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Results: 1 - 25 of 25
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-18 14:00 [p.29298]
Mr. Speaker, according to the Canada Revenue Agency, tax evasion costs us $26 billion and banks and oil companies reap the rewards.
That is $26 billion that is not being taxed and used to pay for our nurses or to renovate our schools and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Canada Revenue Agency calculates how much money people are hiding, but not how much money people keep in tax havens with the CRA's permission. Corporations and banks are allowed to engage in tax avoidance. That is what the Liberals are hiding when they talk about tax fairness.
The CRA will put a citizen who owes $100 through hell to get that money, but Ottawa allows banks to hide billions of dollars in Barbados.
The Liberals even legalized three new tax havens during their term. They say that the net is tightening on tax cheats, but it is more like a window that is opening.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-04 13:39 [p.28490]
Mr. Speaker, it is time to take a look at the Liberals' record. There are two and a half weeks left in this Parliament. The budget implementation bill that is before us today is the government's last. Anything not contained in that bill will have to wait until after the election. Budget 2019 is consistent with this government's approach of saying one thing and doing the opposite.
First, let us talk about this so-called green government. Since the last election, bitumen extraction in Alberta has skyrocketed. We are talking about an increase of 25%. That is no small thing. Extraction grew even faster than under Stephen Harper. In fact, production has grown so much that it has exceeded transport capacity.
Today, the Liberals and the Conservatives would have us believe that there is a pipeline problem, but that is not the case. There is an overproduction problem, which is not the same thing. To limit overproduction, the government is proposing to support new investments in the oil sands with accelerated capital cost allowance. A total of $2.7 billion in taxpayers' money will be wasted on this tax expenditure.
In one year alone, the government announced $19 billion in new oil investments. The oil industry certainly got the message. If you look at production estimates, it is clear that the industry wants to maintain the level of growth it has seen the past four years. This will result in more overproduction and cause prices to continue their downturn. This is meant to make us believe that more pipelines are inevitable and that we have no choice but to export and pollute more.
The direct consequence of this government's policies is that energy east will be forced back on us. The Liberal government is working to keep us in the 20th century, bogged down in the tar sands.
Mr. Alain Rayes: Where do you get your gas?
Mr. Gabriel Ste-Marie: Mr. Speaker, at my daughter's school there is a big banner saying “zero tolerance for bullying”. The previous Conservative member who spoke accused the Liberals of bullying, and now the member for Victoriaville is hurling epithets and questions at me. There should be zero tolerance for bullying here too. We have a right to speak without being interrupted.
To get back to what I was saying, that is not what we need in Quebec. We have already started to go green. GHG emissions per capita are two and a half times lower in Quebec than in the rest of Canada. A policy for the 21st century is to make polluting expensive and avoiding pollution profitable.
I can already hear the Liberals saying that they created the carbon tax, so let us talk about it. The government imposes a tax, then gives the money back to those who paid it. It is a circle that does not result in any real transfer of wealth from polluters to the good guys. It does not make it profitable to go green. It will not result in a true green shift. It does not entitle anyone to make green speeches. It is merely an image, just like the government has been since it was elected: an image, no more, no less, but definitely no more.
Let us move on. In the lead-up to the budget, the Bloc québécois reached out to Quebeckers, and what we consistently heard was that their main priorities are health and education. There is nothing about that in the budget. Health transfers have been capped at 3% for two years, and yet, health costs in Quebec have risen by 5.2%. You do not need a Nobel prize in mathematics to see that there is a problem. The healthcare system is stretched to its limit, and wait times are getting longer. Something has to give, and everyone knows it.
Everything I have just said about the healthcare system also applies to education. Teachers are as burnt out as nurses. It is the same problem, except that, in this case, transfers were capped at 3% 15 years ago. Health and education are Quebeckers’ two main priorities. There is nothing about that in Bill C-97. The government decided to gradually move away from Quebecker’s priorities. That is abundantly clear in Bill C-97.
Now, let us look at the measures the government has taken to stimulate the economy. Its primary measure involves infrastructure. In and of itself, that is a good thing, but the methods used are another story. By multiplying specific programs, each one with very strict criteria, Ottawa has ruined everything. Federal requirements have caused a tug of war with Quebec and will paralyze the entire process. The result is striking: the money is starting to trickle down just before the election. We had to wait a long time. In the first two years of its term, the government spent $100 per Quebecker and $700 for each Canadian outside Quebec.
We know the federal government is building precious little infrastructure. It owns barely 2% of all public infrastructure, while the provinces and municipalities own 98%. Through federal transfers, the government is financing infrastructure that does not belong to it, that is not within its jurisdiction and that it does not have the means to prioritize intelligently. The government had good intentions, but the whole undertaking has been a monumental failure on the ground.
The money is not flowing. The federal criteria are too rigid and do not meet communities' needs. During the last election campaign, the Liberals promised to transfer blocks of infrastructure funding. They promised to mind their own business and do their job. That is yet another broken promise, and Quebec is paying the price.
As I said, my leader and I have been travelling around a lot listening to Quebeckers. People do not realize how future-focused Quebec is. Quebeckers are creative and innovative. Yesterday's tinkerers are now developing video games, designing new aircraft and working on artificial intelligence. Year after year, Quebec accounts for between 40% and 45% of Canada's tech exports, even though its share of Canada's economy is only half that much.
