Madam Chair, I would like to remind the minister that the money brought forward is to fight tax evasion, which is illegal. I was talking about tax avoidance, which is being used legally by the big banks. I will give a figure that goes quite a way back, to 2007. The big five Bay Street banks alone saved $2.7 billion, just in 2007, by using completely legal tax havens.
That is still going on, but we no longer have the numbers. At the time, the banks were required to disclose this information. Following the crisis of the last decade, that requirement was dropped. Tax avoidance through tax havens was legalized by obscure regulations in the federal Income Tax Act. It was not even legislation passed in the House, just regulations that were added later. These regulations are in section 5907 and are potentially inconsistent with the act. Using tax havens for such purposes is really not consistent with the act.
To correct the situation, the government does not even need to bring the matter before the House; it only has to amend its regulations to restore a little justice. As we know, Ottawa provides the banks with a great deal of assistance. Just look at the billions of dollars in cash or the possible repurchase of devalued assets.
Why is the government not instead prohibiting them from avoiding taxes through tax havens?