I am sure generations of future socialists will look back at this moment. The NDP budget will rank right up there with changing the name from CCF to NDP or with the time the NDP had 40 seats in the House of Commons. This will be among the landmarks that socialists of future generations will celebrate: the NDP budget of 2005.
The parliamentary secretary made some interesting comments about a “configuration”. What he did not say, and what I think should be said, is whether these things are good for Canada. This is a perfect example, I believe, of where a mistake has been made.
What is taking place here is that the Liberals are trying to amend their own budget, the one that was just what Canada needed, they said, the blueprint for the last half of this decade. Then they came up with different ideas, much to the chagrin of the finance minister, I am sure. I cannot wait to see his memoirs some day, when he talks about this sorry chapter in financial planning. We look forward to that.
In any case, to accommodate this new configuration, the Liberals have made a deal with the New Democratic Party and this particular motion is one of the manifestations of this particular deal. The problem with it is that it is a bad idea. It hurts large employers in this country.
We can believe it or not, but the Liberals had it right the first time, when they wanted to assist the large employers in this country. That is one of the reasons why the Conservative Party was prepared to have it move on to the committee, because there were elements of the budget that we thought were good ideas, and certainly this was one of them.
Then the Liberals started talking to their friends in the New Democratic Party, who are of course allergic to any company making a profit. Somehow New Democrats think that is not as it should be and they are against it.
Nonetheless, at the same time that the New Democrats say they want to help workers, they cannot make the connection that when we hurt the people who employ workers that is bad for workers in this country. Putting in a competitive tax is something they do not want to see. It is part of what they cannot figure out, although I believe the government probably understands it and I believe the Minister of Finance probably has this figured out. That is why he put it in there to begin with. However, to accommodate the NDP, the Liberals were prepared to do anything. We just heard the parliamentary secretary. He said that we had to have a new configuration.
Again, the interests of Canadians and Canadian workers are then forgotten and that is too bad, because making large employers competitive and making the tax system competitive actually helps us in competition with the United States and European countries with which we go head to head to try to get a competitive advantage.
This puts us at a disadvantage. Let us figure it out. If a company wants to invest money and employ people, it will go where it has a reasonable expectation of making a profit and not having all that money taken away by the government. That is only reasonable. I do not expect anybody in the NDP to figure that out. The New Democrats figure that employers must have motives other than those of hiring people and turning a reasonable profit.
I remember when I was here in the 1980s and 1990s that every time a corporation released its financial statements showing it was making a profit, there were always long faces in the NDP. There were immediate calls to to do something about it because, they said, “Look at the money these people are making”. Basically the only thing that makes those members happy is seeing companies lose money, but they cannot make the connection that this actually hurts the employment picture.
We saw that this week with the announcement by General Motors, which I take a particular interest in because it is a major employer in the Niagara region. When General Motors has made money in the past, I have actually applauded. I think it is a good idea that General Motors or Ford Motor Corporation or Chrysler or other companies are making money. Why? Because they employ people in this country. Any tax regime that makes us more competitive also makes more sense to them for locating and staying in Canada and expanding their operations in Canada, and it is something I support.
It causes me and I am sure others quite a bit of distress when we see an announcement in the paper indicating that the company is having difficulty and has to restructure. I see that in the paper and then I hear in the House of Commons today the Liberals backing away from a fairer tax regime for these larger employers. It is too bad. It really is a shame.
I would ask them to stand on their principles. I would ask them to listen to the Minister of Finance. He had it right. He had it right on budget day. The Minister of Finance knew that tax relief for large employers in Canada was a good idea, but the Liberals have had to come up with another configuration. That is too bad, because in their efforts to stay in office and in cutting a deal with their good friends in the New Democratic Party, they have hurt workers.
That is the irony of it, because all of us in this country know it is important that employers find Canada a great place in which to do business and in which our tax regimes are competitive. If we are not competitive, those jobs will go elsewhere. It only makes sense. That is why I believe the Minister of Finance in the first place wanted to have a tax regime system similar to those of the people with whom we compete.
Again, that is not what was not done here and it is too bad. The government has made it very clear that it will do whatever is necessary to stay in office, but that is not quite the same thing as doing what is right for Canada. That is something different. What is right for Canada is not the same thing as keeping the Liberals in power, but that is the route they have chosen. They have made it very clear. They do not make any bones about it. They say, “We need to have a new configuration”.
One has to wonder where the national interest is. In my opinion, certainly, the national interest is not being served by new configurations or deals with the New Democratic Party. It is an amazing turn of circumstances.
This came about as part of a deal between the Prime Minister and the leader of the New Democratic Party. I guess it was written on a napkin in a hotel room in Toronto. Then we got the room service bill and found out it was $4.6 billion. Jeepers, talk about an expense account. Buzz Hargrove was acting as the maître d' in this, and fair enough, but again, we have to keep in mind that party and the national interests.
What has taken place here is too bad. Members of the Conservative Party, because we have to keep the national interests foremost, of course will not be supporting this.