Mr. Speaker, I thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance for sharing his time with me and congratulate him on his new role. I know he will do a fantastic job in that office.
I welcome the opportunity to speak to the motion of the hon. member for Markham—Unionville.
At the outset, it is important to acknowledge my colleague's recognition of our government's efforts to lessen the tax burden on Canadian families, individuals and businesses. His motion correctly highlights that we have significantly reduced both personal and corporate taxes, as well as the national debt, in order to increase the competitiveness of Canada's economy.
Clearly, as an economist by training, he has a fine eye for effective economic policy. We appreciate his support and trust that there may well be others across the aisle who share his views but are somewhat resistant to be overly positive.
Accordingly I will take a little time today to reiterate what we have done so far on both tax and on the debt side of the ledger, with the hope that others might find the courage exhibited by my friend opposite to speak positively and publicly about the government's accomplishments.
It would appear, given the second portion of the motion, that the member for Markham—Unionville may be unaware of the positive work we have done with respect to investing in infrastructure, post-secondary education and so on. Therefore, I also will take some time to address what we have done in these areas.
With respect to reducing taxes, our credentials are solid and have been from the moment we assumed office. We have provided more than $41 billion over three years in tax relief for individuals and businesses. As the Minister of Finance has noted often, there is more still to come.
We will build on the efforts and continue to create a tax advantage for Canada, which will fuel economic growth, investment and the creation of wealth. It started less than 18 months ago, in May 2006, with the 2006 federal budget. For those who have not read it, I have it here with me.
The document proposed 29 personal and business tax relief measures that provided more than $20 billion of personal tax relief alone. That sum, which represents more than the four previous federal budgets combined, helps me to better understand the praise of my friend of whom I referred to earlier. Clearly, he probably wishes that the previous government had taken similar action on behalf of Canadian taxpayers.
For example, he no doubt recognizes the wisdom of providing tax relief for each and every working Canadian through the introduction of the Canadian employment credit. I say this with all sincerity, who can argue with providing a tax credit to recognize the cost of work related expenditures such as home computers, uniforms and supplies?
Similarly, who among us would oppose the creation of the children's fitness tax credit as a means to encourage healthy, active kids by helping to cover the eligible fees up to $500 for enrolment in physical activity programs? Who would oppose the new textbook credit for students to help offset the cost of textbooks? Who would oppose increasing the basic personal amount that an individual can earn every year before paying federal income tax? Who would oppose a 1% point reduction in the GST that benefits all Canadians, including those who do not earn enough to pay personal income tax?
Who, one may ask? That would be the members of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. That would be the same party that opposed the government's fair tax credit plan, a plan proposed with significant measures to help Canadian seniors. As hard as it is to believe, the Liberals opposed tax fairness. In doing so, that means they are opposing helping Canadian seniors plan for a better retirement through an increase in the age credit amount and the historic action of permitting income splitting for Canadian pensioners. Frankly, it is very hard to fathom.
It should therefore not be so hard to believe that the same group of folks has not supported the long term plan to build a strong economy for Canadians, “Advantage Canada”, by creating key advantages, including a tax advantage that would set Canada apart from our competitors around the world.
Maybe it is a little hard to believe that Liberal members are opposed to creating a tax advantage for Canada to help us attract and maintain the workers and the capital investment that Canada requires to succeed and prosper in the 21st century.
Maybe it is a little hard to believe that Liberal members oppose a tax advantage that is fiscally responsible and that will build a stronger Canada and help to improve the quality of life for all Canadians.
It is also hard to believe, at least for those of us on this side of the House, that responsible people could oppose the creation of other key advantages envisioned under “Advantage Canada”, a fiscal advantage, an entrepreneurial advantage, a knowledge advantage and an infrastructure advantage.
How else are we to explain that at the first opportunity they had to show their support toward creating comprehensive advantages for Canada, the vote on Bill C-52 in the last session, Liberals said nay.
Those members said nay to the creation of the tax back guarantee, through which all interest savings from the reduction of national debt would be returned to taxpayers in the form of income tax redemptions.
Liberals said nay to the working families tax plan and the creation of a $2,000 child tax credit that would provide up to $310 per child of tax relief to more than three million Canadian families starting this year.
Liberals said nay to increasing spousal and other deductions in order to provide up to $209 in tax relief starting this year for a supporting spouse or a single taxpayer who was supporting a child or relative.
Liberals said nay to reducing the general corporate tax rate by 0.5% effective January 1, 2011.
Liberals said nay to establishing a federal foreign convention and tourism incentive program.
Liberals said nay to the introduction of the green levy on inefficient fuel vehicles.
Liberals said nay to predictable long term funding to the Canada social transfer to support post-secondary education, social assistance and social services.
I could go on, but I trust the general idea that I am trying to put forward here is very clear to everybody in the House.
The fact is the opposition tries to make all the right sounds and hit all the right buttons about lowering taxes, increasing productivity, investing in infrastructure and R and D, but when it comes to actually doing something about it and following through and doing the right thing, those members abdicate. It hardly inspires confidence in Canadians that they will actually do the right thing when they next get a chance. Let us hope that is many years away.
However, given the wording of the motion before us today, I am willing to give the opposition the benefit of the doubt. Soon the government will introduce the 2007 budget implementation bill. Members opposite will have the opportunity to walk the walk or talk the talk. They will be able to tangibly demonstrate that they mean business by voting yea and not nay to the tax measures that will benefit Canadians and help create the Canadian tax advantage.
For example, among other measures the Liberals can say yea to is the introduction of the working income tax benefit to help people who are out of work get back to work and over the welfare wall.
Liberals could say yea to expanding the scope of the public transit credit to better encourage individuals to make a sustained commitment to public transit use.
Liberals could say yea to increasing the lifetime capital gains exemption to $750,000 to increase the rewards for investing in small business, fishing and farming.
I look forward to the pending debate on these important matters. I hope I am not wrong in giving the benefit of the doubt to my friends across the way.