House of Commons Hansard #132 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Economic Policy
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

He sort of drug that one up.

Economic Policy
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Hec Clouthier Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

You need to drag it again, that's gone.

Economic Policy
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member from Nipissing unfortunately has been drug around by a horse a little too long. It is starting to affect his thinking.

As I commented on once before, if one focuses on something too long one tends to take on the characteristics of it. It is obvious in his case he has by riding in that little cart behind the horse.

There is one thing about the Liberals, and let us be fair, they may be devious, they may be deceitful—

Economic Policy
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Economic Policy
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Devious we can get away with but we cannot have him in a sulky if we are using deceitful. So we would ask you to please withdraw the word deceitful.

Economic Policy
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Certainly, Mr. Speaker. They may be at times seen—

Economic Policy
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

No, no. I am asking you to withdraw the word deceitful.

Economic Policy
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the word deceitful.

The Liberals may be at times, in addition to being devious, seen to be lacking in integrity. They may seem to be at times, by some people, lacking in moral fibre. However, one thing they are not is stupid when it comes to using the book of election trickery. They know that book very well and they have read that book very well. We saw an example here yesterday of just how much they have been able to embrace that book of political trickery over the years.

They have been stripping Canadian taxpayers of their hard earned money for seven long years. They have put in about 40 tax increases over the last seven years. They have taken over $50 billion of new tax increases over the last seven years. Now, on the eve of another election, they are going to give them all their money back.

What a gimmick. What a gift. They are going to give Canadians back their own money. This is amazing. They think they are doing something wonderful. It is like when my children were small. When they misbehaved I would take away their toys. When I would give them a few back and they thought they were getting something new.

They have failed miserably in their attempt to out tax relief the Canadian Alliance Party. Their program simply is not believable. One only has to read the recent auditor general's report on HRDC and on budget program 2000 and see the language that is contained in that report.

Given all the evidence of the mismanagement of HRDC, the billion dollar or so boondoggle, given the wording of the AG's report on the budget 2000 that the minister has presented, a financial document that is misleading, Canadian voters will be asking themselves one question: Can we trust the Liberals? The answer will be a resounding no on November 27 when they elect a Canadian Alliance government to run this country properly.

Economic Policy
Government Orders

October 19th, 2000 / 11:50 a.m.

Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke
Ontario

Liberal

Hec Clouthier Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, talk about the beam, beam me up, Scotty. I do not know where this member just came from.

I do not know where to start. I do not know whether to call him a well practised prevaricator, because he is at variance with so many truths on this side of the House, or whether to say he suffers from selective amnesia. He stood up and said that he was going to tell the parliamentary secretary of finance where his party was going to make the cuts. The cuts under that party's flat tax plan would mean that we would have to make cuts of $25 billion.

I do not have the mathematical expertise of the hon. member for Elk Island. I am just a farmer and a lumberjack from the upper Ottawa Valley, but I have itemized this. He has $7.5 million, so he is only about $24,996,000,000 shy.

First, he did make a rather caustic remark about me being in harness horse racing. Yes, I am very proud of the fact that I have my licence for harness horse racing. I have probably seen more horses' asses than most people, so I know them when I see them. I am looking upon them now because if that party expects the Canadian public to buy its tax plan, it is treating the entire Canadian public like a bunch of horses' asses, excuse the language.

Economic Policy
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I know the hon. parliamentary secretary understands that I know exactly what he is talking about. I would ask that we not refer to each other or to anyone else in that frame. As much as I enjoy it, I do not think we should.

Economic Policy
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Hec Clouthier Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

I beg your indulgence, Mr. Speaker.

When the member wants to take a run at our Prime Minister—and our Prime Minister can quite easily defend himself—but when he starts to talk about $2 million and $3 million, which he has no proof of, let us look at the scenario.

The Leader of the Opposition gave over $20 million in grant money to golf courses, tuxedo rental shops and limousines in his own riding and over $14 million has not been accounted for. Let us not start taking a run at our Prime Minister because of something that he may or may not have done.

Let us talk about health—

Economic Policy
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I am sorry but we are running out of time. We have to give the hon. member a chance to respond.

Economic Policy
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad he finally got to his question.

What I did when I stood up earlier was explain to the parliamentary secretary some of the programs that we would cut. Granted, we are talking at this stage only about $7 million or $8 million. If I had an hour we could put it up into the billions.

The member from Nipissing says that we are $25 billion short. Let me state exactly where it is because hidden in this magnanimous gesture of tax relief, in this mini-budget, is $52 billion in new spending. Twenty-three dollars billion goes to health care, which it has ripped out of it since 1993, but that still leaves about $25 billion in new spending programs that the government is trying to hide in this mini-budget by talking about all the tax relief; $25 billion in new spending. Just to make sure that it got spent, just to make sure that no Liberal forgot how to spend money, they brought in the ex-premier of Newfoundland to remind them all how to spend money. We are going to see that person in action if this Liberal government, my goodness, I shudder to think, should ever win the next election. I pity the people in the government, and there are two or three who have some fiscal sense, because they are going to be crying themselves to sleep every night as they watch the ex-premier of Newfoundland teach all the Liberals who may have forgotten how to spend money how to do it once again.

Economic Policy
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to enter the debate and talk about some of the numbers that the previous speaker was missing.

He said that there was some more spending in here, and he is correct, but look at the spending programs. The spending is on the environment, on alternative fuels and on making our air and our water safe. These are the things that the reform alliance has no interest in. It also has spending to enhance our granting councils, to put more money into research and development, to invest in the brain power and the knowledge power of the people of this country, to make this country a better place and to make us more innovative in the world of global economy. These are the things of course that the Alliance is not particularly interested in.

