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Results: 31 - 41 of 41
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Mr. Speaker, let us jump in a time machine and go back to an era the Liberals would find strange and unfamiliar. When was this mysterious time? It was October 2015. That is when the Liberals were just elected on several forward-looking environmental promises.
Jump back to today and the government appears to have rigged the review with Kinder Morgan, failed to end fossil fuel subsidies, and instead is now offering billions more in support to a Texas oil company. Canadians are wondering, when will the Liberals go back to the future?
View Pat Kelly Profile
View Pat Kelly Profile
2018-05-22 17:31 [p.19472]
Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak to Bill C-76, a bill that would, among other things, make changes to the way political parties, election candidates, and third parties could spend money both before and during elections.
Spending limits on candidates and parties for elections is not new. These have been around for decades. Contribution limits are a little more recent. Many Canadians remember the days when political fundraising was wide open. There was a time when political parties could hold a dinner in Toronto and banks, law firms, and lobbyists could buy tables at $10,000 a pop, paying for them with company money, and perhaps even deducting the cost as a business expense, which it was, rather than as a political contribution.
Eventually, successive governments changed the rules to diffuse political financial support away from Bay Street and toward individual Canadians, more typically motivated by personal conviction, as it should be, rather than by self-interest.
It was the Chrétien government that brought in the first contribution limits. With the Federal Accountability Act of 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper reduced the limit to $1,500 per person and banned contributions from corporations, unions, and charities. Later, he also got rid of the per-vote subsidy, recognizing that paying political parties for each vote rigs the system in favour of perpetuating the winner.
Another thing Prime Minister Harper did was tell his cabinet that he would not tolerate fundraising by his ministers from stakeholder groups that had dealings with their own departments. In other words, he would not tolerate cash for access fundraising.
The reason I bring up this brief history of political party fundraising is that the most important aspect of Bill C-76 is the way it would deal with election and pre-election spending.
The environment this bill is tabled in cannot be separated from the spending and fundraising environment the present governing party finds itself in. Make no mistake, the Liberals have struggled to raise money in the post-corporate-donation and post-per-vote-subsidy era, while at the same time, they have greatly benefited from spending by third parties. Some third parties are virtually Liberal proxies, and others are foreign entities with an agenda hostile to Canada's best interests.
When elected, the first thing these Liberals did was start holding these secret cash for access fundraisers, and we are not talking about a one-off. We are talking about a fundraising system wherein a significant part of Liberal fundraising relied on these kinds of events.
When the media and opposition parties criticized this practice over a period of months, the government House leader said, at least some 200 times in this House, that Canada's fundraising laws are among the strictest anywhere in the world. I agree with her. We have already mentioned this. I agree with her that the fundraising rules are strict. The problem is that the Liberals have tried to get around the rules, to get around the spirit, and in some cases the actual letter, of the existing elections law and fundraising practices.
Here are today debating Bill C-76, knowing that Canada, as she has said, already has very strict fundraising rules that make it very difficult to raise money any way other than through small donations from individual Canadians motivated by support for a party's ideas or its candidates.
What can a party in government do when it cannot raise enough money on the strength of its ideas and when it is carrying around the weight of its own dubious track record? When it is struggling to raise money, it can do two things: limit expenditures by political parties; or make it easier for third-party proxies, who are not subject to the same rules as a political party, and have these third parties do its job for it.
This bill would enable both of these things to happen. On the expenditures side, this bill would create a pre-writ expense restriction, which would help the Liberals, who are struggling to raise money. At the same time, this bill would allow registered third parties a similar cap during the pre-writ period, but then it would nearly double the amount these third parties could spend during the writ period itself, while doing nothing, absolutely zero, to address the broader issue of how foreign funding of registered third parties distorts our democracy.
