Mr. Speaker, the motion that is before us today seeks to provide a simple amendment to Bill C-28. It would remove a clause that the Conservatives intend to use to reduce the corporate tax rate.
I have been listening to several of the interventions from some of the Conservative members in the House. It has been very interesting. The argument goes something like this: we have to become more competitive with what exists elsewhere in the world.
One of the problems we have in Canada right now is that we have built, over the past century, a very balanced economy that includes a very strong resource sector. Of course, mining and forestry have always been the backbone of the Canadian economy, but we also have, especially since the second world war, built a very strong industrial base, especially in the central and eastern parts of Canada.
Because of the increase in the Canadian dollar's value, especially in the past year, the Canadian manufacturing sector has been under a lot of stress and strain. The same thing applies in particular to the forestry sector. Whether it be in Ontario or Quebec, we have seen a lot of companies closing. We see companies like Baronet, which is a wonderful Quebec company that has been manufacturing furniture since the 1940s, simply unable to compete with the current value of the Canadian dollar.
Instead of recognizing that in a country the size and the breadth of Canada that the government has to play a role in shaping the economy and maintaining it when there are these types of ups and downs that we have been going through, what have we got from the Conservatives? They have thrown themselves headlong into a race to see how quickly they could reduce the corporate tax rate.
What is the result of that? It is quite simple. In the forestry sector, companies have not made any profit in the past year simply because the Canadian dollar is so high and exports have become that more difficult for those companies. As a result, those companies will not benefit in any way, shape or form from this purported help that the Conservatives are providing. It is the same thing in the manufacturing sector, where very few companies have actually made a profit in the last year.
Who will get the $14 billion that the Tories are putting on the table and that they keep snapping their suspenders about? The companies that have made the biggest profits and that have been throwing the economy out of kilter, precisely the oil and gas sector, especially in the west, in Alberta to name it, where the companies have made huge profits in the past year.
Several companies will get cheques back from the government for $50 million, $60 million or $70 million because of the fact that we are reducing the corporate tax rate. It will benefit those companies that have made the most profit and therefore they should be paying the most taxes.
The banks are also in for a windfall. We all had the benefit of watching our current Finance Minister go cap in hand to the banks last year and ask them to do something about reducing the fees at ATMs, the automated teller machines. What happened? They told him to take a hike. He thinks they are his boss. He does not realize that he is in charge of regulating the banks in the public interest. They told him to get lost and he did. He came back to Ottawa, reported duly to the House, and said, “Sorry, they will not move”, and that is where it stayed.
It was the same thing earlier this year when he talked to the retail sector and asked them if they really found that it was fair that a product had two prices on it, one in Canadian dollars and one in U.S. dollars, and that the Canadian price was 35% higher than the U.S. price, given the fact that generally speaking in the past year our dollars have been pretty close to par. There was no problem there either. The retail sector told him he did not understand anything about inventories and sent him packing.
What is interesting is that when we look at the oil sector, no one ever argues that the existing inventories were bought at a lower rate. The minute there is an increase in the per barrel price of oil around the world, somehow the company that is pumping the oil into the tank in our basement, if we have oil-fired hot air at home, increases the rate overnight to go along with that worldwide increase. Anyhow, the argument of the companies works sometimes and not at other times.
The amendment before us would remove the tax cuts proposed by the Conservatives in their so-called mini-budget.
It is worth noting the following for everyone watching today: the Liberal Party of Canada is supporting the Conservative Party on these cuts for companies, for big corporations, such as the oil and gas companies and the banks. This is interesting, since the economy in Quebec is destabilized because of the massive increase in the production of oil and gas, which has caused the economy in the west to overheat. Instead of trying to alleviate the negative impact of this overheating in the west, what do the Conservatives propose? They would like to issue $50 or $60 million cheques in tax refunds to the oil companies.
What does that do for the manufacturers in Quebec and Ontario? What does that do for forestry companies in Quebec and Ontario that are in the process of shutting down, putting hundreds or thousands of families out on the street without a job? The Conservatives are doing absolutely nothing because they strongly believe that it is a mistake for the government to take care of the economy. They do not think that the government, even in a country as large as Canada, has a role to play. It means nothing to the Conservatives that this manufacturing sector has been built up over 60 years a mari usque ad mare. They are prepared to destroy this sector.
It is interesting to note that the Liberals tend to preach in major cities such as Toronto and to speak in favour of food banks. We forget that it would be worthwhile asking, when speaking to the managers of food banks and those working in this sector, what was the Liberal Party of Canada doing when the Conservatives were handing over a nice gift to the big oil companies? I will tell you what the Liberals were doing. They were sitting on their hands, as they have been doing since the beginning of this parliamentary session. Why are they doing nothing? Because they believe in nothing. They do not believe, not for one second, in the people who need help in our society. They do not at all believe that the government has a role to play in a modern and diversified economy such as that of Canada. The Liberal Party of Canada has a great deal of explaining to do.
Right now, the only political party that has the courage to stand up in this House, and to tell the public that we must help the manufacturing and the forestry sectors, is the New Democratic Party. The only political party with representation from British Columbia to Nova Scotia and a real chance to form the next government is the NDP. The people of Quebec and Ontario who believe that the government must play a more active role will vote for the New Democratic Party in the next election.