Canada in brief: Oct. 6, 2010

Government seizes student society back taxes

MONTREAL (CUP) — The federal and Quebec governments have seized $18,000 from a McGill student society’s bank account.
Society president David Marshall confirmed his group has not filed a complete tax return in several years and the money was taken to compensate for that.

The tax woes allegedly stem back to 2003-04 and incomplete exit reports and accounting errors over the years have compounded the problem. The current executive was unaware of the government seizure until September.
“We were very much under the impression that we had inherited a clean house, in the sense that we know we had these issues in the past, but believed that they had all been resolved in the past,” Marshall said.

Shehreyar Jamshed, who was VP of finance in 2009-10, said he did not know about the unpaid taxes when he took the position.

While the society is similar to a non-profit organization under Quebec law, it’s required to pay taxes on income earned from events, the sale of alcohol and from its snack kiosk, as well as capital gains taxes on its investments, endowment and interest earned from assets.

The society is currently trying to appeal the assessment.

Erin Hale, the McGill Daily

Census battle rages on

OTTAWA (CUP) — Liberal MPs are pulling out all the stops in an attempt to reverse the Conservative government’s decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census.

On Sept. 28, the Liberals put forth a motion to amend the Statistics Act to not only reinstate the mandatory long-form questionnaire “immediately,” but also “remove completely the provision of imprisonment,” the original penalty for Canadians who did not complete the survey.

While the motion passed in the House of Commons with 152 votes in favour and 141 against, it is non-binding.

A day after the vote, on Sept. 30, Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett tabled a private member’s bill that seeks to not only reinstate the mandatory long-form survey, but embed it in the Statistics Act and remove the penalty of jail time for those who do not complete the mandatory portion of the census questionnaire. A fine of $500 would be the only penalty. Currently, the Act only outlines regulations for the short-form census.

According to Statistics Canada, production of census forms will begin shortly and communities may receive surveys as early as February.

Bennett’s office hopes the bill will reach second reading within the month, after which it will need to go through a committee and the Senate before the Act can be overhauled.

Emma Godmere, Ottawa Bureau Chief