This is the most important part of the bill. At an absolute minimum, the changes to the spending rules contained in Bill C-76 are a cynical attempt to compensate for the Liberals' inability to raise money on their own. At worst, this bill represents a wilful refusal to deal with attempts by foreigners to influence Canadian elections. The bill contains token lip service to the problem by creating a pre-writ election period in the summer before a scheduled fall election and by banning foreign contributions by third parties during that time. This bill would create an expense limit during that time, which, by the way, for third parties, would be nearly the same limit a political party would have. The government will, no doubt, claim that it has now addressed the problem by doing so, but nothing could be further from the truth. This bill would nearly double the amount third parties could spend during the writ itself, and again, would do absolutely nothing to address the much more serious problem of the way foreign organizations are undermining Canadian democracy.
How serious is the issue of foreign-funded third parties in our elections? How do we know that foreign interests are exerting influence in Canada's elections? The answer is simple. We know this because registered third parties that receive millions of dollars in foreign money openly bragged about their success in influencing the outcome of the last election. In the case of the Tides Foundation, which is the foreign paymaster of at least eight domestic third parties that campaigned in the last election, it openly states that its agenda is to shut down Canada's resource industry. Likewise, it claims credit for the substantial success that anti-energy agenda is currently enjoying under the current government.
Take the example of Leadnow. That is an organization funded by the anti-Canadian Tides Foundation. It boasts about the role it played in defeating the previous government. Its own published report following the 2015 election claimed, “We selected target ridings with field teams run by paid Leadnow organizers”. This post-election “Defeating Harper” report went on to detail how it systematically targeted ridings based on detailed, extensive, and expensive professional polling research and focused its attention on those critical ridings. It further took credit for the defeat of Conservative candidates in 26 out of 29 targeted seats and for having a 96% success rate for its endorsed candidates.
There is no mystery. It received foreign money and is bragging about how effective it was in using it to pay organizers to help defeat the previous government. This is not a conspiracy theory. It is not speculation. Foreign-funded third parties are out there bragging about how effective they are at influencing election outcomes.
If the Liberal government agrees that such interference is a problem, or if it is in any way uncomfortable with the prospect of foreign money compromising the integrity of Canadian elections, it should have used the opportunity before it to actually engage in meaningful reform of how third parties engage with the public during and between elections. The government could have, for example, made registered third parties subject to audit between elections. It could have banned foreign contributions altogether by making it an offence for a third party that participates in an election campaign to receive money between elections instead of simply during the summer pre-writ period.
The government could prevent third parties from colluding to defeat the intent of the law. It could reduce, instead of increase, the limit on third parties during the writ period.
However, the Liberals have chosen not to do any of these things, because these Liberals have proven over and over again how much they prefer a rigged game when it comes to elections. They are the same Liberals who wasted enormous energy on their absurd electoral reform program, which they actually used to suck in various activist groups like Leadnow, Fair Vote Canada, some union groups, and The Council of Canadians. They used that issue to gain support from these third parties and then did absolutely nothing to follow through on their promise. These are the same Liberals who relied on secret cash for access fundraising until they were caught, the same Liberals who tried to eliminate opposition tools through standing order changes, and the same Liberals who tried to give themselves a $7-billion slush fund through their so-called estimates reform. They are the same Liberals who are now trying to compensate for their failure to raise money through this bill.
View Romeo Saganash Profile
Mr. Speaker, despite what the parliamentary secretary is telling us today, this project has been strongly opposed by indigenous communities from the outset. The only answer the federal government will give them is that it did historic consultations. Those consultations were purely symbolic and were rigged in advance.
What is the use of saying that its most important relationship is its relationship with indigenous communities if the government does not respect their fundamental rights under section 35 of our Constitution?
View Guy Caron Profile
Mr. Speaker, when on the one hand first nations groups are told that no decision has been made in regard to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and on the other hand and at the same time, a top government official instructs her staff “to give cabinet a legally-sound basis for saying 'yes'” to pipelines, we can safely conclude that first nations were deceived by the government. We can also conclude that the whole process was rigged and that approval of the pipelines was in the cards all along.
