House of Commons Hansard #163 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Motions in Amendment
Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my hon. friend from Yukon. As a Conservative member for the province of Alberta, I have not been deluged with e-mails and faxes and so on about disappointment.

We have been given credit for making tough decisions on things that had to be done. Notwithstanding, we do not have to go back over the past 13 years as that has been done enough.

My hon. friend talked about $25 billion having been lost in the income trust market. Would he look beyond November 1 and perhaps look to May 31--

Motions in Amendment
Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

An hon. member

Maybe June.

Motions in Amendment
Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

--or maybe June and see what the difference is. I think he would find that the difference is negligible for those who did not panic in the face of the Liberals' and other people's rhetoric which was so over the top that it in fact induced people to make rash decisions and is what caused anybody to actually lose money, not those who stayed with it and had the common sense to sit tight.

Motions in Amendment
Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that particular member was not deluged with e-mails and calls like others are receiving, as I quoted from the paper.

Some people may have stuck with it and did not lose as much, but let me give the member an example of a single mother who contacted me with respect to this issue. Based on the Prime Minister's promise, she invested all her money from her child's registered education savings plan into income trusts and lost about 30% on the first day. A single mother who is scraping up money for her child's education cannot necessarily hold on through bad times in the hope that it might come back and she might have money for her child's education.

Motions in Amendment
Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member outlined the fact that this budget does have a significant amount of new spending and the government has not been shy in pointing that out to people. I would like to point out to the member a bit about the spending.

First of all, the overwhelming amount of new spending addresses the fiscal imbalance that was created under the former government. This government promised to address the fiscal imbalance in order to provide the provinces with a lot more capacity to provide the social services we all rely on.

If the member looked at the monitor of federal government spending, he would find that the three areas where the government has increased spending in a very significant way outside the fiscal imbalance is agriculture, defence and child care, in that order.

I would like to know if the member would like the government to take any money out of those three portfolios. Perhaps he would like us to spend less money on assisting farmers, or perhaps less on defence. We know that was the Liberal way. Perhaps he would like us to take away money that is assisting hard-working families in Canada. Which of the three would he like us to take away?

Motions in Amendment
Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question.

My colleague said that the biggest expenditure was on equalization. Then I do not why there is chaos in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia and the other maritime provinces. People are saying that the Conservatives broke their promise. If what they did on equalization is the greatest thing the Conservatives have done, then they are really in trouble.

I am glad he raised defence. Several years ago the Liberal government's biggest priority was to replace the search and rescue planes. For the first time in history we would have put four of them north of 60 so Canadians could be protected. I do not know what the Conservative government has done with its defence expenditures, but this has been ignored. There is no tender out to replace those aging planes. The defence department did not purchase the planes that were planned for years ago. When one of those old planes crashes or cannot get to a rescue situation people are certainly going to hold the Conservative government to account.

Motions in Amendment
Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, it is my duty and pleasure to speak again on the budget and try to reveal to Canadians the truth in regard to some of these allegations that have been thrown around over the course of this debate taking place this morning and throughout the rest of the day.

Certainly we have heard ad nauseam from the Liberals about the role of the New Democratic Party in the income trust fiasco. I want to go back through it for members and give a little history lesson. Income trusts have been in place for a while. The previous finance minister, in September 2005, gave indications of his sense that they were not going quite right. That caused a great disruption in finance fields in this country and eventually led the Liberals, over the course of the next few months, to come up with a different position, such that they kept income trust legislation intact through the federal election of 2006.

I think it is pretty clear that when the Conservatives got in they had supported the income trust legislation as well. The Prime Minister, in his comments during the election, certainly indicated that he was fully supportive of income trusts and the people who were engaged in them. He made some very valiant and self-serving statements during the election campaign about how he was going to continue to do this.

However, once the Conservatives assumed power, had full access to the finance department and understood the nature of what was going on with income trusts, their mood began to change. This change in mood took a while to build as a political entity, because of course we could not have this happening overnight. However, over the course of time and over the last year, the Conservatives came to the realization they had to move on income trusts, so they did, and in this budget they made those moves.

We in the NDP, who of course have been opposed to the concept of income trusts from the very beginning, were fine with what was happening here. We recognized its importance for fairness in the tax system and for the real need to ensure that we were going to collect full revenue from the variety of sources investing in our country, including people within the country.

