Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Carol Hughes Profile

Question No. 2477--
Mr. Brad Trost:
With regard to the Investments to Combat the Criminal Use of Firearms (ICCUF): (a) what has been the total cumulative federal actual spending on ICCUF since its inception; (b) what are the total number of firearm prosecutions initiated; and (c) what are the total number of successful firearm prosecutions?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2480--
Mr. Brad Trost:
With regard to the total number of serving RCMP officers in each province for each year since 2001: (a) how many were charged with a criminal offence that were (i) violent, (ii) non-violent; (b) how many were convicted of these crimes that were (i) violent, (ii) non-violent; (c) of those charged with these crimes, how many remained on active duty, broken down by crimes that were (i) violent, (ii) non-violent; and (d) how many lost their jobs as a result of these criminal charges that were (i) violent, (ii) non-violent?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2485--
Mr. Ben Lobb:
With regard to corrections to government websites since January 1, 2016: (a) how many corrections have been made to erroneous, incorrect, or false information placed on government websites; and (b) what are the details of each correction, including the (i) website address, (ii) information which had to be corrected, (iii) corrected information?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2486--
Mr. Ben Lobb:
With regard to Access to Information Requests received since January 1, 2016, broken down by department, agency, Crown corporation, or other government entity: (a) how many requests required extensions in excess of (i) 180 days, (ii) one year, (iii) two years; (b) in how many cases was the information released in the time period noted in the original extension letter sent to the requestor; (c) in how many cases did the government fail to provide the documents in the time period set out in the original extension letter sent to the requestor; and (d) what is the longest extension for requests currently being processed, broken down by each department, agency, Crown corporation, or other government entity?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2487--
Mr. Bob Zimmer:
With regard to concerns raised by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada about information shared on Facebook: (a) what specific safeguards does each department and agency have in place to ensure that information individuals share with government entities on Facebook is not exploited; (b) does any government department or agency collect information obtained through Facebook, including on interactions individuals have with the government on Facebook and, if so, what are the details, including (i) type of information collected, (ii) number of individuals who have had information collected since January 1, 2016; and (c) what specific action, if any, has each department or agency taken to safeguard information since the concerns were raised by the Commissioner?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2488--
Mr. Scott Reid:
With regard to the establishment of the Canadian Drug Agency proposed in Budget 2019: (a) where is the Canadian Drug Agency, or the transition office set up to create the Agency, located; (b) will the Agency be a stand-alone Agency or a division of Health Canada; (c) how many employees or full-time equivalents are currently assigned to the Agency or the establishment of the Agency; (d) which government official is responsible for overseeing the creation of the Agency; and (e) what are the details of all consultations the government has conducted in relation to the Agency, including (i) name of organization, individual, or provincial government consulted, (ii) date, (iii) type of consultation, (iv) results of consultation?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2489--
Mr. Dave Van Kesteren:
With regard to materials prepared for Ministers between January 1, 2019, and May 1, 2019: for every briefing document or docket prepared, what is the (i) date, (ii) title or subject matter, (iii) department’s internal tracking number?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2490--
Mr. Dave Van Kesteren:
With regard to materials prepared for Ministerial exempt staff members between January 1, 2019, and May 1, 2019: for every briefing document or docket prepared, what is the (i) date, (ii) title or subject matter, (iii) recipient, (iv) department’s internal tracking number?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2491--
Mr. Arnold Viersen:
With regard to the government’s sale of assets over $1,000 since January 1, 2016: (a) what were the assets sold, specifying (i) the asset sale price, (ii) the name of the purchaser, (iii) whether multiple bids were received, (iv) for what amount the asset was purchased by the government, (v) the reason for the sale; (b) was a third party used for the sale and, if so, (i) what is the name of the third party, (ii) was this contract tendered or not; (c) in the case where a third party was used, how much was the third party paid for their services; (d) for the government’s sale of stocks, (i) how much of the stock was sold, (ii) how much does the government still hold; (e) for sale of privately held companies in which the government held a position, (i) does the government still hold a position in the company, (ii) did the government have a market assessment done before the sale and, if so, by whom, (iii) what was the difference in the amount the government projected from the sale and the actual amount received; (f) how much income did the asset bring in during the year prior to its sale; and (g) how much was spent marketing the sale of each asset?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2492--
Mr. Deepak Obhrai:
With regard to each expenditure contained in each budget or budget implementation bill since fiscal year 2016-17, inclusively: (a) has the Department of Finance done an economic impact analysis of the expenditure; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, what is the date, name and file number of any record which constitutes part of that analysis; (c) has the Department of Finance relied on any economic impact analysis of any organization outside government on the expenditure or not; (d) if the answer to (c) is affirmative, (i) which organizations analysed the measure, (ii) what is the date, name and file number of any record obtained from that organization which constitutes part of that analysis; and (e) what were the findings of each analysis in (b) and (d), broken down by expenditure?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2493--
Mr. Deepak Obhrai:
With regard to government advertising since January 1, 2016: (a) how much has been spent on billboards, advertising and other information campaigns, broken down by (i) date released, (ii) cost, (iii) topic, (iv) whether any analysis of the effectiveness of the advertising campaign was carried out and, if so, the details of that analysis, (v) medium, including publication or media outlet and type of media used, (vi) purpose, (vii) duration of campaign (including those that are ongoing), (viii) targeted audience, (ix) estimated audience; and (b) what are the details of all records of related correspondence regarding the aforementioned billboards, advertising and other information campaigns broken down by (i) relevant file numbers, (ii) correspondence or file type, (iii) subject, (iv) date, (v) purpose, (vi) origin, (vii) intended destination, (viii) other officials copied or involved?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2494--
Mr. Scott Reid:
With regard to penitentiary farms, and agriculture and agri-food employment operations of CORCAN: (a) in what agriculture and agri-food employment operations are offenders at the Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions presently engaged, and in what numbers, broken down by location; (b) in what agriculture and agri-food employment operations are offenders at the Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions planned to engage in 2019 and 2020 respectively, and in what numbers, broken down by location; (c) are offenders at the Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions engaged, or will they be engaged, in agriculture and agri-food employment operations, at any time, off of Correctional Service of Canada premises and, if so, to what extent, at what locations, by whom are those locations managed, in what numbers, and for what purposes, listed by location; (d) does Correctional Service of Canada or CORCAN have any contracts or relationships, with respect to labour provided through agriculture and agri-food employment operations at the Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions, with Feihe International or Feihe Canada Royal Milk and, if so, when were they engaged, for what purpose, for what length of time, under what conditions, for what locations, and how will offenders at the Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions be involved and to what extent, broken down by contract or relationship; (e) does the Correctional Service of Canada or CORCAN have any supply agreements, with respect to products generated by agriculture and agri-food employment operations at the Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions, with Feihe International or Feihe Canada Royal Milk and, if so, when were they engaged, for what purpose, for what length of time, under what conditions, for what locations, and how will offenders at the Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions be involved and to what extent, broken down by agreement; (f) of the $4.3 million allocated over five years in Budget 2018 for agriculture and agri-food employment operations at penitentiary farms, how much has been spent, at what locations, and for what purposes, broken down by fiscal year; and (g) what funds have been spent from Correctional Service of Canada's capital budget on infrastructure, equipment, and improvements to penitentiary farm and agriculture and agri-food employment facilities at the Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions, at what locations, and for what purposes, broken down by fiscal year since 2015?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2495--
Mr. Scott Reid:
With regard to Parks Canada water level management: (a) on the last occasion in June, July, or August 2018, for which data is available when a 12 inch stop log was removed from the Bobs Lake Dam, (i) what was the maximum water level increase (in centimetres) measured at Beveridge Dam, Lower Rideau Lake, and Poonamalie Locks, respectively, (ii) what was the period of time before the maximum water level increase was registered at Beveridge Dam, Lower Rideau Lake, and Poonamalie Locks, respectively; (b) what are the water levels on Christie Lake, in 5 centimetre increments, from 154.5 metres to 156 metres above mean sea level (MAMSL) in relation to the rates of water flow, in cubic meters per second (CMPS), leaving Christie Lake at Jordan’s Bridge (at the east end of Christie lake); (c) what are the water flow rates on Christie Lake, in Cubic Metres per Second, leaving the Bobs Lake dam, less the out flow rates at Jordan’s Bridge, in 0.5 CMPS increments, in relation to the rate of water level rise, expressed in Millimetres per Hour; (d) how will the new Bobs Lake Dam be managed to mitigate upstream and downstream flooding and the potential resultant environmental and property damage; (e) what have been the daily water levels, from January 1, 2000 to the present date, for each of (i) Bobs Lake, (ii) Christie Lake, (iii) Beveridge Dam, (iv) Lower Rideau Lake; (f) what have been the daily maximum water flow rates, in cubic meters per second, for each of (i) Bobs Lake, (ii) Christie Lake, (iii) Beveridge Dam?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2496--
Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:
With regard to government contracts awarded to IBM since January 1, 2016: (a) how many sole-sourced contracts have been awarded to IBM; (b) what are the descriptions of these contracts; (c) what are the dollar amounts for these contracts; and (d) what are the dates and duration of each contract?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2497--
Mr. Michael Barrett:
With regard to the government’s claim that it’s Senator selection process is “non-partisan”: how does it reconcile this claim with the Globe and Mail story which stated that “The Prime Minister’s Office acknowledges that it uses a partisan database called Liberalist to conduct background checks on prospective senators before appointing them to sit as independents”?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2498--
Mr. Blake Richards:
With regard to partnerships signed between the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Huawei since January 1, 2016: (a) what are the details of each partnership including (i) date signed, (ii) duration of partnership, (iii) terms, (iv) amount of federal financial contribution; and (b) does the Prime Minister’s National Security Advisor approve of these partnerships?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2499--
Mr. Blake Richards:
With regard to the approximately 103,000 non-citizens who were found to be on the National Register of Electors illegally: (a) how many voted in the 42nd General Election, held in 2015; (b) how many voted in each of the 338 electoral districts in the 42nd General Election; (c) how many voted in any federal by-election held since October 20, 2015; and (d) what is the breakdown of (c), by each riding where a by-election has been held?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2500--
Ms. Candice Bergen:
