House of Commons Hansard #110 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-51. The comments made by other members illustrate how out of touch and out of tune the government was with the new realities that it faced one year ago in October 2008.

As a matter of fact, up until that time I think the government felt that it was doing reasonably well because it t was applying its right wing economic model to an economy that had been expanding for the better part of 10 years. As has been mentioned by Liberal speakers, the Conservatives were left a surplus by the previous Liberal government so they felt that by applying their Reaganomic principles to the economy it would increase the expansion of the economy. Therefore, they proceeded with tax cuts and all the typical measures that a right wing approach to government can take.

In fact, the Conservatives can point out statistically that the measures they have taken have actually helped the economy, and they gain adherence by that argument. However, the fact is that governments of all stripes, right wing, centrist and left wing governments, can do a very good job of governing when they have an expanding economy because, basically, it is dividing up a pie that is growing every year.

The problem comes when the good economy stops and we get into a recession. The government then needs to take measures at that point in time. I think it is the right wing type of government that is ill prepared for an economy when it starts turning bad. There were signs that the Prime Minister was completely out of touch with the realities of the economy. Other than that, he was simply trying to ignore what, in all likelihood, he knew was about to happen.

He went through the election. The election campaign showed him as a relaxed politician who wore sweaters. When he was asked in the middle of the campaign why the stock market was dropping, he said that it was a buying opportunity and that it was time for Canadians to get out there, buy stocks and buy Nortel when it was down to 25¢. That was his flippant response to the crisis that was surrounding him.

At about that time, we knew that economies, such Iceland's economy, were on the verge of declaring bankruptcy but for some reason he managed to ignore the problem. The government then had to play catch-up to try to get back in the game.

I saw Preston Manning a few months ago and if he were still around I wonder what he would have to say about the current type of government. A strong right wing Conservative would be looking at a government that owns General Motors and is running a $56 billion deficit. I am sure he would not approve.

If the government had achieved the majority that it was looking for, I think it would have tried to apply the right wing economic approach to the problem. Fortunately for the people of the country, that is not what happened. The Conservatives were short of their majority government and therefore had to come to terms with the reality that was in front of them, which was an economy that was faltering badly and their status as a minority government in the Parliament. The Conservatives proceeded to move as though they had a majority, acting very high and mighty I might add, to the point where they almost lost their government because of it.

What we have seen from the government since the beginning of the year has been a big improvement, a big improvement in its approach and in its attitude. It has a way to go yet but it is showing signs. As I have said before, if the government acts in the proper fashion to try to make a minority government work, it is conceivable that it could last the entire four years. I know that is highly unlikely but it could have a longer lifespan than it thinks.

The government is also aware that going into an election is a two-edged sword. However, we know it will try to prod the opposition into voting against it whenever it sees blips in the polls that show it could win the government.

The government recognizes that people do not want a $300 million election expense. It is so lucky that it got out from under that problem the last time. We can all recall the great fanfare when it brought in legislation that fixed the election date for October of this year. We were all waiting for this fixed election, planning our campaigns and nominations based on this date, and the government turned around and torpedoed its own legislation by calling an election that cost the taxpayers $300 million. That is something the government must wear and will continue to wear. If the government does prod and poke at the opposition to force a premature election, I think it is aware that it works both ways here. The government may carry the can for calling or causing that election, causing a $300 million expense that the public did not want or need, and it may lose some seats over that.

Regardless of how well the government thinks it is doing coming out of the Quebec byelections or other blips here and there, I really think a number of Conservatives over there are hunkering down for a longer period of time and are starting to develop a proper approach to making this Parliament work.

We have seen some signs here that the government has been moving in the right direction, which is why our party is supporting Bill C-51 and some of the measures in it. We have a spectacle here where we have the official opposition, the Liberal Party, being kind of caught. They must have slipped out of the barn door when it was open and then the door was shut and they could not get back in. Now they are trying to get back in here to be on the right side of voting on Bill C-51 to ensure the other parties are not sending out ten percenters and campaign brochures in the next months reminding people that it was the Liberal MPs who voted against a very popular home renovation tax credit plan.

I know there must be a lot of queasiness and uneasiness on the part of a number of Liberals over there because they know that, unlike some other political decisions and issues that we deal with in this country, the home renovation tax credit is very simple, and the Conservatives know this very well. This is not a complicated problem that the Liberals can say that they voted against it because there was something else in the bill that they did not like. There is room for interpretation and that is what they must deal with.

This is very black and white. Either the Liberals vote for this popular measure or they vote against it. I can see the Liberals being very unsure of themselves. A few days ago, one of the members of the Liberal Party was speaking to Bill C-51 and I do not remember if he even indicated which way he would vote on this particular bill. We will see when the time comes.

