Omnibus bill targets bees — and more

MP Cathy McLeod defends an omnibus bill introduced by her Conservative government

By Cam Fortems

Kamloops This Week

Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo  MP Cathy McLeod has defended an omnibus bill introduced by her  Conservative government as a extension of its spring budget.

The bill includes a grab-bag of measures, ranging from tax breaks for beekeepers to provisions banning cable companies from charging for paper bills.

“Most of the things are income tax and financial measures,” McLeod said.

“There’s things in the budget, like the DNA databank, that will have a cost and was in the budget.”

Much of the 458-page bill involves the complicated implementation of tax changes and other budget measures, including revisions to the Investment Canada Act.

There are some tax breaks for families and students.

One section broadens the scope of the national DNA bank.

Another tightens the rules around the temporary foreign workers system.

Still another establishes a long-promised Arctic research station.

McLeod highlighted a proposed doubling of the child fitness tax credit and an end to companies charging to send out paper bills — something she has heard complaints about at the constituency level.

Conspicuous by its absence, however, is a controversial proposal to amend the Copyright Act to give a politician or party the power to use video, audio and photographs from news outlets.

A cabinet document presented by Heritage Minister Shelly Glover and obtained earlier this month by CTV News and the Canadian Press indicated the proposed copyright changes would be included an upcoming budget bill.

One measure in the bill increases the maximum amount that may be claimed under the child fitness tax credit and makes that credit refundable beginning in 2015.

Another extends the existing tax credit for interest paid on student loans to interest paid on a Canada Apprentice Loan.

The bill extends a tax deferral for breeding animals to bees and to all types of horses over 12 months of age that are kept for breeding.

The bill makes a handful of changes to the Investment Canada Act, which governs foreign takeovers of Canadian companies.

The amendments will allow Ottawa to disclose more information about its decision when it denies a takeover due to national security concerns as it did when it rejected a deal Manitoba Telecom Services had signed to sell Allstream to Egyptian investment group Accelero Capital for $520 million.

Ottawa has been criticized for the lack of disclosure about the review process under the act.

The changes also will require foreign companies to disclose to Ottawa when they acquire a stake in a Canadian business through the conversion of a loan or other financial assistance.

The bill also includes measures with little connection to the budget.

One bans broadcasters and cable and satellite providers from charging customers for paper bills, a measure the Conservatives have promised and touted as a consumer-protection measure.

Another part of the bill establishes the Canadian High Arctic Research Station, a federal research organization that is to be responsible for advancing knowledge of the Arctic.

There is a section expanding the DNA data bank.

It will now include DNA profiles from missing persons, their relatives and from human remains.

The idea is to help police, coroners and medical examiners to find missing persons and identify human remains.

The legislation specifies the purposes for which the commissioner of the RCMP may communicate the results of comparisons of DNA profiles and details what DNA comparisons can be used for.

The omnibus bill also enacts the government’s promised EI tax break for small businesses.


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