This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #46 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was aboriginal.

Topics

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed.)

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. In the translation, it said something about Standing Order 67 and on the paper it says Standing Order 66. I just want to clarify that it is Standing Order 66.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is 66.

Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I move:

That, during today's debate on the Emergency Debate, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Speaker.

Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous of the House to propose this motion?

Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Official ReportRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Calgary Nose Hill Alberta

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy ConservativeSecretary of State (Small Business and Tourism)

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I have good news and bad news for the House.

The bad news is that my correction that I made previously was in error and in fact the federal government spending on tourism is $800 million over two years.

The good news is that I devoutly hope this is the very last thing the House will hear on this topic from me.

Official ReportRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. Secretary of State for her careful correction of all statements in this matter.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague, the hon. member for Trois-Rivières, on her excellent speech. She is the Bloc Quebecois industry critic and I can assure this House that industry and indeed all workers are well represented by this member.

All the solutions put forward by the Bloc Québécois have been reviewed and, more importantly, endorsed by industry. I would like the member to tell us how manufacturers, that is, businessmen and women in the forestry industry, and the unions reacted to the proposals and solutions put forward by the Bloc Québécois.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her question.

Bloc Québécois members held prebudget consultations across Quebec. We met with people from businesses, organizations, people from all sectors, workers and union representatives. Naturally, the measures we put forward here in the House are a reflection of what people told us and their demands, and they all said the same thing. It is always an honour for us to bring to this House what the majority of our citizens want.

We know that the Bloc Québécois is well established in all areas of Quebec. We are very proud to submit these suggestions, in an effort to end this major crisis in the manufacturing and forestry sectors.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Trois-Rivières told us that she accompanied our party's finance critic, the member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, on a tour of Quebec and that stakeholders supported the Bloc Québécois' solutions.

Now can she tell us that many of those solutions and proposals were debated and unanimously adopted by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology? Can she also tell us that the Conservative members accepted most of the solutions proposed by the Bloc Québécois? Can she tell us more about this?

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, in November 2007, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology adopted a report. The report contained 22 recommendations to address the crisis. The report was tabled in the House after the committee spent a year studying the issue and hearing witnesses. Of course we think it is important for the government to adopt a number of these measures. However, only one of the measures—accelerated capital cost allowance—was chosen, and then only by half measures, unfortunately. We still think these recommendations are valid. The committee gave its unanimous approval, and we would like to see them in the budget.

It is also important to understand that during the prebudget consultations, we met with groups that are often ignored in our budgets, such as status of women and social housing groups. The government often forgets to consult these groups because they do not represent big business. All the same, these people are deeply involved in areas that experienced harsh program cuts, and now they would like their funding back.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question regarding Burma, or Myanmar.

The government has given $300 million over five years to Palestine. We had a huge crisis in Burma and the government has done good legislative work on that, but on the aid side there is only $2 million a year.

I hope we could get all parties in the House to increase that amount. I just came from the Thai-Burma border and lots of money is needed for food and education. There are refugees right on the border. I hope the member would support me on that.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would have a hard time commenting because this is not an issue I am familiar with.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, before continuing the debate, I would like to say that I will be splitting my time with the member for Simcoe North.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

--splitting your title.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, I heard a comment from the NDP. Perhaps that member would like to repeat it.

I am please to rise in this debate today. Certainly, there are a couple of fundamentals that really need to be discussed here when discussing the preparation leading up to the budget.

First, it is important that government listen to those who have elected it. Whether it is this government or any other government, it is extremely important to listen to the people.

Quite frankly, there is no point in asking Canadians for their views and their advice if we are simply going to ignore them. That counsel, the concerns, the ideas presented to us by Canadians from all walks of life and from all regions of the country, in our case, has contributed immeasurably to the development of a strong and fiscally sensible economic action plan.

A fact with which we continually struggle is the realization that we cannot do everything at once, but by setting priorities, making realistic choices, and finding ways to do what is needed while still living within our means, we have been able to strengthen our economy and increase opportunities for Canadians now and into the future.

Even with such progress, we have not finished our work. That is why prebudget consultations are so helpful in developing budgets that better reflect the priorities of all Canadians, not just a select few but all Canadians.

We are close to completing a series of cross-Canadian round tables and the online prebudget consultation process is still under way. I would encourage all my fellow members in every party in this place to tell their constituents about this unique opportunity to offer their views and suggestions until February 11, the last day of the online consultation. Hon. members will find the online prebudget consultations on the Finance Canada website, for anyone who cares to look.

We are still receiving comments and ideas for budget 2008 and beyond, so it is too early to comment on all of those results, although I will say, having been a panel member at the prebudget consultations in Halifax, many excellent comments and ideas were received by the panel.