With regard to government commitments and the 271 commitments which, according to the Mandate Tracker, the current government has failed to complete as of May 3, 2019: (a) what is the government’s excuse or rationale for not accomplishing each of the 271 commitments not listed as completed or met, broken down by individual commitment; and (b) of the 271 commitments which have not been completed, which ones does the government anticipate completing prior to October 2019?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2501--
Mr. Scott Reid:
With respect to the West Block of Parliament: (a) is West Block subject to the Ontario Fire Code and the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, is the building subject to regular fire safety inspections, and on what dates have fire safety inspections taken place since January 2017; (b) is West Block subject to any other form of fire or safety codes or acts and, if so, what are those codes or acts, and what is the extent to which West Block is subject to each; (c) does West Block, as a whole, comply with the Ontario Fire Code and, if so, on what date was this certified; (d) is each space within West Block in compliance with the Ontario Fire Code and, if so, on what date was this certified, broken down by room or space, as applicable; (e) has each of West Block’s stairwells and exits been inspected for compliance with the Ontario Fire Code or the Fire Protection and Prevention Act and, if so, what were the details of instances where concerns, instructions, or conditions were expressed or imposed for compliance purposes; (f) is West Block, or any space or part thereof, subject to or in receipt of any exemptions or waivers to the Ontario Fire Code or the Fire Protection and Prevention Act and, if so, what are the details for each instance the location, room, or space, the subject of the exemption or waiver, the authorizing section of the Fire Code or Fire Protection and Prevention Act, the reason for the exemption or waiver, the date of application for the exemption or waiver, the date the exemption or waiver was granted, by whom the exemption or waiver was granted, any instructions or conditions that accompanied the exemption or waiver and, if applicable, the date on which the exemption or waiver expired, will expire, or was revoked; (g) has West Block, or any space or part thereof, since January 2017, had a request for an exemption or waiver denied and, if so, identify for each instance the location, room, or space, the subject of the request for exemption or waiver, the applicable section of the Fire Code or Fire Protection and Prevention Act under which the request was denied, the reason for the denial, the date requested, the date the exemption or waiver was denied, by whom it was denied, and any instructions or conditions that accompanied it; (h) what spaces in West Block have been identified as being potentially hazardous due to a likelihood of congestion in the event of a fire, evacuation, or other emergency, identifying in each instance the space, the identified hazard, the reason, and any amelioration actions or procedures that have been adopted; (i) have any complaints or concerns been received respecting West Block’s doorways, exits, stairwells, or exit, emergency, or traffic flow signage and, if so, identify in each instance the nature and details of the complaint or concern, the date on which it was received, the institutional or professional affiliation of the source of the complaint or concern, and any actions taken to ameliorate it; (j) respecting installed exit signage, which consists of overhead or high, wall-mounted rectangular signs featuring a white human figure on a green background, what requirements, guidelines, or standards governed and informed the selection, design, placement, and function of this exit signage; and (k) respecting installed exit signage, what are the reasons for using the white-on-green signage, versus red, text-based signage or other types of signage?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2502--
Mr. Don Davies:
With regard to federal government investrnents in housing, for each of the fiscal year since 2015-16: (a) what was the total amount of federal funding spent on housing in the city of Vancouver; (b) what was the total amount of federal funding spent on housing in the federal riding of Vancouver Kingsway; (c) how much funding was allocated to each of the following programs and initiatives in the city of Vancouver (i) the Rental Construction Financing initiative, (ii) Proposal Development Funding, (iii) lnvestment in Affordable Housing, (iv) Affordable Housing Innovation Fund, (v) Non-profit On-Reserve Funding, (vi) Prepayment, (vii) Reno & Retrofit CMHC, (viii) Renovation Programs On Reserve, (ix) Retrofit On-Reserve and Seed Funding; (d) how much funding was allocated to each of the following programs and initiatives in the federal riding of Vancouver Kingsway (i) the Rental Construction Financing initiative, (ii) Proposal Development Funding, (iii) lnvestment in Affordable Housing, (iv) Affordable Housing Innovation Fund, (v) Non-profit On-Reserve Funding, (vi) Prepayment, (vii) Reno & Retrofit CMHC, (viii) Renovation Programs On Reserve, (ix) Retrofit On-Reserve and Seed Funding; (e) how much federal funding was allocated to housing subsidies in the city of Vancouver for (i) Non-Profit On-Reserve Housing, (ii) Co­operative Housing, (iii) Urban Native Housing, (iv) Non-Profit Housing, (v) Index Linked, (vi) Mortgage Co­operatives, (vii) Rent Geared to Income, (viii) and Federal Community Housing Initiative; (f) how much federal funding was allocated to housing subsidies in the federal riding of Vancouver Kingsway for (i) Non­Profit On-Reserve Housing, (ii) Co-operative Housing, (iii) Urban Native Housing, (iv) Non-Profit Housing, (v) Index Linked, (vi) Mortgage Co-operatives, (vii) Rent Geared to Income, (viii) and Federal Community Housing Initiative; (g) what was the total amount of federal housing funding distributed as grants in the city of Vancouver; (h) what was the total amount of federal housing funding distributed as grants in the federal riding of Vancouver Kingsway; (i) what was the total amount of federal housing funding distributed as loans in the city of Vancouver; (j) what was the total amount of federal housing funding distributed as loans in the federal riding of Vancouver Kingsway?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2503--
Mr. Don Davies:
What is the total amount of federal government funding for each fiscal year from 2015-16 to 2019-20 allocated within the constituency of Vancouver Kingsway, broken down by (i) department or agency, (ii) initiative, (iii) amount?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2504--
Mr. Dan Albas:
With regard to the Allowance for people aged 60 to 64 program: (a) how many people receive this allowance each year; (b) how many people apply; (c) how many request are approved; (d) for the request that are denied, what are the three most common reasons invoked; (e) how many people are deemed ineligible, and what are the three most common reasons; (f) what was the total budget to deliver the program, broken down for the last five years; (g) what was actually spent in the last five years, broken down by province and territory; (h) how many full-time equivalent and part-time equivalent work directly on the program; (i) how much does the program cost to administer; (j) how is the program marketed; (k) what were the advertising costs and how much was budgeted and spent in the last five years; (l) has the government reviewed this program and, if so, what was found; and (m) for the reviews in (l), are there reports of reviews available online and, if so, where?
(Return tabled)
8555-421-2477 Investments to Combat the ...8555-421-2480 Serving RCMP officers8555-421-2485 Corrections to government ...8555-421-2486 Access to Information Requests8555-421-2487 Concerns raised by the Pri ...8555-421-2488 Establishment of the Canad ...8555-421-2489 Materials prepared for min ...8555-421-2490 Materials prepared for min ...8555-421-2491 Sale of assets8555-421-2492 Expenditure contained in e ...8555-421-2493 Government advertising
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View Bob Zimmer Profile
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 20th report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, entitled “International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy”. Indeed, it was an honour to host 10 countries representing over 400 million people in Ottawa. The first meeting was held in London, a co-effort with my co-chair Damian Collins from London. I want to thank everyone who pulled it together and made it such a great event and also all the witnesses who travelled such long distances to make it the International Grand Committee that it was.
I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 19th report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, entitled “Privacy of Digital Government Services”.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for your services over the last four years and have a great summer.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2019-06-13 15:23 [p.29070]
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to the message received from the other place with regard to Bill C-58, an act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
I would like to recognize that this is my first official duty debating a piece of legislation as Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government, who is a fabulous minister, I might add.
I also want to acknowledge the many stakeholders who were involved in getting Bill C-58 to this point, starting with our colleagues in the other place, who conducted a very thorough and thoughtful study of this bill.
I must also recognize the contributions of parliamentarians and stakeholders and particularly the contributions of the Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner in the development of Bill C-58, as well as, of course, our colleagues on the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics who worked long and hard on the amendments being proposed.
I would especially like to note the interventions of a number of indigenous organizations, their influence on the matters we are considering today and with whom the government is committed to engaging more closely on these matters in the future.
Together, the ideas and suggestions in the letters and presentations at both committees contributed to ensuring that the concerns of Canadians were taken into consideration and reflected in the final version of the bill.
I would remind the House that the bill would implement some of the most significant changes to the Access to Information Act since it was introduced more than 30 years ago, changes which have not been seen since the advent of the World Wide Web. This is part of the Government of Canada's continuing effort to raise the bar on openness and transparency.
We believe that government information ultimately belongs to the people it serves, and it should be open by default. That is quite simply a fundamental characteristic of a modern democracy, and the bill reflects that belief.
In that context, we welcome many of the proposed amendments that would further advance this objective. I would note, however, that two of the amendments would effectively legislate matters that are beyond the intent of the bill, whose purpose, I would remind the House, is to make targeted amendments to the act.
Those targeted amendments include providing the Information Commissioner with the power to make binding orders for the release of government information and the creation of a new part of the act on the proactive publication of key information.
For the reason that it goes beyond the intent of the bill, the government respectfully disagrees with the amendment that would limit time extensions to respond to a request to 30 days without prior approval of the Information Commissioner.
The government is declining this proposal because these provision have not been the subject of consultation or thorough study in the context of the targeted review that led to Bill C-58. This proposal risks having unintended consequences, particularly for the office of the Information Commissioner.
The government does agree with our friends in the other place that the time extension provisions merit further study. These will be examined as part of the full review of the act which Bill C-58 requires to begin within one year of royal assent.
For the same reason, the government respectfully disagrees with the proposal to create a new criminal offence for the use of any code, moniker or contrived word or phrase in a record in place of the name of any person, corporation, entity, third party or organization. Once again, the provisions of the Access to Information Act concerning criminal offences have not been the subject of consultation or thorough study in the targeted review. Therefore, it would be more appropriate to review changes to this provision in the context of a full review.
A third amendment of concern would require the Information Commissioner to review the operation of proposed part 2 of the act regarding proactive publication and report the results to Parliament on an annual basis. Giving the commissioner oversight of proactive publication by institutions supporting Parliament and the courts would create the potential to infringe on both parliamentary privilege and judicial independence. For this reason, the government respectfully disagrees.
It is also proposed that the Information Commissioner's ability to receive and investigate complaints related to fees and time limit extensions be removed from the act. While the government recognizes the intent of this amendment, which relates to some of the other proposals that were advanced, the commissioner's authority to receive and investigate complaints regarding waiver of fees would be removed from the act, an outcome I am certain hon. members on all sides of the House would agree is undesirable.