Today we have the Liberals trying to make time on this issue. They are trying to work harder on this issue to make it appear as though there is a groundswell of bitterness and discontent over this issue across the country. We have all received emails that are very similar in nature and scope. They come to us over and over again in our email boxes from purported hordes of people who are concerned about the income trusts, and quite rightly, because many Canadians took a hit over the income trusts.

Really, these Canadians trusted those two other parties to fully represent the issues to them in a clear and precise manner. They thought the truth was there for them and they invested, but really it was not there and the nature of the income trusts was such that they could not proceed forever.

That is the historical nature of the income trust debate here in Canada. I certainly would like all in this House, and whoever may be listening, to understand that the only party that has had a consistent position on this is the New Democratic Party. We take some pride in that.

It is important that there is consistency in what we do. If we make a mistake, we have to acknowledge it. That is certainly something that the party to my left here needs to do. It is probably a little more to my right, but it sits on my left, and it certainly needs to do a little soul-searching in terms of its apologies to the people of this country for some of the obvious mistakes it made during the election campaign. That does not take away from the importance of what had to be done and now has been done.

As a new MP I have been quite interested in listening to the argument and debate over tax loopholes that has gone on in this Parliament. It is certainly encouraging to see that the budget contains elements that may actually address some of these issues. What the Conservatives were talking about was not very well outlined in the budget, but we certainly got the sense that they would like to pursue reducing the tax loopholes that are available in this country. That is something with which the Liberals had a great degree of difficulty for many, many years, even though, as we have seen, many, many reports told them to do exactly that, to reduce those loopholes, and they did not do it.

Once again, perhaps out of this will come a sense of more fairness in the tax system. We will wait and see what the Conservatives do with what they said in the budget they would do.

After I listened to the debate this morning, those are the tax issues that I thought needed some clarification.

The issue on which I tend to focus as energy critic is the need for an energy strategy in Canada. This budget clearly demonstrates that. We are spending money in areas such as renewable fuels, with $2.2 billion over seven years. It is not really about renewable energy, because by and large the program is about providing some further future methods of subsidy for farmers and for that approach. That is fine, but in terms of greenhouse gas reduction it really represents a very small amount of greenhouse gas reduction for a very large expenditure of government funds. As well, as we have seen lately in some of the reports and in the scientific information that has come out, even in terms of air emissions the move toward renewable fuels does very little to reduce smog.

We have seen a large expenditure of government funds for a purpose that I think we all sort of support, but really it is not tied to what arguably in the first effort of any energy strategy is energy efficiency and conservation.

Leading that back to our auto industry, an investment of some of that money, some of those large capital sums, in retooling our auto industry would mean that it could start to compete for the small scale automotive highly efficient vehicle market that will develop over the next number of years, and that would probably achieve much more return for the economy and for greenhouse gas reductions and the reduction of smog and air pollution.

In the absence of this energy strategy, which looks at all the issues and puts them together in a fashion such that we can see the logical progression forward of our economy and society, the budget, in its dealings with energy issues and climate related issues linked to energy, has not really accomplished what I think all of us are looking for in the expenditure of public funds. I will not go into a lot of other examples of that.

I will wrap up by saying that the NDP clearly did not support this budget. It was supported by the Bloc and has moved forward. It has a more regional aspect, while I think that most of us in the NDP would have liked to see more directed programs. That did not happen. We will continue not to support the budget, but in the spirit of working together in Parliament we will try to find solutions that can be put forward in the future.

Motions in Amendment
Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member for Western Arctic spoke about the energy component. I realize that he is the critic for energy, but he speaks in defence of the Conservatives' position on income trusts. He would know that the governor of the Bank of Canada indicated at committee that income trusts were a completely reasonable and preferable vehicle for managing mature oil fields and depleting access, and in the absence of having these income trusts in that field, the beneficiaries would be offshore owners, American owners, and, mostly, multinational big oil companies that now have no competition in buying and operating those fields.

In light of the words of the governor of the Bank of Canada, how can the member, in the spirit of energy independence for our country, maintain the position that all income trusts are inherently bad?

Motions in Amendment
Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, quite clearly there is concern about the mature nature of our oil and gas fields in the western Canada sedimentary basin. We should all be very concerned about them, because as those resources move to depletion, we are going to be taking on much more difficult energy solutions, much more carbon intensive energy solutions, and solutions that are not always going to work to Canada's benefit.