In metropolitan areas across Quebec, there are at least 5,000 technology startups. I think of it as Silicon Valley North. What is in Bill C-97 for technology? Is it an aerospace policy? No. Is it patient capital to let our technology start-ups develop here in Canada rather than being bought out by U.S. web giants? It is not that either.
However, there is some venture capital to help out the rest of Canada. That is how it is in all areas. When Quebec succeeds, Ottawa is not there. Take supply management, for example. Our regional agriculture lends itself well to local distribution. That is the future. Instead of helping, the government is hurting agriculture. It has signed three trade agreements with three breaches, and not a single penny has been paid to farmers.
We scoured Bill C-97 for the compensation, but it is not there. Our producers were taken for a ride. They will get nothing before the election. That is also the case for Davie. Does Bill C-97 announce a review of its horrible naval strategy? The answer is obviously no.
The same goes for the fight against tax havens. These loopholes allow banks and multi-millionaires to get out of paying taxes. The government needs to act fast, but instead, it has legalized three new tax havens. In my private member's bill, I proposed a working solution to close the loopholes, but, of course, all the Liberals but one voted it down. Like the sheriff of Nottingham, they would rather defend fat cats than low-income workers. The Conservatives also voted against my bill, but at least they were being true to type. Unlike the Liberals, they do not try to dress up as Robin Hood.
View Michel Boudrias Profile
BQ (QC)
View Michel Boudrias Profile
2019-04-05 12:04 [p.26745]
Madam Speaker, the Minister of National Revenue is failing in her duty. The net was supposed to tighten around the Panama papers fraudsters, but that has not happened. The minister was supposed to hire 1,300 new international taxation auditors, but that has not happened either. She was also supposed to recover $25 billion from tax havens, but we are still waiting because, again, nothing has happened there.
Since we cannot rely on the minister, can she at least give the information to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, so that he can shed some light on this and reveal just how complacent the government has been?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-02-21 11:51 [p.25607]
Mr. Speaker, under Bill C-82, future tax agreements will be based on OECD standards, which allow for comprehensive tax information exchange.
We will continue to support that bill as well as Bill S-6, the Canada-Madagascar convention. We believe that the convention honours the spirit and the standards set out by the OECD even though the wording itself is not exactly the same as what was signed in Paris. Again, that is based on my understanding of the file.
Madagascar is not a tax haven at the moment, so, in my opinion, the wording about the information exchange agreement is fine. Obviously, it would be better if this were standardized across all our agreements, which is the goal of Bill C-82. The real problem lies with the tax information exchange agreements with tax havens, which make effective tax information exchange complicated or well-nigh impossible.
In such cases, the Canada Revenue Agency has to request specific information about a known taxpayer. We do not have enough information to monitor data about information exchange. If everything were available, auditors could identify situations in which tax fraud or tax evasion likely took place. That is what needs to change. Tax information exchange agreements with tax havens are the problem.
I would remind members that when these agreements were entered into with tax havens, the Income Tax Act was changed. It was not done openly, but hidden in the information on medical expenses, among the thousands of pages of the Income Tax Act. It stated that when Canada enters into an agreement with a tax haven, the portion of income that the Canadian corporation declares was generated in the foreign country will no longer be taxable here. The income will only be taxed in the tax haven, where the tax rate is zero or close to that. That is what we are speaking out against and it must change.
Canada is a lame duck in the fight against tax avoidance; it is letting the big banks and multinationals shift their profits to tax havens under these agreements. At the time, there were 22 agreements. This is still going on. Things have to change.
I introduced a motion in the House to do just that. Every Liberal, except for one, and every Conservative member voted against the motion. Do the parties that aspire to govern represent the Canadians who want to eliminate the use of tax havens, or do they serve the big corporations and major banks that are the main beneficiaries of these immoral schemes?
I think that in asking the question, we have our answer. This must change.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2018-11-21 17:01 [p.23686]
Mr. Speaker, today's statement is somewhere between an economic statement and the Speech from the Throne. It is heavy on the blah-blah-blah, and light on anything tangible. We were treated to many lovely images, fine words and slogans, but that is about it. It is like an Easter egg: it is nice on the outside, but completely hollow on the inside.
People say that the federal government is out of touch and the Minister of Finance just gave us an excellent example of that. It is out of touch with Quebec, out of touch with Quebeckers, disconnected from the real world and unaware of the real needs. The statement is full of rhetoric and utterly meaningless. The needs and challenges remain. The truth is that Ottawa is completely disconnected.
An economic statement is supposed to do three things. First, it should provide an update on the actual state of our finances in terms of problems and solutions.
Second, it should complete the budget, fill the gaps and correct the omissions. There was no shortage of those. The government being out of touch is certainly nothing new.
Third, it should allow for adjustments when the situation has changed and requires realignment.
An economic statement is those three things. It is not complicated, but in this case the government is zero for three.
First, the economic statement does not tell the real story. A few weeks ago, $2 billion in expenditures magically appeared in the public accounts because the government wrote off a loan to Chrysler in Ontario. It will soon be GM's turn, to the tune of another $2 billion. Then, the loan to the Muskrat Falls dam of almost $10 billion will magically appear there as well, since everyone knows that Newfoundland will never be able to repay that debt.
We never see or vote on loans and guarantees, we just pay for them. That does not give us the real story. These three loans alone represent a charge to taxpayers of close to $15 billion. Quebeckers will pay their share but get nothing in return. The government is keeping quiet about this and is therefore not proposing any solutions to the problem. There was not one word about this in the economic statement. There was nothing about going looking for the money where it really is by cutting subsidies for fossil fuels.
