House of Commons Hansard #29 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was taxes.

Topics

The House resumed from October 6 consideration of the motion that Bill C-13, An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
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10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-13. On behalf of my riding of Etobicoke North, the beautiful community where I was born and raised, I must first fight for jobs. It is an absolute priority for me, my office and our community. It is heartening to see some modest employment growth in today's statistics but it does not bring us back to where we were before the recession.

I want members to know that we have helped many residents with resumés. I personally spend hours correcting each line of cover letters and resumés. We help with job-finding skills. We send people to career agencies and we help find them jobs.

I am particularly proud that we have secured a new jobs program to help more people in our community find work. However, it is not enough. The reality is that more Canadians face economic insecurity compared to a few short years ago. This threatens Canada's economic growth and fiscal balance. We need concrete proposals to stimulate job creation right away.

Twenty per cent of my riding is engaged in manufacturing, the second-highest percentage for the country's entire 308 ridings. What new support can the government offer young Canadians? This past summer, it was heartbreaking to meet with so many young graduates who were distraught because they were unable to find work. Many of these graduates were the first person in their family to go to college and university. The only thing harder than meeting with the graduates was meeting with their grandparents who begged for help to find their grandchildren a job. We must reduce the worst youth unemployment rate in a generation.

We must also build the jobs of the future. This means we must shift to a green economy to stimulate growth, create new jobs, eradicate poverty and limit humanity's ecological footprint. It is no longer a choice between saving our economy and saving the environment. It is a choice between being a producer and a consumer in the old economy and being a leader in a new economy. It is a choice between decline and prosperity.

The government should work in partnership with provinces, territories, municipalities, labour organizations, industry sectors, first nations and others to develop a national sustainable energy and economic growth strategy to position Canada to succeed in the global economy. It should develop a clean energy employment transition for Canada with goals for 2015, 2020, 2025 and 2030. This strategy should include skills development, training programs and certification courses.

I will now address environmental, economic and human costs. Climate change is our most pressing environmental issue, perhaps the defining issue of our generation, and it requires both moral responsibility and intergenerational responsibility. Yet the government failed to mention the issue in the throne speech.

This week we learned that the government has reduced climate change reductions by a shocking 90% since 2007. More stringent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions cannot be postponed much longer. Otherwise the opportunity to keep the average global temperature rise below 2°C, relative to the pre-industrial level, is in danger. Serious impacts are associated with approaching or exceeding this limit, including the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events, shifts in growing seasons and sea level rise.

The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy predicts that climate change could cost Canadians between $21 billion and $43 billion per year by 2050.

Our capacity for managing the impacts to come is adaptation. While it is not cost-free it is a cost-effective way to alleviate some of those impacts. I must then ask why the government is cutting climate impacts and adaptation research at Environment Canada. The group was started 17 years ago. It performs groundbreaking research by examining how climate change affects agriculture, human health and water quality in Canada. Some of its scientists shared part of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on climate change.

My concern is that the government wants as little as possible to do with climate change and wants to pass the buck to the provinces and the municipalities. The reality is that we need research governance arrangements on adaptation at all scales.

I will now turn to human costs and what failure to take preventive action would mean.

Governments worldwide are concerned with the rising tide of dementia. Some 500,000 Canadians have Alzheimer's disease or related dementia. Some 71,000 are under the age of 65 years and 72% are women. Today in Canada one person is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias every five minutes. The human cost is huge. The economic cost is $15 billion. In 30 years it will be one person every two minutes and a cost of $153 billion.

It is my absolute hope that the health committee will reconstitute the Subcommittee of Neurological Disease which I founded in the last Parliament and will bring back the report which the subcommittee passed.

Moreover, will the government commit to a national brain strategy? Will it commit to a national brain health awareness month and a national year of the brain to raise awareness of brain health in Canada? Will it commit to a national Alzheimer's office within the Public Health Agency of Canada to reduce the rising tide of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, and provide a national plan with specific goals and an annual report to Parliament? Will it take necessary measures to accelerate the discovery and development of treatments that would prevent, halt or reverse the course of dementia? Will it encourage greater investment in all areas of research?

If we could merely slow the onset of dementia by two years for each affected Canadian we would see a return on investment of 15,000% over a 30 year research effort.

I will finish by tackling another devastating neurological disease, that being multiple sclerosis. It affects 55,000 to 75,000 Canadians, of whom 400 die each year from the disease, and many take their own life. The suicide rate in MS patients is seven times that of the national population.

In May 2010, my colleague from St. Paul's and I brought the fight for clinical trials and a registry for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, CCSVI, to Parliament.

Almost a year later, in March 2011, the government announced a registry, although it will not actually start until July 2012.

In June 2011, at last the government announced clinical trials.

I want to be clear. All we have right now is announcements. What we need is action. Canadians with MS cannot afford to wait.

Instead of tracking patients who have had the CCSVI procedure and developing the most appropriate scales to measure any health impacts following treatment, MS patients were left with no follow up and important data was lost post procedure at one, three, six, twelve and twenty-four months.

Since when do scientists fail to collect data or, worse, choose not to gather evidence?

The CIHR is currently recommending phase I or phase II clinical trials for CCSVI.

I would argue that there is no need for a phase I trial, which is usually undertaken to assess safety. Angioplasty is an accepted standard of care practice in Canada.

I would, therefore, suggest that we need an adaptive phase II or phase III trial, for example, clinical trials for the CCSVI procedure in multiple centres across Canada.

I will finish by thanking the people in my riding, as well as the stakeholders in the environment, health and particularly neurological disease.

Finally, I would like all of the people who are living with MS to know that they inspire me every day.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
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10:10 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that my colleague is sincere and dedicated to her riding. At the beginning of her speech she said that we are not back to where we were before the recession. We know that we lost 490,000 jobs during the recession.

We have created 600,000 new jobs with the economic action plan. These concrete results are due to lower taxes and the specific steps we have taken which have been acknowledged around the world. As well, our Minister of Finance has been acknowledged around the world.

Would my colleague from Etobicoke North comment on the number of jobs that have been created through the economic action plan? Will she be supporting its next phase?

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10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that in my riding jobs are a priority.

I went to a graduation and heard in the speech given by a valedictorian a poem by Dylan Thomas paraphrased, “Rage, rage if people do not come from the right community or do not have the opportunity to get a job”. The government has missed out on opportunities for creating jobs for Canadians.

The government missed opportunities contained within the stimulus package regarding jobs, impacts on the environment, and greening the economy. According to HSBC, in 2009 the Government of Canada invested $3 billion in green stimulus spending. However, Germany invested $14 billion, the United States invested $112 billion and China invested $221 billion in green infrastructure and in the process created thousands of new green jobs and improved competitiveness.

In 2010 McAllister said that 84% of Canadian thought leaders give poor ratings to Canada's dependence on fossil fuels and carbon pricing. We need a national sustainable energy strategy and job strategy.

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10:15 a.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, we all know that Canada has been lacking in green infrastructure. I listened with interest to the member's statements on the green economy. I would ask her to elaborate on how many jobs we have missed out on due to the lack of a green economy in Canada, as well as the government's unwillingness to move toward a green economy.

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10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada must absolutely move toward a green economy, develop a transition strategy and track the jobs that would create.

I stress that climate change is not just an environmental issue but also a human rights issue, a right to live, an international security issue and a justice issue. In other words, those suffering the most have the least responsibility. In any struggle it is important to listen to the front lines, for example, the aboriginal people and those living in the Canadian Arctic. If people are being impacted by climate change they should be meaningfully involved in Canada's processes and negotiations. As well, the government must be accountable to those people who are impacted.

The government is now cutting the climate impacts and adaptation research group in Environment Canada, which performs world-leading research in adaptation. Why would it cut these Nobel Prize winning scientists' research when the national round table has predicted that climate change could cost Canadians $21 billion to $43 billion per year by 2050?

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10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with honour and a great sense of pride in representing the people of Sault Ste. Marie. It is a privilege to be here today to address the House of Commons in my maiden speech.

At this time I would like to congratulate our member of provincial Parliament, David Orazietti, on being re-elected last night. The red tie is not in honour of him, it is in honour of our troops.

I would like to begin by thanking the numerous volunteers who worked tirelessly and diligently on my campaign. It was the collective effort of all those involved that resulted in my electoral victory in my first-ever attempt at seeking to represent Sault Ste. Marie and Canada at the federal level. Few who try succeed, and I am truly humbled by this amazing opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those whom I serve. I will not take it for granted.

As parliamentarians, we collectively give thanks to God in this place every day. I would like to thank God for allowing me the privilege of serving the people of Sault Ste. Marie and Him here in Parliament.

I would also like to pay special tribute to my wife, Aida, and our two sons, Brandyn and Kevin, who love and support me each and every day. If not for their encouragement, I would not be in this House today.

Having had the opportunity to be an MP for a few months now, I can appreciate the demands of this position and commend all members on both sides of the House for their efforts, especially those who are forced to be away from young families.

Finally, I thank all the people of Sault Ste. Marie for bestowing their faith in me. I promise to respectfully and truthfully represent their views and concerns here in Ottawa. I pledge to work hard with the same diligence that the majority of my constituents demonstrate daily as they go about their lives.

They elected me because of the values and policies of the Conservative government. It is on their behalf that I would like to discuss the positive implications Canada's economic action plan has had on the riding of Sault Ste. Marie specifically and Canada as a whole, but more importantly the positive impacts the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth, will bring.

I think the Federation of Canadian Municipalities put it best when they said, “[Budget 2011] delivered a vital commitment to cities and communities to develop a long-term federal infrastructure plan”.

In my time on city council, I saw the effect that sound federal policy can have on infrastructure replacement with unprecedented road construction, thanks in part to the federal gas tax contribution. I am so pleased that our government, through the next phase of our economic action plan, will legislate a permanent annual investment of $2 billion in the gas tax fund to provide predictable long-term infrastructure for municipalities.

Not only does this funding assist in replacing aging infrastructure but it also contributes to keeping municipal taxes low as the tax burden for infrastructure investment previously rested squarely on the shoulders of municipal taxpayers. Infrastructure projects are also a key provider of jobs.

I am especially grateful to this government for lowering the corporate tax rate and committing to keeping it low which is making our country more attractive to investors, once again creating new jobs.

It was not that long ago, two major employers in Sault Ste. Marie were in great difficulty and may very well have closed their doors, which would have been a devastating blow to our local economy.

Our low corporate tax policy attracted foreign investment to resurrect these companies, and as a result Essar Steel Algoma is now owned by a family from India, and TenarisAlgomaTubes is owned by a company from Argentina. These two companies provide 4,000 well-paying jobs in the Soo, and contribute indirectly to many more.

Canada must stay competitive in order to attract the kind of investment that will assist businesses that rely on global markets for their product and lower corporate tax rates ensure that competitive advantage.

I can say with certainty that an increase in the corporate tax, as required by the NDP to deliver on its promises, would have a profound negative effect on jobs and investment in Sault Ste. Marie. The steel industry is extremely volatile and every advantage counts.

Both companies I spoke of earlier would like to expand in the near future, creating the potential for new jobs, jobs that will not materialize with a corporate tax increase.

These policies have worked for all of Canada, not just Sault Ste. Marie. Canada is a leader in global economic recovery. Our government is focused on what matters to Canadians, creating jobs and promoting economic growth.

Canada has the strongest job growth record in the G7, with nearly 600,000 net new jobs created since July 2009. The IMF predicts that we will have among the strongest economic growth in the G7 over the next two years. This prediction is not accidental. It is based upon this government's policies on job creation and economic growth, including such things as providing a temporary hiring credit for small business to encourage hiring additional staff, as well as extending the accelerated capital cost allowance for investments in new equipment and machinery.

These investments enable our manufacturing firms to become more efficient and therefore more competitive, with the end result of more jobs. Not to mention the positive economic impact to those companies which actually provide the new machinery and equipment.

While job creation and the economy remain the top priority of this government, we are also committed to helping those giants of Canadian success, our seniors. As the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry said:

When I hear stories of the hardships some of our seniors have endured I truly am in awe. Seniors deserve the respect and admiration of each and every Canadian for the contributions they have made and continue to make as mentors and leaders. They have raised families, built communities and created a standard of living in our country that is the envy of the world. It is virtually impossible to appropriately recognize or thank these brave generous men and women for their unselfish contribution.

Though it is impossible to adequately thank our senior citizens for the hard work and investment they have put into this great country, our nation has made them a priority, higher ever than before. In the next phase of Canada's economic action plan we are introducing new measures to improve the quality of life for these valuable contributors.

We are enhancing GIS for low-income seniors who will receive additional annual benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples. We are also eliminating the mandatory retirement age for federally regulated employees, so that those seniors who want to remain in the workforce have the freedom to do so.

Furthermore, while I campaigned, a common concern of seniors and many constituents was the lack of a family physician. I am proud of our government's position on forgiving loans for new doctors and nurses in underserviced rural and remote areas.

I would now like to talk about this government's plan to balance the budget. As the Right Hon. David Cameron said during his visit, “the western world is facing a debt crisis”. This government realizes we cannot put ourselves in a similar position. We are committed to a responsible, credible approach to balancing the budget by 2014-15 in a manner that will create greater efficiency and effectiveness within the operation of government and the various services it provides. We will do this without raising taxes, without slashing transfers to health, education and support to seniors.

The IMF recently declared that Canada has the best net debt to GDP ratio in the G7. However, the economy is still extremely fragile and we must be diligent in our efforts to balance the budget. As a new member of Parliament, there is still a lot I have to learn about how Parliament works and how it best serves Canadians. However, there are some things I am certain of, that cutting corporate taxes stimulates economic growth, that in order to survive in the globalized world we must embrace free trade, and that the Conservative Party of Canada is working hard to keep this country on the right course in the midst of economic turmoil around the world.

As we debate the implementation of the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, I would like to agree with the millions of Canadians who have praised this government for good fiscal management. We are on the right track and we will continue to fight for lower taxes, balanced budgets, and care for the most vulnerable.

Our country is the envy of the world, in no small part due to the hard work of the Prime Minister, my colleagues, and the Conservative Party of Canada.

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10:25 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to congratulate my dear colleague on his first election at the federal level and on his first speech.

Last summer, the IMF concluded that when revenues are allocated more fairly, the periods of economic growth are longer and more stable. So why is there so little in this budget to address the inequality?

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10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, this morning Statistics Canada released a statement that in September, another 60,000 jobs were created in Canada, and our unemployment rate has dropped to 7.1%, which is the lowest level that it has been since 2008. Our stimulus package is obviously working. I do not think there is more that needs to be said and we need to continue along this path.

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10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I too congratulate the member for Sault Ste. Marie on his maiden speech. It was a good job. He referred to some major employers who plan to expand in the future. To expand on what he said, how would a corporate tax rate increase affect these plans?

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10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, in Sault Ste. Marie, one of our major employers is Essar Algoma Steel. It currently employs 3,200 people. It intends on expanding with a deep seaport expansion, and in the event that happens, it will be able to double capacity in Sault Ste. Marie. That translates to between 500 and 700 jobs. It is not only Essar Algoma Steel that will be able to take advantage of this particular harbour.

A key point as well is that in the event corporate taxes go up, the reality is that these corporations also support our small businesses. There is a trickle down effect. If our corporate taxes go up, resulting in lay-offs, there will be an impact on our small business community as well. That is simply something Canadians cannot afford and we definitely should not be considering it at all.

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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by the member for Sault Ste. Marie. The consequences of the budget that the government is proposing will have an impact on the level of debt for families. I would ask the member for Sault Ste. Marie, what will be the consequences on families in these ridings with regard to the level of debt?

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10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree at all with what the hon. member is saying. The reality is that the tax measures that are in this plan will reduce the level of debt. Canadians will be paying on average $3,000 a year less in tax. Personal taxes for Canadians are at the lowest level they have ever been, I believe, in 50 years. Once again, our low tax policies and job creation policies are working.

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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague for his maiden speech in the House and on his election.

My colleague said cutting corporate taxes stimulates growth. I agree with what he is saying. The government is cutting taxes and giving away tax credits to large corporations, but what we have seen happen is that these corporations are sending jobs outside of our country.

How is this actually stimulating growth in our local communities, when the jobs are being shipped out of the country?

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10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree that jobs are being shipped out of the country. I can only speak to what is happening in Sault Ste. Marie and quite frankly, jobs are coming into Sault Ste. Marie as a result of our low tax policies.

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10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know we have discussed many pieces of legislation here in the House but I cannot think of one that is more aptly named than “keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act”, the second phase of our economic action plan.

The legislation includes key elements for the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth. Our minister said:

Our Government is focused on what matters to Canadians—creating jobs and promoting economic growth

Canada has the strongest job record in the G7, having created more than 600,000 jobs and with a great new employment report out this morning. These jobs have been created since July of 2009. The International Monetary Fund projects that we will have among the strongest economic growth in the G7 over the next two years. However, we are not immune from global economic turbulence, which is why we need to stay the course and implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

The minister is right, we do, and there are many ways that keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act would help Canada's economy recover.

As a small business owner myself, I am very excited about the many ways this budget would help small businesses. I recently visited an innovation centre for entrepreneurs that has been created in St. Thomas, Ontario, with a little help from our government. It is an incubator for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs who want to open their first business go there and work together. I was there speaking to some of the entrepreneurs not that long ago and they were talking about how much they thought this government's budgets have been on the absolute right course from an entrepreneurial point of view. We all know that, from a small business point of view, most of the jobs created are by entrepreneurs and small businesses. That same innovation centre won three awards last week as an innovation centre in Canada. I am very pleased with it.

Part of what this legislation would do is promote jobs and economic growth. One of the ways is by putting in place a temporary hiring credit for small businesses. As I stated, as a small businessman myself, we start off each day fairly optimistic, and in speaking to entrepreneurs, that is exactly the case. Most small business people are very optimistic about what their companies will do that year and about their growth. What this would put in place is a credit to hire and receive a credit for each person hired to expand the business this year. As a small business person, that is always a great incentive to move forward with the decision. When it may have been do or do not, this would push it over the edge.

I would also like to mention another small businessman, a friend of mine in St. Thomas, Jeff Yurek. Last night, he became a member of the provincial parliament. He is a pharmacist. In speaking to him late last night, we talked about working together to create jobs. I even mentioned that I would be speaking this morning to the budget. He is pretty excited about what he will be able to do and with the two of us working together. I congratulate Jeff Yurek.

The budget also talks about expanding the tax support for clean energy generation to encourage green investments. We are simplifying customs tariffs in order to facilitate trade and to lower the administrative burden for business. I will speak to that just a bit.

The government has, over the last short period of time, under the review of one of our ministers, looked at red tape. In the election that we had earlier this spring, one of the more common things I heard from small business people, and specifically from farmers, is that they could do okay if governments would just get out of their way. Therefore, the removal of red tape and regulations, and certainly the duplication of regulations at the federal, provincial, and municipal level, is what most people are looking for. Any time a budget can move to remove administrative burdens for business, it is a good budget. It is letting the people who are earning the money put it in their pockets and not have to use the time and effort to create reports and send them on.

We are extending the accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investments in manufacturing and processing equipment. As was already mentioned by my colleague earlier, this not only allows those businesses to increase their productivity, which we need to do in Canada, keep working on the productivity side by putting new equipment in place, it also allows the manufacturers of those pieces of equipment to generate income and the people who sell to them to generate income. It has a very good cascade effect.

