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 liberals.

Topics

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

10:30 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to what both Liberal members said. One of them mentioned what the IMF said, which I think he misrepresented. This is what the IMF really said on December 22, 2010:

Canada has weathered well the global recession.... [And 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.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague why she and her party are so anxious to take away from 100,000 Canadian corporations the ability to create jobs and increase Canada's economic potential?

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

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we clearly do not want to take away the ability of Canadian companies to be competitive and create jobs in a tax environment that would be beneficial to them. Still, Canada must determine how much it can actually afford to reduce taxes for the most profitable companies in the country. We are not talking about small or medium-sized companies, which will be burdened with additional employment insurance contributions. We want to maintain a degree of flexibility in Canada so that help can be provided to Canadian families. Major corporations do not need that help right now, and we are not in the financial situation to be able to offer these tax cuts.

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

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise on this important issue, as I have so many times in the past. It is interesting to see the Liberal position on this. I remember quite vividly, even months ago, that whenever we spoke about the failing corporate tax cut reductions not leading to job improvements, the Liberals would literally light their hair on fire and scream at the socialist agenda. We would see that go on. It was like the sky was falling in.

Now we see this reversal of policy and it is interesting. The former Liberal finance critic said:

We're the party of deep corporate tax cuts, and I'd like to see Canada as the Ireland of North America.

That is a real good suggestion from the Liberals. Basically, we have seen Ireland having to be bailed out now, and one of the reasons is because it has no income stream coming back in even for government services.

I would like to pose this question to the member. If it is morally inappropriate, as the member for Kings—Hants said, to borrow money to pay for corporate tax cuts now, why did the Liberals join with the Conservatives to borrow $6 billion to bring in the HST, which is going to cost $8 billion to $10 billion after the interest is paid, according to an independent economic analysis?

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

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as far as I remember, and I was not elected then, we were still in a surplus situation when those cuts to the HST were brought forward. Obviously, at the time, it seemed like it was possible for the polyfinances to support those kinds of cuts. It is not the case right now. We are in a major deficit; the largest deficit Canada has ever known. We cannot bring forth tax cuts at a moment when Canada is borrowing money to pay for basic services to its citizens. It is as simple as that.

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

10:35 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today and speak to this issue.

The Liberal leader would have Canadians believe that he will simply freeze the taxes on job creators, but that statement is actually false and misleading. The Liberal plan aims to raise taxes. Our tax reductions have brought tax levels to 16.5% as of January 1, but the Liberal plan is to raise that to 18%.

I simply want to ask the opposition member if they will increase taxes from the current rate of 16.5% to 18%.

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

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have no problem confirming that we would restore tax rates to 2010 levels. We would not be raising taxes, we would be returning them to 2010 levels. Since last year we have been calling for taxes not to be reduced on January 1st.

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

February 8th, 2011 / 10:35 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I wish to stand here as the newly-appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and address this very important question. This opportunity to stand up against the tax and spend philosophy of the Liberal Party, as demonstrated through today's attack on Canada's job creators, is an important one.

While our Conservative government believes in keeping taxes low for Canadians, the Liberal Party is always looking for ways to increase taxes on Canadians, as just suggested by the Liberal member who has confirmed they will raise the tax rate from 16.5% to 18%. The Liberals do not think Canadian families or businesses, still trying to recover from the worst recession since World War II, are sending enough of their hard-earned money to Ottawa.

While the Conservative government believes in keeping taxes low, the Liberal Party is always looking for ways to tax Canadians.

The Liberals, the people behind the HRSDC boondoggle, the sponsorship scandal, the wasteful long gun registry, and countless other examples of wasting taxpayers' money, want families to forget about trying to save their money for their retirement and for their kids education because they want it. From a GST hike, to the carbon tax, and now increasing taxes on Canadian businesses, the Liberal Party is constantly thinking up ways to have big government in Ottawa dig deeper and deeper into the pockets of hard-working Canadians.