It is high time the government honoured the promise made ten years ago to close the tax haven loophole, which has, in fact, become a sinkhole that is swallowing public funds.
The Conservatives are outraged by the deficit. Oddly enough, when they are told that eliminating tax havens and oil subsidies would cut the deficit in half, they no longer protest quite so loudly. Neither does the government.
Today's statement has no substance.
Second, the economic statement should have filled the gaps in the latest budget. Quebec just had an election. Poll after poll invariably concluded that health and education are the priorities, but neither is mentioned in the budget. Transfers have been capped at 3% since last year. However, in Quebec, health care costs and system costs continue to rise. Ottawa is simply reducing its share.
Our nurses, our patients and our health network end up paying the price. Wait lists are growing. When people opt for private care because the public system does not meet their needs, Ottawa threatens to make more cuts, which just makes things worse. Everyone knows this is not sustainable.
Everything I just mentioned about health care could be said about education. Teachers are also exhausted. This sector has the same problems, except education transfers have been capped at 3% for nearly 15 years. Health and education are where Quebeckers have a real need. These are the priorities, but this statement made no mention of either. The government seems to be too highfalutin to see the needs and understand the priorities.
Third, an economic statement is meant to allow the government to adapt throughout the year to changing situations. Once again, we all have reason to be disappointed.
I would now like to say a few words about the recent tax cuts made by Donald Trump. I am not bringing that up because it is important. The Parliamentary Budget Officer said that it would not have any impact. I am bringing it up because the Conservatives would have us believe otherwise. Let us be frank. Our corporate tax rates are already competitive.
Here is something no one ever talks about. In the United States, employers pay for medicare. In 2017, that accounted for a mere $14,900 U.S. per employee. The lack of social safety net in the U.S. is costing them a fortune, so no, we do not have any problems in that regard.
In any case, a race to the bottom approach is not the way to remain globally competitive. We need to develop the sectors in which we are strong. In Quebec that is the clean energy sector. If Ottawa would support our electrification of transportation efforts, we would have clean cars, but the government preferred to spend our money on a pipeline.
The government indicated in the economic statement that it is going to implement a tax credit with regard to the production of clean energy. I am not against that. It could be worthwhile for paper mills and biomass enterprises. However, we need to be aware of one thing. In a number of provinces, private companies produce electricity. If they start generating clean energy, then Ottawa would give them a tax writeoff, and Quebec would have to pay for part of that.
Quebec has Hydro-Québec. Since it is a government-owned corporation, it will not be entitled to the tax credit. If that is all Ottawa does, it will be subsidizing the “bad guys” so they are not quite as bad, and Quebec, a world leader in green energy, is back at square one, without a penny, for doing the right thing. What a great deal. Let's face it, that is an odd way to promote the green economy.
Our high-tech sectors could use some support, but Canada invests very little in business-led research and development. The innovation fund will not help our high-tech companies. Instead, that federal money will just make up for the lack of innovation elsewhere.
As for agriculture, the government signed a new trade agreement that creates another breach in supply management. We were expecting a firm commitment in terms of compensation, as the Prime Minister had promised, but once again, nothing.
Then there is Davie. Davie did not get anything from the naval strategy, and only a few crumbs after that. Whenever we asked the government when Davie would get a fair share of the contracts, we kept being told, “not now, later”. It should be now. That is what an economic statement should look like, but no, once again, Davie suffers. Soon the Liberals will be trying to woo workers before the election, but for now, they get nothing. They are just as predictable as the Conservatives.
There was nothing about how e-commerce is disrupting the economy, either. Nothing for businesses that are competing with Amazon, which does not have to charge sales tax on purchases under $40. How are our people supposed to compete against a giant with an unfair advantage? Our small businesses are going to take a beating, and Ottawa is not doing anything about it. Obviously, people are asleep at the switch.
Internet giants are another example. They are hurting our media, our artists and our culture, and they are competing unfairly. I applaud the government's initiative to support our media. Well, actually, it announced plans to support our media, but not until the next budget. Press freedom and information quality are essential in a democracy, so I welcome this initiative, but I am not getting too excited. As long as the government refuses to do something about Internet giants and their unfair competitive advantage over our media, it will not solve the problem. If it does not solve the problem, it is part of the problem. Ultimately, every one of us and democracy as a whole will pay the price. The government needs to take meaningful action to support our media.
To sum up, the Bloc Québécois is disappointed. If we were to grade the economic update on looks alone, I would give it a B, but the true yardstick is the measures themselves and whether they will meet people's real needs in terms of health, education, tax fairness, agriculture and support for strong economic sectors. On that score, this economic update is vacuous. The only real measure coming on line right away is accelerated depreciation. Something that minor could have been addressed with a planted question. All the rest is fluff.
We give the government's economic statement an F for failure.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2018-09-28 10:24 [p.21972]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend my colleague on her speech.
I think that an agreement such as the one proposed by the G20 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the OECD, is a good initiative.
My colleague mentioned that this bill will help fight tax havens.
To her knowledge, if Bill C-82 is passed as it now stands and treaties are ratified between various parties, will it be possible to close the Barbados tax loopholes?
According to my colleague, will Bill C-82 ensure that Canadian financial firms that repatriate their taxes from subsidiaries in Barbados will be subject to Canadian taxes?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2018-09-28 12:38 [p.21994]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to first commend my colleague from Beloeil—Chambly on his speech, which clearly supported progressive values. We definitely felt that.
