House of Commons Hansard #33 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was taxes.

Topics

Alleged Behaviour of Member for Port Moody--Westwood--Port CoquitlamPoints of Order

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to issue a formal and unqualified apology to the member for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam.

On Wednesday, I stood in this House on a point of order and drew the attention of this House to images I saw on the computer screen of the member. The member has explained what those images were and I have accepted his explanation.

I recognize in hindsight that I should have approached the member and sought the explanation before I rose in the House. For that I am truly sorry.

I fully and without qualification apologize to the hon. member and his family, and to all members of the House. I join with the member in the desire to now close this matter.

Alleged Behaviour of Member for Port Moody--Westwood--Port CoquitlamPoints of Order

10:05 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The House has heard the point of order from the hon. member for London—Fanshawe and indeed the matter is now closed.

Speaker's RulingBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

With respect to Bill C-28, I would like to inform the House that there is one motion in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-28. Motion No. 1 will be debated and voted upon.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-28 be amended by deleting Clause 181.

Mr. Speaker, today, I rise to speak to the amendment that I put have forward. I want to begin by thanking my colleague from Hamilton for seconding the motion.

In fact, it is a very short amendment to Bill C-28. It asks that we delete clause 181. I say that because Bill C-28 is quite a document. It is in fact a document that is hundreds of pages long and this one particular amendment to delete clause 181 would do something extremely important. It would delete the corporate tax cuts that are in this package.

Notwithstanding the brevity of the amendment, the impacts I think would be substantive and positive.

We have seen in this country unprecedented growth. We have seen prosperity for some, but not spread out and achieved by all.

It is my belief that when we are dealing with tax policy, it is important to look at the many and not just the few. In this case, clause 181 looks at the few; in other words, those who would benefit from corporate tax cuts.

Some would say that is well and good, that it actually would be a good tax policy because it would increase investment in the country.

It sounds good, in theory. However, we have to strike a balance in this country. When we have Canadians sitting around their kitchen tables, as we speak, looking at how they are going to make ends meet, they would not see the same benefits in Bill C-28 that are proposed for corporations. They would see less benefits, if we were to do a cost benefit analysis.

In fact, in the last number of years, we have seen a widening prosperity gap, and our party has been very clear on this issue. In fact, the affordability of things is increasing for many Canadians, such as health care, which I know, Mr. Speaker, has been a concern of yours in the past and remains a concern of yours.

In 1980, 80% of our health care system was publicly financed. We are at the level now where 70% of our health care system is publicly financed which means that 30% is financed through the private sector.

I say that because many Canadians cannot afford the drugs they need. Many Canadians are on waiting lists and are having to seek other forms of help in terms of getting health care when they need it.

There is nothing in this package that would help them. There is no affordable drug plan in this package. There is nothing that would help everyday Canadians who need affordable education. There is nothing in this package that would deal with the housing crisis. There is nothing in this package that would give hope to people who need help right now.

This amendment would eliminate the corporate tax giveaway. In fact, David Lewis once famously said it is corporate welfare.

I see it as corporate welfare because the party in power right now never ever campaigned on this corporate tax cut. Members will remember the Conservatives famously ran on five things. I can guarantee that corporate tax cuts was not in those five issues. They talked about the GST, certainly, but they did not talk about corporate tax cuts.

So, this is about holding the government to account. It is about equity. It is about the importance of investing to make our country more productive. In fact, a representative who spoke to committee on another bill recently said:

Investors will keep investing in Canada. Why? Because we have an educated, efficient workforce. We're marvellously endowed in resources. We have a good, though perhaps somewhat neglected, infrastructure.

He went on to say that corporate cuts are not what brings an educated and efficient workforce, it is not what protects our environment and natural resources, and it does not rebuild and strengthen our neglected infrastructure.

The point that we are endowed with resources and have a good, though perhaps somewhat neglected, infrastructure is key because when we look at the way these corporate tax cuts will be handed over, it is basically like throwing money into the wind and hoping it lands in the right place.

By the way, the person who I am quoting was actually a representative from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. From my perspective certainly not someone who the government would usually ignore. However, in doing this act, in providing these kinds of corporate tax cuts, in fact it is.

I want to take a moment to speak to the opposition parties, both the Bloc Québécois and the Liberal Party. Recently, the leader of the Liberal Party spoke to his party's vision on economics and fair taxes. He said that the previous Liberal government reduced the federal corporate tax rate to 19% from 28% and that the Conservatives will reduce it to 18.5% by 2011. He said that he would go deeper than that and then went on to tell us why.