Is the minister denying it?
View Guy Caron Profile
Mr. Speaker, I feel awful, because I can see that the Prime Minister is not reading from a sheet of paper on this issue.
I would like to address a very serious concern, which is that the government's review of the Kinder Morgan pipeline project was rigged from the get-go. We are worried, because we know that Kinder Morgan lobbied the government more than 36 times in 2016 to try to get the green light on this project.
Our leader, Jagmeet Singh, and I have asked the Prime Minister for full disclosure of all the documents related to the approval. Will he agree to be fully transparent and release those documents?
View Nathan Cullen Profile
View Nathan Cullen Profile
2018-04-25 14:34 [p.18734]
Mr. Speaker, there is no way he even believes that anymore.
This whole fiasco of an approval process is looking more rigged than a Russian election. The Prime Minister promised the people of Alberta a credible process. He broke that promise. He promised the people of British Columbia meaningful consultation with first nations. He broke that promise too. Many people suspected the fix was in from the beginning, that the decision had already been made, and now we have the proof from leaked papers from his own administration.
If the Prime Minister wants to regain a scintilla of trust that he once commanded in the country, will he reveal all the Kinder Morgan papers once and for all?
View Guy Caron Profile
Mr. Speaker, we now have a media report claiming that the process to approve Kinder Morgan was rigged, following lobbying from a Texas oil company. The report quotes government officials as saying that after the resources minister met with Kinder Morgan, the government rushed the review process and instructed staff to find “a legally sound basis to say 'yes'” to the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Was the Prime Minister aware that members of his government pressured officials to rush the review and produce a positive result for Kinder Morgan?
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
2018-02-08 13:29 [p.16942]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the fantastic member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, our new agriculture critic, who brings his perspective from Vancouver Island, which is well needed in this House.
I am very pleased to speak to the NDP motion which asks that the government keep its promise to cap the stock option deduction loophole and take aggressive action to combat tax havens, and that the House call on the government to respect that resolution by ensuring that both measures are included in budget 2018.
There is no questioning the fact that all over the world, aside from climate change, poverty is the biggest problem humanity faces today. For over 50 years, New Democrats have consistently warned of the growing inequality in Canada between the haves and the have nots, between the 99% and the 1%.
Sixty-five years ago, people and corporations contributed equal amounts of income tax to the Canadian government. In 2015-16, Canadians paid $145 billion in income tax, while corporations paid $41 billion. We have gone way off track on tax fairness inside our country, and we are not seeing investment. We are not seeing our country grow from the model we currently find ourselves in.
By 11 a.m. on January 2, Canada's top-paid CEOs had already earned what the average Canadian earns in a year. In other words, the top Canadian CEOs earn more in a day and a half than millions of hard-working Canadians will take home in a full year. Canada's top CEOs earn 200 times the average person's salary. It is understood there will be more money being made by those sitting in CEO roles, but this has become extreme. When on the other end there is extreme poverty, we, as a country, have to take measures to address this. The Liberal government needs to take this issue seriously.
There are two Canadian billionaires who possess the same amount of wealth as 11 million Canadians. Eleven million Canadians are struggling. Greater numbers than that are struggling and for two people to be able to live their lives in extreme comfort is unacceptable.
The governing parties in Canada have often tried to portray themselves as fighting for the vulnerable in our society, but they continually pass legislation, create budgets, sign trade deals, or make backroom deals that ensure those who hold the power and wealth in our country, who have always held the power and wealth in our country, keep it and grow.
What have the Liberals been up to instead? They have gone after farmers and small business owners. They have failed to stop Revenue Canada's move to tax employee discounts, something on which we are still getting calls in our constituency offices on a weekly basis. These are people who earn minimum wage or people who receive this benefit as part of their wage package. We have signed trade deals with investor-state dispute settlement provisions that ensure power and profits stay in the hands of the wealthy elite and actually bypass the court system in Canada.
