House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was panama.

Topics

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to be sharing my time with the member for Brandon—Souris.

Our government understands that hard-working Canadians and seniors want an effective and sustainable retirement income system that will help them achieve their retirement goals. That is why I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to Bill C-25, an act that would implement the federal framework for pooled registered plans, or PRPPs.

PRPPs would mark a significant step forward in improving Canada's retirement income system by providing a new pension option to Canadians. Currently, 60% of Canadians do not even have access to a workplace pension plan. Most of these Canadians work for small and medium-sized businesses or are self-employed. Clearly, this represents a gap in Canada's retirement income system, a gap that PRPPs would fill.

PRPPs would allow these Canadians to access a pension plan for the very first time. In short, PRPPs would be a broad-based, low-cost, privately administered pension plan option. We may think of it this way: pooling pension savings would spread the cost of administering the pension funds over a large group of people. This would allow plan members to benefit from lower investment management costs, lower than those typically associated with the average mutual fund. Do members know what this would mean? It would mean that more Canadians would have more money left in their pockets for when they retire.

Simply put, the PRPP is the most effective and targeted way to address the gap in Canada's retirement income system. How will it do that, one might ask? PRPPs would address this gap by providing a new, accessible, straightforward and administratively low-cost retirement option for employers to offer to their employees; allowing individuals who currently may not participate in a pension plan, such as the self-employed or employees of companies that do not offer pension plans, to make use of this new option; enabling more people to benefit from lower investment management costs that result from membership in a large pooled pension plan; allowing for the portability of benefits, facilitating an easy transfer between plans; and, finally, ensuring that funds would be invested in the best interests of plan members.

Clearly, PRPPs are what Canada's retirement income system has been waiting for. This is why it is so important that the provinces follow the lead of our government and implement PRPPs as quickly as possible. Doing so would enable Canadians from coast to coast to coast to take advantage of this great new pension option.

Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. While our government is trying to implement PRPPs, the NDP would rather take the irresponsible and reckless route. It wants to double CPP. Do people know what that would do? It would result in higher CPP contribution rates for employers, employees and the self-employed. In the case of small and medium-sized business owners, it would act as a payroll tax, and that is a tax on job creators.

Members need not take my word for it. Let us hear what the Canadian Federation of Independent Business had to say. According to its research, “to double CPP benefits would kill 1.2 million person-years of employment in the short term”. Only the NDP would propose something so reckless. That is the difference between our Conservative government and the irresponsible NDP.

While our government is committed to generating economic growth and long-term prosperity, the NDP has no problem jeopardizing Canada's fragile economic recovery by imposing higher taxes on job creators. That, to me, is unbelievable.

It should be clear that doubling the CPP is the wrong decision for Canada and our economy. Unlike the NDP, our government believes that lower taxes help to generate economic growth and create jobs for Canadians.

Let us just look at the facts. Since July 2009, more than 750,000 net new jobs have been created. What is more, Forbes magazine ranks Canada as the best place for businesses to grow and create jobs. When it comes to the economy, there is no doubt why Canadians trust this government. This government gets results. That is why Canadians trust this government to keep Canada's retirement income system strong.

I will take a moment to tell the House just how much our government has done to ensure that Canada's retirement income system will continue to be the envy of the world.

Since 2006, our government has increased the age credit amount by $1,000 in 2006 and by another $1,000 in 2009. Next, we doubled the maximum amount of income eligible for the pension income credit to $2,000. Our government introduced pension income splitting, and we increased the age limit for maturing pensions and registered retirement savings plans, RRSPs, to 71 from 69 years of age.

What is more, budget 2008 introduced the tax-free savings account, which is particularly beneficial to seniors as it helps them to meet their ongoing savings needs on a tax-efficient basis. Our record also includes important improvements to several specific retirement income supports. Budget 2008 increased to $3,500 the amount that can be earned before the GIS is reduced. This means GIS recipients will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money without any reduction in GIS benefits. Budget 2008 also increased flexibility for seniors and older workers with federally regulated pension assets that are held in life income funds.

