House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is just incredulous. It is outrageous. The member uses the example of one bill and the gap between what the Parliamentary Budget Officer says and the government says is the cost of that bill, $90 million, and then it is into the billions of dollars. This is astounding. This is why we have to get to the bottom of it.

Bill C-59, which we just passed yesterday, was rammed through by the government in a matter of a couple of days. The committee meeting was held for a few hours at 11 o'clock at night. In fact, there were witnesses who wanted to come who could not make it because of the short time. This is not democracy.

For a deputy minister to say she knows the information but she is not going to disclose it to us is an affront to every element and principle of democracy and to how the House functions. This is why it has to stop. This is why this motion has to be passed and implemented.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

Noon

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by informing you that I will be sharing my time with my former leader, our colleague from Saint-Laurent—Cartierville.

The motion currently before the House, which my colleagues spoke to earlier this morning, lays out some very basic principles of parliamentary democracy. As the House leader for the New Democratic Party correctly noted a few minutes ago, this is about the ability of elected representatives to have information to base our decisions on as important matters as votes in the House that often involve the spending of billions of dollars of taxpayers' money.

The government has been one of the most secretive governments in Canadian history. Many times we have seen its efforts to withhold or manipulate freedom of information or the access to information process. They have stonewalled parliamentary committees. They have even written manuals on how to disrupt committees, if at some point they see a committee headed in a direction that they as government members do not like or, probably more likely, which some junior assistant in the Prime Minister's office does not like as he watches his television in the Langevin Building. They have gone to a great lengths to withhold information from the Canadian people and their elected representatives in the House.

Therefore, this motion once again seeks to require the government to do what constitutionally and democratically it should want to do, and that is to make available accurate, reliable information to parliamentarians and Canadians on matters as important as the spending of billions and billions of dollars.

The motion seeks in particular to obtain the necessary information with respect to the irresponsible borrowing of money to cut corporate taxes for the largest, most profitable corporations in the country, and also with respect to the justice agenda, which the government wants to trumpet all the time but for which it refuses to even identify the cost associated with many of these regressive and failed American policies.

Another area that is of great concern to us is the government's continuing refusal to make public information with respect to another very important expenditure, its proposed expenditure for the acquisition of the F-35 stealth bombers. With the amount of money involved, these things should not be called stealth fighters but “wealth fighters”. In fact they are more likely to be “wealth bombers”.

The government has, on every occasion, given half information or information that is unreliable, or, in many cases, it has refused outright to give members of Parliament information relating to the expenditure of the largest procurement in military history. It is proposing to do this massive military procurement on a sole-source basis without any public competition whatsoever.

The Conservatives announced their intention to purchase 65 fighter planes without a bidding process. They made the announcement in the middle of the summer, hoping to avoid criticism. They did not do so when Parliament was sitting last spring. They decided to wait and announce the purchase when the members were no longer in Ottawa and Parliament was not in a position to ask any serious questions.

Even worse, the Conservatives refuse to make public any of the details regarding their purported study and why they chose the F-35, when we know that they did not even take the time or make the effort to seriously look at other options before deciding to purchase the F-35, probably for ideological reasons.

The Conservatives refuse to reveal the actual cost of this choice, this airplane. It was initially valued at about $50 million per plane. Then it went up to $70 million per plane and now it has gone up to $90 million per plane, and it just keeps going up. They refuse to come clean to Canadians regarding the price of that fighter jet.

The Conservatives have also refused to tell us what the real in-service support cost will be. In-service support for 20 years costs at least as much as the acquisition price of the airplane. All of the experts have been clear that at minimum we can double the acquisition price to see the 20-year in-service support cost.

The Conservatives try to make us believe that the in-service support cost for the F-35 will in fact be less than the acquisition cost, which they have evaluated, without any proof or information, at $9 billion. They are pretending that the in-service support would add another $7 billion, for a total price tag of $16 billion.

On this side of the House, we have not been able to get any information as to how the government arrived at these numbers. The member for Vancouver South asked the Parliamentary Budget Officer to look into this matter last spring. We wait with great interest for a report that will hopefully shed some light on the real cost and the real financial impact of both the acquisition and the in-service support.

The government has refused to make public the statement of requirements for the replacement of our CF-18 fighter jets. The Minister of National Defence claimed, in a rather surreal moment at a committee meeting we had to force in September, that the statement of requirements was protected by copyright.