The finance minister, instead of eliminating precarious work, said to Canadians and our youth that they will just have to get used to it, to just accept it, that this is the way it is going to be. That is unacceptable to me and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party. What does it say to taxpayers, constituents, people in our communities when CEOs avoid paying their fair share while ordinary citizens have to play by the rules? It sends a message that the rules of this game are rigged completely against them.
I find it laughable that the Liberal government's two major champions of the middle class have no idea what that actually means. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance certainly have no idea what it means to struggle to pay the bills. They are extremely disconnected from the lives of Canadians. Saying that our country is improving and doing so well does not actually trickle down to Canadians in their everyday lives. That is not the lived experience of Canadians today in our country, regardless of what those numbers say.
New Democrats have always fought for and defended low-income families. As a matter of fact, there are many families in our communities right now who have no wage, who are relying on social safety nets because they are simply unable to find work. There are seniors who are now having to look for and go back to work because they cannot afford to live on what the government is providing them today. As New Democrats we know this inequality is completely unacceptable and we fight against that entitlement.
I want to talk a bit about my riding of Essex in southwestern Ontario and what poverty looks like for the people I know in the five municipalities I represent. My constituents are some of the hardest hit when it comes to poverty. According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, Windsor-Essex had the highest percentage of children growing up in low-income families in Canada, at 24%. This means that one in four children under the age of 17 in Essex is living in poverty. Their parents cannot afford to keep the lights on or pay the grocery bills. They are calling or coming to my office every single day. They are in tears, distraught, because they are struggling so badly under the way our current system is working.
The United Way of Windsor-Essex and the University of Windsor's Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research mapped this data. It shows increasing poverty concentrations in my communities, such as Lakeshore, Harrow, and downtown Essex. These are rural communities. These are very small communities. There is an increasing number of seniors in our communities. My constituency office cannot keep up with the need, nor can my provincial counterpart.
Incomes are shrinking. Investors and small businesses are leaving, and services are no longer available. I will not even begin to describe the transportation challenges that exist in rural communities, because they are very significant and quite a barrier to people being able to access their daily needs.
Fifteen to 20 years ago, Windsor had some of the highest per capita income levels, due to the strength of our manufacturing sector. The provision of these good-paying, unionized jobs really sustained our communities. The research that was done shows that 25% to 40% of young people will not be able to pull themselves out of this destructive cycle of growing up in poverty. The one in four children already growing up in poverty will likely not be able to get themselves out of that cycle. I promise that it is not for a lack of trying or wanting something better. It is simply that there are so many barriers in front of them for them to achieve success.
I am proud of the United Way of Windsor-Essex. It has been running a pilot program to help youth who are impoverished to ensure they can make it through high school, because they are dropping out at a large rate in order to support their families. This is incredibly important.
My colleague from Victoria spoke earlier about the concept of identified money versus money actually captured. I think of the money we could capture, money that could go back into ensuring that in my riding of Essex we no longer have children living in poverty.
I implore the Liberals to think back on the motion they supported, where we would end this practice, and to look forward to budget 2018, where we can improve the lives of Canadians with the money we could potentially have.
My colleagues have spoken eloquently about the need for a pharmacare program in our country. It could be funded by the money we could repatriate. If we could get this money, Canadians would no longer have to struggle or decide between buying their medication or paying their hydro bills.
I mentioned seniors. The budget could increase the GIS. The GIS boost that seniors received of $1,000 a year for our most impoverished seniors has not dramatically changed their lives. We need to go further for seniors in our country. Seniors are feeling left out by the Liberal government. There certainly have been moves toward families, but our seniors have been left behind. Although we saw the movement toward improving CPP for my teenage children, which I am appreciative of, we need to improve CPP today for our seniors who are living in poverty.