The bill does a number of things. One of the major things that it brings in is the home renovation tax credit. That particular program is certainly not a new program. It is a very cost effective program. Over the years we have seen governments of all stripes, provincially and, I believe, federally, bring in programs such as this.

Way back in the 1970s, the Manitoba government under the NDP had the critical home repair program. My minister was in charge of it and it was my job to ensure that people had applications. I remember having to fill out applications for people. I would get calls at the legislature from people who had been approved asking why the carpenters showed up late and things like that. That type of program was targeted toward keeping Manitoba's senior citizens in their houses a few years longer, keeping them from moving out of their houses and going into senior citizens buildings. It was very cost-effective and worked very well. The government approved the applications. The homeowners paid a portion. It was a cost-shared program.

That is just one example of a program that was very popular at the time. In fact, it helped in the re-election of the government in 1973. I am sure the Conservatives already know that, or if they do not, they are making notes of it. That home renovation program was extremely popular and extremely cost-effective and it did help us to win re-election.

This program is a bit different. I have heard different criticisms about the program, as far as there being a refundable tax credit option and the fact that it is not user friendly for people with lower incomes.

We know the government is going to re-announce this program. That is an obvious fact. It has been a popular program. We do not know how much it is going to cost the government in taxes at this point, because the government does not know how many people have actually used it and it will not know until people file their income taxes next year. That will be past the date of the budget of next year. Regardless of what it costs, it is going to be too enticing for the government not to announce an extension, especially when there may be an election shortly thereafter or certainly within the period of time that the extended home renovation tax credit program for next year would cover.

There is one interesting point which members should note. With the collusion of the federal Conservative government and the provincial Liberal governments in British Columbia and Ontario on the HST, what we are going to see in those provinces effective July 1, exactly when the government's extension of this home renovation tax credit program will be in full swing for next summer, is that the tax benefits homeowners would be getting will be taken away. Currently home renovations are not covered under the tax. When the taxes are combined, we are going to see a broadening of the tax base which is going to include dozens of new items. Some of the items which are going to be included are the very home renovation projects, such as painting, stucco and roofing. Currently they are subject to only one tax but next year they would be subject to the blended tax. What the government is giving people with one hand will be taken away with the other hand. Personally, I do not see that as being smart economics. It sure is not smart politics if an election is called around that time.

If the government is going to re-announce the program, I would suggest that it take the advice of one or two of our members that it retool the program so that people with low incomes can take advantage of the program. I would suggest that the government look at extending it. By that time, the government may have some idea of what this will cost in terms of loss of tax revenue.

I would say this is not a real big loss in tax revenue. There are spinoff benefits. This is one program that will show enormous amounts of spinoff. That is what the government needs and wants in this program.

As a matter of fact, I notice that the Bloc members are on side with this program. They claim that they had it in their election platform last year. It is the Liberals who have found themselves on the outside looking in wondering how this all happened. The vote has not yet happened but we will see if they vote against the bill.

In the remaining time I want to deal with some of the other important issues that are dealt with in the bill.

The bill introduces the first time homebuyers tax credit. This is something the real estate associations have lobbied for and very strongly support across the country. We want to facilitate making it as easy as possible for first time homebuyers to buy that first home. Particularly at a time when the economy is in big difficulties, this is something that is very important.

In addition, there is tax relief through the working income tax benefit.

Part 1 extends the existing tax deferral available to farmers in prescribed drought regions to farmers who dispose of breeding livestock because of flood or excessive moisture. It sets out the regions prescribed either as eligible flood or drought regions in 2007 to 2009.

This is certainly one provision of the bill that has not received a lot of comment in speeches. Most members have focused on that important issue of the home renovation tax credit. They have not dealt to a great extent with some of the other provisions of the bill.

In addition, part 2 authorizes payments to be made to the consolidated revenue fund for multilateral debt relief in relation to offshore petroleum revenues. It allows for $200 million per year to be paid to the multilateral debt relief fund for a total of up to $2.5 billion from 2009 to 2054.

I am not going to be able to finish all of the points dealing with Bill C-51 but I want to make the point that $174.5 million is being allocated to Nova Scotia as negotiated with the provincial government. This is a good idea and something that should be done.

Finally, there are also amendments to the Bretton Woods and related agreements. They are being amended to implement amendments proposed by the board of governors of the International Monetary Fund.

As well, the Broadcasting Act is being amended to increase the borrowing limit of the CBC. There was a rocky period of time at the CBC with budget cuts over the years and with threats of closure. The CBC is vital, not as vital perhaps in the urban areas, the big cities of Canada, but it is extremely vital in the rural areas of Canada and particularly in the far north where it might be the only station that some people can receive in some places.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-51, which I will be supporting, has some very good things in it.

There is the home renovation tax credit, the first time homebuyers tax credit and the income deferral for drought conditions for farmers.

