House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ndp.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am having trouble grasping the essential logic of the member's question. What he is trying to claim is that the Conservative government is somehow taking action that is going to make life difficult for Albertans, but it is somehow the New Democrats' fault and we are somehow playing politics with it.

Here is the truth of the matter. We rose in this place many times calling for that subsidy to the big oil and gas companies to be removed. I recall having phrased it a number of different ways in the House on numerous occasions. Finally, despite the inaction of the previous government on the matter, the current government decided to respond with a three year phase-out. Guess what? It decided to give an across the board corporate profit tax reduction at the same time, far overriding any of the implications of this previous arrangement.

This is why the champagne corks were popping at Exxon. This is why we are making the claim that the government is putting the interests of those large and profitable companies first. If we needed any more proof, we could ask it why it will not do something to protect Canadians who get gouged at the gas pumps by the same companies it wants to help out with tax giveaways.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, as usual, I listened very carefully to the leader of the NDP addressing this House. I would like to know what he thinks about something that is dear to my heart, that is, the empty Conservative rhetoric served up to any member who has criticized or continues to criticize the government's inaction in response to the crises we are facing at home in Quebec. The leader of the NDP knows Quebec well. He even chose to hold a meeting there with his candidates, and received a warm welcome.

In Quebec there is a crisis, more specifically, a forestry crisis. Members who want to stand up for this particular issue are told that we do not have confidence in our businesses. But it has nothing to do with confidence in our businesses. They are experiencing a crisis. And something like the trust, which completely ignores the existence of private woodlot owners, is not what will help them.

I would like to know what the leader of the NDP thinks about the sort of nonsense we are hearing.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques. She is right; we received a very warm welcome from her fellow citizens. It is a beautiful part of the country, and people were very welcoming to the NDP team.

The member has every reason to bring up the crisis in the forestry industry, for which the government is doing absolutely nothing. Instead of making strategic investments for our society's key industries, it decided to indiscriminately give gifts to the largest companies—the most profitable.

This is an unacceptable policy, and that is why we brought this motion before the House.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, we will have a chance to see the Liberal Party of Canada's true colours. Once again, during this afternoon's question period, we heard the Liberals get all worked up about all of the appalling ruses they detected in how the Conservatives handled the budget. The Liberals criticized the Conservatives for having included immigration provisions in the budget bill.

If we are meant to take them seriously and to accept their statements at face value, we would expect them to vote against budget bills, just as, from time to time, they have to speak out against the Conservative government's decisions because they are the official opposition.

As usual, the Conservatives know exactly what to expect from the Liberals. They know that they can do whatever they want, including burying objectionable immigration provisions in a budget bill, because the Liberals are much too weak to stand up to them.

This afternoon, we are considering a motion that takes the Conservative government to task for the choices it made in the budget. The Conservatives made a lot of decisions that brought radical change to Canada, and now we are talking about something quite specific. I will give a few examples to illustrate.

Table 5.4 of the budget just tabled by the Conservatives reveals what they really think and betrays their true intentions. Specifically, beginning today—as the new fiscal year begins—and over just two years, revenue collected from personal income tax—from my colleagues, from me, from the people listening to us now, from workers and their families—will increase by 12% in the state's budget, whereas revenue from corporate income tax will drop by 14%. That is the shameful choice the Conservatives really made in the budget. Individuals will be paying 12% more, and corporations will be paying 14% less. People can check table 5.4 of the budget and see for themselves.

We strongly object to this choice. What will the so-called official opposition do? I see that the Liberals are prepping their new star from Toronto Centre, who will undoubtedly rise to try to lecture us, as did his colleague who, yesterday, attempted to mislead the public with false figures on countries such as Sweden, Great Britain, Denmark and Norway. What tales did they tell yesterday? It was nonsense. What did his Liberal colleague say? He said that in the four above-mentioned countries, the corporate tax rate was lower than the Canadian rate. Is that so? Let us look at the facts.