There are many things we could be doing with this money. New Democrats are big thinkers. We are happy to provide the government with ideas on ways that we think Canadians' lives could benefit by getting this money, but we need the government to act, not just talk about what it is going to do.
We need it to act on this immediately. We heard the Minister of National Revenue talk about her efforts. Her efforts are not returning results, and we have to question that when we look at the moves other countries have made.
New Democrats will continue to fight for tax fairness in our country.
View Don Davies Profile
View Don Davies Profile
2018-02-08 16:41 [p.16973]
Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to rise to speak in support of this motion moved by my colleague, the hon member for New Westminster—Burnaby, which reads as follows:
That the House recall its resolution adopted March 8, 2017, which asked the government to keep its promise to cap the stock option deduction loophole and to take aggressive action to combat tax havens, and that the House call on the government to respect that vote by ensuring that both measures are included in Budget 2018.
I, on behalf of the good people of Vancouver Kingsway, rise to state my full support for the motion and urge all members of the House to support it. Frankly, reading the motion, it is going to be difficult to understand how any member of the House can vote against it, but we will see what happens when it comes to a vote.
From a general philosophical point of view, I want to start by saying that we as parliamentarians are elected by the people of our ridings to come here to Ottawa to pass laws for the governance of Canada. When we do so, a question that is with us every day is this: what are the fundamental underlying principles and objectives and values that ought to come into play when we discharge those duties?
First and foremost, one of our most sacred obligations here as parliamentarians entrusted with the governance of our country is to make sure that the citizens of our country are safe and secure. Safety of course starts from a basic physical point of view. We want to make sure that every person in this country has the right to fully embrace the rights afforded by our Constitution and that are given in a free and democratic society such as Canada, and that they do so with their physical integrity completely intact.
At the same time, I do not think safety and security are limited just to the physical realm. I know that I, as a member of the New Democratic Party, come here with a very fundamental commitment to the concept that all citizens of this country also have a right to live their lives with a decent security of person, economically, socially, and culturally as well.
One of the fundamental issues in society and one of our fundamental obligations as parliamentarians is to pass laws and take measures that have, as their uppermost consideration, the welfare of our citizens. The ability of each individual in our country, every man, woman, and child, and people who identify in every expression in between, to achieve a decent standard of living is something that we as Canadians are proud of. We believe that every single person in this country should have a minimum standard of living as a feature of the dignity of living in a modern democratic advanced society.
At least we in the New Democratic Party understand the critical role that government plays in that. We wholly respect that the market is a critical part of our economy and delivers many things in an efficient and effective way that only the market can do. The full breadth of consumer items, the services that Canadians rely on, the innovation, creation, and production of all of the gamut of commodities and services and resources that Canadians treasure and that are a part and parcel of a modern economy in the 21st century are adequately provided by our market.
However, we in the New Democrats fundamentally understand that the market does not produce everything. There are some things that the market cannot do effectively or efficiently. It cannot produce housing for every single person. The market cannot make sure that every single child is educated in this country. I am not just saying that as a matter of philosophy. Anybody who understands history will know that left completely to the marketplace, which is motivated by the underlying profit criterion, capital will flow to where it is most profitably applied.
There are victims of that. There are people who, for various reasons, whether they are poor, disabled, or whether the vagaries of life's circumstances have put them in that place, are not able to prosper or compete, and they get left behind. That is where the role of government and the state come in. Most Canadians want a strong government that will fill in those gaps that the market cannot provide, and will help provide the standard of living that we want every single citizen in this country to achieve.
The government provides health care, education, and social programs, things like employment insurance, to be a social safety net to catch people when, through no fault of their own, they find themselves out of work, whether by technological change or by business failure. Social programs include worker's compensation for workers who through no fault of their own get hurt at work and are unable to work any longer. Social programs assist them, so that they are not cast upon the heap of poverty. We as a society recognize that there has to be a safety net for people like that.
