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House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Points of OrderOral Question Period

Noon

Conservative

Helena Guergis Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, during question period the Minister of International Cooperation contradicted her department's declaration regarding government to government aid to China. To assist the House in clarifying this matter, I therefore seek unanimous consent to table a document published by CIDA, entitled “Statistical Report on Official Development Assistance Fiscal Year 2003-2004”.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

Noon

The Speaker

Does the hon. member for Simcoe—Grey have the unanimous consent of the House to table this document?

Points of OrderOral Question Period

Noon

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 11 petitions.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Darrel Stinson Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from my riding of Okanagan—Shuswap. The petitioners request that Parliament pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Liberal Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present this petition on behalf of my constituents of Mississauga—Brampton South. The petition raises some concerns regarding employment insurance. It also makes some recommendations for the Government of Canada to consider on how the petitioners believe employment insurance can be improved. The petition has been signed by 69 concerned Canadians.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have two sets of petitions from Saskatchewan. The petitioners are calling on Parliament to use all possible legislative and administrative measures, including the invoking of the notwithstanding clause if necessary, to preserve the correct definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, my petition comes from Verona in Frontenac County. It is, as are many other petitions that have been received in the House recently, on the subject of the definition of marriage. The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to preserve the traditional definition of marriage as being the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I too am honoured to present a petition in the House from my riding of Cambridge and Kitchener, Brantford and surrounding ridings. The petitioners call upon Parliament to respect and uphold the current law, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 143, 148 and 155.

Question No. 143Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey Conservative North Nova, NS

With regard to any ongoing Transport Canada review of the possible privatization of the Marine Atlantic Inc. Crown corporation: ( a ) will there be a detailed audit undertaken to determine if any excess pension funds were spent and the current value of the plan; ( b ) were excess pension funds used to purchase the MV Leif Erickson; ( c ) were excess pension funds used to buy out union contracts; ( d ) were excess pension funds used to provide the active Marine Atlantic Inc. employees with a two year pension contributory holiday; ( e ) does the government plan to conform to term 32 (1) of the Terms of Union of Newfoundland with Canada and not allow any form of privatization of ferry service between North Sydney and Port aux Basques; ( f ) as to the agreement reached in 1998 between Marine Atlantic Inc. and union representatives, which grants employees a limited period of time during which they are not required to make pension plan contributions, (i) what is the government’s position on whether or not all pensioners should have received increases to their pension amounts at the same time and (ii) does the government plan to request retroactive payments from Marine Atlantic Inc. to increase the amount of the pension of some pensioners; ( g ) does the government plan to introduce specific legislation to protect Marine Atlantic Inc. pensioners/survivors and, if so, what provisions does it plan to introduce; and ( h ) does the government plan to provide legal assistance to the pensioners who were previously employed at Marine Atlantic Inc. so that all questions may be resolved to the satisfaction of all the pensioners?

Question No. 143Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Scarborough—Agincourt Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, in response to

(a), no, however, Marine Atlantic Inc. conducted a financial audit in March for assets to December 31, 2004. An actuarial valuation is being completed and will be available after June 2005 for the period up to December 31, 2004.

In response to (b), no, excess funds were not used to purchase the MV Leif Erickson. The vessel was financed by a loan from the Government of Canada to Marine Atlantic Inc.

In response to (c), no, excess pension funds were not used to buy out union contracts.

In response to (d), yes, excess pension funds were used to provide the active Marine Atlantic Inc. employees with a two year pension contributory holiday.

In response to (e), the government is not planning for the privatization of the ferry service between North Sydney and Port aux Basques.

In response to (f) (i) the government does not have a position on this matter. Matters such as these are the responsibility of the Board of Directors or the corporation.

With respect to (ii) no, the government does not plan to request retroactive payments from Marine Atlantic Inc. to increase the amount of the pension of some pensioners.

In response to (g), no, the government does not plan to introduce specific legislation to protect Marine Atlantic Inc. pensioners/survivors.

In response to (h), no, the government does not plan to provide legal assistance to the pensioners who were previously employed at Marine Atlantic Inc.

Question No. 148Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

With respect to the PG4 to PG6 positions at National Defence: ( a ) how many new positions have been created and existing positions filled since January 1, 2001; ( b ) what were the language requirements and classifications for these positions; and ( c ) what language qualifications do the people currently holding these positions have?

Question No. 148Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, with respect to PG-04 to PG-06 positions at National Defence, a total of 90 new positions were created and a total of 329 staffing actions, existing and new positions filled, were undertaken since January 1, 2001. It is important to note that the same positions may have been filled more than once during this period of time.

Of the 329 positions filled, the language requirements are as follows: 154 were English essential, and 175 were bilingual. The classification for these positions are as follows: 207 at the PG-04 level, 96 at the PG-05 level and 26 at the PG-06 level.

While 329 positions have been filled during this period of time, there are currently 208 incumbents. Of these 208 incumbents, 186, 89.4%, meet the language qualifications of their positions; 21, 10.1%, are currently taking or awaiting second language training; and 1, 5%, is excluded from having to meet the language requirements, under the provisions of the public service official languages exclusion approval order. Under this authority, when the language profile of an encumbered position is changed, a person has incumbent's rights and is not required to meet the language qualification as long as he or she remains in that position.

Question No. 155Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

What were the amounts of dividends paid, by year, by VIA Rail Canada to the government from 1995 to 2004?

Question No. 155Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Scarborough—Agincourt Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, from 1995 to 2004, VIA Rail Canada Inc. did not pay any dividends to the government. VIA Rail Canada Inc. is a subsidized crown corporation and as such is not in a position to pay any dividends.

Question No. 155Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 155Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Question No. 155Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-43, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23, 2005, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

June 10th, 2005 / 12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Earlier this morning, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance requested clarification concerning the groupings of motions in amendment at the report stage of Bill C-43.

The Chair had suggested that Motions Nos. 5 and 6 standing in the name of the hon. member for Niagara Falls would be grouped for debate, thus creating a new Group No. 2 and, as a result, moving Motions Nos. 7 and 8 into a new Group No. 3.

The Speaker has reviewed the motions to see whether Motions Nos. 5 and 6 could be included in Group No. 1, as the parliamentary secretary suggested, but he has concluded that the arrangement of three groups will stand.

To review: Group No. 1 includes Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in respect of income tax (corporate surtax); Group No. 2 includes Motions Nos. 5 and 6 in respect of the Canada emission reduction incentives agency; and Group No. 3 includes Motions Nos. 7 and 8 in respect of greenhouse gas technology investment fund.

I thank all hon. members for their contributions to the arrangement of the report stage of this bill.

We were at questions and comments. The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my Bloc colleague. We worked together on the Standing Committee on Finance, and I appreciate the excellent work he does. However, this morning, I have a few problems with the Bloc's position.

I want to recognize that the Bloc MPs are not the same as the Conservative MPs. The members of the Bloc are consistent. They always take an official position. They do not moan and complain like the Conservative members. They usually do not do that, and they are not sore losers like the Conservative members.

However, that aside, I cannot understand the Bloc's position on eliminating the tax reduction for large businesses and corporations. In my opinion, we are talking about a very minor change that will not have a major impact on the large firms but may bring in a lot of money that could be invested in projects of great importance to Canadians, such as housing, access to education and the environment. I want to know how the Bloc member can explain this unbelievable position.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Guy Côté Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to mention that I too love to work with my colleague from the NDP. While we do not always agree on various matters, we respect each others' divergent positions.

In response to my hon. colleague, I will provide relatively simple explanations.

After a corporate tax cut was announced in Bill C-43, on April 21, 2005, the Government of Quebec brought down its own budget. That government has announced a major corporate tax reform.

In light of Bill C-43, Quebec Finance Minister Audet cut the capital tax by half for the next five years and raised the tax rate slightly for large corporations. When combined, these two measures result in a tax reduction for corporations.

This corporate tax reform in Quebec is only possible, however, if the conditions on which it was predicated remain unchanged. This means that the federal government has to maintain the same course with respect to tax relief for larger corporations, so that, in turn, the Government of Quebec can move into this tax field from which the federal government has withdrawn.

That is totally in line with what we have been calling for for months and even years, that is, to correct the fiscal imbalance.

As regards federal responsibilities, the federal government taxes way too much. It does not leave any room to the governments of the provinces and Quebec. If the federal government withdraws, the Government of Quebec can then go ahead with its corporate tax reform by moving into this tax field and thus resolve at least a small part of the fiscal imbalance problem.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

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.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thought I might help the hon. member out and remind her that it was not only the Conservative Party that warned about deficit spending, something that we are very concerned about with this new deal. The Minister of Finance warned the House that deficit spending was a very real possibility when we got into, as he described it, cherry-picking or taking things away from one part or adding new spending to another part. There have been irresponsible spending announcements with no real plan to announce a budget bill. Bill C-48, with just two or three lines in it, has unleashed an unprecedented amount of unplanned and uncontrolled spending.

Why is the member so afraid of job saving tax relief? We have industries in Canada that are operating under an excessive burden. Does she not realize that the vast majority of Canadians work for a company or a corporation such as General Motors, Ford, Telus or any number of companies that have to compete in a global environment with other nations and companies. We have to give them that competitive edge. It does not matter how much they invest in other areas. If Canadians do not have jobs, if they do not have employment in secure and stable industries, it will not matter. No one will be working to pay taxes for the programs about which the member herself is concerned.

Those are a couple of things she should consider. She should always remember that the finance minister, who cut this deal with Buzz Hargrove and the leader of the NDP in a hotel room somewhere, warned about deficit spending.