As I have already said, as a small businessman in a small community that has had some job losses, this type of thing would have a cascade effect. Even where my business is, it can generate business because someone further up the chain is allowing this capital cost allowance.

I want to mention Forbes magazine, the pre-eminent business magazine in the world. It called Canada the best place to do business. Part of the reason was things like the capital cost allowance, the lowering of the red tape and the low tax structure that Canada has put in place.

As a sports fan, I never hear anybody in the stands saying that we are number four. Canada can proudly stand up this week and say that we are number one. We are the best place in the world to do business. Our job strategy is recognized around the world. For those contemplating opening a new plant and wondering where it should be, well the best business magazine in the world is saying that it should be done in Canada because it is the best place to do it. That is the type of thing that this strategy is getting for us.

Is that all there is? No. This legislation would also support communities. We would legislate a permanent annual investment of $2 billion to the gas tax fund. This would be permanent and in place for our communities to be forward thinking in how they would do infrastructure.

We talk a lot about SCM, the big cities and big municipalities, and I respect them for what they do, but I represent places like Aylmer, Ontario, Malahide township and the municipality of Bayham. These are very small municipalities. When they need to do a piece of infrastructure spending to fix a bridge or a road, it is not a one-year project. The money has to be thought out over a bunch of years. The fact that we would make the gas tax money permanent to them by legislation would enable them to plan ahead so that over the next four years they maybe could afford to a fix a bridge using the gas tax money. The legislation would give predictability to small municipalities. However, I am sure the large municipalities would also be very pleased with that.

Also, we would enhance the wage earner protection program to cover more workers affected by employer bankruptcy and receivership.

As well, coming from a rural area in Canada, one of my favourites is the introduction of a volunteer firefighters tax credit for volunteer firefighters. Volunteers run our communities and are in every aspect of our communities. They are the hockey coaches and Boy Scout leaders. I spend a great deal of time on the United Way program in my riding and it is all run by volunteers. However, volunteer firefighters wake themselves up in the middle of the night when the bell goes off and go out and risk their lives. They spend their Saturdays training on how to be better firefighters. I am proud that the government will give them a tax credit toward part of what they do. Our thanks for what volunteers do in our communities needs to be part of it, and the volunteer firefighters tax credit would help.

The legislation would also help families by introducing a new family caregiver tax credit to assist caregivers. We would remove the limit on eligible expenses caregivers can claim under the medical expense tax credit.

We would introduce a new children's art tax credit. In past budgets, government has been able to help families with kids in sports. However, our world is well-rounded and we need the cultural side, too, and, therefore, a tax credit for kids involved in the arts is a great way to go.

I will conclude by saying that I spent 35 days earlier this spring, as other members did, knocking on doors, walking up farm lanes and maybe having too many Tim Hortons coffees. I was talking to people about this budget and what we would be putting forward. We came back with an overwhelming mandate, certainly in my riding, and across the country because people liked what we were talking about over those 35 days and wanted us to go back and do it and create some jobs.

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10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the hon. member's speech and my question to him is a simple one. Does he believe that the tax credits he mentioned, the firefighters tax credit and the children's arts tax credit, should be refundable tax credits so that lower income Canadians can benefit as well?

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10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the opportunity to talk a little more about volunteers in rural ridings. I recognize that it is not exclusive to rural ridings but I know that the work that volunteer firefighters do in small communities stands out as a greater benefit than it may in some of the larger communities. No offence to the larger communities.

As I said, we spent 35 days on the campaign trail talking about what we were offering to rural Canadians and volunteers. One of the things was, as the member mentioned, the child tax credit. It was well accepted. Whether it was in coffee shops, schools or homes, people said that they liked the way we were headed and that we should carry on.

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10:45 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about corporate tax rates. He was talking about very low tax rates.

For example, the corporate tax rate for the federal government and the Ontario government combined was cut drastically, from 45% in 1999 to 30% in 2010. However, during the same period, investments in machinery and equipment dropped from 8.3% to 5.5%. This shows that lowering the corporate tax rate does not lead to more investments.

Could my colleague comment on that?

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10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, members are making it very easy for me this morning by mentioning all the good things this government is doing.

The member is right. Lowering corporate tax rates does work. Lowering the corporate tax allowance on machinery does work. Having a small business hiring tax credit does work. As a small business person and someone who has spent my life in business, I recognize that every dollar that is allowed to stay in my pocket or the pockets of entrepreneurs in this country somehow gets spent, either by them, their families or gets reinvested back into their businesses.

All of the measures that we have mentioned and the measures that the member opposite congratulated us on will do all of that.

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10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know that those in the NDP and Liberal Party who fight against a growing economy and creating jobs will not talk about this today because it is good news. This morning there was some remarkably good news on job creation, the economy and the unemployment rate. I would like the member to share that good news with us because it is worthy of repeating over and over again today.

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10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member and good friend from British Columbia for helping set that up. I will see if I can hit this one out of the park.

Yes, the unemployment numbers are out this morning. Canada's unemployment rate is now a full two points less than the United States' unemployment rate. That has not happened in my generation. I do not remember it happening in my lifetime as a business person. There were 60,000 new jobs created in the last month right here in Canada.

I understand that the job of opposition parties is to try to find what they can, but I would ask them to please stop talking my country down. I live in the best country on the face of this earth. I live in a country that is working better than most around the world in creating jobs, dreams and opportunities. I am very thankful that we continue to move down that road. Pieces of legislation like this will help grease the rails to make it happen. We need to keep doing it and we need the opposition to help.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, before beginning my speech, I would like to set the record straight about some things that the hon. member claims I said, which I did not. I said that, when the taxes of large corporations dropped from 45% to 30%, investments decreased. They therefore did not increase. This shows that the decrease in large corporations' taxes did not increase investments. Now, I would like to start my speech.

My priority is to stand up for the interests of families, youth, workers and seniors. That is the mandate that the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île gave me. These are the issues that made up the NDP's campaign platform. Meanwhile, the government continues to give tax credits to large corporations. We are talking about $2 billion this year alone, not to mention the mess involving the use of public money during the G8 or the use of helicopters and planes for personal reasons.

Meanwhile, look at the cold reality Canadians are facing. Let us think of the large and growing gap between the rich and the poor in Canada. From 1998 to 2007, one-third of the country's income growth was among 1% of the wealthiest Canadians, those with incomes of $400,000 a year or more.

The IMF published a study that found that the more equitable the distribution of income, the longer and more stable the periods of economic growth. However, this budget does not do anything to solve the problems that thousands of Canadians are experiencing every day. The government clearly has no idea what Canadians actually need. A big part of the population in my riding is aging. We must work to prevent seniors from falling into poverty. We must offer them affordable housing. We must provide them with financial support so that they have a decent standard of living. The bill does not include any plan for creating affordable housing. We want concrete measures, not just half measures, to fight poverty and allow the Canadian economy to truly recover from the recession. Eleven million Canadians do not have retirement pensions through their employers and, meanwhile, approximately 250,000 seniors are living in poverty.

The budget says that seniors living alone who have a maximum income of $2,000 will receive an additional $600 a year. It does not make any sense to claim that a mere $600 extra a year will help a senior escape from poverty. That is approximately $2 a day. Can someone really escape poverty, feed themselves, pay for their prescriptions and pay their rent with approximately $2 extra a day? They cannot.

What is more, this credit will decrease as their income increases. When a senior living alone gets an annual income supplement of $4,400, they can no longer benefit from the tax credit the government is proposing in this budget. That is despicable. Seniors need our help. They also need to have peace of mind and know that they will have enough to eat and can get the medicine they need.

I would like to talk about tax credits because, for days now, the government has been saying that it has created tax credits that will help people. But what good is it to give a tax credit to someone who is not working or to someone who pays little or no income tax? These people cannot benefit from tax credits. These tax credits will have no impact on the people who really need them, the people who need help from this government. For example, the tax credit for caregivers is insufficient and will discriminate against countless low-income families.

I would like to give the government a crash course in tax credits. The problem with tax credits is that they are only given to the people who have enough income to actually claim the credits. Since 65% of households with a caregiver declare a combined income of less than $45,000 and 23% declare less than $20,000, the majority of caregivers will not be able to benefit from this tax credit. Why not create a tax benefit that all caregivers can qualify for? Now there is a concrete solution for this government.

I wish the government would stop saying that the NDP is refusing to negotiate. It is the government that is refusing to listen to the offers we are making. The Conservatives are using their majority to pass bills that have no impact on Canadian society, the unemployed, families or seniors.

We could also talk about families. Tax credits to promote the participation of children in physical, artistic and cultural activities are a good idea, I agree. However, this initiative does not take into account the 30% of people living on the island of Montreal who did not pay taxes or the people in my riding who cannot afford to send their children to these kinds of activities. I think it is great to help families that can afford to send their children to such activities; I have no problem with that. But I also think we need to help the families that cannot afford to pay their rent, let alone enrol their children in such activities. Parents should not be forced to choose between feeding their children or paying the rent and enrolling them in physical, artistic and cultural activities.

Once again, a tax benefit would allow most families living in poverty to send their kids to such activities, yet another concrete measure the government should examine and consider. This government's budget does not invest in social housing and does not take into account the reality of thousands of Quebeckers and Canadians. The government must understand that it is crucial to develop a plan to give families, seniors and everyone access to affordable housing so that they do not have to worry about choosing between paying their rent and feeding their families. This government is forcing families living in poverty to make that decision, and this is unacceptable in a society like ours here in Canada.

Why does this government keep cutting taxes for corporations, oil companies and the banks? This takes away billions of dollars that could otherwise be invested for Canadians. Then the government announces $4 billion in cuts that will have a direct impact on public services for Canadians. The government is making cuts at Environment Canada and Service Canada and we are already seeing their disastrous impact on Canadians. A number of people in my riding have been waiting for their employment insurance cheque for months. One constituent in particular came to see me at my office. After waiting for three months for her employment insurance benefits, she went into foreclosure because she could not pay her mortgage. She lost her home, she is homeless, she has no money left for food and she is worried about her children. I am sure she is not alone. This is unacceptable and it makes no sense.

This $4 billion in cuts is money that could easily have come out of the oil companies' $100 billion annual profits or the $10 billion on average in tax credits and gifts given to corporations every year. Glen Hodgson, from the Conference Board of Canada, told the Standing Committee on Finance a number of times this week that tax expenditures, including ineffective tax cuts given to corporations, should be included in the scrutiny of government spending. The Department of Finance itself recognizes that infrastructure investment has five times the economic impact of corporate tax cuts. This fact is published in the appendix to budget 2009.

The thing that is even more shocking about the government's position is that in addition to announcing billions of dollars in cuts, it is now asking Canadian taxpayers to foot the bill for its radical policies on crime and defence. Is asking Canadians to pay millions of dollars for prisons, jets and whatever else they can come up with part of an economic recovery plan? It is totally illogical. While the government muzzles us and uses its majority to pass legislation that is totally absurd and out of touch with reality, 1.4 million Canadians are still waiting for a real job creation action plan—2 million if we count those who have given up or are underemployed.

Furthermore, the government claims to have created 600,000 net new jobs. That is another sad distortion of the truth. Since the peak of job creation before the start of the recession in May 2008, barely 200,000 new jobs have been created. However, the labour force has increased by 450,000 since then. Thus, 250,000 more jobs are needed just to maintain employment at pre-recession levels. Between July 2008 and July 2011, only 260,000 jobs were created. Even based on July 2007 figures, only 495,900 jobs were created between 2007 and 2011, not 600,000 as the government claims.

The government is abandoning millions of unemployed workers and is not really investing in job creation. The budget does not include any plans for job creation. For example, energy processing consists primarily of petroleum refining. This sector of our economy is in decline in Quebec and Canada. What is the government's response? Use Canadian capabilities? No. Create jobs for Canadians. Of course not. It has chosen trade over jobs for Canadians. This government prefers to build pipelines such as the Keystone pipeline to export crude oil to the United States for refining. With what result? Members will be surprised—the loss of thousands of jobs. In my—

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I am sorry, but I must interrupt the hon. member.

She will have five minutes for questions and comments after question period.

“MP for a Day” Competition
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that Benjamin Laliberté, from the Victoriaville CEGEP, is the winner of the fifth “MP for a Day” competition.

This non-partisan competition aims to help young people learn about the realities of public life and to teach them about the work of politicians—and politics in general—while encouraging them to maintain a critical eye. This competition is a concrete way for me to show them how our democracy works.

Benjamin, a player for the Victoriaville Tigres in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, was declared the winner by a panel. The contestants were asked to evaluate free trade agreements that Canada has signed or is in the progress of signing, and to explain whether they benefit Quebec.

I would like to thank Jean-François Léonard, the political science and geography teacher at the Victoriaville CEGEP, with whom I organized the competition. I would also like to thank the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, the Sévégny-Baril duo from La Capitale as well as the UPA Centre-du-Quebec for their contributions to the scholarships awarded to the top three contestants.

Police and Peace Officers' National Memorial Day
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, on September 24, 1998, the Government of Canada officially proclaimed the last Sunday of September of every year as Police and Peace Officers' National Memorial Day.

This national memorial day gives Canadians an opportunity each year to formally express appreciation for the dedication of police and peace officers who made the ultimate tragic sacrifice to keep our communities safe.

For the last 12 years, I have had the honour and privilege of attending the memorial as accompanist of the North York Regional Police Male Chorus. This September 25, it was a spectacular sight to see the thousands of men and women in uniform on Parliament Hill gathered to honour those who had fallen and to support the families left behind.

Today I invite all my colleagues to join me in saluting police and peace officers in service across our country and in honouring those who died while protecting their communities, for they are our heroes. We shall not forget them.

Multiculturalism
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister recently said that “Islamicism” is the biggest security threat to our country. This is shocking and insulting. The Prime Minister's comments are misleading and deeply offensive to the many peaceful Muslims in my community and across the country.

It sets a very dangerous precedent when we have a Prime Minister willing to use divisive language like this to drive wedges between people and communities for political purposes.

Muslims, and no doubt tolerant Canadians of all faiths, do not want to see our communities pitted against each other by anyone, let alone our own Prime Minister, and have asked that he apologize for these insensitive remarks.

Tolerance and respect for diversity are the foundation of a peaceful society. We can make our country secure without resorting to divisive politics and without creating a climate of fear.

On behalf of the Muslim community in my constituency and all those across Canada, I ask the Prime Minister to apologize for these regrettable statements.

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week I introduced my private member's bill calling for an end to wine prohibition in Canada. Bill C-311, if passed by my colleagues, will allow Canadian wineries to sell to Canadians all across this great country, something that the 83-year old prohibition era Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act currently makes illegal.

After I introduced my bill the phone started to ring: CBC Halifax, Niagara This Week, the St. Catharine's Standard and others.

It turns out Nova Scotia is an emerging wine region with roughly 15 wineries. It can produce great wines in places like the Annapolis Valley and elsewhere.

Twenty years ago in British Columbia we had roughly 15 wineries. Today in B.C. we have close to 200. Think about the potential for Nova Scotia.

Ontario Niagara region has close to 16,000 acres planted in grapes. In the province of Quebec there are now close to 50 wineries.

In fact, there are now wineries in every province across Canada.

Ending wine prohibition will help family-owned wineries all across Canada. I hope my colleagues will support Bill C-311.

The Environment
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, together all the world's peoples face common vulnerabilities from climate change to depleted ozone that transcend borders. No country, community, no corporation can exist apart from its environment.

Fortunately a significant number of companies are recognizing our common future. One such company is Molson Coors, which believes good business practices embrace environmental stewardship. The company is proud of its positive trend in its environmental impact, its great Canadian shoreline cleanups and its Molson Canadian Red Leaf Project, an ongoing commitment to give back to the land that sustains us by planting 100,000 trees from coast to coast to coast.

Molson Coors understands that when we compromise the air, the water, the soil and the variety of life, we steal from the endless future to serve the fleeting present. What will our organization do to preserve our planet?

The Environment
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to our government's work on the chemicals management plan, an important and valuable program that focuses on assessing the risks of approximately 4,300 chemicals, including products currently found in Canadian households. Through this plan, chemicals have been identified as potential risks to human health and to the environment.

To date, the Government of Canada has addressed approximately 1,100 high priority chemicals found in consumer products and industrial applications in Canada, through three of the chemicals management plan's main initiatives: the challenge to industry; the rapid screening of substances of lower concern; and the petroleum sector stream approach.

These important initiatives have enabled our government to take important steps to continue to protect Canadians from harmful chemicals in products and to protect our environment against potential risks.

Shawville Fair
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Labour Day weekend past, the Pontiac Agricultural Society celebrated the 155th anniversary of the Shawville Fair. This event has been bringing the community together longer than Confederation.

I believe that agricultural fairs like the one in Shawville are a time to celebrate and recognize an industry that is so important to our lives and also to thank farmers themselves for all their hard work keeping quality nutritious food on our tables.

Since William Clark and his directors held the first Shawville agricultural fair, many changes have occurred over the years. However, the essential goal remains the same: creating a showplace for local products and allowing farmers to interact with their urban cousins.

Of course, the fair could not exist without hundreds of volunteers. I want to congratulate and thank them for making this such a great success.

This being harvest season, I would also like to take this opportunity to salute all the farmers in my riding, from the pastures in L'Ange-Gardien and the fields of Gracefield, to the meadows of Fort-Coulonge: my sincere congratulations.

All hon. members are cordially invited to attend the 156th anniversary edition of the Shawville fair next year.

Religious Freedom
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the ruling Iranian regime continues its unrelenting attack on human rights against its own citizens.

While seven leaders of the Baha'i community remain in prison in Iran on trumped up charges dating back over three years, we have reported another case before us where an Iranian citizen is jailed because of his religious beliefs. The most recent victim is Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, whose only crime is staying true to his Christian faith and refusing to recant. For that, he has been sentenced to death.

Iran not only breaches its international obligations regarding religious freedom, but in actions like this, that are too common in Iran under this present regime, it is guilty of crimes under its own constitution.

In the recent Speech from the Throne, our government renewed our pledge to create an office of religious freedom to monitor and combat exactly this kind of human rights violations and religious intolerance around the globe.

I ask all members of the House of Commons and all Canadians to raise their voices in unison to pressure the Iranian authorities to abide by their own constitution, fulfill their international obligations and release Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and the seven Baha'i leaders now.

Small Business
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to stand before the House today to report that the government's economic plan is working, and in particular, for small businesses.

I am pleased to announce that on October 19 of this month a new business will be opening in my riding. Despite the global economic turmoil, Canada is still the best place for small businesses. On October 19, owner Bani Azan will be opening a Cora franchise on York Mills Road in Don Valley East. This will create a number of new jobs in my riding.

The actions that the government is taking to help small businesses will give this business a good start in establishing itself and securing its long-term future.

I congratulate Bani Azan and Cora on opening this business and wish them the very best for the future.

This government's small-business initiatives will create new businesses, new jobs and growth in existing businesses.

Quebec City HIV-AIDS Organization
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, 26 years ago today, on October 7, the first clinic in Canada dedicated exclusively to AIDS testing opened in Vancouver. One year later in Quebec City, in a climate of uncertainty, MIELS-Québec, an information and support movement in the fight against HIV-AIDS, was founded. Some 25 years later, thanks to its experienced team of employees, its many volunteers and support from valued partners, this movement remains as active as ever in the Quebec City region.