In his speech, he reminded us that the Minister of National Revenue told the House that the government had spent $1 billion to recoup $25 billion lost to tax evasion and tax avoidance. However, according to the report signed by the minister, the government recovered hundreds of times less money than that.
Does my colleague believe that Bill C-82 will enable the minister to recoup the $25 billion she mentioned so many times in the House?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2017-12-01 13:02 [p.15880]
Mr. Speaker, there are many reasons to oppose Bill C-63.
Take, for example, last summer's botched tax reform and the supposed tax cuts for the middle class from which hardly anyone benefits fully because a person has to earn $110,000 a year to be entitled to the maximum amount. Then, there are tax havens. I would like to remind members that Canada signed the OECD's convention on tax evasion five months ago but still has not ratified it because the Income Tax Act is full of holes, and Bill C-63 does absolutely nothing to fix them.
I will talk about just one aspect of the bill, which is truly scandalous and has largely been overlooked so far.
I am talking about the cannabis taxation framework. Cannabis will be legal in eight months. At that time, the federal government will no longer really be involved. Quebec will be responsible for health and detox services. Quebec will be responsible for education and prevention. Quebec will be responsible for the administration of justice. Quebec and the municipalities will be responsible for public safety and security. In short, Quebec will be stuck with all of the responsibilities and the costs, and it will cost a lot. All that Ottawa is going to do is issue the production licences. That does not cost a penny. This is how the bill is drafted, and Ottawa will be issuing permits and raking in the tax money. The provinces will take on all of the costs and the federal government will not take on any.
Part 4 of Bill C-63 has to do with cannabis taxation. It states that cannabis will be taxed “under a single Act of Parliament”.
Yes, I said “a single Act of Parliament”. That is what it says in black and white in the new paragraph 8.8(1)(a), as set out in clause 170 of the bill. Ottawa wants to collect all of the tax. It wants to take up all of the available tax room. That is what Bill C-63 boils down to. It cannot be stressed enough that it is the provinces and cities that will be paying all of the costs. Once the federal government gets its hands on all the money, what will happen? If we want to know the answer, all we have to do is keep reading this nefarious bill, which makes it pretty clear.
The Minister of Finance will turn to the provinces and tell them he has gobbled up all the revenue and siphoned off all the money. He will tell them to come and see him so they can talk it over, and maybe he will be able to give them back a small amount. We heard the Minister of Finance say that he might go fifty-fifty. That means 50% for Ottawa, which will have paid for nothing, and 50% for the provinces, which will have paid for everything. Even then, the parliamentary secretary says this fifty-fifty arrangement is not set in stone and will have to be looked at. None of this is very reassuring.
We could end up with a ratio like 95% for Ottawa and peanuts for the provinces. We do not know. That is the problem with Bill C-63. It allows that kind of theft. The Minister of Finance will be free to do whatever he wants, because he will be the one setting the ratio. If this bill is passed in its current form, Quebec will just have to obey if it does not want to be hung out to dry and left with nothing, zip, zero, to pay for regulating cannabis consumption, educating and treating the public, and ensuring public safety.
A few years ago, former Quebec finance minister Nicolas Marceau coined the phrase “predatory federalism” to describe Ottawa's blackmailing behaviour over transfer payments. My good friend Nicolas Marceau, an excellent economist, was putting it mildly. We are seeing that predation happen in real time today, here in this House, in a debate being rammed through under a gag order. Under Bill C-63, Ottawa gets all the money. The Minister of Finance could decide to give some to the provinces, at his discretion and under his conditions.
Paragraph 8.8(1)(a) mentions those conditions. It says that the provinces must abide by the conditions if they want to get the transfer, but it does not say what the conditions are. That will be up to the federal government to decide later on, by itself, without having to come back to the House.
In Quebec, Minister Charlebois has started drafting a plan to regulate cannabis consumption. The Minister of Finance may decide that he does not like Quebec's plan. He might force Quebec to change its plan if it wants a share of the money the federal government gets its hands on thanks to Bill C-63. He might stop the payments if Quebec does something he does not like. This is serious.
Bill C-63 can say all it wants about coordinated cannabis taxation agreements, but the real story is something else altogether. Something agreed to at gunpoint is not an agreement; it is a shakedown. Bill C-63 is a weapon for extortion. Quebec has its hands full figuring out how to regulate this in terms of security, public service, and prevention, all of which Ottawa dumped on its plate, so the last thing Quebec needs is another pointless federal-provincial battle instigated entirely by a federal government that refuses to respect Quebec. The predatory federal government is taking all of the money and using it to make my people and their government do its bidding. I have had enough of the federal government shoving things like this down our throats with its mammoth bills.
A year ago, Bill C-29 tried to make Quebec consumers powerless against banks. The Bloc Québécois was unable to intervene until late in the process, but we moved heaven and earth. The National Assembly, consumer groups, the Government of Quebec, and everyone else protested loudly, and the government backed down.
There was another omnibus bill, another nasty surprise, six months ago. That time, the government was giving a gift to the private investors putting their money in the infrastructure bank. It gave them the right to ignore Quebec's laws, agricultural zoning, and municipal bylaws. Once again, no one said anything in committee, because the Bloc Québécois was not there to stand up for Quebec. Once again, the National Assembly protested, and so did the Union des producteurs agricoles. However, we lost the battle that time. It is frustrating that there are 40 MPs from Quebec who would rather clash with Quebec than defend it. We are facing the same situation today, another omnibus bill that is hiding a scam.
