House of Commons Hansard #171 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order, please. Order, to the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay. I have not given him the floor. If he has a point of order, he is welcome to raise that, but he is not to abuse points of order by raising debate. If he has a point of order, he can make it now.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, my point of order goes back to the issue of using our House to plant misinformation. He said it was cap and trade, that that was the point. Then that is the point. He should say it was cap and trade.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

This is not a point of order. This is a point of debate.

The hon. member for Oakville.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, here is what the NDP leader and the NDP MPs should really be telling their trusting supporters. The NDP would bring the qualifying age for OAS to 65, 11 years from now, but people would have to pay more for eggs, bread, milk and other groceries, more to heat their homes, more for electricity, more to fill up their cars and more for everything they buy at the mall, forever, and they would never break even. The NDP cares about them.

The reality is the ideologues in the NDP, who for decades have cherished policies designed to redistribute what they call wealth evenly to all Canadians, will not give the policies up. Instead of creating an equal playing field of opportunity for all Canadians—who work hard, make sacrifices and take risks to be able to improve their own lives and build a little wealth—which is what the bill would help to do, the NDP expects them to risk their life savings to start a business and create jobs for others, for a take-home pay based upon some kind of national average, created through massive tax increases.

The Broadbent Institute calls this a more equal Canada. The question is: Equal to what? It would be equal to Greece, perhaps.

This bill demonstrates our agenda. But why is the NDP opposed?

In a report published last week, the socialists at the Broadbent Institute laid bare their true beliefs, demonstrating they want governments to have a much greater piece of the earnings of all Canadians. They think that is how wealth is created, because they learned that in books written by people who read it in other books. These ideas and statements inevitably come from people who have never started a business and usually never even worked in one.

In the recent report, the socialists were severely disappointed that taxes in Canada are only 31% as a share of national income, while they are 34% in most advanced countries, which means they not only want the $21.5 billion carbon tax but another $30 billion to implement their theories on Canadians.

How do they measure success? It is in how much taxes people pay, not quality of life, not the total average income, not how carefully taxes are spent and what value we get from money, and not the most important indicator of a true democracy: social and economic mobility—how many Canadians can access post-secondary training and education so they can have a better quality of life than their parents did—not how easy or difficult it is for an entrepreneur to start a business and hire others, improving their lives. They study how much of the wealth is mine, how much is ours, how much should be the government's and how we need the government to take more so it can do everything for us. They call it social spending.

These are people who, if they were isolated on a desert island, would sit for days and talk about how to divide up their last fish. The Conservatives would be out finding ways to catch more. The Liberals would be talking about who should decide. And the Green Party would be burying the fish for fertilizer.

Here are the new taxes the socialists want to introduce in Canada, as expressed by the NDP soulmates at the Broadbent Institute.

One, increase the capital gains tax to the same level as income tax. That would reduce investment in Canada that creates jobs.

Two, eliminate tax loopholes they say are only for the rich. However, we know from our experience in Ontario that it would affect the entire middle class.

Three, introduce a death tax to eliminate—and I am quoting from the Broadbent Institute—“morally unjustifiable class privilege being passed on to the next generation”. Let me translate that. That is the money our parents worked so hard to save, so that we could have a better quality of life than they did. They do not say if they would take 100% or 90% or just 50%, but it would all go to the collectives.

I am not making this stuff up. They want to tax financial transactions. That would discourage investors from buying and trading in Canadian securities, which is a key source of job growth.

They want, of course, a carbon tax and higher taxes on natural resources; all this to promote a socially and environmentally sustainable society.

The tax grabs are always couched in terms of the environment or social justice, which means they would decide, using taxes, the take-home pay of every person in Canada. They dream that everyone would work as hard for the collective as they do for their own families.

That Marxist theory has failed in every country in the world in which it has been tried, yet the socialists never give up.

They also want premiums on social service programs—in other words, user fees for social services. It is very important for everyone to know that.

They want more value-added taxes. On top of the GST and the provincial taxes, it appears they want a new value-added tax.

