House of Commons Hansard #22 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood has 40 seconds to respond.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Speaker, I am amused by the hon. member's ability to pat himself on the back and talk at the same time.

If he wants to get into duelling quotes, we will get into duelling quotes, the simple point being that he is representing the Minister of Finance in the House. If he is convinced that the government's activities on the stimulus side actually produced economic activity, which led to GDP growth, which hopefully will lead to jobs, then he should put it on the floor.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. The hon. member for Laval on a point of order.

Invisible Work Day
Government Orders

April 1st, 2010 / 11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Madam Speaker, I seek the unanimous consent of the House to adopt the following motion:

That this House highlight the importance of the so-called “invisible” unpaid work done by parents and caregivers on behalf of their children and aging family members by creating “Invisible Work Day”;

That the first Tuesday in April be designated “Invisible Work Day” in recognition of the important role this type of work plays in society;

That, following the example of UN member nations at the international conference in Beijing in 1995, this annual event be a time to emphasize the extent of unpaid work in Canada.

Invisible Work Day
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Invisible Work Day
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Invisible Work Day
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11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Invisible Work Day
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Invisible Work Day
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11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-9, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on the adoption of her motion.

Allow me to begin my speech by focusing on three excerpts from speeches by our learned colleagues who spoke just ahead of me.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance praised previous budget speeches saying that the automotive sector received special treatment and it paid off. According to him, the automotive sector did fairly well.

However, he did not say a word about the forestry industry; not one word. Why is that? Because there was absolutely nothing for the forestry industry. I agree with what he said about the automotive sector, but there was nothing for the forestry sector, which is a key sector in Quebec.

The second excerpt I agree with is from the speech by my hon. Liberal colleague. He said that the government before us is extremely incompetent. The Bloc and I agree with that statement.

The third excerpt is the one where he said he did not want to trigger an election because he did not want to create instability with the election of the Liberal Party. At least, that is what I understood. We agree: the election of the Liberal Party would create instability in Canada.

This budget speech was very disappointing. Let us get back to the budget implementation bill; unfortunately, the Bloc Québécois will be voting against it. We voted against the budget and will vote against the budget implementation bill quite simply because this budget is all about sparing the rich. It does everything possible to save business from contributing. It does everything possible to avoid fixing the problem of tax havens. It will even allow certain corporations not registered in Canada to avoid paying taxes in Canada on their transactions. The budget also meddled with telecommunications firms, as if it did not matter whether or not Quebec and Canada lose control of their telecommunications companies. The Conservatives do not care. Furthermore, the budget contains a certain number of items, such as the partial privatization of Canada Post, that will come about eventually.

We do not agree with some of the measures that have been proposed and now made official in this budget implementation bill.

We also do not agree because we have consulted Quebeckers. We have suggested that they seize the opportunity. We toured extensively throughout Quebec and met with people who were very pleased to talk to us. Everywhere we went, we received a warm welcome from many people. They agreed that those who have more should be asked to contribute more. It is a simple principle: clearly, those who have more can contribute more.

Thus, we made a number of suggestions. We proposed that Canadian taxpayers who had taxable income last year of more than $150,000—after basic deductions—should pay 2% more. An additional 2% for those earning $150,000 amounts to $3,000. We also suggested that those with taxable income of more than $250,000—one quarter of a million dollars, that is not peanuts—should pay a 3% surtax.

And $7,500 is a lot of money, but not for someone with a taxable income of more than $250,000—a quarter of a million dollars—a year. We asked them to make this wartime effort, if we can call it that. But it was not even mentioned. The government did not implement any of these socially-useful measures.

We also proposed that tax havens be eliminated, particularly those used by the chartered banks. We did the research to back up our proposal. Canadian chartered banks have to publish an annual report each year, and their fiscal year ends on October 31.

We now have all the information. On page 121 of Royal Bank's annual report, page 149 of CIBC's, page 152 of BMO's, page 129 of Toronto-Dominion's, page 133 of Scotia Bank's and page 144 of National Bank's, we see that all of these chartered banks comply with the Minister of Finance's directive and indicate the tax amounts saved by using tax havens. If these amounts had not been placed in tax havens, these institutions would have been paying money into the treasury of Canada.

