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View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:02
Well, thank you, Mr. Chair. My questions will be for Mr. McGowan.
Trevor, you've been at parliamentary committees many times before, as the chair has suggested, so you know the drill. When private members' legislation comes before a committee, we generally have a robust discussion about the legislation. The government, through its MPs, has the ability to bring forward amendments that would fix loopholes or deficiencies in those bills.
Mr. McGowan, you were present at committee as a witness, as Bill C-208 was being discussed. Is that correct?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:03
All right. Your recent press release, the finance department's press release dated July 19, highlights four specific loopholes that it feels should be fixed in Bill C-208. My question to you is, when you appeared before committee as a witness to discuss this bill, did you or any of your officials recommend amendments that would have addressed the shortcomings Bill C-208 had, and specific wording for those amendments?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:04
What was the purpose of your appearing before committee if there was no process by which Finance could inform the committee and provide it with the assistance and the wording for amendments that could have fixed the so-called loopholes that you've identified after the fact?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:05
Okay, so after royal assent, somebody in government, maybe in Finance or maybe in the Prime Minister's Office, made the decision to announce that Bill C-208 would not be applied. In other words, it wouldn't be implemented right away. Is that correct?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:06
Well, let me say this: I'm so glad that you're now acknowledging that Bill C-208 became the law on June 29. It's something that was not reflected in your June 30 press release.
I want to know who it was in your department, or who it was in government, who made the decision not to respect Bill C-208 and issue the press release that led to the confusion, and quite frankly the bewilderment, of the small business community in Canada.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:08
Trevor, really, that is a re-characterization of what has happened. The June 30 press release made it very clear that the government was going to withhold implementation of Bill C-208 until it had a chance to amend it. In that, it was moving in a way that effectively defied the will of Parliament. My question, which you didn't answer, is who in Finance or who in government actually made the decision that was then reflected in the press release that was issued on June 30?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:08
Answer the question.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:09
I'm not asking about process. I'm asking who made the final decision—
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:09
With respect, Mr. Chair, you know what he's doing. He's not answering the question. I asked who, and he will not provide me with that answer.
All we want to know is this: Who's the decision-maker who made the decision to issue the press release that reflected the government's decision not to respect the will of Parliament?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:10
That's right. Let me stop you right there.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:10
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Who in the elected government made the decision to issue this release, or to instruct your department to issue this release, which has led to all of this confusion?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:10
No, he hasn't answered the question.
Who in the elected government made that decision?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:11
You guys are awful.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:12
On a point of order, Mr. Chair, my comment that “you guys are awful” was not addressed to our civil servants, and it certainly wasn't addressed to Mr. McGowan. It was addressed to my Liberal friends across the table from us, who were heckling and guffawing about our asking very significant questions of Mr. McGowan related to Bill C-208.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. McGowan, Mr. Fast asked you many times in his opening statement who authorized the announcement or who decided to put that announcement out. The first several times, you didn't answer the question, merely referring to the regular process. The final time, you spoke of members of the elected government as making the decision on this announcement. By that I presume you mean the Prime Minister, other members of his cabinet, or the members of their offices who serve them.
Can you tell the committee who in the elected government decided to put out the first notice on June 30 to announce that you were not implementing a law passed by Parliament?
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
Did I just hear you correctly that it was the minister who decided that you would delay implementation of a law passed by Parliament? Was that the Minister of Finance?
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
Mere hours before this committee meeting was scheduled to begin, where parliamentarians could demand answers as to why this announcement of June 30 went out, there was a clarification to backpedal this announcement.
Again, the question I really want clarity around is this: Whose idea was it in the first place to delay? The June 30 announcement is pretty clear. It talks about the absence of an application date. It talks about implementing on January 1 following amendments. You said “the minister” in your last answer to me. Can you clarify that you meant the Minister of Finance?