Here, in Canada, with the most recent cut, the corporate tax rate is now 19.5%. It is important that we remember this figure of 19.5%. It will be further reduced by 4.5% to 15% by 2015. What is the current corporate tax rate in the other countries in question? It is 28% in Sweden; 30% in Great Britain; 30% in Denmark; and 28% in Norway. That is the reality, not the nonsense trotted out by the Liberals yesterday to try to justify the unjustifiable, that is their weakness, their softness, their lack of conviction and the fact that, once again, they will support the budget choices of the Conservatives. Conservatives or Liberals, it is all the same.

If the Liberals had the slightest amount of conviction, if they believed in anything, they would be getting up to criticize and challenge the Conservatives' budget.

Later, when the new member for Toronto Centre rises, we will see that they will no longer be content to sit on their hands.

The Minister of Finance dared to reduce corporate taxes that much only because the current and ineffective leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, the so-called official opposition, told him that he could reduce corporate taxes as much as he wanted.

Indeed, the Minister of Finance rose in this House and said that he would never have dared to reduce them so much. He is a Conservative. He would have wanted to, but he did not think he could. It was the current leader of the Liberal Party of Canada who told him he should do so and reduce them so much. This is exactly what he is now doing and it is scandalous.

Now, to try to ease their conscience, instead of simply hiding, ducking the issue, disappearing from the House or sitting on their hands, they are trying to tell us—and I cannot wait to hear it—that the Conservatives' budget choices are completely consistent with their own. And that party has the nerve to talk about social justice, a nation-wide affordable child care system and wait times at hospitals across Canada, which receive federal funding. It can say what it wants but the Liberal Party of Canada does not believe in anything. That is the simple truth, which will be revealed a little later.

On this side of the House, we are not afraid to stand up. We are not afraid to tell Canadians what is really going on here.

We can look at table 5.4 in the new Conservative budget if we want to understand what is going on. In that one table, there is a snapshot of the difference between the New Democratic Party of Canada and the Conservatives, but the Conservatives are being helped in this by the Liberal Party.

In that one table, we see the following: starting from today, when we are at the very beginning of a new fiscal year, over the next two years the part of the budget that comes from corporate income taxes is going to go down by 14%, while individual income taxes, which is what you, Mr. Speaker, and I and the people listening to us pay, are going to go up by 12%.

That is an increase of 12% for individuals and a decrease of 14% for the corporations. That is a scandal. The Conservatives should be ashamed of themselves for proposing it. The only reason they are doing it is because of the weakness of the Liberal Party.

Yesterday one of the minor ministers from the former Liberal government, a former revenue minister, went on the public record with something that was completely contrary to the facts. He named four countries, Sweden, Britain, Denmark and Norway, and said they had a lower rate of corporate taxation than Canada has.

Here are the facts. For somebody who was once in charge of revenue, it is surprising that he cannot count. In Canada with the most recent budget, we are now at 19.5% as our corporate tax rate. It is going to go down a further 4.5% between now and 2015, bringing it to 15%. The tax rate in Sweden is 28%. The tax rate in Britain is 30%. The tax rate in Denmark is 30%. The tax rate in Norway is 28%.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Add the provinces, Tom, add them.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

That is what those birdbrains in the Liberal Party of Canada want to support. They want to support the Conservatives. They are against families. They are against social programs. They are against social justice. They have no vision. They have no convictions. They do not believe in anything.

More and more, the truth is coming out. Canadians are starting to decode the Liberals. I am just waiting to hear the new star from Toronto Centre, someone who once had the guts to come into this House and claim to represent social justice and progressive thought and who has now sold himself out to the bosses.

I can hardly wait to have him stand up and talk against families, against workers, in favour of tax increases for individuals, and against the average working family. That guy wants to give tax breaks to corporations.

Let him have it, I say, and let him know what really is going on out there in Canada. We can hardly wait because we are going to deal with him.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the enthusiasm with which the member spoke. He certainly was animated, and he had the attention of the House, which sometimes is a rarity here.