We as a country of immigrants, and I dare say everybody, other than the indigenous members of this House, can trace our roots to immigrants at one point or another who have received support of some type to integrate, because we recognize that people need some assistance to fully integrate into society. We recognize that this basic financial protection and standard of living we want for everyone in this country is actually a foundation that makes meaningful participation in our democracy possible.
People cannot fully exercise their rights as citizens in this country to pursue their dreams, careers, and participate in our democratic traditions if they do not have their fundamental needs met, things like basic housing, enough food, and basic clothing, the essential ingredients that make meaningful participation in our society possible.
The question then becomes, how does the government fund these programs? How much money must the government raise in order to adequately provide the funds to discharge those responsibilities that I think everybody in the New Democratic Party believes every citizen deserves? The second question is, how do we raise that money, and from whom? These raise fundamental questions as to why we are here as parliamentarians, and strike at the heart of government and what we do.
The motion here touches on those fundamental questions in the following way. It calls on the government to act on a promise it made to Canadians in the 2015 election, where the Prime Minister and other Liberal candidates, who ran for office, told the electors in their ridings that if they were elected, if they received the trust of those voters, that they would come to this place and address an issue of inequity in our tax system.
What they said they would do is close or cap the stock option loophole, and take aggressive action to combat tax havens. In keeping with this, once the Liberal government was elected, 2015 and 2016 passed with little or no action on those promises.
That led the New Democrats to move a motion last year, which was passed in this House on March 8, 2017, almost a full year ago. It asked the government to address tax loopholes that primarily benefit the wealthy, including keeping that Liberal campaign promise of closing the stock option deduction loophole. It also called on the government to crack down on the use of tax havens by tightening rules for shell companies, renegotiating tax treaties that let companies repatriate profits from tax havens to Canada tax free, and ending penalty free amnesty deals for individuals suspected of tax evasion.
I am going to stop there and talk about the broader context. We are seeing two worlds in Canada. The world for most Canadians is becoming increasingly unaffordable. It involves more precarious work, and it is a harder place in which to get by.
In the riding I represent and come from, in Vancouver, an entire generation is unable to house themselves. Young people, students, young families, seniors, and middle-class families are being driven out of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. They are being driven out of places like Victoria, and not because they want to. They have lived in these communities, made careers there, and had family there, but they are being driven out, because they cannot afford to locate any kind of housing that is affordable, whether to own or rent. That story is replicating itself in communities across the country, including the GTA and other places.
People in their 20s will say that with every year that passes it is increasingly difficult to find permanent, full-time jobs that have pensions and pay benefits, like people of my generation, once counted on as a matter of course. Instead, they are faced with part-time jobs, temporary jobs, jobs with no benefits, jobs that are, as we call them, precarious. This is the reality for people.
On a global scale, Oxfam released a study recently that said that 82% of the global wealth that was created last year went to the top 1%, and that fully 50%, half of the human beings walking on this earth, 3.5 billion human beings, received 0% of that wealth. Not only is there inequity in our society but the trend is getting worse.
The other world from the one I just described that most Canadians live in is one that could be described as an exclusive club for the wealthy, who get special access and are exempt from many of the rules the rest of Canadians play by. Tax avoidance and tax evasion by the rich undermine faith in our society and our democracy by starving social programs and public services. They send a message to ordinary citizens that the rules of the economic game do not work for them and are, in fact, rigged against them. I believe it will take strong political will to reverse the trend of rising inequality, which began decades ago, and has continued under both Conservative and Liberal governments.
Interestingly, the Liberals voted in favour of the motion that I spoke of that New Democrats moved in the House last March. Since then, not only have they failed to act on it but, increasingly, they have signed tax haven treaties with other countries like Cook Islands, Antigua, Barbuda, and Grenada. With the budget approaching, we think it is time for the Liberals to keep their promise.