MIELS-Québec has become an undisputed leader thanks to the prevention services it offers, as well as the information it provides on testing, psychological and social support, housing and recovery.

I wish to sincerely commend the exceptional work of its executive director, Thérèse Richer, and her entire team. Congratulations to MIELS-Québec on 25 years of dedication to our community. I also wish to highlight the support provided by other organizations in Quebec City working on the same cause. While much progress has been made, the fight must go on.

The Economy
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, our government's top priority remains completing the economic recovery. Canadians gave our Conservative government a strong mandate to stay focused on what matters: creating jobs and economic growth. We are the only G7 country that has regained more than all of the jobs that were lost during the downturn.

We have recently been ranked as the best country for business and as the country with the best economic reputation. These are key opportunities for Canada to show leadership and promote strong and sustainable growth in the short and long-term and work on ways to strengthen market confidence and promote global recovery.

That is why our Conservative government is staying the course, with our low-tax plan to create jobs and growth. That is why the last thing the Canadian economy needs is a massive NDP tax hike that would kill jobs, stall our recovery and set Canadian families back.

Sports in La Pointe-de-l'Île
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, on a different note, I am pleased to rise in the House today to celebrate the success of the Rangers, a hockey team from Montreal East. The team is currently ranked first in its AAA league. I would like to thank the municipality of Montreal East and those in charge of the team, but I would primarily like to congratulate the players for managing to balance sports and schooling. I tip my hat to them and encourage them to exercise their passion for our national sport while excelling in their studies. Go Rangers!

Last Saturday I attended the awards ceremony for those who volunteer with the Pointe-aux-Trembles soccer association. I would like to congratulate all the coaches, assistants, volunteers and the board of directors for their time and devotion, which has allowed these young people to flourish in a sport that encourages team spirit and respect. I would like to thank you for your commitment to helping our community's youth.

Science and Technology
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government has invested more in science and technology than any government in Canadian history, creating jobs, growing our economy and improving the quality of life for all Canadians. In fact, Canada leads the G7 in terms of investment in higher education, research and development.

Now for the first time the International Council for Science has elected a Canadian as its president. Dr. Gordon McBean of the University of Western Ontario was recently elected president of the council, which boasts a global membership that represents 141 countries. The council has a long-term vision for a world where science is used for the benefit of all.

A distinguished Canadian scientist, Dr. McBean has been the recipient of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. This is truly an impressive accomplishment. On behalf of our government I want to congratulate Dr. McBean on his new role.

I know I speak for all Canadians when I say that I am proud of the leadership Canadian scientists are showing the world.

Ontario Election
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, the trifecta was rejecta.

Congratulations to the Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, and his Liberal team, who won the well-deserved right to form the third consecutive Liberal government.

Dalton McGuinty's Liberals earned the respect of Ontarians by making the decisions that were needed even when those decisions were not popular. The people of Ontario have turned to the Liberal government they trust in these perilous economic times to invest their resources wisely, to plan for Ontario's future in health care, education, energy and the jobs of the 21st century.

The Liberal movement is alive and well in Ontario.

I wish to especially congratulate John Gerretsen, one of the finest public servants in Ontario, and MPP for my home riding, Kingston and the Islands.

Thank you to everyone, from all parties, who worked on this election. You are what makes democracy work.

Yom Kippur
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, tonight Jewish families across our beautiful country begin their Yom Kippur observances. They mark the holy day and celebrate the ancient and strong Jewish faith. Judaism is a religion that binds families and communities. It is a religion that demonstrates the value of thoughtfulness, forgiveness and atonement. This Jewish holy day is an occasion for us to wish members of the community a prayerful Yom Kippur.

Today, across our dominion, Jewish Canadians will gather with friends and families to reflect and seek reconciliation with God. They will pray for peace and they will repent.

The Talmud states the Books of Life and Death are open until Yom Kippur and on Yom Kippur a final decision is made about our faith in the new year. For my constituents and all Canadians of the Jewish faith, we all wish them a happy and rewarding Yom Kippur.

Nobel Peace Prize
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise today to honour the three women recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman.

They were awarded the prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

The important strides in peace-building these women have made remind us that Canada must live up to its international obligations under UN Security Council resolution 1325 to involve women at decision-making levels in conflict resolution and peace processes around the world.

The award is a victory for the many women working worldwide for peace, democracy and social justice. On behalf of the official opposition, I wish to extend our warmest congratulations to these three exemplary women.

Political Donations
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, questionable NDP fundraising tactics have been referred to Canada's elections commissioner for investigation.

It was revealed two weeks ago that the NDP has received at least $85,000 from their big union bosses for their latest convention. Is the NDP forgetting or just ignoring the fact that these sorts of donations were banned in 2005?

We have urged the NDP to come clean and provide full disclosure of all contributions, but they have been silent on the issue. Why will the NDP not come forward and be transparent? Will they be using these same improper tactics for their upcoming leadership convention?

Justice
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is violating the rights of Parliament by forcing the passage of its omnibus crime bill without debate. In fact, a number of aspects of this bill are very debatable. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the government's estimates of the costs have no rhyme or reason. They are not based on any specific methodology or verifiable information, and they do not take provincial costs into account.

When will this government finally be honest with the provinces? When will it finally be honest with Canadians about the real cost of its so-called law and order agenda?

Justice
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Delta—Richmond East
B.C.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the cost of crime on Canadian society far exceeds the cost of fighting crime. The fact is that last spring we provided the committee with hundreds of pages of documents that go into precise detail on costing.

For the hon. member's benefit, the Minister of Justice recently tabled a summary of these documents at the justice committee. They show very clearly that the federal cost of Bill C-10 is $78.6 million over five years.

We are working with our provincial and territorial partners on these costs. We believe that working in collaboration with them is important to ensure a strong justice system.

Justice
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, it cost some $73 million for a website. Are we to believe that is the real cost?

Members know that this government loves to hand out cheques written on other people's money. With respect to the provincial costs of the bill, the Parliamentary Budget Officer—a man of authority who is neutral, independent and credible, and who is never wrong, whereas the government always tries to ram false information down our throats—is accusing the government of obstruction. Quebec does not seem too worried because it said this morning that it will be asking the federal government to reimburse every dollar.

What will this government do?

Justice
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Delta—Richmond East
B.C.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I reiterate that the Department of Justice study in 2008 tagged the cost of crime on society at almost $100 billion in that year alone. That it was borne by victims by 83% is what we are concerned about mostly.

Since our government took office, support payments to the provinces have increased by 30%, or $12.7 billion. In budget 2010-11, we announced transfer payments to the provinces and territories of $54 billion, an increase of $2.4 billion over last year.

Justice
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have always boasted they would not download to the provinces. That is exactly what this is. No one believes them, especially not the highly credible Parliamentary Budget Officer, who is always right whenever they are trying to give false information.

Now they want Canadians to believe that their massive prison agenda will cost no more than their website. Nobody believes them. Canadians do not buy it, the PBO certainly does not and the government knows it is hiding the true cost to the provinces of the downloading of the prison expenses.

Provinces want more front-line police, not a bill for more prisons that the Conservatives dictated. When will the government come clean with the provinces on the true cost of its prison agenda?

Justice
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Delta—Richmond East
B.C.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, it would be refreshing if just for once the opposition members would really look at the cost of crime on the victims and on law-abiding Canadians.

We are following through on our commitment to help victims of crime, particularly those most vulnerable, the children in our society, and to protect them from those who would traffic in illegal drugs.

We would love it if the opposition would get on board with these initiatives to help those who are the most vulnerable in society.

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week opposition MPs tried to get the public accounts committee to study past Auditor General reports.

Conservatives forced the meeting behind closed doors, an assault on transparency and accountability. Now it turns out this committee did not adopt a motion to deal with these important issues on government waste and mismanagement.

The Conservative member for Sault Ste. Marie was even quoted by the media as saying, “At this stage of the game, I want to start with a fresh slate”.

Do Conservatives object to the Auditor General's past reports being studied?

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, committees are masters of their own destiny, but I would say this: right now our government is engaged in an effort to try to reduce government spending and reduce the size of government, and every step of the way it is the opposition members who are objecting to that.

We appreciate the efforts of the Auditor General to assist us in providing reports that help us to find examples of government waste.

We know we want to eliminate them. We know we want to reduce government spending. We know that every time we try to do it, those guys get upset. They are objecting to our efforts to cut down on spending.

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives continue to hide the truth from Canadians. An opposition motion to study the Auditor General's previous reports was not adopted by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts: reports on cost overruns for military helicopters, the $500,000 severance paid to the integrity commissioner, and mismanaged renovations on Parliament Hill.

The Conservative member for Sault Ste. Marie even told the media, “With the election, much has changed.”

Why will this government not let the Standing Committee on Public Accounts do its work? What does it have to hide?

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, once again, the committees determine their own agendas. They determine their work program and they are, of course, doing that with an objective of reducing government spending. We appreciate the work of the Auditor General, because the Auditor General has been very helpful to us in providing recommendations on which we have relied in order to eliminate waste in government. That is what we want to do on this side of the House.

It is very interesting that New Democrats are raising these concerns, because usually they object to every effort we make to eliminate waste and to keep the cost and size of government under control.

We will continue to do that and we appreciate the help of the Auditor General in providing us information that helps us achieve that objective of respecting taxpayers' dollars above all else.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has more than once said that he is open to suggestions on the budget. Here is one suggestion. While the budget contains a number of tax credits for volunteer firemen, home caregivers and children taking arts courses, the problem is that these are not refundable. The solution to this is to make them refundable.

Will the Prime Minister consider this option, please?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for that question, because it gives me the opportunity to report just how our budgets, from past budgets to the budgets that are coming forward, are actually helping Canadians in a variety of ways, including the measures that were mentioned by my colleague.

In fact, thanks to our budget, I can report today that we have learned that over 60,000 jobs have been created, which brings the total number of jobs to approximately 650,000 since pre-crisis levels.

That is a fantastic budget from the past to the future. We will continue our progress.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a second question for the government. Japan recently decided to purchase fighter jets and has launched a call for tenders, as we should have done.

With a call for tenders, the best benefits are guaranteed and one can save a lot of money. Lockheed Martin has offered to assemble the F-35 jets in Japan, something it certainly did not offer to Canada. With a call for tenders, we would be guaranteed the best industrial benefits and we would save a lot of money. When will we have a call for tenders here in Canada?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ajax—Pickering
Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, all reasonable Canadians agree that we need fighter jets to protect our sovereignty. We will continue to ensure that our Canadian armed forces have the best equipment.

But we have a question. This F-35 program started under the Liberal government. Why are they now opposed to it? Why are they opposed to industrial benefits for cities like Montreal, for example?

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, in Newfoundland and Labrador, rules surrounding access to the recreational food fishery continue to be unfair compared to other areas of Atlantic Canada. During the small window of opportunity this year the weather was deplorable, and during last week residents were not able to participate. Earlier this week I asked the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to extend the food fishery for this long weekend. Unfortunately, the minister has not responded to my request.

I ask the minister responsible for Newfoundland and Labrador: will he be fair and extend the recreational food fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador for this Thanksgiving long weekend?

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission
B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I know the minister has taken account of this request, but I would remind the member that the most important thing is the conservation and sustainability of the fishery. I think my colleague will know that the fishery has been under significant stress over the last number of years, and we need to do make the best decisions for the future of the fishery for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, two days after the announcement of the construction of a new Champlain Bridge, south shore and Montreal families are still in the dark. They do not know exactly when they will have a safe bridge or how much it will cost. All they know is that they are going to have to bear the financial burden of the bridge.

Why does this government want to penalize families and workers who have no choice but to use the Champlain Bridge?

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this week, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities announced the construction of a new bridge across the St. Lawrence in Montreal. I would like to commend the minister for his excellent work. This project will involve a public-private partnership and the use of tolls. That is the way to move forward with the construction of this new infrastructure. This is good news and I would like to invite the NDP members to finally support this action to improve transportation in Montreal.

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Champlain Bridge is a vital route for south shore and Montreal families. The bridge is free to cross but the Conservatives want to make people pay to use it.

When will this government pay attention to all Canadians instead of just to those who have the means to be heard?

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank the hon. member because it was his idea to have a toll system. He said, “In terms of tolls, it's still to be seen. Like we've always said, we're open.” He also said, “With regard to the Champlain Bridge's replacement, we're not dismissing the idea of tolls.” He had a good idea: to implement a toll. We listened to him and used his idea. I congratulate him, but now I would like to know why he has changed his mind.

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government still refuses to say whether a viable public transit plan will be part of the new Champlain Bridge. First it is making Montreal and the south shore families foot the bill, and now it is ignoring 18,000 public transit passengers who cross that bridge each day.

The government members are so out of touch with the needs of Montreal and the south shore, we have to wonder whether they have ever been there. Why will the government not commit to a vital public transit plan for the Champlain Bridge?

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, here is another NDP member with an excellent idea. The NDP transport critic, the hon. member who just spoke on the matter, has said, and I quote, “...as a party, we are not against PPPs”. He also said that in some cases tolls make sense. I congratulate him again on these great ideas. We listened to him and we thank him for giving his opinion on the matter.

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is not exactly the answer I was looking for. I was talking about public transit.

Why has the government not made any plans for public transit on the new Champlain Bridge? Every day, 400 buses carry 18,000 passengers across the bridge. There is a great demand. The minister keeps saying that it is a provincial responsibility, while repeating that the project is 100% federal. When will this government adopt a plan for public transit?

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, prior to the announcement made by our great minister, the NDP had suggested a toll system to pay for the Champlain Bridge. That is why many people are now saying that the new name for the NDP should be “new duty to pay”. So I would like to thank the NDP member for suggesting this excellent idea. In the end, it is the Conservatives who are taking action and getting results for Montrealers and Canadians.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, it has been a tough week for the Minister of the Environment. The environment commissioner slammed his work and Europe is proposing a fuel quality directive. The message is clear: the oil sands pollute too much to compete with clean energy. The public relations campaigns are not hiding the devastating impact of the oil sands.

When will the government recognize this?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, we do not agree with the energy directive that has come out from the EU.

We are going to continue to work to represent and to protect Canadian oil sands interests and Canadian economic interests. We will stand with the workers. We will stand with the industry. We are going to protect the environment at the same time.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of the Environment went to great lengths to clear up the confusion around the muzzling of Environment Canada scientists. It seems that the department scientists are completely free, subject to availability of course, to speak with responsible journalists.

Would the minister please table in this House a list of these so-called responsible journalists so we can know to whom the government is actually talking about its failed environmental plans?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, our government is squarely focused on what matters to Canadians: jobs, economic growth and protecting the environment.

We are proud of the work of our scientists within Environment Canada. Ministers speak for the environment. That is what is laid out in our communication policy, and that is why we take questions in question period.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, in September, a 23-year-old woman was fatally shot on the Samson Cree Nation. She was killed in the house next door to where five-year-old Ethan Yellowbird was killed just two months earlier.

Youth gangs are responsible for the increasing violence in a community where youth are disaffected and hopeless.

If the government is truly sincere about assisting the most vulnerable, why does it persist in spending billions on prisons instead of investing in programs to prevent youth crime in first nations?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Vancouver Island North
B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about the situation with the Samson Cree. I did meet with the chief. He has been collaborating with the RCMP. The community has some very good plans. We have agreed to collaborate with that first nation and help finance some of the work that needs to be done. This is to break up the criminal element from being able to operate in the way that it was.

We are making progress and working collaboratively with that first nation.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, as the minister has attested, the Samson Cree Nation initiated a joint review with the RCMP, the government and experts to address crime, which is among the highest in Canadian aboriginal communities.

The key recommendation supported by all parties was to provide a youth centre to provide programs to divert youth from gangs. The first nation is begging the government to fully cost share with it. It is struggling to find other funders.

Instead of spending billions more on jailing criminals after the fact, why will the government not offer more than one-fifth of the cost to build this centre and prevent more aboriginal victims of crime?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Vancouver Island North
B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, we do believe in working in partnership with the first nations.

The first nation, with its original proposal, talked about cost sharing. We are prepared to enter into cost-sharing agreements. We have done so. I think the actions we have agreed to take are appropriate for the circumstances.

Political Party Subsidies
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Lise St-Denis Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, the measure announced by the government to phase out subsidies to political parties is itself partisan. The Conservative Party is using a parliamentary rule to crush political parties who do not benefit from the visibility of being in power to raise funds.

Will the government, before this House, commit to respecting usual parliamentary procedure for the debate on eliminating political subsidies?

Political Party Subsidies
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Edmonton—Sherwood Park
Alberta

Conservative

Tim Uppal Minister of State (Democratic Reform)

Mr. Speaker, in 2006 our government took big business and big labour out of politics with the Federal Accountability Act.

We are acting quickly to continue bringing transparency to government by phasing out the direct subsidy of political parties. We think money should come from voters, not from corporations, not from unions, and not from government.

Political parties should do their own fundraising and not live off taxpayer-funded handouts.

Rail Transportation
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is now a full year since the rail freight service review was completed. It is over six months since the government promised to implement it. In March the government said it would work with all parties to draft legislation giving shippers the right to enforceable contracts with the railways. Now the government is suggesting a process to avoid legislation.

Which is it: enforce shippers' rights or avoid shippers' rights? I ask for the fourth time, will the legislation be introduced this year?

Rail Transportation
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia
Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Minister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, in March of this year our government announced a comprehensive strategy that responds to the findings of the rail freight review. Our government is following up on its commitments to improve the performance of the rail-based supply chain. Stakeholders, all parties and certainly ours, everyone in the commercial sector and people who rely on rail freight will work together to make sure that we can have an efficient and effective rail freight operation in our country. We will be naming a facilitator for this process shortly.

Rail Transportation
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, it has been over a year. Clearly the government is dragging its feet on implementing the railway service review. Who gains by the slow response? The railways of course, while farmers pay higher rates for poorer service.

Are the government's efforts to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board really to protect its railway friends? We know it was the Wheat Board that challenged the railways on price gouging. It defended farmers' interests before the CTA and won 14 times against United States grain interests. Just for whom and why is the government making the reckless decision to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board?

Rail Transportation
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, our government remains committed to giving western Canadian grain farmers the marketing freedom that they want and that they deserve. An open market in western Canada will attract investment. It will encourage innovation and will create value-added jobs. It is going to build a stronger Canadian economy.

The member knows that is true. He should join with us in bringing western Canadian farmers the freedom they deserve.

Democratic Reform
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister dismissed the Liberals' advice on his Senate bill, but will he listen to independent experts and staunch Conservatives?

Three out of four western academics say that his ill-conceived plan would hurt Alberta and British Columbia. The Prime Minister's former chief of staff, Tom Flanagan, said, “This bill scares me”.

Why do the Prime Minister and the Minister of State for Democratic Reform want to hurt their own province?

Democratic Reform
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Edmonton—Sherwood Park
Alberta

Conservative

Tim Uppal Minister of State (Democratic Reform)

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' agenda is clear. They would rather support the status quo in the Senate than reasonable and achievable reforms.

Alberta has shown that giving Canadians a say in Senate nominees is not only possible, but it works. We congratulate Premier Alward and his government on committing to give New Brunswickers real input into their Senate representatives.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General has confirmed that he cannot determine how the amounts allocated to the G8 slush fund were set. In the minutes of one of the meetings of the very select local area leadership group, the MP for Parry Sound—Muskoka stated that the Prime Minister's Office was in charge of determining the budget.

