House of Commons Hansard #188 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was asbestos.

Topics

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a choice of words. I am not an expert in this.

The Conservative Party of Canada, in 2008, offered the exact same thing as we did in our platform. If the member is going on about whatever it costs, he had better check back because that is what he was suggesting.

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member from the New Democratic Party for his comments and I quite enjoy working with him at the finance committee.

I want to know why the New Democrats on the finance committee voted in favour of the Conservatives' time allocation motion on Bill C-45. That happened on October 31. Did they not understand that this was a time allocation motion?

Also, the finance committee chair, the member for Edmonton—Leduc is widely respected by all parties for his fair and balanced approach. Therefore, I wonder why his members, the New Democratic members on the finance committee, worked with the Conservatives and ganged up on the chair and actually voted against the chair's ruling, overruled the chair and effectively changed the rules at committee. Why did New Democrats not insist that the rules be respected?

Does the member recognize that a dangerous precedent has been created, where now the Conservatives can use their majority on committees to challenge the chair, say the rules mean black instead of white and have their way on any debate whatsoever? Why are the New Democrats complicit in this?

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, very simply put, when the motions were put before the NDP in the context at the time we felt the chair was incorrect.

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Paulina Ayala Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, when I decided to immigrate to Canada, it was mainly because of the strength of its democracy and its parliamentary system. When one speaks of the parliamentary system, it includes debating ideas.

One thing that bothers me about this bill is that once again, certain commissions are being removed and even more power is being given to ministers.

I would like my colleague to speak about the weakening of Canada's democracy.

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no way I can begin to address, in the 30 seconds I have left, the offence that I feel is happening in our country. When they take the democratic process and subvert it with omnibus bills to the point where, for pieces of legislation that are critical to the needs of our citizens, MPs are not given the opportunity to do the due diligence that Canadians expect of us, it is very troubling.

Immigration is a significant one. The environment is another significant one. Seniors is another one that would be affected by this bill, where we did not get the opportunity to do what was needed.

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, to respond to the points made by my previous colleagues, my parents are immigrants and they love this country because it is a strong democracy. I spent 33 years in the Canadian Forces fighting for our rights and ensuring that we have a strong democracy.

Our government demonstrates the fact that a strong, stable government has a steady hand on the tiller and that is why Canada is one of the greatest countries in the G7 right now in so many different ways, not just economically.

The previous speaker mentioned a few times in his speech about being baffled. I would respectfully submit that the New Democratic Party often is baffled. That party does not understand why Canadians need such strong legislation and a budget implementation act such as this. Canadian families depend on tax savings. They depend on those moneys being reinvested in their families and reinvested from businesses into the economy, thereby creating a stronger economy overall. This government facilitates that and allows Canadians to be able to do that.

Ever since this government came into power in 2006, it has been committed to ensuring economic growth and prosperity. I am proud that this government has delivered, with Canada emerging as one of the top countries in the G7 with 820,000 net new jobs created since 2009. Canada has had the best rate of job growth in the G7 and both the IMF and the OECD say so themselves. They forecast that Canada will be at the head of the pack for economic growth in the G7 in the years ahead. All we have to do is go outside of this country to hear what other nations are saying about Canada, and it is absolutely glowing. We are the envy of the world and I wish the New Democratic Party would take a look at what others in the world, our peers on the global stage, are saying.

The jobs and growth act would implement key initiatives from economic action plan 2012 and it would ensure that our economic advantage remains strong today and into the long term. This legislation would help our families and small businesses, consumers, seniors, students and manufacturers across Canada as well. The budget will provide tremendous opportunities for my constituents in Etobicoke Centre.

As someone who served as a reservist both full time and part time for 33 years, I know the extraordinary commitment that reservists make to keep Canadians safe. They can be called upon to serve abroad for extended periods, which can place significant financial strain on their employers, particularly small businesses, which are supportive of Canada's democracy and Canada's foreign policy and the need to sometimes send reservists abroad.