In the committee study, no one pointed out that Ottawa wanted to take all the money from cannabis and use that as blackmail to impose its conditions. No one raised any issues about that during the study of the bill, because the Bloc Québécois was not at committee.
Although it is late, it is not too late. We will very firmly oppose Bill C-63, and we will not be the only ones. As in the case of other omnibus bills, we will have Quebec behind us.
This time we will see whether the Liberal members from Quebec have found their backbones since last year. It remains to be seen. Time is running out.
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2017-11-22 15:19 [p.15432]
Mr. Speaker, subsequent to the point of order my colleague from Joliette raised on November 8, I would like to share some additional observations that I hope will inform your consideration of the matter. I also believe that the vote was marred by irregularities and should be retaken.
As my colleague from Joliette said, the code of conduct for members of Parliament, which is part of our Standing Orders, clearly prohibits an elected member from furthering his or her private interests. In addition to taking part in the vote on Motion No. 42, a motion that will have an impact on his private interests, the Minister of Finance influenced the debate through his then-parliamentary secretary, the member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain.
As stated in the “Guide for Parliamentary Secretaries”, issued by the Prime Minister on January 16, 2016, a parliamentary secretary speaks on behalf of the minister. In other words, when a parliamentary secretary takes the floor in the House, it is the minister's words that we hear, as we can see on pages 1 and 2 of the guide. On page 1, under Your Role and Responsibilities, it says:
Section 47 of the Parliament of Canada Act sets out the following succinct job description: “The Parliamentary Secretary or Secretaries to a minister shall assist the minister in such manner as the minister directs.” In this context, the responsibilities of parliamentary secretaries generally fall into two broad categories: (1) House business and (2) department-related duties.
On page 2, under House Business, it says:
In this context, the role of parliamentary secretaries in supporting ministers’ House duties includes:
--attending Question Period;
--piloting the minister’s legislation through the legislative process on the floor of the House, in parliamentary committees...and with caucus and opposition MPs;
--supporting the minister’s position on Private Members’ Business;
Later on, the guide specifically talks about the role of parliamentary secretaries with respect to private members' business. On page 4, under Private Members' Business, the guide states:
Given that ministers do not generally participate directly in debates on Private Members’ Business, this is an opportunity for parliamentary secretaries to bring their parliamentary skills to bear. This is particularly so since all Private Members’ Business comes to a vote. Parliamentary secretaries play a key role in the Government's handling of Private Members’ Business, in that they:
--may be called upon to speak for the minister during Private Members’ Hour;
--work with the Government House Leader’s office to organize and deliver the minister’s response to Private Members’ Bills and motions;
As members can see, Minister of Finance, by way of his his parliamentary secretary, reassured members of the House about the government's actions on this matter. He also urged them to vote against Motion No. 42. I remind members that if this motion had passed, it would have affected the minister's personal interests.
I want to be clear. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance should have recused himself from the debates on Motion No. 42, since he speaks on behalf of his minister. I repeat, this minister's interests are directly affected by Motion No. 42. As my colleague from Joliette pointed out, we are talking about the results of a vote and about the integrity of the House of Commons as an institution, which you oversee, Mr. Speaker. We are here, at the heart of representative democracy, and at the heart of the trust that the public must have in its representatives. This vote should be taken again, since it was tainted.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2017-11-09 15:05 [p.15223]
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Revenue keeps saying that the CRA recovered $25 billion from tax havens. However, her department's report that came out today indicates that it is more like $33 million for the last fiscal year. That leaves a shortfall of just $24,967,000,000, which is 1,000 times less than the minister claims.
Does the minister have a flair for exaggeration or is she getting her millions mixed up with her billions?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2017-11-08 15:13 [p.15138]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. A year ago, on October 26, 2016, the House voted down my Motion No. 42 on tax havens.
Specifically, my motion called on the government to amend section 5907 of the Income Tax Regulations in order to ensure that the income that a Canadian company brings back from its subsidiary in Barbados, or 22 other tax havens, will henceforth be taxed in Canada.
In my view, the vote was full of irregularities and should be retaken. The code of conduct for members of Parliament is part of our Standing Orders, which clearly prohibit an elected member from furthering his or her private interests. We now know that the Minister of Finance has companies located in tax havens. His family's company, Morneau Shepell, promotes the use of tax havens through pension funds and insurance companies. Adopting Motion No. 42 would have had a major impact on the minister's finances. It would have seriously impeded his ability to carry on business as usual. In the Journals of October 26, 2016, we see that the Minister of Finance took part in the vote and voted against Motion No. 42. In fact, with the notable exception of the hon. member for Cambridge, every Liberal member voted against Motion No. 42 because they were strongly urged to vote along party lines.
On pages 220 and 221 of the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, published in 2009, it says that members may not vote on questions in which they have a personal interest, and that any such vote may be challenged and disallowed.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2017-11-08 15:16 [p.15138]
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance had a private interest in the motion on tax havens being defeated. As I was saying, according to House of Commons Procedure and Practice, I challenge the Minister of Finance's vote, as well as the vote of all those he could have influenced. I urge you to disqualify them.
As indicated on page 214 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, “On being elected, Members of the House of Commons become trustees of public confidence. Members must place the public’s interests over their private interests and derive no personal benefit or gain from their decisions.”