I will throw out a few other statistics that describe the reality for people in Canada. By 11 a.m., on January 2, Canada's top paid CEOs had already earned what the average Canadian earns in a year. In other words, the top paid Canadian CEOs earn more in a day and a half than millions of hard-working Canadians will take home in a full year.
Canada's top CEOs earn 200 times the average person's salary, which, incidentally, places Canada in a very rarified crowd that is way out of proportion to the gaps in other countries between the wealthiest and the poor. Two Canadian billionaires possess the same amount of wealth as 11 million Canadians. The top 20% of Canadians in 2016 owned 67% of all wealth or net worth in Canada, and over four million Canadians, including 1.15 million children, live in homes that struggle to put food on the table every day.
In light of this, Canada has a tax code that is full of loopholes, after decades of Conservative and Liberal stewardship of our tax system, that benefit Canada's wealthiest, but leave most hard-working Canadians behind.
The Liberals have failed to fix tax loopholes or address tax havens that primarily benefit the wealthy. The last time I checked, the working people in my riding did not have bank accounts in Luxembourg, Canary Islands, or Bahamas. Liberals are, instead, embracing former Prime Minister Harper's corporate tax approach, and are putting the private interests of their wealthy few ahead of everyday Canadians who are struggling to get ahead.
I will briefly mention a few facts about tax loopholes.
A study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives showed that 59 tax measures that mostly benefit people with above-average income levels cost the government more than $100 billion in 2011 in foregone tax revenue. The wealth of the ultra-rich in Canada includes salaries, bonuses, share grants, and stock options, and those are aided by these loopholes. We now know these very people also aggressively lobbied the Liberal government to keep those loopholes in place, obviously so they could further grow and protect their wealth. One such loophole is the stock option deduction, which allows those that have stock options to have the revenue created by that stock option taxed at a highly preferential rate.
There was at one time a commission in this country that looked at tax fairness. I still remember the conclusion after it talked to many Canadians and examined our tax system as a whole. Its conclusion was this: a dollar is a dollar is a dollar. Its recommendation was that a dollar earned ought to be taxed the same way for everybody.
A worker who goes to work every day and puts in eight hours and gets paid by salary or by hourly wage at the end of the week gets taxed on that dollar. A CEO who works and makes a vastly increased income should have that income taxed in the same way that the worker does. That, however, is not the way the system works in this country. Instead, perversely, ironically, and most unjustly, people who make the most amount of money pay the least amount of tax on the money that they earned in these cases. That is what today's motion is calling on the government to fix.
In terms of tax havens, tax evasion, which is always illegal, involves the non-declaration or falsification of tax-related information in order to evade paying one's fair share of taxes. Tax avoidance, on the other hand, involves specific transactions to lower the amount of tax payable as a result of a technical reading or application of the law.
In this case, while it may be technically legal it goes against the spirit of Canada's tax laws for Canadians who are wealthy to use tax havens, which are jurisdictions with very low tax rates or other tax incentives that are used to basically wash money that is earned in Canada so it is paid at a lower tax rate and then those profits are repatriated to our country. These are the kinds of mechanisms that are available to a small percentage of Canadians in this country and it starves the government of revenue that ought to be paid here, which would then be used to address those fundamental obligations that I described at the beginning of my speech.
What could we do with that money? The Liberal government has a policy choice here. It can continue to favour ultra-wealthy people and allow them to make use of these tax havens and tax loopholes to keep the bulk of that revenue for themselves, or it can close these loopholes. It can address these tax havens to make sure that income pays its legitimate fair share in Canada to the government. That will result in billions of dollars coming to the federal government that can then be used for other things.
From New Democrats' point of view, we would urge the government to do that and here is what we would urge the government to do with those billions of dollars. We could pay for a national pharmacare program. We could pay for a national dental care program. We could make sure that every family in this country has access to affordable, secure, quality day care for every single child. We could lower tuition rates for students in this country so that we make sure that the next generation of young people can achieve an education that is not only important for their dreams and aspirations but actually is the foundation of our economic growth.