Canada Company numbers well over 250 of our captains of industry in this country, some of the same people who participate in True Patriot Love and similar organizations. Canada Company's motto is “Many ways to serve”. It builds the bridge between business and community leaders and the Canadian Forces.

The government is working to ensure that our reservists remain gainfully employed and that members of our military receive the widest support, care and recognition, which they deserve for the important contributions that they have made and continue to make to the security of Canada.

Building on our government's commitment to support the men and women of our armed forces, economic action plan 2012 commits to providing financial support to employers of reservists to offset such costs as the hiring and training of replacement workers or increasing overtime hours for existing employees. As a former commanding officer of a regiment and having worked for the Canadian Forces Liaison Council and others, this is a huge initiative because allowing reservists to deploy overseas has always been a sticking point. This is going to make it so much easier for those employers to make that contribution to their country, while maintaining their businesses and giving soldiers an opportunity to serve their country in uniform. Small businesses provide gainful employment to our reservists and a wide variety of Canadians. They play a vital role in the economy and job creation. Our government is committed to helping them grow and succeed.

Economic action plan 2012 includes a number of key measures to support the growth of small businesses, such as extending the hiring credit for small businesses.This is a temporary credit of up to $1,000 against a small firm's increase in its 2011 employment insurance premiums over those paid in 2012. This temporary credit is going to help approximately 536,000 employers defray the costs of additional hiring.

Many are familiar with the burdens of red tape and how it can negatively affect a business trying to grow. By the way, that often affects non-profit organizations as well. Our government is committed to reducing red tape by implementing a one-for-one rule and committing to develop a red tape reduction action plan to reduce unnecessary and ineffective regulations, allowing small businesses to focus on growing and creating jobs.

Other ways our government is reducing the administrative tax burden on small businesses include enhancing the Canada Revenue Agency secure “my business account” portal, and that improves the business section on CRA's website; doubling the thresholds for eligibility to use the GST/HST streamlined accounting methods; enhancing the predictability of the scientific research and experimental development tax incentive program; and providing written responses to business inquiries by the CRA.

These important measures all build on top of our government's significant action to reduce taxation for small businesses since 2006. For example, we provided $20 million to support the Canadian Youth Business Foundation's activities. The foundation works with young entrepreneurs to help them become the business leaders of tomorrow through mentorship, learning resources and start-up financing.

We extended the accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment to help manufacturers and processors make new investments in manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment.

We increased the small business limit to $500,000. This refers to the amount of income earned by small businesses eligible for a reduced federal tax rate. We reduced the small business tax rate from 12% to 11%, and we lowered the federal corporate income tax rate to 15% to help create jobs and economic growth for Canadian families and communities. We increased the lifetime capital gains exemption, which allows capital gains on qualifying small business shares to be realized tax-free, from $500,000 to $750,000. This is the first time it has been increased since 1988; it is incredible.

Our government also released a code of conduct for the credit and debit card industry of Canada to protect small businesses. This was heralded by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, who I quote as saying:

Merchants have new powers under the Code that have helped them achieve tangible results in their dealings with the industry....

This simply wouldn't have happened without the code.

As important as small businesses are to our economy, students represent Canada's future. I think all parties here can agree on that. Our government has an impressive track record of supporting Canada's students and growing our labour force. We have invested more than $10 billion annually in students and education, including more than $3 billion in transfers to provinces for post-secondary education and over $7 billion in direct support to students and their families.

As well, we have established the Canada student grant program, which is providing up to $250, per month of study, to low-income students and up to $100 per month to middle-income students. We have created a new textbook tax credit to help with the cost of textbooks for students; and $342 million a year is provided for the youth employment strategy giving young Canadians much-needed support as they pursue an education and career.

Apprenticeships have the potential to create a wealth of new talent in this country. Our government realizes the importance of practical hands-on experience. That is why we have provided $140 million per year to encourage more young Canadians to pursue apprenticeships, including the new apprenticeship incentive grant and the apprenticeship completion grant. We have created the new apprenticeship job creation tax credit to encourage employers to hire new apprentices.

