House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was riding.

Topics

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my new colleague for his excellent address on small businesses and their workings in Brant.

However, I would like to point out to him that I attended a breakfast here at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in March. Its economist said quite clearly that lowering corporate taxes was not the incentive that businesses use worldwide for locating in particular places. That was said very clearly.

As well, the other point I would like to make is that most of the corporate taxes paid in Canada are paid by corporations that are exploiting resources traded in world markets. Therefore, those prices are not changed by the tax rate.

For a corporation producing oil in this country and selling it at a world market price, the corporate tax rate does not change the cost of that oil to the consumer. There is no change to that cost, because it is a world market price. In Canada, therefore, the largest sum of corporate tax breaks does not pass down to the consumer.

I would like my hon. colleague to comment on that.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, basic economics and business 101 tells us that the final end cost of products and services is the fixed and variable costs that go into them, which can fluctuate. I disagree categorically with his analysis that the prices of oil and other raw materials and finished goods do not reflect those actual costs.

For some reason there is a thought in the ideology of the NDP and the socialist ideology that assumes that it is all about businesses and companies making bigger and bigger profits and putting those into the pockets of fat cat shareholders. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

If one thinks about the 80% of jobs created by small and medium size businesses, and if one thinks about all of the inputs of the farming community and small time contractors and other people in my community, nothing could be further from the truth. They have to remain competitive in the world marketplace, as all businesses do.

I would kindly ask the member to reconsider his thinking about how businesses operate.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the member's comments when he talked about the small businesses in his community. I truly appreciate that.

In fact, the Liberal Party of Canada supports small businesses in many different ways, more so obviously than the Conservative Party, in the sense that the Conservative Party has put its priorities in favour of corporations. It demonstrated that in the budget with the amount of tax money it is giving to large corporations, with a smaller percentage allocated in different ways to small business in the budget.

Would the government not have been better off giving more of those tax breaks to the businesses providing 80% of the jobs in the communities the member made reference to, thereby creating more opportunities for the constituency he represents, as opposed to these large corporate tax cuts?

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, but again it is somewhat misleading in its characterization of large companies benefiting all of a sudden. The feedback from my business peers in my community has been right across the board that small, medium and large scale businesses are benefiting from our plans.

Take a look at the employment numbers. If 80% of the small and medium size businesses are creating 560,000 jobs, then that ratio implies that a smaller number of jobs are being created by the large corporations. However, we want to ensure as well that those large corporations are kept in this country, because they could quickly evaporate into other jurisdictions or parts of the world if we did not have a competitive tax rate for them as well.

The majority of the jobs I just referred to were created by small and medium size business.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for London—Fanshawe, Aerospace Industry; the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, Employment; the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood, National Defence.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

First of all, I wish to congratulate you today on your election as Speaker of the House. It is important to note that you are the youngest Speaker in the history of Canadian politics.Thus, you are a fine representative of this new, younger Parliament.

I am honoured today to thank the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île for the trust they have placed in me. I will always listen to everyone, and I will tirelessly defend their interests each day. I promise in this House to do everything I can to help families, youth, workers and seniors, and to prove that the NDP is there for them and not for big business and the banks, as is the case with this government.

I would also like to acknowledge the work of the outgoing member for my riding. She devoted 17 years to the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île, and I intend on doing the same.

We are all here for the same reasons: our passion for the people of our community and our devotion to serving the interests of our constituents. On May 2, some 4.5 million Canadians expressed their desire for change, to live in a Canada where families come first and where everyone has an equal chance, a Canada that Quebeckers can identify with and that reflects their social and progressive values.

I am extremely proud to have had the opportunity to be part of this wave of change that millions of Quebeckers and Canadians were looking for. I accept the mandate that was given to me to represent the interests of families, young people, workers and seniors, to make them a priority, and to criticize the government, which continues to give tax credits to corporations and put the interests of the oil companies ahead of the interests of Canadians. I am committed to working with all the hon. members of the House in order to achieve tangible results because I truly care about the issues affecting the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île and they are the issues we focused on during the election campaign.

