The words coming out of a Conservative MP’s mouth were a bit too rich for Peter Julian on Thursday, prompting the NDP MP to shout an outburst during question period.
It happened while Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre his attack on the Liberals’ proposed tax reforms, targeting the finance minister’s company, Morneau Shepell.
The Carleton MP pointed out how the company has a registered subsidiary in Barbados, a popular tax haven for Canadian companies. Poilievre repeatedly asked why the government hasn’t done anything to address the 1980 Barbados treaty that gave way to tax evasion schemes — which seemingly annoyed Julian.
“The Conservatives signed it!” Julian yelled before being chided by Speaker Geoff Regan for unparliamentary behaviour.
“I would ask the member for New Westminster—Burnaby to try to restrain himself, and I do not want to hear that kind of outburst from him again,” Regan said.
Canadian tax havens increased in 2009
Barbados is the No. 3 offshore destination for Canadian companies to park their cash, according to StatCan. The Caribbean island sheltered some $68.3 billion dollars of direct Canadian investment last year alone.
The incentive for Canadian companies to bring money to Barbados is its low tax rate (up to 2.5 per cent). So by creating an offshore subsidiary, companies can pay low taxes on international profits and repatriate those profits back to Canada, tax-free.
And that’s because of a treaty signed between Canada and Barbados in 1980 by Joe Clark’s Conservative government.
But despite the continued criticism against tax evaders, a series of deals signed in 2009 increased the number of tax havens available to Canadian companies.
Those deals, called Tax Information Exchange Agreements, were negotiated by Stephen Harper’s former Conservative government. The agreements allow countries to take in Canadian direct investment, but on the condition that offshore account information is shared with Canadian authorities.
Canada has Tax Information Exchange Agreements with 22 countries including Aruba, Bahrain, and the Cayman Islands.
Liberal MP agrees with Tory motion
The Liberals have been facing scrutiny from the opposition as well as Canadian small business owners for its proposed suite of tax changes.
On Tuesday, Liberal MP Wayne Long broke rank and voted in favor of a Conservative motion to extend tax reform consultations, calling the 75-day period that wrapped Monday to be too short. He was the only Liberal to do so.
The motion was easily defeated by the Liberal majority government, 198 to 89.
Long’s office confirmed the MP will be reprimanded for his action, but claimed the matter to be an internal issue and would not share specific details of his punishment.
With a file from The Canadian Press
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Author: Zi-Ann Lum