The Liberal leader himself has been at the forefront of a tax hike movement. He is a self-described tax and spend Liberal. He was the first Liberal to propose a carbon tax. He has publicly demanded a GST hike. During the worst of the global recession in 2009, he went to southwest Ontario, among the regions most negatively impacted, and publicly boasted that under a future Liberal government federal taxes must go up and we will have to raise taxes.

Clearly, then, it is well established that the Liberal leader believes that higher taxes and more government deficit spending are the way to go when it comes to the economy.

Our Conservative government believes that higher taxes are harmful to families and businesses. The tax hikes called for by the Liberals will curtail growth and the economic recovery and will cost Canadians jobs. For that reason, we are determined to reduce the tax burden through our policy of low taxation, which, together with Canada's economic action plan, helped Canada get through the recent economic crisis better than other industrialized countries. While the global economy continues its fragile recovery from the worst recession since World War II, Canada remains one of the least affected countries.

That is why we are committed to keeping taxes low through our low tax plan, a plan that, along with Canada's economic action plan, has helped Canada weather the recent economic storm better than other industrialized countries around the world.

Indeed, as the global economy continues its fragile recovery from the worst and deepest recession since World War II, Canada has remained among the least affected.

We know the Liberals like to constantly talk down the Canadian economy, but the facts are clear. The Canadian economy has seen five consecutive quarters of growth. Over 460,000 new jobs have been created in the last year and a half, the strongest job growth in the G7. Our financial system has been again ranked the soundest in the world. Statistics Canada announced that nearly 70,000 net new jobs were created in January.

Additionally, both the IMF and OECD continue to project that Canada will have among the strongest average growth in the G7. As the Conference Board of Canada recently declared:

Canada is clearly in better shape than almost anybody else in the world.

Or, as the New York Post enviously reported, following the announcement of Canada's strong January job numbers:

--Canada's economic comeback seems to be in full gear, no rose-colored glasses required. Back here in the US, the first report of 2011 shows a situation that is the near-polar opposite, as the jobs picture looks as tricky as ever. (...) Yes, Canada is leading the continent out of the Great Recession. Let's hope the President and the Fed Chief are taking notice.

What a fantastic quote to really honour the efforts of this government here in Canada.

Nevertheless, Canadian workers and businesses were negatively affected during the global recession. What is more, ongoing events beyond our borders, especially in the United States and Europe, posed risks to a sustained economic recovery. However, as widely acknowledged, Canada has been both better prepared for and has better responded to the recent economic turmoil.

Indeed, prior to the onset of the recession, our Conservative government situated Canada in an enviable economic position with significant personal and business tax relief, key investments to improve the country's infrastructure, record health and social transfer support to provinces and territories, and much more. What is more, our nearly $40 billion in aggressive debt reduction ensured Canada has more flexibility when competing in the global downturn.

We built on our already strong economic record with the introduction of a timely and effective response to the global recession, Canada's economic action plan. The plan was a $60 billion shot in the arm for the Canadian economy when it needed it the most. This plan proved instrumental in fuelling growth and putting Canadians back to work.

So, what did we do as part of this plan? Taxes were lowered. Benefits and retraining were expanded for the unemployed. Over 26,000 job-creating, infrastructure-improving, projects were launched. Major investments were made in science and technology. Vital support was extended to struggling sectors of the economy like the auto and forestry sectors. Extraordinary steps were taken to improve access to financing, and much more. Clearly, Canada's economic action plan has proven a tremendous success.

As of December 2010, it is estimated that the economic action plan has created or maintained over 220,000 jobs. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities agrees, noting the plan has been effective and has created a lot of jobs.

Despite Canada's relative position of strength, compared to other countries, we cannot rest on our laurels by adopting the Liberals' dangerous spending policies. In order for Canadian families to benefit from the economic recovery, our Conservative government will continue to make the economy and job creation its priorities, while remaining firmly committed to returning to balanced budgets.

That is why our Conservative government is preparing the next step in Canada's economic action plan. A key element of this next step is our unwavering commitment to our job creation and tax reduction program.

