the government has done over the past three years. The government started out by giving a mandate letter to the Minister of National Revenue, which said, “As Minister of National Revenue, your overarching goal will be to ensure that the CRA is fairer, more helpful, and easier to use.”
     Giving Quebeckers a single tax return certainly might be one way to make the CRA easier to use, but the mandate letter also goes on to say that the minister is to “lead the government's work to overhaul its service model so that people who interact with the CRA feel like valued clients, not just taxpayers”, which is right from the Liberal Party platform.
    Again, this opposition motion gives the minister a perfect opportunity to actually take a concrete step toward fulfilling her public mandate and an election promise, yet the minister and the government have completely given up on even pretending to keep their election promises or carry out the tasks contained in their mandate letters.
    The minister's mandate letter, of course, also contains the standard line about upholding the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, ensuring the highest standards for ethical conduct, and upholding the principles of openness and transparency. These are all laughable now, given the numerous conflicts of interest, the ethical lapses of her cabinet colleagues, and both the minister's and her department's failures to be open and transparent in this House, at committee, in Order Paper questions, and in response to access to information requests.


    The minister and the department under her management have been anything but open and transparent. Today's motion is again a perfect opportunity for the minister and the government to make amends with Quebec tax filers, who, like other Canadians, have been subject to the spectacular failings of the minister and the department under her watch.
     Since being sworn in as a minister under a promise and with a mandate letter to establish a more service-oriented agency, the minister has lashed out at some of the most vulnerable Canadians while making absolutely zero measurable progress in the fight against tax avoidance and tax evasion.
    It was under the minister and the Liberal government that the agency mused about taxing employer health benefits. It was under the minister and the Liberal government that the agency targeted retail and service employees by announcing its intention to tax retail employee discounts and complementary meals for restaurant employees. It was under the current government, under the minister's watch, that the agency began targeting tips earned by minimum wage-earning restaurant servers and their employers.
    It was under the current government and this minister that the agency targeted parents, especially single moms and dads, with onerous, sometimes impossible requirements just to prove that they are parents and entitled to child care benefits. It was under the current government that the finance minister decided to go to war with small businesses, calling them tax cheaters, creating new and onerous requirements for family-owned corporations, and attacking their life savings through draconian new taxes.
    It was under—


    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, there is a conversation taking place across the way, and it is almost to the point where we cannot hear our colleague, who is just a few seats down from us. I would ask that members take their conversations somewhere else.
    Mr. Speaker, I hope the Conservatives take that advice on board in question period.
    I thank both members for bringing this to the attention of the Chair with respect to the noise in the chamber. There is always a certain amount of low-level conversation in the House from time to time when members are speaking. Admittedly, if it gets to a point where it is disruptive or interferes with the ability of other hon. members to hear what members are saying, that is the point where we like to intervene.
    The hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge.
    Mr. Speaker, I will also point out that it was under this minister that the Auditor General tabled not one, but two damning reports on this agency. One report pointed out that under the minister's watch, the CRA ran a call centre that hung up on 64% of the people who contacted it. It also said that the 36% of callers who could actually get through to the agency had about a one in three chance of being given incorrect information about how to comply with the Income Tax Act.
    The other report was presented at what, unfortunately, was to be the Auditor General's final appearance at the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. It was the report that said that under this minister, the Canada Revenue Agency would automatically disallow a deduction or expense for ordinary Canadians, but if the tax filer had offshore accounts, the agency would wait months or even years, and sometimes simply close the file without assessing any other taxes.
    None of these actions is consistent with the Liberals' promise to deliver an agency focused on service for Canadians. The Prime Minister, his revenue minister and his entire government have utterly failed Canadians.
    Today, the House has an opportunity to at least make life a little easier for Canadian tax filers who live in Quebec, by reducing their paperwork, their aggravation and their costs, and simply agreeing to work with the province of Quebec toward the goal of giving Quebeckers a single tax return. They do not have to give the opposition credit. They can just pretend they were listening to Quebeckers and do it.
    A motion was passed unanimously in the Quebec assembly. Everybody in Quebec agrees with this idea. The opposition is here to help the government make the right decision, and we hope Liberals will take that opportunity today. I will say that at the 2018 national convention, over 90% of Conservative Party delegates voted for this policy. Delegates from coast to coast to coast, who want their lives simplified and their compliance costs lowered, supported Conservatives.
    Today, members of the House have an opportunity to take the side of tax filers. It is disappointing that only Conservatives seem to be listening to this concern from Quebec's tax filers.



    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge for his comments.


    One thing that is not noted explicitly in the motion that the Conservatives brought forward today, but which is implicit, is the fact that Quebec is obviously asking that it be the organization that would administer the tax. In a way, it is either a decentralization or a capitulation of federal sovereignty and oversight over certain aspects of tax law from the Government of Canada to Quebec, which I am sure would be of interest in Calgary Rocky Ridge.
     It really comes to a head in two particular points with respect to the tax. The first point is that single tax return administered by Quebec could be an obstacle to compliance with Canada's legal obligations internationally under tax agreements if we were to do what the member is asking for, which is to hand over the reins to Quebec.
    The second point is that Quebec, like all other provinces and territories, does not have collection powers outside its territory. Of course, collecting federal tax is a national enterprise and Quebec does not have the authority.
    Therefore, it seems to me that at least in his jurisdiction it would cause problems for tax filers with operations in both Calgary Rocky Ridge and Quebec City, for instance, to get the full tax due. If the member can explain his plan to remedy that, I am sure that would help satisfy me with respect to his argument.
    Mr. Speaker, the member packed a lot in there, and the entirety of that question cannot be answered in the time I am allowed.
    Today, let us at least agree in principle, as certainly the voters of Calgary Rocky Ridge would, that having two tax returns is an onerous requirement for tax filers. I do not think anybody in Calgary Rocky Ridge would want other Canadians to have to do twice the paperwork to file a tax return.
    The member raises some issues that clearly are real issues. However, can we not at least agree in principle that this ought to be done, and that it would make life much simpler for Canadian tax filers? Let us allow the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada to work together to make life simpler.
    Mr. Speaker, we are hearing two things here. The Quebec members in the Conservative Party are saying that Quebec will do the form. The member is not saying that, because it would be unpopular in the rest of Canada if he said that Quebec would do the form.
    We in Canada have shared jurisdiction in the level of taxes. The federal government and nine provinces chose to harmonize their definitions and have certain exceptions that are very different from the distinctive path that Quebec has chosen. In order to have one form, every accountant I have spoken to has told me that we would need to have a harmonized definition between Quebec and at least the federal government.
     Is the hon. member asking Alberta and all the other provinces to change their definitions to be the same as Quebec's definitions, or is he suggesting that Quebec lose all its distinctiveness and harmonize its definitions with the rest of Canada because that is what is required to achieve this resolution?
    Mr. Speaker, it is great to see the squirming and the excuses made on the Liberal side in order to avoid even attempting to make life simpler for Quebec tax filers. I understand fully. There have been administrative agreements. There is precedent. We understand in Alberta. We know that Quebec collects its own GST through an administrative arrangement between the two levels of government.
    I see no reason why something similar could not be achieved if we put the effort into working together to make it happen. All we hear from that side are excuses for why we should not try to do something that would make life simpler for Quebec tax filers.


    Mr. Speaker, the two responses the hon. member just gave prove that the Conservatives are not serious about this. When asked important questions on the impact that this proposal will have on where we go from here, the Conservatives are unable to provide specific answers. If the Government of Quebec becomes the tax collector, that will raise questions of jurisdiction regarding federal taxes collected from jurisdictions other than Quebec.
    My colleague also talked about the definition of income. His colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord also explained the definition in great detail. He said the definition of income is different in Quebec because certain expenses are taken into account to calculate income.
    Does my colleague from Calgary Rocky Ridge prefer Quebec's definition of income or the definition used in every other province?



    Mr. Speaker, obviously, much work will need to be done, but I point out that today's motion does not drill down into these kinds of details.
     I cannot possibly debate an overhaul of how income tax is collected. We could get into all kinds of issues if we allowed ourselves to. The motion merely calls upon the government to work with the Government of Quebec to implement a single tax return. We are voting yes or no on the motion today. I am very disappointed that other parties cannot, even in principle, agree to support the motion dealing with the principle of a single tax return for Quebec filers.


    Mr. Speaker, I finally have the floor. I could not wait to talk about this motion. I will share my time with the hon. member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges.
    I am pleased to rise today to debate the implementation of a single tax and benefit return for Quebeckers, to be managed by Revenu Québec.
    I must say that I was a bit surprised earlier to hear someone from Calgary speak for Quebeckers and know what Quebeckers want. That was very hard to fathom.
    Collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners is essential to build a stronger economy and create good jobs for all middle-class Canadians.
    Our government is well aware of the fact that provincial and territorial governments face the same challenges as the federal government. We also acknowledge the crucial role that communication plays in making sure that the efforts we are making to overcome these challenges come to fruition. Efficient governance requires partnerships between all levels of government. Only by working together will we bring about positive change.
    Since the election of a new government in Quebec last October, our government has been focused on building a relationship based on trust and open dialogue. The Prime Minister met with the new Premier of Quebec a few days after the election during the Sommet de la Francophonie in Armenia.
    It was a major opportunity, during which countries and governments of the Francophonie gathered to tackle common issues, especially building economies which are beneficial for all, addressing climate change and reinforcing democratic institutions. During their conversation, the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Quebec agreed to work together to face common challenges, like attracting foreign investments and creating new opportunities for all Canadians.
    Our common priorities were clearly established: together, we continue standing up for workers, creating good jobs and building a strong economy for all regions of Quebec. We have worked with provincial and territorial governments no matter what party they belong to. Improving the lives of Canadians is not a partisan issue.
    In Canada, provincial and federal ministers quickly set up a dialogue and, since then, have met several times multilaterally, which means federal-provincial-territorial meetings, as well as bilaterally, in order to discuss and advance issues of common interest.
    Last December, during their meeting, the Prime Minister and the premiers identified fields of interest common to all governments, in particular the economy, the environment and transport. The meeting took place in Montreal, and it was the first time a first ministers meeting occurred in Quebec in half a century. This shows our will to give new impetus to our cooperation.
    In January, at a cabinet retreat in Sherbrooke, Quebec, federal ministers had an opportunity to participate in meetings and round tables with Quebeckers, local representatives, and representatives from the private and non-profit sectors. This retreat provided a unique opportunity to hear directly from Quebeckers about their concerns, priorities and daily lives.
    During this visit, the Prime Minister met with the Premier of Quebec to discuss issues of mutual concern, such as strengthening the economy; investing in infrastructure, which is very important in Quebec and in the rest of Canada; addressing the skills shortage in Quebec; and dealing with immigration. The skills shortage is a big issue in Quebec.
    As an aside, I want to address the member for Mégantic—L'Érable's comments that he is prepared to have the 5,500 employees in question relocated. I cannot get over his interpretation of what it means to improve lives. It is not easy to relocate 5,500 employees, especially when they are in Jonquière and Shawinigan.


