House of Commons Hansard #50 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pension.

Topics

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to start off by thanking people on the finance committee, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of State (Finance). A lot of work went into the background and creation of this great document that Canadians outright approved of on May 2 when they elected a majority Conservative government.

When we look at the budget, there are many items in it. I will mention a few. There is the volunteer firefighter tax credit, the gas tax fund rebate for infrastructure for municipalities, forgivable loans for doctors, arts tax credits, phasing out political subsidies and closing tax loopholes. That is the tip of the iceberg of a great bill and a great piece of legislation. When we all look at all that, we wonder why anybody would even debate it. All clauses of this bill should have passed at one time, in one sitting, and we could have moved on to other important parliamentary business.

Our government is definitely focused on the economy and jobs. That is our role and that is what we understand Canadians want us to do. That is what we ran on in the last election and that is what this budget is doing.

To start off, I will talk about the forgivable loans for doctors and nurses in rural Canada. When I talk to constituents in my riding, that is the number one issue. They ask where they have to go to see a doctor, why they have to drive to a major centre to see a doctor and why they cannot see a doctor in their small town or even in a little town close by.

When I grew up in Canwood, there was a guy by the name of Dr. Ed. Dr. Ed was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Everybody remembers Dr. Ed. If it was midnight, we could call Dr. Ed, and he would make sure we were taken care of. That was back in the 1970s and 1980s, and those days are gone. Dr. Ed has moved on, God bless his soul, and now people are looking for a doctor to replace him. Unfortunately, I understand doctors do not want to work 24 hours a day. They want companionship. They want to see their patients in a timely manner and do it in such a fashion that they can enjoy life with their families.

This forgivable loan would do a lot to attract doctors and nurses to rural Saskatchewan. Once doctors are taken out of the city and brought to Nipawin, Carrot River, Melfort or Teesdale, it is amazing how quickly they adapt. Their kids end up playing hockey and sports and their families get involved in the community. This forgivable loan allows us to attract doctors and nurses to rural areas and makes it a lot easier for communities. I have been told on many occasions that the communities that search for doctors feel this is a very valuable tool to help them do that.

That is not the only thing in this budget. There are also gas tax funds for municipalities. Every year I try to visit all the cities, municipalities and regional municipalities. I talk to them about their needs and see where we can work together on projects. They all thank us immensely for the economic action plan and for the stimulus that we started in 2008. They talk about how they added a water treatment plant, a sewage lift station, some culverts or a road. It seems as though every town had a need that it could not get, but under Canada's economic action plan, which the NDP and the Liberals voted against, it was done.

What they are asking now is for the gas tax to be continued. With the implementation of this bill, it will be continued. The thanks we get because of that are amazing. When I talked to the mayor of Prince Albert, that was the first question on his mind. He asked about what was happening with the gas tax dollars. He said those dollars were needed and there were still more projects to do. We are in hard times and we are being very careful and prudent, but we will not balance our budget on their backs, and they can count on the gas tax dollars to flow to them. The funds are bankable and are going to be delivered once this bill passes. That mayor and other municipalities know they have a stream of revenue coming from the federal government that they can bank on and use in their planning when they need infrastructure.

The volunteer firefighter tax credit is something that firefighters have been asking for year after year. All firefighters, volunteer or not, said this was a good program. This is what they asked for and this is what we gave them.

In my riding of Prince Albert, there is a volunteer fire department in the regional municipality of Buckland. Jim Miller runs that volunteer fire department. I took some pizzas out to the guys to say thanks. Actually, a $3,000 credit is a token when we look at the hours these guys put in and what they sacrifice, not only the firefighters but their families as well, whether in fundraising or in trying to raise capital to buy another fire engine. On an emergency call when it is 25 degrees below zero at a nasty car accident that could involve a neighbour, these guys are on the scene. They appreciate the fact that we would acknowledge them and appreciate them. They appreciate the fact that we would thank them for their hard work and service and that we are recognizing this hard work. It is another measure that every party should stand behind. There is no reason to criticize it.