Once again, in contrast to the Liberal opposition's tax and spend policy, we believe that Canadians should not have to pay higher taxes, period. That is why, since first being elected in 2006, our government has reduced more than 100 types of taxes. We have in fact reduced all types of taxes collected by the government: personal income taxes, consumption taxes, corporate taxes, excise taxes and more. We have lowered the GST from 7% to 5%. We have removed more than one million low-income Canadians from the tax rolls.

We have created a legacy of tax relief by reducing taxes on savings with the new tax-free savings account. We have reduced the overall tax burden to its lowest level in nearly 50 years.

Our Conservative government's tax reduction plan has already made it possible for the average Canadian family to pocket tax savings of more than $3,000 per year, as well they should.

The tax and spend Liberals and their big government friends may not like that, but our Conservative government has delivered for Canadian taxpayers.

As Andrew Jackson, the chief economist of the left-leaning Canadian Labour Congress, begrudging admitted recently:

They [the Conservatives] have really implemented the tax cut agenda they championed when in opposition.

We are also lowering taxes on job creators, leaving more money in the pockets of Canadian businesses to grow our economy and jobs.

Since 2006 our government has been working to create the best possible climate in which businesses can invest. This plan is not a short-term plan but a long-term plan announced and passed by Parliament in 2007 to reduce taxes, to encourage investment and the creation of jobs, a plan that is making Canada one of the best places in the world to do business and to invest. The purpose of our long-term plan is to allow businesses to have the certainty of a stable tax regime so that they can plan ahead.

Businesses, like families making a household budget, do not make major investments overnight. They plan ahead for the level of taxation they will face and how much money they will have left to invest in their business, invest in productivity, improving machinery and equipment, and most importantly, to invest in more workers, more families, more individuals with children to create them more jobs.

That is not all that we have done. We also eliminated the federal capital tax. We increased the income limit for the small business tax rate to $500,000. We reduced the small business tax rate from 12% to 11%, and much more.

Canada's long-term economic recovery will be driven by our job creators, by the entrepreneurial hard-working Canadians, businesses large and small, by their hard work, not permanent government deficit spending as advocated by the Liberal leader. That is why our Conservative government is backing an ambitious plan to create a competitive low tax environment for job creators to succeed.

The Liberals are saying we should raise taxes on job creators. Should we do that now as we try to recover from a global economic recession? We know that higher taxes mean less money for businesses to invest. That means fewer jobs in Canada and more unemployment for our families. We know that higher taxes mean more unemployment in Canada.

Our Conservative government is working to create jobs in Canada. We realize the best way to do that is to encourage job creators to actually grow.

In fact, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters recently released an analysis that concluded that reducing corporate taxes “creates jobs, boosts investment...and puts more money in the pockets of the Canadians”. The conclusions of the report, which I encourage Canadians to read online, show that the Conservative government's plan to reduce the tax burden is creating nearly 100,000 jobs in the short term. It is increasing the personal incomes of Canadians by $30.4 billion or 2.4%. It is increasing per capita personal income by $880 and is contributing from $2.6 billion to $3.7 billion in additional net revenues for all levels of government.

Maybe the Liberals could look at the recently released study by a respected academic, University of Calgary economist Jack Mintz, who predicts over 200,000 jobs will be created due to our low tax plan over the long term. In the words of Professor Mintz:

We’re just beginning to stake our claim as a country that is good for business. To revoke Canada's planned corporate tax cuts would reverse that trend, and cost jobs, business growth and competitiveness. Calling for an increase in corporate taxation is irresponsible policy as far as the overall economy is concerned.

Maybe the Liberals should actually talk to private sector businesses across Canada, businesses which, despite the fact they employ the vast majority of Canadians, the Liberal leader seems more content with demonizing and threatening for cheap political purposes.

