Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, there are many complex aspects of this omnibus legislation. Certainly, even the title, FATCA, foreign accounts taxation and compliance agreement, is one of the most complex.

It certainly would, as the hon. member stated, affect people who have no idea whatsoever that they could be caught in this broad ambit of people who are considered U.S. persons, people like me who were born in the United States but have nothing to do with the United States, who in my case has never lived there as an adult, but purely as a Canadian citizen and renounced U.S. citizenship.

This could apply to me, or my daughter. Then the information is handed over to the IRS without our knowledge.

Now, I want to draw attention to the charter argument, specifically section 15 of the charter, which says “Every individual is equal before and under the law…”. As my hon. colleague mentioned, the leading constitutional law experts of Canada have said that this will violate the charter.

So, as with other legislation, it will get pushed through this place. As in the case of the Nadon appointment or with some of the mandatory minimum sentence laws that were passed, we have clear evidence that we are being asked, as parliamentarians, to push through a piece of legislation that would be offensive to our fundamental rights of equality under the law, under section 15. I ask for the member’s comments.

Scott Brison: Mr. Speaker, this speaks to the challenge of these omnibus bills.

We were denied the opportunity at the appropriate committees to consider all aspects of these changes in a more thorough, methodical, and thoughtful way. There are legal and constitutional issues to consider.

Members of the justice committee, for instance, ought to have been more engaged on the changes to the Supreme Court Act in the last omnibus bill, but instead we ended up getting into an embarrassing fiasco around Justice Nadon’s appointment. This was embarrassing not just for the Conservatives but our citizens as well.

There is some expertise at the finance committee studying FATCA, but there is also a need to work with other committees.

Parliament could be mobilized and engaged more thoroughly if we did not have these kinds of disparate measures lumped together in one budget omnibus bill.

I would agree with the hon. member.