    Of course, immigration was also discussed. That discussion highlighted two important issues for Quebec, namely immigration and the essential role that skills development plays in growing Quebec's economy.
    As is the case across Canada, needs are increasing due to an aging population and changes to trade agreements and new technology, which are all significant factors in the Montreal area.
     The Quebec economy is now stronger than it was three years ago. I can testify to that because three years ago, in my riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, my constituents told me that, for couples, one of two jobs was always precarious. Since our government came to power, the economy is doing a lot better.
     Over the last three years, the Government of Canada has signed a certain number of bilateral agreements with the Government of Quebec, including important asymmetrical agreements in the health care sector. Those agreements dealt primarily with mental health—and we know how important that is—home care for our elderly, early childhood education and child care.
    We also worked closely to meet needs related to infrastructure, agriculture and the environment.
    Several bilateral negotiations are under way regarding federal government compensation for temporary housing of asylum seekers, labour market transfer agreements and an asymmetric housing agreement.
    We have seen encouraging results, and we have built a relationship with the new Government of Quebec that is based on collaboration and that should help us sign those and other agreements in the coming months.
    We are proud to help build a Quebec that addresses the concerns of its citizens. Whether it be infrastructure, agriculture, health care or the fight against climate change, the Government of Canada wants Quebecers to know that it is their partner.
    The decades-long partnership between the Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec ensures that Quebeckers have an efficient tax system that respects Quebec’s autonomy and ensures good jobs in the regions. I will say it again, we are talking about 5,500 jobs in Quebec, in the Shawinigan and Jonquière regions.
    Quebec is the only province in Canada with a separate tax administration to collect its personal income and business taxes. That is the choice that Quebeckers made and we have respected it.
    We have made a lot of progress in restoring and strengthening ties between the Canada and Quebec governments. We always will to that. Quebeckers deserve nothing less.
    Mr. Speaker, how can we trust the Liberals? I would like an answer from my colleague opposite. The Liberal government has not kept any of its promises since it was elected, except for legalizing marijuana, which it did haphazardly.
    The Liberals have been unable to crack down on tax havens. They even gave out contracts to KPMG, which is swimming in murky waters, when it comes to tax havens. They have not even been able to pay their employees. How can they tell us today that Quebec cannot effectively administer its own income tax returns? They are already administering the GST and the QST.
    Why can Quebec not administer the income tax returns? Unlike this government, Quebec is the only tax authority that honours its commitments.


    Mr. Speaker, if Quebec is responsible for tax administration, it is not because we do not respect provincial and federal jurisdictions.
    Canada is the one that has signed international tax agreements and information exchange agreements with other countries.
    The government works together with Quebec. We are always ready to collaborate.
    Earlier, the Minister of National Revenue said in her speech that we would not dive into a lake without checking how deep it was. These are delicate issues, they require time, and we must study the facts before taking action.
    Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what the government did not do.
    She used the analogy of a lake, saying we should be able to see the bottom before jumping in. I am not sure that analogy totally works here, incidentally.
    The problem is that the government has done no due diligence to confirm whether it was possible, whether there were any solutions or whether such a proposal was even a good idea. It simply dismissed it outright.
    Why did my colleague say it is important to see what is at the bottom of the lake, when she did not even bother taking the time to do so herself? She did not even look at what was there. She simply decided to stay on the shoreline. Why did she not check to see what was at the bottom of the lake?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    I was simply using a metaphor when I mentioned that before jumping into a lake we should check how deep it is. Studies must be based on facts. One cannot simply toss around promises to relocate these 5,500 employees. Come on. The motion talks about improving the lives of Canadians and Quebeckers. Asking them to leave Shawinigan or Jonquière and moving them somewhere else will not improve their quality of life. That is not the right way to work for Quebeckers and Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, the 5,500 federal employees in Shawinigan and Jonquière will keep their jobs. We will ensure that they keep their jobs in the administrative agreements that we will sign as soon as we take office in October.
    The member said that she would rather help 5,500 public servants, who are merely being asked to make a bit of a transition, than the 8.3 million Quebeckers who clearly stated during our “Listening to Quebeckers” tour that they want a single tax return. The member is also going against the 125 members of the Quebec National Assembly, who together represent the 8.3 million Quebeckers who said that they want a single tax return. She is going to protect 5,500 individuals at the expense of 8.3 million people.
    Is that what the member is trying to tell us right now?
     Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    I am pleased that a Conservative is asking me that question because, in their 2012 budget, the Conservatives eliminated 1,200 jobs at the Canada Revenue Agency. They made $250 million in cuts. We cannot trust the Conservatives to manage the CRA properly. What they are saying right now is an election gimmick. I hope that they will tell all Canadians what they are saying here and what they are saying to Quebec, and that they will not send two different messages.
    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to talk about the important work the Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec have undertaken to reduce red tape for Quebeckers.
    The Conservatives think a single measure will make filing tax returns easier and more accessible for Quebec residents. They think having Quebec taxpayers fill out a single tax return administered by Revenu Québec is the solution. In other words, they want to pay more for work the CRA is already doing. They want Canada's nine provinces and three territories to adopt the Quebec model because harmonization would be essential. Unfortunately, it is painfully clear that they are desperately trying to win votes in the province of Quebec.
    In contrast, Liberals are willing to work closely with Revenu Québec to find workable solutions that will make Quebeckers' lives easier at tax time. Rather than make cuts to services, staff and call centres like the Conservatives did for 10 years, we believe access to services, no matter where a person lives in Canada, is what matters most.



    My colleagues will also give the impression that relations between the Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec are not strong. I stand before the House today to say that the complete opposite is true.


    The Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec have been working together for a long time, for nearly 30 years. Because these two agencies have a long history together, they are able to share best practices and make sure that all taxpayers and benefit recipients across the country have access to the best service they deserve.
    Unlike what my colleagues would have us believe, the relationship between the agencies is solid and ongoing, and it applies to both personal and corporate income tax administration.


    To give an example, the federal government worked closely with Revenu Québec in the lead-up to the GST agreement that was signed in 1990. Since then, the Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec have continued to work together to make sure that GST registrants in Quebec receive the same level of service as those who live in other parts of the country. Further, the Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec have a proven collaborative relationship in ensuring that the tax administration of the goods and services tax is consistent nationwide.


    I should also point out that the Canada Revenue Agency is responsible for administering a fair tax regime used by all Canadians, including residents of Quebec. With this objective in mind, the agency has implemented new services designed to simplify the tax return process for all Canadians, including Quebeckers.
    Many of these new services are designed to improve access for those Canadians who choose to file their returns online. Quebec residents obviously benefit from these improvements, considering the fact that more than 85% of Quebec taxpayers file electronically.


    Why is that important for this debate? Tax preparation software already proposes simplification and presentation of the two declaration forms in one process by auto-filing the information in both declarations when the system requires the same information, already simplifying the process for the 85% and more of Quebeckers who file their taxes online every year.


    The Conservatives mentioned the complex nature of the returns, but seem to be completely unaware that few Quebeckers use paper forms anymore. Quebeckers now have updates for the software packages used to prepare their tax returns, which make it easier to fill out the two forms. The information on the forms can now be automatically generated, thanks to new features. In other words, all boxes are automatically filled out.
    Many initiatives such as auto-fill my return, file my return, express NOA and ReFILE have already been implemented to simplify the tax return preparation process for all taxpayers and benefit recipients.


    With these digital services, Canadians can file or change their income tax and benefit returns online through one simple process, and as just discussed, 85% of them will be using an online tool, and those numbers just continue to go up.
    For example, Canadians use NETFILE and EFILE to file their returns online. ReFILE allows them to submit amendments through the service. Auto-fill my return helps individuals and authorized representatives using certified software to automatically fill in parts of a return. Express notice of assessment allows individuals and authorized representatives to view the notice of assessment in their software right after the return has been received and processed by the Canada Revenue Agency.



    Moreover, the file my return service helps low-income Canadians and those on a fixed income. It makes it possible for eligible Canadians to file their returns by answering a few questions through an automated phone service. In 2018, 50,000 returns were filed in Canada with this service, which will again be available during this tax season.
    I would also like to mention the improvements made to services for entrepreneurs and small businesses operating throughout Quebec and in other provinces. I am referring to the liaison officer service. Owners of small businesses can ask to meet with a liaison officer to discuss their taxes. This service is free and gives business owners the opportunity to get answers to their questions.


    These results speak to the long history of close collaboration between the Canada Revenue Agency and Revenue Quebec and to the commitment of our government to making filing one's income tax and benefit return easier.
    Let me reiterate. Our efforts to simplify the tax return process in Quebec have been strong and are ongoing.


    Above all, it is very important to ensure that Canadians are using the best services available so that they can file their tax returns easily and receive the benefits and credits to which they are entitled. Let us be clear: we will never renege on this commitment.
    In closing, I would ask my Conservative colleagues to do their homework. Like the NDP, they should reconsider their position. I am talking about the Conservatives not just from Quebec, but also from Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the three territories. They should take the time to look at the details. A single tax return is not just a matter of an administrative agreement. It is about harmonizing one system with another. It is about using the same definitions for income, asking nine provinces and three territories to change their ways, and using taxpayers' money to pay more for a service that the Canada Revenue Agency already provides.
    Mr. Speaker, I find this debate very interesting. What has been happening in the news in recent months or for a little more than a year is also very interesting. We can see that the very root, the core identity, of the Liberal Party has not changed.
    Every time that Quebec asks the Liberal government for something, whether it is in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s or today, the answer is always no.
     Mr. Couillard, the former premier, asked if there could be a dialogue on Quebec’s place in the Canadian Constitution. The Prime Minister dismissed it out of hand. He did not even want to have a dialogue.
    Recently, Quebec asked for more autonomy in immigration. The Liberals said that they would look into it, but that means no. The National Assembly, the 125 members representing 8.3 million Quebeckers, unanimously called for a single tax return, and the Liberals today are saying no, without any shame.
    Why is it that the core identity of the Liberal Party of Canada since 1867 is still to answer no to Quebeckers and the province of Quebec when they ask for more power in their areas of jurisdiction?
    Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to see the Conservatives talking about Quebeckers, because for 10 years they did not care about them at all.
    It is funny that we are talking about this now. They were in power for 10 years. Why was this not an important issue when they were in power? It has now become the most important thing in the world. It is both funny and not. They are wasting our time with this motion today.
    The reality is that we have a system in place that works very well. Now, in January and February of this election year, we see them starting to play games by pretending that they want to take care of Quebeckers. We know that this is a joke, because for 10 years they did absolutely nothing.