Similarly, as the amendment with respect to the extension of a time limit was not agreed to, we must preserve the powers of the Information Commissioner to receive complaints concerning time limits and to investigate these complaints, and therefore this amendment is not necessary.
With these few exceptions, the government is pleased to accept the proposed amendments in the message from the other chamber, subject to some technical adjustments to ensure the proper functioning of these provisions.
For example, we agree with the proposed amendment that would eliminate the government's authority to set and collect fees, apart from the application fee. As the government has committed to Canadians, it will continue to charge no fees other than the application fee of just $5.
A related amendment proposed in the message would retain the right of requesters to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner regarding decisions to waive the application fee. While the Senate amendments would have removed that right, we consider that the Information Commissioner should continue to have oversight over the way the authority to waive fees is exercised by institutions.
Some of the amendments proposed in the other place would foster and, in some cases, require more extensive consultations and better communication between the Information Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. This is paramount to continue to ensure privacy protection while the government seeks to foster more openness and better access to government documents.
The bill already provides the Information Commissioner with new power to order the release of government information. To ensure that this does not compromise the right to privacy, an amendment proposes that the Information Commissioner must consult the Privacy Commissioner before ordering a release of personal information. This amendment also proposes that the Information Commissioner have the discretion to consult the Privacy Commissioner when investigating a complaint regarding the application of the personal information exemption. Both of these and some related amendments were suggested by the commissioners themselves, and the government has previously indicated that it supports these amendments. We believe they will strengthen the protection of personal information and further safeguard Canadians' privacy rights.
The government also accepts an amendment that would retain Info Source. Government institutions will continue to be required to publish information about their organization, records and manuals. Canadians seeking to exercise their right of access to government records will continue to have access to this tool.
As hon. members are surely aware, the government processes tens of thousands of access requests each and every year. It is an unfortunate fact that in a small number of cases, the requests are made for reasons that are inconsistent with the purposes of the Act. They may be made to harass a certain employee or work unit, for example. Such requests can have a disproportionate effect on the system and slow down resources on legitimate requests.
The government agrees with the amendment from the other place that the power of government institutions to ask the Information Commissioner for approval in order to refuse to act on requests should be limited to requests that are vexatious, made in bad faith or that would constitute an abuse of the right of access and would backlog the system. That would enable government institutions to focus their efforts on legitimate requests after having obtained approval from the Information Commissioner.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the main objectives of Bill C-58 is to provide the Information Commissioner with the power to issue binding orders for the processing of requests, including the disclosure of records.
The commissioner would be able to publish these orders, establishing a body of precedents to guide institutions as well as users of the system.
Originally, in order to give the commissioner time to prepare to assume this power, it would not come into force until one year after royal assent. However, the commissioner has asked that this power be available immediately upon royal assent. Reflecting the value it places on the commissioner's perspective, the government has already indicated its support for this amendment.
Another amendment asked for the Information Commissioner to file her orders in Federal Court and have them enforced as Federal Court orders. Under Bill C-58, the Information Commissioner's orders are legally binding without the need for certification. We believe that this amendment is unnecessary and would add a step in the process.
However, the government will look at these amendments at the one-year review of the act, with a year's worth of experience under the new system.
Providing the Information Commissioner with the power to issue binding orders to government and institutions is not a trivial change. It is a game-changer for access to information. Whereas now the Information Commissioner must go to court if an institution does not follow her recommendations, Bill C-58 puts the onus on institutions. Should they disagree with an order by the Information Commissioner, institutions will have 30 days to challenge the order in Federal Court.
As for the courts, I would remind the House that the government accepted an amendment that would ensure that Bill C-58 does not encroach on judicial independence. As the House knows, part 2 of the bill would impose proactive publication requirements on 260 departments, government agencies and Crown corporations, as well as the Prime Minister's Office, ministers' offices, senators, MPs, parliamentary entities and institutions that support the courts.
The amendment would also enshrine in law the proactive publication of information of great interest to Canadians, particularly information relevant to increased transparency and responsibility with regard to the use of public funds.
This includes travel and hospitality expenses for ministers and their staff and senior officials across government, contracts over $10,000 and all contracts for MPs and senators, grants and contributions over $25,000, mandate letters and revised mandate letters, briefing packages for new ministers and deputy ministers, lists of briefing notes for ministers or deputy ministers, and the briefing binders used for question period and parliamentary committee appearances.
Putting these requirements into legislation will ensure that Canadians will have access to this kind of information automatically, without having to make a request. It will impose a new degree of transparency on this government and on future governments.
As passed by the House, Bill C-58 would require similar disclosure by the judiciary.
Concerns have since been raised about the impact that the publication of individual judges' expenses could have on judicial independence, and those concerns are exacerbated by the fact that, due to the traditional duty of reserve, judges express themselves only through their judgments and can neither defend themselves nor set the record straight. The amendment proposed in the message that would require the publication of judges' expenses according to each court, rather than on an individual basis, would address these concerns and include additional measures to increase transparency.
The government also welcomes and accepts the amendment to remove the specific criteria requiring requesters to state the specific subject matter of their request, the type of record being requested and the period for which the record is being requested.
This was included in the original bill as a way to ensure that requests provided enough information to enable a timely response.
We listened to the Information Commissioner's concerns about this clause and especially to the indigenous groups who told us that these provisions could impede their access rights. I just want to note that this amendment, along with several others proposed in the message, was suggested by the former Treasury Board president when he appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in October.
The proposal and acceptance of this amendment reflect the government's commitment to guaranteeing that indigenous peoples have access to the information they need to support their claims and seek justice for past wrongs, for example.
As members can imagine, when it comes to records that are several decades or, in some cases, more than a century old, asking someone to state the specific subject matter, type of record and period requested may constitute a barrier to access.
I also want to assure the House that the government has taken careful note of the feedback from indigenous groups who felt that the governments did not consult them properly when drafting Bill C-58.
To respond to these concerns, the government supported the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, the National Claims Research directors and the Indigenous Bar Association in surveying selected first nations researchers and policy staff about the issues they were encountering with respect to access to information, compiling and analyzing the results in a discussion paper, and undertaking a legal review of Bill C-58.
Nonetheless, we recognize that further work is needed, with greater collaboration between the government and indigenous groups. I would draw the attention of the House to a letter written by the former president of the Treasury Board and sent to the committee in the other place. The letter detailed specific commitments to engaging indigenous organizations and representatives about how the Access to Information Act needs to evolve to reflect Canada's relationship with indigenous peoples, including how information and knowledge of indigenous communities is both protected and made acceptable.
This engagement, as with all engagements with first nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation, will be founded on the fundamental principle of “nothing about us without us”. The government is committed to ensuring that programs, policies and services affecting indigenous peoples are designed in consultation and in collaboration with them.
In that regard, I would remind the House that this bill represents only the first phase of the government's reform to access to information. A full review of the functioning of the act would begin within one year of royal assent of Bill C-58, with mandatory reviews every five years afterward to ensure that the Access to Information Act never again falls so far out of date. I would add that the government recognizes that engagement with indigenous communities and organizations needs to be a central part of these reviews of the act.
In conclusion, I would recall for the House that in its fifth global report, issued in 2018, Canada was ranked number one in the world for openness and transparency by Open Data Barometer, well ahead of many other nations, including many so-called advanced countries. I would note that in this most recent report the author states:
The government’s continued progress reflects a strong performance in virtually all areas—from policies to implementation. Its consistent political backing has been one [of] the keys to its success.
Bill C-58 would continue to advance our progress toward more open and transparent government.
I again thank our friends in the other place for helping to make a good bill even better. I share the Information Commissioner's opinion that Bill C-58 is better than the current act and urge all members to join me in supporting it.
View Wayne Stetski Profile
View Wayne Stetski Profile
2019-06-07 13:18 [p.28768]
Madam Speaker, in the 2015 election Bill C-51 was front and centre in my riding. There were rallies held across the riding against Bill C-51. People were really angry with the Conservative government for putting it forward. They were almost equally angry with the Liberals for supporting it at that time.
Regarding this current bill, Bill C-59, I want to quote from Cara Zwibel, acting general counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association. She said:
All Canadian laws must comply with the Charter. Bill C-59 tries harder than its predecessor, but fails to fix some of the unconstitutional elements...contested in...Bill C-51. Troublingly, C-59 also allows intelligence agencies to engage in conduct that threatens freedom of expression, freedom of association, privacy, and public safety. The government has taken a first step, but a great deal more is needed. Canada must get it right on national security.
I am interested in my colleague's comments on this statement that Bill C-59 continues to threaten freedom of expression, freedom of association, privacy and public safety.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-07 13:19 [p.28768]
Madam Speaker, with respect to privacy, I refer the member to the comments of the Privacy Commissioner, who has provided testimony that directly contradicts what the member is saying. At least the NDP has been intellectually consistent with respect to the elements of Bill C-51. The Liberals voted for it, and now they are undoing it. The Liberals praised some of the elements on preventative arrest and now are caving on them. I think that is due more to electoral fortunes that anything else.
I refer the member for Kootenay—Columbia, and anyone protesting in his riding, to look at the testimony of Patrice Vincent's sister, Louise Vincent, from March 2015, who said:
It would have probably been able to prepare even more material for the attorney general who, with a lower burden of proof, would have agreed to issue a warrant. On October 20 of last year, Martin Couture-Rouleau very likely would have been in prison, and my brother would not be dead.
Law enforcement knew that this young man, Mr. Rouleau, was a threat, and in fact, they had discussed with the Crown whether the burden for preventative arrest could be met.
We are not requiring no burden, but we are also not saying to law enforcement that they have to be ready to go to trial if they fear that there is an imminent risk to public safety and security. Patrice Vincent had not done anything to Mr. Rouleau. He had a uniform on, and law enforcement could not protect him. That is why our laws have to reflect the world we live in, not a perfect world, not a dream world. We have to balance rights and liberties alongside public safety and security.
Putting the threshold too high puts Canadians at risk, and that is why we have been consistent on this point. The Liberals have not been. At least that member has been consistent, and I respect that, but we, forming the next government, will have to make sure that we can tell Canadians that we will always make their safety a priority.
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
2019-05-16 17:57 [p.27979]
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful to be able to stand and speak on behalf the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge. He is a dear friend, and I believe that this is a very important piece of legislation that he is bringing forward here in the House. It is an honour to speak on it.