Any of these amounts can vary from year to year, ranging from $1.6 billion to $2 billion to $2.5 billion. It depends on profits and how they are used. Why does the Minister of Finance not take from the rich what he is asking of the poor?

During the National Bank of Canada's annual meeting yesterday in Montreal, president Louis Vachon said that the financial sector, and the banks in particular, have been very vocal about the need to fix public finances.

He was referring to the Quebec government's finances as much as the Government of Canada's finances.

He added that everyone clearly has to do their part, including the banks. He is not the only one to say that. Jacques Ménard, whom everyone in Montreal, Quebec and Canada knows, is the chairman of BMO Nesbitt Burns and president of the Bank of Montreal or BMO Financial Group in Quebec. He is well respected. He said the banks have a responsibility as economic players and also as citizens.

Jacques Ménard, president of the Bank of Montreal in Quebec, is prepared to pay out of his own pocket. I imagine his taxable income is greater than $250,000. As the head of a bank he is telling the government he is prepared to make an effort.

There is nothing of the kind in the budget implementation bill.

What is more, we have noticed that non-residents are getting a free ride. In a number of cases, they will no longer be charged the withholding tax.

It will be possible for Canadian corporations using tax havens such as Barbados to make transactions through corporations in Canada without having to pay withholding tax. At the end of the day, by using off-book accounts and financial entries, these corporations could go all over the world with one, two or three foreign subsidiaries in tax havens and, presto, they no longer have to pay any tax. This government is making that possible and legal.

We did our tour, after which I submitted a document to the Minister of Finance himself during a meeting that was pleasant, I must say. The parliamentary secretary was there. We discussed the document. They told me they would look at it. They must not have been wearing their glasses because they did not look at it the way they should have.

Since there clearly are problems in the way pension funds are managed, the budget implementation bill will allow overcapitalization to go from 110% to 125%. That is good. We have indicated that we agree with the Department of Finance and the Government of Canada's overture, but why stop at 125%? And why change the five year standard when this again favours businesses? Why only allow the unfunded liabilities to be covered and go up to 100% after being on the brink of underfunded pensions?

If it happened once, it could happen again. We made the following suggestion: instead of just covering the deficit, why not go higher, up to 100%, 105%, 110% or 120% of the capitalization needed to fund the pensions? There is nothing in here about that except the possibility of going from 110% to 125%, which we commend.

Another item raised a number of questions in the House. I will not use the coarse language the hon. member for Outremont used, even though he was right. His question followed those of the leader of the Bloc and my own on the government's treatment of Quebec in all this, not just when it comes to equalization, but transfer payments as well.

This government, with the former Ontario finance minister in charge of public finances, is doing everything in its power to strangle Quebec's finances. That was obvious from the answers to our questions, and it is also obvious in this budget in which there is practically nothing about the transfers we would like to see increased for Quebec. On the contrary, in the fall of 2008, during the Quebec election campaign, this government introduced a drastic change without telling anyone. For the current year, this change will cost the Government of Quebec—this was mentioned in the Quebec finance minister's budget speech two days ago—$350 million, while at the same time providing Ontario with up to $600 million more.

What can we call this pillaging of the EI fund? We have made outstanding proposals. Some of my colleagues from the Bloc have suggested improvements to the employment insurance system. Of course, this comes at a price, but at the same time we suggested ways to fund these improved EI programs.

As we can see in this weighty budget implementation bill, the Minister of Finance, in his wisdom, noted that it was in fact $57,170,356,000 that was plundered under the previous government. They are boasting about how terrible what the Liberal government did was, saying that it should be ashamed to have snatched funds from the EI account.

They are right. From 1996-97 to 2008-09, the Liberal Party literally siphoned off $57 billion, and that time period includes the first few years that the Conservative government was in office. Time and interest aside, if we divide $57 billion by the number of years during which this plundering took place, we get an average amount of $4,764,196,333 per year. That is how much the Liberal Party stole from employers and employees, from the EI fund, when it was in office.