Budget 2011, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, announced new measures to improve seniors' financial security and ensure they can benefit from and contribute to the quality of life in their communities. The plan includes a new GIS top-up benefit targeted to the most vulnerable seniors. Since July 1, 2011, seniors with little or no income have been receiving additional annual benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples.

The plan also provides an additional $10 million over two years to enhance the new horizons for seniors program. This additional funding will enable more seniors to participate in social activities, pursue an active life and contribute to their community. It will also provide funding for projects that will increase awareness of elder abuse and promote volunteering, mentoring and improved social participation of seniors.

Canadians just have to look at our record to know that this Conservative government is on their side, and the proposed PRPP is just the latest example. However, members need not take my word for it. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce states:

PRPPs—with simple and straightforward rules and processes—will give many businesses the flexibility and tools they need to help their employees save for retirement.

Greg Thomas, the federal and Ontario director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, says:

Canadians will be able to save more for retirement with this new pension plan. People saving for retirement will enjoy lower costs and more flexibility throughout their working lives.

It seems clear to me and to Canadians that PRPPs are the way to go.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

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

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

We know that the tax-free savings account is one way of saving available to Canadians and that it is often the wealthiest people who can take advantage of these accounts. In general, it is rich people who can take advantage of these accounts or people who are at a point in their lives where they are transferring their pension funds into tax-free savings accounts to save on taxes and ensure that they have more money for their retirement.

I would like to ask a question about pension funds because we have spoken about them a number of times since this morning. Since when is a pension fund considered to be a withholding tax for employers? Why are we requiring workers, but not employers, to contribute to this pension fund?

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a small and medium-sized business person in my previous career path, I can tell members that my business struggled with options to provide security to our employees. We used, for example, group RRSPs in our business as one means of providing an option to our staff, our team.

To me, this plan is the perfect opportunity to provide a low-cost, flexible product or option with a greater ability of employees to get in. It will give our staff the opportunity to participate in something that they simply never had before.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member himself would no doubt acknowledge that the number of individuals who will benefit from this particular legislation is somewhat limited.

There are a large number of Canadians, and there is some value in terms of establishing this fund. It can be used as a tool to facilitate additional retirement funds for many seniors going forward. However, the vast majority of Canadians are quite concerned about the future of CPP. They are looking for the Government of Canada to sit down with the provinces and look at ways to enhance the quality of life for future retirees by making a more sincere, genuine investment in CPP.

Can the member can provide his perspective on CPP versus this particular pooled pension plan, and whether it would be worth the government's time and effort to work with the provinces to improve the CPP?

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has asked a good question that is obviously at the root of the decision process that evolved the PRPP.

First, two years ago the government met with finance ministers across the country and tried to arrive at a solution for reviewing CPP. There was no unanimity. The finance ministers unanimously agreed that PRPP would provide a new and more flexible tool that would bring more Canadians into the net of those who would like to participate in such a program.

The hon. member asked about CPP versus PRPP. Clearly, when I look at CPP and some of the comments that have been made today and in previous debates about doubling CPP, the extra cost to employees and employers and the tax costs to employers make it untenable and tremendously expensive for an employer in a small or medium-sized business or someone who is self-employed to participate, whereas the PRPP truly gives the benefit of that flexibility and a new opportunity.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and speak to Bill C-25.

I would think that all members of the House would see this as a benefit to all Canadians, particularly, as previously stated, the self-employed, small and medium-sized businesses and organizations that are probably too small to have their own plan but would like to offer another form of investment in the people they employ and an opportunity for people to grow within that company and stay with it based on the fact that they would have a plan at the end of the day that provides for their retirement.