The Liberals really should meet with some business people, for instance from the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, which recently told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance that it recommended:

...that the already announced corporate tax reductions be fully implemented in coming years. The best way for the federal government to spur investment in job creation is to allow businesses to reinvest more of their profits to fund self-sustaining private sector growth. Our members, and indeed all businesses, require a large degree of stability and certainty regarding tax policy in future years. To plan for one set of previously announced tax reductions while conducting medium- and long-term business planning only to learn down the road that they may not be implemented is the very opposite of the certainty businesses need to create self-sustaining economic recovery.

The Forest Products Association of Canada emphasized that “the tax reductions announced in 2007...are an important part of the industry's recovery plan for the period ahead”.

Even the Canadian Chamber of Commerce noted that:

The single most important or most damaging thing the government could do at this point to stall the recovery would be to cancel the planned tax reductions. Business has been planning on them. The private sector has been hiring based on them. The private sector has been investing based on them. If suddenly those were repealed at this point, the impact would be to get business to shelve its plans for expansion and getting people back to work.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business proclaimed that the planned business tax cuts are necessary. This has been laid out as a plan for several years now and businesses do not just plan on a three-month basis. Changing direction is problematic for a number of different reasons. If that is to happen we are already seeing favourable foreign investment flow into Canada, which benefits everyone ultimately as a result of being reasonably competitive. We are still not competitive where we are now compared to some countries. We are getting there.The notion that this is some outrageous thing is just dead wrong. Also, it is not just big companies that benefit, small and medium-sized companies benefit as well by lower corporate income tax rates.

That is from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. I do not understand why the Liberals choose to ignore that kind of expertise.

Maybe they should talk to Ontario's Liberal finance minister, Dwight Duncan, who said:

Scrapping such a big slice of 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.

While our government is focused on continuing to implement our job creation, low-tax plan, the Liberals want to dramatically hike taxes, halting our recovery in its tracks, killing hundreds of thousands of jobs and setting hard-working families back. This is a recipe for disaster.

Canadians cannot afford that risk. Canadians need the continued strong economic leadership that reflects the values and principles of hard-working Canadian families such as living within our means, producing savings by reducing waste and duplication, keeping taxes low to create jobs and sustain growth and letting Canadians keep more of their hard-earned money. The Liberal job-killing tax and spend agenda will only hurt hard-working Canadian families.

In the words of a recent Times &Transcript editorial:

--while [the Liberal leader] is touting raising taxes and says spending on education and families will create growth. The Liberal Party is obviously still stuck in its outmoded 1960s style tax and spend mode. Nobody disputes the importance of education or families, but throwing money at them has a dubious connection with spurring the economic growth we need...[the Liberal leader] and the Liberal welfare state approach will only worsen the nation's debt and deficit, forcing hikes--

In conclusion, as a mother of five, on behalf of Canadian families who rely on jobs to sustain their families and to really count on education for their children, I implore the Liberal leader and the Liberal Party to stop playing political games, to do the right thing and to reverse their push to hike taxes which would destroy Canada for years to come. I invite them to join with the rest of Canadians and our government to ensure our fragile recovery is not jeopardized.

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

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the parliamentary secretary to her new responsibilities.

The parliamentary secretary did not speak of the Conservative government's record of big borrow and spend government. She did not discuss the fact that her government increased spending by three times the rate of inflation and actually put Canada into deficit before the economic downturn. It burnt through a $13 billion surplus and put Canada into deficit before the downturn. She did not talk about the $1.2 billion that her government wasted on a three-day G20 conference, or the $16 billion that it wants to spend on untendered fighter jets, or the $13 billion it intends to spend on prisons.

The parliamentary secretary did not discuss her government's failure to present Canadians with a real plan, a credible plan, to eliminate the deficit and get us back into surplus, and that is what the International Monetary Fund and the Parliamentary Budget Officer have said. There is no real plan.

The member quoted a couple of folks during her speech. I would like to know if she agrees with the following quote from the chief economic analyst at Statistics Canada, one of her own government economists, Philip Cross, regarding the impact of more tax cuts:

--is going to be relatively small, given the huge flow of money driven by other forces.