I hear the members from across the way laughing and carrying on as if this was some kind of funny game. This is not a game. It is very serious to the people of Canada. The debate is about public versus private spending.

The opposition would have us believe that somehow by stripping out public expenditures they would simply go away. The reality is that if we take money out of certain programs it will simply have to be replaced by the private sector. I know the reform alliance would just love to see this in the area of health care.

It was interesting that the other day one of their own speakers was telling us about the access to health care in the province of Alberta where in fact people have to pay their own premiums and that there was a whole list of people in the province of Alberta who, for whatever reason, were unable to make the premium payments and, as a consequence, did not get health care.

That is the kind of society the former treasurer of the province of Alberta would have us live in. Canadians are not fooled by those kinds of choices. Canadians do not want that kind of society.

I would like to talk about the whole area of taxation. Certainly the economic plan of the Minister of Finance was very forward looking with its concept of reducing personal taxes. Across progressive income tax rates we really have four income tax brackets if we count the first one as being zero.

I would like to talk to some of the people out there today about progressivity in the income tax system and the so-called vision of taxation our members across the way would have us believe in. Progressivity simply means that as people earn more money they have the propensity and the ability to pay proportionately more tax. In other words, they are not paying proportionately more tax on all the money they have earned but only on that portion of higher income they have earned.

Canadians have long accepted the concept of progressivity. If one is wealthy, if one has been so generously endowed to earn well, one will pay proportionately more in income tax. We are not talking about rates. We can see today that our government has reduced rates. The two different issues here are rates and progressivity.

I would question all this business about exemptions, deductions and so forth. They really mean nothing to the average taxpayer. The only thing that means anything to anyone is total tax bite in relation to total income. Subtract the two and what is left is the disposable income with which one can actually go to the supermarket or department store and physically buy something. That is the only thing that is important to people.

I would suggest that people start thinking about all the taxes they pay in their lives. We talk about municipal taxes, about sales taxes, and about excise taxes. The one thing they have in common is that they are all flat taxes. They do not go up as one's income goes up.

If we took all of those taxes, included income taxes and looked over the broad spectrum of people's earnings, guess what? Canada has a flat tax system today. As incomes go up, in other words, total taxes do not. I have statistics here from numerous professors that will bear out this equation.

We can go into the reform alliance members' dream world, or I should say nightmare, of a flat tax system that would take the income tax system and also flatten it. They have backed away a little from that. They have said they will not do that right away. Maybe they will just wait awhile or sneak it by the door and then stick it to people. The reality is that people are not going to be fooled by that.

By the way, no countries in the western world have a flat tax. No peoples in the western world have sat down and said it is a fair and reasonable thing to flatten the income tax system. I know the province of Alberta thinks it has one but it is not a country yet.

If in fact the income tax system was flattened, what would happen? Looking across the perspective of people's incomes we would actually see the wealthiest people paying less proportionate tax than the middle class. Let us think about that. We would actually see a line on a graph. As people start hitting $100,00 a year and over, their proportionate tax bite would actually go down. I can think of nothing more perverse or immoral from a party that talks about morality and values. I can think of no situation that can justify such an immoral position as transferring taxation from the wealthy to the middle class. This is a fundamental issue as we go into this election.

I have had the privilege to go to countries that actually have this type of taxation system. They have it not by choice but through corruption an an inadequate way of collecting taxes. Many of the countries in South America often have a similar system.

There one finds a small group of wealthy people who pay very little tax. They have their money hidden in foreign accounts and so forth and do not contribute to the economy. Then one finds a massive group of poor people who have no ability to participate in that economy. It is not good for either the wealthy or the poor. The wealthy cannot sell goods because there is nobody to sell them to and the poor cannot consume them because they do not have the money to buy them.

I suggest that this vision of reform alliance on flat tax would drive us into a two income groups: one for the wealthy and one for the poor. Few people in the existing middle class would have the ability to catapult or make that astronomic jump from being middle class to wealthy. That is the vision that party would bring a vision where the wealthy get wealthier and the poor are destined to be poorer and poorer.

The previous speaker talked about some of the wasteful spending of the federal government. It makes the assumption that if governments spend the money it is terrible, but if somebody in the private sector spends the money it is good.

I have a list of HRDC programs. I look at the Alliance formula here. They talk about all the stuff they would reduce to make their little world work. They talk about reducing HRDC grants and contributions.

I want to talk about some of the things that have occurred in my riding of Durham. I look at the first one on the list of people who received grants from HRDC: Independent Deaf Services. Archibald Orchards and Estate Winery is a small business that is trying to establish a winery in my riding, and very successfully. They taught some young students skills they probably would not otherwise have received because nobody would hire them. They hired those kids to work in that business. The business is successful, creating jobs in my riding and bringing in wealth. The winery is also exporting product across the border, bringing export dollars into Canada.

Another organization I presume the opposition does not like is the Bowmanville Memorial Hospital. HRDC gave money to allow people to work in the summer months at the local memorial hospital.

The Bowmanville Zoological Park is another one. This is private sector. They own a park. They are doing films. I cannot remember the classic film about the elephants in Africa, but those elephants came from Bowmanville. They train elephants for movie productions. They created a school to do that. People are coming from all over Canada to get this training, and we are exporting that to the movie industry all over the world. This is a success story that the reform alliance would have nothing to do with.

I will refer to another so-called terrible expenditure.

Economic Policy
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I usually let members misuse our name three times before I rise. It is now three times that this member has not called us by the proper name as ruled by the Speaker. It is Canadian Alliance. I would ask you to remind the hon. member of that.