As many are aware, our government understands the importance of a secure and dignified retirement for people who spent their entire lives building a better and more prosperous Canada and for their families themselves. This legislation would take Canada's retirement income system one step further by helping more Canadians realize their retirement goals.

A lot of work was put into developing this proposal. Canada's retirement system is strong but that does not mean it cannot be improved, that we cannot offer enhancements to pick up those individuals outside of the circle and offer them something better and an opportunity to invest for their retirement. This legislation addresses exactly that.

We all have memories of the crisis of 2008 and how it brought out concerns with regard to retirement. We all asked ourselves if our pension would be adequate, if we would be able to retire in the style we choose. I suspect upon reflection many people found they would not be able to. Things changed dramatically after 2008. If people were in the stock market or in RRSPs or in any type of investment, they took a hit. There is no question about it. The proposal we are putting forward would address that.

We did not do this blindly. We did it through co-operation and discussion with provinces and finance ministers across Canada, with people in our communities and, as the previous speaker mentioned, small business people. I was a small business person too. We always looked for opportunities to provide our employees with better security and better programs. Quite often we had to make the decision that we could not afford it.

This would address many of those issues. As I said, we did not do this blindly. We did it with a lot of consultation. We are trying to provide Canadians with an adequate standard of living upon retirement, and that is what everyone wants.

During the consultation period we found out that modest and middle income Canadians risked facing retirement with insufficient savings. Of particular concern was the declining participation in employer-sponsored RPPs. The proportion of working Canadians with such plans declined from 41% in 1991. Canadians are not taking full advantage of other retirement saving tools, like the RRSP.

I have been told that there is $600 billion in unused RRSP room. That is a clear indication that Canadians have priorities, and their families are their priorities. Sometimes we make those decisions and forget about the future. We need to always be aware of that and have that in our view.

With these findings, our government went to work on behalf of Canadians. We consulted, we met with provincial and territorial counterparts and held discussions with many businesses and we came to today's legislation.

In short, PRPPs are a new, innovative, privately administered, low cost and accessible pension option to help Canadians meet their retirement goals.

PRPPs are particularly important and significant for small and medium-sized businesses. It is quite often unaffordable for business owners to provide these types of benefits. The bill would give them that opportunity, because it would enable owners and employees alike to have access to a large-scale, low-cost private pension plan for the first time. We basically would piggyback on larger corporations. We would get a better buy-in and we would get a better return because of the pooled funds.

Professional administrators would be subject to a fiduciary standard of care to ensure that funds were invested in the best interests of the plan. That is obviously a given, but I think it needs to be said.

By pooling pension savings, PRPPs would offer Canadians greater purchasing power. Basically, we would be buying in bulk. We would be getting a bigger, better deal for less money. By achieving lower prices than would otherwise be available to Canadians, it would mean more money left in the pockets of those same Canadians when they retire.

The design of the plan would also be straightforward to allow for simple enrolment and management. People in small and medium-sized businesses, the self-employed, I suspect, and the employees themselves will like the simplified form.

Finally, they are intended to be largely harmonized from province to province, which further lowers administrative costs and makes the transferability a lot easier to deal with.

Overall, these design features would remove any of the traditional barriers that might have kept some employers from offering pension plans to their employees.

It is my belief that this would lead to a greater willingness for small and medium-sized businesses to offer PRPPs. That is crucial. It is crucial because, incredibly, more than 60% of Canadians do not have a workplace pension plan. That is a huge number. When the members opposite look at it and talk to their friends, they will see it would include a lot of the people who support them and work with them in their day-to-day lives, and it is important that we try to include them in the discussion.

With PRPPs, participation would be encouraged by automatic enrolment of employees into a PRPP where an employer offered one. The automatic enrolment would encourage regular savings by making participation the default choice of employees who do not actively make a decision to opt out.

I remember the best advice I ever received as a young person entering the workforce in a family business was from a financial advisor who told me to just take a little bit off my cheque every month as I would never miss it. Then, as I grew older and my needs changed and my income earnings changed, I could increase it. It is the best advice I have ever received and the best advice I have ever given my children or their friends.