That would all fund expensive, unaffordable entitlement programs, the kind that have bankrupted most of Europe.

We believe in the freedom to work hard, choose to start one's own business or not, pay reasonable taxes, earn good wages or profits, and not be continually harassed and burdened by new fees, taxes and unnecessary rules from three levels of government.

This bill would be an important step along the road to the prosperity that all Canadians deserve.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question about what is missing in the budget implementation act. On page 32 of the Conservative 2008 platform entitled “The True North Strong and Free”, under the heading “Developing a Cap and Trade System to Cut Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions” it promises that a re-elected Conservative government will implement the cap and trade system between the years 2012 and 2015.

I want to ask the member how that is coming along.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

October 29th, 2012 / 4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, once again, the NDP do not understand the difference between a revenue neutral cap and trade system where businesses trade or we trade even within countries, such as we were planning to do within North America, and a carbon tax, which is a revenue grab from consumers to spend in whatever way the NDP would like.

There was a plan in 2006 to have a cap and trade system with our American partner, but it was not willing so that did not happen. It is pretty simple.

Allow me to demonstrate what governments can do at very little cost and how good governments that respect personal freedom and choice can create a climate that attracts thousands of jobs.

On Thursday, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage heard testimony from Ubisoft Entertainment, a video gaming company based in Montreal. It also has offices in Quebec City and Toronto. It came to Canada from France 15 years ago and has grown to 3,000 jobs in Canada. I asked why it chose to grow its company here. The first reason given was corporate taxes. now at 15%, and provincial tax incentives, as well as skilled workers and the advantage of having the French language in Quebec as the company came from France.

Therefore, a Conservative federal government and two provincial governments created a climate for a business, which continues to grow, and now employs 3,000 Canadians with good paying jobs and educated workers, all of whom pay income tax no doubt totally tens of millions of dollars. Some of those jobs were a portion of the 820,000 jobs created in Canada since 2009 by this government.

The legislation in this bill will no doubt help attract tens of thousands more.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thought that was a whole new speech.

The question I want to ask is this. I was shocked what I heard the member say earlier, alleging that there was buying votes with borrowed money. I believe he was referring to seniors. Is this the same party and the same Prime Minister who did not tell Canadians what their plans were with respect to the OAS? What is this business about buying votes? This is about actually telling people the truth about what the Conservative government has planned, something it neglected to say during the federal election.

How can the member defend that?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have worked as a volunteer in non-profit seniors housing early in the nineties going back 12 years at least. I have been on the board of St. Hilda's Towers, a not-for-profit seniors supportive housing residence in Toronto, for 212 years, so I have worked with seniors for a long time.

The greatest fear that seniors have is they will run out of money. The second greatest fear is they will not have any money to leave their children in many cases. However, even seniors who have a lot money, for example, someone selling a house in Toronto could easily get $500,000 to over $1 million, are afraid they will run out of money.

Therefore, when the NDP organizes and its leader goes out and tells Canadians that someone is slashing their pensions, which is not true, it is profoundly frightening for those people. It is a shame that it would happen.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, could the member for Oakville talk about some of the advantages for families that we see in this jobs and growth for long-term prosperity bill?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the answer is jobs, careers, hope and opportunity. One of the biggest problems we have in society right now is that university grads who come out, many with an ordinary BA, which is a four-year degree and many without academic degrees, simply cannot find a good job. They can find a job at Starbucks and in fast food restaurants. Some in my riding of Oakville have two or three part-time jobs, which drags on for six months, a year and even longer.

In my office in Oakville, I have hired five young university graduates from Oakville to provide them with their first job because the first job is the hardest one to get experience.

The entire process that this bill and everything this government is focused on is about the economy and our young people being able to start a new career and get jobs.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

4:25 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 Saanich—Gulf Islands, The Environment; the hon. member for Nickel Belt, Workplace Safety.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand and speak today to Bill C-45, the second omnibus budget implementation act. As with Bill C-38 this past spring, New Democrats oppose Bill C-45 on both content and process. This bill continues on the path set by Bill C-38, which puts more power in the hands of cabinet ministers and guts environmental protections.