Also, I would like to know if she agrees with Don Martin who said:

How a government, which has emptied the public purse far into the future, ratcheted up the deficit to historic highs and bloated the bureaucracy to unprecedented size can stand for re-election as a conservative-friendly government is beyond me.

I would appreciate the member's response to both those quotations.

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

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have to address a number of things the member did not mention. He did not mention the decade of darkness that the Liberals threw our military troops into when they cut all spending so that troops did not have the equipment to properly protect themselves. I, as a police officer, would never go into battle without those tools and I am proud to be part of a government that is providing the tools necessary to our men and women in uniform.

He did not talk about the fact that under the Liberal government there were a number of slashes to transfers to our provinces. It slashed billions of dollars, which led to crises in our health and social systems. We, as the Conservative government, are not prepared to put families in crisis. We are here to support families and job creators as we move forward with the economic action plan.

I would like to address the quotes. The member chose to quote one person with regard to this issue, but let me quote another Liberal just to put this into perspective. Ontario's Liberal finance minister, Dwight Duncan, just a month ago said:

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

That is the quote that I think matters most.

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

11 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague. The oil industry received a total of $3.2 billion in benefits in 2010. The international sustainable development industry estimates that each year, the oil companies receive $1.3 billion in direct and indirect subsidies. The banks made more than $20 billion in profits in 2010, an increase of $6 billion over the previous year. Statistics show that the banks' use of tax havens allowed them to save more than $1.3 billion in 2009.

And the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance is telling us, here in this House, that the government is working to help families and the less fortunate in society. I do not believe my ears. Instead of giving tax cuts to these large companies that are making huge profits, could the Conservatives not do more to help the unemployed, seniors whose incomes border on the poverty line, and our farmers in Quebec who are experiencing serious financial difficulties?

What are the Conservatives waiting for to implement a real policy to truly support people in need and not oil industries and banks that are making huge profits?

What is more, with banks hiding income in tax havens we effectively have less tax revenue to support people in need.

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

11 a.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question. When we talk about the tax burden on our families, it is very important to mention what this government has accomplished. Our government is the one that implemented a program to lower taxes in order to put $3,000 in the pockets of every family every year. That is incredible for some of our families. This extra $3,000 a year helps our families make decisions in the interest of their children, their family. Raising taxes will destroy our ability to put this $3,000 in the pockets of these families. We have done a number of things for families.

Let me tell the member some of the things that have been done under this government. Aside from the $3,000 that typical families are putting in their pockets, we introduced a $100 a month universal child care benefit to give Canadians choice in child care. The GST reduction helps families. We introduced 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 a number of other things.

Families in this country rely on this government because we have acted and shown them that we will do what is in our power to make sure they are protected financially.

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

11 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I always get a kick out of Conservatives talking about tax and spend parties on the other side when they were the ones, and I remind everyone of this, who brought in the income tax to help pay for World War I. Correct me if I am wrong, but I do believe that World War I is long over and that we paid for it a long time ago.

What other tax did the Conservatives bring us? The GST, and God love them for doing it. Two of the most hated taxes in Canada brought to us by our friends in the Conservative Party. I just say that for historical perspective.

One thing the hon. member should know is that when U.S. companies receive further corporate tax rates, their profit margins are obviously increased. Unfortunately for us, the United States ends up taxing those profit margins when the profits are remitted back to the United States.

My question to her is why should Canadians be helping the Americans tax their multinational corporations when those corporations remit their profits back to the U.S. and are taxed by the United States government? Why are we helping the U.S. economy in that regard and not using those corporate funds?

The hon. member is correct about families. However, she knows we have many, many families with autistic children who cannot get help. We have many veterans struggling to get help from the government. We now have 6,500 veterans taking the government to court to receive disability payments.

My question to the hon. member is, could that money not be used to really help those families who are in desperate need?

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

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Questions and comments by the hon. parliamentary secretary, but a shorter answer please.

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

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am just so excited about the economic action plan and all that the government is doing that I cannot help myself. I continue to talk about the benefits of this low tax agenda we have for our families here in Canada.