I would plead with the Liberal Party to take a look at where our corporate taxes are. The fact is that it gave the green light to this government with this speech in saying that it should go further. Indeed, it did.

Many have said that once the Conservatives heard that the Liberals were going to go deeper in corporate tax cuts, they raced to 15% when they were going to stay at 17%. I hope the Liberal Party takes a look at who benefits from these corporate tax cuts, particularly in the way they are ascribed.

I do not believe that at this point in our economy, when students have record debt, when we have an infrastructure deficit of $123 billion, and when people cannot afford the medicines they need, that we need to give corporations welfare.

This is a very simple, sanguine, smart amendment to a policy that is wrong. Further corporate tax cuts were never debated during the election. I have quoted spokespersons from the Chamber of Commerce who have said that the key thing to invest in is infrastructure.

There is absolutely no guarantee, when corporate tax cuts and gifts are handed over to corporations, that they will invest. We hope they would, but where is the guarantee? Indeed, where is the accountability?

It is interesting to note that we see on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen today that the government was able to forgive huge tax bills for a select few Canadians, 35 of them, that had been burned during the boom and bust of the high tech industry. It is sad for those people and I guess terrific for those few who are going to benefit, but where is the tax fairness for other Canadians?

Where is the fairness in this bill? This amendment would actually balance things off. It says now is not the time for deeper tax cuts for corporations. Now is the time for key strategic investments in people. That is what has been missing from the government. Where is the human face in its economic plan?

It throws out the idea that there is a GST cut. When we compare that to the deep cuts in corporate taxes and the minuscule crumbs that are being handed over to everyday people, there is a balance problem.

When we take a look at certain people being rewarded because of successfully lobbying the government for investments they made and were burned on in the case of JDS Uniphase, we have to wonder who the government is listening to.

The government is not listening to seniors. Recently, my colleague from Hamilton pointed out that seniors have been burned. Their pensions were not properly indexed. Is the government helping them out? No.

In summary, I hope that my friends from the Liberal Party will support this measure, will not stay with this corporate tax cut craze, and that my friends from the Bloc will support this amendment.

Indeed, I urge the government to look at this as a progressive thing that will help people and their communities. It will allow us to invest in people, our communities, our infrastructure, and cut off the corporate welfare that seems to exist today.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

December 7th, 2007 / 10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I cannot help but think back to an argument which I have made frequently since my days on the finance committee and a statement which I hear so often from the NDP members, one that I think I need to challenge. That is, when they use the phrase “tax cuts”, are they talking about the reduction of the tax rates or are they talking about the amount of money in absolute value that is collected?

In economics there is a thing called the Laffer curve, which I have read about, named after the Professor Laffer who discovered it. That is, there is a relationship, and I wish we could use graphs and props here, such that if one's tax rate is zero, one's income will be zero. If one's tax rate is 100%, one's income will be zero, because everybody is either going to do nothing or go to some other country to do it. Somewhere in between, there is a place where one can maximize the income.

In regard to a reduction of corporate taxes, the fact of the matter is, and I am convinced of it, that if we reduce the rate of taxation, if we add in all of the economic activity that it generates, the total amount of revenue gained by the government actually increases at a certain stage. The question is, of course, where is that particular point?

I believe that our tax rates in Canada are eminently fair for the most part, but in the case of tax cuts, when we talk about reducing the rates for businesses in this country, I think that we actually gain at the present level. In regard to reducing them from 21% to 19% to 17%, in that range a reduction of tax rates actually increases the total amount of revenue, which would of course give the government more money to spend on government programs and social programs, which I think the NDP and I would agree with. They are necessary things to do.

I would like the member's comment on what I have just said.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know of the Laffer curve, but we also have to keep in mind, and I think the member said it, that he believes the tax rate right now is more or less fair. I agree with that. Now is not the time for a further decrease. I call it a cut and the member may call it an adjustment, but at the end of the day there is less money required for corporations to pay in terms of the rate, the percentage.

I understand what the member is saying about the work that has been done on the Laffer curve. It is the idea that perhaps by reducing the amount of tax required, we actually will increase more investment, and therefore there will be more money in the coffers. I fully understand that.