A big part of the population in my riding is aging and we must work on preventing seniors from living in poverty. We must offer them affordable housing and we must support them financially to give them a decent standard of living. The budget states that seniors living alone who get a maximum income supplement of $2,000 will receive an additional $600 a year. How can the government claim that a person living below the poverty line can be lifted out of destitution with just $600 more? Again according to the budget, this credit will decrease as their income increases. When a senior living alone gets an annual income supplement of $4,400, they can no longer benefit from the bonus the government is proposing in its 2011-12 budget. It makes no sense. Seniors need and faster and more accessible health care, because they are among the most vulnerable in our society. They also need to have peace of mind and know that they can get the medicine they need.

The budget also includes a number of tax credits, but what good is a tax credit to a person who is not employed or who does not pay tax because of a very low income?

Let us speak about families. Tax credits to promote the participation of children in physical, arts and cultural activities is a good government initiative but one that does not take into account the many people in my riding and throughout Quebec who do not appear to have the means to pay for their children to participate in such activities. How can these families benefit from a tax credit if they do not have the money to pay for their children to participate in such activities? These tax credits also do not take into account the 30% of the Montreal population who paid barely any taxes, if any at all, last year. These families will not benefit from the tax credits proposed by this government.

Families need to have access to family doctors if only to free up the system and waiting rooms. This government could help to improve the Quebec health care system by investing more money so that Quebeckers could then train more workers.

This government's budget does not invest in social housing and does not take into account the reality of thousands of Quebeckers and Canadians.

The government must understand that it is urgent to develop a plan to give families, seniors and everyone access to affordable housing so that they do not have to worry about choosing between paying their rent and feeding their children or themselves. More and more families and seniors are using food banks, which is unacceptable. The government must act now. Why is this government continuing to decrease the taxes of big businesses, oil companies and banks? As a result, billions of dollars that could have been spent on Canadians are lost. Then, the government announces billions of dollars in cuts that directly affect Canadians. That is money that could easily come from the $100 billion in profit that the oil companies make each year.

The government is abandoning millions of unemployed workers and is not really investing in job creation. The budget does not include any plans for job creation. For example, the refinery and petrochemical industries in Quebec are in decline, which is resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs, among other things. This government prefers to export most of its crude oil to the United States. In my riding, the result is the closure of the Shell refinery. In addition to causing the loss of thousands of jobs, this is making us dependent on other countries for our energy, since we are forced to import gasoline from them.

When it comes to the environment, the Conservative government's budget continues to cut millions of dollars from the fight against climate change and from environmental protection. Canada's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are still among the highest in the world. This government's attitude continues to separate it from the international community. In fact, in 2009, a coalition of scientists and politicians lobbied to have Canada kicked out of the Commonwealth because of its deficient environmental policies. The air quality in my riding is the worst on the island of Montreal. My constituents are worried about the environment and their health. The government must take action and must get its priorities in line with those of Quebeckers and Canadians.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has approved the shipping of nuclear waste, specifically waste from nuclear reactors, on the St. Lawrence River. Such shipments could directly affect the people of my riding. The government needs to intervene to prevent the shipping of this waste and instead invest in finding solutions for disposing of the waste near where it is produced.

The government must stop justifying its deficient and non-existent policies by the fact that it now has a majority. I would remind the House that only 40% of Canadians voted for this government. It must be accountable to Canadians and act in their interests, rather than in the interests of the multinationals and banks.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

June 13th, 2011 / 4:40 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member on her election and her fabulous first speech in the House of Commons. I have to share with the House that after meeting the member, her enthusiasm cannot help but brush off on one.

I welcome all of the young members to this House, particularly for their great verve and enthusiasm.

During the period when I was elected in 2008 and during my involvement in the election, I have heard a lot of concerns from youth in my riding, where I have three university campuses. The youth have expressed great concern about the record rate of youth and student unemployment in the last summer; the imbalance in federal investment and support for one side of the economy and not for the other, that being the massive subsidies to the oil and gas sector, benefiting the economy to a certain extent in my province but raising concerns about the long-term costs and liabilities; and they expressed a lot of interest in getting into the renewable energy and energy efficiency sector.

