Minister discusses senate reform and taxes

Canada’s Minister of National Revenue said the government is waiting on the opinion of the Supreme Court when it comes to senate reform.

Canada’s Minister of National Revenue said the government is waiting on the opinion of the Supreme Court when it comes to senate reform.

“We’re waiting for that report so we can see what we can do unilaterally as a parliament to make changes, or what requires full constitutional amendments,” Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay said earlier this month.

Constitutional amendments are not easy to make in Canada, she said warning amendments require majority support from the provinces.

Findlay said the different provinces have varying views of senate reform.

The West has always felt under-represented in the senate by numbers and is probably leading the way in respect to reform, she added.

“Of course our prime minister has stood for that quite clearly and has always said the senate has to be reformed or abolished.”

Findlay suggested most Canadians would like to see a reformed senate, not necessarily an abolished senate.

A few years ago, the Conservative government established higher disclosure rules for senators.

“Senators have been shown to not be as transparent or forthright as we would like them to be so we’re looking forward to that Supreme Court of Canada reference because we want to get on with the business of senate reform.”

Taxes

Findlay said the federal tax burden is at its lowest in 50 years.

“We are working toward a balanced budget by 2015 but doing it by creating more jobs and more opportunities and keeping taxes low.”

It’s better for Canadians to have more money in their pockets and make decisions on how to spend it, not hand it over to government, she said.

When asked if lower taxes results in a transfer of the burden over to municipal and provincial governments, Findlay questioned if those levels of government are not managing the money they have with the same approach as the federal government. “That’s a question each region and municipality has to ask itself,” Findlay responded. “Our transfer payments to the provinces for health care has increased six per cent every year since we came into government seven years ago. We’re funding it more than 40 per cent higher than we were when we came into power.”

Different provinces had jurisdiction over their health care and have different levels of efficiency with the money they are getting, Findlay said.

“When it comes to municipalities it varies. Some are doing really well and some are trying to raise taxes. It comes down to management I would suggest.”