There is also the law of diminishing returns. That is, if we lower the rate and money is not reinvested, if we do not attract more investment, we potentially will have less money in revenues as well. In other words, if we do not see reinvestment and if we do not attract more investment, then we will have less money in the treasury to redistribute or invest. I do not think there has been enough work done on this and certainly there has not been enough debate to suggest that we should go ahead with it at this point.

In fact, I remember what TD economist Don Drummond said back in 2005 when we got the then Liberal government to change the budget's $4.5 billion in corporate tax cuts. He said those corporate tax cuts would not go into reinvestment but in fact into excess profit. Now, the Laffer curve would deal with that as well and would say that if the money is going to go into excess profits then we should not make these kinds of reductions or what I call tax cuts.

I think it is a valid point. That is why I think this should be debated. That is why I think the clause should be deleted until we have the evidence and proof, which we have not had. All we have seen is a widening prosperity gap.

As I have mentioned, the investments we need to make right now are investments in people, in things such as an affordable drug plan and affordable education and, for goodness' sake, reinvesting in the infrastructure of the country before we hand over tax cuts in the way that is being proposed in the bill.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, in the 2007 economic statement, the government announced broad-based tax relief that will help provide Canada with a tax system that rewards Canadians for realizing their full potential, encourages investment in Canada, fuels growth in the economy, creates more and better jobs, and improves standards of living.

Our bold, broad-based business tax reductions are a key part of this plan and will give Canada the most competitive business tax regime in the G-7. Internationally competitive business taxes are crucial to attracting investment to Canada, and many other countries are recognizing the value of lower tax rates.

A lower tax rate on business income encourages investment and entrepreneurship by both domestic and foreign firms. This investment in new capital increases productivity and economic growth, creates jobs, increases incomes and raises living standards.

Even the Liberal leader has admitted that our Conservative government is right for cutting corporate taxes, stating:

A low corporate tax rate is not a right wing policy or a left wing policy. It is a sound policy.

It is especially important during these times of economic uncertainty to reinforce the Canadian business environment. Adapting to changes in the global economy and dealing with the weakness of the U.S. economy are significant challenges for Canadian business.

The strong fiscal position of the Government of Canada provides an opportunity to put in place broad-based tax reductions that few other countries can afford. At this time of economic uncertainty, we are putting in place tax measures that bolster confidence, encourage investment and support job creation.

In the 2007 economic statement, we introduced a bold new tax reduction initiative that will lower federal corporate income tax rates to 15% by 2012. With this initiative, the federal corporate income tax rate in 2012 will be a remarkable 14 percentage points lower than its level in 2000. These broad-based tax reductions build on the measures announced in the 2006 and the 2007 budgets to strengthen Canada's tax advantage.

As a result of these tax reductions, businesses in Canada will meet the Advantage Canada goal of achieving the lowest tax rate on new business investment in the G-7 by 2011. Further, by 2012 we will have the lowest statutory corporate income tax rate in the G-7.

The tax reduction actions our government took in the 2007 economic statement are sustainable and durable. They make Canada a country of choice for investment, not just today but in the years to come. This will provide Canadians with more and better jobs and a higher standard of living.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's statement on this amendment. I am curious about what the minister said in regard to what attracts corporations to invest in this country.

I would say that right now corporations are attracted to investing in this country for our great resource base, one that is accelerating in value. Around the world, resources are at a premium. Many corporations are investing in energy in this country, once again because the energy is here.

Let us talk about the manufacturing sector. One of the largest incentives for manufacturing investment in Canada is our public health care system, which gives us a tremendous advantage over the United States and its private insurance system for employees of large companies.

What we see in Canada is that we have incentives for corporations that are built into, first, what we sell, our raw resources, which are in high demand, and, second, the services we provide to corporations. How are these tax cuts going to improve that situation? How are they going to make that any better?

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the recent budgets addressed not only a reduction of corporate tax rates but a whole lot of other issues, such as infrastructure, transfers to the provinces, health care and all these other requirements of our society. The budgets of 2006 and 2007 and the update do not address only corporate tax cuts.

Yes, when investors decide to invest in Canada, they take into consideration a lot of those factors: our well-educated population, our health care, our infrastructure, our energy resources, et cetera. However, they also look at the tax rates. It is in our interest to reduce the tax rates for corporations to as low as possible to encourage investment, because it is corporations that provide most of the jobs. Other than the public services such as government, schools or hospitals, the rest of the economy is a corporate economy, which requires tax rates that are as low as possible.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, recently the Conservative government announced a bold new infrastructure program that is a $33 billion investment in infrastructure projects across Canada. This is following the disastrous infrastructure deficit that the Liberals left us over the last 13 years.