That would make no sense at all if the statement of requirements were drafted by the Canadian Department of National Defence. However, if the statement of requirements were drafted by an American aircraft manufacturer, that might explain why they might claim a copyright privilege on what should in fact be an internal Canadian defence department document.

The government has refused to make that statement of requirements public. The Minister of Public Works and Government Services, at that same committee, admitted that the department had received it, but the government has refused to make that public.

The Conservatives have claimed that the F-35 is the only plane that meets Canada's air force needs. Yet at the defence committee, we heard at least four other aircraft manufacturers say that they currently produced an aircraft that met the only requirements the government has made public in a document they called, the high-level mandatory requirements.

There are four other companies, therefore, that are saying they would be happy to submit to a competitive public process. Based on the only information the government has made public, they believe their aircraft would meet those requirements. That is why the only way to bring clarity and responsibility to this reckless financial process is to have a public competition and allow those companies to tell Canadians and the Government of Canada what they are willing to do, not only for our air force but also for the aerospace industry.

Madam Speaker, as I said, the Conservatives claim they looked at other options. However, they refuse to give us any information about how many times they visited other aerospace companies. We know they went often to Fort Worth, Texas, to visit Lockheed Martin and look at the F-35.

I asked the person responsible for the project, Colonel Burt, to give us those figures. He told us he would let us know how many times they visited Boeing, Eurofighter, Saab and Lockheed Martin. It has been a few months now, and we have not heard anything. The government must be embarrassed that it did not bother looking at any other aircraft.

The Conservatives have been spreading other falsehoods. They are saying that it was the Liberal Party that committed to purchasing that plane in 1997. On the contrary, it was a Liberal government that supported the development of that aircraft, which generated nearly half a billion dollars in economic spinoffs for our aerospace industries. Until 2008, the same Conservative ministers, including Jim Prentice, who was the industry minister at the time, and Michael Fortier, the former public works and government services minister, issued press releases from the Government of Canada confirming that continued participation in the development phase of the aircraft in no way meant that the federal government was committed to purchasing it.

If the government were saying two years ago that continued participation in the development phase of the airplane in no way obliged Canada to buy the plane, then it is surprising to hear the government then stand up to say, “No, it was a Liberal government 14 years ago that made the decision to buy that airplane”. This is another example of the government's inability to come clean with Canadians.

This is really an issue of democracy. If the government wants to spend billions and billions of taxpayers' dollars, it owes it to Canadians to come clean on the real cost and to show, with documents, what it is asking Parliament to vote for.

That is why this motion is so important for Parliament and for democracy.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Madam Speaker, I will not have enough time to refute the legion of things that were wrong in my hon. colleague's statement.

An expert is someone who agrees with you. In the Liberals' case, one of the experts they are relying on is someone who has not been part of the process for six years. The process has evolved beyond that. They continually quote numbers that relate to the American program and not Canada's program. They continually mislead Canadians on that fact, and they do it so often it cannot be accidental.

Yes, the purchase of the F-35s is an ideological decision, and the ideology behind it is to give the men and women of the Canadian Forces the tool they need to do the jobs we will give them over the next 40 years. That is our ideology: to equip the men and women of the Canadian Forces, to keep Canadian industry current, and to give them the tools they need to survive and to do their jobs at home and abroad.

The information on the visits was given, so the hon. member has completely misstated the facts. The Liberals do have the information on the number of visits that were made by the experts. The process we followed in Canada was the same as the process followed in nine other countries. The experts all came to the same conclusion. It is not an accident that the F-35 was chosen.

The member and his party should get onboard, stop misleading Canadians and get with the program they started. This is the common sense evolution of that program.

Get on with it.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary can shout at the end of his comments; it does not make them any more real or truthful.

The parliamentary secretary says an expert is somebody who says something one wants to hear. For the Conservatives, the experts they rely on are those that the Prime Minister's office bullies into saying things it knows may in fact not be true. If the Conservative government relies on experts, it should then make public the expert surveys or analyses it has. If it had people who were competent and qualified to evaluate these particular airplanes or this particular purchase, then it would have made their analyses public.

The parliamentary secretary says that the Liberals rely on American numbers. Of course we do, because they are the only numbers that we can reliably get because the government refuses to give us accurate financial information.