I know this because the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is responsible for enforcing the code of ethics and the Conflict of Interest Act. She does an amazing job. This is not about the ethics of a single member of Parliament. This is about the result of a vote and the integrity of the House of Commons as an institution presided over by the Speaker. We are here, at the heart of representative democracy, at the heart of the bonds of trust that need to exist between the public and its representatives and without which the House of Commons has no legitimacy. In light of the irregularities and the appearance of conflicts of interest that tainted the vote on Motion No. 42 on tax havens, I think that the vote should be overturned and taken again.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals say they are going after tax havens, but that is hypocritical.
For the past 30 years, nobody has done more to facilitate tax evasion than Canada. The loopholes that the Liberals claim to be tackling now were created by Ottawa in the first place. Tax evasion is actually legal. When the Bloc Québécois exposed these loopholes, all of the Liberals voted against our bill.
Why does the government hide when we ask it to change the law? Is it trying to protect its Liberal bagmen?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2017-11-07 15:09 [p.15093]
Mr. Speaker, tax cheats must be subject to fines and prison sentences. We are fed up with the government's rhetoric. Ordinary Canadians are the ones who are suffering because the wealthy are using tax havens to avoid paying taxes.
The money that Stephen Bronfman has hidden away in the Cayman Islands is not being used to help our hospitals and schools. It is staying in his pocket, with this government's blessing. Our taxes are paying for the roads that these tax cheats are driving around on in their big limousines.
When will this government stop thumbing its nose at Canadians and put an end to the use of tax havens?
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it has gotten to the point where every time the issue of tax havens comes up, so does the Liberal Party, and every time we talk about tax havens and the Liberal Party, the Minister of National Revenue sounds like a broken record.
After learning that Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, and Stephen Bronfman, three prominent Liberals, are hiding millions of dollars down south, we understand why this government refuses to take action against tax havens. It would rather defend the indefensible than clean house. Taxes are for other people to pay, certainly not the Prime Minister's friends.
Will the Canada Revenue Agency do its job and investigate Stephen Bronfman?
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2017-11-06 15:06 [p.15006]
Mr. Speaker, we simply cannot trust the Liberals to do anything but get caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
We wondered why they voted against the Bloc Québécois motion to combat tax havens. We now know it was because that is where they hide their money. The Liberal Party is the tax-evasion party, and yet the Liberals still claim to be standing up for the middle class.
Will this government finally take action and go after people who use tax havens to evade taxes, even if those people include friends, family members, or colleagues?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2016-10-31 15:05 [p.6341]
Mr. Speaker, in his economic update, the parliamentary budget officer confirmed that the government can afford to spend more.
However, it is not the expense column I am worried about. It is the revenue column. The government refuses to go after the billions of dollars that the big banks are hiding in Barbados. As a result, it is middle-class families that are stuck with the bill to pay for our declining public services.
Why is the government refusing to go after the money the banks are keeping in Barbados?
Is the government standing up for Canadians or for Bay Street?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2016-10-28 12:01 [p.6283]
Madam Speaker, I moved a motion in the House to condemn the legal use of tax havens by banks and multinationals. My motion is universally supported in Quebec. Students, workers, nurses, teachers, public servants, consumers, and citizens all support it. It has even been presented again at the provincial level and supported by all elected officials in Quebec from all parties. However, all the Liberal members oppose it but one.
When will the government start representing the population instead of Bay Street and reconsider its shameful position?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2016-10-28 12:02 [p.6284]
Madam Speaker, it is shameful. It is as though the government is setting up more speed traps but eliminating speed limits. The government has mastered the art of catching waitresses who do not report all of their tips, but it is authorizing banks to hide billions of dollars in tax havens. When we talk about banks, all we get is radio silence from the Liberal Party.
Can the government explain to people who work and pay taxes why banks are encouraged to commit the same acts that would send any ordinary Canadian to prison?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2016-10-26 14:03 [p.6133]
Mr. Speaker, today is a historic day. For the first time, we, the people's representatives, will vote either for or against tax havens.
Those who vote for my motion will be sending big Canadian and multinational banks the message that they can no longer hide their profits in Barbados. Those who vote against the motion will be encouraging them to do it, and with the blessing of the political class.
If there are those among us who truly believe that the use of tax havens is desirable and appropriate, this affects them. However, I urge them to remember that we are speaking on behalf of the people, who find tax havens disgusting. They feel they are working harder than ever while being squeezed to the last drop as they watch the quality of government services decline. They feel the game is rigged and our institutions and society are corrupt.
Members must figure out for themselves what their constituents expect them to do.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2016-10-21 13:57 [p.5988]
Madam Speaker, I am proud to have raised the matter of tax havens in the House of Commons.
Motion No. 42 is the Bloc Québécois's first motion in this Parliament, and there is a reason for that. I am a separatist because I want Quebec to handle matters within the purview of sovereign nations itself. International taxation is one of those matters.
Tax treaties are the cornerstone of international taxation, which means that Quebec cannot get involved. Unless the federal government closes the loopholes that enable sharks to use tax havens, Quebec will continue to lose income too. Quebec's National Assembly knows that. On April 14, it adopted more or less the same resolution we are talking about today, pointing a finger squarely at Ottawa. The National Assembly recognized that the solution I have proposed could help fix the problem. Members of all parties in the National Assembly unanimously asked the House to support my motion. Until something changes, taxpayers, citizens, will have to make up for the shortfall by paying higher taxes and fees and settling for reduced services. As a social democrat, I cannot accept that.