I would also like to thank Senator Percy Downe for introducing this bill in the Senate. It is a shame that the government plans to oppose it, but I hope government members will listen to all of the reasons that this bill makes sense for the government and for Canadians.
It is timely to be speaking about Bill S-243 now, as the majority of Canadians just finished filing their taxes with the Canada Revenue Agency. We also just found out that the Canada Revenue Agency wrote off $133 million owed by a single taxpayer.
CRA employees discussed the large writeoff in an internal memo in September of 2018, and the media reported on this memo in April. However, we do not know who the taxpayer is or whether it is a person or a corporation. We also do not know whether this writeoff is related to government subsidies, which is something Canadians should know.
The aim of this bill is to keep the CRA accountable for tax collection efforts. It would also require the CRA to report on the tax gap, which is the difference between taxes owing and taxes actually collected. The bill would also require the CRA to publish information on convictions for domestic and offshore tax evasion. Data shows that the offshore tax gap for the 2014 tax year was between $0.8 billion and $3 billion.
The CRA has published information about the tax gap related to the goods and services tax. In 2014, here the offshore tax gap was estimated to be about $4.9 billion. The CRA has also shared the domestic personal income tax gap for that same year, 2014, at $8.7 billion. In that one year, the money owed for the tax gap, which could have been as high as $16 billion, could have funded many programs or eased the tax burden for many Canadians.
Conservatives believe in making life more affordable for Canadians and in keeping taxes as low as possible to stimulate the economy. When the government loses a significant amount of money because of a tax gap, it means that taxes could be raised for the rest of us. This penalizes law-abiding Canadians.
I support Senator Downe's bill, which is sponsored by the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge here in the House, because it makes sense and makes the CRA and those Canadians not living up to their responsibility to pay taxes more accountable.
Some Canadians are concerned that reporting on the tax gap could threaten their privacy, but this bill balances the privacy of individuals with transparency and accountability for the CRA. The information would be reported to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, so its intent is not to name and shame average Canadians.
The United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Australia all report on their tax gaps. These governments all indicate that they report this information because it helps their revenue departments understand how and why non-compliance occurs. This information is helpful to policy-makers, who can then make better-informed decisions about tax policy and also help the government better manage its resource allocation.
Canada should have this system. Mandating measurement of the tax gap ensures that future governments and parliaments have all of the information necessary to take action on the tax gap.
Many of us are aware that offshore tax evasion is a problem in Canada. Almost 1,000 Canadian taxpayers, including individuals, corporations and trusts, were named in the Panama papers three years ago.
The CRA told media last month that it had identified 894 taxpayers and had finished reviewing 525 of these cases, resulting in $14.9 million in federal taxes and penalties. This number will rise as audits continue.
Although the CRA told the media the amount of taxes assessed, it did not say how much of that money has actually been collected. Senator Downe's bill, if passed, would require the CRA to report that type of information to Canadians. As I mentioned before, this type of information would be incredibly helpful to our policy-makers. Many other countries use this information, and Canadians would be better served if our policy-makers also had this kind of information.
Most Canadians work hard all year and diligently file their taxes. These are honest people who would never attempt to cheat the government. However, we see wealthy Canadian individuals and corporations attempt to cheat the tax system all the time.
Tax money is used to fund services we enjoy, such as health care, transit and roads. The CRA should be able to say how much money it has collected as a result of the Panama papers. This is in the Canadian public interest.
Similarly, it should be allowed and able to tell us why $133 million was written off for a single taxpayer. That money could provide significant funding for public services, and Canadians deserve to know why this taxpayer or corporation received special treatment while the rest of us diligently work to pay our fair share.
I have had many constituents complain about dealings with the CRA, including poor levels of service or the agency repeatedly requesting documentation that has already been provided to a different branch. The Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsman, which operates at arm's length from the CRA, has experienced an increase in complaints over the last few years. In 2017, the taxpayers' ombudsman said the biggest complaints were: first, the struggle to even get through to the CRA call centre, which can be a huge headache, especially around tax time. Other complaints included receiving inconsistent and incorrect information from the call centre agent and the lack of information sharing between different branches of the CRA. Many Canadians have been asked to produce the same information or documents more than once, because the person's file was not properly shared between departments.
The taxpayers' ombudsman called these problems “systemic” and said there are other deeply rooted problems. The CRA acknowledges that it needs to do more to better serve Canadians, and representatives from the agency will be travelling across Canada over the next month to conduct in-person consultations on how the CRA can improve its services. I have no doubt they will receive plenty of feedback. I am hopeful that the CRA will take this feedback and then implement it to create a better-run system, which Canadians deserve.
I know it is not just the CRA that has these problems. A recent Auditor General report found that other government departments, including immigration, employment insurance and the Canada pension plan, did not answer their phones for the millions of Canadians who called them in 2017 and 2018. It is obvious the government needs to make huge improvements to give Canadians the accessible service they require and deserve.
I hope these consultations by the CRA are fruitful and we will see a service improvement in the near future. I know how seriously Canadians take the CRA, except for wealthy Canadians who keep their money in offshore accounts without thinking of the consequences. For many Canadians, getting a letter from the CRA is anxiety-inducing, and dealing with audits and investigations can cause high levels of stress.
When Canadians owe the CRA money, most work to pay that money back, whether it is through installments or a lump sum payment. Most people would not dream of running out on the bill, so to speak, so they should not be unfairly penalized when corporations and wealthy Canadians run out on their tax obligations.
If this bill passes, it means increased accountability for the CRA, which is in the best interests of taxpayers. The changes proposed in this bill require the CRA to report on all convictions for tax evasion in addition to reporting the tax gap, as I mentioned earlier. This data would be reported to the Minister of National Revenue in the CRA's annual report, which is tabled in Parliament. The Minister of National Revenue is also required to provide the Parliamentary Budget Officer with data to calculate the tax gap.
These amendments, which would be inexpensive to implement, would increase transparency, which the government allegedly values. Publicly available reports on the gap between income taxes owed and taxes collected will provide a metric for judging the efficacy of measures to combat income tax evasion. This is important information for Canadians to have access to. Many other western nations publicly post this information. Canada is already behind standard practice in this regard. Conservatives support any measures to enhance the effectiveness and accountability of the public service.
Bill S-243 is a common-sense amendment to the Canada Revenue Agency Act, and I support the amendments.
I thank Senator Downe for his work on this bill, and the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge for helping to get the bill through the House of Commons. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill today.
View Deborah Schulte Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Deborah Schulte Profile
2019-05-16 18:06 [p.27980]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by thanking the member from the other place, who initiated this bill, for his efforts to bring attention to Canada's tax gap through Bill S-243, and the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge, who sponsored this bill so that we can have a healthy debate on it in this House.
Our government agrees that when the tax gap information is publicly available, it demonstrates a commitment to transparency and helps to identify opportunities to make a fairer tax system for all Canadians. Bill S-243 has put a spotlight on the importance of understanding Canada's tax gap. We thank the senator for that.
The Minister of National Revenue has been very clear about her commitment to fighting tax evasion and to measuring the tax gap, helping to shine a spotlight on the cost of tax evasion.
I find it a bit rich to hear the Conservative opposition members speak in support of the bill. They seem to have completely erased from their memory the Harper government's attacks on the PBO and the utter refusal to consider studying the tax gap. As a matter of fact, I would like to draw the attention of members to what the former vice-chair of the public accounts committee and Conservative MP for Don Valley West, John Carmichael, said in 2014, when talking about the tax gap. He decided to explain to the opposition the mechanics of measuring the tax gap in order “to explain why deriving such an estimate would be overly complex, inefficient, and a total waste of time.” He followed this statement by saying that studying the tax gap was “nonsensical”.
Let us talk about something that is nonsensical: the Conservatives pretending to care about measuring the tax gap and wanting more transparency for Canadians. We have 10 years of Harper's track record on tax evasion to know that studying the tax gap is no priority for that side of the House. Unlike my colleagues on the other side, I am very proud of my government's track record on this issue.
While we agree with the spirit of this bill, due to the requirements and importance of protecting the confidentiality of taxpayers' information, and our concerns related to the proposed legislative vehicle in this bill, our government cannot support it.
This bill asks to change the Parliamentary Budget Officer's model of access to information by compelling the Minister of National Revenue to provide data to the PBO through amendments to the Canada Revenue Agency Act. This act is not the right legislative vehicle to change the PBO's model of access to information. lt would pose concerns for the confidentiality of taxpayer information. The current report to the PBO is issued in a format that protects taxpayers' information. This bill would also create an unnecessary administrative burden for the CRA, as the tax gap is already being reported on.
Allow me to elaborate. To start, Bill S-243 would require the Minister of National Revenue to collect, compile, analyze and abstract statistics on the tax gap every three years and to publish them in the annual report to Parliament of the Canada Revenue Agency. The CRA already publishes research and estimates on various components of the tax gap and has a strong public commitment to continue to do so. Therefore, adding a legislative requirement to collect, compile, analyze and abstract statistics on the tax gap in the CRA's annual departmental results report is unnecessary.
The CRA already has a dedicated team in place to study the tax gap. Through the work of this team, the CRA has published four reports pertaining to the tax gap. Unlike the allegations of the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques in his speech, the government took immediate action. In June 2016, the CRA published a conceptual study on tax gap estimation. At the same time, it published the tax gap estimates for the goods and services harmonized sales tax. In June 2017, the CRA published tax gap estimates on domestic reporting and payment non-compliance by individuals. In June 2018, it published a report on tax gap estimates on offshore non-compliance by individuals on the international scale. In June 2019, the CRA will release its fifth report on the tax gap, which will provide information about corporate income tax non-compliance.
These reports are published on the website. They describe the methodology the CRA used to estimate the tax gap. They also provide information on the CRA's compliance efforts to reduce these gaps. Collectively, these reports provide the basis for a more comprehensive tax gap estimate.
Therefore, yes, we agree that the tax gap is important to measure. That is why it is already being done.
I would now like to bring to members' attention the requirement in the bill for the CRA to provide the PBO with the data collected and compiled on the tax gap as well as any additional data the PBO considers relevant to conducting a further analysis of the tax gap.
Members may know that the CRA already provides the PBO with information on this tax gap, and it is in a format that does not compromise taxpayer confidentiality. This bill simply does not amend the appropriate act. In fact, these proposed changes run the risk of creating confusion about the PBO's existing legislated access to information. Indeed, amending a departmental statute such as the Canada Revenue Agency Act would not broaden access to taxpayer data or information. This bill should require significant and consequential amendments to legislation directly related to providing taxpayer data, such as section 241 of the Income Tax Act or section 295 of the Excise Tax Act to make such a change, but it does not.