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
Please answer the question.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
I'm sorry. I'm going to have to interrupt. You're—
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
We've had about 10 minutes now of the question from my Conservative opposition colleagues, and in this time we've circled it down to a “minister” seems to have the decision. We can't confirm yet which one, but that was the question, whether it was the Minister of Finance.
Further to that, I take you to the June 30 announcement. This announcement speaks of the bill having received royal assent but not having an application date. Then it goes on to talk about amending it and starting on January 1.
I don't really even want to go down that path any further about what the amendments you may propose might be. We'd like to know who made the decision on that press announcement—which minister.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 14:45
Did cabinet make the decision?
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
This was a decision of cabinet, not of the department.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
This was the decision of the executive council.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
There are a couple of minutes left, but if you—
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
If you like, we can move on to the next speaker if you have nothing to add.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. Thank you.
Next on our list is Mr. Ste-Marie for five minutes.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Just for clarity, Mr. McGowan, I want to go back to a question that one of my Liberal colleagues asked you earlier in this area. You said that the current plan and the message to the small business owners is that Bill C-208 will be in effect, unaltered, until November 1. Can you confirm that any small business transfers to family members that take place between today, or even June 30, and November 1 will not be subject to retroactive application of any further amendments?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
I guess my question was to do with any amendments, but a new bill coming forward.... We don't have one now, because it's law, but could a new bill coming forward by the government be retroactive?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
[Inaudible—Editor] be made retroactive and in a new bill.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
The government was supposed to be, as the press release said yesterday, clarifying. That was the title put on it, that the government “clarifies taxation for intergenerational transfers of small business shares”, yet we have this confusion. There's a contradiction. Obviously, a correction was tried, because the government thought on June 30 that it could go retroactive and make amendments to do it. Now it's saying it can't—or won't. I think there's a big difference between “can't” and “won't”.
If you bring in a new bill, obviously it could go back retroactively, even if the press release is.... Press releases aren't law. I guess all I'm asking you is whether we can get clarification on that.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
I'd like to speak to the point of order.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
I think therein lies the point of order. She said it's not their “intention”, not that they won't. I mean, it's still ambiguous.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
I think this is really the same line of questioning, in a way, that Ms. Dzerowicz introduced earlier in her testimony, so I presume it's relevant.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you. I'm not sure that clarified it.
Mr. Chair, I'd like to ask if the people in the Department of Finance know whether the Justice officials were consulted on the illegality of delaying the implementation of Bill C-208. I'm talking about consultation, not advice, because we went through that this morning.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
I guess I'm wondering, Mr. Chair, why it took almost 20 days for Finance to provide an updated release here. Was it because you so graciously called this committee meeting today? Was it, as was referred to earlier, a decision made by executive council or cabinet if not, as Mr. McGowan has already answered, that the minister was in charge and made that decision? Was it in fact the minister, or was it in fact executive council or cabinet?
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would ask you to indulge me, since some of my questions may seem redundant. It's important, however, that they be put to the department officials in French. That means I will be asking some of the same questions that have already been asked.
I want to begin with a reminder.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you.
We are not gathered today because of a news release that came out yesterday. We are actually here because of a June 30, 2021 news release that said, and I quote, “Bill C‑208 makes amendments to the Income Tax Act but does not include an application date.” You found that shocking as well, Mr. Chair. According to that same news release, “The government proposes to introduce legislation to clarify that these amendments would apply at the beginning of the next taxation year, starting on January 1, 2022.” It is on account of that news release that the committee was recalled and we are here today.
Yesterday, the government realized that the committee was going to meet today and that, as a result, the government was probably going to look bad. It opted to put out another news release to retract what it said in the June 30 news release. Unfortunately, the government can't undo a news release. The one put out on June 30 still exists. You and I saw it, as did a whole lot of people in the small business sector and farming world. They were shocked and upset to learn that the government had no desire to implement a bill that had received royal assent and been passed by both Houses. Unfortunately, on June 30, the government apparently decided not to implement the bill because it had come from a Conservative member this time around. The government saw the bill as dangerous and wanted to avoid giving the opposition parties any credit. Too bad for the government that the bill was passed. That is a fact.