It is understandable why it is a bit awkward for us to constantly have to wait for the next Pentagon or Congressional Budget Office report. It is because there is nothing but absolute silence and stonewalling from the government. Thank God, the U.S. Pentagon and Congress are more transparent with their elected representatives than the Conservative government is.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the Liberal opposition day motion specifically calls for the government to produce the costs of its crime agenda, specifically the costs related to the individual crime bills it has introduced.

The committee dealt with Bill C-59 just two nights ago. In response to questions by Liberal and NDP members, the deputy minister specifically informed the committee that she knew what the costs of implementation were for Bill C-59, but she was not prepared to provide the information because she did not have the government's approval. She basically said she was being muzzled by the government. This was the Deputy Minister of Public Safety at a committee hearing being asked a direct question by the member for Ajax—Pickering and others about this, and she is being muzzled by the government.

She has the information, the government has the information. Why will they not release it?

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Madam Speaker, the member for Elmwood—Transcona has identified yet another compelling example, in this case a very recent one from this week, of the government refusing to make important information public before it asks the House and the other place to vote on important government legislation.

I am not surprised that the government has bullied the Deputy Minister of Public Safety into silence. At least it did not force her to mislead the House or the committee, as we saw recently with some of the horrible circumstances surrounding the Minister of International Cooperation.

The government bullied the Ethics Commissioner into retirement, fired the head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and bullied the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Surely we should not be surprised that a deputy minister who serves at the pleasure of the Prime Minister would be muzzled and forced to appear before a parliamentary committee in an expedited and rushed process and not give accurate or reliable information whatsoever about the cost of a regressive criminal justice measure.

I know my colleague from Saint-Laurent—Cartierville has some very strong views on the regressive nature of the justice legislation the government has been asking Parliament to swallow, and I look forward to his comments.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Madam Speaker, the question is, how far does the Conservative government plan to go in its attack against the proper functioning of Canadian democracy? This is the basic question that would once again have to be asked if the government were to vote against the motion of the member for Wascana.

A hostage to its culture of secrecy, the government is turning its back on Canadians and depriving them and their elected officials of the right to obtain essential information that the government has no real reason to hide.

It is unbelievable. Like the member for Beauséjour said, the government expects the members of this House to support, without argument, the purchase of extremely expensive warplanes, while this same government made its choice without holding a bidding process, without knowing whether these were the best planes in this post-cold war era, and without providing updated estimates or specific analyses from the Department of Finance regarding the cost of purchasing and maintaining these planes. All we know is that the cost will be exorbitant.

Canadians have the right to this information. It is their money that is being spent. Their elected officials need this information to make an informed decision. This is not a matter of state secrecy. The government must tell Canadians how much the F-35s are going to cost them based on the Department of Finance's most recent estimates and analyses. How much? Why is the government so afraid to reveal this amount?

It is even more important that we obtain this figure because the Auditor General has already criticized the government for cost overruns and extremely long delays in the area of military procurement.

Another thing the government is hiding is the cost of its megaprison program, its delusional prison regime. Against all common sense, the government is stubbornly insisting on bringing a bad anti-crime strategy to Canada, a strategy that failed everywhere, including Great Britain and Australia, and that the Americans themselves no longer want to use because it does not reduce the rate of crime or recidivism. On the contrary, this simplistic strategy drove these rates up. It overcrowded prisons and clogged the prison system forcing governments to bleed themselves dry to pay for these megaprisons.

What this all boils down to is that there is less money available to help victims, less money to equip our police officers, less money to prevent crime, and less money for healthcare, education and the environment.

On January 7 in The Washington Post, and as reported in The Kingston Whig-Standard today, Newt Gingrich is urging American legislators to think and act with courage and creativity to “save on costs without compromising public safety by intelligently reducing their prison populations”.

Newt Gingrich is not precisely a lunatic leftist intellectual. In talking about the recidivism rate, Gingrich describes it as a catastrophic disaster and says that “half of the prisoners released this year are expected to be back in prison within three years”.

Do we want that in Canada? Absolutely not, especially when everyone knows and can prove that the crime rate in Canada is going down thanks to the effective and rigorous strategy used by the Liberal governments to fight crime and protect Canadians.

This Conservative government, which has already reduced its budget to help victims by 43% and its budget to prevent crime by 70%, needs to tell Canadians how much it is going to cost them to import the mistakes that others are trying to correct.