The ability to develop those mature fields certainly has some interest for me, but once again, in terms of an energy strategy for Canada, one where we bring the industry to the table so that we can understand what it sees as the proper vehicle for ensuring that the mature fields are completely run out, which is what I suppose most of us would like to see, I would wait until we have that kind of debate where all the options are put on the table.

To say that the vehicle that was designed for this is working pretty well on this road does not suggest there are not other things that would be more appropriate to do and to put on the road to carry forward.

Motions in Amendment
Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by pointing out that of course the governor of the Bank of Canada said no such thing. In fact, he said that the significant tax advantage that existed in the income trust model would lead to less investment, lower productivity and less economic growth for all Canadians. Perhaps the Liberal Party wants to see that for Canadians. The Conservative government does not. We appreciate the NDP's support in that regard.

I would like to ask the member specifically about the budget. There are a couple of quotes that I thought I would run by him to see whether he is supportive of them.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said that budget 2007 is “a big budget for small business”. The Conservative government, it said, “met and exceeded our expectations”.

On forestry products, to which an NDP member spoke briefly, it was stated that the Conservative government “has sent a strong signal that it understands the need to encourage investment and innovation to keep jobs in Canada”.

The Canadian Home Builders' Association said that budget 2007 “will benefit a large number of businesses across the country”.

They have been very clear that this is a good budget. It is a good budget for industry, for manufacturing, for families, for health care and for post-secondary education. What is the NDP looking for? What would it support? I would love to know that. If not this budget, what? This budget is good for a lot of people.

Motions in Amendment
Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, perhaps I will touch on the forestry issue, because the NDP was not in favour of the softwood lumber deal. We saw that as a job losing proposition, which is exactly what it was. The investments that forest companies are making now are in sawmills across the border in the United States. Raw log exports are on the way up. The Canadian worker is going to suffer as a result.

We did not see anything in the budget that could change that rather alarming state of affairs in the forest industry in terms of employment. There was nothing in the budget that could possibly curtail that, other than perhaps a quota on raw log exports or offering up incentives such as making these raw log exports tariff free and putting them under the same tariff as lumber. That might have changed the nature of the softwood lumber deal. It might have made it one that was more in favour of keeping production in Canada.

Motions in Amendment
Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would just like to ask the member if we could move on to S. O. 31s so that we get the timing good and we do not get too far behind today because there is a lot of important stuff happening this afternoon.

Motions in Amendment
Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I thank the hon. member for that point of order. It was indeed a very useful intervention from the point of view of the Chair.

Statements by members, the hon. member for Sarnia--Lambton.

Tourism Week
Statements By Members

June 4th, 2007 / 1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, as Canadian Tourism Week begins, my community has developed an innovative solution to border security concerns for tourists.

My riding of Sarnia--Lambton holds tourism especially important. The Blue Water Bridge between Port Huron and Sarnia carries nearly 3.2 million visitors into my riding annually.

The GoBorder program is a regional program from Sarnia--Lambton that actively promotes cross-border travel and the use of NEXUS cards through a website, brochure, merchant discount program and a billboard ad campaign. GoBorder addresses the new documentation requirements under the WHTI to provide incentives for travellers on both sides of the border to apply for passports or NEXUS cards.

The “Show and Save” program provides cumulative savings from merchant discounts to more than cover the cost of purchasing a passport or NEXUS card. This program pushes border residents to GoBorder and get home faster.

Mary Cousins
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I inform this House of the passing of Mary Cousins, daughter of the late Special Constable Lazaroosie Kyak and his wife, Letia, from Pond Inlet, Nunavut.

Mary was an extraordinary Inuk. She travelled with Henry Larsen in the St. Roch across the Northwest Passage when she was only six. As a young woman, Mary worked as an interpreter on the C.D. Howe medical ship. I remember seeing her picture as a young girl travelling in Africa and was amazed.

Mary was a pioneer in advocating Inuit rights and was one of the original seven who created Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, which represents Inuit at a national level. Mary wrote, edited and illustrated Inuktitut Magazine and taught Inuktitut to generations of Inuit.

Mary Cousins Panigusiq, author, artist, mother and advocate, will be missed. My sincere sympathies go to her family on behalf of myself and everyone in my riding.