Canada's finance ministers decided to proceed with the PRPP framework precisely because it was considered an effective and appropriate way to target the modest and middle-income individuals who may not be saving enough for retirement, particularly those who currently do not have access to an employer-sponsored pension plan. These PRPPs would strike the right balance.

I know that if the NDP members had their way they would double CPP benefits and increase payroll taxes on small and medium-sized businesses, but that is not the way this government operates. At a time when Canada's economic recovery is still fragile, imposing a job-killing tax on the creators of those very jobs would be simply irresponsible.

PRPPs would be an efficiently managed privately administered pension plan that would provide greater choice to employers and individuals and promote pension coverage and retirement saving.

Once the provinces put in place their PRPP legislation, the legislative and regulatory framework would be operational. This would allow administrators to develop and offer plans to Canadians and their employers. Working together with the provinces, I know and I am confident that we can get these important new retirement vehicles up and running for Canadians in a timely manner.

It is important to remember that PRPPs would not just stand by themselves. They would be part of a bigger picture, part of Canada's retirement income system. We must always remember that. This bill is designed to help the many who do not qualify or are unable to have a pension plan within the confines of where they work. I know the Minister of State for Finance has gone to great lengths to listen to Canadians and to hear what they asked for and what they need. I believe this bill responds to their needs in a very positive way.

I encourage all Canadians and all members of Parliament to support this legislation.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

June 7th, 2012 / 1:15 p.m.

NDP

Francine Raynault Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

Something similar was tried in Australia more than a decade ago, and the results were not encouraging. After a dozen or so years, people did not have more money. Their investments did not do better than the rate of inflation.

The members of this House know that the Canada pension plan has barely lost any ground, with barely a 1% drop in interest, while the stock market, in which the government would like Canadians to invest more of their pension and retirement savings, has declined by 11%. I would like to hear what he has to say about that.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, the fact that 60% of the Canadian working public does not have access to this type of plan is the very reason we are considering it.

We have spoken to provinces, employers and employees. This appears to be the best vehicle for them to move forward with. It would be tightly managed by professionals. I believe very firmly that this would be an ideal opportunity for employers and employees to work together on a pension for each other.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to say that we could pick any point in time to suit an argument on the returns of the stock market.

The whole point behind the PRPP is that it is over a lifetime, with the dollar cost averaging over 40 years. With a tax-free savings account, RRSPs and now this program, we would provide Canadian working families a great opportunity for their retirement future.

I wonder if the member could talk about the importance of fiscal and financial literacy for Canadians of all ages moving forward for their retirement.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is extremely important. When we are moving into a program that is new to a lot of people, the understanding of it is very important. The member for Edmonton—Leduc has put forward a bill regarding financial literacy, which is of utmost importance.

As I said earlier, as a young first-time employee, it was the experience and depth of a senior statesman who gave me the advice I needed. Trust was a big part of it, but I believe and think it is imperative that all Canadians understand what they are signing up for, what the benefits are and what the long-term benefits are for their families.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, we clearly do not have the same definition of financial security. This bill clearly indicates that the administrator administers all the plan assets, pays himself management fees, a margin, bonuses and that anything left over goes into the fund.

The plan member has no guarantee of a return. Even worse, the member cannot plan his retirement because he will have absolutely no idea of the amount accumulated. Can that be called a pension plan? It certainly cannot. Above all, there should not be closure on this bill, especially in light of the fact that Nortel could lose $7 billion that could be directed into its pension fund. And yet, the government is not doing anything. Why not?

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, like anything in this world, we can look at it as the glass being half full or half empty. We on this side look at the world as the glass being half full and wonder how to continue to add to that glass.