We could implement what New Democrats have been calling for for a decade and that is a national housing program. The federal government could once again re-enter the housing field in this country and start to build tens of thousands of co-operative units, fund social housing for seniors, for young families, for low income individuals, for the special needs community. The federal government has been absent from housing in this country since 1992.
I want to conclude by talking about integrity in the process. The Liberals told Canadians that if they were elected they would close the stock option loophole in 2015. Now they are saying they will not do it.
An hon. member: No, we didn't.
Mr. Don Davies: I hear a member say they did not do it, Madam Speaker. Any Canadian can read the Liberal platform.
The Liberals said they would bring in electoral reform. When the government of Brian Mulroney took CMHC out of the social housing field, the Liberals promised Canadians in their little red book in 1993 that they would restore that and then they broke that promise. They broke it in 1993, 1997, 2001, 2004, and 2006.
Here we are a generation later, and the federal government has been out of the social housing game for basically 25 years. The government's response is that it will get back into it, but the bulk of the money will flow in 2022.
It is time to put integrity back into politics. I am calling on the government to keep its promise and close this loophole.
View Don Davies Profile
View Don Davies Profile
2018-02-08 17:06 [p.16976]
Madam Speaker, there were two very important points mentioned. The first I would like to talk about how toxic it is to a democracy to have political parties that completely renege on their campaign promises once elected. That creates a cynicism and distrust in government that goes far beyond just partisan purposes. It actually eats at the very fabric of our democracy.
There is a cost to our democracy when the Liberal government says that it will bring in caps on the stock option loophole, then says it will not do that; when it says it will bring in electoral reform, that 2015 will be the last election under first past the post, then says it will not do that.
It has been said in this place and elsewhere that the problem with Conservatives is that they do exactly what they say they are going to do, and the problem with Liberals is that they never do what they say they are going to do. Both those approaches need to be looked at in the House.
I want to talk about the second issue my colleague raises. Fundamentally, our tax system is based on an honour system. Our tax system is based on people who fill out their tax returns honestly and they declare all forms of income honestly. This is a very important feature of our country. If the citizens of our country feel that the system is rigged and that the wealthy are not paying their fair share, we could risk having a situation where poor working-class and middle-class people start not declaring their income honestly. Then we risk a real crisis. That happens in places like Greece and other countries, where there is a buildup of a black market—
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-02-01 15:48 [p.16658]
Mr. Speaker, we also have another really important piece of electoral reform legislation that has received first reading in this place, but has not yet gone to committee, which is Bill C-33. It would do away with a lot of what was done under the previous administration's, what we called, the unfair elections act. It has a lot of really good provisions in it to bring back the rights of the Chief Electoral Officer to communicate with Canadians and educate Canadians. It has a really cool provision to allow young people at age 16 to be registered to vote, so they are already registered by the time they turn 18. I would love to see something in there, and we could go back to that when it gets to committee. What former Prime Minister Harper did in the unfair elections act was create, for the first time, additional money, depending on how long the writ lasted.
We had a very long writ period in 2005. My friends here with the memory will remember that on November 28, 2005, the Liberal government of Paul Martin fell, but the election was not until later in January. There was the feeling that between Christmas and Hanukkah there had to be some time allotted. However, that was in the days before we had additional spending limits during a writ period. Stephen Harper changed it so parties could get more money back by having a longer writ period. That election campaign went from August 3 to late October.
I agree entirely with my friend. I do not know that we want to put a hard cap on the length of an election. There may be reasons we would want to extend it, like if a government falls right before Christmas, as in the case of the November 28, 2005, fall of the government. However, we need to ensure that long writ periods are not an excuse to get more money from taxpayers because the game has already been rigged so parties can spend more money and get more money. The party that had the most money at the time engineered those changes.
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