What this would not change, however, is the CRA's commitment to continue to work closely with the PBO, the Privacy Commissioner and Statistics Canada to determine how best to share the relevant information necessary for the work of the PBO while also protecting the confidentiality of taxpayers' information.
Last, I would like to touch on the stipulation in Bill S-243 that would require the CRA to provide in its departmental results report a detailed list of all convictions for tax evasion, including a separate list for overseas tax evasion. Similar to the commitment to reporting the tax gap, the CRA has already been providing this information at since 2017. The available information identifies individuals, corporations and trusts convicted in the courts for tax evasion or for failing to file income tax returns. It includes convictions that have links to money and assets located offshore.
The CRA's departmental performance report already includes information about convictions. The CRA also offers a service that notifies subscribers about enforcement activities. Given these efforts, it is clear that the CRA already provides significant information about its enforcement activities, just like what is being requested in Bill S-243.
Once again, I thank the member from the other place who initiated this bill for his commitment to ensuring that Canadians have greater access to information about non-compliance. Our government will continue to report on the tax gap to ensure that taxpayer information is and stays confidential and will continue to remain transparent in our fight against tax evasion. That is what we have been doing for the past three and a half years and that is what we will continue to do.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-05-16 18:14 [p.27981]
Mr. Speaker, for the people watching today, what Bill S-243 would do, in technical jargon, is amend the Canada Revenue Agency Act to require that the CRA report on all convictions for tax evasion, including international tax evasion, and that the tax gap or the difference between estimated taxes owing and actual taxes collected be included in the annual report it submits to the Minister of National Revenue for tabling in Parliament. It would require the minister to provide data for calculating the tax gap to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
The Conference Board of Canada estimates the tax gap at between $9 billion and $50 billion. That is a lot of money. What could that be used for? It could be used to reduce the deficit, spend money on things that we need and maybe not tell veterans in Canada that they are asking for more than we can give.
I find the parliamentary secretary's speech ridiculously hilarious and I do not even know how to summarize her defence of voting against this bill. I am going to give this lecture to the CRA bureaucrats in the lobby who wrote that audacious speech that she did not even bother to edit before coming in here and reading it.
To the CRA bureaucrats watching, first, none of us on this side of the House would be the man and then take the man's talking points into the House of Commons to argue why CRA bureaucrats would not provide this data for not doing their job, number one. That is just ridiculous. It is actually laughable.
Second, some poor political staffer put the one attack line in her speech. My colleague from Calgary Rocky Ridge made a wonderful comment, which was summarized as follows: “Conservatives should be ashamed of themselves for not doing 10 years ago the thing that we are not going to do today.”
Come on. We know that this is important, which is why my colleague has spoken against it, but the delicious part of the argument to not support it was the argument of privacy for financial records.
I am going to give credit in a nod of bipartisanship to this point. The lobby coordinator of the New Democratic Party, Anthony Salloum, said it is really rich for the Liberals to be making an issue about the privacy of personal banking records when it was they who wanted Statistics Canada to dive deep into people's individual banking records and then stood day after day in the House of Commons saying it was all good. They said there was no problem with the government being able to see if people went to the 7-Eleven at 10 o'clock at night and bought a delicious blue Slurpee, because that is the role of government.
They did that for a month. Day after day, they said it is the role of government, that the man should be able to see everything people buy, that there is no issue with privacy and everything is A-okay. Now, today, they are saying that Canada Revenue Agency bureaucrats are all of a sudden concerned with privacy.
As a member of Parliament, I have to hire someone in my office just to do casework, and I have had cases in which people had their files locked in some CRA bureaucrat's desk or left by the water cooler. The incompetence of this bureaucracy is staggering at best and irresponsible at worst. Anytime somebody stands in the House of Commons to talk about privacy, that person should at least read the speech that the bureaucrats provided and think about whether it makes the individual sound like a super-villain. I think the parliamentary secretary forgot to do that today.
In all seriousness, we need to ensure that we are addressing the issue of the tax gap, because it is a source of revenue that we are not tapping into and it disadvantages Canadians who are paying taxes fairly if we are not collecting taxes in an appropriate manner. In fact, it creates a disproportionate burden of taxpaying on one aspect of Canadian society as opposed to another.
Since I have a moment to talk about the Liberal government's ability to prosecute tax evaders, I am going to point to a CBC story in 2018 that talked about governments around the world being able to recover $500 million in taxes thanks to the Panama papers.
However, the article said that this is in stark contrast to the CRA's effectiveness at catching offshore tax cheats and comes in the wake of a CBC investigation that found that few, if any, of the criminal convictions the agency cites in defence of its record have anything to do with offshore tax evasion.
In fact, of the court cases the government had cited in Parliament to defend its record on cracking down on offshore tax evasion, a 2017 CBC article said that few, if any, had anything to do with millionaires hiding money in overseas tax havens.
As a further point of proof, the parliamentary secretary's boss, the Minister of National Revenue, or the minister of bluster, since she has a tendency to stand in the House and repeat nonsensical talking points that have nothing to do with the question asked, said in 2016 that her agency had already started to identify 45 targets for audits. However, three years later there are no tangible outcomes.
The nice thing about this bill is that it would force the bureaucrats who wrote that very staid and weird speech to determine what our tax gap is on an annual basis and help ensure that Canada is retrieving those taxes, so that complying Canadians do not shoulder this burden of taxes on their own.
I want to point out the government's hypocrisy. When it saw that it was potentially losing billions of dollars to tax evasion, its action was to increase taxes on law-abiding Canadians. In terms of the results of its tax increases, my colleague, the shadow minister for finance, made a wonderful intervention in the House that is worth repeating.
He stated that the CRA data that had recently been released demonstrated that “in the first year after the tax increase took effect, the government actually collected $4.6 billion less from the wealthiest 1%.”
He went on to say:
Finance Canada released documents almost exactly a year ago today in its annual financial report, on September 19, 2017, in which it revealed almost exactly the same phenomenon. Revenues went down from the wealthiest 1%.
As my colleague pointed out, the government said that this was all “due to one-time factors”, but we know there were some wealthy individuals who moved money around to avoid paying their fair share.
It is worth pointing out that one of those individuals was the Minister of Finance himself; the minister of the french fry yacht. He announced a tax increase to take effect on January 1, 2016. He sold shares in his own company, Morneau Shepell, just 30 days before that, in order to ensure his capital gain would be taxed at the earlier, lower rate and he would not have to pay the same higher taxes he imposed on everyone else.
We see the Liberals' record and the absolute ridiculousness of making the argument on privacy after they were going to allow Statistics Canada to look at Canadians' personal banking records. We see the track record of the Minister of Finance on this. We understand that bureaucrats are not motivated to have transparency in terms of their efficacy. The role of the executive branch is to go to bureaucrats and thank them for their public service and let them know that it has a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers and is going to make these changes. This is what we need to do in this place.
By voting against this bill, we understand what real change means to the Liberal government. It means absolutely nothing.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2019-05-14 10:40 [p.27729]
Madam Speaker, I am glad to be joining this debate on the most exciting of subjects, tax and a tax treaty. For those constituents of ours who are tuning in on CPAC this early morning, or who have come to watch in the gallery, this is as exciting as this place is going to get, I think, until question period. I see the parliamentary secretary nodding his head, because he knows this too.
I am also glad his intervention covered so much subject matter beyond Bill S-6, because that now allows me to delve into the government's record on taxes, its management of different public policy issues like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, consumer confidence in Canada and business confidence in Canada, as well as how the government has approached Bill S-6.
I will start with an observation about this tax treaty and some of the comments made by the parliamentary secretary. He seemed to be placing Bill S-6 within the confines of trying to achieve greater tax fairness and doing other great things with the Government of Madagascar. He said the bill would make sure that Canadian companies and Canadian taxpayers who may be doing business in Madagascar would not be double taxed, and that it would increase trade and do all of these wonderful things.
However, when I asked officials a question at the Standing Committee on Finance, we heard there was such a small number of tax filers with tax filings in Madagascar that each instance raises confidentiality concerns. Officials from Finance Canada responded to me that these concerns are such that, “consistent with the taxpayer confidentiality protections in the Income Tax Act, the department is precluded from releasing these data”.
This may be why Bill S-6 comes from the other place, the Senate side. The department told me in this official letter to the Standing Committee on Finance that there are so few tax filers impacted by this that the department would not be able to release the data. I had asked which sectors of the Canadian economy and which sectors of the Madagascar economy would be affected, and whether there were any good examples. I did a quick Google and DuckDuckGo search, and I was able to find that Sherritt International was one of the companies in question. It is mostly a mining consortium. There was very little else that I could find.
To the credit of the Department of Finance, it did a pretty thorough review. It reviewed sources including the T1134 information return on foreign affiliates of Canadian taxpayers, the T1135 information return that collects data on specified foreign property holdings, the T106 information return on non-arm's length transactions with related non-residents, and Schedule 21 to the T2 corporate tax return on foreign income tax credits. The department examined all of the years to 2011 and then the subsequent years.
For those still able to follow, either in the public gallery or at home, Finance Canada did a thorough search to double-check how many of these filings would include Madagascar in some way, and they are actually very, very few. Perhaps the tax treaty will enable more business to be conducted by Canadians in that particular country, and there are opportunities yet to be found for this tax treaty and the consolidation of some of the rules to make it simpler for individuals to do business in both. I was unable to find an instance through any international organization or online that showed that Madagascar was behaving like a tax haven. I think that assuages some of the concerns individuals may have had.
I am sure the government knows that I will be supporting this piece of legislation as well. There was no concern about curbing tax evasion through Bill S-6, or about a potential increase in tax evasion. In fact, this is a very small piece of legislation that does not do what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance said. It is not part of a broader approach. If there are so few tax filers that the information cannot be released, then the impact is negligible. Therefore, it cannot be counted as part of the government's broader plan.
I am pouring out my heart here on what I believe about Bill S-6 and its contents, having spent several meetings at committee looking at this particular piece of legislation. I am feeling lighter. As the Yiddish proverb goes, when one pours out one's heart, one feels lighter, so now that the parliamentary secretary has poured out his heart about the government and what he believes its achievements are, I am going to do the opposite. I am going to poke holes in a couple of things he said. I am going to poke holes in some of the Liberal government's achievements, including in some of the statistics it likes to use.