The bottom line is that 60% of all working Canadians do not have any form of pension plan within their area of work. The bill is designed to address that. It is based on a collection of information from the owners of businesses, employees and professionals across the world. I wish I could give every member a guarantee in life, but that is not how it works. What we have to do is give them the best opportunity.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it should come as no surprise that I disagree profoundly with my colleague from Brandon—Souris, as I disagree with his party on the policy direction they are taking. I even disagree with just about everything the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance said. I think those guys are going down the wrong road and are doing the dirty work for corporate Canada once again.

Here are the origins of the bill. Thomas d'Aquino, when he was the head of the Business Council on National Issues, and then John Manley, when he became the president of the chief executive officers, or whatever they call themselves—the Grand High Poobahs of, really, the unelected Prime Minister of Canada, which is essentially what he is--declared that what was really holding back Canadian productivity was “legacy costs”. That is a nice way of saying those dirty pensions that our predecessors got into in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. That was back when we used to negotiate fair wages for working people, back when working people and their employers would sit down and put together a sensible benefit package with a real benefit plan for their retirement years. All of a sudden, the corporate world has declared that unaffordable and it does not like having the burden of legacy costs.

We can even look at what happened in 2008 with the economic downturn. As soon as the auto industry got into trouble, what did the executives of the auto industry say? It had nothing to do with the cars they were producing or their management skills or the way that they had dropped the ball and made products that nobody wanted to buy anymore. Right away they said that the reason they were not productive was because of the legacy costs. They said that it was the pension plans that were dragging them down. They said that something needed to be done about the pension plans so they trooped down here to their friends, the guys who they bought and paid for and put into power, and complained to them that they had to do something about these pensions.

Mr. Speaker, I forgot to say that I will be splitting my time with the member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant.

The Conservatives put it in fine print so the world can see. They put in place this disingenuous bill with a title that actually uses the words “registered pension plan” in the title. This is another example of the creative writing class that takes place somewhere down in the bowels of the Conservative Party's black operations department. They develop these names that have nothing to do with the bill. In fact, they are 180 degrees opposite to the true intent.

There is nothing about this that is a pension plan. It does not bear any resemblance to a pension plan. It is a savings scheme that, frankly, is no different from what ordinary workers could do today if they were lucky enough to make enough to set money aside in an RRSP. They could put a little more money aside in an RRSP and have the same net effect as this, except that they would be gouged even further by the financial sector that also stands in the wings waiting to benefit from this huge shift of money that should normally be going into a pension vehicle such as a proper registered retirement pension plan or, the best retirement vehicle that we have, the Canada pension plan.

And you wonder, Mr. Speaker, why I have strongly held views on this issue?

I represent the riding of Winnipeg Centre and that, frankly, has been the home of two of the greatest champions of social justice that our country has ever known. In 1919, the Government of Canada wanted to send J.S. Woodsworth to prison for his role as a leader of the 1919 general strike. The good people of Winnipeg Centre sent him to Parliament instead where he became the founder and first leader of the CCF. He served there until 1942 when he died. Then the good people of Winnipeg Centre elected the person who came to be known as the father of the Canada pension plan, Stanley Knowles.

J.S. Woodsworth, while he was here, managed to wrestle old age security out of the Liberal government of the day. William Lyon Mackenzie King had a minority government. J.S. Woodsworth had two members, A.A. Heaps and J.S. Woodsworth were called the Ginger group. They were the Independent Labour Party, predating the CCF. They went to Mackenzie King and told him that they would support his government and prop it up if he would introduce old age security.

We have a letter on file at the NDP headquarters today that is signed by William Lyon Mackenzie King agreeing to that. It took him seven years to do it. It was 1926 by the time he actually fulfilled that promise. However, William Lyon Mackenzie King yielded to the pressure of the ginger group. The member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre managed to negotiate some semblance of pension.

