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Results: 1 - 15 of 246
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2023-02-02 14:26 [p.11178]
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the leader of the Bloc Québécois met with the federal representative to combat Islamophobia, Amira Elghawaby.
Ms. Elghawaby, who has the full support of the Prime Minister, has made headlines since her appointment for numerous statements against Quebeckers. Even the Quebec Liberal lieutenant was insulted. The National Assembly has asked for her resignation. She cannot stay.
Will the Prime Minister finally rectify the situation and ask for her resignation?
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2023-02-02 14:27 [p.11178]
Mr. Speaker, not only is Ms. Elghawaby the wrong person for the job, but the job itself is a problem. Wrong person for the wrong job. Everyone realizes that the purpose of this role is to convince people that Bill 21 is evil, that Quebec is racist and that secularism is Islamophobic. That is not true. Rather than building bridges between communities, this kind of role builds barriers.
Will the Prime Minister back down and get rid of the position of special representative to combat Islamophobia?
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2023-02-01 18:31 [p.11124]
moved that Bill C-239, An Act to amend An Act to authorize the making of certain fiscal payments to provinces, and to authorize the entry into tax collection agreements with provinces, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today about the single tax return. I will talk about it more later. Quebeckers have been wanting this for a long time. The House needs to understand why they want a single tax return. The reason is that they have to file two tax returns: the federal return and the Quebec tax return. Why is that?
Let us go back to the beginning. To understand why someone is suffering or to understand a problem, we must learn about the history of the problem. The problem actually began in 1867 when Canada was created. Many believe that it was created by people from Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, who were all united in saying that they wanted a country that would be called “Canada” and who were determined to come together. That kind of thing only happens in fairy tales. In reality, it did not happen that way at all.
It is very simple. In 1854, Canada signed a reciprocity treaty with the Americans. Why? Because Canada used to sell goods to its mother country, Great Britain, which later turned to Europe instead. The British said they would not buy anything from Canada anymore; they were turning to Europe and they would do free trade. What happened was that the rich folks in Canada had nowhere to sell their products. They thought it might be nice to sell to the United States, so they signed this reciprocity agreement with the Americans in 1854.
After that, we began trading with the United States. We created trains to sell Canadian products to the United States. Unfortunately, the Americans decided they were going to kill each other with the Civil War. Since the English had an affinity with the south, they allied themselves with the southerners. The northerners won. The northerners wondered who these disgusting people were who had supported the south. It was the mother country, Great Britain, so they decided to take it out on her babies. They turned on us and said they no longer wanted anything to do with us.
We wondered what we would do if we could no longer sell to the Americans. That is when a few visionaries, the fathers of Confederation, quickly met together. We are not talking about a huge group of people coming together in song. No. They were wondering what they should do, because they could no longer sell their products. That is when Canada was created. There was no singing, no music, no speeches. It was just the fathers of Confederation meeting together for the first time in Charlottetown talking amongst themselves. They were plotting. In the end, they created Canada. People were wondering what that was. One Quebec humorist always said that Canada was doomed to failure because a bunch of fathers giving birth to something was never going to work.
In 1867, the fathers of Confederation felt it was absolutely necessary for the federal government to be very strong, so there would be a very united market. The provinces' powers needed to be limited, to prevent a civil war from breaking out like in the United States. The fathers of Confederation decided to make the provinces insignificant. The provinces would be given some taxing rights and a few responsibilities. The fathers of Confederation thought they were great visionaries. A blind mole has more vision.
Later on, they decided to give Quebec and the provinces a little bit of power, in other words the right to manage education and health, things they felt were insignificant. At the time, those things were the responsibility of the clergy. One hundred years later, we see that they were way out in left field. They also decided to give the provinces income tax, because they did not know what it was and thought it likely would not matter much. That was a serious mistake.
That is where my story begins, when they gave income tax to Quebec and the provinces. The first province to realize that there was something to this was British Columbia. It got to work and started to collect money in 1873.