I heard a couple of questions by the hon. member. It is important when we are all working together in this place that we look at the facts. The facts remain that low taxes help our families.

I want to quote a member of the NDP. The member for Thunder Bay—Superior North said:

There are elements in our party that have not been adequately concerned about the health and growth of businesses.

That is important because that NDP member realizes that the creation of jobs through businesses helps our families, helps our veterans and helps our aged. That is what is important to Canadians, and we as a Conservative government will continue on that track.

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

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Kings—Hants for bringing this motion forward and giving us an opportunity to state our views on taxes.

We should read the beginning of his motion, “That, in the opinion of the House, the Government’s decision to proceed with cuts to the tax rate for large corporations...”.

We will support this motion from the official opposition and we hope that all its members will be present for the vote—that is the least they could do—so that we can show a united front to the government, which has indicated through the new parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance that it disagrees.

Where do taxes come from? Maybe we could take five minutes to ask who pays. In Canada, as in all democratic countries, the tax system has two main supports: corporations and individuals. It is pretty clear who the individuals are. They are the ordinary people, as our friends in the NDP like to say. They are every one of us, who send a portion of the income we earn in Canada to the government. It is a relatively simple system. Well-established rates are applied to our taxable incomes.

When it comes to corporations, there are two kinds: small and medium-sized businesses and big business. Among the latter are the multinationals, the oil companies, the banks and manufacturers, on whom I will focus in the next few minutes.

If taxes on the large corporations, oil companies, banks and multinationals are not increased, if we do not take the taxes out of their hides, and indirectly out of the hides of their shareholders, who is left to support the government? If the taxes on large corporations are cut, the money has to come from somewhere else. And where is that? It is from small and medium-sized businesses and individuals.

The Conservatives’ tax policy is therefore very clear. There are only three choices: individuals, small and medium-sized businesses or large corporations. If the taxes on large corporations are cut, they benefit, while small and medium-sized businesses and individuals will pay the price.

The Conservatives have a right to do that. It is their Conservative tax policy and their country. But we do not agree, and I will get back to that.

In attacking small and medium-sized businesses, they are attacking the big job creators. In attacking individuals, they are attacking the poor, the middle class and the upper class. Of course, the least wealthy people in our society have such small incomes that many do not pay any tax. If someone does not pay taxes, he or she will not be affected if the taxes on banks and financial institutions fluctuate. It is the middle class and the upper class, therefore, who will feel the financial pinch. If the Conservatives cut the taxes on large corporations, they will have to target small and medium-sized businesses and individuals with average incomes, the people who keep our economy rolling along, as workers and consumers.

With regard to the wealthy or those who have high incomes, we are saying, as in the member's motion, that this wealth and incomes over $150,000 should also be taxed. I will come back to this.

Why do we favour small and medium-sized enterprises—SMEs—over big business? We can certainly describe SMEs, and I will come back to this. However, from a tax perspective, SMEs are led by owners and entrepreneurs. One person, two people, a couple or a family own a small or medium-sized business that helps drive the economy. From a tax perspective, an attack on SMEs is an attack on an easily identifiable owner, for example, Mr. Smith and son, Mr. Smith and daughter or Ms. Smith and son. It is a fact: these are individuals, while a big business is a faceless corporation. We do not know who we are dealing with in a big business: it has major shareholders; it has money; it has companies that invest in other companies. The difference between the people being attacked is very clear when a decision is made to implement this type of tax policy.

SMEs in Quebec are in a particular situation. In fact, 99% of Quebec companies identified by Statistics Canada are SMEs. Things are certainly different in terms of gross revenue. Quebec's SMEs—company owners in Quebec who open their doors every morning at 8, who close them after the office employees have left, and who work seven days a week—represent 99% of businesses. In Quebec, we have entrepreneurs.