I wonder if the member could share some of the input and thoughts she received from her constituents about youth and future employment, and about the economies of the future in terms of renewable energy and energy conservation.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the hon. member for her question. I am very interested in the issues of education and youth unemployment. Post-secondary education rates in my riding are amongst the lowest on the island of Montreal. The problem is that the government continues to give loans and grants to students, who then find themselves with debt they cannot repay because they are not able to find work in their field. The NDP is not looking to hand out loans and grants. We want to reduce tuition fees to allow more people to study and find work in an area they love.

In terms of renewable energy, a balance needs to be struck. We need oil now, obviously, but the government is making Quebec and Canada dependent on other countries because we cannot benefit from the profits generated by our own production. We cannot reinvest that money because we must import oil from other countries. We cannot—

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order, please. The hon. member for Winnipeg North for questions or comments.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the member's comments with regard to the importance of social housing.

I, for one, do look at it in terms of what the national government has done over the last few years in that whole field of national housing programs and so forth. I have found it to be wanting.

There seems to be a need to have a national housing policy. The government needs to come forward and start telling Canadians what kind of housing plans it has going into the future.

Could the hon. member elaborate on what she believes would be important to national housing? In terms of the federal government's role versus just giving money to the provinces, what role does the member believe Ottawa plays in developing the programs?

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question.

I will answer in French. It is important for the federal government to develop rules for urban development. We do not want social housing to become a ghetto. The government should establish social housing policies, and there should be a balance between condos and social housing. The government should invest in a plan with stricter rules for urban development and, for example, the decontamination of certain sites where social housing could be built.

In my riding, refineries have closed down. The government should decontaminate these sites and then build social housing.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity, my first speech in the House, to first greet all my constituents in Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup and to thank them for the trust they placed in me in the recent election.

The splendour of the river, the beauty of the cities and towns, the majestic space of the high plateaus, a rich history, and a long tradition of citizen engagement, technical innovation by our businesses and artistic creation—recognized nationally and sometimes internationally—make my part of the country, I am convinced, one of the best places to live in the entire country and one of the best places to raise a family in North America. I will work to ensure that this is the case for another 20, 50, 100 years. That is a promise.

I must also thank every voter who supported me in the recent election because, in my riding, it was an extremely tight race. As in any situation, even the most difficult, there was an upside: the clear and undeniable demonstration that, in a democracy, every vote counts. I was deeply moved by the young voters who, in most cases, were voting for the first time and who told me that they would vote every time they had the opportunity for the rest of their lives. These accounts strengthened my faith in the future of our democracy.

Finally, I wish to thank my wife. These long weeks of campaigning and the recount would have been extremely difficult without her. Thank you, Marie-Claude.

We are pleased to see that the $2.2 billion for harmonizing the sales tax was included in the latest budget. However, it is very disappointing that popular pressure in an election was required to make this government give Quebec what it was rightfully owed for years.

In more than 3,000 meetings and hundreds of exchanges via electronic media, my constituents shared with me their fear of a Conservative government that would, on the one hand, cut services—their services—and, on the other hand, continue to allow billions of dollars to flow from government coffers to tax havens and tax cuts for big business.

The budget just presented by this government confirms my constituents' worst fears. There is nothing, not even the hint of a plan, to stop the flow of money to tax havens. There are new tax cuts again that will mostly benefit big business. For example, the government gave $1.1 billion to big banks in the last four quarters alone, and this will continue. Our constituents will face billions of dollars in cuts and big business will receive billions of dollars in gifts.

The multinationals have no plans to open a big banking service centre that could create hundreds of jobs in Rivière-du-Loup, Montmagny or La Pocatière. Those billions of dollars are not going to result in significant investment in the regions. So the Conservatives' slogan about “our region in power” lacks credibility and it will certainly become devoid of all meaning in the coming years.

We need to start now to address the numerous challenges that climate change and new technologies are inevitably going to force on our society. In this kind of context, a government should be morally obligated to provide a long-term vision for the future.

In the absence of lasting solutions, and given the half measures this budget proposes, it is impossible to provide reassuring answers to youth or to parents of young children about these major challenges and thus the possibility of a prosperous future.

Let us look at some examples from my riding of Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup. A solid job-creation program that would truly allow entrepreneurs to take a chance at expanding—turning small businesses into medium-sized ones and creating employment—is something that must be done for the regions and for our entrepreneurs. This budget offers very little, only a fraction of what it would take to make a difference.