Because the local MP is not talking about local issues, can the foreign affairs minister tell us why the Prime Minister wanted to have a $50 million slush fund?

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, that of course is not the case. The $50 million was allocated in budget 2009 as part of Canada's economic action plan. The goal was to spruce up an already beautiful part of our country so we could present our best face to the world. People at these summits stay over 100 kilometres away from the exact summit site. There was also, as is traditional for these types of initiatives, funding made available to thank the region for hosting the world. All 32 of the projects came in on or under budget.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the minutes that report what the minister said, amounts over and above the basic budget for the G8 Summit Management Office must be determined by the Prime Minister's Office.

The Conservatives cannot deny what is in the documents uncovered by the NDP. That is why the mayor of Huntsville is embarrassed.

Who approved the slush fund? Was it the Prime Minister, as the President of the Treasury Board said?

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

No, Mr. Speaker.

President of the Treasury Board
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General called the monkey business in Muskoka unlike anything he has seen in his 33 years of working in the Auditor General's Office. I would remind members that he was here during the sponsorship scandal.

How can the miscreant minister from Muskoka be the President of the Treasury Board when he himself shows such contempt and disregard for the very Treasury Board guidelines that were put in place to protect us from this kind of partisan political pork barrelling?

President of the Treasury Board
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I say to my friend from Winnipeg Centre that it will not come as any surprise to him that I disagree with the premise of his question.

The Auditor General did review this issue and came forward with a number of observations on how the government could be more open and transparent. No one argues with her good judgment. We have accepted all of her advice.

The good news I can report is that on all 32 public infrastructure projects every single dollar was accounted for and they all went to public infrastructure projects.

The good news is that all of these infrastructure projects, as part of Canada's economic action plan, have created hundreds of thousands of jobs. Even in September, 61,000 net new jobs were--

President of the Treasury Board
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre.

President of the Treasury Board
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, maybe he did not see the headline: “Rules were broken”. The government broke every rule in the book. However, unlike the sponsorship scandal, there is no Chuck Guité here to be the fall guy. In fact, the architect and the mastermind of this whole Muskoka slush fund was the minister himself. We know what happened to Alfonso Gagliano. He got put out on an ice floe.

Why does the government continue to defend this miscreant minister from Muskoka, when he would make a perfect ambassador to, say, Hans Island?

President of the Treasury Board
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I will not cede sovereignty over Hans Island. We will not send an ambassador to Hans Island because Hans Island is part of this great country. We will not allow the NDP to sellout our sovereignty and give away an island. Shame on this member.

Employment
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, in recent days the NDP has repeatedly talked about higher taxes on Canadians; everything from complaining about our GST reductions, demanding a new tax on everyday financial transactions, or punishing with a $10 billion-a-year hike on taxes for employers. This NDP high tax agenda is worrying for it would cost Canadian jobs when we can least afford it.

Our Conservative government, on the other hand, is on a positive low tax and pro-job strategy for jobs and growth that actually is working.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance please update the House on Canada's job market?

Employment
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report that Statistics Canada announced today that over 60,000 net new jobs were created in September. Our job growth shows that we are on the right track.

Indeed, approximately 650,000 net new jobs have been created since July 2009. That is over 90% full-time jobs and nearly 80% of them from the private sector.

However, too many Canadians are still looking for work and the global recovery remains very fragile. That is why we are looking forward to implementing the next phase of Canada's economic action plan and its job creating measures like the hiring credit for small businesses.

Pension
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, global economic instability is threatening the retirement savings of millions of Canadians. Yet the Conservatives are doubling down on the stock market by moving ahead with their ill-advised pooled registered pension plans. This government must take action to protect the qualify of life of retired Canadians.

When will the Conservatives stop gambling with Canadians' pensions and start strengthening the Canada pension plan?

Pension
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we have worked hard to enhance retirement security for Canadians. We have reduced taxes for seniors and retirees by $2 billion, including by allowing pension income splitting. We have reformed the framework for pensions that are under federal jurisdiction in order to better protect retirees. Together with the provinces, we have reviewed the proposals for making other improvements, and we about to implement a new pooled registered pension plan, the PRPP. The PRPP will allow pension plans to be offered at little cost to millions of people who have never had a pension plan before.

Pension
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the truth is that in the last quarter stocks fell 12%. Private pension funds were hit extremely hard. We know that pooled registered pension plans do nothing to protect Canadians when the stock market plummets.

We need a stronger public pension plan. Canadians and provincial leaders across the country are demanding basic retirement security. The Canada pension plan can provide this by generating larger and more stable investment returns.

Will the government stop gambling with the future of Canadians and strengthen CPP?

Pension
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, CPP reforms continue to be examined by ourselves and provincial governments, but I want to note that many provinces share the concerns of small businesses and others if we increase costs during a fragile global recovery.

I want to cite something that was said during the election by Catherine Swift, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, when she was talking about the NDP's suggestion to double CPP. She said: “That would mean probably about a 60 to 70 per cent increase in premiums from what we understand”.

That was very, very worrisome. So any tax breaks that were in the NDP platform were grossly outmatched by what it was going to ding--

Pension
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.

Service Canada
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Alexandrine Latendresse Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, government cuts to Service Canada are harming the most vulnerable Canadians. There are places in the country where it is no longer possible to speak to a human being. The telephone system hangs up on people who call before they are even able to speak to an agent. By cutting jobs at Service Canada, the government is choking the system.

Why is the government cutting services for unemployed Canadians?

Service Canada
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to serving Canadian taxpayers responsibly and respecting the money they earn. That is why we are trying to improve the services offered by Service Canada. We are protecting our official languages and are making improvements to the telephone system. We are trying to provide the best service possible to Canadians.

Service Canada
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government clearly does not understand anything about what the unemployed in this country are going through. Some must even wait up to three months to receive their employment insurance benefits. Waiting periods are already too long, and the government is now adding to them by making cuts to the services offered by Service Canada.

Will the government finally explain why it is preventing unemployed Canadians from accessing the insurance they themselves paid into?

Service Canada
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that during the global recession, we added workers to handle the increased volume of employment insurance claims, and we even improved standards. As a result, over 80% of people received their first employment insurance payment within four weeks, compared to 10 weeks under the Liberals.

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to come back to the issue of the Champlain Bridge. We will talk about the safety of the current bridge another time, but I want to come back to the issue of the new bridge. There is talk of a public-private partnership, a PPP. Unlike the NDP, we are in agreement with that and we will not change our minds.

The issue of timelines is crucial. Environmental assessments take at least three years. A Mohawk cemetery has been discovered. Very serious negotiations will be needed. There is talk of expropriation and a development plan, and we have yet to touch on public transit.

The people of Montreal and the south shore want timelines. Will the government table timelines?

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is right—building a bridge like this will take time. Luckily, our government has had confirmation that the Champlain Bridge is safe, and we are working to keep it that way. We are taking the necessary measures to maintain that safety. If the safety of the Champlain Bridge was so important to the opposition parties, they should have supported our budget last March since it included this investment.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday the Minister of the Environment stated unequivocally that we do not muzzle our scientists. Yesterday, we were told that Environment Canada scientist Dr. Tarasick was available to speak to responsible media, but the minister's office has denied access to the National Post, Ottawa Citizen and The Gazette.

If Environment Canada's ozone scientists are not being muzzled, why have these newspapers been denied access? Does the minister not consider these news organizations to be responsible media?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, we certainly are proud of the work of our scientists and the contributions they make to protecting Canada's environment. Ministers speak for the government. That is why we give answers in question period.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, the Conservatives denied the request of the opposition members to hear His Excellency the Ambassador of Tunisia, who was in the room. The hon. member for Mississauga—Erindale said that the government would strenuously object. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the government's policies on the elections in Tunisia.

Since when does the government get to decide who the committees can hear from? Since when are public servants the only ones allowed to testify?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the members of the committee are free to do their work. That is up to them. I will leave those decisions to the members of that committee. While I am here, I would like to congratulate the hon. member on her new position as the foreign affairs critic for the official opposition. I am happy to work with her.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Sana Hassainia Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the opposition members were willing to give up their allocated speaking time to hear the ambassador. By refusing to allow him to speak, the Conservatives are sending the wrong message to the Tunisians who want to participate in the democratic transition. Time is of the essence. They have an opportunity to elect a constituent assembly that will lead the country during the creation of a real democracy. Out of 28 countries that were asked to allow expatriates to vote, only Canada refused.

Will the minister commit today to giving Tunisians living in Canada the tools to participate in the democratic transition?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that Canadians who are also citizens of Tunisia are free to vote in Canada during the Tunisian elections, if they are eligible. The important thing is that Canada could not be part of a foreign constituency. However, there are more than a dozen countries that have participated in elections here in Canada, and Tunisia was free to do the same.

Federal-Provincial Relations
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, since 2006 our government has committed itself to maintaining good relationships with the provinces and territories from coast to coast to coast. Our government has also made it clear that we are the only party that stands up for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Could the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs tell the House what our government is doing to deliver results to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador?

[Member spoke in the Innu language]

Federal-Provincial Relations
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Labrador
Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Peter Penashue Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, this is the first time that the Innu language has been heard in this House.

While other parties play politics with the province, our government delivers results for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Whether we talk about Lower Churchill, fighting for the sealing industry, or of course scrapping the long gun registry, we are the ones delivering for the province.

Northern Development
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, an internal audit of CanNor has found that the agency has violated almost every financial management rule since its creation, including all the directives regarding expense control. Internal audits are not the friends of this government. It should be pointed out that the agency has had five chief financial officers since its creation.

Why is there total chaos at this agency, which is supposed to spearhead the government's strategy for the far north? Does this indicate how little importance the Prime Minister attaches to this strategy and this region?

Northern Development
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, I also encourage the member opposite to visit the north, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, to see what is really happening on the ground, where we are investing in many development opportunities and opening mines during a global recession.

This is a draft audit and, as I stated yesterday, we take all audits very seriously. I look forward to receiving the final audit and we will address the issues based on the audit.

Canada Labour Code
Oral Questions

Noon

NDP

Robert Aubin Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, harmonizing the language rights of workers in Quebec only makes sense and is a crucial step in recognizing the Quebec nation. Indeed, why should the employees of a chartered bank not enjoy the same rights as the employees of a credit union in Quebec? Other parties have tried to divide Quebeckers on this issue, but we in the NDP are building bridges between all communities. That is why I introduced a bill this week to amend the Canada Labour Code.

Will the Conservatives work with the NDP to harmonize the rights of Quebec employees working in businesses under federal jurisdiction with those of employees working for businesses under provincial jurisdiction?

Canada Labour Code
Oral Questions

Noon

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière
Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I would like to congratulate him on his work.

The government is determined to continue to protect and promote our country's two official languages.

International Trade
Oral Questions

Noon

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think it is safe to say that the government has undertaken one of the most ambitious expansions of its trade agenda in the last two decades. It is doing so because it understands that increased trade means increased demand for Canadian goods and services and increased economic growth. It also understands that over half of the Canadian economy and one in five Canadian workers depend on these trade agreements.

Because this file is so important, would the government update the House on its trade agenda?

International Trade
Oral Questions

Noon

South Shore—St. Margaret's
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of International Trade was, at his request, before committee discussing the enormous benefits of our job creating, pro-trade plan.

Today, the minister will embark upon a trade mission to China, because we know that when Canadian businesses grow in this priority market, they create jobs and prosperity here at home.

Despite the NDP's opposition, we will continue to pursue our job creating, pro-trade, low-tax plan, a plan that created over 650,000 jobs since July 2009.

Human Resources
Oral Questions

Noon

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all of us here, I would like to wish you, all my colleagues in the House of Commons and all Canadians a very happy Thanksgiving.

Here is one thing the Conservatives will never talk about with respect to the plan they have over there. Since they took power, 305,000 additional Canadians now use the food bank, which means that a total of 910,000 Canadians this Thanksgiving will need to rely on the charity of a food bank to have sustenance over this weekend, including many veterans.

Instead of dingwalling Parliament and using jets and slush funds to help themselves, when will the Conservatives introduce real policies to help the real poor in Canada?

Human Resources
Oral Questions

Noon

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the NDP member's concern for the poor would be a lot more credible if he would actually do something to help them.

Our government, in spite of the NDP, has introduced many measures to help the poor. To help them get over the welfare wall there is the working income tax benefit. We have lowered taxes, taking one million Canadians off the tax roll, leaving more money in their pockets to spend. We have increased the guaranteed income supplement for seniors, not once, but twice.

If it were up to the NDP, 14,000 affordable housing projects would not be under way to help Canadians.

The Environment
Oral Questions

Noon

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment to continuously try to unravel the muzzling of government scientists.

I accept that the minister would never knowingly mislead this House but his answers do not accord with the facts.

I have an email here to a responsible journalist with Postmedia in which it states that “an interview cannot be granted” with the scientist in question.

I would urge the parliamentary secretary not to tell us that the minister speaks for all scientists. The reality is that, if the minister is not muzzling these scientists, and I accept that he is not, will he investigate who in the Government of Canada is muzzling these scientists?

The Environment
Oral Questions

Noon

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I know the minister has addressed this issue on numerous occasions.

However, before I answer the question, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague at Finance on Canada's new job numbers. The global recovery remains fragile but this government is working hard right now to get Parliament to implement the next phase of our action plan.

I encourage my colleague across the aisle to vote in support of our budget measures, which include funding for climate change adaptation. And, ministers do speak for the government.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, during question period, I referred to the President of the Treasury Board as the miscreant minister from Muskoka. I have since been reminded what the definition of “miscreant” actually is. It means a wretch or a villain. Notwithstanding my feelings about the Muskoka slush fund, I do not believe the President of the Treasury Board is either a wretch or a villain. Therefore, I would like to withdraw the word “miscreant”, and I apologize for misusing that term.

While I have the floor, I wonder if the Minister of Foreign Affairs would like to correct the answer that he gave to my question when he pointed out that budget 2009 contained all the spending for the G8, whereas budget 2009 did not contain any reference to the G8 or the legacy fund. In fact, the President of the Treasury Board had to tell the mayor of Huntsville to hold off putting out a press release because it was not contained in the budget.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I appreciate the first part of the hon. member's point of order but, of course, the second part was not a point of order but a continuation of debate.

Committees of the House
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I was shocked by the glowing remarks from the parliamentary secretary about the appearance of the Minister of International Trade at committee yesterday because, in our most important marketplace, where we are being shut out by buy American, the chair of the committee would not allow questions to be put to the minister on the buy American file. That is not the way a committee is supposed to operate. The parliamentary secretary can be glowing but we should have the right to ask any questions we want.

Committees of the House
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

That is not a point of order but a continuation of debate. The member might like to take it up in a future question period or perhaps in committee where it seems to have occurred in the first place.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-15, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Security of Tenure of Military Judges Act
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-16, An Act to amend the National Defence Act (military judges).

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Veterans with Service-Related Brain Injuries Act
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-330, An Act to establish the Advisory Committee for Effective Treatment and Rehabilitation of Veterans with Service-Related Brain Injuries.

Mr. Speaker, my bill aims to establish an advisory committee for the effective treatment and rehabilitation of veterans with service-related brain injuries and sets out the composition, mandate and duties of the committee.

Specifically, an advisory committee would be established, consisting of representatives from Veterans Affairs, the Department of National Defence, officers and non-commissioned members of the Canadian Forces, veterans suffering service-related brain injury, et cetera.

The committee would evaluate the care and support provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to veterans with a brain injury; identify facilities where program enhancement is needed; identify successful programs for the treatment and rehabilitation of veterans with a service-related brain injury and recommend implementation; advise the minister on policies, research needs and priorities and the appropriate allocation of resources; and would report to the minister on the measures put in place and resources supplied.

I thank our veterans, physicians, the Brain Injury Association of Canada and the Neurological Health Charities Canada who have supported this. I hope all hon. members will support this bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Veterans with Service-Related Brain Injuries Act
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for the unanimous consent of the House to revert to tabling of documents.

Veterans with Service-Related Brain Injuries Act
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to revert to tabling of documents?

Veterans with Service-Related Brain Injuries Act
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed

Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Implementation Coordinating Committee
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Kenora
Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, under the provisions of Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, copies of the 2009-10 annual report of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Implementation Coordinating Committee.

House of Commons
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations, and I believe you will find agreement for the following two motions. I move:

That, notwithstanding the provisions of any Standing Order, for the remainder of 2011, when a recorded division is to be held on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, except recorded divisions deferred to the conclusion of oral questions, the bells to call in the members shall be sounded for not more than 30 minutes.

House of Commons
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

House of Commons
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

House of Commons
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

National Defence
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That, in relation to its study of the maintaining of the readiness of the Canadian Forces, 12 members of the Standing Committee on National Defence be authorized to travel to Wainwright, Alberta, from October 16 to 18, 2011, and that the necessary staff accompany the committee.

National Defence
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

National Defence
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Defence
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

National Defence
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was made aware of the general nature of the motion for unanimous consent for the committee to travel, but I wonder if the Minister of State and Chief Government Whip could assure us that all means will be taken to ensure that travel is in the most economical fashion possible, that commercial airways will be used and that it will be very economically accounted for so the government does not have to again explain extraordinary use of airplanes and so on?

National Defence
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member that this is committee travel, not government travel. All committee travel is vetted for the most economical means of travel.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is it agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-13, An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île has five minutes remaining for questions and comments. The hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member's presentation was very eloquent. I am sure many members, like I, have been impressed by her oratory skills. I hope to hear a lot more.

Unfortunately, the member opposite appears to be locked into that NDP ideology straightjacket of negativity. It is a shame that such oratory skills should be wasted on the negative.

I would like to offer the member some positive things she might want to consider.

No government in the history of Canada has taken as many people off the tax rolls as this Conservative government since 2008. No government has put more effort and had more success in job creation as the government. No government has ever done so much to help seniors in our country. No government has ever given such incredible tax benefits to Canadian families. No government has ever retained such a strong, stable, financial position.

If the member wants something negative to talk about, why does she not talk about the fact that the New Democratic Party voted against every one of those great things the government has ever done?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know the member maybe does not want me to talk a lot, because his question was pretty much political statements. Therefore, I will take my time to say that the NDP has proposals. The government refused to listen to us and even integrated some of our propositions in its budget saying that it was its idea and that the NDP wanted higher taxes.

I have some proposals. Non-refundable tax credits are not good for most Canadians, but refundable tax credits are. This is one of our propositions. Did the government listen to us? No, not at all.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Higher taxes.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Éve Péclet

Not higher taxes, refundable tax credits.

I want to talk about this ideological—

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order, please. There is only five minutes for questions and comments. I am sure other members may want to question the hon. member.

The hon. member for Surrey North.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I heard my colleague from the Conservative side talk about lowering taxes for families and seniors. The Conservatives need to get out of this Ottawa bubble and go talk to their constituents. They should look at the gas price and the cost food. They are going up. There are taxes on those things and people pay taxes on a daily basis.

This is the question I have for the member. We have seen over a period of time that small businesses drive our economy. For some reason, the Conservatives seem to be against small businesses. Why are they against small businesses?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is giving small and medium-sized businesses a temporary tax credit for one year. It is an insult to the intelligence of all Canadians to say that this is going to solve all the problems. The NDP proposed that the government give employers a rebate of $4,500 on Employment Insurance premiums, the full amount of the employer's contribution to the Canada pension plan. This would guarantee that all employers and workers would not have to pay their bills indirectly through higher premiums.

This is a positive proposal, a solution that the NDP is offering to the government, which still refuses to negotiate with us, by gagging us and passing motions to limit debate, while giving $2 billion in tax breaks to large corporations. That is what the government is doing and that is what all Canadians need to remember. The government is trying to lie to them by saying that it has created 600,000 new jobs, but this is not true. As I said in my speech, I have the figures to prove that this is completely false. We are still 250,000 jobs short of the number we had before the recession.

All Canadians must remember that this government does not have their interests at heart. Rather, the government is concerned with the interests of its friends—the oil companies and large corporations that give it money. Today, the government is trying to put the blame on the NDP by saying that all the NDP wants to do is increase taxes, but that is not true.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Kenora
Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, that is a hard act to follow.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the budget implementation act. I also want to thank the constituents of the great Kenora riding for their ongoing support of the great work that the government has been doing in our vast region of more than 326,760 square kilometres.

We have 8 municipalities and 42 first nations communities, 25 of them not accessible by road. Suffice it to say, there was a lot of work that needed to be done and we were very grateful for Canada's economic action plan. I will talk a little about phase one today before I get into phase two in appreciation of some of the great things that have gone on in our region.

Pre-emptively it is worth saying that northwestern Ontarians were very familiar with the recession. We plunged into it long before most other parts of Canada. The forest sector took a very hard hit well before the rest of the country plunged into recession.

As we moved through Canada's economic action plan and started to get strategic about what investments needed to be made in Kenora, we found there were structural challenges with which Canada's economic action plan helped Kenora. I will talk about them in just a few minutes.

In phase one we had very few, if any, of our mills open. There was one left in Dryden, but unfortunately the paper production of that mill had disappeared and we needed to take action as mills were closing around the region. The Mayor of Red Lake said that there may be some sort of gold boom on, but it was not being experienced per se by folks in Red Lake, Cochenour and Balmertown.

The complement of towns that form the municipality of Red Lake were under siege. They were stretched to their limits. Getting a hotel in Red Lake would mean booking it months in advance because people were there for long-term stays. The commercial, residential and industrial capacity of the town simply was not there.

We got to work and started to build industrial and commercial development sites in Dryden and Red Lake. We felt confident that we would come out of this recession stronger than ever. Short of fixing a couple of key structural defects, Canada's economic action plan was going to make the difference.

I will give a couple of examples of that, ones that I take very seriously. I have a great deal of pride in working with town and city officers to make these dreams come true.

In Dryden, under the green pulp and paper transformation program, the federal government was able to grant just over $22 million to make capital upgrades to the environmental capacity of the processing that took place to make a world-class kind of pulp. Previously, the mill had been at 85% energy self-sustainability through its residual liquor production, but to be effective environmentally and to be a mill that the region, Canada and Domtar could depend on moving forward that number had to go up.

The green pulp and paper transformation program came in, and I am happy to report today that as of December 1 of this year, when the final phase of the installation is complete, the prediction is that it will be at more than 110% energy self-sufficient. That is great news. We are taking care of the environment and correcting a structural defect that we faced in northwestern Ontario.

The failure of our provincial counterparts to provide a competitive industrial hydro rate was a challenge for mills and any sort of production that would go on, and continues to go on. We were able to fix that.

We recently heard from AbitibiBowater and the city officials in Ignace with whom I have worked very closely. My colleague from Beauce and I had an opportunity to open a new water treatment facility there and make some upgrades as a result of some unforeseen challenges which the tundra posed. Ignace is going to have a brand new mill. It is actually an old mill, but it is going to be rehabilitated and it will be, as the officials from AbitibiBowater told me, like new. This is going to employ 100 people in Ignace within the next couple of years as the mill is rehabilitated.

They were able to do this because the city officials and AbitibiBowater felt comfortable with the great work that we had done with the foundational infrastructure pieces, such as resurfacing roads in that area and rebuilding or replacing major parts of the water and waste water treatment facility. I could go on but these are important things that Canada's economic action plan brought.

I could talk about the beautiful city of Kenora which even some of us locals are having trouble recognizing because there are so many new great facilities to celebrate our harbourfront and welcome people from around the world to our magnificent world-class city.

As I only have three or four more minutes left, I want to jump into the final part of my discussion on the budget implementation bill.

I will highlight very quickly a few of the things we are sensitive to in northwestern Ontario. Obviously there are the hiring credits for small businesses and tax support for clean energy generation. I mentioned the mill and the great work that was done. There is the mineral exploration tax credit. The ring of fire, the chromite in northwestern Ontario, represents an opportunity for first nations communities and non-first nations communities. It is one of the largest chromite reserves known to the world to date. On the gas tax fund, I was told by mayor after mayor that they were relieved that not only did we double it, but the $2 billion permanent annual investment would provide predictable long-term funding for municipalities. This is no small practical or intellectual matter. Municipalities are going to be able to use this legislated guaranteed resource as another instrument to manage their municipal affairs.

The wage earner protection program provides up to $3,400 in 2011 to workers for unpaid wages, severance or termination. We are helping families with caregiver tax credits. That can be a special burden in the smaller towns of northwestern Ontario. There is the children's art tax credit. We are removing the limit on claimable medical expenses. These are things that matter to northwestern Ontarians and all Canadians.

I want to talk about a couple of things that are making a real difference. We are forgiving the debt for doctors and nurses serving in underserved communities. The entire Kenora region is underserved in this regard. In my prior career I worked to recruit physicians. I was a nurse working in those communities. I can fully appreciate the challenges we have, but is it not great that when new doctors and nurses come out of school and if they move to our communities, they will be able to have significant portions of their debt relieved. We are very pleased with that. I encourage all my colleagues to support this policy.

We are helping apprentices in skilled trades. We are going to be twinning the Trans-Canada Highway from the Manitoba border in. HRSDC has played an important role in helping to provide the kind of skills training people will need to help in twinning that highway.

In closing, there are a number of things which have been discussed at length here today. I wanted to highlight some of the things that are particularly important to northwestern Ontario and to thank the government for the great work that it continues to do for the great Kenora riding.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with what my colleague had to say about nurses and doctors in rural areas. That is an excellent measure, but it does not address the doctor shortage.

Since there is absolutely nothing set out in the budget right now, can my colleague tell me what the government will do to increase enrolment in medical schools, decrease student debt and prioritize health care training programs? Professionals are being relocated, but there is still a shortage. Why not recognize the credentials of new Canadian citizens who have settled here? What will the government do about this shortage?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect, the member is wrong on a couple of key points.

As a general statement, improving federal financial assistance for students is a key part of the budget implementation bill. It is allowing students to make more money without penalty while they are in school, extending eligibility for Canada student loans and increasing the income threshold for full- and part-time students, giving more families access to Canada student loans.

With respect to physicians and nurses, I am glad the hon. member has given me another opportunity to speak to that.

Obviously we have 25 isolated first nations communities. We have a wonderful program through Lakehead University that is bringing doctors from all around the country. It is the benchmark. It serves one of the largest regions in the world, unbeknownst to most. That is attracting doctors to the region. When they get up there they fall in love with the north, just as I did. They love the pickerel that we eat up there, and some of my colleagues have tasted it so they would know.

We think that is an important strategy. We are providing incentives to attract people to the medical school in our region and to explore our region and once they get there, they are there to stay.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is so proud of its budget. But according to the chief economist at BMO Nesbitt Burns, Sherry Cooper, the misplaced belief that the road to economic prosperity is paved by near-term fiscal tightening, as espoused by our own Prime Minister and British Prime Minister David Cameron last week, shows we have learned nothing from Herbert Hoover's response to the Great Depression.

Does my colleague not realize that it is dangerous for the Canadian economy to go ahead with the planned cuts?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, what is dangerous, and we are hearing this loud and clear from people in the great Kenora riding, is that they do not want a $10 billion tax bill. That is what is dangerous.

We heard just today that our unemployment rate is now down to 7.1%. There are 60,000 more jobs this month alone. That is a trajectory we want to celebrate.

I ask my colleagues across the floor to take a look at what Canada's economic action plan has done in their communities, such as putting up facilities and structures that have made the difference, employing people, putting people to work and increasing our tax base through higher employment levels, not by jacking up taxes by $10 billion.

That, with the greatest of respect that I can muster on that point, would be a dangerous thing.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talked about a $10 billion tax increase, but that is exactly what the Conservatives have done. This year with payroll tax increases and next year with payroll tax increases, it is projected that for employment insurance and CPP premiums, another $10 billion will be deducted from workers' salaries.

Why does he say that we want a $10 billion tax increase when they have already done it?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, this gives me an opportunity to talk about the importance of small business in the great Kenora riding.

Obviously small business is the economic engine of the country, but in our vast region, it is really what keeps our economy rolling. Providing a temporary hiring credit for small business to keep corporate taxes low for those small businesses to thrive is really the kind of dynamic economic environment the government can support for small businesses.

In that regard, my constituents are very pleased with that policy position.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, before the hon. member for Kenora leaves, I want him to know that I agree with him on two things: one, pickerel is very good; and two, small business tax reductions are always positive. However, I will tell him that the multinational corporate tax rates the Conservatives are planning would be wrong because they would shift the tax burden from multinational corporations to small businesses and individuals.

While I am speaking to Bill C-13, I would remind members that it is the Conservatives who increased payroll taxes for this year and it is the Conservatives who will once again increase payroll taxes next year. I would remind them that every economist out there, every student who studies economics, every person who understands fiscal responsibility knows it is payroll taxes and income taxes that are a drain on our society. It is simply wrong that hard-working people have to pay those exorbitant taxes, yet the multinational corporations get further tax cuts.

I remind this House that in the 1960s corporate tax rates were in the 40% range and tax rates for individuals were in the 20% range, but now they have completely flipped around. Corporate tax rates have gone down to 15% but tax rates for individuals are into the high 40% range. This is why Canadians say they are taxed too much. Add provincial and municipal taxes to that and there is outrage. Yet the Conservatives constantly say that it is the NDP that would raise taxes.

With the greatest respect, I remind everyone that it is the Conservatives who raise these taxes. That is the truth.

There is something that Bill C-13 and all the Conservatives' budget implementation bills never talk about. I have scoured the pages of all the Conservatives' budgets and not once did I see the two words “food banks”. Twenty-seven senators were appointed by the Prime Minister in one year at a cost over 20 years of $100 million. The Conservatives are still appointing their hacks and flacks to the Senate, but here is their economic action plan for the poor: there is none.

In February 2006 when the Conservatives took power, there were 604,000 Canadians using food banks, but now, 910,000 Canadians are using food banks. It is bad enough that some Canadians would have to beg for food for themselves and their families, but what is worse is that in the city of Calgary, the richest city in Canada, in 2005 a food bank opened up for veterans only. Fifty-eight veterans were there as the first customers of that food bank. The volunteers at the food bank do a wonderful job looking after those veterans. Last year over 200 veterans used that food bank in the richest city in the country.

As a person who was born in Holland, whose parents were liberated by those heroes, I say that is a sin, a shame and the fault of the Conservative government that the heroes of our country would have to do that. The ones who passed away we honour in our Memorial Chamber as we do those who are buried in over 72 countries around the world. It is a sin and a shame. The Conservatives should hang their heads in shame. As we celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends and families, I can go to a store and buy food. Most of my friends and family will purchase their food at a store or go to a farm to get their food. But many veterans and their families and many other Canadians will have to go to a food bank.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if you yourself have ever used a food bank, but I volunteer at one in my riding. It is the most humbling, upsetting experience to see people who at one time had a job have to stand in line at a food bank. They are asked a million questions about who they are in order to get food. This is occurring in one of the richest countries in the world. All projections are that next year there will be a million Canadians who have to use a food bank. That is the entire population of New Brunswick and P.E.I.

Is that the track record of the Conservatives? Unfortunately, yes. That is a shame. Does their budget talk about that? No.

Here is another thing about their budget. The Conservatives crow and brag about a $3,000 tax credit for firefighters. All the firefighters think that they are getting $3,000 out of that, but they are not. They are getting 15% of $3,000 to a maximum of $450. They already get a $1,000 tax credit. Therefore, it is either or. They do not tell us that in the budget.

The $500 arts credit is not $500. It is 15% of $500. It is $75. It is similar to when we buy an item and the company offers a mail-in rebate. Most Canadians will not hold onto those receipts and subject themselves to an audit to get $75. It is a myth. It would be good if they said it was $500 clear. If they said it was $3,000 clear for paramedics and firefighters that would be good. However, it is simply not true. It is similar to when they gave parents $1,200 a year to look after their own kids through the child tax benefit. That is not true at all. That $1,200 is taxable. They did not tell us that when it came out in the budget.

These are the sneaky ways the Conservatives try to pull the wool over the eyes of many Canadians. It is time to stop picking on the sheep of this country. They should not be pulling the wool over anyone's eyes. They should at least try to be honest and forthright about what they are doing. It is absolutely incredible.

I look at this issue in terms of veterans and their families. I will give the government credit in that there have been some improvements since it has come here.

I will give the government top marks for the income splitting plan on pensions, which is a very good thing to do for seniors. I personally thank the hon. members for that because I plan to use it if and when I ever leave politics. I know some of the Conservatives would like me to leave a little earlier, and I appreciate their sentiment. That is a good plan. However, it does not help anybody who is poor. It does not help anybody who is using a food bank. It does not help anyone who is homeless.

While I am speaking of the homeless, is it not a shame that a growing number of those veterans who once wore this country's uniform are homeless?

I will add an anecdote to this. A few years ago we had the consecration of the Queen's colours at the Garrison Grounds in Halifax. Governor General Michaëlle Jean came down. She was wearing a military uniform. She said one of the most poignant things I have ever heard. She said, “I am so proud as a Canadian to wear this uniform because when I was a little girl in Haiti I was afraid of uniforms”. This shows us the type of country we have.

I ask the Conservatives to stop looking after their corporate buddies, to stop the $50 million slush fund for their ridings, to stop getting gold-embossed cards, and to stop taking Challenger jets or helicopters to fly from fishing camps to lobster festivals. We call that “Dingwalling”. When the front bench starts to “Dingwall” the Canadian people it means a level of arrogance is setting in. That is when the backbenchers start getting nervous. I have been around long enough to see what happened when the Liberals did that. The government is not entitled to its entitlements, but Canadians are entitled to proper governance.

Bill C-13 does absolutely nothing for the poor and the homeless veterans of the country, or for the aboriginals on reserves who unfortunately are committing suicide at a record rate. These are the issues facing our country.

Most of us can look after ourselves and we do a good job of it. However, there are millions who deserve the government's attention. I ask that the government, once and for all, have a national food strategy so that Canadians will no longer have to line up at a food bank to get sustenance, especially during Thanksgiving weekend.

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12:40 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, what a load of garbage coming from the member. Whenever we have brought a proposal forward, whether it was to support our military, to support our veterans or to help unemployed people, the member and his party have voted against it every single time. He gets up in front of the cameras and feigns indignation as if he actually cares about the people that we on this side of the House are trying to help. However, when the member gets the opportunity what does he do? He stands in his place and votes against those very same Canadians that the government has been helping since we were elected. He does so on every single issue.

To make matters worse, when the NDP had an opportunity to stop a Liberal government from slashing funding for health care, for social programs and education what did it do? It cut a deal with that same Liberal government to keep it in office as opposed to throwing it out.

The member has to answer to his constituents and to Canadians why it is that every time he had the opportunity to vote for Canadians with the government he stood in his place and voted against them.

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12:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, as I am a six time member of Parliament, I think my constituents have answered that question well.

Let us go back to what the member said about serving Canadians. In 2005, the current Prime Minister wrote and signed a letter to Joyce Carter of Cape Breton which said that if the Conservatives formed government, every single widow and widower of a World War II and Korean veteran would immediately get VIP service. Two years after that, less than 10% of the widows and widowers had received help. Does the member think I would vote for that? Absolutely not.

The same Prime Minister, who was then in opposition, and Greg Thompson were at a meeting in Gagetown. He said that every person affected by chemical spraying in Gagetown from 1958 to 1984 would be compensated by the government. The fact is there were 300,000 people who could have qualified, but less than 5,000 received compensation.

If the member wonders why I stand to criticize and vote against them, I do it because their promises are false and hollow.

The fact is that the many veterans and people affected by chemical spraying, as well as the widows and widowers of our heroes deserve much better from the government.

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12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for talking about the vulnerable and those who go hungry.

This has been Feeding Toronto's Hungry Students Week. We feed 110,000 children every morning. One child in four goes to school hungry. Hungry children cannot learn. Their learning capabilities are affected by how recently they have eaten. Malnutrition in early life can limit long-term intellectual development. We know that access to safe and healthy food is a right of every individual. Canada is one of the few industrialized countries without a national nutrition program.

Does the hon. member think that the federal government should be talking with the provinces and territories to end child hunger in this country?

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12:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is a sensible question. My hon. colleague is a very compassionate member of the House of Commons, as is the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, who I hope recovers well from her hip surgery.

The government should not just be talking to the provinces and territories, I would highly recommend it also talk with school boards, new immigrant groups and various groups that can help. The reality is that 110,000 people in the largest city in Canada rely on volunteers for food. Teachers should be teaching; they should not be serving buffets to children, but thank God they and the parents do because without them, those kids would not have a hope.

If the member went back five years, I bet she would find that there were a lot less than 110,000. Now more and more people are having to do that. Unfortunately, that is the track record of the Conservative Government of Canada.

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12:45 p.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore for his explanations. He has talked about a very interesting subject, the effect of announcements made with regard to tax credits. There is a difference between refundable tax credits and those that are not. I would like him to speak more about the use of these announcements to mask credits that are not what they purport to be.

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12:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, this is a smoke and mirrors game. The government gives and then takes away. An example would be Bill C-55. The government moved ahead on the veterans charter and rightfully so. That was a good thing. We asked for a much bigger door, but what it did was make the benefit taxable. It calls the NDP the tax and spend party. The Conservative Party is the give and tax party.

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12:45 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour and privilege for me to rise in the House today to once again speak on our budget.

This budget is extremely important for Canadians and the citizens of my riding. We are taking their concerns and their needs into account. Consequently, I strongly encourage the opposition to support our initiatives.

I am proud to speak to various points in budget 2011 which my constituents are eager to see implemented.

As our government introduces legislation for its low tax plan, I would like to note the support we have received from Canadians for our focus on protecting existing jobs, creating new jobs, securing Canada's recovery from the global economic recession, and improving the well-being of Canadians over the long term.

Canadians were proud to learn that Canada has the strongest job growth record in the G7. In fact, as was mentioned in question period today, we added another 60,000 net new jobs to the economy.

However, Canadians understand that we are not immune to global economic turbulence and that it is essential for us to implement the next phase of our economic action plan.

In my riding, especially, businesses are looking forward to the new temporary hiring credit, which would lessen the financial burden of additional hiring. As a rural riding, Glengarry—Prescott—Russell has a large number of agricultural businesses. I have heard from the farming community that the hiring credit is particularly good news for farm operations that are looking to expand.

That is only one of many positive examples.

Implementation of this hiring credit comes just after 2011 was designated the Year of the Entrepreneur by our government. Recognition for hard-working entrepreneurs could not be more timely because they make a vital contribution to the survival of our communities. As we all know, they are engines of the local economy and job creation, especially in the rural areas of ridings such as mine.

Our government promised to help small businesses get through these difficult economic times. Businesses in Glengarry—Prescott—Russell are not immune to these difficult times and will benefit tremendously from this measure in the 2011 budget.

Since the federal election in May, we have been promising Canadians that we would phase out the per vote direct subsidy of political parties over the next few years.

We will now deliver on that promise, which will save taxpayers up to $30 million a year. Eliminating this subsidy is what Canadians want because it ensures that political parties remain in close touch with them. That is what the opposition is afraid of. Parties will have to focus their efforts on fundraising to replace this lost public revenue. If they want Canadians to donate to their party they will need to be more relevant to Canadians. That is what the opposition parties are afraid of, their irrelevancy.

If Canadians believe in a party and its policies, they will donate their hard-earned money to see that party elected and its initiatives implemented. That is the way it should be.

Our government is committed to strengthening integrity and accountability in government and political activity. Unlike the outrageous claims made by the opposition, this will not restrict political activity to the rich.

It is ironic that in one breath the opposition accuses our government of catering to the rich and then in the next breath proposes to raise the donation limit so that richer Canadians could donate more. It does not make any sense.

The average donation from our party supporters varies between $150 and $200, which means that currently, Canadians are giving well below the limit. What the opposition is saying is not true. In reality, Canadians donating these amounts are not rich. Supporters of the various political parties are what we could call average Canadians who want to help the political party of their choice. And having a choice is important to Canadians.

Governments have a duty to use taxpayer dollars wisely and only in the public interest, especially at a time of fiscal restraint when families are struggling to make ends meet.

The fact is that Canadian families are struggling right now. That is especially true when loved ones become sick and need help getting the necessary care. The new tax credit for caregivers will allow them to get back up to a maximum of $2,000 of the approved expenses for taking care of infirm dependent relatives, including, for the first time, spouses, common law partners and minor children.

For those who have not experienced caring for loved ones with infirmities, it is difficult to imagine the pain and difficulty families can face from day to day. Over the years, I have been graced with the opportunity to meet with caregivers from across my riding. They are good people facing unexpected challenges, emotionally and financially, in order to provide for their loved ones. They play a vital role in supporting their loved ones, often elderly parents. They often must take time off from work, which further adds to their stress. Financial support is a critical component for them. Our commitment to the tax credit is a clear sign that our government understands the desire of Canadians to remain independent in their own homes for as long as possible.

At this time I would like to highlight a third element of our keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act, which is the children's arts tax credit for programs associated with children's artistic, cultural, recreational and developmental activities.

As a father of five children, I am well aware of the cost, but also the benefits of giving children a solid foundation in the arts. My children have taken piano lessons, singing lessons and violin lessons. I have seen the arts help them to grow in confidence, self-discipline, creativity, and it has also been a form of recreation. I know that our family is not alone in this.

Thousands of parents in my riding understand the value of the arts to a child's development. Glengarry—Prescott—Russell is a riding that hosts a number of cultural events to celebrate its proud heritage, and the arts hold a very important place in those celebrations. Thousands of parents are already paying for lessons for their children even if that expense puts pressure on the family budget. We know that this type of tax credit works. We implemented the children's fitness tax credit in order to encourage children to remain active and it is working. Health experts keep telling us that children need to be physically active. They tell us we must encourage them to do so and that active video games are not enough. Our government is doing its part to offer more financial options to families in order to stimulate their children and ensure their development.

I spoke about this a lot during the May election and I mentioned it in the House in June, but I am proud to mention it again. Our government is committed to delivering a $3,000 tax credit to volunteer firefighters.

Volunteer firefighters play a vital role in serving our communities. They put themselves at great risk for the safety of our neighbours. In a rural riding such as mine, volunteer firefighters are indispensable. I have met with these firefighters time and again, and they are overwhelmingly pleased by our government's commitment to this initiative. We said we would deliver strong financial support to recognize the critical work done by our volunteer firefighters and that is exactly what we are doing.

We want to thank Canadians for electing a majority government. Doing so allows us to implement legislative measures that will help all Canadians and will help the country weather the global economic storm.

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12:55 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the member's intervention. While there are many missing pieces in the government's plan, one is the growing gap between those who have and those who have less.

The government would say that it has brought in a low tax plan, but there is a problem, and this is very important for the member's riding where there is a lot of poverty. The plan does not help those who are on the margins. We see fewer and fewer people able to make ends meet and having an arts tax credit does not mean much.

Where is the plan from the government to actually deal with the wider prosperity gap in this country? Tax cuts do not cut it. We are seeing tax credits where people cannot afford music lessons.

What is the government doing about the poor, particularly urban poor, because there is a lot of poor in his riding?

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12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, when we are addressing poverty, the best way to address it is to create jobs. People want to work. They want to have a job to raise their families and they do not want to have to rely on the government to do so.

As I mentioned, we announced 61,000 net new jobs that had been created in September. Our track record, since 2009, is the net creation of over 660,000 new jobs. This is putting Canadians to work, so that they can earn what they need to raise their families.

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1 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked a minister about the need for a national nutrition program in Canada, so no child goes to school hungry. I was dismayed to receive talking points back on a completely different topic, albeit important, when 40% and 62% of elementary and secondary school students go to school hungry.

New data from the Toronto District School Board shows that the top benefits of a morning meal program are that it helps 86% of children who would not get the opportunity to eat. It improves student health by 74% and increases the intake of milk and dairy products by 71%. More powerful, 78% of grade 10 students who ate morning meals were on track for graduation compared to 61% who only ate a few days.

Does the member think that the government should be having discussions with the provinces and territories regarding a national nutrition program?

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1 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague does raise an important point that has to do with the nutrition of children and basically the raising of children. Certainly, as parliamentarians and as Canadians we want to ensure that our children have the best advantages in order to grow. But I would remind the member that as a parent of five children, and being in close contact with parents throughout my riding, parents want to feed their own children. They do not necessarily want the government feeding their children for them.

Therefore, it comes back again to creating jobs and lowering taxes. I already spoke about job creation. I would like to finish this response by underlining that through our Conservative government we have put in place tax cuts for families all across Canada, and the average saving for the average Canadian family due to our tax cuts since 2006 is $3,000 per family. That is $3,000 that parents can spend on raising their children, feeding their children and giving them every possible opportunity.

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1 p.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am from Oshawa and just like the rest of the country, jobs are extremely important. I was wondering if the member could contrast our steady approach that relies on reducing taxes for businesses as opposed to the NDP's approach, which has been used in Greece and other countries that are in a lot of trouble right now. They are raising taxes and increasing spending. Could he contrast those two approaches on how they work for job creation?

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1 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague raises an excellent point and I could go on at length, but because of the time constraints I will say the following. Our measures to cut taxes for businesses are the right way to go because it leaves more money in the businesses themselves during these difficult economic times. If we want businesses to create jobs, we cannot suck money out of them through higher taxes and that is exactly what the NDP proposes. That is what the Liberals propose as well. We are on the side of job creation and job creation is what will help Canadians through these difficult economic times.

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1 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-13, which is awkwardly titled keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act.

I will focus my remarks on jobs. I want to first touch briefly on the general failure of the government and this bill in particular to address what is the most important challenge to this country and indeed to the world at this time, and that is climate change.

Whether it is the increased frequency and intensity of severe weather events, be that storms or flooding, whether it is the rapid shrinkage of the Arctic ice shelves, evidence of climate change is all around us.

The government seems not to understand that threat to our entire economy and indeed our way of life. In this bill we have a much more specific failure. We have a very specific threat here to cut our capacity to even understand and respond to climate change.

With the levels of reductions in expenditures by the government that are needed to reach its financial targets, the climate scientists at Environment Canada have been receiving layoff notices, the very people who might help us design a way out of this crisis and to limit the effects on our economy.

I do want to be alarmist on this issue because to state the obvious, ultimately there are no jobs on a dead planet.

Let me come back to the main topic that I want to talk about today, and that is the topic of jobs. Just like climate change, the warning signs are all around us here. We have instability in the international financial markets, the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone, stagnant growth projections for Canada, all-time high levels of household debt, an increasing balance of payment deficits for this country, and low levels of private investment here at home.

Low levels of corporate investment, despite a 43% tax cut for the big corporations, yet their business investment levels as a share of the GDP have not increased one iota despite those tax cuts.

What do we hear from the government? We hear a very familiar message. We hear, “Stay the course. Continue with corporate tax cuts. Continue to slash public expenditures”.

When did we last hear this? We heard this in the election campaign of 2008 and we heard this from the new Conservative government after that election. The government continued on that path and only brought in its much discussed economic action plan after the threat of defeat in this House of Commons by its failure to act on the economic crisis at that time.

Here we are again, staring another recession in the face with a government that continues its plan of inaction rather than an action plan that would truly benefit Canadian families. I am afraid this time, because we have a majority government, we will continue down this path and leave Canadians at the mercy of these unstable markets.

Conservatives like to trumpet their record on job creation, but when we take into account labour force growth, the new jobs created fall 250,000 jobs short of what we would need just to keep employment levels steady in this country.

When we look at unemployed workers and discouraged workers, they amount to nearly two million in this country. When we look at youth unemployment rates, we have reached a high this summer of more than 17% of youth unemployed. The Conservative response was, “Well, let us continue to cut those corporate taxes.”

As I said, there is no evidence, in fact the evidence is to the contrary, that these corporate tax cuts will do anything to create jobs.

Now the Conservatives, in this bill, are talking about a small business tax credit of $1,000, but it is very clear that this is too small to have any major impact. The NDP has talked about a much larger credit available over a much larger period of time.

Rather than getting stuck in the details of this bill, I want to return to that question of broader economic policy, though these radical spending cuts that we are facing in the budget bill will only make the situation worse. On top of the direct hits these will cause for public services, it will mean a decline in jobs in our economy as economic growth is slowed by the cutting of public sector spending.

One of the things that we know is key to an economic recovery is demand. In order to have sufficient demand in our economy, employees need to earn a living wage. When they go to work every day, work hard, come to the end of the month, there has to be a little bit left over to spend. What we are finding, increasingly, that for families this is not the case.

In 1996 the Liberals eliminated the federal minimum wage and instead adopted the provincial wage rates. These rates have continually fallen behind inflation. Now in my own province of British Columbia, the minimum wage is $8.75 an hour. When the social service agencies in Victoria got together and calculated what it takes in my community to actually earn enough to pay for basic food, clothing and shelter, and transportation to get to a job, the answer was $18.03 an hour.

There is a gap of $10 an hour here for families. When they get to the end of the month, it is no surprise that they are choosing between putting away a little for retirement, putting away a little for their kids' education and actually paying the bills that are coming due.

The major contributor to our economic crisis in the long term is inequality. This is a concern not just of New Democrats, but of business leaders in this country.

In September the Conference Board of Canada, not a noted left-wing organization, put out a report that discussed the increase in poverty rates in this country. After 10 years of some modest progress up to 2009, these rates began to increase once again, and that gap continues to grow.

The Conference Board of Canada pointed out that the gap between the rich and the poor in this country is now growing at a much faster rate than it is in the United States and that very soon we will catch up to them as among the developed countries with the largest gaps between the rich and the poor in the entire world.

Why are we having this increase in inequality? The Conference Board said it is a result of globalization and other market forces. When the government says market forces will fix the recession, it is also saying that market forces will fix inequality, and we have seen that simply is not true.

The Conference Board of Canada also points to dwindling unionization of the Canadian workforce and the stagnation of minimum wages as two key contributors, yet we have seen a constant attack from the government on trade unions as the representatives of workers in the attempt to get a living wage, a family-supporting wage and a wage that will actually promote economic growth and development in this country.

As a spokesperson for the NDP on the Asia-Pacific region, I have also spoken in the House about the lack of investment in this key area, an area in which we can make great progress. We should listen to the president of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, Yuen Pau Woo, who spoke at the Asia-Pacific conference sponsored by the B.C. council of business about two weeks ago in Vancouver. He said that yes, we have made some progress in exporting resources like forestry resources, and yes, the government has done some good work on infrastructure around the ports, but we are missing the boat when it comes to the key factor in expanding our trade with the Asia-Pacific region because we are failing to invest in human capacity.

He said that we need increasing investments in language training, cross-cultural communication and international business education, but there is nothing in the government's Asia-Pacific strategy that speaks to any of those fundamental needs that would help forge more ties with the Asia-Pacific region and help build the basis for strong trade in the future.

When it comes to equality, I read a book over the last year called The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, two demographers who looked at the actual evidence. I know the government does not like evidence, but they looked in 11 areas of health and social services challenges, everything from physical health to mental health to child health to obesity to crime rates to violence. What they found was that in every case, a society that is more equal does better on every indicator.

Unexpectedly, it also shows that the rich in those countries also do better than the rich in the less equal countries, so this is not just a matter of benefiting the poor but a matter of benefiting all parts of our society by increasing equality.

I see nothing at all in the budget that would move us in that direction of more fundamental equality.

Despite a few crumbs and gestures toward small business and health care and a few non-refundable tax credits that will not help those really in need, there is nothing in the bill to promote jobs. There is nothing here to promote retirement security. There is no action to help the most vulnerable.

As we head into this Thanksgiving weekend, I wish all members of the House and all Canadians a happy Thanksgiving, but like others who have spoken today, I ask them to think about those less fortunate, those who will be going to food banks for their Thanksgiving dinner and those who are in even more dire situations: those who are homeless and who will be going to the soup kitchens for their Thanksgiving dinner.

I would much like to see the government take action that would decrease the inequalities in our society so that veterans, seniors and families with children do not end up in these dire situations on the next Thanksgiving.

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1:10 p.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I think everyone will be thinking about those less fortunate over Thanksgiving. The best thing we can do for people without jobs is give them jobs.

Today there was some great news. The unemployment rate in Canada went down to 7.1%. Over 61,000 new jobs were created, mostly full-time jobs. That is why the member's speech was so painful to listen to. He had the opportunity to give some really solid ideas about the economy that have worked internationally, but instead he chose to give an idealistic and alarmist rant.

He said one thing that was correct. He talked about the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone, and it is a debt crisis. What is the NDP's solution? What did the NDP talk about today? It talked about the same solution as Greece: to tax more and spend more.

I would like the member to contrast the idealistic socialist approach that did not work in Europe with our low-tax job creation philosophy that has worked. We got more information today on how well it has worked.

Could he please contrast those? The proof is in the pudding. Could he let Canadians know why he keeps going on with this ideological rant instead of telling them the facts?

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1:10 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question because it gives me a chance to point out the fallacies in the Conservatives' argument that the proof is in the pudding.

If the proof is in the pudding, then the proof is in the two million Canadians who are unemployed or have given up looking for jobs. If the proof is in the pudding, it is in the growing poverty rates in this country. If the proof is in the pudding, the pudding is right in front of us, and we have only to take a close look at what is actually happening in our communities to see the growing inequality and the effects of it on our future prosperity.

To talk about where it has worked, again I point to The Spirit Level and to other economists who have pointed out that the long-term way to prosperity is through equality and through public investments in infrastructure that will help our economy grow in the future.

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1:15 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my best Thanksgiving wishes to my colleagues and constituents.

I want to come back to something asked by the last questioner. Essentially he was blaming the problems in Europe on social democratic governments.

I would like my colleague to tell me what is at the root of the problems, both in Europe and in the U.S. Is it social democratic principles, or is it unbridled capitalism?

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1:15 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, what is clear is that the crisis we entered into in 2008 was sparked by corporate greed and unregulated corporate profits.

New Democrats are pointing to figures in Canada that show that giving a 43% tax cut to big corporations has done nothing to bring private investment into our economy that would create jobs and growth in the future, so we have essentially thrown away that revenue and borrowed money to subsidize major corporations when we could have kept the tax rates where they were.

That is where the Conservatives are a bit disingenuous: in saying New Democrats want an increase. We were actually just talking about stopping the decrease in corporate taxes in this country. In fact, when we had the highest rates of growth in this country, we also had high corporate tax rates.

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1:15 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his insightful views on what is going on in Europe.

If we look at unemployment figures in this country, we are looking at an unemployment rate that is much higher than what was cited in the House today. A number of people are underemployed and a number have given up looking for employment, and in fact the unemployment rate at this point is well over 11%. Over one in ten persons in Canada is either unemployed or underemployed. That is pretty high.

New Democrats have a proposal for some tax credits for creating employment. I would like my colleague to further elaborate on tax credits that would actually create employment in this country.

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1:15 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question and I would like others to speak on that aspect later.

I would like to come back to his point that there are more than two million people who are unemployed or underemployed. In addition to that, a very large sector of our workforce is working at minimum wage. As I stressed in my speech, working at minimum wage in this country means that people do not earn enough to pay for the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter, and they do not earn enough to put away money for their kids' education or for retirement. If the Conservative government's inaction continues on the question of inequality, low wages and unemployment, we are actually mortgaging our future.

I would ask the government to take an approach that will provide real job creation and a real attack on the inequalities in this country.

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1:15 p.m.

London North Centre
Ontario

Conservative

Susan Truppe Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to speak in support of our government's low-tax plan for jobs and growth, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

On May 2 Canadians voted for continued economic growth and stability. Our Conservative government has continued to deliver for Canadians, with a strong, stable and ever-growing economy.

The members opposite believe that raising taxes on Canadians and small businesses is the right thing to do. This is simply not the route to continued prosperity. Tax cuts, not tax hikes, create jobs.

How effective is our government's tax-cutting plan for Canadians?

Our Conservative government believes in low taxes and in leaving more money where it belongs: in the pockets of hard-working Canadian families and job-creating businesses. The opposition's high-tax agenda would increase taxes on job-creating businesses to pay for billions of dollars in reckless spending and bloated government programs in Ottawa. The opposition's high-tax plan would kill jobs, stall our fragile economic recovery, and set families back.

Since 2006 our Conservative government has cut taxes over 120 times, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in nearly 50 years.

It is a shame that the members opposite do not believe that a typical family saving over $3,000 due to our government's tax-cutting plan should be entitled to that. It is a shame that the members opposite show disregard to the arts community by opposing the children's arts tax credit, a tax credit that would deliver up to $500 for parents across the country who enrol their children in arts, cultural, recreational and developmental activities. It is a shame that the members opposite do not believe that Canadians should be entitled to our government's new family caregiver tax credit. This credit would provide $2,000 for caregivers of all types of infirm dependent relatives, including, for the first time, spouses, common-law partners and minor children.

Finally, it is a shame that the members opposite do not believe that small businesses should be given the necessary tools to be successful in this country of ours.

In this budget, our government provides a new hiring credit for small businesses. I know there are a lot of small businesses in my riding that are pleased about this.

I heard the comments from the member for London—Fanshawe, who painted a bleak, negative picture of our great city of London. Perhaps she would like to explain to the small businesses in our city why she opposes a $1,000 one-time credit against the increase in their 2011 EI premiums over those paid in 2010.

I, for one, am proud to be a member of Parliament from the great city of London, Ontario, and I am proud to support our small businesses, because tax cuts create jobs.

As I just mentioned, the member opposite from London—Fanshawe decided to paint a bleak picture of our great city. As a proud Londoner, I would like to highlight to this House why we should all be proud of our city.

First, the member opposite claimed that London has the highest unemployment rate in Canada. The hon. member is factually wrong. We do not. According to last month's labour force survey from Statistics Canada, London's unemployment rate actually dropped in the month of August.

Further, today Statistics Canada indicated that the economy created 61,000 new jobs across the country in September, with the unemployment rate dropping to its lowest level in nearly three years. Ensuring my constituents and all Londoners can find employment is certainly a priority of mine and of our government. That is why I was pleased to participate in August, via teleconference, in a job summit hosted by the mayor of our city of London, a job summit that the NDP member for London—Fanshawe did not attend.

This summit brought together political representatives from all three levels of government, businesses and other stakeholders from across this city to discuss how, together, we can strengthen economic growth in our city. If the member for London—Fanshawe had decided to attend, she would know that the answer was resounding. We must work together to create more jobs and strengthen economic growth in our city.

This budget would do exactly that.

The member opposite stated that she is worried that Londoners would get the short end of the stick with our government's investment in the Ontario federal development agency. I am happy to report that the member opposite has nothing to worry about at all, and I will explain why. Instead of speaking negatively about our city and its hard-working residents, our government has been hard at work to provide the necessary tools to strengthen our economy and create jobs.

Since being elected to represent my constituents of London North Centre on May 2, I have been pleased to deliver over $7 million in investments to businesses and organizations in my riding through Federal Development Ontario and millions more through other departments.

It is a shame that the member for London—Fanshawe failed to mention that the London Economic Development Corporation reports that 1,451 new jobs have been created in the city of London thus far in 2011. These new jobs mean $163.3 million for the local economy.

It is a shame that the member for London—Fanshawe failed to mention the millions of dollars in investment our government has made in the University of Western Ontario , located in my riding of London North Centre.

What do these investments mean for businesses and institutions in our city? Ted Hewitt, the vice-president of research at the University of Western Ontario, had this to say:

By providing researchers with the tools they need to develop innovative ideas, treatments and technologies that benefit us at home, we are able to continue to enhance the country’s research reputation on the global stage

There is more.

Our government has supported the arts by investing in festivals, such as the TD Sunfest, one of the largest music festivals in Canada that takes place in the heart of the city of London. Our government has invested in the seniors and disabled in my riding of London North Centre and all Londoners by investing $3.2 million in the centretown project. This initiative will create jobs for Londoners and offer 72 affordable housing units for low-income seniors and the disabled.

Also, our government supported job creation for youth in my riding by investing in nearly $30,000 in Youth Opportunities Unlimited, an organization in my riding that offers top-notch training to youth.

Londoners are hard at work in almost every aspect of the everyday life of Canadians and those abroad.

Canada's military is equipped with quality light armoured vehicles, thanks to the employees of London's General Dynamics. It is worth noting that, in 2010, our government invested $34.4 million into the LAV III upgrade project at General Dynamics.

Balanced breakfasts are brought to families across Canada by Kellogg Canada located in London.

Synergy Manufacturing, a small business in my riding that manufactures specialty windows for homes, has doubled its employment numbers, thanks to our government's economic action plan.

One hundred thousand pounds of honey are produced by McCormick Canada located in London, Ontario.

The hundreds of Londoners working at Labatt Brewing Company in my riding of London North Centre produce 1,029 bottles/cans of beer every minute.

New York city will have 2.5 billion gallons of safe, clean water thanks to London's Trojan Technologies.

Employees of London's Brose Canada ensures one in three cars are safer and more efficient.

There are 2,000 tonnes of CO2 that will not be in the air that we breathe tomorrow, thanks to the 100 new jobs created for Londoners at the London Plant of KACO New Energy.

For two million Canadians, retirement is secure due to the efforts of Freedom 55 Financial, an insurance company located again in the heart of London.

Millions are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, thanks. in part. to the design team at London's Cyborg Trading Systems. There is a number one best selling app for that created by designers at London's Big Blue Bubble Inc.

Those are just some of the examples that the hard-working Londoners put in for us.

Actions, not empty rhetoric, are why Canadians have sent us to this House. Since 2006, our government has put on its hard hat, steel-toed boots and have built a strong foundation for Canada's future. The members opposite, however, choose empty rhetoric over economic growth, empty rhetoric over helping seniors and empty rhetoric over helping families and job creation.

Our government chooses to stand up and deliver for seniors, for small business and for students. Our government chooses to stand up and deliver for the volunteer firefighters. Finally, our government chooses to stand up and deliver for Londoners and all Canadians.

I am pleased to support Bill C-13, a budget that delivers for my constituents and all Canadians. I am proud to be a member of Parliament from a city that is truly second to none. I am proud to be a member of Parliament from the greatest city in the greatest country in the world, London, Ontario.

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1:25 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is great to hear that the government's policies are helping the riding of the member across the way, but I would appreciate a little more detail on these newly created jobs that the members opposite have been bragging about.

I wonder if she could provide a little more detail on exactly how the budget has created those jobs. Could she advise us on the regional breakdown of those new jobs? How many involve temporary foreign workers? How many of those jobs are in aboriginal communities? How many of those jobs are for the High Arctic?

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1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, Statistics Canada announced that 60,000 net new jobs were created in September, that is all across Canada, not just in the riding of London North Centre. The unemployment rate declined to 7.1%, the lowest level of unemployment since December 2008. Indeed, this week Forbes magazine ranked Canada as the best place in the world for businesses to grow and create jobs.

While Canada's economy has now created nearly 650,000 net new jobs since 2009, there are a lot of Canadians still looking for work and our global recovery remains fragile, especially in the United States and Europe, and Canada is not immune to global economic turbulence. That is why we are working hard in Parliament to implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan and its job creating measures, like hiring credits for small businesses.

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1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in her presentation, the hon. member mentioned that the opposition parties were against the tax credits. I want to let her know that we are in favour of the tax credits that are in the budget. That is a good move.

However, why does the government not consider it a good idea to make those refundable tax credits so that the people who are in the lower incomes will be able to take advantage of them? I know the government wants to be fair to all Canadians. It would like the children of poor people to be able to take arts courses. It would like low-income volunteer firefighters to also be able to benefit from the tax credit. It would not cost that much more to make it a refundable tax credit.

I would like to hear her ideas on this, what I think, is a useful suggestion.

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1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for supporting keeping taxes low.

In regard to keeping taxes low, we have cut taxes over 120 times since 2006, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in nearly 50 years. We have removed over one million low-income families, individuals and seniors from the tax roll altogether. We have cut taxes in every way government collects them. We have cut personal taxes, consumption taxes, business taxes, excise taxes and much more. This includes cutting the lowest personal income-tax rate to 15%, increasing the amount Canadians can earn tax free, providing seniors with pension income splitting and reducing the GST from 7% to 5%, putting nearly $1,000 back in the pocket of an average family.

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1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women and my colleague from the city of London on an excellent speech pointing out the good things about London and how it got there.

We continue to hear from the other side about what a rotten place we seem to live. I was reminded by a piece of fan mail from someone, not even from my riding, after my speech saying, “Good! Tell them, Joe. Tell them that we live in the best country on the face of this earth”.

I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary why she thinks that happens in this place.

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1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from London, Joe Preston from Elgin—Middlesex—London--

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1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order, please. We know the sentiment is there but members are just reminded not to mention hon. members by their names but rather their riding names.

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1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the facts show that there are positive signs for Canada's economy. We are not immune to the problems facing the global economy, problems chiefly caused by out of control debt and reckless spending.

While our government has a plan to create jobs and grow Canada's economy through low taxes, training and increased trade, the NDP's medicine for Canada's economy is the same reckless spending and out of control debt that has affected the global economy.

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1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, the remarks by my hon. colleague across the floor would lead me to begin my speech a bit differently because his remarks reminded me why I am here. I am here because I live in the best country in the world, a country that is worth serving, a country in which it is worth perfecting legislation as best we can and a country where it is worth looking at the details of the legislation and answering detailed questions on that legislation. That is what living in the best country in the world means.

I will begin by first acknowledging my family, my wife, Tara, and my daughters, Ella-Valentine and Vera-Claire. I work here in Ottawa but my life is back home in Kingston and the Islands. I want to acknowledge them here today. This is actually the first time I have stood to give a formal speech and I wanted them to know they are the centre of my life, even though my work is here in Ottawa and at my constituency office in Kingston and the Islands.

When I think about my family, this bill reminds me of filing income tax. It is a privilege and honour to stand here and realize that the things we are talking about in the chamber today are the things that will be on everyone's income tax return next year. It is amazing. It makes me think about why the income tax form is the way it is and what we decide in this chamber will determine what our income tax forms will look like next year.

That brings me to one of the main problems with the budget. As my colleague from Westmount—Ville-Marie mentioned, a lot of the good ideas for tax credits would only be available to people who have extra taxable income left at the end of their tax form in order to claim the non-refundable tax credits.

The government members have not been able to answer the question posed several times, once in question period and on several other occasions by my hon. colleague from Westmount—Ville-Marie. It would not cost a lot more to make the tax credits refundable so that they are available to people who do not have the incomes to afford these credits.

I think we will all be looking at the economy over the next year or two. This country is like a ship on the ocean and we see some storms on the horizon. The other side of the House is now in charge of the ship. The captain is on the other side of the House. He has responsibility for taking care of all the people on the ship. His officers are telling him that there is a storm on the horizon and that it is his duty to protect all of the people on the ship. Some of the people are on the deck, the ship is starting to sway and they are holding onto the rails. Others are sitting comfortably in their cabins. The captain should be thinking about the people on the margins. When it comes time to protect Canadians from the perilous economic situation, from the storms that we see on the horizon, in Europe especially, we should be giving preference to the poor and their situation and try to figure out how to protect them first because they will be the first people to feel the brunt of this economic storm.

I do not know if the government realizes this, but I remember that in 2008, when the markets first started collapsing and it was clear to many people that the global economy was in trouble, the government took a bit of time to recognize that danger.

Therefore, it would be a good idea for the government to reconsider that part of the budget, to make these tax credits refundable in order to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, the ones who are clinging to the rails on the deck of the ship as it is swaying back and forth as the storm brews. The captain has a duty to protect all of the people on the ship.

One example of that which really strikes me, and it does not make sense at all, is the family caregiver tax credit. A lot of us have heard of situations where people have to quit their jobs to take care of loved ones at home who are seriously ill, so their incomes go down. It is very easy to imagine that in this situation they would not have sufficient income to have taxable income left at the end of their tax forms to be able to claim the family caregiver tax credit. It would have been a much better idea to have extended the employment insurance program to provide for longer benefits in the case where someone had to take an extended time off to take care of a seriously ill family member.

The next thing I would like to do is to think about numbers. I would like to talk about the hiring credit for small business and the scheduled increase in employment insurance payroll taxes. If we look at the numbers, for most small businesses, the EI payroll tax increase will swamp the hiring tax credit for small businesses. This does not make sense, especially when we know there is another tax cut coming for larger corporations at the beginning of next year. It strikes me that there is not a very coherent strategy here.

I know what is going to come from the other side. The Conservatives are going to talk about the announcement by Stats Canada of the 61,000 jobs that were created in September. I know about that, so they can save their time. They do not need to mention it in the next question. We have to think about a coherent strategy.

While I am on this, I will just take the opportunity to mention something that is a little different, but it is a concern that has been brought up by constituents in my riding and it is very appropriate to mention it at this time.

In the past, Canada has had quite a good program for funding capital costs of research and development. There is something called the Canada Foundation for Innovation. It has been quite good at funding big projects and little projects and new researchers going to universities, giving them the money to buy the equipment they need to start up their laboratories, to start up a research group and to have the equipment they need to be world-leading researchers. However, it turns out, as a good rule of thumb, that for every dollar that is spent on capital improvements about 10¢ a year is needed to utilize and maintain that equipment.

For example, for a university researcher that would mean funding for graduate students, for post-docs and for technicians to maintain and run the equipment. Big projects have had there problems recognized, but for small scale research and development, the funding streams from the granting councils, such as NSERC, for operational funds, which is needed to really take full advantage of all the capital expenditures, has not kept up with the great funding for infrastructure and capital expenditures. Therefore, I would request that the government consider, perhaps in the committee stage, adjusting the funding so the money set aside for our granting councils, and other councils that can give operating funds, be unrestricted funding to be consistent with the great level of funding that we have for capital expenditures in small scale research and development.

I will end with that. I have not spoken about the whole budget bill, nobody can, but these are some areas that I think are important.

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1:40 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora
Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, for the record, so we are sure we have heard the number, more than 650,000 net new jobs have been created by this government and our economic action plan.

My hon. colleague from Kingston and the Islands is already talking about his next year's income tax form, so I am sure he is concerned with what that is going to look like.

As the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development said this morning, we have taken nearly a million people off the income tax rolls already. We did that because we wanted to assist the people who were the most vulnerable in our society, to ensure that they had their own money in their pockets to spend. We have lowered the GST by 2%, which is a tax credit for everyone when they go shopping for consumerable items.

Since the hon. member is looking at his own income tax, how much more income tax is he willing to pay so we can help more people?

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1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me answer the question in this way. Sometimes people ask me why I am a Liberal. The simplest answer I can give is I have been pretty successful in life. Fifty per cent of that is hard work and some of that hard work is other people's hard work. The other 50% is luck. A lot of that 50% of luck is having grown up in Canada.

As a Liberal, I feel it is very appropriate for me, as part of a society that has given so much to me, to work, to give back and to ensure that everybody in this society has equal opportunity. That is how I would answer that question. I am willing to pay taxes to ensure this is the best country in the world.

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1:45 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, we know the record of the Conservatives. They have had the largest deficit ever recorded in our history. That is their financial record.

I want to ask my colleague a question. We know there is nothing in this budget for small businesses. We have big corporate tax cuts, yet the engine that drives this economy are the small businesses.

Now the government will be adding a new payroll tax on small businesses, on workers, starting in January. That is called a tax.

There were $54 billion in the EI fund. Where did that money go?

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1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. I have to confess, because I do not want to say anything that is not true in the House, that I do not have an answer to the question. I would be very happy to answer it at another time.

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1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to answer the question on behalf of the member opposite. The fact is that money went into the consolidated revenue fund, which the then Liberal government used to fund programs and balance its budget.

Our government has introduced rules to ensure that premiums paid into the Canada pension plan eventually go into a separate fund and that there is an independent arm's-length oversight of that pension plan—sorry of the employment insurance fund to ensure that the premiums match the payouts. That is what we have done to ensure this situation never happens again.

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1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thought I heard “Canada pension plan”. I wonder if the hon. member meant to say employment insurance.

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1:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

He corrected himself.

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1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Liberals just do not listen.

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1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did listen.

I am not an expert on the expected payouts that will come from the employment insurance program. I do not have anything intelligent to add to the comment from across the floor.

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1:45 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as I begin, I note that the previous speaker from the Liberal side stated that he was happy to continue to pay taxes in order to live in the best country in the world. He provoked enthusiastic applause from his opposition colleagues, which indicates to Canadians that those members on the other side believe that what makes our country the best in the world is taxes.

We understand that it is not taxation, but the hard work of workers, small businesses, entrepreneurs and the Canadian people who make us the best country in the world.

Those members have illustrated the clear difference between the two sides of the House of Commons. I dedicate part of this speech to those on the other side who believe, for example, that the solution to the debt crisis in Europe is to have more debt in Canada, who think we can create jobs by taxing those who hire and who say that the individual cannot be trusted with his own money, but a collection of individuals can be trusted with the money of others.

Those people on the other side say that the individual is too flawed to make his or her own decisions, but that those same flawed individuals, when they combine their flaws in the collective, can make decisions for everyone else.

We on this side understand that it is the basic tenets of freedom, as laid out, for example, in the Bill of Rights of the Right Hon. Prime Minister Diefenbaker. Those freedoms are what make Canada great: freedom of speech; freedom of religion; freedom of association; and also freedom of enterprise and freedom of trade.

On the subject of trade, I will just share a bit of an excerpt from one of the finest economists of the last century, Milton Friedman. He says:

Look at this...pencil, there is not a single person in the world who could make this pencil. Remarkable statement? Not at all. The wood from which it's made, for all I know, comes from a tree that was cut down in the State of Washington. To cut down that tree, it took a saw. To make the saw, it took steel. To make the steel, it took iron ore.

This black center, we call it lead but it's really compressed graphite, I am not sure where it comes from but I think it comes from some mines in South America. This red top up here, the eraser, a bit of rubber, probably comes from Malaya, where the rubber tree isn't even native. It was imported from South America by some businessman with the help of the British government. This brass feral - I haven't the slightest idea where it came from or the yellow paint or the paint that made the black lines - or the glue that holds it together.

Literally thousands of people cooperated to make this pencil. People who don't speak the same language; who practice different religions; who might hate one another if they ever met. When you go down to the store and buy this pencil, you are, in effect, trading a few minutes of your time for a few seconds of the time of all of those thousands of people. What brought them together and induced them to cooperate to make this pencil? There was no Commissar sending out orders from some central office. It was the magic of the price system - the impersonal operation of prices that brought them together and got them to cooperate to make this pencil so that you could have it for a trifling sum.

That is why the operation of the free market is so essential. Not only to promote productive efficiency, but even more, to foster harmony and peace among the peoples of the world.

That is where we disagree with our opposition colleagues, who believe that they can control the economy from the centre. They can issue dictates out to people far and wide, tell them how to run their lives and how to run their family budgets.

Our government on this side has expanded on that international enterprise by bringing in free trade agreements with Panama, Jordan, Colombia, Peru, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland. We are working a trade agreement with the largest market in the world, the European Union. The second most populous country on earth, India. This will allow us to expand the prosperity, creating new markets for our businesses and new products available to our consumers at lower prices, all of these measures opposed by our official opposition, which would build a wall around Canada's system of enterprise.

This is an opposition that speaks often about the pensions of, for example, unionized workers. I give it credit because we should all be concerned with that subject. Defined benefit pension plans are under pressure. What to do? Some say to scale back the entitlements and others say to increase the employer contribution. Neither of these options are very favourable, but there is a third option, and that is to lower business taxes. Virtually every defined benefit plan in the country owns shares in the country's largest and most profitable enterprises. If these businesses make good after tax money, they can pay better dividends to the pension funds that own their shares.

Take the Canada Post pension plan for postal workers. During the recent debate over their strike, members of the NDP simultaneously demanded that the existing pension plan be bolstered while proposing to increase business taxes on the holdings in that very same pension fund. The irony of the two demands is as follows. The top five holdings of the Canada Post pension plan are: the Toronto-Dominion Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia, Suncor and Canadian natural resources. They are banks and oil companies, the twin villains in every left-wing storyline.

These are the same enterprises that pay dividends directly to the unionized workers who deliver our mail through Canada Post. These dividends come from after tax profits. If the business tax rises, the after tax profit remaining in the pension fund drops. The Canada Post fund has $202 million invested in the Toronto-Dominion Bank, roughly. As of a couple of weeks ago when I checked, that was the market value of those holdings. When TD profits, it reinvests the money in the growth of the company or it pays dividends to the shareholders. Either way, the pension funds and the pensioners, therefore, benefit.