I was elected by the people of Nickel Belt to represent them in the House of Commons and to advance their causes. Perhaps the hon. member could explain to me why the Liberals are not supporting the bill. They were sent here for the same reason that I was, to represent their constituents and to make Parliament work. Why would the Liberals vote against this bill? It seems to be a good bill to me.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is a mystery to all of us in the House and it may be a mystery to some members of the Liberal Party.

As I indicated, I listened to my good friend from Mississauga South the other day when he spoke to this very bill. I do not recall him at any point indicating that he was going to be voting for the bill or against the bill. I expected there would be a nugget somewhere and that he would let us know, but he kept us in a state of mystery for his entire 20-minute speech and the 10 minutes of questions and comments. If somebody could get the answer for me, I would sure like to know what it is. Other Liberal members have indicated they will be voting against the bill. There is still a long time between now and the vote on the bill, so there is some potential for them to change their minds.

Just think of all those ten percenters. My riding has already started to sink under the weight of the ten percenters sent out on the gun registry alone. I supported the bill, but I was going to support it anyway. They did not have to send out any ten percenters. They did not have to advertise on radio stations. I am glad they did as it has made me very popular with the duck hunters in my area.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was particularly interested in my colleague's comments with regard to the CBC.

This evening people from ACTRA will be in Ottawa. A number of us will be meeting some very significant and talented people, many of whom have worked on CBC productions. The programs the CBC produces both on television and radio are our voice. The CBC is the voice of Canada. It tells our stories. The CBC is essential to our culture and to the continuance of that culture.

I would like my colleague to comment on the importance of the extension of the financing for CBC and how it will impact all of our communities.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is a very important question. The member knows the hacking and slashing of the CBC did not start with the Conservatives. That was well under way a number of years before that under the Liberals.

There has been a battle within the country for a large number of years where the private sector feels it is coming of age and wants to be given all the cream and gravy associated with the advertising revenues available in this country. By the same token, it does not want to have to provide any service to areas where there is not a large listening audience. It expects the taxpayers of the country, through the CBC, to provide programming to sparsely populated areas where there is really not a lot of advertising revenue. Yet it would like to have almost exclusive rights to the heavily populated markets that have huge amounts of advertising revenue. That is basically the way businesses operate. They want to take the cream but they do not want the responsibilities for the poorly serviced areas in the case of the television business.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Elmwood—Transcona talked at length about the home renovation tax credit.

In my own riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan there are many challenges facing people who cannot afford to buy their own homes. Many often live in substandard rental accommodation. There is no way for those in rental accommodations to get the benefit of the home renovation tax credit that could make their accommodations more energy efficient. I wonder if the member could talk about that gap in this program.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

2 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is a very important question. I indicated in my speech that while the home renovation tax credit is a very good program, it is a copy of other programs that have operated very successfully over the years under governments of different stripes.

When the government retools the program and re-announces it, it should be looking at the different aspects. The government should be asking the opposition for input to improve the program for next year to get even more bang for the buck.

Canadian Junior Football League
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, the Canadian Junior Football League championship game was hosted in Nanaimo by the Vancouver Island Raiders. The Raiders joined the CJFL just five years ago. They captured the championship in 2006 and 2008 and this year went to the championship game against the Edmonton Wildcats, undefeated.

After a season of 10 wins and no losses, the Raiders defeated the Okanagan Sun and the Surrey Rams to win the right to defend the championship game against the Edmonton Wildcats.

Sunday, before a sell-out crowd, the Raiders set new records, defeating Edmonton 51-14 to win their third national championship.

Nanaimo and Vancouver Islanders are so proud of our team. President Hadi Abassi is the man with a vision, the patron saint of the V.I. Raiders. Hadi, along with head coach Matt Blokker, have assembled a team that has proven to be second to none.

On behalf of all citizens of Nanaimo—Alberni, I salute President Abassi, coach “Snoop”, the young men who suit up as V.I. Raiders and all the support team.

I am sure all members would like to join me in saying to the three time Canadian champions, the Vancouver Island Raiders, congratulations and well done.

Heroism
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Michelle Simson Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to pay tribute to John Dietsch, an 84-year-old veteran who valiantly served our country during the second world war in the Royal Canadian Navy and who once again demonstrated his bravery.

On November 12, four men, including Mr. Dietsch, were at a Royal Canadian Legion in my riding of Scarborough Southwest counting Remembrance Day poppy sale receipts. They were interrupted by an armed gunman demanding the money, money destined for widows and community service projects.

Mr. Dietsch and his legion associates refused to hand over the money. Mr. Dietsch, without thought for his personal safety, lunged at and struggled with the gunman. His friend, Earl Gray, wrestled the robber to the ground, chasing him away empty-handed.