I have a couple of comments. First, would it ever occur to him that perhaps the amount of revenue that is coming from individuals is going up because there are now some 800,000 more jobs? There are that many new people who, instead of being unemployed and collecting unemployment insurance as long as it lasts, now finally under this government have the opportunity to get a job from business that is staying in Canada because it has a more tax-friendly base than other countries that beckon. This is just a reality.

I would also like to point out this fact when he complains about the price of fuel. He is talking about increasing taxes for people who produce fuel. Would it perhaps also occur to him that the price at the pump will increase if those guys have to pay more taxes? This is so elementary that I cannot believe he does not understand it.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I hope you will give me as much time to answer the hon. member's question as you gave him to ask it.

I will answer in English for my colleague from Edmonton—Sherwood Park.

If he were a Liberal and not a Conservative, I guess the member would say that he is from Sherwood forest, because the Liberals love branding themselves as Robin Hood trying to help the poor, but the actual fact is that the Liberals do not believe in anything. They talk a good game when it comes to social programs and social justice, but they actually do not believe in anything.

Although I do disagree with the budgetary choices of the Conservative government, they exist, they are there, and the Conservatives themselves hold out for the fact that they are going to reduce by 14% the proportion. It is not a question of the global mass. The 800,000 workers do not change anything in the proportion.

The proportion of what is coming in from taxpayers individually is going to go up by 12%. The proportion of what is coming in from corporations is going to go down by 14%. Those are the numbers. It is in the Conservative budget in table 5.4. The member can look up the numbers. They are irrefutable.

However, what is even more important is what was done as a budgetary choice in the fall, with $14 billion in tax cuts for the most profitable corporations. In Ontario or Quebec, where the soaring Canadian dollar is making it more and more difficult to export, manufacturing jobs have been lost by the hundreds of thousands and we are suffering terribly in the forestry sector.

The Minister of Finance stands up in the House all the time and says that he gave all those tax breaks and that is how he is helping corporations. The problem is that if a company did not make a profit last year it did not pay any taxes, so it is not getting any of those tax breaks. If the company is called EnCana, if it is based in Alberta, and if it is making a small fortune in profits, it just got a cheque for several tens of millions of dollars from the Canadian taxpayer. That is the problem.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Just for the edification of the hon. member for Outremont, the question took one minute and fifteen seconds and the answer one minute and forty seconds.

The hon. member for West Nova has the floor.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to listen to this dialogue on this economic question put forward by the NDP.

It is rich to listen to this because we know what the New Democratic members' economic policy is: their support for small businesses is to take all large businesses, tax them all the way down to small businesses, give subsidies to bankrupt businesses, and tax profitable businesses. They have no vision at all on economics and are quite disingenuous on social programs.

I remember that not so long ago in the House, when there was a minority government, we presented a budget. The leader of the NDP negotiated with the Liberal Party so that we brought forward a year or two years ahead some of our priorities that were not in that budget: housing, assistance for poverty, day care, and Kelowna. We brought them all forward. The NDP members were all very happy to boast about it and then they voted our government out and supported this one on the income trust scandal, which took about $30 billion away from hard-working Canadians.

We cannot believe these people.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I imagine the hon. member will be quite pleased to tell all the employees at Trenton Car Works that he agrees with the Conservatives' budgetary choices.

There are a number of companies in his province that are suffering in exactly the same way other companies in Quebec and Ontario are. That is why it is scandalous to have a political party like the Liberal Party of Canada, that has the constitutional right to call itself the official opposition party, but which in fact has become the official abstention party. Soon it will become officially abolished.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Oshawa.

First, I completely reject the premise of today's motion. Our Conservative government's historic tax reductions, both personal and corporate, have benefited innovators and entrepreneurs, those individuals who comprise Canadian businesses and the hard-working Canadians whom they employ. Accordingly, lower business taxes are clearly a positive. It appears that the NDP does not realize this, though our competitors in the industrialized world beyond our borders do understand it.