Then came the First World War. The federal government figured it would be a good idea to tax income to pay for that war. That was in 1917. The federal government realized it could bring in a lot of cash that way. The tax was not supposed to outlast the war, but the government decided to keep it to pay off the debt. After 1929, the government said it would keep it because the dirty thirties were trying times. It spread its tentacles and made itself right at home.
Then came the Second World War. Subtle as a brick through a window, the government decided to maintain the status quo. After the war, they figured everything was fine, so why change it ever?
The federal government talked about benefits, and all the provinces except Ontario and Quebec reached an agreement in 1947. The government did it again in 1952. It told the provinces that was that and it was taking over that tax field going forward. Everyone got on board, except Quebec. Quebec always marched to the beat of its own drum, which is to be expected considering we are a nation and a people.
Quebec struck the Tremblay commission to figure out what to do about it. Before long, a consensus was reached, as articulated by Duplessis. In 1954, Quebec told Canada to make room in that tax field because it wanted its share too. The public service needed big changes, and Quebec needed money. That is why we have to submit two tax returns.
The Bloc Québécois is proposing that there be only one tax return. In Canada, there would still be two tax policies. The federal government and the Quebec government would each have their own tax policy. However, there would be only one tax collector, and that is Quebec. It will collect all the income taxes. At the end of the year, the government that collects the tax will write a cheque to the other government and give it the money it is owed under its tax policy. The government that is not responsible for collecting the money will pay for services rendered.
This model already exists. Some say that it does not make sense, but they just need a little more vision. This model is already being used for the GST and the QST, and no one has died so far. It has not been a huge pain, and no one is going around saying that it is so awful they will die. This model exists. Quebec collects the GST for the federal government. There is only one tax collector. The federal government tells Quebec to go and get the money in a certain way and sends a cheque at the end of the year. It sends $145 million to Quebec as thanks, so that Quebec can pay its officials. That is how it works.
The tax collector should be Quebec, because Revenu Québec asks for a lot more information. The Quebec government's policies and interventions are more numerous and more complex. Quebec needs more information because it manages child care, schools, health care and so on. It needs this information so it knows where to provide these services. Tax data allows the government to do that. For instance, it uses the data to determine support payments for separated couples. The Quebec government can then deduct the amounts at source and give them to the spouse who is entitled to them.
Plus, if Quebec continues doing the collecting, it will not lose a jurisdiction that is required for collection. It keeps its jurisdictions. If Ottawa stops acting as the collector in Quebec, but continues collecting in the other provinces, there is no problem, it will keep those jurisdictions.
In addition, Quebeckers want the Quebec government to be in charge of collecting this money. Quebec's National Assembly unanimously passed a motion to that effect on May 15, 2018. Even the staunch federalist Philippe Couillard was there and voted for it. I was the one who tabled the motion. I remember, I was there. I could see Philippe Couillard, staunch federalist that he is, smiling. He knew what he was doing and he thought it was a good idea. In addition, the motion stated that Quebec would collect the taxes.
Why do that? It saves time and money. According to economist François Vaillancourt, it takes Quebeckers 10% longer to file their tax return than if they only had to file one. This is scientifically proven with econometric models. We are not talking 50% longer, just 10%. With technology, it is 10%. That amounts to $39 million a year for Quebeckers who have someone else file their tax return.
That would represent $99 million in savings for entrepreneurs. In addition, entrepreneurs should have less paperwork and we should help them. ensuring that they only have to file one return is one way to help them. It would be much simpler and would represent $99 million in savings.
No one needs a PhD in mathematics to understand that when the federal government and Quebec each have their own returns, two people are doing the same job. Can we afford to have two people doing the same job? That could mean $287 million per year in savings that would be shared by the federal government and Quebec. It would benefit everyone. We must understand that it would be beneficial for everyone, and I am not just talking about the time we could save.