Our Conservative government's major new investments have already helped better prepare Canada's students for the opportunities and jobs ahead. But we continue to expand on past initiatives and measures to provide students even more opportunities.

We are ensuring that students are even better equipped and better integrated into the workforce by increasing support for youth employment opportunities with an additional $50 million to the youth employment strategy.

We are doubling graduate internships in innovative firms with an additional $14 million for the industrial research and development internship program, to place even more students into practical hands-on research internships in Canadian companies.

This takes us to the fast and flexible economic immigration system. Immigrants are an important component of our economy. Many immigrants chose to settle down in my riding of Etobicoke Centre, as my parents chose to settle in Toronto. They are hard-working and eager to contribute to our economy; however, we need a fast and flexible economic immigration system.

Our government has placed a top priority on attracting immigrants who have the skills and experience our economy needs. The economic action plan will enable them to transition to an increasingly fast and flexible economic immigration system. In the future, our government will explore with provinces, territories and employers approaches to developing a pool of skilled workers who are ready to begin employment in Canada.

The federal skilled worker point system will be reformed to reflect the importance of younger immigrants with Canadian work experience and better language skills. Canada's immigration system supports a vibrant workforce by attracting skilled workers who will contribute to the growth of our economy.

I encourage the opposition to get behind this bill and support Canada's economic growth and prosperity, because all the things I have just laid out are why Canadians need to support to this bill, why the opposition needs to support this bill, and that is why they claim to be baffled.

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question will be relatively short, and it concerns the speech made by the member for Etobicoke-Centre. I suggest that he start making corrections to the talking points that he uses for his speeches.

For example, he spoke about the fact that the International Monetary Fund and the OECD have acknowledged the government's sound performance. I would like to know whether he has read the recent IMF report that ranked Canada 12th among the 30 OECD countries in 2012-2013 in terms of economic growth, and that instead of improving, Canada's position will be deteriorating by 2016-2017. In fact, because of the measures taken by the Conservative government, and in particular the austerity measures implemented at a time of economic uncertainty, Canada is expected to drop to 17th place among the 30 OECD countries by 2016.

Having compared these figures to those mentioned in the talking points presented this afternoon, I would like to know what the member for Etobicoke-Centre thinks about the IMF report, which would appear to contradict what he said earlier in his speech.

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I reject the premise of what the hon. member is saying.

Many reports, the IMF and others across this world have touted Canada for its economic performance and its G7 performance. Even the Bank of England has now taken our bank governor to assist it in its troubles. That is speaking significantly about Canada's prowess in the economic world and what we are doing with our economy and our country.

We are one of the best G7 countries in the world. There are many reports, many bodies, many countries and others, including the G20 and G7 themselves, that lay that out.

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member should know, the Conservatives' so-called hiring credit will actually punish small businesses if they either hire new employees or pay higher wages to existing employees.

In fact, companies that qualified in 2011 but then grew too big to quality in 2012 could face an EI premium hike of as much as 14¢. This is eminently fixable. We Liberals proposed an amendment in the finance committee that would have fixed it. We were supported by CFIB, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

My question to the Conservatives is: Why are they forcing EI premium hikes on Canadian small businesses?

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member highlights why there are so few members of his party in that corner.

The amendments the Liberals tried to introduce tried to derail the system. They tried to derail the process through that effort, tried to cripple Canadians in their ability to save taxes and earn, as well as contribute to their families, their small businesses and the EI program.

That is why the Liberal Party of Canada does not understand what the economic action plan 2012 is all about.

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering
Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I share the hon. member's frustration with the two opposition parties, who are not only embracing the wrong policies—or indeed, in the case of the party in the corner, no policy at all—but talking down the reality of the Canadian economy. The Canadian economy is creating jobs well ahead of the pace of any other advanced economy and has put up better growth numbers than any country in Europe, including Germany, since the start of this recession, indeed since the start of this government.

My puzzlement is unassuaged. I would like to ask the member for Etobicoke Centre what his interpretation is of the NDP's inability to talk about the facts of its platform from 2011. We campaigned on a platform of jobs and growth, and we are delivering it now. The NDP members campaigned on a platform of a $21 billion carbon tax, and for some reason they are not prepared to talk about it today. Why is that?

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I serve with the hon. parliamentary secretary on the defence committee, and he has done a brilliant job in that capacity.

I also share his frustration because the New Democratic Party did campaign on a $21 billion carbon tax. This is what would put Canadians out of business. This is what would create hardship for all the people I talked about just now. It would create hardship for families, students, reservists trying to get out and deploy into the world, and others, and would burden the rest of the country, driving us further down into economic crisis.

That $21 billion carbon tax would drive us into crisis. I share the hon. member's views that the party in the corner has no policies at all.

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

November 29th, 2012 / 1 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that I am pleased to rise in this House, but of course, like for many of my colleagues on this side of the House, it is not altogether a pleasure to do so. What detracts from it is the fact that we feel that Bill C-45, the second budget implementation bill, is headed in the wrong direction.

The government's approach and that of the official opposition, the NDP, are undeniably completely different. The main difference is that the approach taken by the Conservatives ensures that Canada's economy will not achieve its potential and that economic uncertainty will continue, whereas our approach would maximize and optimize our current resources.

Let us look at what the government has done since coming to power. One of its first decisions was to take two percentage points off the GST. A one-point decrease means $5 billion less in government coffers. It then continued to cut the corporate tax rate. Indeed, the government lowered it from 19% in 2009 to 15%, where it stands at the moment. Every percentage point costs the Canadian treasury about $2 billion. The two measures combined represent an average of $7 billion in foregone revenue per year.

We must remember that when the Conservative government came to power in 2006, it inherited a budget surplus. Even before the recession, that surplus had been wiped out and, of course, things got worse with the measures in the economic action plan, an economic stimulus plan. From a $13 billion surplus, we immediately plunged into a deficit. And we are still there. We must remember that despite the Conservatives' reputation for being good managers of public affairs—a reputation I have never understood—if we disregard the year and a half after they came to power, when they rapidly made the surplus disappear, the last balanced budget under a Conservative government in Canada occurred back in 1912, under Robert Borden.

Bill C-45 truly reflects the Conservative ideology at its worst. The Conservative ideology denies that the federal government can play a constructive role in the development of our society. The Conservative government will not hesitate to say no to a federal investment of one dollar, even if that federal investment could result in economic growth equivalent to $10 where it is invested. Similarly, this government will not hesitate to make an economic cut of one dollar, even though it may cause $10 in losses.

I know this. I see it in my riding. I see it in my region, where the government has imposed huge cuts on institutions like the Maurice Lamontagne Institute and on investments through Canada Economic Development. This has major repercussions. Rimouski is Quebec's centre of marine technology. It has taken 30 years of hard work to find this region a specific niche. Rimouski is one of the three leading centres of ocean science, along with Halifax and Vancouver. This government is making it hard for the region with these cuts, which not only make no sense scientifically, but will weaken the region's economic potential.

This government rejects the very concept of one day attaining a balanced budget. I base that on a statement made by the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism on May 2, in reply to a question from one of his Conservative colleagues. He said that the government was going to continue cutting taxes after it has balanced the budget.

The government's objective is not good governance, public governance, or managing public funds for the common good; its ideological position is to diminish the size of the state—the government—and diminish the good the government can do for the general public.

The government's economic policies are also haphazard. It is putting all its eggs in one basket: natural resources. Does anyone know where the government wants to take Canada, economically, in 15, 20 or 25 years? What are the niches in which Canada can excel? We have no idea. At present, the government is relying solely on the free market, which prevents forecasting or envisioning the long-term economy.

Here is one example: we are now in the 21st century and we are operating with 20th century infrastructure. The Conservative government has not taken any steps to endow Canada with proper 21st century infrastructure.

Emerging nations are doing it. Canada is just standing by and waiting until it is no longer competitive on the world market. Bill C-45 and the 2012 budget are indicative of this lack of vision.

Other people will speak sooner or later during the report stage about some of Bill C-45's major problems, particularly the best-known one, the repeal of the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

I would like to point out two elements that clearly demonstrate this lack of vision. The government is very fond of appearances, but in the end, it will not produce results. These two examples concern scientific research and experimental development, and also the hiring tax credit for small business, which the hon. member mentioned earlier.

The NDP is in favour of this tax credit. It was in our election platform in 2011, but the government will not mention that. We even proposed a small business hiring tax credit of $4,200, which is more than the Conservative one, and an additional $1,000 if the employee was still there after a year.

At the moment, the government is proposing a $1,000 tax credit, for which 536,000 businesses are eligible. That is what we heard in the Standing Committee on Finance. But let us look at the absurdity of this situation. Last year, that tax credit already existed. Some 530,000 businesses took advantage of it. That suggests that 530,000 new workers were hired last year, but that is not the case.

In committee, witnesses were repeatedly asked whether a business could hire an employee for a few months and claim the tax credit. They said that it was possible.

Although the tax credit is a good idea based on a positive principle, and we support the principle without supporting the way it is applied, this clearly shows that this measure is not encouraging the creation of permanent jobs. The NDP's proposal, on the other hand, which would add a credit for retention after a year, would encourage the creation and retention of the jobs created by the government.

Then there is scientific research and experimental development. The government plans to reduce credits to large companies from 20% to 15%, which amounts to a 25% decrease. This proposal has been decried by the business community, particularly the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters. The government argues that the overall decrease in incentives for R&D would be $500 million, but the CME argues that the losses could be $633 million.

In addition, some argue that capital expenditures should be removed from calculations for tax credit purposes. The first suggestion was in the Jenkins report, but the second was not. The government made this up; it is not based on a recommendation from the report. We heard a very persuasive argument in the committee about how some industries in the natural resources sector and in manufacturing need to be able to include capital expenses in R&D tax credit calculations. Such industries often need to establish pilot projects—model factories, in effect—to implement the research they have already done. By eliminating that option, this measure puts some industries that really need it at a disadvantage.

Many witnesses were also worried about the government's new ability to choose winners, which would make it possible for the government to choose successful grant applicants.

Claims to the effect that Canada outperformed all the other countries are truly exaggerated. Canada did better in some ways. However, I do not believe that the Conservative government can take credit for that. Canada has survived the recession so well mainly because of the monetary policies of the Governor of the Bank of Canada, and in particular his determination to immediately lower the interest rate at the first signs of the recession, when the government was still denying that there was a problem on the horizon.

To conclude, in 2015, Canadians and Quebeckers will be able to look back on the tenor of the debates in the House and have their say about whether circumstances are better than they were before the start of the Conservative government reign. The answer will be no.

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kyle Seeback Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my friend's speech. He railed against the tax cuts that we brought forward for small businesses and said that reducing taxes for businesses was a terrible thing. I cannot believe he would make that kind of statement.

My question for the member is this. Not only are the New Democrats against lowering taxes for business, but will they finally admit that a cap and trade scheme that would raise $21 billion in revenue is a carbon tax, which they are supporting? I do not want the member to reply by saying increased fuel efficiency standards are a tax because that is absolutely ridiculous.

Motions in amendment
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are in favour of reducing taxes for small and medium-sized businesses. In fact, our program suggested a tax cut of up to 9%. The government decided on 11%. We therefore certainly do not need any lectures on this matter from the Conservative government.

Perhaps the Conservative government needs some lessons. There are three ways to combat climate change. A carbon tax like the one proposed by the Liberal Party could be introduced. An emissions or carbon exchange system like the one proposed by the NDP and the Conservatives in 2008 could be established. The third option is sectoral regulation as currently practised by the Conservatives.

Combatting climate change will cost money. The Conservatives are now spending money with their sectoral regulation system. According to a number of economists, this will cost a total of $52 billion for carbon and vehicle emissions alone.

The government should be more careful when it presents figures on combatting climate change. It is in fact generally recognized that the NDP carbon exchange approach is far superior to the Conservatives' approach thus far.