Mr. Speaker, we obviously have no intention of interfering in what the provinces or territories are teaching. What we are going to do is to look at the places, people and events that have helped shaped and make this country a great place to live. We will take no lessons from the NDP with respect to Canadian history when one of its own members, the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, actually talks about Vimy as though it were a scar on Canadian history.
We are proud of our veterans. We are proud of our Canadian history. We are going to do all that we can to work with our partners to make sure that Canadians can reconnect with their history and, as we approach Canada's 150th birthday, celebrate it.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise to ask the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie to apologize to Canadians and to the members of the House for using unparliamentary language during question period.
I cannot be more specific. I asked him to apologize. I could repeat his unparliamentary language, but he used very vulgar language in the House. I am asking him to apologize immediately.
I would remind my hon. colleague to address his comments through the Chair. I do not have $3 billion.
The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
Mr. Speaker, I think I have addressed this a number of times with respect to payments at Mazar-e-Sharif. We have in fact directed that measures be taken to ensure that personnel deployed there are not penalized for an administrative error. It was in fact an intervention on my part and the part of the government that prevented that from happening.
Again, I would ask the member to get on his feet and perhaps explain why his colleague, the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, mocked and belittled the efforts of the Vimy Ridge heroes. That is disgraceful. I have heard nothing but silence from the member.
Mr. Speaker, colleagues from all sides know that it is rare when I stand and am personally critical of individuals in the House.
However, as a result of an online article by the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, I received significant outrage in my riding. As the son of a veteran, I was deeply dismayed to hear the member praise communism and mock the contribution of our veterans.
The NDP leader tried to downplay the article when he said not to forget that it was written years ago. Then the NDP member further defended his article in saying that it is a text with which he has no problem; “I still think like that”.
This offensive article diminishes what Canadian soldiers fought and died to defend in the world war. On their behalf, the member and the Leader of the Opposition need to apologize for their anti-veteran, anti-military, anti-Canadian and indefensible statements.
I ask the member if he still thinks like that.
The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for a short answer. Then we might have time for another question.
Mr. Speaker, it is a known fact that the NDP leader is desperately trying to keep the separatists in his party. Only, last week, he let one slip to go to join the separatist Bloc Québécois.
However, this should come as no surprise. After all, the member for Hull—Aylmer was a member of the Bloc before she joined the NDP; the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie donated 29 times to Québec solidaire, even in 2012; and the member for Laurentides—Labelle has supported the Bloc in the past. In fact, the NDP has more Bloc MPs than the Bloc has MPs.
Unlike the Bloc Québécois and the NDP, we are not interested in reopening old constitutional battles. While the Bloc and the NDP are focused on trying to make it easier to split our country apart, our government remains focused on jobs and economic growth.
Order, please. The Hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie has the floor.
We are against it, Mr. Speaker.
I note that the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, who is normally so mercilessly loud, is mercifully quiet today, as are a lot of members of the NDP. Normally they have rolled their eyes when we have pointed out their separatist donations, their past support for separatist parties, but yesterday, they were once again exposed for their confusing position on national unity.
Canadians do not want a new constitutional crisis. They want us to focus on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, with a certain plan. That is what we have on this side.
Order. We are wasting time. The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for his very pertinent question.
I agree that too often, unfortunately, the Conservative government takes a partisan approach. However, the official opposition should not follow the government's lead either. We currently are experiencing leadership and follow-up problems. In particular, we see what is happening with the Charbonneau commission. One thing is certain: we must not reject the PPP model outright. The Canadian government must assume its role as a full partner, but it must also invest and give itself the tools it needs to resolve certain matters. That does not mean that we have to go this route, but if the PPP model is one possible solution, then it should not be rejected outright.
That said, we should have dedicated funds for transportation, for example. The issue here is sustainable development. It makes no sense for a municipality to lose 40% of its water. Clearly, investing is important, but equally important, leadership must be redefined. As a large municipality, Montreal must play a leading role, but the same also holds true for all Canadian municipalities.
So yes, the government must change its partisan approach. Yes, there must be dedicated funds. Perhaps by having dedicated funds and a genuine national strategy, the government—which unfortunately believes that a government means less government—will be able to address the problems. However, I would advise my colleague not to go to the other extreme and to weigh all of the options. The PPP model could very well be a good option, but that does not mean it is a panacea either.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
Mr. Speaker, last week the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie suggested in his point of order that my private member's bill, Bill C-377, requires a royal recommendation before it can proceed to a third reading vote. The basis for his point of order is that the bill would impose additional spending obligations on the Canada Revenue Agency in order for it to implement my bill's requirements that labour organizations disclose financial information to the agency.
O'Brien and Bosc, at page 833, note that there are two types of bills that require a royal recommendation. The first is an appropriation act, or supply bill, which involves the expenditure of funds from the consolidated revenue fund. The second is a bill that imposes new charges for purposes not anticipated in the estimates. Under this category of bill the charges imposed by legislation are “new and distinct” and are not covered elsewhere.
It is clear from an examination of my bill that Bill C-377 does not seek funds from the public purse, nor is the bill a taxation measure. Bill C-377 can be properly characterized as a bill that would require the Canada Revenue Agency to establish some administrative procedures for the receiving of financial disclosures from labour organizations and to make these materials available to the public.
The costs that the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie quoted as an estimate from the Canada Revenue Agency will not be accurate, should the amendments that I will table today in the House be adopted. In particular, my amendments would remove the requirement for cross-referencing, which is apparently a significant cost when managing databases, and it will require that all filings be electronic. Electronic reporting means no paper and therefore no need to transcribe data manually, which should ensure minimum costs in collecting and posting data. It may be argued that at most, Bill C-337 imposes an administrative obligation of the kind that many non-spending or non-taxation bills would impose on government departments when Parliament wishes to regulate some aspect of economic or social activity.
Clearly, the Canada Revenue Agency already has the administrative apparatus to receive documents and make them available on the CRA website. The argument that there would be an additional cost burden on the department may be met by referring to Speaker Milliken's ruling of October, 2003 where he held:
It is important to remember, however, that the requirement for a royal recommendation relates to the expenditure of public funds and not simply to the fact that someone, somehow or other, may be required to make an expenditure as a result of a provision in the bill.
In this ruling, Speaker Milliken held that Bill S-7, the heritage lighthouse protection act, could conceivably require the expenditure of public funds to maintain a lighthouse, but only once it had been given a heritage designation. He ruled that no royal recommendation was required.
In commenting on Speaker Milliken's ruling of October 29, 2003, O'Brien and Bosc note, on page 834, that any additional expenditures that may be incurred by a department in ensuring that a bill's objects are carried out, fall within the department's operating costs, for which an appropriation would have been obtained in the usual course.
In another ruling on February 10, 1998, Speaker Parent considered a point of order as to whether Bill S-3, an act to amend the Pension Benefit Standards Act 1985 and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act, required a royal recommendation because it gave the Superintendent of Financial Institutions additional supervisory powers. While conceding that the enhanced supervisory powers of the superintendent would require additional expenditures by that office, Speaker Parent noted that there was no provision for spending in the bill. The Speaker went on to rule that should an allocation of money be required an appropriations bill would be brought. He said:
Should an increase in resources be necessary as a result of these new powers, the necessary allocation of money would have to be sought by means of an appropriation bill because I was unable to find any provision for money in Bill S-3.
The factual context of Speaker Parent's February 10, 1998 ruling is analogous to the factual context with respect to Bill C-377.
Through Bill C-377, the agency would be given new responsibilities to oversee financial disclosure from labour organizations, much like the Superintendent of Financial Institutions was given new supervisory powers. The bill that extended those powers was held not to require a royal recommendation, since the allocation of money to facilitate the increased responsibilities would be achieved through an appropriation bill should that be required.
The precedents are clear and they could not be any other way. If we consider for just a moment the consequences of ignoring these decisions by past Speakers, any private member's bill that could potentially lead to the need for the allocation of resources, which would be a long list of bills, would henceforth be challengeable as needing a royal recommendation. That would mean that much private members business could not go forward without the consent of the government. Such a scenario would dramatically impact the rights of members of Parliament to introduce and to have considered a wide range of legislation.
I am confident that upon reflection even the member opposite who raised this point of order does not want to see a situation whereby the government has a virtual veto over much of what happens in private members business.
Mr. Speaker, I look forward to your ruling.
Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the member's attempt at brevity but I must say that it reminded of that old classic movie, Airplane from 1980, penned by Jim Abrahams and David Zucker.
What I kept thinking of when I was listening to his brief presentation was those continuous scenes where Ted Striker, the ex-army pilot who was afraid to fly would continue to tell stories to the people in the seat next to him and they would end up attempting suicide. However, I do want to thank my friend for being at least a little more brief than the official opposition House leader. I will attempt to be even briefer than my friend from the Liberal Party.
I rise to respond to last Thursday's intervention by the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and yesterday's intervention by the hon. member for Saint-Lambert concerning a royal recommendation for Bill C-377, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations).
Bill C-377 was introduced on December 5, 2011, by the member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale and has since been read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance. The bill would amend the Income Tax Act to require labour organizations to provide financial information for public disclosure.
I would note that this bill was not identified by the Speaker as an item of concern with respect to the financial prerogative of the Crown, nor has it been the subject of an intervention by a minister of the Crown or a parliamentary secretary on behalf of one.
The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie argued that the provisions of the bill requiring labour organizations to submit financial information and the requirement for the Canada Revenue Agency to publish the information on a website with search tools somehow represent new and distinct charges on the treasury which are not currently authorized.
The hon. member for Saint-Lambert then added the information provided to the finance committee by the Canada Revenue Agency which provided estimates on the expected incremental costs associated with implementation.
There are procedural authorities and precedents for cases where a new royal recommendation was not required for incremental modifications to expand the operation of provisions already authorized by a royal recommendation. The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie cited page 833 of the second edition of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice. The most relevant portion pertaining to amending bills, such as Bill C-377, is that a royal recommendation is required for:
...bills which authorize new charges for purposes not anticipated in the estimates. The charge imposed by the legislation must be “new and distinct”; in other words, not covered elsewhere by some more general authorization.
Section 220 of the Income Tax Act provides the minister with the authority to administer and enforce the provisions of the act. Indeed, this authority was cited in the same materials provided to the finance committee which the member for Saint-Lambert cited yesterday.
In particular, subsection 220(2) provides broadly and generally that:
Such officers, clerks and employees as are necessary to administer and enforce this Act shall be appointed or employed in the manner authorized by law.
Clearly, the authority to retain any necessary staff has already been addressed by Parliament.
It may also be useful to add here that subsection 5(1) of the Canada Revenue Agency Act provides that:
The Agency is responsible for
(a) supporting the administration and enforcement of the program legislation....
Program legislation is, in turn, defined in section 2 of that act as:
....any other Act of Parliament....
(a) that the Governor in Council or Parliament authorizes the Minister, the Agency, the Commissioner or an employee of the Agency to administer or enforce, including the....the Income Tax Act....
Indeed, this broad mandate already enjoyed by the Canada Revenue Agency is addressed in response to the Liberal question 1(a) in the finance committee materials the hon. member for Saint-Lambert cited, which asked how Bill C-377 aligns with the Canada Revenue Agency's mandate.
The agency replied:
A measure introduced by Parliament that is incorporated into the Income Tax Act and falls under the responsibility of the Minister of National Revenue will be administered by the CRA. Parliament determines if a measure will be incorporated into the Income Tax Act.
In other words, the Canada Revenue Agency has already been given a broad, sweeping mandate to administer and enforce federal taxation laws. Meanwhile, other existing provisions of the Income Tax Act allow the minister to require certain persons or entities to file information for the purposes of taxation.
Specifically, for example, subsection 149(14) dealing with qualified donors provides a requirement for public foundations to
—file with the Minister both an information return and a public information return for the year in prescribed form and containing prescribed information.
In other words, the act already requires information to be submitted to the minister in a prescribed form and containing prescribed information. Therefore, this does not constitute a new function, mandate or duty for the minister or the agency.
The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie also argued that making the information public represented a new and distinct activity that was not currently authorized.
First, the agency has a comprehensive website which publishes lots of information and materials, so that would not be a new responsibility for the agency.
As for making information public, I would note that the Income Tax Act provides provisions now to that effect. Subsection 149(15) relates to information that may be communicated in respect of charitable organizations. It states:
—the information contained in a public information return...shall be communicated or otherwise made available to the public by the Minister in such manner as the Minister deems appropriate...the Minister may make available to the public in any manner that the Minister considers appropriate...
In other words, the act provides the minister with the authority to publish in any manner the minister considers appropriate the content of a public information return. That other information would fall within an existing mandate and duty does not, I submit, require a royal recommendation.
Turning to some precedents, on February 10, 1998, at page 3647 of the Debates, Bill S-3, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act, was found not to require a royal recommendation. In his ruling, Mr. Speaker Parent said, in a case where powers were expanded yet no royal recommendation was needed, that:
It seems fairly evident that the powers of the superintendent would be extended by Bill S-3. It may well be that additional expenditures would be incurred because of those enhanced powers of the superintendent. Should an increase in resources be necessary as a result of these new powers, the necessary allocation of money would have to be sought by means of an appropriation bill because I was unable to find any provision for money in Bill S-3.
The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie made mention of the additional tasks which would fall to the employees of the agency as well as training which might be required for the new filings. Your immediate predecessor's ruling, Mr. Speaker, at page 7261 of the Debates for February 23, 2007 on Bill C-327, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act answers this point, states:
Bill C-327 may or may not result in a greater workload for the CRTC, but the activities being proposed are within its mandate. If additional staff or resources are required to perform these activities then they would be brought forward in a separate appropriation bill for Parliament’s consideration.
More recent, on October 26, 2010, Mr. Speaker Milliken ruled concerning the need for a royal recommendation for Bill C-300, an act respecting corporate accountability for the activities of mining, oil or gas in developing countries. The bill, among other things, required the Minister of Foreign Affairs to establish a process for the examination of complaints concerning possible contraventions of the guidelines. The Speaker ruled then:
—the Chair is of the view that the examination of such complaints is not a departure from or expansion of the current ministerial mandate under the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act...Bill C-300 may put forth more stringent requirements, but it does not expand the mandate per se.
It may be that a reorganization of resources or even additional funds would be required, however, it appears these would be operational in nature.
I submit that Bill C-377 is consistent with the precedents cited in that it does not authorize a new expenditure of public funds. Rather it deals with the operation of provisions already authorized by Parliament which were accompanied by a royal recommendation at the time these provisions were enacted.
The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie mentioned that there was nothing set out in the recently tabled supplementary estimates (B) for this fiscal year. The hon. member for Saint-Lambert also claimed that this was confirmed in the agency's answers to finance committee.
Let us be clear. The usual practice we can expect to see unfold would be that the agency would account for its operations under Bill C-377, should it become law, in its estimates after the bill becomes law. That is a common practice with respect to any proposed legislation that has not yet been enacted. The supplementary estimates argument advanced by those hon. members is really a red herring in this entire debate.
Should Bill C-377 become law, the authority to spend for the purposes set out in the bill will be under the general authority of existing broader provisions of the Income Tax Act as well as the agency's general authorities under the Canada Revenue Agency Act. Should additional funds be required, the government would seek them from Parliament as part of the supply cycle through an appropriations bill in the ordinary manner for operating expenses.
I respectively submit that Bill C-377 does not require a royal recommendation and is properly before the House.
The electoral district of Rosemont--La Petite-Patrie (Quebec) has a population of 105,864 with 82,037 registered voters and 212 polling divisions.
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