What are the counter-arguments? First, jobs. Two people are doing the same job, and we have to wonder why that work cannot be done by a single person. Seems sensible to me. People will lose their jobs, they say. Yes, but here is the thing. Quebec will hire some of them because there will be more work to do and it will need more people, so some of them will go work in Quebec, and it will be easy enough to give them the same working conditions they had in the federal public service.
Keep in mind that we are in the third decade of the 21st century, and we are not seeing the 13% and 15% unemployment rates we used to see.
Mr. Speaker, you are young, but I am sure you have heard about high unemployment in the 1980s. Those days are done. The problem now is a labour shortage.
The government keeps going on about how the passport situation is tough because there are not enough workers.
People who contact the Canada Revenue Agency are not getting any service. We are told that it is because of the labour shortage. People who need EI are not getting the services they need. We are told that it is because of the labour shortage. The immigration department is assigning files to people who do not even work there anymore. Once again, it is because of the labour shortage.
What I am saying is that there is a pool of extremely competent workers in the government who can stay at the Canada Revenue Agency, which will need more people. They could also work on tax evasion files, or they could go and work elsewhere in the public service. Plus, if this is done gradually, they can all transition to retirement and their positions can be eliminated through attrition.
Some people will argue that the feds share information with other countries. When tax returns are filed, we have to talk with other countries to avoid doubling up on accounting and taxation. If Quebec were collecting taxes, those agreements would no longer be valid.
However, we could tell the United States that the federal government used to provide this service, but that Quebec is now doing it and that the agreement is off. When the United States finds out that Quebec is a free trade zone now, that people are leaving the U.S. to work in Quebec and that it will not have any information anymore, it will get in touch with the Quebec government. That is how it will work itself out.
The last criticism of this idea is not complicated. Some say that the federal government would lose out on information that is important for keeping its public service running and for making informed decisions. That is not true, because the Quebec government collects more information than the federal government. The Quebec government could simply transmit any information requested by the federal government. The opposite cannot happen, because the Quebec government has a much larger database. This is why a single tax return is needed. It is as simple as that.
In 2019, Quebeckers were surveyed on whether they were in favour of a single tax return with Quebec as the tax collector. Fully 65% of respondents said yes, 22% said no, and 12% were not sure.
The National Assembly of Quebec is on our side, Quebec is on our side and common sense is on our side. It is time to join the 21st century, figure out a smart way to deal with the labour shortage and pass this bill.
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2023-02-01 18:48 [p.11126]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his questions.
First, there is a reality in Quebec that does not exist in the other provinces. Quebec is the only place in Canada where people have to complete two tax returns. We are not proposing that the CRA be dismantled. It will still exist in Quebec, but it would simply no longer collect any personal or business income tax. That is all. It would still have other things to do.
That being said, we are the only ones who have to complete two tax returns. My colleague is talking about situations in Canada where there is only one tax return. I think that is great. That is what I want.
As for the rest, I honestly did not really understand what he was getting at.
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2023-02-01 18:49 [p.11127]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I really like my colleague.
The last time we worked on this bill, let us just say that the Conservatives were not too enthusiastic about it. In the end, they abstained from voting in committee and then supported us. Maybe the Conservatives are not as convinced about the merits of the single tax return as the Bloc Québécois. However, I have to admit that this time, the Conservatives are on the right side of history, and I applaud them.
Clearly, I want the bill to be passed right away. I believe we have all the reasons and arguments in favour of doing so, and I do not see why we would delay. I think it is time to take action. We are people of goodwill, and we can start fixing this problem right away.
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2023-02-01 18:51 [p.11127]
Mr. Speaker, 3,000 is not even 10% of 35,000.
First of all, this can be done over several years.
Second, I think the hon. member, who sits with us in the House, understands when the government repeatedly tells us that it cannot provide services because there are not enough public servants. It turns out that it is giving all the work to McKinsey.
