The Liberal Critic for Culture, Ms. Isabelle Melançon, has asked the Minister of Culture and Communications, Nathalie Roy, to commit to taxing foreign Internet giants. They generate millions of dollars in benefits in Quebec without having to pay their fair share. The rules of the game have to be the same for everyone, Ms. Melançon stated.
These additional revenues are essential to relaunching Quebec’s cultural and media sectors, which have been heavily affected by the current crisis. Unfortunately Minister Roy has remained disconcertingly vague about the future of the cultural sector. Her primary role is to reassure the industry and yet she has postponed the announcement of a timeline for the relaunch until June. It is untenable for the sector stakeholders. How can they look to the future without the slightest idea of what they can expect?
The MNA representing Verdun is not buying the François Legault government’s argument that taxing these foreign companies falls under Ottawa’s jurisdiction. Quebec has the power to take action, it just requires political will to do it, she said.
In fact, the Quebec government would only have to modify the Taxation Act in order to include businesses with a digital presence within the territory. This modification would allow Quebec to tax the benefits generated by these companies despite their lack of physical presence.
Until the legislative changes have been made, Ms. Melançon is calling for an interim tax that could be applied immediately. This temporary tax on digital services would guarantee that the activities that are not currently subject to taxes, would become so. The tax would allow Quebec to start generating revenues right away and remit those revenues to a fund dedicated to supporting the relaunch of Quebec’s cultural and media sectors.
It is completely false to think that Quebec is at Ottawa’s mercy when it comes to taxing foreign Internet giants. The Googles, Amazons, Facebooks and Microsofts of the world are depriving the media sector of 80% of its advertising revenues and they do not pay tax in Quebec. It is completely unfair. We don’t have the luxury of waiting anymore. I am ready to work with the Minister of Culture to present a bill that would allow us to move forward with the legislative changes required to resolve this inequity. The Minister just needs to show interest. It’s a question of will. The culture and communications sectors don’t have the luxury of waiting anymore.
–Isabelle Melançon, Liberal Critic for Culture and Communications.