The government is racking up bills, but refuses to put a value on them. It is unheard of. Where is the transparency it used to go on about? Once again, the Conservative government is flouting the Access to Information Act. Under section 69 of the act, the cost analyses of bills are not cabinet confidences.

It is insulting: they have to nerve to demand that parliamentarians support a litany of bills, on behalf of Canadians, without disclosing the government's cost estimates for those bills. The government is mocking people and flouting parliamentary democracy. It is showing contempt for the people and their representatives.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer puts a figure on these extravagant expenses. He is warning us about the additional billions of dollars the Conservatives' prison plan could cost the federal and provincial governments. The government is disputing the findings of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, but where is the government's credibility? Let the government make its own analyses public, and then we will see how serious it is or how irresponsible and incompetent it is.

Let us look at the most recent ill-conceived bill, Bill C-59, which the government got passed quickly yesterday with the Bloc's help. Instead of targeting only major white collar criminals, this piece of legislation will mean that thousands of petty criminals who are ready to return to society, rehabilitated, and whose risk of recidivism is low will unnecessarily be kept in prison at high cost. We are talking about 1,500 people a year, more than 60% of whom are women. The cost of this exorbitant measure: $130 million a year. In the meantime, there is nothing to provide more resources to help investigators find the fraudsters, nothing to accelerate the legal process to recover the funds lost by the victims and nothing to help the victims recover their money.

Unlike what it claims, the government does nothing for victims. On the contrary, its appalling policies will increase crime and, therefore, the number of victims. Canadian taxpayers have a right to know how much this mess will cost them. It is their money, after all. And how much will it cost the provinces, which are struggling with huge deficits and which do not know how to pay for the increasing costs of health care, schools and universities?

Why is the government so afraid of making these figures public? No doubt because they will expose the Conservatives' incompetence and ideological blindness. Imagine. The government wants to waste up to $6 billion a year in borrowed money to fund additional tax cuts for corporations, when it has already sunk us into a deficit of over $50 billion, when corporate taxes in Canada are already 25% lower than in the United States, and when the Minister of Finance himself thinks that there are better ways to stimulate the economy. If the government wants the luxury of having such a costly and questionable policy, it should at least have the decency to back it up with figures.

The official opposition is not asking for the moon. It is simply asking the finance department to make public its projections about pre-tax corporate profits. That is routine information that the department made public up until 2005, that is, as long as there was a Liberal government. It is not a state secret.

But I am talking about the government and the finance department when really it is the Prime Minister who is at fault. He controls everything and wants to impose his culture of secrecy and his penchant for withholding information on everyone. He is keeping a minister who, on two occasions, not just one, misled the House. And he allows his ministers to ferociously attack the Parliamentary Budget Officer instead of engaging in an open, adult dialogue with him.

This Prime Minister prefers to personally attack the Leader of the Opposition in petty, pathetic televised propaganda instead of providing him, and the rest of us, with the information that we need and that we have every right to see in order to do our job, which is passing legislation that is good for Canadians, with full knowledge of the facts.

The Conservative government, with its culture of secrecy, is threatening the proper workings of Canadian democracy. This time, it has achieved the impossible. It has beaten its own record for withholding information. The government needs to recognize that and can start by complying with the motion by the member for Wascana and producing all the documents requested by the Standing Committee on Finance.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Cambridge
Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Minister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Madam Speaker, the last time this nation faced a recession in the late nineties, the Liberal government at the time cut health care transfers to the provinces, which created a massive surplus for the government. However, that affected folks in my riding of Cambridge because they could not get medical doctors. It took almost a decade to solve that problem.

The Liberals made cuts to the military, which led to the decade of darkness. They made cuts to science and technology, which led to the brain drain.

We have taken a different approach. We have cut taxes and increased funding for transfers and science and technology, and it is working.

Does the member not believe that cutting taxes will lead to a better quality of life for Canadians, that it will lead to more job opportunities for Canadians, and that cutting taxes, not raising them, will secure our economy now and for the future?

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Madam Speaker, when we left government in 2005, there was a surplus and all the provinces had a surplus. Canada was considered to be in the best shape one could imagine. Now we have a deficit of $56 billion that the Conservatives started before the recession. What is the government's plan to address this deficit? Where are the analysts? Where are the numbers?