I do not think we need to dig any further to realize that, although the public service has increased in numbers, it still is not big enough. It does not take a genius to figure out that when there is a labour shortage that translates into a shortage of services, it means more workers need to be hired. However, when there is a labour shortage, it is difficult to turn to the labour market because we are at full employment and everyone is chasing the same people. Employers are even putting on shows to attract people to come and work for them.
We are not suggesting that 3,000 workers should be laid off. We are not using 20th century language. We want to reallocate these 3,000 workers to where they will be even more useful, and it will not cost anything because they are already being paid. Who can oppose that?
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2023-01-30 14:43 [p.10934]
Mr. Speaker, Quebec has the legitimacy required to democratically make its own societal choices.
That is why it is unacceptable for the federal government to threaten to attack the notwithstanding clause. The notwithstanding clause is the only provision that guarantees to Quebec and the provinces that the federal government and the judges it appoints will not be the only ones to decide what we have the right to do in our province.
The Quebec premier stated that it was a direct attack on the ability of our nation to protect its collective rights.
Will Ottawa back off?
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2023-01-30 14:44 [p.10934]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to read a passage about the notwithstanding clause: “It is a way that the legislatures, federal and provincial, have of ensuring that the last word is held by the elected representatives of the people rather than by the courts.” Those are the words of Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
Even Pierre Elliott Trudeau recognized the importance of the notwithstanding clause in a healthy democracy. Now his son is doing the opposite. He wants the courts to take the last word away from elected officials.
Will the government back down?
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2023-01-30 14:45 [p.10934]
Mr. Speaker, we know the Liberals want to challenge Bill 21 on secularism, but Bill 96 is about the French language. Attacking the notwithstanding clause is to be expected. They want to make absolutely sure Quebec will never be able to introduce bills like 21 and 96, never be able to stand up for its collective rights, never have the right to its own distinct values. Basically, the problem is that Quebeckers are different and they cannot accept that.
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2022-12-14 17:01 [p.10897]
Mr. Speaker, I have made a little list so that I do not forget anyone. When I am saying thank you to people and forget someone, I feel like I look a little crazy. I do not want to end the parliamentary proceedings looking crazy.
First, I would like to thank the House leader of the official opposition, who is new here. I am slowly getting to know him and I must say that the future is bright. We get along well and I am certain that, despite the fact that we are at the beginning of our friendship, I have a lot of hope that we will develop something very solid, much like I have developed with the other leaders who came before him. I am very happy to work with this gentleman, and I know that we will develop a great relationship. I am convinced of that.
I would like to thank the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. I have been getting to know him for a year. We are getting to know each other, a bit like in The Little Prince. I see great things in his future. I feel that our relationship is improving, and we are developing a genuine friendship. I think he is an amazing guy, and so I salute the member for Ajax for the work he has done.
Finally, I want to thank a veteran of this place, the member for New Westminster—Burnaby. He is the NDP member with whom I have always worked. He teaches me a lot because he really has a great deal of experience. I have to say that we have a good relationship. We work well together, and I am certain that we will continue to do so.
The House leader of the official opposition mentioned that we have extraordinary staff, and I believe that everyone here recognizes that. I salute all the employees who help us do our jobs, be better people and, above all, do our work properly for our constituents.
As politicians, we work hard and often forget the people who make it possible for us to do our jobs properly. I have a list with me. It is very important.
I thank the House of Commons clerks, law clerks and analysts. I thank the team of interpreters, who are so important to our party, which insists on keeping French alive in the House.
I thank the pages, who have bright futures ahead of them. I imagine that this work is of great benefit to them. They learn much about what to do and what not to do. No matter, this experience will serve them well in the future. I salute them. Perhaps we will meet one day in another place. I will then reflect on the success of these young people who, quite frankly, are extraordinary.
I thank the maintenance and food service teams. I thank the IT technicians. Less capable people like me often call on them for help. I know first-hand how extraordinarily patient they are with dinosaurs.
I thank the shuttle drivers. We must not forget them. They are always there for us. I thank the Hill reporters, whose daily reports on the goings-on here are good for our democracy. Let us not forget that.