I have a question for the minister. What exactly does this $33 billion investment mean to municipalities, to seaports and to Canadians as a whole?

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, through the building Canada plan, our government is making the largest investment in infrastructure in modern history, with $33 billion over the next seven years. This is new money to build roads and improve public transit, to rehabilitate bridges and water systems, and to upgrade our international gateways, ports and airports.

We believe that we are going to be able to leverage this $33 billion into $100 billion through cooperation with the provinces and with private investment. I think that as our plan is implemented over the next seven years, members are going to find substantial improvements in infrastructure that had been allowed to lie and decay in the last 13 years of the Liberal regime.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I speak today to Bill C-28, the budget implementation bill.

First, good governments make good, long term choices. They do not focus their policies on short term polls or on next week's polls. In fact, they focus on the challenges and opportunities in the coming century, which is why the Conservative government has made such a remarkable mistake in moving forward and cutting a consumption tax, the GST.

Cutting 1% on the GST represents a $6.5 billion loss to the federal treasury per year, and 2%, of course, is $13 billion per year, which is a lot of fiscal capacity that could have been used to invest in the priorities of Canadians, to invest in the social infrastructure of Canadians and to address the infrastructure deficit that is so critical in Canada today. It is also a lot of money that could have been used to reduce personal income taxes and help Canadians keep more of their hard-earned money, to reduce business taxes, to build a more competitive corporate tax environment and, ultimately, to build a richer, fairer and greener Canada.

Except for perhaps the Prime Minister, I do not think there is an economist in Canada who believes that cutting the GST is a good idea. In fact, if economists were a licensed body, the Prime Minister would probably lose his licence over the decision to cut the GST because it is such a bad economic policy.

Just 1% of the GST, that $6.5 billion per year, in terms of needed infrastructure, would mean approximately $20 million in every federal riding in Canada. Let us consider what that could mean in terms of green infrastructure, water and sewage treatment and recreational infrastructure across Canada, whether we are talking about arenas, pools or libraries, a great infrastructure deficit is going on.

When we look at it, there were two waves of federal government investment in infrastructure. One was the memorial infrastructure with memorial community centres across Canada, built, I believe, after the second world war. Further to that, there were the centennial projects after the great year of 1967, which was the year I was born. My mother was at Expo 67. I was there but I had not been born yet.

Beyond that, the fact that the government has made no investment in those kinds of infrastructure in a significant way ignores the facts. The facts are that Canadians need to live in healthy communities with up to date water and sewage treatment. They need investments in public transit, in green transit infrastructure. We recognize now the imperative of green investment in infrastructure. Canadians also need to live healthier lives and they cannot do that if they do not have recreational infrastructure for their children.

I will give some examples from my own riding of the kinds of infrastructure I am speaking of. The East Hants Sportsplex in Lantz, Hants county, which was built decades ago, has served the community well during its time. However, Lantz and Elmsdale, that whole area of East Hants, has doubled in population over the last 10 years. Its recreational infrastructures are strained and require significant investment.

When our government was in power, the Liberal government, those were the kinds of investment we made. In my riding, we invested in indoor soccer facilities, libraries, pools and community infrastructure, which can make a difference. Those kinds of infrastructures can make the lives of families better and can ensure we have healthier Canadians. In the long term, it would reduce the cost to the taxpayer by reducing the costs to the health care system over the long term.

We invested in transportation infrastructure, whether we are talking about the twinning of Highway 101 in my riding to the Annapolis Valley or we are talking about investments being made in conjunction with the provincial government at the time.

We invested in infrastructure on a community basis because we were part of a government that recognized the important role that municipal leaders have in building their communities. The fact is that municipal leaders have limited capacity to raise money. They have property taxes, which is a very blunt instrument.

The government of Jean Chrétien and the government of Paul Martin were the first Governments of Canada to recognize--

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Order, please. The hon. member knows that the immediately former prime minister is still a member of this House and, therefore, should be referred to as the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

I regret the error, Mr. Speaker. The member for LaSalle—Émard's government was, for the first time in the history of Canada, a federal government that recognized the important role that municipal leaders have and the important need for them to have the kind of funding to address those needs.