There is no social justice without tax justice. There is no justice at all when the financial sector hides its money in the Caribbean and ordinary people are left paying the bill. As a result of this shortfall, Quebec is cutting funding for homework clubs and increasing the cost of child care. Ottawa is cutting transfers. In the meantime, bankers are keeping their billions under the sun in the Caribbean and it is totally above board. That is the problem.
Canada represents only 2% of global GDP. That is not a lot. However, the IMF said last summer that three major Canadian banks, the Royal Bank of Canada, Scotia Bank, and CIBC represented 80% of the banking assets in Barbados, Grenada, and the Bahamas. Furthermore, Canadian banks represent 60% of the assets of the eight other tax havens that make up the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union.
Canada is not an economic superpower, but it is a superpower in these tax havens, which is no accident. The regulatory framework was written purposely to allow banks and multinationals to avoid paying taxes here. I say “regulatory framework” because the problem is indeed regulatory in nature.
No tax treaty allows for the use of tax havens, no matter what my Conservative colleague says. He clearly did not read the note that I sent him. Even the treaty with Barbados does not cover the shell companies that enjoy tax breaks in Barbados. With regard to the other tax havens, Canada has not signed tax treaties with them. No treaty allows for the use of tax havens, no matter what my Liberal colleague says, and neither does the Income Tax Act.
Parliament has never allowed the use of tax havens because parliamentarians did their job when passing laws and treaties. They prohibited tax havens. The government is the one that did not do its job. It is the government that violated a decision of Parliament. The government declared, by regulation, that the laws and treaties that parliamentarians had passed did not apply and that the banks could be exempt from paying tax on profits by transferring that money to the Caribbean. I repeat: parliamentarians have never authorized the use of tax havens. If my motion is rejected, it will be the very first time that parliamentarians do so. I trust that they will not authorize tax havens now, particularly since international pressure to put an end to this scourge is rising.
By adopting my motion, Parliament will send the strong message that we will not accept tax avoidance and the use of tax havens. The government must take action by repealing section 5907, which it ordered in secret. This vote will be the first time that members are being clearly asked whether they are for or against tax havens. That makes this a historic vote. I trust that this Parliament will stand on the right side of history. I sincerely hope that it will.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2016-04-14 17:31 [p.2273]
moved:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should put an end to the widespread tax avoidance practised by many shell companies set up in Barbados by Canadian companies, by amending subsection 95(1) of Income Tax Act and section 5907 of the Income Tax Regulations to specify that no business that is entitled to a special tax benefit conferred by Barbados under the Canada-Barbados Income Tax Agreement Act, 1980, shall be exempt from taxation because of a tax treaty.
He said: Madam Speaker, the top story in last week's news was the leak of the Panama papers. These leaks give us some idea of the extent of the use of tax havens. It is enormous.
This week, the government was in a hurry to say that it was working hard to combat tax havens. Last year, the Luxembourg schemes were leaked. The year before that, it was documents from HSBC Bank. The year before that, it was UBS, and prior to that it was Singapore and the Virgin Islands. Every time, the Canadian government announced that it would work very hard to combat this issue. Before that, it was ships from Canada Steamship Lines, and before that, it was the Bronfman trust and the Irving family. The government has been supposedly working hard on this for 25 years. Clearly, we have yet to see any results.
With each new scandal, the government announces new measures. However, this phenomenon continues to escalate. For 25 years, the government has announced measure after measure to catch cheaters. That is good, but it does not solve the problem.
The crux of the problem is that it is perfectly legal to use tax havens. We cannot fix this problem by going after individual cheaters. We need to be going after the bad laws, the bad regulations, the bad treaties, and the tax system.
Barbados is a small, faraway country, but in 2014 alone, $71 billion left Canada and ended up in Barbados. That is more than the amount that originates from all of Asia and 12 times more than the amount that originates from France. This happens year after year.
The colossal sums of money that Canadian businesses send there to avoid paying taxes are having a direct impact here at home. That tax-free $71 billion has a huge impact on government revenue.
Since Quebec is not a country, it cannot sign tax treaties. Quebec's tax law with respect to international taxation is identical to the federal law. We simply have no choice. When the federal government allows the use of tax havens, the Quebec government loses revenue too.
All taxpayers end up paying the price, whether they are in Quebec City or Ottawa or anywhere else in Canada. They have to pay more taxes and tariffs, and they have to cope with austerity measures. That is one consequence of our current status as a province.
For now, the key is the federal Parliament, so I would like to inform the House that, this morning, Quebec's National Assembly unanimously adopted a motion that is identical to the one we moved and are currently debating. Yes, it was adopted unanimously.
In Quebec City, every member of the Liberal Party, the Parti Québécois, the Coalition Avenir Québec, and Québec solidaire voted in favour of a motion calling on this House and the Canadian government to deal with the tax haven in Barbados.
The fight against tax havens, and specifically Barbados, is something all Quebeckers agree on. I believe that may also be the case for the rest of Canada.
International taxation is complicated. Every time organizations ask the government to do something to combat the use of tax havens, the government always says the same old thing, that nothing can be done, that this can only be fixed internationally, and that Canada would lose its competitiveness if it acted alone.
Let me draw a parallel. The fight against climate change is complicated too. For 10 years, every time groups called on the Conservative government to take action, it always said the same thing, that nothing could be done and that this could only be dealt with internationally. We all know that was an excuse to do nothing.