At committee we asked both Global Affairs and Finance Canada for information on the specifics of Bill S-6 and who it would impact. We were told the bill would impact the mining sector. We were also told that detailed information could not be released because it would compromise the privacy of certain tax filers.
That is unusual. In prior cases, when we have done these tax consolidation treaties or signed up to multilateral international instruments with respect to taxes, such as Bill C-82, which was the tax treaty of tax treaties, it was always tens or hundreds of thousands of Canadians who would be impacted. That included Canadian-controlled private corporations in Canada. There would be many of them, so it was easier for us to estimate the impact.
The parliamentary secretary mentioned base erosion and profit sharing, which is not a fixed section in this particular piece of legislation. We have already had legislation to cover that off.
When I mentioned to my kids, who are very young, with my oldest being 10, that I debated an obscure bill called the Canada-Madagascar tax treaty, the first thing they wanted to talk about was King Julien and Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private, the famed characters from Penguins of Madagascar and the other movies in the Madagascar series. My kids were thrilled to watch that series when they were younger, and they are still thrilled to watch it today.
However, this piece of legislation is not about that. I am sorry to burst their bubble but this, unfortunately, is not about King Julien or those four little penguins.
The parliamentary secretary went off on a tangent at one point. He mentioned that the tax treaty in Bill S-6 would increase consumer confidence, and that it was part of a slew of policy decisions the government has been making to increase both consumer and business confidence. If he had bothered to check the latest statistics posted by different economic analysis bodies online, or if he had bothered to check the Conference Board of Canada, he would have seen that consumer confidence is just as low as it was in 2015. It has not improved since then. We can see that in our communities. I can see it in cities and towns all over Alberta.
However, there is more consumer confidence in Alberta now that we have Premier Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party in charge. A new cabinet has been sworn in, and on Tuesday of next week the members of the legislative assembly will be sworn in. I hope we will know the new plan for the province on Wednesday.
Some of that plan has already come out. The government of Alberta has already announced that it will get rid of the punishing provincial NDP carbon tax, which was far more punishing on Albertans and Alberta businesses than the federal backstop. That does not mean the backstop is any good. It does not mean the federal carbon tax is any better.
The Alberta government is basically proposing to return to the old system, which was working. It was the first system to put a price on carbon for the largest emitters, not directly on consumers. The system worked. It was lauded all across North America at the time. It did not punish consumers directly for their behaviour, but was specifically aimed at the largest emitters, who were making it part of their business plans. That is the difference. May 31 is the last day of the Alberta carbon tax.
We can really see consumer confidence returning in Alberta. People are more confident now that they have a government that is on their side and will back up the decisions of private businesses, everyday Albertans, the mom-and-pop convenience stores, the local dry cleaner and the small oil and gas servicing company that has somehow managed to just get by over the last few years.
Albertans are on the cusp. They know that prosperity might return with the right decisions being made by their government to get involved, not to make decisions for them but to support them in the decisions that will create new jobs, create more business investment and lead to higher returns in terms of corporate and personal income taxes.
That is how consumer confidence returns, not by having what we have seen from the federal Liberal government over the past four years. The Liberals created a situation here in Canada that made it impossible to build a pipeline. Energy east was cancelled because of regulatory red tape. Northern gateway was cancelled by cabinet order. There already is a functioning Trans Mountain pipeline, but the Liberals caused a situation in which Kinder Morgan saw no real means to get the expansion built. It was losing construction seasons to it, so the government expropriated it. The government bought it for $4.5 billion.
Now we know from the Parliamentary Budget Officer that the government not only overpaid for the pipeline project by $1 billion but will also need to extract another $8 billion to $9 billion from the taxpayer to build this pipeline.
There has been talk of legislation and there has been talk of an expedited process, but we are waiting until later in June to find out whether this pipeline will get perhaps half a construction season. We know that construction seasons in Canada are short. Basically, there is a construction season and then there is winter. These are essentially the two seasons we have in Canada. Most people who live in big cities know this, as they have experienced it. We are going to lose a second construction season, and this does nothing but reduce business confidence and reduce consumer confidence.
How can Canadians have faith in a government that purchases a pipeline, overpays for it, and loses money every single month operating it? When the interest being paid on the debt is subtracted from the tolls charged on the pipeline, Liberals are losing money every single month operating in the most profitable part of the energy sector, which is shipping.
As I hear constantly from the Minister of Natural Resources, who is from Edmonton and should know better, as once the oil gets to the west coast, 99.95% of the product shipped out of the port of Vancouver goes to California. Those are not my statistics; I am not making them up. I asked the Library of Parliament to confirm them for me. This is from the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. The port itself has said that 99.95% of the product goes to California to feed the refineries there.
Therefore, this is not about reaching new markets on the current pipeline, and perhaps not even on the future pipeline. A series of public policy decisions led to a situation such that a private company felt unable to build a pipeline because of obstruction at the federal and provincial levels. Those obstructions are not gone; they have just become purely governmental. All the decision-making is on the government side.
When I knocked on doors in my communities and for my provincial counterparts, which I did during this past election in Alberta, I heard time and time again that people have no faith whatsoever in the Liberal government's ability to deliver on the construction of a pipeline and no faith in the government's ability to manage public finances.
The parliamentary secretary mentioned the Liberals' great plan to increase affordability for the middle class and that Liberals reduced the tax bracket from 22% to 20.5%. I remind the parliamentary secretary and all members of the House that the biggest tax break from those tax changes went to every single member of Parliament in this chamber. Those who were earning $45,000 or less got zero. They received no benefit whatsoever from that tax cut, but because of the way the progressive tax system works, every single member of Parliament in this chamber got over $800 off their taxes at the end of the day.
That is what the Liberal government did. Those of us in this chamber are not the middle class, but the Liberals did this and claimed it was for the benefit of the middle class. They gave themselves a bigger tax cut than they gave not so much to the working poor, but to people trying to get by and get ahead, people who are taking jobs that many people do not want to take. They work hard for the wages and salaries they earn.
Instead, they received higher payroll taxes. There has been a CPP increase as well, which is taking away from their income at the end of the day and taking away their ability to choose how they want to save.
The second part is that they have a carbon tax to pay. We heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance speak to this, and in the scenarios he noted, he gave OECD numbers. A colleague of mine mentioned that a family on the lower income scale with two kids would not be getting back all of that money. The parliamentary secretary's numbers only make sense if we include the child benefit, which is just a re-badging of the old universal child care benefit. It is the original Conservative policy that was introduced when the government wanted to introduce a universal, one-size-fits-all, cradle-to-old-age welfare system. Whereas the government would take care of our children directly under this system, the UCCB was meant to empower parents, and that is how we should be looking at it.
The government claims that if we look at all government policy together, the carbon tax is not so bad. However, that does not help the kind of family my colleague mentioned, which is not seeing these rebates.
As well, if we look more closely at the GGPPA, which is the acronym for the government's carbon tax bill that is over 200 pages long, and then if we look at this latest budget document and some of the implementation portions of it, including the algebra formula that implements the rebate program for the federal carbon tax, we see that there is a provision that would allow the minister of finance to exclude any money he or she wishes from the rebate. A finance minister could give it to any other minister he or she wants, for any program, infrastructure or purpose. It is right there in the formula. There is no guarantee in the legislation that Canadians would receive any sort of rebate on the carbon tax, and it will never replace the full amount.
It is absolutely illogical and irrational to say that 100% of the collected tax will be returned to those who pay it. There always is and there always will be an administrative cost in collecting a tax, unless people think that public servants work for free and they think the lights and the heating in this place come for free, and they do not. It has to cost a certain amount of money, which is why we say the government is misleading them. The way the government presents the facts around the carbon rebate and the carbon tax is ingenious, but it is not an environmental plan; it is a tax plan. It is as simple as that.
To return to the point of consumer confidence and how we have not seen it return, some of the facts on LNG speak for themselves. In the case of LNG, 78 billion dollars' worth billion worth of projects in Canada have been cancelled since 2015. Those are LNG projects that have been completely abandoned by the companies that were proposing them. Tens of thousands of potential well-paying construction jobs, many of them unionized, are gone. They will not be created, because that $78 billion to put people to work has been removed from the private sector. That is an important fact to remember.
The only large-scale project that I am aware of that is going ahead is LNG Canada's project. LNG Canada is a consortium. Mitsubishi is involved and Petronas is involved. The only reason that the consortium went ahead with the project is that it has an exclusion and an exemption from the carbon tax. Of course a company will go ahead and build a large-scale industrial project, as LNG Canada is proposing to do, when it gets an exemption to a tax.
I cannot imagine any regular, everyday, hard-working taxpayers being told by the Liberal government that CRA is going to give them an exemption this year so that they do not have to pay taxes because they are doing so well in producing jobs and growing their business or are earning a higher salary because they work hard. Nobody gets that type of exclusion or exemption.
I will spend my last two minutes on my favourite subject, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, because Madagascar, this country that we are signing a tax treaty with, is a member of this bank. As I said, the parliamentary secretary, by going on a tangent, has allowed me to go on a tangent here. Madagascar is a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. As far as I know, it has not received any project yet. It has only spent $15 million to $20 million, which is a paltry sum compared to the nearly half a billion dollars that Canada has set aside. That same money is being used to build pipelines all over Asia, including in Azerbaijan, Bangladesh and the suburbs of Beijing.
I am pouring my heart out here. As my Yiddish proverb said, I am feeling lighter from being able to speak about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. If we in Canada are unable to build pipelines, which are the safest way to move energy, it seems absolutely wrong to be giving a half a billion dollars to governments in Asia and to the China-controlled, Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
I support Bill S-6, a small piece of legislation coming to us from the Senate, but I do not support the government's agenda and its repeated failures to get large-scale energy infrastructure built in Canada. I do not support the government's policies that have undermined business confidence and the confidence of Canadians. October cannot come soon enough. The current Liberal government is not as advertised.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2019-05-14 20:06 [p.27809]
Madam Chair, I will speak to two issues: access to justice in both official languages, and genetic discrimination. I will speak for about 10 minutes. Then I will ask the minister questions in both official languages.
