House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened very carefully to the member from Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar. There are a couple of things to keep in mind.

She talked about Canadians not believing us, for example, about lowering taxes. I will give the member two examples.

First, the government says that it wants to lower taxes. When the Liberals were in government, the employers told us that we should lower EI premiums and they would hire. Instead of lowering them, the Conservative government has increased them to $13 billion. Is that an increase or a decrease?

The Conservatives said that they lowered the lowest income tax personal bracket. When the Liberals were in government, we had it at 15%. The Conservatives came in and increased it to 15.5%. Now they have lowered it to 15%. Is that an increase or a decrease?

The highest tax increase in Canadian history was the income trust at 31%. How dare the Conservatives do that?

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Madam Speaker, why is the Liberal caucus against Saskatchewan and against small business people?

The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce says:

If parliamentarians renege on their commitment to continue with promised tax decreases, you can be certain that many businesses will not be able to pursue their plans.

We are not talking about billion dollar companies. We are talking about small and medium-sized businesses that are the backbone of Saskatchewan's economy.

Again, why are the Liberals against Saskatchewan and against small businesses?

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the member is totally wrong. The government has to be competitive in corporation taxes, but in this case we are already much lower than our biggest competitor, the United States. There is absolutely no need to be any lower than we are right now.

The argument against the corporate tax cuts is a very strong one and I think the Liberals have realized that somewhat belatedly. Only a few months ago the Liberals were in the back pocket of the government, supporting the government's tax cuts.

I do not think the government position will sell very well when the public realizes that over the last 20 years or so it has gone from almost equal contribution between working people paying individual taxes and corporations paying roughly the same amount. Right now corporations are paying a tiny percentage of what hard-working taxpayers are paying.

I invite the member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar to go out and explain that to her constituents. They are not going to accept that.

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Madam Speaker, I point out for the member opposite something that the NDP minister of finance for Manitoba had to say, “Well, if the federal government reduces corporate taxes, it will make a difference for our businesses and certainly they will take advantage of those cuts. If it means more jobs, we would be very happen with that. Do I think it will make a difference for Manitoba if the federal taxes are cut? Yes, it will make a difference for businesses”.

I remind the member opposite of what this government has done for families. The total savings for a typical family is nearly $3,000 annually. We cut the lowest income tax rate. We increased the amount Canadians earn tax-free. We introduced the $100 a month universal child care benefit to give Canadians choice in child care. We have reduced the GST from 7% to 5%. We introduced many important tax credits, like the child tax credit, the children's fitness tax credit, the public transit tax credit, the Canada employment credit, the working income tax benefit, and I could go on.

We know Canadians are taking advantage of these tax credits and they appreciate what this Conservative government is doing on this issue.

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo
B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise and speak against this Liberal motion that would turn back Canada's fragile economic recovery through what the tax and spend Liberals understand best: tax hikes to help pay for more reckless deficit Liberal spending.

In 2007 our Conservative government introduced, and Parliament passed, a bold and broad-based tax relief plan for Canadian job creators. The aims of the low tax plan have been to make Canada more competitive, attract more investment and, more important, more jobs for Canadians. Indeed, over 110,000 Canadian businesses are benefiting from our low tax agenda.

This bold plan had almost immediate results. A short while later an icon of Canadian business returned to Canada, having fled the country due to the punishingly high taxes under the Liberals. In the words of a National Post editorial of the day, “Tim Hortons has announced that it wants to reorganize as a Canadian company”. This is good news.

We take even greater satisfaction in terms of why Tims has returned. Canadian corporate taxes are falling so significantly that Canada has once again become attractive as a site for corporate headquarters and plants. Let us meet at the drive-thru to celebrate with an iced cap and a maple glaze.

Unfortunately, while most Canadians were celebrating the return of Tim Hortons along with other new investments and jobs due to our low tax plan, the self-described tax and spend Liberal leader was finally coming clean on the Liberals' hidden agenda for higher taxes.

