This week I have a good news story to share. It concerns a rare example of MPs shunning partisan sparring to support legislation that just makes sense.
I am pleased to report that the legislation that has appealed to so many Canadians and MPs alike is my Private Member?s Bill, C-246. This legislation would amend Canada?s income tax act to allow a tax deduction for expenses related to the adoption of a child.
Surprisingly, the words that may best sum up the spirit of the second hour of debate of my bill last Friday, just before the House of Commons began its Easter Break, came from NDP MP Pat Martin, who said, ?It is a fitting way to end the week on such a positive note.?
He delivered his enthusiastic endorsement for C-246 and it was echoed by Conservative, New Democrat and Bloc Quebecois MPs.
However, it?s the private expression of support by members of the Liberal caucus that has given me some measure of hope for the bill?s future. Whether because they simply see the wisdom in Bill C-246 or because they?ve been hearing from so many of their constituents and Canadians who?ve written and emailed them on this issue, these backbench Liberals are not meekly following the ?official? Liberal government rejection of C-246.
Representing the government?s position, MP John McKay, Parliamentary Secretary to the Finance Minister, suggested an adoption expenses tax deduction would make distinctions among families and children. He even called the costs related to adoption ?discretionary expenses?.
That?s like comparing a couple?s decision to buy a stereo to their decision to adopt a child! Often, they have no alternative when a relative tragically dies leaving children behind, or following years of unsuccessful and expensive attempts to conceive a biological child. Many Canadians feel driven to save special needs, neglected, abused or orphaned children here in Canada or to literally save the lives of children from foreign countries.
Regardless of their motives, and the emotional rewards adoptive parents themselves reap through adoption, all Canadians benefit from their personal financial expense ? a minimum of $10,000 for a domestic adoption and as much as $50,000 for an international adoption.
As for the government?s assertion that this legislation would somehow create different classes of families, Bill C-246 actually strives to correct an inequity in Canada?s tax laws. By doing nothing to mitigate the financial burden of adoptive parents or to encourage adoption when so many children are waiting, the federal government itself has created a separate costly class of adoptive families.
Private Member?s Business is supposed to be subject to a ?free vote? by MPs. It is my hope that that the Liberals will respect this Parliamentary tradition when MPs vote on April 20th on whether to kill C-246 or send it to the House of Commons Finance Committee for review.
Should Paul Martin call an election before Bill C-246 winds its way through the Parliamentary process, I gave notice in the House last Friday that I intend to win my seat in the next election and I intend to re-introduce legislation to provide a tax deduction for adoptive parents in the next Parliament. This is an issue I have no intention of giving up on.