Environmental groups were not asking to withdraw from international efforts. They were simply asking Canada to take action at home and clean up its own backyard. This is also the case for tax havens. We must take action at the international level, but also at home. It can be done, and that is the point of the motion. Barbados is Canada's tax haven. It is the second-largest recipient of Canadian foreign investments, even though it is just a tiny island. The so-called investments are nothing more than accounting tricks. There is no real activity down there.
It was not a decision made internationally but a decision made by the Government of Canada that turned Barbados into Canada's tax haven. Furthermore, the decision was made without the consent of this Parliament. Parliament never supported the decision. We created the problem in this place, and it is here that we can put a stop to it. It is like environmental groups managing to fight climate change under the previous government. I want to show that we can take action in this place.
The motion offers a concrete, very specific solution. If Parliament adopts it, Canadian companies will no longer be able to use their subsidiary in Barbados to avoid paying taxes here. When they repatriate their profits, they will be taxed, quite simply, like any income for any taxpayer who cannot afford a creative and perhaps crooked tax expert.
I am not saying that this motion solves everything. We will also need to work really hard on the international scene. We need to ensure that profiteers can no longer use the differences between the various tax systems to separate their activities and ultimately not pay taxes anywhere at all. Now is the time for some real progress in this area. All over the world, governments are having money problems. Austerity is affecting people more or less everywhere. People are starting to feel real indignation about tax havens. Tax havens are like a cancer that is destroying our societies.
We do not need to wait for the entire planet to come to an agreement. The biggest users of tax havens are banks. It is hard to get the exact figures, but we know that most of the money in tax havens is from the financial sector.
Canada is able to act in a way that other countries cannot. The banking sector in Canada is protected. Banks are not subject to international competition. Canadian banks cannot move elsewhere. The Bank Act prohibits that, which means that Canada can take action against tax havens without hindering banks' competitiveness and prompting them to leave. In other words, Canada can do something.
I targeted Barbados because that is the most common tax haven to which Canadian money is directed, but the Conservatives opened the door to other tax havens in 2009. They also introduced this into the regulations, in secret, without any debate in Parliament.
Section 5907, which is targeted in the motion, has to do with Barbados. However, it also has to do with 22 other tax havens. I remind members that this motion does not have to do with a partisan issue. Yes, in the past, the Liberals authorized the use of Barbados. Yes, in the past, the Conservatives authorized others. However, Parliament never authorized a single one. The House never once made tax havens legal. Never.
I remind all hon. members that there are no party lines when it comes to private members' business. For the purposes of private members' business, Liberal members do not represent the government any more than Conservatives members represent the former government. Here, we all represent the people. We have the privilege of being the spokespeople for our constituents. We are the representatives of real people who pay their taxes so that we can live in a better society.
Of course members do not all share the same values. The Conservatives want to lower taxes. Some Liberals and the New Democrats want to put an end to austerity. Regardless of our different motivations and values, I think that we can all agree on one thing: everyone needs to pay his or her fair share. There is no reason why white collar profiteers should be making off with money and hiding it in tax havens.
I have not yet met any voter or any Canadian who is against this motion. On the contrary, what I am hearing is that we need to crack down on tax havens. What we need to do is to make changes to the regulatory framework to eliminate the loopholes that allow white collar profiteers to shirk their obligations.
Today's debate puts the issue on the table. In June, there will be a second hour of debate and a vote. In the meantime, I plan on writing to every member of the House and meeting with as many members from all parties as possible.
I would like to remind members that the motion is meant to be non-partisan and that, this morning, all members of the Quebec National Assembly from all parties adopted a motion that is exactly the same as the one that I moved. This motion calls on Parliament, on the federal government, to resolve the Barbados tax haven problem. I would also like to remind members that Parliament never voted on the regulations that allow the use of tax havens. Never. Because of this motion, for the first time in the history of Parliament, members will be called upon to vote on the regulations that allow tax havens to exist. It will be the first time. Parliament never authorized the use of tax havens. Never. That is what it will be doing if it does not support my motion. I have high hopes that the motion will be adopted in June.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2016-04-14 17:46 [p.2274]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain, for his remarks.
I do recognize the efforts that are being made. However, the money that is being spent, the additional auditors, and the work being done are meant to detect fraudsters, individuals, people.
The problem I am raising via the motion before the House this evening is that the rules, which were never voted on in the House, allow banks and multinationals to legally divert their money into tax havens. That is the problem with tax havens, and it is a dramatically bigger problem than individual fraudsters.
The motion would cost the government nothing. It would actually bring in money, and it is a much more effective way to solve the problem.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2016-04-14 17:48 [p.2275]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sherbrooke for his question.
A Canada-Barbados tax treaty has existed since 1980. It was amended in 1999, retroactive to 1994. The international treaty states that if a shell company exists in Barbados, when the profits are repatriated to Canada, the company or repatriated profits must be taxed and the taxes must be paid here. We can all agree on that.
The problem is that section 5907 of the income tax regulations states that this regulation will not be enforced and companies do not have to pay taxes on repatriated funds. This section was not negotiated with Barbados and was changed by the Chrétien government at the time. It might be illegal. It has never been challenged in court.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2016-04-14 17:49 [p.2275]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Mount Royal.
Section 5907 that is targeted in the motion focuses on Barbados. That is Canada's tax haven. Some $71 billion is hidden there. By way of comparison, when it comes to Panama, we are talking about $128 million.
Nonetheless, section 5907 also deals with 28 other tax havens, including Panama. This motion deals with other tax havens. We are focusing on Barbados because there is a great deal more money there than in all the other tax havens.
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