Moreover, SMEs employ over 56% of workers in Quebec. As a result, 56% of all Quebec workers, including the public servants, politicians and what have you, work in SMEs. These employees work in close contact with the owner. Their employer is not a distant shareholder represented by a board of directors. They see their boss every day. As a result, individuals are clearly affected by a decrease in taxes for big business because they are the ones who end up having to pay if big business does not. These individuals are affected and they see their employer, the owner of the small or medium-sized business, being affected.

SMEs play an important role in the economy. That is why we mention them in our budget platform, entitled, Au tour du Québec!, which is now available on the Bloc's website, blocquebecois.org. I have given a copy to the Minister of Finance. The parliamentary secretary was there and she seemed very interested in the Bloc's proposals. One of the Bloc's many proposals has to do with the creation of SMEs. We are recommending that the Conservatives establish a business start-up program. Quebec had a program like that to create businesses in the 1990s. This program would target entrepreneurs, those who will each hire three, four or five people. So we have a policy on SMEs.

My colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé brought up a very interesting point. In 2007, the government lowered taxes and announced tax cuts for businesses. It reduced the taxes of small and medium-sized businesses from 12% to 11%, a drop of one percentage point, or one-twelfth which is 8%. However, the tax rate for big businesses dropped from 22% to 15%. That was seven percentage points, or 32% less. This meant that the tax cut for big businesses was four times greater than the cut for SMEs. Four times. I thank the member for Berthier—Maskinongé for making me aware of this and pointing out that it was not right. This government's tax policy is very clear.

We agree with the opposition member's proposal. This budget should be about Quebec. It is Quebec's turn. But who are they focusing on? The banks. From 2007 to 2009, chartered banks made $46 billion in after-tax net profits. Big bank shareholders received $46 billion, $6 billion of which came from tax havens. That is a lot of money.

We propose targeting banks that declare after-tax net profits of $6 billion in tax havens. They should pay their share. In 2011, that would equal $1.3 billion.

The Standing Committee on Finance is currently studying the issue of tax havens. We are talking about $600 million from companies and at least $1 billion from individuals. That is where we should be getting the money from.

No one would be surprised to hear that we are interested in oil companies. In 2003, when the hon. member for Kings—Hants was running for the leadership of the real Conservative party—the Progressive Conservative Party—these future Liberals, with support from the others, passed a tax reduction policy specifically for oil companies. It is disappointing that the member never became the leader of the Progressive Conservatives or the Liberals—maybe someday he will lead the NDP, who knows—because he was not able to convince people that massive tax cuts for oil companies made no sense.

These gifts to the oil companies need to stop. Each year they receive more than $1.3 billion in subsidies, either directly or indirectly. If we began taxing oil companies again at the going rate, they would pay $1.9 billion more in taxes. No one in Canada would complain if we told oil companies that they need to contribute more because they make their living off oil and they cannot move it, they cannot pick up and leave because that is where the oil is. No one in Hochelaga would complain if we raised taxes for oil companies. That is what we think about the oil companies and the banks.

Earlier I talked about three levels of individuals. There are those who do not pay taxes, then there is the majority, the middle class, those who work. I say leave them alone. Lastly, there are those who earn over $150,000 or over $250,000. We proposed something last year and we are proposing it again this year.

We are proposing that people who earn between $150,000 and $250,000 should pay 2% more. Would it really bother someone who earns, say, just $150,000 to pay 2%, which would be about $3,000? No. People who earn $250,000, or a quarter of a million dollars a year, should pay 3% more, or $7,500. Would that bother them? No. In the end, that would add up to $4.8 billion. Those figures are from the revenue and finance departments. We worked on them in order to come up with our proposals for the Minister of Finance.

People who earn $150,000 and $250,000 a year would be asked to pay a total of $4.8 billion. They would not even notice a difference.

We would also like to see the bonuses of high-income earners taxed at a higher marginal tax rate. If institutions and companies want to pay their executives outrageous bonuses, they should be allowed to do so.

We recommend that these bonuses not be deductible from a company’s taxable income. Everyone knows that companies deduct salaries from their taxable income, and we do not have a problem with that. However, when it comes to outrageous bonuses, we do not agree. If a business decides to hand out $10 million—