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House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ndp.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am having trouble grasping the essential logic of the member's question. What he is trying to claim is that the Conservative government is somehow taking action that is going to make life difficult for Albertans, but it is somehow the New Democrats' fault and we are somehow playing politics with it.

Here is the truth of the matter. We rose in this place many times calling for that subsidy to the big oil and gas companies to be removed. I recall having phrased it a number of different ways in the House on numerous occasions. Finally, despite the inaction of the previous government on the matter, the current government decided to respond with a three year phase-out. Guess what? It decided to give an across the board corporate profit tax reduction at the same time, far overriding any of the implications of this previous arrangement.

This is why the champagne corks were popping at Exxon. This is why we are making the claim that the government is putting the interests of those large and profitable companies first. If we needed any more proof, we could ask it why it will not do something to protect Canadians who get gouged at the gas pumps by the same companies it wants to help out with tax giveaways.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Independent Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, as usual, I listened very carefully to the leader of the NDP addressing this House. I would like to know what he thinks about something that is dear to my heart, that is, the empty Conservative rhetoric served up to any member who has criticized or continues to criticize the government's inaction in response to the crises we are facing at home in Quebec. The leader of the NDP knows Quebec well. He even chose to hold a meeting there with his candidates, and received a warm welcome.

In Quebec there is a crisis, more specifically, a forestry crisis. Members who want to stand up for this particular issue are told that we do not have confidence in our businesses. But it has nothing to do with confidence in our businesses. They are experiencing a crisis. And something like the trust, which completely ignores the existence of private woodlot owners, is not what will help them.

I would like to know what the leader of the NDP thinks about the sort of nonsense we are hearing.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques. She is right; we received a very warm welcome from her fellow citizens. It is a beautiful part of the country, and people were very welcoming to the NDP team.

The member has every reason to bring up the crisis in the forestry industry, for which the government is doing absolutely nothing. Instead of making strategic investments for our society's key industries, it decided to indiscriminately give gifts to the largest companies—the most profitable.

This is an unacceptable policy, and that is why we brought this motion before the House.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, we will have a chance to see the Liberal Party of Canada's true colours. Once again, during this afternoon's question period, we heard the Liberals get all worked up about all of the appalling ruses they detected in how the Conservatives handled the budget. The Liberals criticized the Conservatives for having included immigration provisions in the budget bill.

If we are meant to take them seriously and to accept their statements at face value, we would expect them to vote against budget bills, just as, from time to time, they have to speak out against the Conservative government's decisions because they are the official opposition.

As usual, the Conservatives know exactly what to expect from the Liberals. They know that they can do whatever they want, including burying objectionable immigration provisions in a budget bill, because the Liberals are much too weak to stand up to them.

This afternoon, we are considering a motion that takes the Conservative government to task for the choices it made in the budget. The Conservatives made a lot of decisions that brought radical change to Canada, and now we are talking about something quite specific. I will give a few examples to illustrate.

Table 5.4 of the budget just tabled by the Conservatives reveals what they really think and betrays their true intentions. Specifically, beginning today—as the new fiscal year begins—and over just two years, revenue collected from personal income tax—from my colleagues, from me, from the people listening to us now, from workers and their families—will increase by 12% in the state's budget, whereas revenue from corporate income tax will drop by 14%. That is the shameful choice the Conservatives really made in the budget. Individuals will be paying 12% more, and corporations will be paying 14% less. People can check table 5.4 of the budget and see for themselves.

We strongly object to this choice. What will the so-called official opposition do? I see that the Liberals are prepping their new star from Toronto Centre, who will undoubtedly rise to try to lecture us, as did his colleague who, yesterday, attempted to mislead the public with false figures on countries such as Sweden, Great Britain, Denmark and Norway. What tales did they tell yesterday? It was nonsense. What did his Liberal colleague say? He said that in the four above-mentioned countries, the corporate tax rate was lower than the Canadian rate. Is that so? Let us look at the facts.

Here, in Canada, with the most recent cut, the corporate tax rate is now 19.5%. It is important that we remember this figure of 19.5%. It will be further reduced by 4.5% to 15% by 2015. What is the current corporate tax rate in the other countries in question? It is 28% in Sweden; 30% in Great Britain; 30% in Denmark; and 28% in Norway. That is the reality, not the nonsense trotted out by the Liberals yesterday to try to justify the unjustifiable, that is their weakness, their softness, their lack of conviction and the fact that, once again, they will support the budget choices of the Conservatives. Conservatives or Liberals, it is all the same.

If the Liberals had the slightest amount of conviction, if they believed in anything, they would be getting up to criticize and challenge the Conservatives' budget.

Later, when the new member for Toronto Centre rises, we will see that they will no longer be content to sit on their hands.

The Minister of Finance dared to reduce corporate taxes that much only because the current and ineffective leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, the so-called official opposition, told him that he could reduce corporate taxes as much as he wanted.

Indeed, the Minister of Finance rose in this House and said that he would never have dared to reduce them so much. He is a Conservative. He would have wanted to, but he did not think he could. It was the current leader of the Liberal Party of Canada who told him he should do so and reduce them so much. This is exactly what he is now doing and it is scandalous.

Now, to try to ease their conscience, instead of simply hiding, ducking the issue, disappearing from the House or sitting on their hands, they are trying to tell us—and I cannot wait to hear it—that the Conservatives' budget choices are completely consistent with their own. And that party has the nerve to talk about social justice, a nation-wide affordable child care system and wait times at hospitals across Canada, which receive federal funding. It can say what it wants but the Liberal Party of Canada does not believe in anything. That is the simple truth, which will be revealed a little later.