One thing I do want to say before I begin is how much I have appreciated the opportunity to work with the Minister of Justice. Since he has been appointed, he has been nothing but a pleasure to work with, and I want to thank him for that.
One of my concerns is the issue of access to justice in both of Canada's official languages. I represent a bilingual riding where two-thirds of the population speaks English and one-third speaks French.
In my view, all Canadians from all provinces and territories should have access to justice in both of Canada's official languages.
One of the things that I was pleased with is that at the beginning of our tenure at the justice committee, we proposed a unanimous report that asked for the reinstatement of the court challenges program, with both an official language component and an equality component. That program was restored by this government, and I appreciate that, because it allows official language minority communities throughout the country to seek funds in order to challenge government rules that pose a challenge to their charter rights. That is something that the government did that I really appreciate.
We looked at that at the justice committee. At the justice committee, when we were doing our access to justice study, we also proposed that funding be offered to allow provinces to create templates for lawyers that allow them to enter into contracts in both official languages throughout Canada. It was actually frightening to hear that in some provinces, contracts could not be drawn up in both official languages because lawyers did not have access to templates. One of the things I am really pleased with, which I will get to a little later, is that the government has offered funding to improve that access.
Another thing that is very important is for judges to be able to hear witness testimony in both official languages.
The government's action plan for official languages delivers on many of the recommendations made by the Commissioner of Official Languages and his counterparts in Ontario and New Brunswick in the 2013 report entitled “Access to Justice in Both Official Languages: Improving the Bilingual Capacity of the Superior Court Judiciary”.
Our action plan takes a multidimensional approach that guarantees that participants in Canada's justice system have better access to justice in both of Canada's official languages.
First, in many cases, access to justice would be moot without a justice system capable of rendering justice in both languages. To that end, in October 2016 there were reforms to the Superior Court appointments process, and those measures are contained in the action plan to enhance the bilingual capacity of the Superior Court judiciary. These changes have increased the transparency and accountability of the appointments process while laying the groundwork for a longer-term vision for continuous improvement, including in the area of bilingual capacity.
The other important change regarding judges is the process for appointing judges to the Supreme Court of Canada. Our government set out to make this process more open, transparent and accountable and to ensure that judges appointed to the Supreme Court are truly bilingual.
We followed that process when we appointed Justices Malcolm Rowe and Sheilah L. Martin. I am sure that we will do the same thing when we find a replacement for Clément Gascon.
Ultimately, it is very important to ensure that all judges appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada are bilingual, and one day, that might be the case for appeal court judges as well.
I am really proud of that progress.
I would also like to talk about a couple of other things we have done with respect to bilingualism. The justice committee, once again unanimously, amended Bill C-78 so it would ensure people have the right to divorce in both official languages across Canada. One of the things we heard from witnesses from British Columbia and a couple of Maritime provinces such as Newfoundland was that one could not obtain a divorce in French in those provinces. That is shocking.
A divorce proceeding might be the only encounter a person has with the justice system, and it is a very emotional time. As a witness, a person would not want to have to talk to a judge about such emotional things in a language that is not their mother tongue. That is what was happening in some provinces in Canada.
I am proud that the Standing Committee on Justice unanimously recommended changing Bill C-78.
I am proud that the government agreed to that recommendation. That is what passed this House of Commons and I hope will pass the other place.
I also want to talk about the enhancement of the access to justice in both official languages support fund under the action plan for official languages 2018-2023. This grants and contributions program provides funding to not-for-profit organizations, post-secondary institutions and provincial and territorial partners, including provincial courts, to improve access to justice in official language minority communities.
Beyond the existing amounts, our government has committed to additional funding of $13.75 million over five years to improve access to justice in both official languages. These new investments will enable the consolidation of current access to justice activities for official language minority communities, the creation of new fields of activities and the re-establishment of operational core funding for eligible community organizations.
In addition to this funding, consultation with stakeholders is key.
I know that our Department of Justice organizes an annual meeting as part of the advisory committee on access to justice in both official languages. This advisory committee brings together legal representatives of official language minority communities and spokespersons for these communities, such as the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada and the Quebec Community Groups Network.
I know this money will go to a good cause. We heard from these groups how difficult it was in certain cases to obtain access to justice in both official languages. Despite constitutional and legal rules, people who come from a small rural community often have a difficult time finding an attorney and a court that will hear them and work with them in their language. The more tools governments across Canada, including our federal government, can offer to this process, the better the chance all Canadians will have of seeking access to justice in their official language.
I also said I wanted to talk about one other thing, which is genetic discrimination. This House, by majority, adopted a law to prohibit genetic discrimination. That was a proposal that was unanimously adopted by the justice committee. The previous minister of justice did not agree with that, and a factum was filed by the Government of Canada in the Quebec Court of Appeal, saying that the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act adopted by a majority in Parliament was not within the criminal law power of Parliament.
I have noted with interest that the government has now filed a factum in front of the Supreme Court of Canada, which highlights the importance of privacy and the chance that such a law would be intra vires the privacy interests or the right of Parliament to legislate on privacy issues.
Madam Chair, I am going to ask my first question to the Minister of Justice now. Mr. Minister, could you explain to the House the privacy arguments advanced in the factum on the genetic discrimination bill before the Supreme Court of Canada?
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Chair, I thank the hon. member for his work on the justice committee. With respect to the power to regulate insurance, the legal argument has not changed. On that particular point, the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled five to nothing in favour of provincial jurisdiction.
However, what we have done in the argument is admit that, should there be a privacy basis for the grounding of such a right to the information generated by genetic testing, we would be open to that. That is quite an important opening and is very respectful of the will of Parliament.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to table five petitions today.
The first petition was started at a time when Statistics Canada was reported to be collecting personal and banking information belonging to Canadians without their knowledge and consent.
The petitioners call upon the government to ensure this does not happen. They raise concerns about the need to set standards to prevent this sort of thing from ever occurring in the future.
View Larry Miller Profile
View Larry Miller Profile
2019-04-09 10:18 [p.26841]
Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of tabling petition e-1924, signed by 2,450 Canadian citizens.
This is a petition to the Government of Canada stating that whereas the Government of Canada has broken the laws that cover the right to privacy, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, by authorizing Statistics Canada to collect the personal, financial and banking information and history from Canadian banks and credit bureaus for 500,000 citizens and residents, and the government has no right to our private financial information, and the act is both illegal and immoral, the Government of Canada and Statistics Canada do not have the right to this information without our signed authorization for the privacy act, we, the undersigned taxpayers of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to cease and desist collection of information of Canadian citizens' private financial affairs and demand that the Government of Canada put an immediate end to Statistics Canada's compelling Canadian financial institutions and credit bureaus to transfer any financial information, detailed or otherwise, from any taxpayer to Statistics Canada.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)

Question No. 2246--
Mr. John Brassard:
With regard to the use of prescribed medical marijuana by clients of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC): (a) how many medical marijuana users are there, broken down by year from 2015 to present; (b) how many VAC clients are prescribed, on a daily basis, (i) three grams or less, (ii) four grams, (iii) five grams, (iv) six grams, (v) seven grams, (vi) eight grams, (vii) nine grams, (viii) ten grams, (ix) any other amount; (c) for each of the prescriptions in (b), what is the form of the marijuana being dispensed, namely (i) dried, (ii) oil, (iii) cream, (iv) suppository; (d) how many VAC clients are permitted to grow their own marijuana for prescribed medical use; (e) what evidence, reports, scientific studies or other studies have been used as a frame of reference to evaluate the use, prescription or denial of the prescription of medical marijuana; and (f) have any of the studies in (e) been used as justification for the government's proposed reduction of the maximum allowed amount of medical marijuana prescribed to VAC clients to three grams per day in cases where there is no medical approval for prescribed amounts of medical marijuana of over three grams per day?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2247--
Mr. John Brassard:
With regard to the use and cost paid by the government for prescribed medical marijuana and prescribed pharmaceuticals used by members of the Canadian Armed Forces and veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces, and administered by Veterans Affairs Canada: (a) what was the total amount paid annually, broken down by year from 2015 up to the current year, 2019, for (i) medical marijuana, (ii) Diazepam, (iii) Clonazepam, (iv) Trazodone, (v) Zopièlone, (vi) Wellbutrin, (vii) Effexor, (viii) Celexa, (ix) Seroquel, (x) Ambien, (xi) Remeron, (xii) Nabilone, (xiii) Valium, (xiv) Prazosin, (xv) Oxycodone, (xvi) Demerol, (xvii) Dilaudid, (xviii) Fentanyl, (xix) Mirtazapine, (xx) Gabapentin, (xxi) Baclofen, (xxii) Propranolol, (xxiii) Targin, (xxiv) Pantoprazole, (xxv) Nortriptyline, (xxvi) Ketoconazole, (xxvii) prescribed pharmaceuticals, including opioids and other pain relief medications; and (b) what evidence, reports, scientific studies or otherwise have been used as a reference or a basis for the use, prescription or non-use or non-prescription of the pharmaceuticals or medical marijuana?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2249--
Mr. Matt Jeneroux:
With regard to the government’s Small Communities Fund first announced in 2014: what are the details of all projects under the program, including (i) recipient of funding, (ii) province, (iii) municipality, (iv) project start date, (v) projected completion date, (vi) amount of funding pledged, (vii) amount of funding actually provided to date?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2250--
Mr. Robert Kitchen:
With regard to videos produced by the government for internal usage since November 4, 2015: (a) what are the details of all such videos, including (i) date, (ii) duration, (iii) title, (iv) purpose, (v) intended audience; and (b) for each video in (a), what were the total expenditures, broken down by type of expense?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2255--
Mr. Phil McColeman:
With regard to the use of taxi chits by the government, broken down by department or agency, and by year since January 1, 2016: (a) how much has been spent on taxi chits for government employees; and (b) broken down by ministerial office, including the Office of the Prime Minister, how much has the government spent on taxi chits for ministerial exempt staff?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2256--
Mrs. Sylvie Boucher:
With regard to polls administrated by the government since October 25, 2017, and broken down by department or agency: (a) how many public opinion polls have been administered; (b) what amount has been spent on polls; and (c) what are the details of each poll administered including (i) start and end date, (ii) pollster or vendor, (iii) list of all poll questions and subjects, (iv) results of each poll?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2257--
Mrs. Cathay Wagantall:
With regard to classified or protected documents, since January 1, 2016, broken down by department or agency, and broken down by year: (a) how many instances have occurred where it was discovered that classified or protected documents were left or stored in a manner which did not meet the requirements of the security level of the documents; (b) how many of these instances occurred in the offices of ministerial exempt staff, including those of the staff of the Prime Minister, broken down by ministerial office; and (c) how many employees have lost their security clearance as a result of such infractions?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2259--
Mrs. Marilène Gill:
With regard to monitoring studies of recreational fishing areas in the federal riding of Manicouagan since 2013: what are the results of analyses concerning (i) the shellfish resource, (ii) the location of shellfish farms, (iii) the sources of pollution, (iv) the presence of toxicity, (v) the presence of marine biotoxins?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2260--
Mrs. Marilène Gill:
With regard to the $75 million in federal assistance to the Atlantic provinces to combat spruce budworm in Budget 2018, what are: (a) the briefing notes prepared for (i) the Privy Council Office, (ii) the Office of the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, (iii) the Office of the Prime Minister, (iv) the Office of the Minister of Natural Resources, (v) any other federal department; (b) all stakeholders consulted, including (i) how they were consulted, (ii) the dates of these meetings, (iii) the briefing books for these meetings, (iv) correspondence with these stakeholders; and (c) the research used for developing this federal assistance, including but not limited to (i) analyses, (ii) studies, (iii) data, (iv) reports?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2261--
Mrs. Marilène Gill:
With regard to the airports within the federal riding of Manicouagan, since 2000, what is the amount of annual revenues related to (i) taxation, (ii) operations, (iii) leasing collected by: (a) Transport Canada; and (b) the Canada Revenue Agency?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2262--
Mr. Scott Duvall:
With regard to pensions for the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of federal agencies or any other federal organization, since November 2015: (a) how many CEOs are deemed not to be part of the public service for the purposes of the Public Service Superannuation Act, broken down by (i) CEO, (ii) organization; (b) how many times has the Governor in Council ordered a CEO to participate in the public service pension plan, broken down by (i) year, (ii) CEO, (iii) federal organization; and (c) for each of the CEOs deemed not to be part of the public service for the purposes of the Public Service Superannuation Act, what are the detailed justifications for their non-participation in the public service pension plan for the purposes of the Public Service Superannuation Act?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 2264--
Mr. Scott Duvall:
With regard to consultation called “Consultations on enhancing retirement security” in which Employment and Social Development Canada has been involved: (a) what is the total number of stakeholders consulted, broken down by (i) provinces, (ii) electoral ridings, (iii) organizations representing pensioners, (iv) organizations representing workers, (v) organizations representing employers; (b) how many submissions were received; (c) how many analyses were carried out by those responsible for the consultation; (d) how much research has been done by those responsible for the consultation; (e) how many targeted outreach activities were carried out by those responsible for the consultation; (f) how many stakeholders raised the issue of the tight deadline for submitting documents; and (g) what was the total amount spent on the twitter hashtag #YourFutureMatters?