First, he admitted that a GST hike was on the table. Second, the Liberals refused to rule out the return of a job-killing carbon tax. Third, in the worst of the global recession, the Liberal leader told a stunned audience of business leaders in hard-hit southwest Ontario that federal taxes must go up, saying “we will have to raise taxes”. Fourth, and most stunning, the Liberal leader announced a massive tax hike on Canadian job creators still trying to deal with a massive global recession.

The litany of Liberal tax hikes does not include other bizarre proposals such as an iPod tax. Clearly the Liberal leader does not believe Canadians are paying enough taxes. He does not believe hard-working families, fixed income seniors and job creating businesses are sending Ottawa enough money to fulfill schemes for massive new big government programs like national daycare, 45-day work years and much more.

Under the Liberal leader, Canadians will have to pay more and more of their hard-earned money to Ottawa to fuel these tax and spend Liberal schemes. What the Liberal leader does not understand is higher taxes, especially on business, kill jobs and economic growth. I am a little amazed that the Liberals do not understand that.

I am even more amazed that the Liberal finance critic, the member for Kings—Hants, does not understand it either, especially considering his own words not so long ago 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.

That is the Liberals words about their own plan to hike taxes on job creators.

However, maybe the Liberal leader should talk to other Canadians as well about our low tax plan, especially the private sector businesses that he demonizes, private sector businesses that employ the vast majority of Canadians.

For instance, we all know the difficulties that Canada's forest industry has had over the past few years and the impact that has had on our resource communities. Instead of helping the forest industry, the Liberals want to attack it with a massive and reckless tax hike.

In the words of the Forest Products Association of Canada, “the business tax reductions announced in 2007 are an important part of the industry’s recovery plan for the period ahead”. I have two sawmills in my riding of which one reopened last Monday and one is considering reopening. I am absolutely sure that the challenge of the dollar is one thing and it is the corporate tax cuts that are giving them the confidence. If the Liberals really want to help our forestry sector, maybe they should listen to it and keep its taxes lower instead of trying to hike them.

Maybe the Liberals should go and talk to Canadian small businesses that employ millions of Canadians and serve as the backbone of our economy. Listen to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, representing the voice of business in Canada, as it speaks out against the Liberal tax hike on job creators, “Businesses don't just plan one or two years ahead. Once something has been put out there, it's usually very poorly received that the rug would be pulled out from under you”.

What about the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, representing 192,000 businesses of all sizes? It said:

--following through on the business tax reduction is critical to moving from government--and Canadian taxpayer-funded--stimulus to a private sector led recovery. The timing of the tax cuts allows a significant fiscal injection into the Canadian economy as fiscal stimulus winds down and the focus turns to the private sector to drive growth. The alternative is an increase in taxes. And raising taxes would be good for neither growth nor employment. [...] If MPs renege on their promise to continue with promised tax decreases, many businesses will be forced to reconsider their plans. Certainty and predictability are of paramount importance to business planning. Businesses across the country have invested for the future with the understanding that Canadian taxes would decline. All Canadians will lose if the jobs and well-being of Canadian families are held hostage by political manoeuvring.

What about the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Association, representing an industry hit about the hardest during the global recession? It recently released a study outlining the positive impact of our tax relief for job creators. This study came to some very interesting conclusions.

First, and most importantly, it concluded that the last stages alone of our low tax plan would add almost 100,000 good, high quality jobs to Canada's economy.

Second, it would increase per capita personal income by $880, an increase in income that would sure help a lot of Canadian families coast to coast to coast. I know in my riding it would be an enormous benefit.

The study also looked at the important effects it would have through increased business investment, increased productivity, and more research and development spending, something I had hoped the Liberal Party would agree is important for moving the Canadian economy forward.

I will quote the conclusion of that study. In the words of Jayson Meyers of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters:

The numbers show that corporate tax cuts are critical drivers of the Canadian economy. The question is not if we can afford corporate tax cuts; it's can we afford not to--

Or maybe the Liberals could read what the International Monetary Fund had to say about Canada and what is driving our positive economic outlook:

Canada has weathered well the global recession...The [government's] ambitious fiscal consolidation plans include growth-friendly measures to support Canada’s long-run economic potential, notably...cuts in corporate income tax.