The good news is we found out yesterday that the changes in the bill did apply in law. Nevertheless, we need to know what happened on June 30 and why we are meeting today, in the middle of the summer, during the construction holidays, to discuss the government's decision to hurt family farms and small businesses.
My question is for Mr. McGowan, and it has been put to him a number of times.
Earlier, you said that the minister made her decision. Can you tell us the name of the minister who made the decision you were referring to?
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Jovanovic, will you confirm that Mr. McGowan said this earlier:
“The minister made her decision.”
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
I am not referring to the June 30 news release.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, the question is clear.
Earlier, Mr. McGowan said this:
“The minister made her decision.”
Mr. Jovanovic, will you confirm that your colleague made that statement?
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Why can't you tell us the name of the minister?
Tell me the name of the act that prevents you from revealing the name of the minister who approved the news release, or at least tell me why you can't. Your colleague mentioned her name a while ago.
I used to be a chief of staff, so I know major press releases like that don't go out without the prior approval of the most senior ministerial staff. What is stopping you from telling us the name? Why are you so reluctant to confirm that the Minister of Finance approved the news release that went out on June 30?
That is why we are here today.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Jovanovic, I understand—
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 15:30
Mr. McGowan, I have a couple more questions for you. Let me say again that I have great respect for those of you in your position who serve the public. I've been in that seat, you know. I've been asked questions the way you have. It's not a pleasant feeling at times, especially when the great inquisitor is Mr. Easter, who used to do that to me.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Hon. Ed Fast: That said, you have said that it's the intention of the elected government that any intergenerational transfers that take place between June 30 and November 1 will not be subject to any further amendments that the elected government might bring forward on November 1 with respect to such transfers. Ms. Aitken has, however, confirmed that the government can in fact make such legislation—the November 1 legislation that is signalled in the press release of July 19—retroactive.
I'm assuming that you yourself cannot bind the government to compel it to follow through on its intention not to apply any further amendments to such intergenerational transfers. Am I correct?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 15:32
Let me dig a little deeper. You mentioned that surplus stripping is a significant concern and that this needs to be addressed in the amendments that the government intends to bring forward. If between now and November 1 such tax avoidance activity does in fact take place, how will the government effectively address that avoidance?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 15:33
So there's a gap now between June 29 and November 1, in which the government does not intend to make any retroactive changes, and in which there may be some gaps or loopholes that you've identified that may be difficult to address. Is that correct?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 15:34
All right. This is my last question. The most recent press release is the July 19 one, in which the elected government did an about-face on Bill C-208. Certainly we see it as an about-face. It still suggests that some intergenerational small business transfers aren't genuine. In fact, you use the term “genuine” in that press release. I'm looking at it here.
It still suggests that small businesses are engaged in tax avoidance, in surplus stripping, in artificial tax planning and in not paying their fair share. Do you understand why many small businesses and the families who run them still feel that you and your finance department colleagues, and the government, and the Prime Minister still believe they're tax cheats? It's baked into your press release. Small businesses reading that would take from it that this government really doesn't trust small businesses and still believes they're tax cheats.
Do you understand why small businesses are concerned?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
In regard to Ms. Bendayan's comment, I just have to add that the reason Mr. Kelly was able to put out those kind comments was that the government was forced to appear before our committee today.
I want to thank you, Mr. Chair, for calling this meeting, because without it yesterday's press release just wouldn't have happened.
An hon. member: [Inaudible—Editor]
Mr. Larry Maguire: There's no use hiding the fact that the government recused its decision from June 30 in yesterday's press release. Mr. Kelly is quite right to say that they're pleased, but as Mr. Ste-Marie said, for 527 days the government fought this bill, and fought it hard, not only on its own—
If it was such a good bill, why didn't the government members vote for it in the House?
Nineteen of your colleagues, Mr. Chair, you included, got the fact that small businesses in your constituencies, in every constituency in Canada, are the predominant private sector employers in those constituencies.