We are concerned by the fact that many of the Conservatives' plans are costly and bad policies. We want the analysis on the table. The government should table the numbers. We as legislators in this House have the right to see that information. We need to see the cost of the big jets that they want to buy to ensure the cost is the actual amount they claim it to be. We need to see the cost of the government's big jail agenda, which failed in the United States. It will be costly and ineffective.

If the government has numbers that challenge what I have said, then it just has to table them and debate them as we should be doing in a parliamentary democracy.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, does the member think we live in a just society under the Conservative regime given that most of the bills are justice bills? Let us put it in that paradigm.

What happens in the justice system when information is kept from the defence, which is what the government is doing to the opposition? In a court of law, the whole proceedings would be thrown out because the defence was not given information it required. If the same were done here, it could invalidate everything that the government has done.

Does the member think that by not giving the opposition the information it needs that is a fair and just way to go about doing things?

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Madam Speaker, Canada is a very solid democracy and I am confident that it will survive the attacks of the government. Canada is a good functioning democracy.

However, I have never seen such a thing. I have never heard of a government not answering questions. The debate today is about why the Conservatives will not table information requested by their colleagues. It has nothing to do with anything else but that. The Conservatives have not answered one question about that. They have not addressed this issue.

Why are the Conservatives hiding so much information from us? Why are they hiding it from Canadians? Are they embarrassed by the real cost of their big jail agenda and by the real cost of the jets they purchased? Are they afraid to show the real costs to Canadians? What would be the benefit of additional tax cuts to corporations at a time when we have a deficit of $56 billion?

Those are legitimate questions but we have not received any answers. This is unacceptable. This is a shame. The government may not respect Canadians or democracy.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

February 17th, 2011 / 12:25 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo
B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Madam Speaker, today I rise to debate another misguided Liberal motion on our plan to reduce taxes for Canadians and get tough on crime.

Whenever a Liberal talks, it seems it is about raising taxes. We prefer to take another tack and talk about lowering taxes for Canadians.

It is a good thing our government has a long record of providing tax relief for hard-working Canadians such that I could continue all day, which I am sure all members here would enjoy.

The Liberals could also talk long about their own tax record. Unfortunately, it would be to discuss all the ways they would like to increase taxes, such as a GST hike, an iPod tax, a carbon tax, and it goes on and on.

Let us look at our Conservative government's tax record. Since taking power, we have cut over 100 taxes. We are cutting taxes in every way that we collect them, from excise taxes and sales taxes, to business taxes and personal taxes.

One of our first actions on taking office was to reduce the GST by 1%, to 6%, but we did not stop there. We then reduced the GST by another 1%, to 5%.

Of course, whenever we cut taxes, we hear howls from the Liberals. Indeed, the Liberals were so incensed that we would lower Canadian taxes that the member for Kings—Hants, when asked if he would repeal the GST cuts, said, “Absolutely”. He was joined later by the Liberal leader, who would infamously say, “I'm not going to take a GST tax hike off the table”.

Thankfully for Canadians and their wallets, the tax-and-spend Liberals are not in power and a Conservative government that believes in lower taxes is.

This is a government that believes in lower taxes for Canadians, like our seniors, and has demonstrated this with tax relief measures such as pension income splitting. This is one of the most significant tax changes for seniors and is saving some seniors thousands of dollars every year on their income taxes. This is a move that was praised by seniors' groups. The New Brunswick Senior Citizens' Federation said, “On behalf of the 21,000 seniors citizens we represent in New Brunswick, we commend you for introducing the opportunity for our seniors to utilize pension income splitting. This change will mean additional moneys for our seniors who are mostly on a very limited fixed income”.

We also doubled the pension income credit and increased the age credit amount by over $2,000, but our Conservative government did not stop there. We introduced the child fitness tax credit to help parents get their kids into organized sports. We introduced the child tax credit to provide much needed assistance for families across this country. We introduced the public transit tax credit to help people make the decision to take public transit. In our local newspaper this morning when it looked at a raise in the cost of public transit in our community, one of the young students said, “I have that public transit tax credit, so it helps ease the pain”.

We lowered Canadians' personal income taxes and, perhaps more important, we introduce a tax-free savings account, the most important personal savings vehicle since the introduction of the RRSP. Nearly five million Canadians are already benefiting from having their capital gains earned tax free.