Another thing that was talked about was the arts tax credit. Again, we focused on sports. I am a sports fan; that is who I am. I love hockey and I played every sport when I was in high school. However, for the kids who want to take music lessons, dance, art work or drawing, that arts tax credit is there. It puts them on the same footing as the kid who wants to play hockey. I think that is a fair, balanced and reasonable approach. Obviously taxpayers approve of it, because they showed up on May 2 and voted for it.

We want to be fair to people and make sure that everybody pays their fair share of taxes by closing tax loopholes. Getting rid of unnecessary loopholes would ensure that everybody pays their fair share of taxes, and I think Canadians are proud to take on the responsibility of paying taxes.

I come from a province that used to be a have-not province. We had an NDP that wanted to do everything it could to be a have-not province to get money out of Ottawa. In Saskatchewan we were not proud of that and we told the government that we would rather pay our taxes.

We would rather make some money, pay taxes and contribute to the Canadian economy. We would rather contribute to our local economy by paying some taxes. We appreciate the services that the taxes pay for. We appreciate our doctors and the municipal services, such as roads and water, that we get through our taxes, so we expect people to pay their fair share, nothing more and nothing less. Of course, that is something this government is doing, and we are moving forward on it in this implementation plan.

The last thing I will talk about is respecting taxpayers' money. That is something we have to do as parliamentarians. We have to recognize the fact that this is not our money, but taxpayers' money. We have to respect the fact that they work hard for that money. Whenever we can give them a benefit or a tax break, they appreciate it. It shows we are doing our job here in Ottawa. They do not want to see a whole pile of new programs; they do want to see a whole pile of schemes and mechanisms to try to tax them even more. They understand the importance of tax reduction and they understand the importance of how the economy can grow when taxes are lowered. They can see the economic activity.

In Saskatchewan alone in the last four years, through a combination of good economic planning and tax reduction, that economy has gone from an unemployment rate of around 9% to, as they said last week, 3.3%. That is good stewardship, good tax planning and good governance at both the federal and provincial levels. That is what the taxpayers want out of us and that is what we are providing.

When I look at the phasing out of the political subsidies in the budget and all the things in it that could benefit the average Canadian family from day to day, I wonder why the opposition parties are so concerned over this bill. What is the issue?

It cannot be the volunteer firefighters tax credit, even though they try to discredit it because they know it is a popular part of the budget.

It cannot be the bankable gas tax funds. They cannot be against giving municipalities their gas tax funds. They could not vote against that, but maybe they could.

They cannot be against the forgivable loans for doctors and nurses for rural Canada. That would be crazy.

Are they against the arts tax credit? Is that why they are voting against the budget? Do they not want to see kids take part in arts programs? Do they not want to support Canadian arts and culture? I cannot see that. Is that it?

One thing I could see are the subsidies for political parties. That would make a lot of sense to me. It is their own survival. Instead of going out and raising funds from their contributors and the people who support their causes and their policy, telling people what their policy is, listening to them and getting input into their policy, it is pretty nice for them to get so much per vote. Could that be the reason they are voting against the budget? Do they want to keep their political subsidies?

I looked at the budget fairly closely. It is closing tax loopholes. Are the NDP not against tax loopholes?

Therefore, it comes down to one thing: self-preservation. Can they do the job? Can they go out and actually convince Canadians to support their parties? Is that why they are voting against this budget? Again, it cannot be any of the other issues.

In closing, on May 2, as well as during and before the campaign, I talked to a lot of constituents in the riding of Prince Albert. I listened very closely to what they wanted me to do. One thing was very clear: they wanted respect for their tax dollars. They wanted proper representation in Ottawa. They wanted to see the bickering end. They wanted to see politicians work together when things made sense, and this budget makes a lot of sense. They expect us to work together.