I want to speak to the whole issue of the Atlantic accord because a large part of this legislation supposedly deals with the Atlantic accord. When we had a briefing session on this, a public servant told me that this new amendment would ensure that the budget respects the Atlantic accord. I read those same words in the budget just a few months ago.

However, if the original budget respected the Atlantic accord, why did the premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, principled members of parliament from Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, have to fight the federal Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister over the last several months to actually get a new amendment that would respect the accord?

If the original budget respected the accord, why did the federal government commit months of work in the Department of Finance to finding a new way to respect the accord? It is not credible. In fact, if we could not trust the Conservatives in the budget when they said that the budget respected the Atlantic accord, why should we trust them now when they say that this document respects the Atlantic accord?

It was only a few years ago when the Prime Minister referred to Atlantic Canada as “having a culture of defeat”. The only culture of defeat that will exist in the next federal election will be in Conservative campaign headquarters across Atlantic Canada, because Atlantic Canadians do not like being misled.

Atlantic Canadians know that if they cannot trust a government to honour a written accord, they cannot trust a prime minister on his verbal commitments. Atlantic Canadians want a fair deal to ensure that we have the opportunity as Atlantic Canadians to build our economy, to diversify our economy and to move forward.

Furthermore, the province of Nova Scotia's own figures show that Nova Scotia will lose $42 million next year and $306 million over the next four years as a result of the government's ripping up the Atlantic accord.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the hon. member for Mississauga—Brampton South.

The government, on a wide range of issues, from failing to honour the Atlantic accord, to a misguided tax policy that will actually build a less competitive, less fair and a less green Canadian economy, is moving in multiple directions and in a way that Canadians do not share in terms of values or of sound economic policy.

Furthermore, the manufacturing sector, the forestry sector and agriculture are facing multiple crises in key sectors across our economy. The government has done nothing to address competitiveness and has done nothing to address the manufacturing sector crisis. For instance, the accelerated capital cost allowance should be offered on a permanent basis to Canadian manufacturers to allow them the time they need to invest in productivity enhancement.

The forestry sector is key to our economy. The government is doing nothing to invest--

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Order, please. I am sorry but the hon. member's time has expired. I would remind members that we are into 10 minute speeches and 10 minute speeches do not get split into 5 minute speeches, especially after you have spoken for 9 minutes.

The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the member's comments on the amendment that I put forward but I did not quite grasp where his party was or where he was on the amendment, notwithstanding some of his comments.

I mentioned in my comments that the Liberal Party supports deep corporate tax cuts. Indeed, I quoted from his leader who said that his party would go further and he encouraged the government to go further, giving it the green light to go to the level that his party had gone.

Notwithstanding the member's comments, will he be supporting these deep corporate tax cuts or will he support our amendment, because if he supports the deep corporate tax cuts, all of the things he mentioned will not happen? These are not strategic investments. These are right across the board tax cuts. We throw the money up in the air and hope it lands in the right place. We know that does not happen. They need to be strategic and this document does not provide that, which is why we asked for an amendment.

I know the Liberals did not want to vote on this but would you please tell us where you stand on it?

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

I would remind the hon. member for Ottawa Centre not to use the second person unless he wants the Speaker to answer the question instead of the hon. member for Kings--Hants.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, we would all like to hear from the Speaker, the best member of Parliament in Canada.

Innovative, forward-thinking governments globally have proven that we can build a competitive economy with dramatic reductions to corporate taxes while investing in social policy.

We only need to look at the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland. Australia and New Zealand have reduced corporate taxes dramatically. They have reformed their tax system to make their economies magnets for capital and talent and, at the same time, have invested significantly in social policy.

The Scandinavian example is particularly important to help guide us because Scandinavian countries value investments in social policy, in child care, in early learning and in good health care policy, and, at the same time, they saw the need to reduce their corporate tax levels to some of the lowest corporate taxes in the world.

The old globaphobic, socialist, Luddite nonsense that somehow innovative and forward-thinking economic policy is contrary to good social policy is wrong. In fact, we need good, economic policy to afford sound, social investment.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I love Fridays because we hear some of the most outlandish statements on Fridays.

The member for Kings—Hants, now get this folks, says that the GST is a great tax and that Canadians do not deserve to have tax relief on the GST. Somehow it is a bad thing to give Canadians tax relief that they can see every time they go to the till, every time they go shopping for something. If they are going to buy a car, even a used one, they can see that tax relief, but the member for Kings—Hants thinks this is a bad thing.