    Mr. Speaker, I am trying to understand my colleague when he says he wants to make life easier for Quebeckers. He listed a bunch of measures that have been implemented to make it easier for people to file their tax returns. However, when it comes to a single tax return, which would make life easier for Quebeckers, the answer is no.
    Let us go back in time. On December 1, 1997, the Liberal government of the day signed a labour transfer implementation agreement with Quebec. The agreement provided for the transfer of 1,338 employees.
    If it was possible in 1997, why is it no longer possible in 2019?
    Mr. Speaker, we now know there is no reason to change the current system. As I just explained, at least 85% of Quebeckers file their taxes online using a system that puts both tax returns together. They only need to file one tax return online.
    Why are we wasting the time of the 338 members of the House? Because we are in an election year. The Conservatives are fishing for votes in Quebec; that much is clear. However, we will not give the Conservatives the opportunity to eliminate jobs in Quebec and across Canada. That is their record. They cut $400 billion from the CBC, $500 million from the RCMP and 1,200 jobs from the Canada Revenue Agency. They will continue doing the same thing if they return to power in this country, but we will not let them do it.


    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague really hit he nail on the head and took the wind out of the sails of this motion. He said that we essentially already filled out a single tax form through the software we bought. That is much simpler than what is being proposed on the other side. Hon. members on the other side were saying that we would have a new organizational chart, new technologies within the department to merge the two systems and this, that and the other thing.
     Have we not seen what the Conservatives do when they implement new technologies? They leave civil public servants unpaid. Imagine if that chaos occurred across all taxpayers in Canada. What does the hon. member have to say about that?
    Mr. Speaker, based on the record of the Conservatives, one thing we know is that when it comes to public servants, the faster they can get the knife out to cut them the better it is for them. The reality is that they are promising to Canadians that all the jobs will be kept when moving over to a new system, a system that we do not need and Quebeckers and Canadians do not need.
     Every time the Conservatives have been given the chance to improve on a system, civil servants have paid the price. Their record is $500 million in cuts from the RCMP, $400 million from the Canadian Border Services Agency and hundreds of millions of dollars from the Canada Revenue Agency. Now they are asking Canadians to trust them once again with a new system that is going to protect jobs. I do not think so. We are not going to give them that chance.


    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, who will certainly build on what I have to say.
    It is always an honour to speak in the House. I want to say hello to the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching us. Today, we are debating a single tax return for Quebeckers.
    The member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges has said some pretty unbelievable things. He asked why the Conservatives raised this topic this year, which is an election year. In reality, we actually talked about this matter in May last year, at our general council meeting in Saint-Hyacinthe. There were 400 Conservatives at this meeting, including members of the Bloc Québécois who were tired of the pointless bickering. The Bloc Québécois will never be in power. At this general council, we adopted the motion calling for a single tax return. The motion received the support of the vast majority, 90%, of attendees. It was quite popular.
    That said, introducing this motion at the Saint-Hyacinthe general council was not a casual idea plucked from thin air. Our political lieutenant for Quebec and other Quebec Conservative MPs held public consultations, consultations we called “Listening to Quebecers”.
    We held consultations in about 40 municipalities all across Quebec, covering all of Quebec's regional districts. Quebeckers themselves told us they wanted us to simplify their day-to-day lives. Then, a month later, in May 2018, Quebec's National Assembly unanimously adopted a motion calling on the federal government, regardless of the party in power after the October 2019 election, to start working on an administrative agreement that would enable Quebec to collect federal taxes and then transfer that money to the federal government. The ultimate goal was to make Quebeckers' lives easier and give them a much easier way to do things.
    I would like to re-read the motion for those watching at home because it may not be written out in full at the bottom of their screen. The motion states:
     That, given:
(a) the House has great respect for provincial jurisdiction and trust in provincial institutions;
(b) the people of Quebec are burdened with completing and submitting two tax returns, one federal and one provincial; and
(c) the House believes in cutting red tape and reducing unnecessary paperwork to improve the everyday lives of families; therefore,
the House call on the government to work with the Government of Quebec to implement a single tax return in Quebec, as adopted unanimously in the motion of the National Assembly of Quebec on May 15, 2018.
    That is the motion that our political lieutenant, the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, moved this morning.
    Why do we want the House to adopt this motion? As I said, over the past few months, we consulted with most Quebeckers as part of our province-wide consultation process. They told us that they needed this to happen because they are fed up. That is what they said. They are fed up with filling out two tax returns.
    The Conservative Party of Canada has always had one fundamental goal, which we pursued under the leadership of Mr. Harper when we cut taxes through 163 different measures. Clearly, the most popular measures were the ones that cut the GST from 7% to 6% and then from 6% to 5% and those that sought to cut red tape in half for all federal departments. It just so happens that the Liberals kept this administrative formality because they know how important it is. It is one of the good things they have done so far.
    We are also moving forward with that, because it reflects the desire of all elected officials from Quebec. That desire was reiterated a year ago, as I said at the start of my speech.
    There is a bit more of a personal reason that residents of Beauport—Limoilou may not be familiar with. I have knocked on 40,000 doors in my riding. I continue to do so. I even did it this Saturday in -20°C weather. I once again thank the volunteer who was with me that day. He was brave to follow me. The member for Louis-Saint-Laurent also went door to door. All the Conservatives in Canada did that.


    Saturday, I knocked on the doors of about 50 homes and the topic came up many times. That idea was put forward publicly by the Conservative Party before the Bloc Québécois began talking about it and well before the unanimous motion in Quebec’s National Assembly, because we had heard about it on the ground and we respect Quebeckers. Our fundamental goal in politics is to make life easier for all Canadians, and particularly to avoid them having to pay for the Prime Minister's mistakes in the future.
    Today, we have learned something important in the House, and I asked the member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges a question about this, namely, the fact that the true identity of the Liberal Party of Canada is clear for all to see. Perhaps it does not reflect on all of its individual members, although they are part of it, as they are involved in it, but fundamentally, it is a centralist party that does not care about the demands of Quebeckers for greater control. It does not care about the constitutional anguish and anxiety of Quebeckers. In particular, there is no desire to improve the lives of Quebeckers and Canadians through its government policies.
    On the contrary, we have never seen a government spend so much money on so few results for individual Canadians. We sometimes get the impression that the government is working for the bureaucracy and government programs instead of working for Quebeckers and Canadians in general. We have seen that identity throughout history. In 1867, George Brown and the Red Party did not want a large federation like Canada created by two founding peoples working hand in hand
    From 1867 to today, we Conservatives have maintained our constitutional and political openness to the grievances of both founding peoples and the legal grievances of the Province of Quebec. Remember the total affront by the Liberals in 1982 when they repatriated the Constitution without the consent of Quebec’s National Assembly. We see history repeating itself.
    In 1982, Quebec’s National Assembly did not sign the Constitution. As the bastion of the Francophonie in North America, Quebec certainly had a prominent place at the table. Even political conventions and jurisprudence clearly reflected Quebec's crucial role in the matter of the repatriation of the Constitution, but the Liberals, in their arrogance, brazenly repatriated the Constitution without Quebec’s signature, just as they are now brazenly and shamelessly dismissing the unanimous request by the National Assembly regarding a single income tax return.
    Under Mr. Mulroney, we resumed an honourable and enthusiastic dialogue. We made every possible effort, despite the extreme pressure on all sides from the elder Mr. Trudeau. We reached the Charlottetown and Meech Lake accords; we tried to bring Quebec into the fold. Later, Mr. Harper entered into administrative agreements, because the time was not right. People did not want a constitutional debate. Just as our leader, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, would like to do, Mr. Harper entered into administrative agreements that helped Quebeckers in their everyday lives, while waiting for the time when we might see a constitutional debate. Later, he got a seat for Quebec at UNESCO, the last thing the Liberals would have done, and the Bloc Québécois would never have had the power to do, as they will never be in power.
    Not only did we get a seat for Quebec at UNESCO, but we also acknowledged the existence of the Quebec nation in this assembly, in this Westminster Parliament, on North American soil. We acknowledged that the Quebec people formed a nation within a united Canada. Mr. Harper did that. It was not the Liberals or the Bloc Québécois, who could never do it, as they will never be in power.
    What party increased its number of seats in Quebec in the last election? It was not the Bloc Québécois, it was the Conservative Party, which won 12 seats. Unfortunately, due to their many promises, the Liberals were able to win many seats. However, that will change, as they are unable to keep their promises. As the deficit will not be eliminated this year, they will raise taxes over the coming days, months and years if they are re-elected.
    By all appearances, this is the same party as it was back in the day. By its very identity, the Liberal Party of Canada has no respect for Quebeckers or for areas of jurisdiction.


    A few days after being elected, the Prime Minister and member for Papineau went to New York and told a newspaper that Canada had no national identity. Really? Canada has no national identity? That is not what Quebeckers think. Quebeckers will never be well served by the Liberal Party of Canada. With our leader, the member for Regina—Qu’Appelle, we will give them more independence in their areas of jurisdiction when they seek it.
    Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to hear the speech from the member opposite. I sat on a committee with him a year ago. It was really interesting. I enjoy his passion. I will ask the same question that I asked the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge.
    As a Liberal from Newfoundland, I do not oppose the wish to decentralize government when doing so makes sense. We are willing to put the power where it belongs, close to the people most affected by what we want to do.
    However, there are two things for which there has not been a good answer this morning. The first is the fact that a single tax administration managed by Quebec could be an obstacle to Canada’s compliance with its legal obligations under international tax agreements. The second is the fact that Quebec, like the other provinces and territories, does not have the authority to recover funds outside its jurisdiction. Can his proposal address these two issues?