Back home, in the high plateaus, in the mountains, people are in desperate need of basic education. The only literacy support I found in the budget was a mention of a literacy program for seniors in Yellowknife. That is all. Do not get me wrong; I wish the people of Yellowknife a prosperous future. I wish them nothing but the best, but I have to wonder how a program like that will help the people of Tourville.

The $60 million in assistance over one year for the forestry industry—which I would consider a symbolic amount— completely disregards the huge potential for sustainable development in this industry, which is still struggling to get back on track after the crisis. A plan to set up broadband Internet in all towns, even those in the mountains, is a priority for the immediate future in these regions—not in 4, 8 or 20 years, but now. All this budget calls for is consultations. It is time to take action.

In Rivière-du-Loup, hundreds of workers are watching their pension plan disappear, since it is not protected by the federal government if their employer goes bankrupt or is operating at a loss. Here is what the government has to offer these honest workers, who have contributed to their pension plan for decades. It is very convoluted. I quote:

...accommodations under the pension tax rules for members and retirees [whose rights are not defined, though they have some] of underfunded pension plans that are being wound up due to an employer’s insolvency...

That is an indirect way of saying they will not be protecting Canadians' pensions at any time in the next four years. A tax accommodation to compensate for losing 30 years of contributions to a retirement fund is pretty weak and unacceptable. These are just a few examples of the Conservatives' lack of vision. The foundations of modern society seem to have been forgotten by the members opposite. There are two in particular I wish to underscore.

A tax credit is not a magic bullet. It does not apply to low-income people who pay little to no tax. They also have talented children who deserve to take piano lessons. Tax credits are not going to help develop those talents. Instead, hundreds of millions of dollars need to be spent on basic skills and on marketing renewable energies—not on more studies or trials—or invested in reliable rapid transit that would allow people to travel between Quebec City and Ottawa by train without it taking seven hours.

These things are not short-term losses for the treasury. They are long-term investments to make Canada a society that will still be modern in 10, 20 or 30 years. Because the members opposite are wearing blinders when it comes to these future challenges and because of the regressive way of seeing the world that is apparent throughout this budget, it is impossible for me to support it and contribute to delaying for yet another year the ideas supported by 60% of my fellow Canadians. We must make these ideas a reality to ensure a prosperous future for our children and the children of all Quebeckers and Canadians.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, if that is the quality of MPs we now have in the House of Commons, then the House of Commons has a very bright future.

My colleague is probably aware that a food bank report that came out last year showed that 904,000 Canadians in 2010 used a food bank. If the trend continues, within three years, one million Canadians will be using a food bank. In the city of Calgary there is a food bank designed specifically for veterans. In 2005, 58 veterans used that food bank. In 2010, 204 veterans used it.

The Prime Minister said at the Conservative convention that Canada is now becoming a conservative country. Almost one million people will be using a food bank in a few years. Is that what he means by a conservative Canada? The heroes of our country, our veterans, who fought and died for this country, have to use charity in order to get their sustenance. Is that the kind of Canada the Conservatives are bringing to us?

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

Once again, I am going to relate this issue to local endeavours in my riding. I must commend an organization with which I am very familiar, Moisson Kamouraska, for its efforts. Unfortunately, this organization has had to make do with a budget that has remained unchanged for years, despite the fact that more and more people are lining up to ask for food. Food and shelter are basic needs. I am not talking about extras. This situation is clearly unacceptable. It is the result of a lack of intelligent, comprehensive, worthwhile reforms, such as the indexing of pensions to a level that would ensure that seniors are able to buy a sandwich every day rather than just a coffee and an apple, which does not cut it. This lack of vision in many programs is causing more and more people to turn to food banks, which are receiving less funding. Unfortunately, the future is not bright for these people.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I do want to question the member on an issue he raised a while ago in talking about seniors and how it relates to poverty, as my colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore pointed out, about the food banks.

The budget contains a $300 million increase for the guaranteed income supplement which becomes beneficial for so many, certainly for those in rural areas where I come from, when it comes to basic food and heating costs that are rising. These are major impediments to getting out of poverty. However, the studies say that we would probably need around $700 million or more to have a substantial impact on the seniors who are most vulnerable.

Perhaps my colleague could comment on that, particularly for the area that he represents.