We heard early and clearly, in our first round of national prebudget consultations after we took office, that Canadians pay too much tax. In fact, lowering taxes stood high on the list of priorities we heard about during our first ever national online prebudget consultation process back in 2006.

As I said a few minutes ago, there is no point asking people for their advice if we are not willing to act on what we have been told, so we acted quickly on many fronts, and in particular, we acted to reduce taxes.

We wanted what Canadians said they wanted: to get ahead and stay ahead, and to create better incentives for Canadians to succeed. We also wanted to improve the rewards for working hard, saving and investing in the new knowledge and skills.

There is no doubt that we have made great strides on the tax front. We have provided relief in every way the government collects taxes: personal taxes, consumption taxes, business taxes and excise taxes.

We have increased the basic personal amount to $9,600, retroactive to January 1, 2007 and the basic personal amount will be further increased to $10,100 on January 1, 2009.

This is especially good news for low income Canadians who can least afford to pay taxes. The $10,100 as of 2009 and the $9,600 as of January 1, 2007 is the total amount all Canadians can earn without paying federal income tax.

This measure provides Canadians with an additional $2.5 billion in tax relief in 2007 and 2008. In addition, our government moved the lowest personal income tax rate to 15% from 15.5%, retroactive to January 1, 2007.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

An hon. member

That's after you raised it last year.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

The opposition members obviously want some part in this discussion and I would be happy to allow them to speak during questions and answers.

The measure provides Canadians with $8.4 billion in tax relief over this year and the next five years. Personal income taxes will come down even further as a result of our tax back guarantee.

This fiscal year, we plan to make an additional debt reduction of $10 billion for a total of more than $37 billion in debt relief since coming to office. We are dedicating all interest savings from this shrinking federal debt to further reduce personal income taxes. This is serious debt relief and serious tax relief for Canadians. With the additional debt reduction in the 2007 economic statement, the total value of tax relief provided under the tax back guarantee will rise to $2.5 billion by 2012-13. Together, these income tax cuts will deliver relief on income tax returns this year.

These tax cuts will move some 385,000 people off the income tax rolls altogether. It is good news for low income Canadians. As a result of the steps we have taken, the purchasing power of consumers will go up. In addition, the take home pay of all Canadians will go up. Reducing taxes for all Canadians is a key part of our long term economic plan entitled “Advantage Canada”.

It is a plan that would lead to a more rewarding future for Canadians and their families. It is a plan to give Canada and Canadians the key advantages to be able to compete effectively and attract new growth and investment.

The other four key advantages are: a fiscal advantage eliminating Canada's total government net debt in less than a generation; an infrastructure advantage, building modern world class infrastructure that promotes economic growth, a clean environment and international competitiveness; a knowledge advantage, creating the best educated, most skilled and most flexible workforce in the world; and an entrepreneurial advantage reducing unnecessary regulation and red tape, and increasing competition in the Canadian marketplace.

I would further like to point out that since coming to office some 24 months ago, our government has taken action that approaches $200 billion in tax relief for Canadians and businesses, bringing taxes to their lowest level in nearly 50 years. As we move forward, the good news is that we are working from a position of strength.

Our economic fundamentals have remained strong and we can be proud of our achievements. We are experiencing the second longest period of economic expansion in Canadian history. Business investment is expanding for the 12th consecutive year. Our unemployment rate is the lowest in 33 years with more Canadians working than ever before.

Canada is one of the few countries in the world with a sound public pension plan and we are on the best fiscal footing of the major western industrialized countries. In fact, we are the only member of the G-7 with both ongoing budget surpluses and a falling debt burden.

In conclusion, we are well along in our 2008 prebudget consultations. We are listening. We are putting Canadians first and without exception, we fully intend to continue to do that.

I mentioned earlier that I am sharing my time with the hon. member for Simcoe North who is a great representative for that part of Ontario. He also has a solid business background as a small businessperson and an entrepreneur, and brings a real small business opportunity and perspective to this debate.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe what I heard, which is a lot of propaganda coming out of the PMO.

However, one thing the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's did talk about was trying to do what is needed while still living within their means.The problem with that line is that the current Conservative government has basically killed the ability of the federal government to have the means to do what is needed for this country.

Why do the Conservatives not just admit it? They have taken a country that was the envy of the G-8 in terms of the industrialized world and in terms of fiscal capacity and responsibility and driven it to the brink of deficit.

The member, in representing his riding, should be standing on the floor demanding some help for the fishermen, the farmers and the hog and beef producers who have basically said, before the agriculture committee the other day, that what the government was doing was seen by their members as a cruel joke to the families that it was supposed to help.

Why does the member ignore the facts? Why does he make a speech here saying that the government lowered income tax to 15% when in fact just the year before it raised it to 15.5%? Let us lay out some facts.