    Mr. Speaker, I know the member and respect him. We were on the OGGO committee together. He spoke to me in French so I will speak to him in English.
    Do members know why the Liberals speak about the technicalities of the matter? It is because they do not want to talk about the matter at hand, which is whether they are for or against our ideas. They are against them. Every time the government talks about complexities and technicalities, it is because it does not want to face reality.
    This is a good idea. It does not come from them. It comes from us. More than that, as I said during my speech, it is not possible for Liberal MPs in this land to do differently from what they are doing today, because this is part of their core identity.
    They do not want to respect decentralization. They do not believe in federalism. They do not believe in this country. They believe that everything should be centralized in Ottawa. First and foremost, they do not believe in French Canada.


    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague’s remarks.
    Earlier, in another speech, he tried to pit the 5,500 employees of the Canada Revenue Agency in Quebec against the 8.3 million Quebeckers who are affected by this issue. I think that this highlights exactly what the Conservatives think about this issue. They continue to do what they always do, which is to divide and conquer. That is what they are trying to do today. They will not admit it, and it seems that he avoided, perhaps intentionally, doing so in his speech as well. It appears as though they do not want to keep dividing people, as the member himself did earlier when he pitted the 5,500 families and communities that depend on these jobs against 8.3 million Quebeckers.
    Can he clarify his thoughts on that and tell us if he is really trying to play these groups against each other?
    Mr. Speaker, how typical of Canadian socialists. It is the opinion of the majority, because Quebec's National Assembly voted unanimously for a motion asking the federal government to begin administrative-level talks on a single tax return. It is always the same thing: every time the majority goes against what they believe in, Canadian socialists say that the majority's opinion is hogwash.
    I am not the one pitting Quebeckers against each other; the Liberals are. I am not the one disrespecting Quebeckers; the Liberals are. The Liberals are not the ones who will increase Quebec's jurisdictional powers; the Conservatives will be, after October 21, 2019.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. member. We have heard similar arguments in the past. In the 1980s, Conservative members told Quebeckers that they were forgotten, that Quebec was different and that the federal government did not have Quebec's interests at heart. What happened? The Bloc Québécois became the official opposition, the Reform Party was born and the Conservative Party disappeared. There was also the referendum in 1995.


    To the hon. member, you are playing a very dangerous game in saying one thing in English and one thing in French, one thing to Quebec, one thing to Canada. Why are you playing the game of Quebec separatists, because that is exactly what you are doing?
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!


    Order. I remind hon. members that they must address their comments to the Chair and not directly to members opposite.
    The hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou.


    Mr. Speaker, it is this party which has repatriated the Constitution without the Quebec National Assembly. It is the Trudeau father who put huge pressure on Newfoundland not to open on the day of the Meech Lake vote. This is the reality of history.



    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable has about five minutes to begin his speech. He can continue his comments when debate resumes after question period.
    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.
    I heard some other voices while you were speaking, Mr. Speaker. Unfortunately, they were the voices of Quebec MPs from the Liberal Party of Canada. They were saying that five minutes is more than enough. Five minutes is never enough to talk about the interests of Quebec. I could talk about that all day. Five minutes is not enough.
    Of course they do not want us to talk at length about this because having to hear Quebec's demands inconveniences them. It inconveniences them when we take up an issue that Quebeckers want, that the National Assembly voted on unanimously, that the Premier of Quebec wants, that the majority of Quebeckers want. Our supporters want it. The majority of their supporters want this too, but they would never admit it. They say that five minutes is enough for the MP. I will talk about this for five minutes and I will talk for another five minutes. I will talk about this all day. I will talk about this for as long as I can.
    The Liberal members will remain silent on this, especially the ones from Quebec because they do not stand up to defend the interests of Quebec.
    I heard the Minister of National Revenue's speech this morning. I debated whether I should raise a question of privilege or rise in the House about something she said at the beginning. I did not really understand her remarks, which started as follows:
     My colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable—who, I should point out, was mayor of a single-industry town in a region of Quebec that was hit hard by a difficult employment situation—has been accusing me these past few days of fearmongering regarding the single tax return.
    That is all she said. How am I supposed to interpret that? Is that supposed to be some kind of threat, because I stood up for the people of Thetford Mines, when all of the asbestos mines shut down after the then leader of the Liberal Party of Canada said that asbestos had no future in our country? Is that it? How am I supposed to interpret that?
    Mr. Michael Ignatieff was the first leader of a major political party in Canada to say that asbestos was finished. Since then, thousands of workers have been laid off in my riding.
    Today, I hear the Minister of National Revenue accuse us of having fought for our jobs. That is totally unacceptable. I will always stand up for people in Quebec, but I will especially stand up for the people of Mégantic—L'Érable. I will not accept statements like that.
    Since this debate started, the minister has shown us that she is completely disconnected from the reality of Quebeckers, who want a single income tax return. On several occasions, the minister accused us of fearmongering. The only ones who threatened anyone with losing their jobs was her, her Prime Minister or the people on that side of the House.
    It has been clear to us from the beginning that it is possible to do away with one form without affecting public servants. It is simple enough with a bit of good will and a simple willingness to trust Quebec and Quebeckers. Why would it not be possible to agree, to have a meeting, discussions and exchanges to make an entirely legitimate request by Quebec possible, namely the possibility of Quebeckers filing a single income tax return?
    They will say that we say something different in Quebec from what we say in other provinces. In other provinces, there is only one income tax return. It is not that we say two things, but there is a single tax return in every other province and we only want one here, in Quebec. What do the members opposite not understand about that?
    We want a solution. There is a problem for Quebeckers. We want a solution and we will not be held hostage by a centralist government's desire to hoard all the power. We are prepared to trust Quebec and Quebeckers with a single income tax return, but we are told no.
    In the beginning the Prime Minister said that the Liberals were open to discussion. Then, he suddenly changed his tune. This morning, he said that he does not share the same goal as the Government of Quebec and its premier. What caused this shift? The fact is that the Liberals realized that it made sense and that they would lose a bit of their power if Quebec was allowed to have a single tax return. There is the problem. They do not want to let go of their power. They are addicted to it. History tells us as much.


    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable will have five minutes to continue his speech after question period.


[Statements by Members]


Black History Month

    Mr. Speaker, in the month of February we celebrate the contribution of Quebeckers from black communities to our shared history. We invite everyone to participate in the many activities taking place across Quebec to mark Black History Month.
    The 28th edition in Montreal will focus on emancipation and the accomplished women who emerged from black communities. In Quebec City, the spotlight is on our thousand and one roots. Different activities will be held across the province, from Rouyn-Noranda to Gatineau to Rimouski.
     Let us seize the opportunity provided by the many conferences, workshops and panels to learn more about the contributions of different black communities to the Quebec identity, and their history, which we hear too little about.
    Let us enjoy the many artistic activities and celebrate the creativity that sets us apart, in Quebec, in all our diversity.


Lunar New Year

    Mr. Speaker, today marks the beginning of the lunar new year for members of the Canadian Chinese community and Seollal for the Korean Canadian community. We mark the arrival of the Year of the Pig, a great symbol of prosperity.
    The lunar new year is an opportunity for members of our communities to reflect on the successes of the past year and to look forward to new beginnings. It is also a great time to build deeper connections with our friends, families and neighbours.
    On behalf of my riding of Willowdale, I wish to mark this happy occasion as a year filled with peace, prosperity, good health and great happiness. Gong xi fa cai. Gong hey fat choy. Gong xi. Gong xi. Xin nian kuai le. Saehae bok manui badeuseyo.

Parkland Food Bank

    Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, February 23, the Parkland Food Bank Society is hosting its annual Coldest Night of the Year fundraising walk in support of those in the Tri-Municipal Region who are hungry, homeless and hurting.
     ln my riding of Sturgeon River—Parkland, we have been particularly hard hit by the challenges in the energy sector. Families who could once depend upon a reliable job are doing without this year, and organizations like the Parkland Food Bank are needed now more than ever.
    This year the food bank's goal is to raise $50,000 to assist families that are struggling. I encourage everyone in Parkland County, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and beyond to donate their time and assist with this great cause. Together we can help ensure that no one in this great country goes without.

Public Service

    Mr. Speaker, tonight I invite all parliamentarians, senators and their staff to attend the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada reception. PIPSC represents over 60,000 public service professionals across Canada, and a lot of them live in Orléans.
    Every day, public servants work hard to strengthen the middle class and improve the lives of all Canadians.


    That is why public servants deserve to be paid on time and accurately for the important work they do. There has been progress, and we will keep working to stabilize the system until our public servants are paid accurately, on time, every time.


    We are going to solve this pay problem.
    Join me this evening to recognize the hard work these public service professionals do for all of us from coast to coast to coast.

Lunar New Year

    Mr. Speaker, today 1.5 billion people worldwide celebrate the lunar new year. Across the country, events are held to ring in the Year of the Pig. This past weekend I celebrated with the Korean community with food, song and dance. The Vietnamese community, which is vibrant from Vancouver to Toronto to Montreal, cherishes the values of respect for human rights and the environment and began its celebration with the honouring of the ancestors.
    Aside from numerous gala dinners hosted by clan associations, this Sunday, Vancouver's Chinatown will once again be packed with people from all walks of life for the annual lunar new year parade. Central to the celebrations are family and friends.
    As I invite all of Canada to celebrate the Year of the Pig, I also ask the government to eliminate the cap for parents and grandparents sponsorship so that all hard-working Canadians who have helped build our country can unite with their loved ones.
    I wish everyone good health and prosperity in the Year of the Pig.
    Chuc mung nam moi. Gong hey fat choy. Xin nian kuai le.



Valcourt Ski-doo Grand Prix

    Mr. Speaker, the riding of Shefford is very proud to be hosting the biggest winter race event in the world. The 37th Ski-doo grand prix will be held in Valcourt, birthplace of the snowmobile, from February 8 to 10.
    This winter event brings together hundreds of athletes from around the world and tens of thousands of snowmobile fans in search of speed and adrenaline.
    This unique and inclusive tourist event is literally a winter festival full of activities for the whole family. It is also a major economic driver for the region, generating over $6.5 million in revenue.
    The event is made possible thanks to the hard work of the Valcourt Ski-doo grand prix team, the dedication of 300 volunteers, and the support of many sponsors. I wish everyone an excellent 37th grand prix, and I would remind my esteemed colleagues that Ski-doo is how we roll.


Kids on Track

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to recognize Kids on Track, an amazing charitable organization in my riding of Edmonton West. Kids on Track is a volunteer driven, grassroots community organization with a passion for offering hope, direction and support to kids, youth and parents.
    Founded by Linda Roussel, Kids on Track has a 17-year track record of delivering ministry to urban kids in Edmonton, with a focus on at-risk youth and families. Last year over 1,000 kids, youth and parents were helped by its programs, including after-school leadership mentoring through its character clubs, offered in 14 high-needs schools; community family meals and activities; extensive summer programs; and support groups for kids navigating a family breakup.
    I thank Linda, her husband, Craig, director Franc and all the volunteers. Their service makes Edmonton a better place to live.