I just want to reiterate that without the attention brought to this bill.... The government fought this all the way until yesterday, when it decided, well, this isn't very popular among small business people in Canada, so we'd better change our minds on this.
I have just a couple of quick questions, Mr. Chair. I know we still have a bit of time.
Mr. McGowan, before yesterday's press release was issued that stated the obvious, that the law is the law, were you consulted on the language in the updated release?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
It goes without saying, then, that if we hadn't put up this fuss, Finance wouldn't have sent out the updated press release. What specific date were you told that a new policy decision was going to be taken?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Obviously it wasn't before June 30. Would that be obvious—yes or no?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
On what specific date were you told that a new policy decision was going to be taken?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
You don't know.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. McGowan just said you were informed.
Anyway, having said that, obviously you were informed by the government that something was going to take place and that this reversal was going to take place. Did cabinet have to approve this new policy direction, or could it solely be made by the Minister of Finance?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
You know, I understand that the government doesn't like Bill C-208, but not a single amendment was put forward by the government through this whole process, and now we still don't have amendments. The government is talking about them here, but if there are amendments, why aren't we seeing them now, so that we can discuss them before a committee like today's?
Have you been asked to put forward amendments? You've had 20 years.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
What specific legal authority did Finance use to release and announce this tax policy change without providing amendments?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
I'm just asking what specific legal authority Finance used to issue the release and announce this tax policy change in a press release.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Clearly, there are no amendments forward to clarify for small businesses in Canada what the government's intentions are.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
There's nothing stopping them from discussing those amendments today, because we've had decades of discussion on this particular topic. It leads those in small business today to really—
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
I'll go back to my colleague Mr. Fast's comments. He called it the tax cheat issues. I'll be clear that the Prime Minister's very words were something to the effect that small businesses are just formed to allow for tax avoidance. I think that's a pretty clear message from the top leadership of the country as to what they think of small businesses. To come out in the release and say, oh, we're one of the most friendly governments ever to be in place for small businesses....
I've had chartered accountant firms tell me that this bill is probably the most significant change to help small businesses in the last 20 years. There's a great dichotomy of opinion here. I would ask why we still can't see some of the amendments or why we're not here today discussing some of the amendments. They've obviously been talked about, because the department put forward its case before the House and before the Senate, and both houses, both chambers of the parliamentary process, passed this bill.
I'll leave it at that, Mr. Chair. I don't know if there's an answer from the government or from the finance department as to why we're not seeing amendments today. I will ask this simple question: Has the government instructed the finance department to come up with any amendments yet?
That was my final question, Mr. Chair.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you. I don't have a question. I know that we're down to just the last few minutes.
I move that the committee invite the Minister of Finance to appear within two weeks of passing this motion.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you so much, Mr. Dufresne, for appearing today and for the clarity you've brought to this issue. Let's just get right to it.
Bill C-208 became law on June 29. Is that correct?
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
All right. Can you imagine any possible explanation for why this government would say otherwise in its June 30 press announcement?
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
On the eve of a really embarrassing meeting that the department would have to go through, they backpedalled the June 30 announcement. Do you know of any precedent of a government refusing to implement a law upon its receiving royal assent, such as has been the case with this bill?
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
No government has ever done this—just put out an announcement to say it is not going to implement a law passed by Parliament.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
Right.
Your office has been very busy over this last year and a half or so. We have seen this government defy Parliament and defy orders of committee. You've been present at this committee with regard to this issue. Are you concerned by the pattern of government, of any government, ignoring the will of Parliament?
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
Again, I thank you for your vigorous defence of Parliament. In a parliamentary democracy, Parliament has to have the last word on public policy. We have a government that has ignored Parliament by refusing to implement this bill when it received royal assent and that has been on the heels of actually suing the House of Commons and naming the Speaker of the House in seeking court approval to defy Parliament. This is all within the last few weeks. Can you comment on a pattern emerging with this government? This is also on the heels of the defiance of orders at this committee.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
Responsible government was achieved in Canada before Confederation. Really, since 1858 has any Canadian government besides this one openly and blatantly refused to implement laws passed by Parliament?