As the official opposition critic for science and technology, I will focus my comments on the aspects of the bill concerning my area of focus, especially those concerning the scientific research and experimental development tax credit. However, I will start with a few general comments.

As we have heard in the House today, Bill C-45 is another massive omnibus bill. Once again, the Conservatives are trying to ram legislation through Parliament without allowing Canadians and their MPs to thoroughly examine it. What is disturbing is the PBO has said that the budget will actually cost 43,000 Canadians their jobs, but we hear otherwise from the Conservatives. In fact, this budget actually plans for unemployment to rise from the cuts that are being made to government, especially the scientific and research community. New Democrats oppose budget 2012 and its implementation, unless it is amended to focus on the priorities of Canadians, which is creating good quality and strengthening our health care system.

Turning to science and technology, I have been meeting with scientists, engineers, technologists and members of industry since appointed as the science and technology critic. I have done a lot of face-to-face meetings, I have spoken with people electronically and I have had the opportunity to visit a number of public and private facilities. The scientific community, and I mean this very broadly, not just natural scientists but also social scientists, engineers and technologists, is very concerned, and so am I, about the government's approach to science and technology. I will provide a few details especially as they concern this budget.

We have seen in report after report that one of our main strengths in terms of productivity in our country concerns the world-leading research done at our universities and government institutions, like the National Research Council. Many people may not know this, but almost 3% of the peer-reviewed papers published in Canada are produced by researchers at the National Research Council. This is a good fraction of what is produced worldwide. Peer-reviewed research is produced at universities but also at the NRC.

One of our strengths is our research output, but one of our main weaknesses is that Canadian companies are not investing in R and D at the same rate as companies located elsewhere in the world. This point was hammered home in the Jenkins report that we hear quoted in the House very often. Lack of investment in research and development has led to plummeting productivity levels as compared to the U.S. Our productivity is around 70% of U.S. productivity.

The Conservatives are right to view this is as a problem, but the solution to this problem of declining productivity is mind boggling. The Conservatives are trying to fix productivity rates that are really caused by low levels of private investment by Canadian firms and are planning to attack the part of the innovation supply chain that is performing well. The scientific community working in universities and government research organizations is really punching above its weight internationally. The government is shifting funding from these well-operating parts of our economy over to business, and that is a mistake.

The Conservatives are cutting hundreds of scientists from government rolls, they are closing world-class facilities, one of which I visited just the other day, they are radically changing the funding structures for scientists, both within government and without, and they are muzzling the government scientists who remain.

I have talked to researchers both in industry and outside of industry and in universities. I sat down with a panel of physicists the other day. The physicists said that what was developing in Canada was poisoning the culture, that scientists were afraid of speaking out because they were worried about having their funding cut or, worse, getting fired. This is a really dangerous thing to do. The Conservatives are attacking a scientific culture that has taken almost 100 years to build. For example, the National Research Council came in place in 1916. We were almost going to celebrate a centenary, but now we find this is under attack.

The National Research Council was considered the jewel of the Canadian research crown for many years. It is headed by Nobel Prize winners. It has brought us all kinds of inventions that started as just ideas and made it all the way to the factory floor and onto the shelves of consumers

The Minister of State for Science and Technology has said that he wants to take this venerable and well-respected research institution and turn it into a 1-800 concierge service for industry. Therefore, instead of winning Nobel Prizes, Nobel scientists will now hold the door open for industry and carry its bags. If I were a research scientist looking at where I would take my top level research, going to the National Research Council in its past glory would be great, I would get the funding and atmosphere that I need to work, but becoming a concierge or a bellhop is not really what I would be looking for.

Let us talk about the 124 NRC researchers who received their pink slips this year, 90 of them last week. If we think about the progress of a researcher, they get a BA after four years, a Masters in Science for two years, a PhD, a post-doctorate, to have to go and set up labs. We are talking about 15 to 20 years someone has invested in becoming a researcher. It is a portable skill, but it has to be located at an institution. What concerns me is people at the NRC who have come out of university and set up these labs, when they are given a pink slip, it is not like they go next door and start up another career. It is a major loss of investment. This really needs to be thought through before we go too much further down this line.

