Nathan Cullen’s first scrum in two months covered a range of hot topics from Ottawa’s Parliament Hill.
Abandoned boats bill
A secret ballot vote will occur in the House of Commons for two days, starting on Nov. 27, regarding the new abandoned boats bill. Cullen said the government tried to deem Minister Garneau’s Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act inadmissable, putting forward a Liberal proposal instead. But Cullen said the federal option doesn’t have any teeth or reinforcement, such as the Transport Minister’s act.
“Which is, of course, important for the northwest because we have all these abandoned vessels across the coast that have just been orphaned and are a huge legacy and cost for local communities,” Cullen said.
Cullen went on to say that the secret vote, where MPs will vote individually, doesn’t speak well of the federal government’s promise to have more open debates. He asks that mayors, councillors and residents in the coast communities write him to tell him about their stories of dealing with such vessels, and how important funds and rules would be.
Phoenix fiasco continues
During a scrum on Nov 22., Cullen said that the problems with the federal payroll are likely to continue, after being presented with the auditor-general’s latest report.
“The fiasco of Phoenix will continue for the indefinite future. The government has so far spent almost half a billion dollars trying to fix this pay system that they brought in a couple of years ago. They were warned that the system wasn’t ready to work and they pressed start anyway. The auditor also pointed out that there’s no end in sight as to when it’ll work again,” Cullen said.
Federal employees have had problems with getting paid correctly — or at all — since the Phoenix payroll system was implemented two years ago.
He added that the union for IT workers in Canada said that they would need to restart the payroll system entirely but, Cullen said, the Liberal government is unwilling to do so.
CRA gives incorrect advice The auditor-general’s report also included large-scale problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
In the scrum, Cullen called the situation “a complete mess … Fifty per cent of all the calls that are going into CRA right now are being blocked, not answered at all, being denied service entirely. So half of all Canadians calling aren’t able to make it through at all. Of those that are able to make it through, one-third of the advice that they’re getting from CRA is either wrong or bad advice on their taxes. Now keep in mind that if Canadians follow that bad advice, it’s not CRA that’s on the hook for whatever tax errors occur, it’s the Canadians who follow it.”
Cullen said there have been problems with CRA for a number of years.
“‘Sorry, your call is important to us’ is not an answer Canadians want to get when they’re trying to pay their taxes,” Cullen said.