The leader of the opposition party said a short time ago that the Liberals, God forbid if they ever get to power again, would raise the GST.

Here is what we can expect in the next federal election. The Liberals will be campaigning all across this country, probably led by the member for Kings—Hants, telling Canadians to elect the Liberals and make them government and they promise they will raise the GST back to 7%.

Mr. Speaker, do you not just love Fridays? I just love it. I thank the member for Kings—Hants for making our next election campaign just a little easier.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should reflect on whether the GST is payable on cash transactions of $300,000 to former prime ministers.

Beyond that, we are committed to reducing taxes. We are committed to a fairer approach to reducing, in a broad base way, personal income taxes to actually help Canadian families. With his approach to cutting the GST, a 1% GST cut will give someone buying an $80,000 Cadillac Escalade a great savings of about $800 or so--

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Order, please. It seems like an appropriate time to resume debate.

The hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the NDP's amendment to Bill C-28, which is about the Conservative government's economic statement.

At the outset, I would like to make it clear to my NDP colleagues that the Bloc Québécois opposed Bill C-28 and the economic statement. We will also oppose the NDP's amendment for one simple, good reason. The reason we are opposed to the economic statement is that it does nothing to address the most serious crisis currently facing Quebec's regions: the crises in the forestry and manufacturing sectors. Once again, the NDP must be seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses, because it has not put forward anything to solve the real problem: the crises in the manufacturing and forestry sectors.

My colleagues here in the House will confirm what I am saying. The member from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord will tell you that the Saguenay region has been hit hard by the forestry crisis, and my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé will tell you that Mauricie has been feeling the pinch because of the crises in the forestry and manufacturing industries. The time for looking at what the Conservative government could do through rose-coloured glasses has passed. Once again, it is time to see things as they really are.

It is clear that the Conservative Party has decided not to do anything about the forestry and manufacturing crises in its economic statement. The party's philosophy is to let businesses die, to let the free market do what it wants, to believe that big companies will survive and should be allowed to destroy small companies every day. Right now, the problem in the manufacturing and forestry sectors is that the big companies are destroying each other. Even they cannot survive. That is the reality of the situation.

The government is offering tax cuts to businesses, and that is fine for businesses that are making a profit. But right now, Quebec's forestry sector and much of its manufacturing sector are having problems. The softwood lumber crisis was never resolved. Businesses were never given the help they needed. Then the Canadian dollar rose to dizzying heights. Even in the economic statement, the picture painted by the Minister of Finance is one of economic recession in the manufacturing sector. Oil companies will not be affected.

Obviously, in granting tax reductions, the Conservative Party wanted mainly to please its friends, the oil companies. That was the purpose of the economic statement and that is the problem I have today with the NDP motion. Once again, it does not address the real problem. The idea behind the motion is to remove tax credits, which is fine, but the NDP is not addressing and does not want to address the real problem, which is the crisis in forestry and manufacturing. The NDP, with its rose-coloured glasses, is as bad as the Conservative Party, except that the two parties are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

I am glad to be a member of the Bloc Québécois. It is the only party in this House that is in touch with the grassroots, close to the people, and that can clearly say what impact the higher Canadian dollar and the softwood lumber crisis, which the Conservative government never solved, are having today. Jobs are being lost in most regions of Quebec.

Companies are closing on the other side of the river in Gatineau. Everyone will say that it is a large city, but Domtar has closed and Bowater has shut down one machine. Once again, the forestry crisis is affecting the cities in Quebec. Imagine the impact it is having in the regions. That is the hard reality and the impact of the Conservatives' free-market approach.

In the manufacturing and forestry sectors, the government should look at its own data, its own figures, which clearly show that there have been successive job losses since 2005, totalling 125,000, including 65,000 jobs lost in Quebec since the Conservatives came to power. The economic statement solves nothing, absolutely nothing. The member from Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and the Minister of Labour are telling us to wait for the next budget. That means there is nothing in the economic statement, absolutely nothing.

That is why, once again, we will vote against Bill C-28 and against the NDP amendment. It was a flawed economic statement, a flawed bill for the forestry and manufacturing industries. We will take a stand for Quebeckers in the regions and in the urban centres who are being hard hit.

Shawinigan was hit hard last week and so was the City of Gatineau and insecurity reigns. Large companies such as Bowater and Abitibi-Consolidated have merged. That was the first phase of a shutdown that will be followed by a second phase. The companies, the industry and the owners are no longer hiding the fact that there will be a second phase.

The Conservative government is being consistent in its Conservative philosophy. It will wait as long as possible until as many businesses have closed as possible. In the end it will come to the rescue of one company that has only half its labour force left.

On one hand we have the Minister of Labour's attitude and on the other hand we have the Economic Development Agency of Canada, which is trying to revive the regions through diversification. At worst, we will end up with the Minister of Labour's approach. In my opinion, the member for Jonquière—Alma is an embarrassment to his region. He is saying that many jobs are being created in Alberta and that 55 year old unemployed workers should go there for work. That is his message. It is terrible coming from a minister from Quebec, especially from Jonquière—Alma, a region that has worked hard to build the Quebec of today and part of Canada.

Finally, if it were not for the primary resources sector, the forestry and mining sectors, Quebec and Canada would not be what they are today. The people in those sectors are living day to day.

The Conservatives think that since the oil industry is doing well we should all fall all over ourselves and make oil. Society is more complex than that. We realize every day that the Conservatives want nothing to do with Quebec's problems. The Conservatives say so and prove it every day. In any event, they have shown it in Bill C-28, in their economic statement. The New Democratic Party is doing the same thing by showing its flagrant lack of interest in the problems Quebeckers in the regions are experiencing in the forestry and manufacturing crisis. They must be able to sense that in the rest of Canada, but with their rose coloured glasses, instead of making amendments and proposing things that would solve the industry's problems, they want to lower corporate taxes.

The Quebec association of manufacturers and exporters is in favour of the tax cuts. In fact, the day these industries start making money, they will be happy to have more competitive taxation. But they are saying that this is not enough, because the crisis in the forestry and manufacturing industries must be addressed now. It is serious and will take some serious money. We must find a way to revive these sectors and implement everything the Bloc Québécois has called for in this House. We are telling the government that cuts and credits alone are not enough, that tax credits must be made refundable. This means that if a company is not making money, instead of it being deducted from profits, the company will receive a cheque, because it did not in fact turn a profit in a given year. With that money, the company would be able to purchase new machines and upgrade.

We are trying to make them understand that the solution is simple, and they know it. The problem is that they do not want to do it. Once again, the Conservative free market philosophy is that things should fix themselves. But things will not fix themselves in the forestry and manufacturing sectors for the simple reason that the Canadian dollar will not stop rising.

Obviously, the brilliant Conservatives had not counted on the dollar rising. Now this is happening and jobs are lost every week across Quebec. The Bloc Québécois will never accept this situation and will never stop rising in this House to speak out against what the Conservatives are doing and what the NDP is in the process of doing: ignoring the real problems, which leads to massive job losses in the forestry and manufacturing sectors.

These Quebeckers who have worked hard their entire lives to support this society deserve to be taken care of now. They deserve a good chunk of the $11.6 billion surplus to revive the forestry and manufacturing industries and not to create something new. That is what they deserve.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to my hon. colleague's statements. I find it somewhat incomprehensible that a member of a party elected by many progressive voters in Quebec would come out with a statement like that on a very serious topic: the complete movement by the government toward reducing corporate taxes, as supported by the Liberals. This is a direction from which we cannot return.

The member has provided many ideas and direction on the need to carefully select areas in the economy for which to provide incentives. We cannot do it if we do not have the revenue base.

By going against the motion, he has set up a future in which the federal government will not have the ability to make the kinds of investments that need to be made to improve industries in his province.

Motions in AmendmentBudget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, my NDP colleague has a problem. His party has never changed. It has always been against corporate tax reductions.

There is a problem. The forestry industry and the manufacturing sector are facing an unprecedented crisis. They are in an economic recession, which is what I have been saying since the beginning of my speech. The question today is not about attacking tax cuts, but rather about helping forestry and manufacturing businesses.

If he had decided to propose an amendment to convert or transform tax credits into refundable tax credits in order to be able to help businesses, we probably would have supported it. The problem is that the New Democrat philosophy does not change. They do not see the problems and always regurgitate the same line: we are lowering corporate taxes, and so on.

The crisis is more significant than that. Now is no longer the time to put on the NDP's rose coloured glasses. It is time to solve the real problems.