This fear of the change in culture has been expressed to me in many letters. The Minister of State for Science and Technology is familiar with this because I am copied on most of the letters he receives. They express fear and really want the government to slow down in terms of how it is hacking away at these various institutions.

I want to change now to a more specific matter, and that is the scientific research and experimental development tax credit. The government proposes to reduce the tax credit rate from 20% to 15% and this will particularly affect large businesses. It will eliminate the eligibility of capital expenses. Although it would save up to $500 million a year by making these changes, it has not made it over to any new program, or not all of it anyway. It is really just straight savings for the government and attacks businesses right where they live in the innovation field. This will hit the manufacturing sector hard and it is likely to drive firms to move their R and D activities to other countries that have better incentives.

Conservatives have done nothing to fix the complexity of the SR&ED tax credit, which I agree needs some adjustment but it is more in the administration of this tax credit rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Instead of reducing the credit for industry, it should be looking at administrative changes instead. The government has done nothing to reduce the complexity and overhead costs of applying for and administering the SR&ED tax credit.

The member for Burlington said earlier today that he was getting positive feedback from industry, but I have had a number of different comments and he should be aware because they came at the industry committee. For example, Declan Hamill, vice-president, Legal Affairs, Hoffman-La Roche Ltd., said when asked about the SR&ED tax credit:

From our perspective there are changes to the SHRED tax credits that have some potential negative impacts on our member companies.

Probably most serious, were the comments from RIM. Morgan Elliott, director of Government Relations for Research in Motion, which makes the Blackberry, said when I asked him directly what this change in the SR&ED tax credit would mean. “It cuts our support by one-third”. Here is the jewel in the private industry crown of technology in Canada that has been struggling lately, seems to be getting back on its feet, and what does the government do? It cuts one-third of its support with these changes.

It is hardly a ringing endorsement for these changes. I submit there are problems with the bill and the government should, at the very least, split out the SR&ED tax credit changes and refer them to the industry committee for further study.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, like the member, I was also troubled when I heard those comments from RIM at the industry committee.

I want to talk about another aspect of science and technology and Canada's satellite industry. In the first budget of the year we were expecting to see money for the final phase of development of the RADARSAT constellation mission, which is Canada's crown jewel of our satellite program. The money was not there. Now we have part 2 of the budget and the money is still not there.

We have had 31 job cuts at COM DEV, which is a large subcontractor. We have had hundreds of job losses at MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates. These are scientists and engineers losing their jobs because of the instability created by the government.

Tying into what the member said about the NRC and scientists and all the changes being made, does he have a comment to make about what kind of impact that has on our high tech industries?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I did have the great pleasure of sitting down with the president of MDA to talk about RADARSAT specifically, and he was beside himself. There are really six phases to this contract. The government has agreed to the first five and cut the money for the final phase of the contract, which would put the satellites in the air over our Arctic, and it is only through satellite technology that we can do surveillance over the Arctic.

It is extremely disappointing that the Conservatives have chosen not to support the final stage of the RADARSAT satellites. I urge them to find a place in the budget to make this project go ahead.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Alexandrine Latendresse Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech. It is very interesting to hear the point of view of someone who has extensive knowledge of technology.

Having worked in research and development in a corporate setting, I know that the field desperately needs more support. Clearly, that is not what the Conservatives are prepared to offer.

I have a much more general question for the member about the form of today's bill. The Conservatives across the way keep telling us how important it is to do things the way they are because there is no time, because these measures must be taken as quickly as possibly, because they are minor measures and no big deal.

If these measures are so simple and obvious, and if these ideas are so good, then why not have a proper debate about them and hear from real experts? I do not see why we cannot treat each element separately. That would give all of us a better understanding of what is in this bill.

What does my colleague think the Conservatives are afraid of? Why did they introduce an omnibus bill like this?