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes, and we thank you for that and for your defence of Parliament.
Mr. Chair, do I have any more time?
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
Despite the backpedal that we saw yesterday, I would suggest there are still questions that remain and still an intention by this government to not implement the bill as passed by Parliament. What further steps do you think the government needs to take to assure Canadians that it will actually follow through and implement this bill and respect the will of Parliament as expressed through its democratically elected members and senators?
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Let me proceed very quickly, because I have several short questions for Mr. Dufresne.
Earlier, you mentioned that, the day after a piece of legislation was enacted, you had never seen a department say that it would delay its coming into force because it contains no date.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
So this goes against the constitution acts and the primacy of Parliament.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Dufresne, you said earlier that a government can amend tax measures, apply them and implement them before a bill is passed. However, if I am not mistaken, the bill must have been introduced in Parliament beforehand.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
In your view, would Parliament be breaking the law if it announced now that it intended to make amendments to Bill C‑208 and put the new measures in place immediately?
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
What would happen if the government actually decided not to implement Bill C‑208 today and did not get parliamentary approval later?
Who would be held accountable, given that there could be a change of government or an election? What would happen to all the victims, farms and small businesses that could not make the transfer according to the details of Bill C‑208?
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
So the current government could announce what it wants, such as making tax changes. Afterwards, aggrieved people would have to go to court.
That possibility creates a lot of uncertainty for all small business owners who want to transfer their business now. The news release creates even more ambiguity because we don't have the details of a possible bill and what the government intends to do.
I have one final question for you.
The news release issued yesterday mentions that the measures are in effect now. But there was another one on June 30. In your opinion, will the people who would have benefited from the good news that Bill C‑208 was enacted between those two dates be adversely affected?
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
It has been in effect since June.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I want to thank you for the calling of this meeting and our witnesses for being here today.
Mr. Dufresne, in the case of June 30, 2021, when Finance announced the suspension of Bill C-208, what legal authority did the department use to announce this tax policy change?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Certainly, we have to agree that only Parliament can decide whether to give that legal effect to a proposal by government for tax measures to apply retroactively. That's correct; I think you've already stated that.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Now that they've recused the statement from June 30 by yesterday's press release, let's say in a hypothetical situation they hadn't gone forward with yesterday's case, and they stuck to their original press release and unfairly delayed the implementation of Bill C-208 until January 1 coming up. What recourse could Parliament take against the department?
I mean, this is contempt of Parliament, similar to what the government has done by suing the Speaker. What if it were to happen again? What are Parliament's options here in regard to taking action against the department? The department put out the press release.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
What happens if the government provisionally collects a tax that ultimately never becomes law due to Parliament amending the bill or the bill never passing?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 10:55
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to echo Mr. Ste-Marie's comments. We're addressing something very serious here. I noticed our Liberal friends were making light of this issue, but this is no laughing matter, Ms. O'Connell. This is about defiance of the will of Parliament.
Mr. Dufresne, I'm not going to ask you to make the assumption I'm making, which is that defiance of the will of Parliament by Mr. Trudeau will occur again under this government. This was not an oversight. My real fear is that if he's re-elected he will move again to defy the will of Parliament, not only on this, but on other legislation.
My question to you is, does the government and do finance department officials have any right to delay or refuse to implement legislation that is properly passed by Parliament?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 10:56
Did any finance officials or the Prime Minister's Office seek your legal opinion before announcing that they did not intend to implement C-208 before amending it?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 10:56
Are you at all aware of whether they sought legal counsel before proceeding that way?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 10:57
All right.
Now, did I hear you say that the Prime Minister could make his proposed November 1 amendments retroactive?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 10:57
You would agree with me that the government has signalled that it wants to make amendments and that they may be retroactive.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 10:57
There's absolutely no guarantee from this government that it won't totally gut Bill C-208 when it gets around to amending it.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 10:58
My Liberal friends just said there's no guarantee that pigs can't fly. That's the kind of disrespect we have come to expect from our Liberal friends.