Canadian Dairy Farmers

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by recognizing the presence of the dairy farmers from my riding and from across Canada who are here today. Canadian dairy farmers work day in and day out to produce safe and high-quality milk for Canadians.


    I had the chance to visit a number of dairy farms in my riding and see first-hand how hard our dairy farmers work. The dairy sector contributes a great deal to our rural economy, and we are lucky to have dairy farmers in Glengarry—Prescott—Russell. Dairy products are an excellent source of nutrients. I encourage all Canadians to support our farmers by looking for the little blue cow when buying their dairy products.


    The best way to support our Canadian dairy farmers is to look for the blue cow.


    I thank all Canadian dairy farmers for their excellent work. I hope to see all members of the House this evening.

Delegation from Abitibi-Témiscamingue

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to welcome a delegation from Abitibi-Témiscamingue to Parliament Hill today. It is an opportunity for them to see our new House of Commons and see where MPs work, but also to tell us more about the issues that affect their regions and all rural regions.
    I would like to thank them for the interesting discussions we have had on the various issues that affect rural regions in Quebec and across Canada.
    I would also like to thank my colleagues who helped make today such a success. Our government understands that people living in Canada's rural regions have needs that are different than those of people living in urban centres.
    I join the Minister of Rural Economic Development in welcoming the delegation from Abitibi-Témiscamingue.


Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, the silent generation has a message to deliver to a Prime Minister who keeps raising taxes to make their lives more expensive. Generations X, Y and Z are not interested when he says, “I no longer have dealings with the way our family fortune is managed”, the fortune his grandfather made from oil and gas. They are not interested in being crammed into state housing when they want to be able to afford to buy their own homes. They do not want to subsidize someone else's environmentalism in California or China when municipalities in Canada dump raw sewage into our lakes and rivers. Canadians are offended by the double standard of the Prime Minister groping a female in public and refusing to be honest about it.
    It is time for the Prime Minister to come clean, tell the truth and let Canadians know by how much he is going to hike his carbon tax.



Éric Chassé

    Mr. Speaker, the future seems uncertain if we do not learn about and learn from history. Éric Chassé, a resident of Saint-Hubert, in my riding, has taken on this mission in his role as a history teacher at the École internationale Lucille-Teasdale.
    This mission won him the Governor General's History Award in 2018. He taught his students a love for history, science, architecture, French, math, sociology and art, using a unique project on historic buildings in New France.
    Mr. Chassé has every reason to be proud of this prestigious award. I also want to acknowledge his wife, who has joined him on this adventure, and all of his students, who are lucky enough to share this passion and love for history and our beautiful country.


Lunar New Year

    Mr. Speaker, today is the first day of the spring festival, or the lunar new year. In my riding of Scarborough—Agincourt, we celebrate lunar new year with many diverse communities.
    Lunar new year is more than just a celebration for Asian communities. It is now celebrated widely across Canada. Everyone can enjoy the festive events, appreciate the new year foods and get together with friends and family.
    According to one legend, the pig was the last to arrive at the zodiac table, but the pig persisted in its efforts to arrive. Those born under this sign are both diligent and generous. As we welcome the Year of the Pig, I would like to wish all Canadians a year filled with happiness, prosperity and longevity.
    Chuc mung nam moi. Saehae bok manui badeuseyo. Shen ti jian kang. Wan shi ru yi. Gong hey fat choy.


Government Spending

    Mr. Speaker, the people of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord are going to pay dearly for the Prime Minister's mistakes: the broken relationships with our trade partners and allies; the purchase of a pipeline at an astronomical cost; the diminished confidence in our immigration system; and, above all, the out-of-control spending and permanent deficits. Not to mention that there is no plan to balance the budget.
    There is no doubt that the Prime Minister is going to increase Canadians' taxes and make their lives more difficult. When asked if he manages the country like he manages his own finances, he said that he no longer has dealings with the way his family finances are managed. It seems that he does the same thing with the country: He simply doesn't look after its finances.
    The people of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and Canadians deserve better. Fortunately, they will be able to take a positive, dynamic and honest step next fall by voting for the Conservative Party and its leader, a real leader with integrity who accepts his responsibilities, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle.


Black History Month

    Mr. Speaker, as part of Black History Month, we celebrate the many contributions of black Canadians to our country and acknowledge the racial discrimination that continues to face black Canadians living in our communities today. In Nova Scotia, the black community has been part of our province for over 400 years and has been facing discrimination ever since.
    In 1946, at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, just minutes from my home, Viola Desmond was arrested for refusing to leave the whites-only section of the venue. Her refusal to accept racial segregation and her courage in taking a stand for racial equality helped kick-start a revolution that improved the lives of thousands of people living across Canada. I am incredibly proud that she now graces our nation's $10 bill, which serves as a reminder of the racism that permeated our social fabric for so many years.
    Other inspirational local stories, such as the No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canada's first and only black battalion, and Henderson Paris's Marathon of Respect and Equality, give us hope that leadership from within the black community can help change the attitudes of our entire society.
    However, we all have a duty to combat racial discrimination, so this month and every month after, when I see Viola Desmond on the $10 bill, I will be reminded that we have to remain vigilant to ensure we are not discriminated against on the basis of the colour of our skin.

Bud Abbott

    Mr. Speaker, I want to share with members today the life of an amazing man.
     Bud Abbott was born on January 26, 1921. During his life, he was a British fighter pilot during World War II; a family man to his wife Linda, his children Louise, Christopher, Becky and Greg, and to his grandchildren and great grandchildren. a Rotarian; a volunteer for mental health; the Salvation Army; Meals on Wheels; Heart and Stroke; reading with elementary school children; singing with seniors; and starring in community theatre. He was Cranbrook's leading man for 59 years.
    What made Bud truly amazing was he did all of this up until just a few weeks before his 98th birthday, with an incredible memory for music, an insatiable desire to learn and a passion for theatre and for the people of Cranbrook. He was a community icon, a model for how to live our lives as seniors and a much-loved friend to many.
    Bud died on January 30. The city of Cranbrook, my riding of Kootenay—Columbia and, indeed, all of Canada have lost an amazing man.


Government Spending

    Mr. Speaker, life keeps on getting more expensive under the Liberal government. Whether it is increased payroll taxes, the carbon tax or the Liberal massive deficits, one thing is clear: the government has a spending problem. The scary thing is that the government does not even recognize that it has a problem. It flaunts its reckless spending and chastises the very idea of fiscal restraint, even though it campaigned on returning to a balanced budget this year.
    One thing is certain. Today's deficits turn into tomorrow's taxes. The Prime Minister does not seem to mind, though. His entire plan depends on making life more expensive for Canadians.
    Canada's Conservatives understand that this is not sustainable and that is why we are proud to be the only party in the House to care for taxpayers.

Lunar New Year

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to join the many Canadians celebrating lunar new year and to take this occasion to acknowledge the important role and contributions of Asian-Canadian communities in Canada.
    In 2019, we celebrate the Year of the Pig, an animal symbolizing wealth and good fortune. During this time of new beginnings, we reflect on successes of the past year and look toward new opportunities.
    In Vancouver Quadra, the University Neighbourhoods Association always hosts a colourful and fun family event, and in Vancouver, Chinatown's Lunar New Year Festival day is legendary. I cannot wait to attend these and many other celebrations to mark the lunar new year with friends and constituents.
    I wish all Canadians a successful Year of the Pig, replete with peace, happiness, good health and great prosperity.
    Xin nian kuai le. Gong hey fat choy.


[Oral Questions]


Intergovernmental Relations

    Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago, the Prime Minister met with the Premier of Quebec for a one-on-one discussion. The Prime Minister promised to consider the possibility of Quebec having its own single tax return.
    The problem is that this morning, the Prime Minister slapped Quebeckers in the face. He closed the door on simplifying life for the people back home by giving them the chance to have a single tax return. On May 15, the National Assembly of Quebec voted unanimously in favour of a motion calling on the federal government to respect Quebec.
    Will the Prime Minister stand up and tell his MPs to give Quebec the chance—
    Order. The right hon. Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, of course I will always stand up for the interests of Quebeckers just as I stand up for the interests of all Canadians. That is why we are standing up for Quebeckers' jobs and for the 5,500 people in Shawinigan and Jonquière employed by the Canada Revenue Agency.
    We just invested in a new building for the work they do in Shawinigan, and we will always find ways to fight for Quebeckers' jobs and their interests while making sure we do what is good for Canada too.
    Mr. Speaker, no one said anything about job losses. We are talking about a single tax return for Quebeckers, like everywhere else in Canada. A single tax return will make life easier for Quebeckers, reduce red tape and administrative overlap, and respond to a unanimous formal request from the Quebec National Assembly.
    Enough with the fearmongering. All we are asking the Prime Minister to do is to show some respect for Quebeckers and allow them to have a single tax return just like everywhere else in Canada.
    Will the Prime Minister agree to Quebec's request, yes or no?


    Mr. Speaker, we are always pleased to work with the Government of Quebec to simplify the tax return process, but it is important to remember that the Conservatives are proposing to eliminate the jobs of 5,500 Canada Revenue Agency employees in Quebec.
    If there is no longer any work left to do on tax returns in Quebec, of course those jobs are going to be at risk. The fact that the Conservatives do not understand that shows that they are completely out of touch with what is happening in the lives of everyday Canadians.