When Stanley Knowles was elected, he not only brought in the Canada pension plan, the second initiative was the indexing of the Canada pension plan. Now, at a 1% operating cost, the Canada pension plan with a small amount of contribution yields a guaranteed benefit to Canadians in the neighbourhood of $900 or $1,000 a month. That is a good return. That is in the best interests of Canadians.

I am worried that as the government puts in phony bills like this and phony diversions like this, it will siphon off attention to, contributions in and participation in vehicles that work, like the Canada pension plan. It is as if it is throttling down the emphasis on the Canada pension plan.

We, when we form government in 2015, intend to undertake a comprehensive overhaul of the Canada pension plan, which will be meaningful support in old age security for Canadians. It has been charted out and it is part of our platform. It will be the most effective investment vehicle ever. Even if the Canadian pension plan as we know it were doubled, as being proposed by the NDP, the total old age security coming from that would still be less than social security in the United States. Social security in the United States has a maximum benefit of about $30,000 a year. If we take the CPP as it is today, even adding on the old age security of under $7,000 a year, that still only comes up to about $19,000 a year. We are well behind other countries, even the United States, in our social security benefits for seniors.

It frustrates me how disingenuous the Conservatives are when they introduce a bill that purports to be a pension plan for ordinary Canadians. I just heard the member for Don Valley West saying that his employees could never have a pension plan if it were not for this. He said that he had worked for years and all his employees never had any benefits. Maybe if he had given them a raise in pay they would have been able to buy some old age security. Why did the member not put a pension plan in his company? That is what we used to do in the old days, we had corporate social responsibility. We had capitalists with a social conscience. That seems to be gone.

Capital has no conscience. If it were not for the NDP here to impose some conscience into that party, it would just be following loyally and faithfully behind the Business Council on National Issues, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and all the other dummy outfits that undermine the basic needs of Canadians for their own selfish self-interest.

We can look at the handout this is to the financial sector. We can look at the dough they will make by managing all this dough again. It is appalling, frankly, how they gouge, and the percentages they take for moving money around. The best bargain is the Canada pension plan with an operating cost of less than 1%.

This bill diminishes and undermines the systems that work and would put in place a system that will not be effective and will be no better than issuing a piggy bank. The Conservatives might as well give every Canadian a piggy bank and say, “I know you have not had a raise for seven or eight years but here is a piggy bank. Put more money into it and you will have more money to spend when you retire.”

That is not creative. There are no financial geniuses over there. That is like pulling a sedated rabbit out of a tattered old top hat and trying to convince people it is magic. It is not magic.

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, one does not know where to begin except to correct my hon. friend across the way.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance is the female member from Saint Boniface, an MP we are all very proud of.

I would also remind the member of that great saying, “Socialism works until you run out of other people’s money to spend”. Many countries in Europe are finding out that other people simply do not have any money.

Given the member's evident disdain for corporations and the corporate world, when will the member be making the recommendation to all of his union friends and the unions he knows and purports to represent that they should divest all of their pension funds from the nasty corporations, especially the energy and financial corporations?

Will the member have the courage to recommend that kind of divesture?

Third Reading
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the years that I have spent negotiating on behalf of ordinary working people as a trade unionist. We believe that fair wages and benefits benefit the whole community.

I was in the United States recently and saw a bumper sticker that read, “At the least the war on the middle class is going well”. That is about the size of it. There is a war on the middle-class. For some reason, the government is trying to lower our expectations so we will accept globalization unquestioningly, that we have to expect less and that there is no way we can afford a living wage, fair wages or to live as well as our parents did.

On this side of the House, we have dedicated our lives to elevating the standard of wages and working conditions for working people. That side of the House seems determined to undermine and diminish the wages and standard of living of Canadians. Why would anyone elect a government that would cut his or her wages? We had this debate yesterday on the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act. It seems it is one thing after another. It is this war on labour on the left.

In whose interest is it to undermine the retirement and social security of Canadians by pieces of paper like this that are not worthy of the consideration of the chamber? Legacy costs are not the answer.