Let us get the difficult job of balancing the budget done before we give any tax relief. That was the commitment we made. We said we would have tough and difficult times and we are going to have to reduce expenditures. But while we reduce expenditures, which means we will be spending less on Canadians, we did not promise any Canadian they would get tax relief. We thought that was unfair. We did say that there was light at the end of the tunnel. Let us get the job done. If and when the job is done, then we will promise to phase out the GST at that time.
Colleagues from the other side went across the country saying "We will get rid of the GST if you vote for us". Well, Canadians may have voted for them, but Canadians are still waiting. Unfortunately, the bad news is that Canadians are going to have to wait a long time before this government delivers on that promise.
Our credit is going down the drain. Moody's has downgraded our rating. Where is it going to end? We are now paying higher interest rates because our credit has gone down. That means that business has to pay higher interest rates. It means that the government has to pay higher interest rates, and that means that the Canadian taxpayer will have to pay more taxes.
This government cannot manage the affairs of the state. Moody's has downgraded our credit rating and that will have ramifications for years to come. How will we be able to regain our AAA credit rating? How will we be able to stand up as one of the great nations of the world?
Canada has a fabulous bounty of natural resources. We have hydrocarbons, we have prairie wheat fields, we have hydroelectricity, we have forests, we have minerals. It is all gone, because we went to the bank and put it up as collateral to borrow money to buy more votes. Here we are today in one of the greatest countries of the world. We have natural resources in excess. We have opportunities. We are the light for people around the world who can only dream of a country like Canada. There are opportunities for anyone who wants to come to this country and work hard and prosper. That was the great Canadian dream. People could come here with freedom, with hope and with opportunity. And they came by the millions. They populated this country and they built this country, only to see what they had built come down around their ears by the mountain of debt that has been foisted upon them by governments that care less about Canadians than their own self-interests.
The tax system in this 200-page bill has many pages that are incomprehensible to many people. Let me speak to a few of them.
In some ways, while the government has said that it does not want to increase taxation, it is casting the net wider so that it can catch more taxpayers. Even though tax rates are not going up, the government is doing its darnedest to ensure that more people pay taxes. That is the essence of Bill C-70.
The government talks about cleaning up the provisions for debt forgiveness. Debt forgiveness is a situation where a business or an individual runs into serious financial problems. Let us say that someone owns an apartment building and that the value of the building goes down because there are no tenants. The rents cannot meet the mortgage payment and the mortgage company forecloses. He has lost his investment. But the Minister of Finance wants his pound of flesh. That person has suffered a major setback. It could apply to someone who has a rental property of a house, or it could apply to someone who has a business-somebody who has, for one reason or another, had a reversal of his financial fortunes and has had to go to the lender to ask for a forgiveness of the debt because he can no longer afford to pay. And the tax man says "Before you do that, remember that you owe me".
He owes the tax man in a situation where his financial fortunes are going down rather than up. I always thought this was an income tax. I guess not, because the Minister of Finance feels that it is his duty to stick his hand into the pocket of even the businessman whose business has failed.
What about some of the other situations, such as taxation of income from foreign affiliates? I know that there have been situations where business has been found to try to minimize their taxation. However, here we have again an expanding of the circumstances into which income from property-which is a passive income, as opposed to active or business income-of foreign affiliates is not taxable in Canada.
We are trying to cast further and further afield. Now we are casting abroad to ensure that a nickel earned anywhere in this world, not just Canada, does not escape the Minister of Finance and his bureaucrats' fingers, which seem to go all the way around the world to get that last dime of income tax to pay for the debts and the interest and so on, which is killing this country.
Then we have the financial institutions and the securities dealers. We are now going to change the rules for them too and again we are going to cast the net a little bit wider to bring them into the taxation end as well.
We have always believed that a dollar earned is a dollar taxable. We do not disagree with that basic philosophy. But now we are finding that a dollar unearned is a dollar taxable. Those people who deal with investments on a trading basis are now going to have to pay income tax on the income on the basis that the shares had already been sold. But they still have them; they have not sold them. Now they are going to have to pay income tax as if they had sold them.
Here we have a situation where an investment person who is managing his money and has it invested and is a trader in securities is fully invested, is doing well and his shares are going up and he has not sold any because he feels they are good and adequate investments. Now he finds that come April 30 he has a big tax bill, even though he has not received one cent, because the Minister of Finance wants to cast that net wider to catch every nickel he can lay his hands on because he is desperate for cash. While he is desperate for cash, he feels perfectly at liberty to dip his hands into the pockets of anybody he can find. Never mind about their cash flow problems; he does not seem to have any concern about their cash flow problems.
Here is someone who is going to have a tax liability and a debt to be paid, plus interest if he does not have the cash, because the shares he is holding and continues to hold have gone up in value. He has not sold them. He does not have any money. He has not realized any gains, and yet he has a tax burden. Do you not think that is stretching it a bit too far? I do.
How are we going to encourage investment if every time somebody makes a dollar, even before they get the dollar the tax man has his hand in his pocket saying "You owe me. You have to pay it now. I am going to charge you interest and penalties unless I get it now."