(Return tabled)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-02-28 10:50 [p.25893]
Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House to provide some of my thoughts and comments.
Over the last few years, I have witnessed a different approach to Canada's military, a positive approach. I want to take a more holistic approach in my address on this legislation. This is an important bill and opposition members have recognized that fact. They too feel this is good legislation.
The bill has gone through first and second reading, through committee stage and report stage. We are now into the third and final aspect of its passage, and that is a good thing.
Bill C-77 is long overdue. It proposes to make our military justice system a bit more in sync with our civil system. There is fairly universal support for the government in advancing the legislation in order to accomplish that.
I had the good fortune to serve in the Canadian Forces for a few years. Even though I never experienced it directly, indirectly I got a sense of military justice and the justice regime. I can recall first-hand during my boot camp days the supervisor, or the master corporal in this situation, telling us what our obligations were.
In the military justice world one has an obligation to show up when asked to show up. When members of the forces are scheduled to do something, they best be there unless they have some sort of medical condition or have a very good reason for not showing up. If a member is scheduled to be on duty, he or she is expected to be there. That does not necessarily apply with the same sort of weight in civilian life.
The previous speaker made reference to the idea of being absent without leave. An important part of the training that was instilled in me and thousands of others as we went through boot camp was that there was a difference between military life and civilian life. One of the issues highlighted with respect to that was the idea of the military's ability to provide discipline to ensure its members would be where they were supposed to be. When I reflect on that today, I understand the importance of that.
Serving in the military is very unique. It is an absolute honour and privilege. As a member of Parliament, as well as in my days as a member of a legislative assembly, I have always, without exception, acknowledged the fine work the women and men in our forces do, whether it is the air force, the special units, the navy or military. I appreciate and value their contributions to our society in both current and past military actions protecting Canadians. Whether in peace missions or fighting the mighty Red River when it has overflowed, our military plays a critical and vital role with respect to our country. We will always be there for our military.
Even though we have only been in government for a little over three years, we have not only talked about taking action, but has also delivered on a number of different fronts.
What we are debating today is just one aspect of that. It is about military justice.
Let me go back to the training I received. When we were told that we had to show up, that we had to be somewhere, the consequence of not being there could lead to a court-martial and a criminal record. Even though there might be a reason, a relatively weak reason at times, for an individual not being where he or she was supposed to be, it would potentially lead to a criminal record.
I believe, as I would have believed back then, that this is not necessarily a fair consequence in all situations. That is why it is a good that the legislation brings the consequences more into line with what happens in civilian life. For example, now much more discretion will be allowed if someone is found to have been AWOL or has not shown up where he or she needs to be at a specific time. This does not mean the individual will receive a court martial. The same threat level is no longer there.
Members of the forces are incredible individuals, with a very strong sense of commitment to duty and country. Ultimately this will have a minor impact with respect to service to country, yet can have a very positive impact on what happens when someone from the military retires.
As we have heard from other speakers, when members of the Canadian Forces decide to retire or have the opportunity to retire, whatever the circumstances might be, we want those members to have the opportunity to continue with successful employment into the future. Having a criminal record has a negative impact on the ability of service members or former service members to get employment for which they are eligible. It is not fair that members of the forces would receive a criminal record for a charge that someone in the civilian sector would not receive. In part, I believe that is why we see good support for the legislation from members of the opposition. We recognize that we can do more to reform our laws that would allow that kind of an issue to be resolved positively.
Insubordination is another example. In civilian life insubordination is treated quite differently than it is in the military. The legislation would also deal with that. This is an opportunity to look at good legislation that advances our Canadian Forces in a positive direction and to get behind it.
One encouraging issue in Bill C-77 is that we would ensure indigenous sentencing provisions would be taken into consideration. This has been taking place within our civilian population. This is different from what the previous government proposed. We need to understand and appreciate that the indigenous factor needs to be taken into consideration. We see that in our civil court system and it has proven to be successful. Therefore, I am glad to see that in this legislation.
There is something we often talk about in the House in regard to legislation on criminal matters. We often hear about the importance of victims and protecting or enhancing the rights of victims. It pleases me that we would establish something new with this legislation within the law on military justice, and that is a declaration of victims rights. That is long overdue. I am glad that we have a government that has incorporated into the legislation respect for victims rights.
What does that mean? It would allow, for example, the right to have information. It would also allow a right to protection. Equally important is participation in the process. Where it is possible, restitution would be of critical importance.
I had the opportunity to serve as chair of a youth justice committee. One of the more progressive changes we started to see at the tail end, before I actually had to leave the committee a number of years back, was the idea of restitution, or restorative justice. As much as possible, that is a wonderful tool that needs to at least be considered. When we think of victims and the idea of restorative justice, we need to incorporate victims whenever we can. It really makes a difference for victims.
I would like to give an example of what that sort of justice means to victims. A victim subjected to an offence is afforded the opportunity to participate by sitting down with the perpetrator and assisting in developing the consequence for that behaviour. At the level of a youth justice committee, dealing with young offenders under the age of 18, I had the opportunity to witness that on a couple of occasions. I was very encouraged by it. The victim was better able to get an appreciation of what had taken place and at the same time feel that the impact on the victim was taken into consideration.
With respect to other aspects of the legislation, it says the following:
It amends Part III of the National Defence Act to, among other things,
(a) specify the purpose of the Code of Service Discipline and the fundamental purpose of imposing sanctions at summary hearings.
This legislation would ensure that there is a quicker processing of justice. It would also “protect the privacy and security of victims and witnesses in proceedings involving certain sexual offences”.
Many Canadians who follow debates in the House might not be familiar with the fact that there is a civilian system of justice and a military justice system. Something I discovered in the discussions on this legislation was that in certain situations, a military person who commits an offence will go through the civilian justice system as opposed to the military justice system. An example is in regard to sexual assault. In certain situations, there is discretion in our system to enable civilian courts to deal with military personnel who are convicted of committing an offence.
I mentioned that I served in the military. I served in Edmonton, in air traffic control, as an assistant at the time, working out of Lancaster Park. Just south of Lancaster Park, in Griesbach, there was a military detention centre on the base. It was somewhat new to me, but people being held in custody for a sentence of more than two years would go to a federal facility for civilians. For any sentence under two years, offenders would be detained, in part, in military facilities.
The legislation would include the following:
(d) make testimonial aids more accessible to vulnerable witnesses;
(e) allow witnesses to testify using a pseudonym in appropriate cases;
(f) on application, make publication bans for victims under the age of 18 mandatory;
(g) In certain circumstances, require a military judge to inquire of the prosecutor if reasonable steps have been taken to inform the victims of any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecutor.
The legislation again highlights the importance of victims rights:
(i) provide for different ways of presenting victim impact statements;
(j) allow for military impact statements and community impact statements to be considered in all service offences;
(k) provide...that particular attention should be given to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders;
As I indicated earlier, that is completely new to the legislation, and I believe it has fairly good support on both sides of the House.
The legislation would also,
(m) provide for a scale of sanctions in respect of service infractions and for the principles applicable to those sanctions;
(n) provide for a six-month limitation period in respect of summary hearings;
As I said, this legislation has some new aspects that would further enhance what was introduced in the House a number of years ago. Members across the way appear to recognize the value of the legislation, and I hope they will allow it to go to the next step, which is the Senate.
The modernization of our military law is a positive thing, and it is part of a holistic approach this government is taking in being there for the Canadian men and women who serve in our forces. I am thankful for the opportunity to share some thoughts on the matter.
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