Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this chance to speak to three amendments to Bill C-43 which are critical to the NDP's overall position on this better balanced budget. They certainly were part of the deliberations we had with the Liberal government.
Negotiations were undertaken for a very important reason. In this minority Parliament and at a time when so many needs of Canadians were being ignored, we felt it incumbent upon us to try to make Parliament work in the best interests of Canadians. I know the Conservatives have a hard time with that concept. I know they are suffering from NDP envy.
I know the Conservatives wish they had taken the opportunity to improve the budget when they had the chance starting on February 23. At that time the Conservative leader chose to glance at the budget. He gave it a cursory review, walked out of this chamber and told the world that he thought it was generally an acceptable budget. Obviously since then, the Conservatives have had many second thoughts and doubts. They have changed their position four times, back and forth and back and forth. And they talk about Liberals dithering. It really is hard to tell the two parties apart when it comes to uncertainty and indecisiveness.
Today we are dealing with some amendments that Canadians want, that will make life better for many Canadians. The amendments will actually make a real difference to the objectives we have in common for improving the economy, for contributing to growth and thereby ensuring that more people, ideally every person in this great nation of ours is able to contribute fully according to his or her talents.
That is something that is now denied many people because of a decade or more of regressive Liberal policies falling on the heels of a Conservative government that certainly had no interest in putting people before profits. Governments under those two parties over a long period of time have done serious damage to the fundamental principles of our country which allow for the values of Canadians to flourish so that people can contribute to their fullest and make a difference for themselves and their families.
These amendments before us today simply eliminate the corporate tax reduction proposed in Bill C-43. It is a relatively small step. It means that the corporate tax rate does not move from 21% to 19%. This is after years of corporate tax breaks, not the least of which was the most recent reduction from 28% to 21%, in the supposed interest of building this great country.
We have not seen the results that have been touted by Liberals and Conservatives in terms of those corporate tax breaks. Profits have soared. We are witnessing record level profits among large corporations in Canadian society today. We have seen over the last five or six years record level corporate tax reductions. At the same time the profits have been going up, tax breaks have been going up for the big corporations, and investment has been going down.
There has not been a payoff for Canadians as a result of that kind of giveaway to the corporate sector. Canadians have not reaped a benefit. Jobs have not been created. Speaking of jobs, is it not ludicrous for the Conservatives to question this small shift in the corporate tax break, this putting on hold a further corporate tax break, despite the fact that corporations are now getting to the tune of $9 billion a year in corporate tax breaks until 2010?
It is interesting to note that the Conservatives say this small amount of $2.3 billion a year for two years is going to cause layoffs and economic disaster. They point ludicrously to the recent announcement by the automakers and the suggestion that there will be layoffs in the near future. That is primarily coming from the United States, which the Conservatives claim has the lowest corporate tax rate, contrary to the facts, a goal to which Canadians must aspire for us to be competitive.
Do the Conservatives want it both ways? Do they have any kind of mathematical sense to their fiscal policies? Do they have any kind of intellectual analysis of what has transpired?
I hear nothing but fearmongering and scare tactics which are not based on scientific fact or sound fiscal analysis. I see Mickey Mouse mathematics, something the Conservatives have the gall to accuse New Democrats of, when in fact there has not been one sign of reason, one sensible analysis throughout this entire debate about this tiny shift in corporate tax policy.
The Conservatives are not going to do anything objective on this front. We have had to get feedback from renowned public sector analysts as well as private sector corporate heads who know the importance of what we are doing. They recognize that when we invest in education, housing and the environment we get double the impact. We will get measures that help people deal with the basics of life so they can be contributing members of society without worrying about how they are going to pay for tuition, without worrying about the air they breathe, without worrying about whether they have a roof over their head.
We have investment in a sector that produces jobs. Thousands of jobs will be created as a result of this relatively small investment in important areas of public policy.
In this budget process we worked very hard to convince the Liberal government to put on hold the corporate tax reduction and invest the money in programs that are in dire need of attention, but which were not covered at all in the Liberal budget. One is education, because students are facing a growing crisis in trying to access affordable education without being left with a huge debt load. Another is housing, because there are thousands of Canadians who are trying to put a roof over their heads and access affordable housing. The other is aboriginal Canadians who have been denied the right to decent, safe housing as well as the right to access education. These are areas that were missing in the federal budget despite the need.
We convinced the Liberals that they had to take some of this investment from another tax cut for large corporations that would not produce a lot of results and put it into areas that would actually create jobs. We convinced them to stop playing games with the surplus, at least to some extent, something the Conservatives have always wanted, by bringing forward legislation that would ensure in a transparent way that we are taking into account the anticipated surplus in a way that Parliament has a say and the public knows what is happening.
It is interesting that the Conservatives went to all the trouble of supporting our initiative to have independent budget forecasters make predictions so that we can be sure about the surplus dollars. However, when those forecasters come up with the forecast, which by the way shows on average $8 billion in additional surplus every year for the next three years, the Conservatives ignored it. They said that this little bit of movement from a corporate tax cut to investment in housing and education would suddenly cause us to go into debt and deficit. I hope the Conservatives will come to their senses and realize that what is being done is something Canadians want.
We have before us a better balanced budget that will serve Canadians well. I hope the Conservatives will stop playing games, tying up the House in knots, obstructing and filibustering and being disrespectful to witnesses and to officials of the House and to parliamentarians and start getting on with the job of serving Canadians.