Let us pass this budget and get it done.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. member's speech.

I must confess, we agree on one thing. Like him, I do not like to see taxpayers' money wasted. Unfortunately, on everything else we part company.

I remember when this government introduced the public transit tax measure a few years ago. I was angry to see that it was passed because, with this measure—and I have not had a car for almost three years—I was unable to buy a new bus or hire a single new driver to improve the public transit system in Quebec City.

I think that this measure, like the measures for sport and culture, is funny money to pacify people while billions of dollars in tax breaks are given to large corporations that have created an artificial deficit.

How can the hon. member justify, without laughing, the fact that he is giving only crumbs, very small amounts each month to help families?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank the colleague for his question. He is a new member, so I understand that he is still learning about the process that goes into making the budget and the budget document and the consultation that goes on through the process and how we talk to Canadians.

We go and talk to different members of the industry right across Canada, not just here in Ottawa. We do not stay here in Ottawa when we do finance budget preparations; we go right across Canada, right from Newfoundland to Victoria and up into the Northwest Territories and Yukon. We talk to Canadians about what they want to see, and that is what they see in the budget.

I suppose what scares the opposition parties is that we are doing what we promised. Heaven forbid, the Liberals never did that. Now they are faced with a Conservative government that is going to do what it promised; since they do not know how to handle it, they will vote against it, and that is what they are doing.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I was interested in the comments of my colleague with respect to the gas tax. He went on at some length about how the gas tax is now a guaranteed amount. In actual fact, this budget has capped the gas tax transfer to municipalities.

What I found interesting was how he put it into a conversation. The conversation was, “Oh, we're not going to balance the budget on the backs of municipalities”. I just wonder about the conversation he had with veterans, considering that $226 million is being cut out of the Veterans Affairs budget and hundreds of jobs are being lost. If that was the conversation with municipalities, let us hear about the conversation with veterans.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I find it pretty shameful that the member would be playing partisan politics on the backs of veterans. He knows it is not a cut. He knows that that is just a change in how the process works.

Let me continue with the conversation I had with the mayor at that point in time. He was very nervous when we talked about deficit reduction, because he had experienced what the Liberals did. He experienced having to make those tough decisions on transportation. He experienced how he had to go forward and cut his staff and cut his services. He experienced that.

Under the Liberal government, the provincial governments also experienced it when they cut the number of doctors and hospital beds. My family experienced it also. When my mother was sick with cancer, she experienced those cuts and did that two-hour drive to Saskatoon.

We just said we are not going to do that. That is why he should get behind it.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 6:15 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. friend, the member of Parliament for Prince Albert, to explain something to me. I have asked this question before of government members and I have to admit, with all due respect, that I have not had a satisfactory answer.

The Conservatives have said to us in the opposition benches that somehow we do not go out there and ask our supporters for support and that we do not go out there and put forward what our policies are. Speaking on behalf of the Green Party, we do, and we raise money from our supporters, but that money is easier to raise because there are very generous tax rebates, and they have benefited primarily the Conservative Party. I do not see the Conservative Party showing any interest in removing the very generous tax rebates that come from the people of Canada for the donations they receive.

I would like a response to why Bill C-13 goes after the smallest of the amounts of taxpayer subsidies to political parties and leaves aside the elephants in the room, the rebates on political party spending and donations.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the rebate is something that has been a part of it. In the American system, a congressman or a senator can raise millions of dollars from whomever they want, with no accountability back to the taxpayer. I would rather take our system, which limits what we can donate. We get a tax receipt for contributing, for participating in the political process. I think it is a far fairer and safer system.

It is fair for every party. It is not just the Conservative Party that benefits from the system in place here. If the member raises funds and gets people to donate, her people will still get that tax receipt. That is the reality we are facing right now.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

It being 6:15 p.m., pursuant to order made Wednesday, November 16, 2011, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the third reading stage of the bill now before the House.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

All those in favour will please say yea.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #62