House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:20 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his speech. I listened quite attentively. Like all his colleagues, he unfortunately hides behind very simplistic reasoning.

I want to come back to the issue of job creation. Unfortunately, this government's track record when it comes to jobs is quite average, if not bad. We can talk in absolute numbers, with the creation of some 700,000 jobs since 2009, but in reality, Canada's population growth is very dynamic. For example, when we look at job creation in relation to population growth, Canada is a fairly average and ordinary achiever compared with Germany which, in relative terms, has created more jobs despite a much less dynamic population.

Why is my colleague, a government apologist, doctoring reality and hiding the not always profitable consequences of his government's policies from the Canadian public?

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, our country came out of a very serious recession two and a half years ago. Clearly, we were very fortunate and blessed to have strong leadership, strong management and a solid banking system.

To the member's comment about job creation, 760,000 net new jobs since the end of 2009 is extremely good performance, to my thinking, representative of the leadership of this country by our Prime Minister and our Minister of Finance. We are recognized amongst the OECD as being a leader in economic development and growth.

Having seen the success of our country as we have come out of that recession and how fortunate we are compared to other countries that have suffered so seriously, I think the member opposite should be applauding our government.

That is why I support our government and all the good work we have accomplished on this end.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:20 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the question I have for my hon. colleague has to do with the employment insurance.

We know the government has decided to do away with the regional appeal boards. That was an opportunity, of course, for those who were appealing the decisions that were made by the government of whatever stripe. With the regional appeal boards, they would have an opportunity to appeal that decision in a face-to-face situation.

That will not be the case now. I guess what I am asking, because there are so few details in terms of what exactly would happen, is how the hon. member sees the new process working and how valuable that is compared to what existed prior to the changes,

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have had, again, a tremendous amount of debate on employment insurance and related topics of employment boards and the like across the country.

Clearly the development by the minister and by HRSDC has been to streamline the processes, to create more efficiency and greater effectiveness in our ability to deal with these situations. To that end, I think the boards as proposed would more than adequately meet the requirement.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, an important measure in the budget implementation bill is changes to the Fisheries Act that would, for example in rural ridings like ours, allow farmers to clean a ditch and not have to be caught up in unnecessary regulations, while allowing DFO to be focused on areas like the western basin of Lake Erie where the commercial fishery is very important.

I want to know what the member thinks of those positive changes that would allow DFO to be focused on what it needs to do and allow farmers to get on with what they need to do.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the changes that have been proposed would create greater efficiency and greater opportunity for those in the farming world to deal with their issues and those who are dealing with the habitat of fisheries to clearly focus on those issues directly.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:25 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the great pleasure this evening of taking the floor in the House to debate Bill C-38.

I will honour my colleagues across the way, who truly love superlatives—they thirst for them—and congratulate each other a lot. I must admit that, to my eyes, to my knowledge, Bill C-38 is an important, if not a crucial, part of the greatest plan to dismantle the country ever seen since Confederation. It is a massive and destructive operation that my colleagues opposite are praising and supporting without it weighing on their conscience, despite the millions of victims it will create in Canada.

it is very important to frame it this way because not all of our actions are innocent, on the contrary. Our actions have significant immediate and, of course, future consequences.

One of the very important aspects of Bill C-38 is that it is just one step more after many steps of significant cuts to the Canadian state, to various government operations, be they direct operations involving individuals or operations involving all the provinces of the Canadian confederation.

This reminds me of another sad, dark time in recent history: in the mid-1990s, Chrétien and his finance minister made harsh cuts that hurt everyone in Canada.

Obviously, there are many ways to address certain problems, and the government just needs a little imagination and a little willingness to talk to and co-operate with other partners to seek and find solutions that are the lesser evil—as they say—to problems that seem insurmountable or inescapable. At the very least, the government must avoid subjecting vulnerable members of society to pointless suffering. That is truly inescapable.

As Christ said, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” He did not want his disciples to collect money for the poor at the risk of forgetting to concentrate on his message.

Here is another parable, an important one, to illustrate just how drastically this government is compromising our heritage and the future of all Canadians of all ages. I will focus on young people, but people of all ages—including seniors—may find themselves paying a heavy price.

It is the parable of the prodigal son, who asks his father for his share of the inheritance immediately. He quickly wastes every last bit of his money on strangers.

That is what is happening here. Instead of taking care of things at home, the Conservatives are slashing taxes, adding counter-productive exemptions, being careless and adopting questionable practices vis-a-vis foreign investors. I know what I am talking about because I can see this in my very own riding. Much to my chagrin the members opposite told me in their responses that I am against investors and against economic growth.

I have a question. When an honest worker or a retiree is deprived of tens of thousands of dollars, even hundreds of thousands of dollars, that he worked hard to put aside in a private pension fund, through the fault of a foreigner who does not care about the fate of those who work for him, and this happens because of loopholes in the Canadian legislation, what type of society are we building for the future?

It will be a society of the poor who will serve the very small, very wealthy minority. Does the government opposite want the New Democrats to be a party to this operation? I am saying no. I am shouting no. We especially do not want to be party to that, absolutely not.

This government has used the absolutely—or probably, I will hold back a little—most simplistic arguments to defend its bill. They are the most simplistic arguments ever presented in this House. It is absolutely incredible to be given a mess of figures without any context, which flies in the face of reality and shows contempt for the truth.

It is truly appalling to see this government, in its operation of massive destruction, clearly targeting all those with the necessary empirical knowledge to understand what will happen now and in future years with Bill C-38. An incredible number of scientists have been fired, attacked, muzzled, and told to shut up. We are talking about people who have spent many years of their lives studying and, furthermore, dedicating themselves to a vocation: to serve the truth and all of society.

How can a government be so mean and contemptuous toward the intellectual elite of our society? It is a true horror to see that. Bill C-38 sanctions it. The government sets itself up as an enemy to science, to intellectuals and to people who have knowledge they can use to the benefit of society. Let us call a spade a spade. That is exactly what is going on here.

When you get down to it, Bill C-38 is a massive attack on millions of Canadians, be they retired or entrepreneurs. When we talk about employment insurance-related measures, it is mainly an attack on entrepreneurs who do seasonal work in logging, agriculture and fishing operations. Even in urban areas, let us think about people who work in construction and road repair. Quebec City is one of Canada's snowiest cities, and every winter in Beauport—Limoilou I have seen hundreds of skilled tradespeople and operators of heavy machinery clearing snow during the night after storms or heavy snowfalls. All these people depend on employment insurance not only to make ends meet, obviously, and to find a way to meet the city's needs, but also to preserve and protect their particular expertise that cannot be applied year-round.

This government is deaf and blind to this reality that affects millions of Canadians. It is absolutely unbelievable to see this kind of thing.

One of the clearest signs—and I will end with this—that the government does not care in the slightest about those millions of Canadians, is that they are constantly boasting about the fact that this is going to bring a lot of prosperity to all Canadians.

But one of the clearest signs that many Canadian households spend every last dollar of their income each week or month is that, currently, there is $500 billion in unused RRSP contributions, unused RRSP tax credits. It means that those millions of Canadian do not even have the means to save and this government does not care. Actually, the only thing that it seems to care about is to force them to save at the expense of the bread and butter that they could be putting on the table.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are not completely opposed to everything in this budget. For example, we are not opposed to the elimination of the penny nor to the funding for employers to hire new employees. That was in our NDP program, actually.

But we are opposed to the government interfering with old age security and employment insurance, when we know that the government has not contributed one penny to the EI fund since 1990. The workers, the employees and the employers contribute to it.

But we are also opposed to the government interfering with the environment, especially—and I would like to have the hon. member's opinion on this—when it introduces a bill in which it hides about 70 pieces of legislation—legislation that should not be there because this is not an omnibus bill—of which 30% deal with the environment and are all very well concealed. People may say that we are opposed to the budget. But we are not opposed to everything in the budget; we are against this way of doing things and we are against the fact that the government is hiding all these things in it.

Could the hon. member comment on that?

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles for her question. She has actually raised a very important point and that is how incredibly mean-spirited the government is in conducting the business of the House.

It is really unfortunate and I have been able to observe it a number of times at the Standing Committee on International Trade, as well as at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. On many occasions, we have reached out to this government to work together for the well-being of all Canadians and to try to find the best solution in a friendly way.

The hon. member brought up a very important point and that is that, by putting forward this assortment of poison pills, the toxic and corrosive cocktail that is Bill C-38, this government is simply eliminating any good little measures that we could have approved.

Ultimately, the government is simply trying to kill the opposition and to bend any form of opposition to its almighty will. This lack of insight and this disrespect for the majority of the Canadian population are completely unbelievable.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I had earlier asked the member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek about the community access program, and I know that my friend opposite is from Quebec. I am wondering about the following.

The community access program is used by so many urban people who would otherwise not have access to computers or to the Internet, particularly in rural areas where they do not have 100% connectivity. It is very important for those who are marginalized, who have little income and certainly not enough income to afford computers or Internet access. I wonder to what degree the entire removal of that program would affect the people from Quebec.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Guelph for his question. Both my son and I have used this program because there were computers available in a community centre just steps away from my house. I was able to see how this was in the interest of the people who could not afford computers or Internet services, which are still quite expensive.

Let me go back to the fact that $500 billion in RRSP exemptions are unused. That represents millions of Canadians with modest incomes. I remember very well that the community access centre was used by retirees and young people. At the time, I was a warehouse worker and my income was more limited. Without such a program, my son would have not been able to have access to the Internet, just like a number of his school friends.

The loss of this program is tragic given how little it costs. Let me repeat that the government is very mean-spirited to cut this program, which is actually working very well.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, last week we were treated to the unbelievable sight of the Leader of the Opposition demanding that Canadian taxpayers bail out failing European banks. I confess I initially gave the Leader of the Opposition the benefit of the doubt. I assumed that he had misunderstood the situation because as an honourable Canadian, clearly he could not seriously have been proposing that the ordinary working people of this country, the people the NDP members claim to represent, should, from their hard-earned tax dollars, relieve the distress of Europeans who have lived for far too long on money borrowed from the next generation. No, I could believe no such thing; it was preposterous.

However, over the weekend, my hon. friend from Markham—Unionville, in fact a former finance critic for the Liberal Party and in a past incarnation a prominent banker of a leading Canadian bank no less, called for a massive bail out. It is impossible that he does not understand economics and I know the member to be a patriot. So I wondered what malign influence could possibly have come upon him, in his disturbed slumber perhaps, and vexed his waking hours with doubt over what is clearly in the best interests of the very people who entrusted him with their vote. Alas, I am sorry to say that his confusion about who is actually responsible for European debt, that is, either European taxpayers or Canadian workers, could be traced to none other than the leader of his party, the hon. member for Toronto Centre.

Unbelievably, my hon. friend stood in this very House today and said that any Canadian transfer to the IMF “goes on our books as an asset”. Perhaps I should not say “unbelievably”, for some who have known my colleague from Toronto Centre for a long time and are all too familiar with how he looks at government finances would say that his reaction was to be expected. Indeed, it is completely believable that the former NDP Premier of Ontario would have an auto worker from Windsor, or a fisherman from my own New Brunswick riding, or a hard-working grain farmer on the Prairies stake his or her meagre assets upon the management expertise of a European bank, or the financial acumen of the people who continued to lend money to European governments long after debt loads had climbed into the red zone; and completely believable that Canadian taxpayers, in need perhaps of a medical procedure for which he or she must wait in line, should instead use his or her dollars to refinance the medical procedure enjoyed by a citizen of the eurozone some 10 or 20 years ago and paid for with borrowed funds. “Yes,” they would say, because for those who have carefully followed what the opposition members have had to say about public finances over the last 10 years, it is all very believable.

That is why those members are the opposition and should remain so. They do not understand economics 101. I am not even sure they understand the simple reality that if something cannot go on forever, it will eventually stop. We know we cannot fight debt with debt, we cannot borrow our way to prosperity and we cannot expect to run deficits forever without hitting the wall. The question is, will Europe stop before it hits this wall or will it simply crash into it?

Europe is a rich continent. It has 10 times the population of Canada. Many Canadians trace their ancestry to the countries of Europe and forever hold dear the heritage of their forefathers. Indeed, their fathers and grandfathers fought to liberate their ancestral homes from tyrannies. Therefore, we wish them well. However, Europe has lived too well for too long on borrowed money and the time has come for Europeans to deal with it. We do them no favours if we facilitate their addiction to borrowed money by sending them some of our own, for yes, we too have a debt.

Perhaps this is a good time for us all to review first principles. As former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said, the facts of life are conservative. Well here are a few facts. One, people are better able to spend their own money than the government is able to spend it for them. Two, government does not create wealth; it only consumes, by way of taxes and usually even more taxes, the wealth created by entrepreneurs, labourers and investors. Three, if society wants less of something, they tax it and, similarly, if governments want to encourage an activity like job creation, it ought to remove barriers, be those regulations that tie businesses in red tape or high taxes that drive away investment and encourage people to work less.

These are not new ideas but they are appropriate ones when the goal is to foster a nation's long-term economic prosperity and they are ideas that Europe should adopt rather than asking other nations to bail it out.

That is why our government met the recession with a package of measures to make the economy grow, our economic action plan. That is why our government has made it a priority in that plan to eliminate the deficit. That is why our government has introduced vital reforms to labour, employment insurance, immigration and to regulatory review processes. This is done to stimulate growth, to build employment and to give people hope that their tomorrows will be better than their yesterdays and to spare them the hardships of a government that does not know its place.

We have two paths ahead of us: prudence today or austerity tomorrow. I choose prudence. That is why we keep taxes low and work to spend within our means. Low taxes reward the industrious. They encourage the enterprising. They lead to higher employment and they give ordinary people more power over their own lives to dispose of their income in their own interest as they see best.

It is no accident that Canada flourishes while others do not. It is not by chance that our Prime Minister says that Canada is an island of stability in a hostile world. This is the result of good, sound economic and fiscal policy.

I note that today, June 11, is tax freedom day. This is the day Canadian taxpayers stop working to pay taxes to all levels of government and, instead ,start working for themselves and providing for their families. When our government won office this day fell on June 6 some six years ago. That is over two weeks later than it is today. This is an accomplishment we can be proud of for it has benefited millions of Canadians. I for one hope tax freedom day continues to arrive earlier and earlier and we as lawmakers push for that day to fall in April some day. That would be a tax freedom day for which we could all be proud.

Canadians have worked hard, paid their taxes and trusted their government to do the right thing by them. We respected their hard work, as they deserve. We have been good stewards of their taxes, as we should. We have delivered on that trust, as we are obliged to do. We will not repay them now by rewarding the foolhardy. We will not help the entitled in other lands to meet their exaggerated expectations.

I believe the measures in the budget will reduce Canada's overspending, which will ensure our economy remains strong and jobs continue to be created and generated here in Canada. That in turn will allow us to fulfill our election promises to provide income tax cuts for middle-class families.

This is a lesson Europe should learn. The path to prosperity and economic renewal is not the road that involves ever more debt and higher taxes. It will begin when nations live within their means and there is less debt and lower taxes. Regrettably, this would seem a lesson the leaders of the two opposition parties ought to know. No wonder they do not know how to respond to the crisis in Europe. They would have us follow them on the road to fiscal ruin here at home. To that we stand with taxpayers and we say no.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 11th, 2012 / 8:50 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Tremblay Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the sole purpose of the government is to spend money, what is our purpose? What purpose does the government serve? What is the point of adding more members of Parliament?

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, as a government, we are spending billions of dollars to make sure our country will be strong in the future. But we are spending only what we can, and we are asking taxpayers to pay only what they can. Giving money also to the Europeans because they have problems too is not a priority for us. It is up to them to find solutions.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my hon. colleague about what we have heard from the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. The minister acknowledged that her department did not conduct consultations on the changes to employment insurance that are in Bill C-38. She said that she had consulted members of Parliament from places like New Brunswick, like my hon. colleague.

I wonder if the member could confirm that the minister consulted him and that he among other Conservative MPs are really the source of these changes to employment insurance.

I wonder if my colleague feels that this will not have any negative effects on his riding, on companies like Ganong, on seasonal industries like the tourism industry in his riding and others. Is he really only representing the elite of taxpayers?