    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister famously said, “I no longer have dealings with the way our family fortune is managed.” It is a good problem to have. Unfortunately, because he has never had to balance a household budget, he thinks budgets balance themselves. He is not worried about costs, because he makes others pay for his mistakes.
     The problem is that his never-ending deficits will sooner or later lead to higher taxes. Will he be honest with Canadians and tell them, before the election, how much taxes will go up and who will have to pay?
    Mr. Speaker, we know the members opposite do not understand anything about transparency and accountability. I put my portfolio in a blind trust so I could work on the responsibilities as a leader, and indeed as a prime minister, with impartiality.
    It is interesting that the Conservatives will not ask that same question in English that was just asked in French about giving to Quebec a single tax filing. I will always stand up to defend the interests of Quebeckers and indeed all Canadians. I will also stand up for what is good for Canadians and stand against pandering to the provinces.
    Blind trust, Mr. Speaker. What the Prime Minister is asking taxpayers is to blindly trust him that he can spend a great fortune, amass enormous debts, set on track permanent and growing deficits and trust that no one will ever have to pay for it.
     Canadians do not have inherited family fortunes. They know that budgets do not balance themselves. Will he tell them the real cost that his taxes will impose on everyday Canadians after the election?
    Mr. Speaker, for 10 years the member opposite and the Conservative government, under Mr. Harper, kept giving tax breaks and benefits to the wealthiest Canadians in the hope that would lead to growth and opportunity for all Canadians. It did not. It failed miserably because, under Stephen Harper, Canada had the worst growth record since the Great Depression.
     We made a different choice, to lower taxes for the middle class, to invest in folks who needed our help with things like the Canada child benefit, the guaranteed income supplement increase for seniors and the Canada workers benefit. These are the things that have made a difference.
    Mr. Speaker, it is funny to listen to a trust fund baby lecturing Canadians about being too rich.
    The Prime Minister says that people who take the bus are too rich and therefore should lose their transit tax credit. Soccer moms and hockey dads, the Prime Minister says are too rich, so he takes away their children's fitness tax credit. At the same, he forces these same working-class families to pay for his taxpayer-funded nannies.
    Will the Prime Minister put aside the hypocritical class warfare and tell us the true cost of his tax increases that he would bring in if he got re-elected?
    Yet again, Mr. Speaker, we see proof that the Conservatives simply do not understand that low-income families do not benefit from tax breaks because they do not pay taxes. We will move forward on investing directly in low and middle-income families with the Canada child benefit that will actually directly benefit them.
    We have lifted hundreds of thousands—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please. I would ask the opposition House leader and others to come to order and not to be yelling when someone else has the floor.
    The right hon. Prime Minister has the floor.


    Mr. Speaker, non-refundable tax breaks do not benefit low-income families. That is why we changed the Conservatives' way of sending tax breaks to millionaire families and instead giving the money directly to families that needed it.



    Mr. Speaker, Canada is the only country to have universal health care without universal pharmacare. Every study on the matter shows that universality is the way to go. Once again, the Liberals signalled left before turning right when they promised universal pharmacare. They never had any intention of getting in the way of the pharmaceutical lobby or the insurance lobby. Essentially, the Minister of Finance got what he wanted all along, in other words, some sort of private-public patchwork that will be a bureaucratic nightmare and will do nothing to reduce costs.
    Why did the Liberals cave in to their friends on Bay Street yet again?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are proud of our public health system. However, many Canadians are paying too much for their prescriptions. No one should have to choose between their prescriptions and groceries. In budget 2018, we created the advisory council on the implementation of national pharmacare. This council of experts consulted Canadians and weighed the options.
    We look forward to seeing their final report. It will guide us on the best way to implement the national pharmacare program and make prescriptions more affordable for everyone.
    Mr. Speaker, of course, Canadians are proud of their medicare system. We want a pharmacare system similar to medicare.
    I would like to remind the House of the motion adopted at the Liberal Party convention stating that “the Liberal Party of Canada officially adopt the support for a national-universal PharmaCare program as one of its policy priorities”. The current situation is alarming. Canadians do not buy the medication they need anymore because they cannot afford it. One in five people do not take their medication due to their exorbitant cost. It would appear that the Liberals decided to protect pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies in defiance of their own motion.
    Why not stand up—
    The right hon. Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, the NDP is once again making up stories and using scare tactics. We are waiting for the report of the expert panel tasked with finding the best way forward. The NDP is already jumping to conclusions. They want to scare people. The reality is that we will be moving forward to make sure that Canadians pay less for their prescription drugs. We know that it is important, and we intend to keep our promise while the NDP continues to talk and talk.


    Mr. Speaker, the NDP invented medicare. Now we are inventing pharmacare.
    The vast majority of Canadians believe pharmacare should be a seamless extension of our existing health care system. Everybody who has studied this issue has come to the same conclusion, yet we just learned the Liberals plan to adopt a patchwork, fill-the-gaps approach. Funny, that is exactly what the drug and insurance companies want.
    Instead of caving in to corporate interests, why will the Liberals not stand up for lower costs and better coverage for Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are rightly proud of our national health care system, however, many people pay too much for prescription drugs and nobody should have to choose between prescriptions and food.
    Budget 2018 created an advisory council on the implementation of national pharmacare. It is consulting with Canadians and assessing the different options. We look forward to its final report, which has not been released yet despite the NDP's musings. It will guide us on the best way forward on national pharmacare and making prescription drugs more affordable.
    Mr. Speaker, it is the finance minister's musings that Canadians are worried about.
    The Liberals are protecting profits, not patients. The reason we need a comprehensive, universal and public system is that we will not achieve the results we want without it. A public system provides purchasing power, streamlined administration and value for money. This is why Canada pays less than the U.S. does for medicare, and it will do the same for pharmacare.
     Why are the Liberals intent on copying the U.S.-style private, patchwork system that costs more and delivers less?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, we see the NDP grasping at straws, inventing theories and conspiracies, and trying to scare Canadians.
     We take very seriously the responsibility to move forward in ways that make medication more affordable for Canadians. That is why we tasked the panel of experts to look into it, to make recommendations and to come back with a solid plan for us. We look forward to hearing what it has to say. We are not going to jump to conclusions like the NDP is doing.




    Mr. Speaker, four years ago almost to the day, the Prime Minister shared a new economic theory with the entire world: “The budget will balance itself”. In the past four years, no one but him has dared to repeat that in a serious manner because everyone knows it is ridiculous.
    Just a few minutes ago, the Prime Minister said something that will come as a surprise to millions of Canadians. He said that low-income Canadians do not pay taxes. Is that so? Those people do not have to pay GST?
    Could the Prime Minister rise and tell low-income Canadians that they do not pay taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, the good news is that, under our government, middle-class and low-income Canadians pay fewer taxes. That is clear.
    We lowered taxes for the middle-class. We injected even more money into the Canada child benefit. That is really helping low-income and middle-class families. Canada is better off as a result of our policies because families are better off. Our approach is good for the economy and good for families.

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the Prime Minister did not have the opportunity to repeat his economic theory that is far-fetched, ridiculous and, above all, inapplicable for Canadians.
    We know that the Liberal carbon tax will be applied from coast to coast in a few weeks. We also know that the government has in hand a study that it commissioned to find out how far it would be willing to go to pay the carbon tax, which could be as much as $300. That means almost $5,000 more that Canadian families will have to pay.
    Will the Prime Minister’s ridiculous theory apply once again and will Canadians not pay any tax? That cannot be.
    Mr. Speaker, in Quebec, we have all-party support to put a price on pollution. Only the Conservative Party here thinks that polluting should be free.
    We have a plan to reduce pollution, invest in good jobs and grow our economy. We will continue to do so.
    What is the Conservatives’ plan to fight climate change?


    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is not being up front with Canadians. Government documents reveal that the Liberals have a plan to hike their carbon tax 15 times higher than it is today. That is an annual $5,000 carbon tax for all Canadian families, including those families that are struggling, unlike what the Prime Minister just stated earlier. That may be peanuts for the Prime Minister, who inherited a great family fortune, but the average Canadian cannot afford it.
     Why is the Prime Minister covering up the actual cost of his carbon tax until after the election?
    Mr. Speaker, I will speak directly to Canadians. We are putting a price on pollution and we are giving all the money back. The party opposite knows that. They like spreading misinformation.
    For a family of four in Ontario, we have a price on pollution and a family will receive $307. That is more than eight out of 10 families paid. They can save more money if they invest in energy efficiency.
    The party opposite has no plan for the environment and no plan for the economy.
    Mr. Speaker, the government does not have an environmental plan. It has a carbon tax plan, a plan that will see taxes rise on all families, including low-income families. Government documents show that the Prime Minister's carbon tax will be 15 times higher than the Liberals now admit but only after the next election. The Prime Minister wants to cover up the true cost of this carbon tax until after the election, but Canadians want an answer now.
    Why is the Prime Minister forcing struggling families to pay for his mistakes with this punishing new tax?
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy once again to talk to Canadians and counter the misinformation that the Conservative Party continues to spread. It does not seem to believe that climate change is real and that it is having a real impact. Let me be clear. Where there is a price on pollution, where it is a federal price, we are returning the revenues so families will have more money in their pockets.
    One can take action on climate change, make life affordable and create good jobs. Unfortunately, the Conservative Party does not know that the environment and the economy go hand in hand.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has said that he no longer has dealings with the way his family fortune is managed. Struggling Canadians do not have family fortunes and do have to manage their finances. They know they cannot afford a carbon tax. Secret government documents reveal that taxes will soar after the next election, costing taxpayers up to $5,000 extra per year.
    When will the Prime Minister come clean, tell the truth and let Canadians know how much he plans to hike his carbon tax by?


    Mr. Speaker, there was one person in the House of Commons who voted against the Paris Agreement and who voted against climate action. It was the member who just asked the question right now.
    Maybe other members of the party do not support it anymore, because they are clapping, but guess what. We are all in this together. We need to take serious climate action. We owe it to our kids and grandkids. We also have a huge economic opportunity. We are going to make life affordable and we are also going to take action for our kids and grandkids.
    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that this has nothing to do with the environment. All it has to do with is simple Liberal ignorance. At the end of the day, the Prime Minister says that struggling Canadians do not pay taxes. He could not be more out of touch with every Canadians' reality. Here is the deal: Every single Canadian across this country who works pays payroll taxes, EI and CPP. They pay GST, HST and now they pay a massive carbon tax imposed by the current government.
    My question is simple and I am hoping that through the ignorance he can answer it. When will he stop punishing everyday hard-working Canadians by imposing more taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, we need to be very clear. The Liberal Party, our government, voted in favour of reducing taxes on middle-class Canadians. We went further than that. We introduced significant increases to the Canada child benefit, helping families do better as they raise their children. The Conservatives voted against these changes, so what they did was put forth their plan, which was not to reduce taxes on middle-class Canadians and not to increase benefits.
    We have decided that the most important way we can help those families is to actually lower their taxes to make sure they are in a better situation for the future.