An arena in which Canadians compete for business must be allowed to do so operating in a fair business climate, and in that respect, competitive corporate tax rates are a clear positive. Most observers are universally in agreement with that. As Nancy Hughes Anthony, president and CEO of the Canadian Bankers Association pointed out:

Lower corporate taxes will enable Canada to compete successfully with other countries, stimulate sustainable long-term economic growth, and help to improve the standard of living for all Canadians.

It means creating quality jobs, attracting investment and talent, encouraging innovation, and building a strong tax base that can support the social programs that we hold dear.

However, the NDP alone in the economic wilderness of a bygone era of high corporate and personal taxes does not understand that. It is still clinging to an old-fashioned regressive and discredited notion, namely, that big government, high taxes and huge government debt are the keys to prosperity. It would be amusing if it were not so sad, because it is clear that it has not learned a thing from the domestic and international examples of the last 50 years.

For everyone who doubts that, just listen to what the member for Toronto Centre had to say about the NDP's economic policies, someone who led the province as the NDP premier and implemented the very economic policy that the NDP advocates here today. He has derided today's motion as a tired and most off-base kind of economic jargon. My friend has assailed the NDP's economic policies as outdated and unrealistic.

The member for Toronto Centre, whom I welcome to the House, has admitted that he showed incredibly poor judgment when he implemented ill-advised policies such as this. We understand that he has learned greatly from his mistakes, namely that regressive and economically devastating high corporate tax policies are not the way this government wants to go, policies that killed investment and jobs in Ontario. After the benefit of hindsight, my colleague now says:

Our corporate taxes must be competitive. I know this is anathema to the NDP, but I can tell you that the [NDP leader] and the NDP are wrong about taxes.

We understand that. We understand the long term benefits of tax relief. We cut taxes to attract investment, to create jobs and to help sharpen Canada's competitive edge internationally. This is as straightforward as it is simple. That is what we are doing. We are taking concrete action to spur investment and jobs and to make Canada more competitive.

Tax measures introduced by this government since coming into office have provided tax relief approaching $200 billion. Almost three-quarters of this relief benefits individuals directly, whether it be through personal income tax relief or GST reductions, a tax reduction which benefits all Canadians each and every time they make a purchase, which is millions of times a day across the country, including those Canadians with incomes that are too low to pay income tax.

We are building Canada to remain competitive and create a strong business environment. The reduction of corporate taxes is an important part of the strategy. That is why we are reducing the federal corporate income tax rate to 15% and making it the lowest corporate income tax rate among the major developed economies. This is a positive measure for the economy and for Canadians, and the NDP's assertion otherwise has no basis in reality.

Just listen to the praise from the actual drivers of the Canadian economy with regard to our Conservative government's corporate tax reductions. These are the people who create the jobs for Canadian workers whom the NDP claims to care about, who create the government revenue for the social programs that the NDP also claims to care about.

Listen to the Canadian Council of Chief Executives:

The significant corporate income tax cuts...will provide a powerful boost to Canada's ability to compete for investment and jobs in the global economy....[It] will help companies to continue to invest and grow in Canadian communities, despite the rapid rise of the Canadian dollar and intense global competition.

Or listen to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters:

Canada is going to have a very attractive tax environment to retain and attract business investment....

...this keeps us in the game of international investment.

Or listen to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business:

Tax cuts were our members' number one priority by far, with just the vast majority saying that was the number one issue. So, they have hit that issue.

Even the NDP premier of Manitoba praised them, stating:

[The Conservative government's] tax reductions...in all fairness...are positive and we're going to see that through the economy.

The NDP is not listening to them, and it will not listen because it is stuck in the past. Sadly, it has no intention of embracing the realities of today. Again, it would be funny if it were not so sad, as it was sad when the NDP and the then Liberal government teamed up in 2005 and the result was to reverse the relatively minor corporate taxes that the government of the day introduced in its 2005 budget.

The NDP demanded that the corporate tax cuts be stripped from the budget in return for propping up a scandal-ridden Liberal government teetering on collapse due to the sponsorship scandal. The unprincipled Liberals naturally agreed.