How will the Conservative government manage this program? The Conservatives say that they now have a commission. I understand; all the money comes from employers and workers. The government does not contribute a cent. None of this money comes from taxes.

The government puts the premiums under revenues and the benefits under expenditures. The difference between the two for the next four years is $19.2 billion. In four years, the government will steal $19.2 billion from Canadian employers and workers. If we divide that amount by four, that is $4.8 billion per year. The plundering of $4.8 billion every year by the Conservatives is right up there with the $4.764 billion the Liberals took when they were in power.

This is another example of what we mean when we say two faces, one reality. Successive Canadian governments have literally stolen from employers and workers because not a single cent comes from Canadian taxes. These are contributions to an insurance plan. If this insurance plan were run by a private company and the company were taking money like this, its managers would be in jail. Who is doing this plundering now? I will let my colleagues guess.

This bill has some 800 pages and several parts. It is a huge bill, and that is not uncommon. Anyone who works in finance is used to this kind of beast.

Part 17 on financial cooperatives is worrisome, since cooperatives can or could be regulated by the Bank Act and the federal government. We will examine this issue more closely with the heads of Mouvement Desjardins in Quebec, in order to determine whether the cooperative movement in Canada, and particularly in Quebec, got what it was asking for from the Government of Canada.

If not, the federal government will once again have control over the cooperative financial sector in Quebec, an exceptional sector that is recognized worldwide.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I certainly will not have time to address all of the misinformation that was in the member's speech, but early in his speech, he made a comment that we have helped the auto sector but have neglected the forestry sector.

I want to remind him and all Canadians that our economic action plan was clear in providing a total of $170 million over two years to help in the support of market diversification and innovation initiatives for the forestry sector. There was also $1 billion to help the pulp and paper green transformation program. This is helping the industry to become a leader in the production of renewal energy from biomass and it creates and sustains jobs.

In addition to the economic action plan, budget 2010 builds on those important investments by providing $100 million over the next four years to support clean energy generation in Canada's forestry sector. On top of that, the Business Development Bank of Canada has provided $300 million in loans to Canadian forestry companies since 2008.

I have two questions for the member. Did the member read the budget? If he did, why is he opposed to these measures that will clearly help the forestry sector? In fact, these measures were suggested by his party in the prebudget consultations.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, I most certainly have read the budget. In fact, I have read it more than once.

What he said about help for forestry is so true that it should be right there. On page 259, where it says “Supporting Industries and Communities”, that is where it should be.

According to the table on page 259, the auto industry gets $9.718 billion. The number is right there. Under “Forestry marketing and innovation”, it says that the sector got $68 million last year and may receive $108 this year. That is a total of $176 million, while the auto sector gets $9.718 billion. It that is not what it means to compare the numbers, then I am not sure what is. It is right there in his budget.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, clearly, the government is looking for a way to get itself defeated and cause an election. We have an omnibus bill here, an 880-page bill that was dropped on our desks a couple of days ago. There are provisions in this bill that really have nothing to do with the budget.

For example, the government has taken the issue of post office remailers, which was before the House last year under two other bill numbers, and it has put it in this bill. It has also cut the heart out of the federal environmental assessment act, basically an oil company's dream.

Those are the types of measures the government has put into this document. It is trying to hide in this bill measures that it cannot get passed through the House on their own. To me it is nothing more than putting poison pills in this bill so the government can ensure there is an election and the Conservatives can say that they were not the ones who caused it, when in fact, it would be the Conservatives who caused it.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, that does indeed take a lot of nerve.

We read the document—all 800 and some pages of it. I agree with my NDP colleague. Indeed, I am sure that my NDP colleagues also took the time to read the whole thing so that they could discuss it in detail during parliamentary committee meetings. What a great idea to throw a brick like this out there. In light of this morning's tabling of Afghanistan documents, it is clear that the government is trying to hide needles in haystacks.

My NDP colleague knows that he can count on the Bloc members to work hard with the support of the NDP to find all of the needles in the Conservative government's haystack.