When we lower taxes for entrepreneurs and businesses, large and small, the beneficiaries in many instances are pensioners, people who are part of defined benefit plans. Businesses are comprised of people. That is something the official opposition refuses to acknowledge. They are employees, shareholders and consumers.

When the NDP proposes to raise taxes on those businesses, it must choose on whom it would raise those taxes, the shareholders, like pensioners, the consumers through higher prices, or the workers through cut wages or lost jobs, because one of those three consequences or a combination of them will surely result when taxes are increased on the nation's enterprises.

The reason why Forbes magazine recently said Canada is the best place to do business is because we are removing the obstacles to success in overregulation and overtaxation, so that enterprises can hire and create more opportunity for Canadians.

The old utopian dream was for workers to become owners of the means of production through a process of forced collectivization. In an ironic twist of fate, it was the capitalistic stock market and not the state that transformed workers into business owners. It was inventions like the RRSP and now the tax free savings account or defined benefit pension plans which hold equities that have allowed everyday blue collar workers, who only a half century ago would have never considered share ownership to even be a distant dream, to now become owners of businesses.

The workers are the owners because in this system of free enterprise that has made our country so strong and made us succeed so vastly, even in this difficult economic time, we have unleashed the ability of workers to achieve the maximum opportunity for themselves and their families, to lift themselves up and succeed in this country.

In order for us to hold these beliefs and realize these successes, we must continue to have faith in Canadians who work hard every day to provide for their families, to share the blessings of this land with their neighbours and loved ones, and to do so without the shackles of the government holding them down and blocking their success.

I am very proud that the people of Nepean—Carleton elected me to carry on this great Canadian tradition of free enterprise and free trade.

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1:55 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the member opposite talks about pencils, we over here in the NDP are actually in the digital economy. I do not see many people using pencils any more.

Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman? This out of touch government is stuck in the 20th century. The World Economic Forum, during the tenure of the government, has ranked Canada's competitiveness. It went from 6th to 9th to 12th. Why is the government content with being number 12? Why does the government not want to be the number one most competitive economy in the world? Why does it not want to do that? Why will it not act to become the most competitive economy in the world?

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1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me state the obvious. Canada is number one. We are the best country in the world.

I know that the hon. member did not like me mentioning the pencil. He was swinging his fists around. He should know that the pen is more powerful than the sword. However, the reality is that the principles I illustrated with the simplicity of a pencil, so that the member could understand them, would apply in the assembly of this BlackBerry. Everything requires that there is an intermingling of interests and productivity from around the world, that every time we build a border to block it, we lose that.

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2 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

I have no problem with entertainment. Today is Friday and our work is practically finished here. However, we have rules in this House and I feel that too many props are being used. The member should put down his pencil and BlackBerry. We need to be serious here. He can speak without showing these items. There are numerous examples demonstrating that we cannot do this type of thing in the House.

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2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Yes, of course, members will know that props, other than documents that members can refer to from time to time, indeed are things that are not permitted for display purposes in the House of Commons.

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2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know that I was using a pencil to gesticulate earlier on and one member said that is too out of date; another said that it is too distracting. I will try my best not to use any physical props in order to make my points. But I hope that the weight of these arguments and the success of their implementation over many years, in fact centuries, will be self-evident enough for the hon. members across to understand how the economy works.

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2 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments. I always find him extremely entertaining. I have been asking the different members on the government side the same question. So, let me ask that question of him.

The government's tax credits contained in its budget implementation plan are a good idea. However, in the interest of fairness for those who are of low income, I would like to have his personal opinion on whether or not he thinks it is a reasonable proposition, and it will not cost that much, to make those non-refundable tax credits, and he knows the categories I am talking about, refundable so that we are not actually discriminating against low income Canadians.

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2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, certainly, we will consider any good ideas that come our way. However, keep in mind these are tax credits that were implemented by this government because we believe in lowering taxes and leaving money in the pockets of the people who earn it. We will continue to advance that point of view because we have faith in the hard work, the ingenuity and the industriousness of every Canadian.

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2 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I really enjoyed listening to the hon. member speak because I think he speaks with such passion and conviction. All members in this House would have to agree this member has a great grasp on fundamental economics and the drivers of an economy.

I have watched some of the NDP members covering their ears and trying to look away when the hon. member was speaking because they knew that he was speaking the absolute truth.

However, could the member please provide for this House a single example of a country that is a high tax jurisdiction, that is in a high regulatory environment, which is anywhere close to Canada in job creation or economic growth?

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2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

No, Mr. Speaker, I cannot.

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2 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are here today to debate a bill to keep Canada's economy and jobs growing. I would like to express my doubts about the effectiveness of such legislative measures, which I feel do very little to encourage economic and job growth.

Yet last week, this same government voted in favour of an opposition motion. The government committed to taking immediate action to create jobs and deal with unemployment. It also committed to taking immediate action so that Canadians can count on guaranteed pension benefits. Unfortunately, we are not seeing these things, and there is every reason to be disappointed with Bill C-13, which is before us today.

I am not at all convinced that this measure will stimulate job creation, improve health care, guarantee a stable retirement for all or tackle poverty among seniors. The hon. member across the way recently spoke of the magic of the free market, but this magic unfortunately does not benefit everyone. Bill C-13 overlooks far too many people who are in need of help from the Government of Canada right now.

We are told that our GDP is fine and that our economic situation is much better than that of many other countries. I do not wish to argue that here today, but even if that is true, we cannot be lulled into thinking—as one easily could be—that if our economy is doing fine, this has a positive impact on all Canadians. That is false. The magic of the free market does not include a magic wand that can be waved for the benefit of all Canadians. In fact, the middle class is shrinking and the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing. Just because the economy is doing alright, that does not mean that everyone benefits. Bill C-13 unfortunately seems to ignore that fact and does nothing to protect those who need any particular support.

I can give examples of measures that will not benefit everyone. For instance, consider the measure to eliminate the $10,000 limit on eligible expenses caregivers can claim under the medical expense tax credit in respect of dependent relatives. It has been mentioned several times today, but I would like to ask once more: do my colleagues across the floor truly believe that the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who are unemployed or living below the poverty line are really going to care about the elimination of a $10,000 limit on expenses that can be claimed for tax credits? I do not think so.

I doubt that the 1.4 million Canadians who are “officially” unemployed will jump for joy at the idea of a $10,000 limit on medical expenses being eliminated when a great deal of money—$11.5 billion—could be invested in other measures besides medical tax credits. It could be invested in getting people back to work, in updating people's professional skills and in retraining. In our recent motion, we also proposed concrete measures such as strategic investments in infrastructure, and tax relief that targets job creations, not the banks and large oil companies.

I do not want anyone to misinterpret what I am saying. I do not mean that this measure in particular is a bad thing. Of course, any help is a good thing. What I find unacceptable is the fact that there is nothing for those who need it most. The proportion of part-time workers who are looking for full-time work has increased very rapidly. The Conservatives brag about the number of jobs that have been created but they do not talk about the quality of those jobs or about the number of people who are still looking for quality, full-time employment. Jobs that truly allow families to make a living are very hard to find in many regions of the country. The actual unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers who have withdrawn from the labour force and part-time workers who would like to be working full-time was 11.1% in July 2011. It was 9.4% in 2008.

The Conservatives therefore cannot stand idly by patting themselves on the back and telling themselves that they have done all they can and everything is going well. There is still much to be done, yet very little has been proposed today.

These statistics do not show the exorbitant unemployment rate among youth. In 2008, 2.6 million Canadians aged 15 to 24 had a job. Today, only 2.4 million of them are employed. We are therefore seeing another drop here. It is time to seriously tackle unemployment, and I am afraid that there are not enough concrete measures here to truly deal with the problem.

If we consider that 85,000 young people have entered the labour market since 2008, we quickly see that it is not only our seniors who have money problems; our young people do too. Does the government plan to one day give these people some help, which they are entitled to expect from their government?

Tax credits like the ones proposed by the government are generally useless for part-time workers, the unemployed and seniors who live in poverty—basically, for anyone who tries, and fails, to make ends meet every month. These Canadians do not have enough money to spend to have access to these credits and do not pay enough taxes to qualify. However, they are the ones who need the most help right now.

I have a particular interest in seniors, and I would like to take some time to talk about what this bill fails to address. I would like to share my disappointment at the almost complete lack of measures to help our seniors living in poverty. There is nothing in Bill C-13, or virtually nothing. What we see is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Nothing addresses seniors' issues. Most Canadian seniors will not benefit from the measures set out in Bill C-13. Statistics clearly show that a very large number of seniors—not to mention single parents and people who earn minimum wage—live below the poverty line, and two-thirds of these people are women.

In fact, 11 million Canadians do not have an employer-sponsored pension plan, and approximately 250,000 seniors live in poverty. However, last June, the government agreed to address seniors' poverty. What measures did they propose? We saw measures to provide a supplement of approximately $1 a day for seniors living in poverty. Are these the kinds of measures that the government is proposing to truly help poor seniors? I am afraid so, and I also fear that this government believes the file is closed, because there is nothing more in the documents indicating that our seniors' situation will improve.

What is the government proposing to do to address seniors' poverty? I will say it once again: nothing. Today, there is nothing. Once again, I disagree with my colleagues in government. My consultations with seniors' groups, community organizations that provide services to seniors, and workers on the front lines of health care have convinced me that our seniors need affordable and adapted housing, investments in gerontology, investments in home care and services, and investments in a drug plan. I repeat, I am not at all convinced that they need a bill that includes the removal of a $10,000 ceiling for eligible expenses.

Before closing, I would also like to mention my disappointment that the Conservatives want to limit debate on this bill.

I will wait for questions to make further comments.

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2:10 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this week we had a number of very encouraging reports on the economy.

First we had the economic growth numbers for Canada, which are up 0.3% in a single month. That is 3.6% annualized growth. It is certainly very strong.

Today new job numbers are out, showing 60,000 net new full-time jobs created in this country. By any measure, that outpaces any of our competitors. The United States, which is ten times our size, created just a few more jobs than we did in total. That demonstrates how well Canada is doing.

There is still more improvement to make, but 7.1% unemployment is certainly much lower than Canada's 30-year average, and we are amid a global economic crisis. I think that Canada is certainly doing well. Forbes magazine rated Canada as the number one place to invest.

Perhaps the member could indicate why she would like to have more debate about a plan that is clearly working. It is time to move on and to keep working on behalf of employees, Canadians and employers.

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2:10 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his comments. I am not ready to say that Canada's economy is presently in tatters. There has been some success, but I do not think the Conservatives should claim that we are far better off than others. I do not think they should be patting themselves on the back and moving on. There are still a lot of people who need strong economic measures. If the hon. member agrees that there are improvements to be made, why not implement them instead of proposing measures that are all smoke and mirrors?

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2:15 p.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague, the hon. member for Pierrefonds—Dollard, on her passionate speech. She brought up a very interesting issue, that of seniors, and female seniors face particular challenges, as the majority of them live in poverty. I would like her to explain the concerns that are particular to this segment of the population.

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2:15 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, indeed, a large number of our seniors are still living in poverty and, for many reasons, most of them are women. Unfortunately, this government does not seem to consider poverty among seniors in its economic objectives. However, every person in our society is part of the economy. Seniors contribute a great deal to society through volunteer work thanks to their knowledge and expertise. They are part of this huge machine that is the economy and we need to pay serious attention to them.

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2:15 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my hon. colleague could enlighten the other members.

Since this parliament began on June 2, the Conservatives keep saying that the NDP wants to raise taxes. That is false. We are simply asking the government to stop lowering taxes for large corporations and to stop giving them billions of dollars in perks and gifts. I wonder if my colleague could explain the NDP's plan so that they understand.

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2:15 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her heated question. I would expect nothing less from her.

It is clear that there is a lot of misinformation going around here. Members accuse our party of wanting to increase taxes, saying that everyone will have to pay the price. The NDP is in favour of lowering taxes, but not the taxes of banks and oil companies, which already have a lot of money and high profits. We would rather lower taxes for the people who truly create jobs.

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2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, what a pleasure it is to rise today and speak to Bill C-13, Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act.

Before I do, I would like to wish all my constituents, you, Mr. Speaker, and my colleagues a happy Thanksgiving. I too would like to remind people that there are those who are less fortunate, and if we cannot be there to help out at one of the places that the less privileged go to have a meal, perhaps we could drop a few extra dollars in the collection plate on Sunday or on the day we choose to worship.

While I am on my feet, I would like to congratulate the Progressive Conservative candidate in Northumberland—Quinte West, Rob Milligan, for his success last night in Ontario's election.

As I say, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to this new budget implementation plan.

Our government remains focused on what matters to Canadians. We will follow through on our commitments that we made during the last election. The keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act would make further investments in training and education while enacting new provisions that will support families and communities like those in Northumberland—Quinte West.

I would like to spend just a few moments speaking about the important initiatives included in this bill. Extending the accelerated capital cost allowance would help manufacturers make new investments in machinery and equipment. That means they would be able to create the productivity necessary to compete with other countries in this very competitive global economy.

Providing a hiring credit for small business, which will be a one-time credit of up to $1,000 to encourage additional hiring, is geared specifically to those small enterprises that foresee making an investment in human resources and creating one or perhaps two jobs that will give somebody a living wage and at the same time increase their competitiveness and create an even better economy.

Another measure would enhance the medical expense tax credit by removing the limit on the amount of eligible medical expenses that can be claimed on behalf of a financially dependent relative.

With regard to Canadian families, the government's economic plan would support families through targeted initiatives such as the children's arts tax credit, which would provide up to $500 in eligible fees for programs associated with arts, culture and recreational activities.

I am always encouraging my children. I only had two, and they each have two. I think that is about the Canadian average. If people happen to have a son or a daughter, because of what the government has done with regard to assistance to families, if their son happens to play hockey, there would be a $500 tax credit. If their son wants to take guitar or piano lessons, this initiative in the budget would provide an additional $500. If they have a daughter who plays ringette or badminton, there would be $500 for her.

In total, for a family of two who are very active in their community, and I would suggest Canadians are active in their communities, there would be significant benefits in this budget for just such a family. I encourage all my constituents and Canadians to take full advantage of those benefits.

The bill also addresses one of the most dangerous challenges to our health in this country, and that is obesity. This government wants to incent people to go out and be the fullest, best people they can be by becoming active in sport and by becoming active mentally and displaying those talents that the good Lord gave us, whether they be in music, vocal, painting or sculpting.

Also included in this budget is the family caregiver tax credit, which would provide up to $2,000 for the caregivers of loved ones with infirmities.

This budget has targets and initiatives that will benefit all Canadians. However, there are also multiple aspects of this budget that will benefit my riding of Northumberland—Quinte West. There is $20 million in funding over the next two years for the eastern Ontario development program. The EODP is essential for the funding and support of our local Community Futures Development Corporation. The CFDC provides direct guidance and consultation to local businesses and helps foster growth and prosperity throughout eastern Ontario and in my riding of Northumberland—Quinte West.

I often speak with constituents who are starting a new business. It may be someone with a talent in hairdressing or someone who is a good cook and wants to open up a healthy neighbourhood restaurant like the 100 Mile Diner. At one time the items on that diner's menu contained only products and produce found within 100 miles to support local agriculture. The CFDCs are there to help.

For the entrepreneur who wants to expand his or her business beyond the borders of Ontario or Canada into the United States, the CFDCs are there to help mentor and provide access to those avenues of additional funding, whether they be venture funding or funding through the Export Development Bank. There is hundreds of millions of dollars to support innovation, investment and market diversification.

We are legislating a permanent gas tax rebate for municipalities. This means a total annual investment of some $2 billion in gas tax funding for infrastructure priorities in Canadian municipalities. The rebate is also a sign that the government realizes the challenges that Canadians with low incomes face. As such, the rebate is an attempt to further ensure that infrastructure costs are not downloaded onto the taxpayer.

What does this really mean?

By legislating this, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities says that the municipalities that want to leverage their gas tax money to acquire funds to build the infrastructure necessary to attract businesses and to further develop their communities would be able to do so.

The government is there for municipalities, unlike past governments which, to balance their books, actually downloaded costs onto the provinces which further downloaded costs onto the municipalities. We are doing the exact opposite. I am very proud of that.

We are establishing a volunteer firefighter tax credit for firefighters who bravely serve our communities. This tax credit is of great importance to many of my constituents who live in communities like mine that often rely on volunteer firefighters.

Whenever I go into the village of Warkworth where I live or the other towns and villages in my riding, the first thing I notice is the volunteer fire stations in those smaller communities. Men and women are prepared to jump into their vehicles at any time of the day or night to help save people's homes and lives. While we sleep soundly in our beds, they are out there helping people, sometimes in the worst weather conditions. We need to help them.

Bill C-13 reinforces the government's commitment to the communities of eastern Ontario. The bill includes a tax credit for volunteer firefighters, legislation for a gas tax rebate and infrastructure for funding for the eastern Ontario development program. These initiatives will encourage job growth in our communities and put more money into the pockets of the hard-working people of Northumberland—Quinte West.

In listening to some of the questions and answers today we were given a good lesson on how something as simple as a pencil can increase employment and make the communities in which we live an even better place.

When I hear people talking about less privileged Canadians, I think of all the good work we have done in previous budgets. We have taken one million low income Canadians off the federal tax rolls completely. Many of those Canadians are seniors, like my mother, who asked for an increase in the guaranteed income supplement. We provided that. I was proud to be able to call her to tell her that.

My mother was at my re-election victory party and I told her about her input with regard to single seniors. Most of the single seniors are mothers like mine who depend on their old age pension and their guaranteed income supplement. I know that she, as well as many of my constituents, were happy with the second increase in the guaranteed income supplement.

It is for that reason and many more that I encourage all members of the House to support Bill C-13.

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2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexandrine Latendresse Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was listening closely to my colleague's speech. He provided a very long list of tax credits being proposed in this budget. Unfortunately, for the most part, they are non-refundable. Therefore these tax credits mean nothing to those who do not pay taxes or pay very little in taxes, because they will not be able to use them. The bottom line is that those who need help the most to ensure that their children can take part in certain activities will not have access to these measures.

How will encouraging these measures help those who are most needy right now?

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2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, if we were to take each of these tax measures individually, they may fall short in some other area. However, if we were to take them globally, and if we were to take the two previous budgets, we would see that, as I mentioned before, a million low-income Canadians no longer pay federal income tax.

We heard that just this month this economy created, through the good guidance of our government, 60,000 additional jobs. That, added to the 600,000, provides for people who did not have a job before.

What my hon. colleague also needs to know is that all of these measures that I just explained, in addition to many others, we had six weeks of an election campaign where we campaigned on these measures. My constituents, as well as most of the rest of Canada, at least those people who sent this side of the House here, said that they were good measures, that they were the measures that were right for our economy and that they were the measures that they thought we needed to have. We agree with them and they agreed with us, which is why we are presenting this budget again.

I am confident that every member of the House, if they really give it some non-partisan thought, will think it is a great idea and will vote for it.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
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2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Northumberland—Quinte West will have three minutes remaining for questions and comments at the next occasion that the House considers this motion.

I will take this time to wish all hon. members, and express those same sentiments to the tremendous staff of the House of Commons, our clerks, pages, viewers here this afternoon and all members who have joined us this afternoon, a terrific Thanksgiving weekend.

I would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving weekend.

It being 2:30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, October 17 at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Orders 24(1) and 28(2).

(The House adjourned at 2:30 p.m.)