We have also seen this type of Liberal approach more recently, when my Liberal friends refused to show up to support their own confidence motion or to vote against the government for fear of having to face the voters. If we consider the manufacturing sector, which the NDP claims to care about, it is suffering immensely as a result of this deal.

As the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters stated at that time, it is not action that will preserve Canada's industrial base. Manufacturers feel their pleas are not being taken seriously. They worry whether they understand the serious pressures that are facing them.

It is also sad that the NDP has opposed the support we have provided to the manufacturing and forestry sectors, support allowing them to better invest and compete. For example, we provided over $9 billion in tax relief by 2012-13. We are also improving the availability and accessibility of financial support for research and development, and extending the enhanced scientific research and experimental development investment tax credit.

We are also helping Canadians in their communities affected by a slowing global economy. To help vulnerable communities and laid-off workers, we announced a $1 billion community development trust. This will support communities and workers experiencing hardship through no fault of their own, an initiative that was praised across the country by premiers and organizations from across the political spectrum, like the NDP premier of Manitoba, Gary Doer, who stated:

I also believe that this is very, very important to the regions and the communities in Canada and the money will be very, very helpful and important.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities applauded the initiative, saying that the federal government's decision to help Canadian communities hit by economic upheaval is more than welcome.

The initiatives I have focused on today will significantly benefit all Canadians. Our tax cuts will especially help Canadians compete for the jobs and investments of tomorrow. That has been recognized almost universally from Canada's business leaders and economists, and it is recognized of late by even the Liberal Party.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed my hon. colleague's speech. He talked about the 2005 arrangement that was struck between the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party in order to access some $5 billion of extra spending for well needed programs, including housing programs that the Conservatives claimed as their own in the last two year period.

Interestingly enough, over that time when we did not cut corporate taxes, when we did not reduce that percentage, we actually had a very robust economy. It has not impacted on businesses. That is the clear example. We did not see a downturn in the economy. We did not see businesses like banks or major oil companies leaving Canada because they did not get their corporate tax cut in 2005.

Why does the member think that his government's reckless action on reducing corporate taxes by almost 35% will give that added incentive to this economy when history has not shown that to be the case?

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am sure there are times when the Liberals wonder why they actually listened to the NDP at that time.

We have heard here already today comments from the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park about the number of new jobs that have been created. We are talking today about Canadians. We are talking about jobs for Canadians. We are talking about livelihoods. No Canadian wants to live on handouts. Every Canadian that I have ever spoken to wants to be paid for the work he or she can provide. Canadians want to help build this country. Since this government has taken office, there have been 800,000 new jobs created. That is why Canadians can hold their heads high.

We look across the border at the United States and we see some troubled times. We are seeing a strong Canadian economy and it is because of the pre-emptive moves of the finance minister under the leadership of the Prime Minister. This government has taken the initiative. We saw the dark clouds on the horizon. We saw what was happening in the United States. We took the early initiative to cut taxes, to cut personal taxes, to lower the GST, so Canadians would have more of their hard-earned money to spend on themselves. They are the people who should be spending it. They should not be giving it to government. That is what makes Canadians proud.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax Cuts
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to correct the record. Earlier one of the members from the NDP said that I was comparing our federal corporate income tax rate to that of Sweden's. What he needs to understand is that there are two corporate income tax rates in Canada. One is a federal corporate income tax collected by the Government of Canada and the other is a provincial corporate income tax collected by the various provinces. The member for Outremont compared our federal corporate income tax rate in a federal state to that of a single corporate income tax rate of a unitary state like Sweden. The record needs to be corrected. The member needs to do some better research on this.

I would add that the NDP motion is flawed. The NDP members criticize us for disproportionately benefiting the oil and gas sector, but this flies in the face of the facts. The fact is that our government has eliminated the accelerated capital cost allowance for the oil sands sector and has disproportionately benefited the mining and manufacturing sectors in this country through other measures we have introduced in our budget. I suspect the NDP has done this because its members represent ridings with manufacturing and mining interests, whereas none represent any ridings that have any significant oil sands interests.