In the end, the most important thing is what our record of tax relief means for families. Our tax relief measures mean a lot for Canadians. The tax savings for a typical family is $3,000. Let me say that again: a tax savings of $3,000 for the average family. That means a lot for the average family in Canada. I am proud to be part of a government that has made that happen.

Let me turn again to the topic that brings us here today: our tax relief for businesses. Let us review some of the ways our government has reduced taxes for businesses.

We reduced the federal capital tax in 2006 which was seriously harming business investment in Canada. To encourage provinces to remove their capital taxes, we introduced the temporary financial incentive to help provinces remove their capital taxes. With our help, by 2012, capital taxes will be eliminated. We reduced the small business tax rate to 11% in 2008. We also increased the income eligible for this lower tax rate from $300,000 to $500,000. It was a move that recognized that innovative and growth-oriented small businesses play a vital role in the ongoing health of our economy.

To help Canadian businesses weather the global economic storm, in Canada's economic action plan we also introduced a number of temporary tax measures to stimulate the economy. For example, to promote the exploration and development of Canada's rich mineral resources, the mineral exploration tax credit was extended in budget 2010. This temporary 15% credit provides important benefits in terms of employment and investment, especially for rural and remote communities. This is especially helpful in my home province of British Columbia. In the words of the Mining Association of British Columbia:

With British Columbia’s mining industry emerging from recent economic challenges, MABC is encouraged by this federal budget's initiatives that will help ensure that recovery does not falter.

MABC was pleased to see...a one year extension of the 15 percent mineral exploration tax credit....combined with a stay-the-course plan to continue reducing corporate income tax rates...important to the recovery currently under way in the mining sector.

As the previous quote alluded to, we are lowering business taxes from over 22% in 2006 to 15% by 2012, as passed in 2007 by Parliament.

Canadians are benefiting from permanent tax relief that is broad-based, fiscally durable and structurally sound. Lowering taxes on job creators means that more jobs are created. It is a simple calculation, but an important one. It is one that has been confirmed by leading economists in Canada. The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters as well as Jack Mintz, one of Canada's top private sector economists, have shown that lowering business taxes means thousands upon thousands of more jobs for Canadians.

At a time when we are exiting a global economic recession, now is not the time to hike taxes on job creators. Liberals used to know that, but instead, they have decided to turn a blind eye for cheap political gain.

The member for Kings—Hants knew this when he said, “We cannot increase corporate taxes without losing corporate investment. If we lose corporate investment, we have a less productive economy.... That means fewer jobs. That means more poverty”.

The member for Wascana knew this when he said, “Canadians deserve the facts” and that the NDP leader's “numbers are simply wrong, and he is trying to obscure the true benefits of business tax cuts, namely jobs and economic growth”.

I agree with the member for Wascana. Canadians do deserve the facts.

If we want higher wages, more jobs and a higher standard of living, we need the business investments that result from our government's tax cuts on job creators. Are our efforts paying off? Without a doubt, yes. Compared to other major industrialized countries, Canada is indeed weathering the recession better than most. Our strong economic, financial and fiscal fundamentals have contributed to that success, along with our economic action plan.

Over 460,000 more Canadians are working today than in July 2009, the strongest job growth in the G7. Compare this labour market recovery to the ongoing labour market challenges in the United States, where employment remains well below its pre-recession level. Tax relief for Canadian businesses has without a doubt contributed to Canada's relative success.

Whether the Liberals really appreciate it or not, tax relief has helped build a solid foundation for economic growth, job creation and better prosperity. Improving the competitiveness of the Canadian tax system of course requires collaboration among all governments to help Canadian businesses compete globally. Fortunately, reducing business tax makes so much sense the provinces are following our example. B.C., Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba have also reduced their provincial taxes on businesses.

The Liberal Ontario finance minister, Dwight Duncan, is a stalwart defender, saying, “Scrapping...corporate tax cuts would hurt the fragile economic recovery by raising taxes on the...forestry and automotive sectors”. He said that scrapping them is “about the most shortsighted, dumb, public policy pronouncement one could envision”. Liberals proposing a shortsighted dumb public policy? Shocking, I know.

The fact is that along with the provinces we are helping Canada build a strong foundation for future economic growth, job creation and higher living standards for Canadians, to the point where Canada is now increasingly recognized as a model for business taxation.

