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Second Reading Speech - Tax Convention and Arrangement Implementation Bill, 2016

 

Tax Convention and Arrangement Implementation Bill, 2016

Bill to Amend—Second Reading

Leave having been given to revert to Government Business, Bills, Second Reading, Order No. 1:

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Greene, seconded by the Honourable Senator Runciman, for the second reading of Bill S-4, An Act to implement a Convention and an Arrangement for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and to amend an Act in respect of a similar Agreement.

Hon. Scott Tannas: Honourable senators, as critic, I wanted to speak to Bill S-4, to implement a Convention and an Arrangement for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and to amend an Act in respect of a similar Agreement.

Honourable senators, strengthening Canada's relationship with any country committed to deepening trade and investment is, as my kids would say, a "no-brainer." Parliamentarian and trade expert Ed Fast has said on numerous occasions that with increased trade comes improved prosperity, strengthened financial security and a higher standard of living. In order to protect and strengthen the financial security of hardworking Canadians, we must pursue policies based on practical realism over those based on outdated and long-discredited anti-trade ideology. Bill S-4 provides such an opportunity.

This bill is not complicated, as much of it is rooted in the decade of Harper governance when over 40 trade agreements were negotiated and over 92 tax agreements were signed. I believe Senator Greene referred to it as the "continuity of a government bill from the previous government."

Taxes can strain growth. The more tax, the less growth. So when Canada signed the convention with Israel and began to implement a tax arrangement with Taiwan, there was never an intention to tax people twice. Taxing them once, some would argue, was more than enough.

For me, Bill S-4 makes complete sense. As noted by Senator Bellemare, this legislation is effectively composed of three parts. It stems from a previously announced convention with the State of Israel and an arrangement with Taiwan. The bill also amends the Canada-Hong Kong Tax Agreement Act, to add greater certainty.

What I would like to bring to the attention of honourable senators is the direct impact the bill will have on the province that elected me to this place, specifically the special relationship that Alberta has fostered with the people of Taiwan. As far as I can tell, only the Provinces of Quebec and Alberta have provincial registration and representation in Taipei, encouraging and growing trade.

Here are some other facts that I would like to share with you. Alberta has maintained a presence in Taipei since 1988 and is co- located with the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei. Taiwan ranks as Alberta's fifteenth largest export market. From 2011 to 2015, Alberta's exports to Taiwan averaged $172 million per year and consisted primarily of hides and skins, wood pulp, plastics, nickel, cobalt, beef and pork, and iron and steel. From 2011 to 2015, Alberta's direct imports from Taiwan averaged $216 million a year and included electrical machinery, iron and steel products, machinery, vehicles, rubber and plastics.

As recently as 2015, the Alberta forestry division participated in an engineered wood products workshop organized by Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, the Alberta Taiwan Office and United Forestry Products Cooperative. The workshop launched a joint initiative to promote Alberta-engineered wood products in Taiwan, a direct impact on Alberta's forestry industry and their exports to Taiwan.

In 2014, the Alberta Taiwan Office held the Alberta Shale Gas Development and Opportunities Seminar to share some of the latest developments in Alberta's energy industry for Taiwanese professionals, with speakers from Alberta, including the Alberta Energy and the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

On the education front, there are a number of partnerships between Alberta post-secondary schools and Taiwanese institutions. In 2014-15, there were 151 students from Taiwan who pursued post-secondary degrees, diplomas and certificates in Alberta.

Honourable senators, for many Albertans and many more Canadians, Bill S-4 will have a real and direct impact. This bill also speaks to the vision of the former prime minister and his government and Stephen Harper's commitment to pursue a very aggressive trade policy — one that this government, we hope, will continue.

For these reasons alone, I urge all honourable senators to support this bill and send it to committee. For my kids and for me, it's a no-brainer.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are senators ready for the question?

Some Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Bill read second time.)

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Greene, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce.)

Link to Speech in Debates of Chamber:

https://sencanada.ca/en/content/sen/chamber/421/debates/078db_2016-11-29-e#22