Lastly, I want to thank you, Madam Speaker, and your team, the Speaker and Deputy Speakers, who put us at ease. When I rise in the House and look at you, I feel that at least one person here is listening to me, and that is wonderful. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
I wish everyone a lovely holiday, a happy new year and a merry Christmas, and may 2023 bring us all that we desire.
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2022-12-08 14:25 [p.10665]
Mr. Speaker, the contract the government awarded to Sinclair Technologies, which is partly owned by Chinese interests accused of espionage, is extremely troubling. We know that the contract was just cancelled, but the government still gave a Chinese government-owned company access to the RCMP's classified frequencies. The contract was for a filtering system that ensures the confidentiality of the communications of the Prime Minister and foreign heads of state visiting Canada.
No one thought any security checks were in order. Can the Prime Minister explain this?
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2022-12-08 14:26 [p.10665]
Mr. Speaker, let us talk about those measures. The federal government has a Crown corporation whose mandate is to monitor communications security. It is called the CSE, the Communications Security Establishment. Nobody in government thought to ask CSE experts to assess the national security risk associated with this contract, which gave a company accused of espionage in the U.S. access to the RCMP's secret frequencies.
Nobody in government thought to ask the CSE to look into this. What is the Prime Minister's explanation for that?
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2022-12-07 14:29 [p.10550]
Mr. Speaker, is there anyone who has not heard the story of the man listening to the radio in his car who hears on the news that a dangerous driver is driving against traffic? He yells at the radio, “there isn't just one, there are a hundred”, because he does not realize that he is the dangerous driver. The Government of Canada is behaving in the exact same way, and it is not that funny.
Quebec, the provinces and, today, the Canadian Medical Association are asking the federal government to increase health care funding.
When will the government stop going the wrong way, start heading in the right direction and increase health transfers?
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2022-12-07 14:30 [p.10550]
Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Medical Association asked for an increase in federal health care funding, but that has not happened. This is typical and has been going on for years.
Ottawa says it is co-operating, but that is not true. There is no co-operation. Everyone knows that the federal government is underfunding Quebec's health care system, but Ottawa is still withholding funding. Everyone knows that Ottawa knows nothing about delivering health care, but it still wants to impose standards.
Patients do not need lectures. Patients need health care.
Will the government increase health transfers, yes or no?
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2022-12-06 10:50 [p.10469]
Madam Speaker, when I was a child, there were stories on TV. They all used to end with “they got married and had many children”. The NDP and the Liberals got married and had many closure motions. They impose closure on themselves. They impose closure on the House of Commons. We have never seen an opposition party so eager to keep quiet. Sometimes, when we hear them talk, we can understand them.
Seriously, the government has negotiated 20 closure motions with the NDP. There was a motion that said the government could extend sittings until midnight up to June 23, if it so desired.
Let us look at the legislative agenda: Today we are studying Bill C-32; tomorrow, Bill C-32; Thursday, Bill C-32; Friday, Bill C-32. That is what is on the agenda.
They can extend the sittings until midnight, but that is not enough for them. They are in a hurry. Their bill is urgent. What do they do? They decide. My colleague, the Minister of Tourism, said that they are fed up. I would like to remind them that they are in Parliament. This is a democracy. I know that the Prime Minister once said he admired China and China’s dictatorship, but at some point he will have to learn to listen to the opposition, because the opposition parties often have important and relevant things to say. It might inspire them not to introduce bills like Bill C-31. That is why the NDP is on its knees licking the Liberals’ shoes; it is all for Bill C-31.
I have been a member of the House for 10 years, and I have never seen such a rotten bill. It is not me saying that, it is Mario Dumont, when he wrote about dental insurance and Bill C-31 in his column. The bill was so badly put together that they must have been hanging their heads in shame as they drafted it. That is why the NDP supported 20 gag orders. It is a little embarrassing.
My question is for the NDP. Are members of the NDP not ashamed of having supported 20 gag orders and not saying anything?
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