I have another question. What remedies do parliamentarians have to redress the government's refusal to implement duly passed legislation that is in force?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 10:59
Mr. Dufresne, does Parliament have the right to hold the Prime Minister in contempt if he fails to implement legislation that has been duly passed through the will of Parliament?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 10:59
I've been a member of the House for close to 16 years now, and I've never seen a government defy the will of Parliament before. You have said that you have seen no precedent for this kind of action being taken that we saw reflected in the press release of June 30. Am I correct?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 11:00
It had not ever been seen in history.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 11:00
That is a very sad comment on our government.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 11:00
I'll just leave you with a statement, Mr. Chair. I've been appalled at the willingness of this Prime Minister to defy the will of Parliament and to challenge the supremacy of Parliament. We are going down a very dangerous road.
By the way, this opinion isn't shared by just us Conservatives. It's shared right across the board. I've spoken to Liberals who are appalled that we have a Prime Minister who is prepared to take on the supremacy of Parliament.
That's all I'll say, Mr. Chair.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 11:24
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to all the witnesses.
My questions will be directed to Messieurs Boudria and Milliken.
Both of you gentlemen have had very many years of understanding of parliamentary process and procedure. I think all of us around this table respect that, but there is a bigger issue here at play. As I said earlier, this is a very serious matter. I think the two of you recognize that.
I'll start with a very big question. Overall, what do these events—in other words, the initial government defiance of a duly passed law of Parliament—say about the state of Canadian democracy and the role that our executive branch plays vis-à-vis the legislative branch? I'd be interested in comments from both of you.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-07-20 11:29
I've already said my fear is that this may happen again. Either the Prime Minister's Office, cabinet, or maybe Finance officials on their own.... We don't know who directed whom in this case. My fear is this will happen again.
My question to both of you is, if this happens again, what are the remedies that parliamentarians have to ensure compliance with the rule of law?
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
First, perhaps because I am not a regular member of the committee, I do not share the enthusiasm of my colleague from the Bloc Québécois about the comments of the parliamentary secretary and yesterday's news release.
I would remind you that Bill C‑208 was voted on by Parliament, but all members of cabinet voted against it. The Department of Finance issued a news release noting that the bill would not be implemented until January 1, 2022.
As a former chief of staff, I can tell you that a news release of this nature is not issued by the Department of Finance without at least someone in the minister's office having seen and approved it. It's a very important item and a major change in terms of finance. More importantly, it is a major change in terms of the implementation of legislation that has been passed by Parliament. A news release of this nature could not be issued without the approval of the office of the Minister of Finance.
My question is for Ms. Bissonnette, whom I know well because I have met her on several occasions.
Without being afraid, would you be able to recommend, today, that a family proceed with the transfer of its farm, knowing that the government has already announced that there will be amendments to Bill C‑208?
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Do you think the government should be clearer and more specific in writing? Should it give you specific information rather than just words in a news release?
Hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake for the transferors and for those who want to buy the farms. A lack of clarity has created uncertainty and vagueness that may cause some farm families to wait and to have no trust at all.
I remember that the government has often said in the past that it would not touch supply management. We were often told that there would be compensation. But basically, we still don't have a clue about the compensation resulting from the Canada‑United States‑Mexico Agreement.
Don't you think this adds a layer of uncertainty for all producers that is really not necessary?
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Ms. Bissonnette.
I'm going to turn my time over to—
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you. My question is for former speaker Milliken.
Thank you for your service to Canada during your long tenure as Speaker. During your time as Speaker, which spanned two governments and two prime ministers, did the government of the day ever sue the House of Commons and name the Speaker of the House in a lawsuit against the House of Commons?
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
To speak to the point of order—
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
—the topic of the meeting, of this panel of the first meeting today, is the authority of Parliament.
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