A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal noted:

Twenty-two years ago we wrote an editorial--'North to Argentina'--warning Canada that economic prosperity isn't a birthright but requires sound policies like free trade. Nowadays, that's a lecture Canada could credibly deliver to Washington on business taxes.

The government also recognizes that unnecessary regulation imposes significant costs on business and adversely affects productivity and economic growth. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates that businesses in Canada currently spend over $30 billion each year complying with regulations. Over the past four years, the government has taken important steps to reduce the administrative and paperwork burden on Canadian businesses.

In March 2009 the government met its target of reducing the paperwork burden on companies by 20% and eliminating almost 80,000 regulatory requirements and information obligations with which businesses must comply.

To sustain that momentum, this January the government followed through on its budget commitment and announced the creation of the Red Tape Reduction Commission with parliamentarian and private sector representatives. It will work to reduce the burden of federal regulatory requirements on Canadian businesses, especially small and medium businesses. As a member of that commission, I must say it is working extraordinarily well. It will consult with Canadians and Canadian businesses to identify irritants that have a clear detrimental effect on growth, competitiveness and innovation. The commission will provide advice on permanent solutions to control and reduce the overall regulatory compliance burden. I am honoured to be a part of that commission finishing the job.

It is important to remain vigilant in maintaining Canada's position on the world stage. That is why our Conservative government's number one priority remains the economy. Canada's economic action plan was intended to help guide the economy while being ever mindful of the country's long-term future. It has provided a balance between stimulating our economy in the short term and building our capacity in the long term. The plan is working in every region of Canada's family--

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order on a matter of relevance.

The member is doing a good job of outlining a historical revisionism of what the government may have done. However, the motion before the House is an issue of whether or not the government should release information to Parliament and whether in fact the government has demonstrated that it is in violation of the privileges of Parliament. I hope that before her time runs out she will at least make some commentary on the motion now before the House.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I thank the hon. member for his comments. I will follow the debate a little more closely. I would ask the hon. member to tie in her comments to the subject of the motion at hand.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, it is also important to acknowledge the intervention of my colleague. The context of our current economic situation really creates the conversation in the debate. I appreciate that and ensure that I tie it all together.

In every region of Canada, families and businesses are paying less tax and unemployed workers are receiving better support and new training. Many job-creating infrastructure projects are nearing completion, while colleges and universities are benefiting from new investments. Canadian manufacturers are still in the process of recovering from the recession as they continue to deal with rising commodity costs and intense competition from all over the world.

Reducing business taxes, therefore makes more sense. It will leave more money in the hands of manufacturers that can then make necessary investments in their workforce and in their plants to compete and grow in domestic and global markets. It is no wonder then that the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters say that the question is not if we can afford corporate tax cuts, it is can we afford not to.

We have more than 110,000 businesses in Canada that are benefiting from our tax relief on job creators. By encouraging these 110,000 businesses to grow and encourage more and better paying jobs for Canadians, business tax cuts are raising the standard for living.

A $6 billion tax hike will do the opposite. It will stop our recovery in its tracks and hurt job creation. It is irresponsible, it is pure politics and it is short-sighted.

If Liberals do not believe what our Conservative government has to say, maybe they should listen to the former Liberal finance minister and Liberal deputy prime minister, John Manley who said, “I support the plan to reduce the statutory corporate tax rate to 15% by 2012”.

These reductions have been supported by governments from the left, right and centre of the political spectrum. Behind the strategy is a recognition that few things matter more to Canada's economic health and future prosperity than our ability to attract and retain investment.

For a number of years, Canadians relied on a cheap dollar to make our goods more competitive in foreign markets, but those days are gone. To compete for investment today with our strong dollar and growth in many of our export markets, which are still weak, Canada needs a significant tax advantage.

I do not think we should underestimate the benefits of these changes. We are transforming how Canada is seen by investors looking for places in which and from which to do business globally. Reforming the tax system in a way that promotes business investment and growth is a hugely positive move.

To tie it all together in terms of accountability, our government, not only through the Federal Accountability Act but also through the Parliamentary Budget Officer, is giving the tools to Canadians and to all the parties in the House which were unknown in the past.

Again, I am proud of our government. I am proud of the important work we are doing in terms of tax reduction. I am very proud of the tools that we have been providing to all parliamentarians.