I am certain all members of the House join me in honouring John Dietsch and Earl Gray for their bravery and share my relief and gratitude that both men emerged safely from this incident.

The Environment
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, global warming is a global concern. It should therefore come as no surprise that many alternative energy research projects are under way in Quebec to find solutions that will help us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

I would like to highlight the work of Karim Zaghib, a lead researcher at the Institut de recherche d'Hydro-Québec in Varennes, and his team, who have developed a prototype rapid-recharge battery. Preliminary results are promising: apparently their two kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery can be drained and recharged 20,000 times in six minutes. This technological breakthrough nurtures hope for performance gains in electric cars and brings these vehicles one step closer to commercial viability. We will all be able to shrink our ecological footprint sustainably and help slow climate change.

I congratulate, Mr. Zaghib. The Bloc Québécois is proud of Quebec's engineering prowess.

Immigrant and Refugee Assistance
Statements By Members

November 16th, 2009 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, for over 20 years, Sister Andrée Ménard has been directing PROMIS, an organization in Côte-des-Neiges that provides assistance to immigrants and refugees.

Helping newcomers integrate into the new society as harmoniously as possible is PROMIS's main objective. The entire team, the members of the board of directors, employees and volunteers give their all in order to achieve this important mission. They work together every day to build a society in which everyone has a place and feels comfortable. This might seem utopian, but they really believe in and achieve this goal.

Front-line services, French classes, educational support, family support, employment services, regionalization, information sessions and cultural activities are some of the services received by 6,623 people last year.

It is imperative that the government programs that fund this direct assistance to the public be maintained. Bravo Sister Ménard and bravo to the entire team.

Infrastructure
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the proud member of Parliament for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, it was an honour to announce several stimulus projects across my riding this year. The projects included water and sewer, new roads, recreational facilities and new municipal buildings.

We all know these types of projects will accomplish many things in my riding. They have addressed six municipal council's priorities and increased the quality of life in all six communities. However, most important, these projects create jobs across the riding, which is a help to many people during this global economic recession.

For instance, I was visiting one of the projects just last week. This project has extended the work period for many workers and has fixed a road that has been a problem for many decades.

Canada's economic action plan is delivering results not only for my riding, but right across the country. I am proud to have supported this plan and to have delivered results for my community in these tough economic times.

Financial Institutions
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am calling on the government to deal with the credit card crisis facing Canadians.

During the past year, Canada's financial institutions, together with Visa and MasterCard, have significantly raised the interchange fees charged to all Canadian businesses. These fees, which are now the second highest in the developed world, are passed on to Canadian consumers, leading to higher costs for everything.

The credit card industry has burdened all Canadians with high interest rates, hidden fees, charges and double charges, with no transparency as to how these fees and charges are imposed or calculated.

To add to the misery that all Canadians are experiencing around this issue, Visa and MasterCard are now entering the Canadian debit card business. The charge per transaction is expected to increase five-fold and, again, this will be an additional burden on Canadian consumers.

What we have in the Canadian credit card industry right now is one big unregulated jungle, and the big losers are Canadians. The issue cries out for government oversight and I urge the minister to take action now.

Fillmore-Creelman Legion
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would l like to pay tribute to the Fillmore-Creelman Legion that includes Osage, Tyvan and area.

I attended a memorial hall Remembrance Day service in the small town of Creelman, population about 100. When the war list was read, we heard enlisted in the first world war were 77, 23 dead. Enlisted in the second world war were 171, 17 dead.

These types of numbers were common to all communities in Souris—Moose Mountain. This had to affect everyone in the community, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, neighbours and friends. No one was left untouched.

The most touching part of the service came when everyone wearing a poppy walked to the front and planted their poppy in a step of personal remembrance, the veterans, dignitaries, the choir, the young, the old and the man on crutches. Everyone was personally counted in.

It is not those sitting in ivory towers that most preserve the way of life we hold dear today, but the soldiers who gave of themselves that we might live the life to which we are accustomed.

Congratulations to Creelman, Fillmore and area for a special service. Well done.

Lunick Farm in Saint-Eugène-de-Guigues
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, at the 2009 awards ceremony held by the Ordre national du mérite agricole du Québec, a farm in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Ferme Lunick in Saint-Eugène-de-Guigues, won the gold medal at the national level.

The Ordre national du mérite agricole recognizes the expertise and the work of agricultural professionals. Candidates for awards are evaluated on their agro-environmental management, production management and human resources and financial management, as well as on the enterprise's social influence.

Nicole Maheux and Jean-Luc Baril, who own and manage Ferme Lunick, specialize in producing potatoes and milk. The judges singled out their research and development activities for special mention.

My colleagues and I want to congratulate Ms. Maheux and Mr. Baril of Ferme Lunick on this well-deserved honour.