If this is not enough for the Liberals, maybe they should listen to their provincial cousins, like Ontario's Liberal finance minister. Dwight Duncan said:

Scrapping... corporate tax cuts would hurt the fragile economic recovery by raising taxes on the struggling forestry and automotive sectors. It is about the most short-sighted, dumb public policy pronouncement one can envision.

Instead of constantly demonizing Canada's job creators, maybe the Liberals should talk to some of the people I have just quoted and realize what they are threatening to do to Canadian jobs and Canadian families with their short-sighted policies.

This is the worst time to raise taxes and kill Canadian jobs. This is the worst time for this Liberal tax hike motion.

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, I am amazed at this speech. One tries to elevate the debate and ask certain parties in the House to put their plan on the table, but in this particular case I think she said “Liberal” more times than any other party in the House. In the past four hours I have only heard about the Liberals. I begin to think that we deserve all the attention.

In this particular situation, the member quoted from many sources about all the benefits of having that lowest corporate tax. She did not quote anything from the government of Ireland, which also has a very low corporate tax rate. I wonder why.

The member quoted from the CFIB, but the part she did not quote was the fact that the CFIB has issues with the government's payroll tax increase.

That is not to mention the Conservatives talking about tax increases. A lot of people from my riding like to travel. What about that airport tax we are now saddled with? We never hear about that, of course, but that has only been in the last little while.

I would like to ask the member a specific question. She talked about having corporate taxes helping out certain industries. I would like one example of a business that has been compelled to reinvest in people in her area. Give us an example of how they went about this. How were they going to take this profit and not give it back to shareholders, but invest in the company and expand the number of jobs?

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, that was certainly a lengthy preamble. I had to say “Liberals” so often in my speech because I am absolutely stunned at the Liberal turnaround on this particular issue.

At the end of his comments the member asked if I could perhaps give him an example in my riding. A mill in my riding has been closed for over a year and a half. An agreement has been reached and the sawmill will be reopened. About $25 million will be invested in that sawmill. I can bet it was the corporate tax cuts that made the difference in terms of the decision to reopen a mill in a hard hit place which will employ 125 people and support families with jobs.

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the Conservative member should really think about this a bit more. It would make a lot more sense in terms of job creation for the government to offer funds to corporations for new technology, expansion of R and D, training, energy conservation, and the development of green technologies. That would make a lot more sense than just offering across the board tax cuts when we are already more competitive than our major competitor, the United States. These tax cuts are totally unnecessary.

The Conservatives are really upset today because they have been hoodwinked by their long-time partners, the Liberals. The Liberals have been keeping them in power for a couple of years. The Conservatives have finally awakened to the fact that the Liberals have bailed on them because they know the corporate tax cuts are not going to be popular with Canadians and they may end up in an election in a couple of months--

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Order. Order, please. The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, we do not have anything to apologize for in terms of investments in technology. I have a whole bunch of big figures here showing that millions of dollars have been spent in a lot of areas.

I am going to take this down to again provide a specific example in my riding because that resonates with members.

The green transformation fund has invested $75 million in my riding. It is putting 6,600 homes or the equivalent into the grid and it is decreasing particulate emissions by 70%. At the same time, it is creating a future for the mills and all the small communities around this particular pulp and paper mill.

We have nothing to apologize for in terms of our focus on research, technology and green infrastructure.

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to say how sorry I am that you have had to admonish so many members today for their interruptions and for their comments against each other. It really is a bad reflection on all of us and it is unfortunate.

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

An hon. member

You should apologize.

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

The member says I should apologize, Madam Speaker. This is exactly why we cannot expect--

Opposition Motion—Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Order. I would like to ask for a little order from members at the end of the left side of the House. Canadians expect better from all of us. As parliamentarians we should be able to have a respectful debate without shouting at each other across the aisle. I would ask for a more respectful debate on everybody's part.

The hon. member for Mississauga South.