    Mr. Speaker, 1.4 million children are living in poverty in Canada, and more than a third of them rely on food banks to eat. These statistics are alarming and unacceptable.
    I am fed up with the Liberals' talking points, as they keep saying they have lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. That is smoke and mirrors, considering that over one million kids are still suffering. The Liberals are not doing enough to lift children out of poverty, and I am not the one saying so; Food Banks Canada is.
    When will the Liberals do more?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for giving me the opportunity to once again emphasize how much of a priority it is for our government to help middle-class families and help more families join the middle class.
    We introduced a historic measure called the Canada child benefit. Since July 2016, every month, it has helped lift 300,000 children out of poverty, along with the 200,000 parents who live with them. This historic measure is changing families. These are not talking points; this is having a real impact on families every day.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, for weeks thousands of youth in Europe have been mobilizing and calling for real action in the fight against climate change. Here in Canada, students are also prepared to take to the streets. In Davos, a young Swedish girl named Greta made a touching appeal for the future of her generation.
    What have the Liberals decided to do? They are providing oil companies with billions of dollars in subsidies, they are wasting our money on a leaky old pipeline and they are going to miss the Conservatives' weak targets.
    When will the Liberal government listen to young people and take seriously the urgent need to address climate change?
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand and talk about our ambitious plan to fight climate change.
    We are putting a price on pollution in the country. We are investing historic amounts in renewable energy. We are eliminating coal, and we have a plan for a fair transition for employees and communities. We are working hard to support clean technology businesses and to create good jobs. We have a plan for the environment and the economy because they go hand in hand.


Intergovernmental Relations

    Mr. Speaker, the government promised a client-focused Canada Revenue Agency and to crack down on offshore avoidance. It has failed spectacularly. Tax professionals and taxpayers across Canada say that compliance has become harder under the government and a single tax return would simplify life for Quebeckers.
    Why will the Prime Minister not listen to Quebeckers and give them a single tax return?



    Mr. Speaker, we are the government that has reinvested the most in the Canada Revenue Agency to improve services to Quebeckers and Canadians. On this side of the House, we have a plan that gets real results.
    The Conservatives have no plan when it comes to the single return, just as they have no plan for job losses and tax evasion. Let us not forget climate change. We are not about to see what the Conservatives' plans are on that front. They have been promising one for months.
    The Conservative slogan for the 2019 election will be “No Plan”.
    Mr. Speaker, we ask questions in English and in French and we only receive answers in French, but apparently that is not the same.
    The minister is proving how completely disconnected she is from Quebec's reality. She said earlier that there are two definitions of “income”, one for Quebec and one for the rest of Canada, and that is why we cannot go ahead. When a worker gets his cheque, the amount is not different whether he is a federal or a provincial worker.
    Why do the Liberals not trust Quebeckers regarding the single tax return?
    Mr. Speaker, I will always reply to my colleague opposite that I will never be ashamed of speaking French, because—
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    Hon. Diane Lebouthillier: Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives say that implementing a single tax return involves a simple administrative agreement. Well, that is not the case. Real people work at the Canada Revenue Agency. I was in Shawinigan yesterday and I met the 1,300 employees. They are real people.


Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the U.S. State Department urged its allies to bring home and prosecute its citizens currently held in Syria who committed terrorist acts for ISIS. Although ISIS has been reduced and destabilized in the region, our allies remain concerned that it could re-emerge. The Liberals have been deafening in their silence on how they plan to deal with Canadians who have committed terrorist acts for ISIS.
    What is the government's plan to bring these terrorists to justice?
    Mr. Speaker, we condemn the horrific and cowardly acts of Daesh and take with the utmost seriousness the threats posed by travelling extremists and returnees. Those who leave Canada to fight for terrorism are utterly reprehensible and our goal is to arrest, charge, prosecute and convict.
    All Five Eyes and G7 allies are working together to help collect and preserve the necessary evidence.
    Mr. Speaker, that is not a plan to take our national security seriously. Last year, the House adopted a Conservative motion calling for a comprehensive strategy to bring Canadians who have committed acts of terrorism for ISIS to justice, but the Liberal response was a total failure.
    The Liberals continue to ignore our allies in the face of this global security threat, making Canadians pay for their mistakes. Why will the government not take this seriously and bring these terrorists to justice?
    Mr. Speaker, wherever the evidence exists, charges are laid and prosecutions are pursued. I would note that of the very small number of returnees who have come back to Canada from the Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish theatres, four have already been charged and at least three have been convicted. None were charged or convicted under the previous government.
    Mr. Speaker, today 9,000 people are homeless in Toronto and many more are at risk. There are 180,000 people on lists who are waiting for affordable housing. Prominent activists, artists and business people are calling this a state of emergency, urging all governments to get to work.
    The Prime Minister said housing rights are human rights, and I agree, but year after year, the story is the same. Why will the Liberal government not step up, get this right and give all Canadians a safe, warm place to call home?


    Mr. Speaker, although stories of that sort are very sad, it is always very important for members of the House to hear them. That is why from day one we made it very clear that every Canadian has a right to a safe and affordable home. That is why we have invested more than $5.7 billion since 2016 in helping a million families across Canada. That is why November 22, 2017, was a historic date. At that time we announced the first-ever national housing strategy, which is going to decrease chronic homelessness by at least 50% and give hundreds of thousands of Canadians a safe and affordable place to call home.


Infrastructure and Communities

    Mr. Speaker, if the trend of announcements continues, after four years of governing, the Liberal government may end up having completely overlooked the needs of the people of Mauricie.
    Here are some examples. There was an announcement about a pyrrhotite study, but the results will not be available until 2024. As for the construction of a new taxation data centre in Shawinigan, work will begin, at best, in 2022.
    The government seems unable to meet the needs of the people of Trois-Rivières right now.
    How much longer will we still have to wait before work on the high-frequency train begins? Can we expect an achievement out of this government or an announcement for a hypothetical mandate?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for allowing me to remind all my colleagues of all the things we have done for the people of Mauricie.
    One of the first things we did, together with the Prime Minister, was to hear the plea for help from pyrrhotite victims in Trois-Rivières. Thanks to the Minister of Finance, we invested $30 million in the first budget to help pyrrhotite victims.
    I think it takes some nerve for a colleague to question today what we have done for the people of Mauricie. We are there for them. Our voice is strong. We will continue to invest in the regions of Quebec because we have a vision for these regions.

Science and Technology

    Mr. Speaker, the University of Guelph is a leader in research.
     On Monday, our government announced $22.7 million in funding to support 37 research projects across the country through Genome Canada.
    Could the Minister of Science and Sport tell the House how our support for research will help improve the lives of Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and for everything he does for Guelph.


    Investments like these help Canada remain a world leader in research, including in genomics research, which has enormous potential to improve Canadians' health, create jobs of the future and solve some of the challenges faced by our agriculture, energy and resource sectors.
    After a decade of funding cuts by the previous government, we are returning science and research to their rightful place.


Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, for two years now, the Prime Minister has been scoffing at our questions about the safety and security of Canadians.
    He always accuses us of fearmongering, but he does not realize that these questions come from our constituents. The media is reporting that asylum seekers account for 41% of the security backlog, and these people are already here in Canada.
    Can the Prime Minister confirm whether this is true, or is the media also guilty of fearmongering?


    Mr. Speaker, our government will never compromise the safety and security of Canadians and we will not engage in the politics of resentment and fear.
    Regardless of how they arrive in Canada, all claimants are thoroughly screened by the hard-working men and women of CBSA, and they do this in partnership with the Department of Citizenship and Immigration and the RCMP. Unlike the Harper Conservatives, whose deeds rarely match their rhetoric, we are taking concrete measures to allow our border officers to do their jobs and to ensure they have the resources necessary to protect Canadians.


    Mr. Speaker, as I said, this was reported by the Toronto Star today, not the Conservatives. Is the minister saying that the Toronto Star is instilling fear in Canadians? We will have to see.
     We know that some of the asylum seekers have been identified as dangerous criminals. We also know that 11,000 people are awaiting proper security checks. In less than three years, our Prime Minister has managed to create a situation with our immigration system and our borders that is untenable for our officers.
    Will the Prime Minister guarantee that the individuals who have not been screened do not represent a threat to Canadians?



    Mr. Speaker, let me correct the misconception that the member has shared with us.
    First of all, let me assure everyone that the CBSA screens virtually everyone who seeks to enter Canada to determine their admissibility. This can happen to a foreign national being issued travel documents, and in the case of all people making asylum claims in Canada, additional screening takes place when they arrive.
    I have gone to the border. I have watched CBSA, the RCMP and IRCC conduct these examinations. They take biometrics, photographs and fingerprints. They check the available databases. They screen these individuals to make sure there is no criminality—
    The hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill.
    Mr. Speaker, for the House, let me define what “screened virtually everybody” means: It means 11,745 people were not screened. Many of them illegally entered our country. This was reported today by the Toronto Star. Is this true?
    Mr. Speaker, let me assure the member and all members in the House that every individual who arrives at our border, regardless of whether they arrive at a port of entry or irregularly at our borders, is subject to rigorous background screening to ensure there is no criminality or threat to national security.
    What the member may be referring to is part of the process of determining eligibility. There are further screening background checks conducted by CBSA on behalf of IRCC to ensure that anyone who is admitted as an eligible asylum claimant in this country has been thoroughly vetted.
    Mr. Speaker, this is a fairly easy yes-or-no question, and one that Canadians should have an answer to.
    Today the Toronto Star reported that 11,745 people have not had their screening completed. Is this true, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, allow me to share with the member what is true.
    Last year CBSA processed over 90 million entries to Canada safely and securely, as it does each year. It constantly review its processes. Every person who has arrived at our border seeking asylum, irregularly or at a regular port of entry, is subject to a thorough screening before being allowed admission. There are additional screening measures and inquiries made as part of the immigration and refugee eligibility process. Those processes continue well after the person enters the country.
    I remind colleagues that the idea here is to have one side talking and then the other, and not everybody at once. We need to be respectful of that process.
    The hon. member for Essex.

Automotive Industry

    Mr. Speaker, after being abandoned by GM, Oshawa's auto workers cannot help but feel abandoned by the Liberals too. Conservative and Liberal governments, like this one, have failed to protect Canadian jobs from corporate greed. Because of the Liberals' mistakes, thousands of workers are now fighting for their paycheques, fighting for the future of their families, fighting for their communities.
    Where is the Prime Minister? It seems like he has given up. Why is the Liberal government letting GM get away with this betrayal?
    Mr. Speaker, we will never give up on the auto workers. We will never give up on the workers in Oshawa. We have been very clear that this is a priority for our government.
    I went to Detroit to meet with Mary Barra, and I also spoke with Jerry Dias to talk about a solution. If there is a solution to be found, we will be at the table. We have been there before. We were part of the historic investments of $5.6 billion in the automotive sector, a trend that generated thousands of jobs and reversed the 30,000 job losses that occurred under Stephen Harper.
    We got the job done and we will continue to fight for the auto workers.



    Mr. Speaker, access to high-speed Internet in the regions is vital, especially for families, SMEs, self-employed workers and farm operations. Nonetheless, 240,000 households in Quebec do not have an affordable and reliable Internet connection. There is a desperate need, but the Liberals have no plan to bridge the digital divide. The Liberals have failed the rural regions, as did the previous Conservative government.
    My question is very simple. When will the government introduce a strategy to get rural regions connected to the Internet?



    Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise as the new Minister of Rural Economic Development. Our government is committed to ensuring that we have high-quality, high-speed broadband in rural Canada. We know it is imperative for businesses to grow and succeed. That is why we are going to develop a rural economic strategy. Rural broadband will be an extremely important part of that.
     I look forward to working with all members of the House to make sure we deliver on that strategy.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, I just asked the minister a pretty simple question, one he should know the answer to, ostensibly. Today the Toronto Star reported that 11,745 people, many of whom entered our country illegally, have not had their security screening completed. Is this true, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, the member is right that this is a simple question, and I will answer it this way: Everyone who enters our country is subject to security screening by CBSA, and they do this in partnership with the RCMP and immigration.
    As part of the process of determining their eligibility, there is an additional process of further screening that takes place, and there is a backlog, as reported by the Toronto Star. However, it is very important for all Canadians to understand that there is no security threat to Canadians, because every individual is screened for security concerns before they enter this country.
    Mr. Speaker, one could argue that it would difficult to evaluate if someone posed a security risk to Canada if their security screening was not completed.
    Again, the Toronto Star reported that 11,745 people have not had their security screening completed. Is this true, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, everyone who enters the country, whether irregularly or at a port of entry, is screened to determine their admissibility into the country—everyone, 100%.
    As part of the process of determining their eligibility for asylum under IRCC's process, there is an additional screening that takes place. We are working hard to deal with the backlog that they left to us, and we will complete that process before anyone is admitted as eligible for refugee status in our country.
    Mr. Speaker, the answer to this question is not yes and no. The Prime Minister has allowed 40,000 people to illegally enter our country, and today the Toronto Star has reported that 11,745 people have not had their security screening completed.
    The minister is in charge of this file, in theory, so he needs to answer this question: Is the screening completed, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, everyone who comes to this country and crosses the border irregularly is thoroughly screened before they move forward into the process of determining their eligibility, so the answer to that question is yes.
    There is an additional concern, because as people move through that process of determining their eligibility, CBSA, working with IRCC, does additional security screening. That process is backlogged, and we are addressing that backlog by making significant new investments in making those processes more efficient.
    Let me be clear. This is not a security issue.



    Mr. Speaker, access to high-speed Internet is still one of the most serious economic and social problems facing Canada's rural regions, and that includes Laurentides—Labelle. Our government and our team have already done a great deal of work, but we still have a long way to go.


    Internet access is key for growing businesses, creating good jobs, getting our Canadian products to global markets and for opportunity in general.
    The new Minister of Rural Economic Development has this issue as one of the key priorities in her mandate letter. Could she update the House and rural Canada on her plans for the Internet?


    Mr. Speaker, we know that in order to grow the rural economy, we have to have access to high-speed broadband. It is a commitment we have made in the past.
     We have invested in connect to innovate, but we know we need to do more. That is why we are developing a rural economic strategy, and broadband will be a key piece of that.
    I look forward to developing that strategy with people in this House, as well as with my provincial, municipal and territorial partners. We will hopefully have a strategy in the next few months.


    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's latest justification for raising taxes is this: “Low-income people do not benefit from tax breaks because they do not pay taxes.”
    Everybody who earns more than $12,000 a year, which is way below the poverty line, is eligible to pay income tax. They also pay payroll taxes, gas taxes, and numerous other fees and charges governments apply.
    How could the Prime Minister possibly help the poor and working-class people when he does not even realize that they pay taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been really clear since we came into office that we would move forward with policies that would help middle-class Canadians and those who are struggling the most to get by.
    We have taken measures that have had a material impact. The Canada child benefit is helping nine out of 10 families. We put in place the Canada workers benefit to help people go from not working to work, to enable them to do better. We have put in place additions to the guaranteed income supplement. All these measures are working towards ensuring that middle-class Canadians and those Canadians who are trying to get into the middle class are doing better and better.
     That is what they have seen under this government. That is what they will continue to see.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, dairy farmers have repeatedly been used as sacrificial pawns by the Liberal government in international trade negotiations.
    Through the signing of recent trade deals, the Dairy Farmers of Canada, who are here in Ottawa today, estimate a total domestic market loss of 18%, which represents $1.3 billion. The government has still not unveiled the compensation package that was promised.
    Since the Liberal government has clearly sided with foreign jurisdictions in appeasing their oversupply problems, when will we see it side with dairy farmers and actually give them the compensation package they were promised?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to welcome all the dairy farmers from across Canada to Ottawa today. It is very important that their voices be heard, and our government has heard their voices.
     We have defended the supply management system from a strong American attempt to dismantle it. We understand that the supply management system is vital to our financial success. We will be fully and fairly supporting the supply management sector. That is why we have formed working groups, to make sure that the information came from the supply sector up to the government.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, 10 years have passed since the end of the war in Sri Lanka.
    I have heard heart-wrenching stories from the victims of the war. The military continues to occupy land, many languish in jails under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and many more have disappeared. The slow progress towards accountability has shaken the confidence of the victims.
    Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs advise this House of the steps that Canada is taking to hold those responsible to account for the atrocities committed?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by thanking the member for Brampton North for her commitment to this very important issue.
    Canada called for a marked acceleration of Sri Lanka's accountability efforts directly at the UN Human Rights Council last March, and at the Commonwealth meeting last April.
    Canada will join the United Kingdom, Germany, Macedonia and Montenegro as part of the core group in supporting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, working toward the upcoming Human Rights Council session.


    Mr. Speaker, again, the Prime Minister says, “Low-income people do not benefit from tax breaks because they do not pay taxes.”
    Anyone earning $12,000 or more, way below the poverty line, is eligible to pay taxes: income taxes, GST, payroll taxes and other taxes.
    Does the Prime Minister understand the appalling arrogance of a millionaire trust fund baby accusing the working poor of not paying their taxes?


    Mr. Speaker, the positions of the parties in this House have been very clear over the last three and a half years. Our position has been that we are lowering middle-class taxes; the position of the Conservatives is they voted against that. Our position is that we are going to increase the Canada workers benefit to help people get into work; the Conservatives voted against that. Our position is we are helping single seniors with an increase in their supplement; the Conservatives voted against that.
    Clearly, we are helping middle-class Canadians and those working hard to do better, and we will continue to do so.


Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the federal government paid $4.5 billion to purchase an old pipeline, with no negotiation whatsoever. How much do you want for the Trans Mountain pipeline? $4.5 billion? No problem; here is a cheque, and let us add another $9.3 billion to expand the pipeline.
    To eliminate the deficit and fight climate change, perhaps the Minister of Finance could stop putting all our money in dirty oil?
    Mr. Speaker, we know how important it is to give our resources access to international markets. That is why we considered buying the Trans Mountain pipeline. It was very important to our economy and our natural resource sector. We will continue to look into how we can carry out the project successfully.
    Mr. Speaker, I will continue. I was at $13.8 billion for the acquisition and expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. To that we can add $2.7 billion in tax breaks for the oil industry over five years and $1.6 billion in support for the industry. Then there is $840 million, if the Liberals buy the railcars to move the dirty oil. In total, that is $19 billion, just like the deficit.
    Is the minister of high finance aware that his deficit—
    An hon. member: Oh, oh.
    Mr. Gabriel Ste-Marie: Let me talk.
    Does the minister of high finance realize that dirty oil caused his deficit?
    Mr. Speaker, our resource sector is very important. We know that it is important to have access to international markets. That is why we decided to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline. We will continue with our approach to improving the natural resource sector and our economy as a whole.


Northern Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade will know that the Kivalliq Inuit Association has been working very hard to advance clean energy solutions that will create economic development opportunities in the region. This work is fully supported by the Government of Nunavut.
    Investments to support projects like the Kivalliq hydro fibre link are fundamental to creating a sustainable economy for Nunavut. Can the minister assure us that advancing critical projects like this to grow and modernize badly needed investments in Nunavut communities will be a priority in the coming budget?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Nunavut for his support of this important project. As members know, we have prioritized reducing the reliance on diesel in rural and remote communities. This hydro fibre link would represent a very important step forward in providing renewable and affordable energy and high-speed Internet to many communities, and it would open up economic opportunities for those communities.
    We have worked with the Inuit association. We have also worked with Premier Savikataaq and his government, and will continue to do so.


     Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness misled the House and that this is not the first time he has done so. Today, he misled the House in response to a question from my colleague from Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill regarding ISIS fighters.
    Under the Conservative government, charges were laid against three individuals in February 2015. They are Awso Peshdary, John McGuire and Khadar Khalib—
    Order. This seems to be a debate on the facts. As the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles knows, the Speaker does not get involved in such debates.
    The hon. Minister of National Revenue on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, every member of the House has the right to speak in the official language of his or her choice. My colleague's criticism of my choice to speak in French infringes on my rights. What is more, this criticism came from a member who supported the cuts to francophone services made by the Harper and Doug Ford governments. I would ask that he apologize.


    That also seems to be a matter of debate.
    The member for Mégantic—L'Érable would like to add something on this point of order.
     Mr. Speaker, we rarely answer questions from the government on this side of the House. However, I clearly remember the Prime Minister himself asked us to ask a question in English and in French. We simply asked the same from Liberal members.
    This also seems to be a matter of debate.
    The member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix on a point of order.
     Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of National Revenue to apologize to the House. I stood up for Franco-Ontarians, and I do not need a lecture from the Liberals.
    That also seems to be a matter of debate.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]


Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Affordable Housing  

    The House resumed from January 31 consideration of the motion.
    It being 3:10 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, January 31, 2019, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of the member for Saskatoon West, relating to the business of supply.
     I remind hon. members of the rule that members are not permitted to pass between the mace and the Chair.


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

(Division No. 987)



Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Masse (Windsor West)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)

Total: -- 46



Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Casey (Cumberland—Colchester)
Casey (Charlottetown)
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Lauzon (Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Massé (Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia)
May (Cambridge)
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Miller (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound)
Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs)
Petitpas Taylor
Sidhu (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)
Sidhu (Brampton South)

Total: -- 248




Total: -- 2