On this side of the House, we are not afraid to stand up. We are not afraid to tell Canadians what is really going on here.

We can look at table 5.4 in the new Conservative budget if we want to understand what is going on. In that one table, there is a snapshot of the difference between the New Democratic Party of Canada and the Conservatives, but the Conservatives are being helped in this by the Liberal Party.

In that one table, we see the following: starting from today, when we are at the very beginning of a new fiscal year, over the next two years the part of the budget that comes from corporate income taxes is going to go down by 14%, while individual income taxes, which is what you, Mr. Speaker, and I and the people listening to us pay, are going to go up by 12%.

That is an increase of 12% for individuals and a decrease of 14% for the corporations. That is a scandal. The Conservatives should be ashamed of themselves for proposing it. The only reason they are doing it is because of the weakness of the Liberal Party.

Yesterday one of the minor ministers from the former Liberal government, a former revenue minister, went on the public record with something that was completely contrary to the facts. He named four countries, Sweden, Britain, Denmark and Norway, and said they had a lower rate of corporate taxation than Canada has.

Here are the facts. For somebody who was once in charge of revenue, it is surprising that he cannot count. In Canada with the most recent budget, we are now at 19.5% as our corporate tax rate. It is going to go down a further 4.5% between now and 2015, bringing it to 15%. The tax rate in Sweden is 28%. The tax rate in Britain is 30%. The tax rate in Denmark is 30%. The tax rate in Norway is 28%.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Add the provinces, Tom, add them.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

That is what those birdbrains in the Liberal Party of Canada want to support. They want to support the Conservatives. They are against families. They are against social programs. They are against social justice. They have no vision. They have no convictions. They do not believe in anything.

More and more, the truth is coming out. Canadians are starting to decode the Liberals. I am just waiting to hear the new star from Toronto Centre, someone who once had the guts to come into this House and claim to represent social justice and progressive thought and who has now sold himself out to the bosses.

I can hardly wait to have him stand up and talk against families, against workers, in favour of tax increases for individuals, and against the average working family. That guy wants to give tax breaks to corporations.

Let him have it, I say, and let him know what really is going on out there in Canada. We can hardly wait because we are going to deal with him.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the enthusiasm with which the member spoke. He certainly was animated, and he had the attention of the House, which sometimes is a rarity here.

I have a couple of comments. First, would it ever occur to him that perhaps the amount of revenue that is coming from individuals is going up because there are now some 800,000 more jobs? There are that many new people who, instead of being unemployed and collecting unemployment insurance as long as it lasts, now finally under this government have the opportunity to get a job from business that is staying in Canada because it has a more tax-friendly base than other countries that beckon. This is just a reality.

I would also like to point out this fact when he complains about the price of fuel. He is talking about increasing taxes for people who produce fuel. Would it perhaps also occur to him that the price at the pump will increase if those guys have to pay more taxes? This is so elementary that I cannot believe he does not understand it.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I hope you will give me as much time to answer the hon. member's question as you gave him to ask it.

I will answer in English for my colleague from Edmonton—Sherwood Park.

If he were a Liberal and not a Conservative, I guess the member would say that he is from Sherwood forest, because the Liberals love branding themselves as Robin Hood trying to help the poor, but the actual fact is that the Liberals do not believe in anything. They talk a good game when it comes to social programs and social justice, but they actually do not believe in anything.

Although I do disagree with the budgetary choices of the Conservative government, they exist, they are there, and the Conservatives themselves hold out for the fact that they are going to reduce by 14% the proportion. It is not a question of the global mass. The 800,000 workers do not change anything in the proportion.

The proportion of what is coming in from taxpayers individually is going to go up by 12%. The proportion of what is coming in from corporations is going to go down by 14%. Those are the numbers. It is in the Conservative budget in table 5.4. The member can look up the numbers. They are irrefutable.

However, what is even more important is what was done as a budgetary choice in the fall, with $14 billion in tax cuts for the most profitable corporations. In Ontario or Quebec, where the soaring Canadian dollar is making it more and more difficult to export, manufacturing jobs have been lost by the hundreds of thousands and we are suffering terribly in the forestry sector.

The Minister of Finance stands up in the House all the time and says that he gave all those tax breaks and that is how he is helping corporations. The problem is that if a company did not make a profit last year it did not pay any taxes, so it is not getting any of those tax breaks. If the company is called EnCana, if it is based in Alberta, and if it is making a small fortune in profits, it just got a cheque for several tens of millions of dollars from the Canadian taxpayer. That is the problem.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Just for the edification of the hon. member for Outremont, the question took one minute and fifteen seconds and the answer one minute and forty seconds.

The hon. member for West Nova has the floor.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to listen to this dialogue on this economic question put forward by the NDP.

It is rich to listen to this because we know what the New Democratic members' economic policy is: their support for small businesses is to take all large businesses, tax them all the way down to small businesses, give subsidies to bankrupt businesses, and tax profitable businesses. They have no vision at all on economics and are quite disingenuous on social programs.

I remember that not so long ago in the House, when there was a minority government, we presented a budget. The leader of the NDP negotiated with the Liberal Party so that we brought forward a year or two years ahead some of our priorities that were not in that budget: housing, assistance for poverty, day care, and Kelowna. We brought them all forward. The NDP members were all very happy to boast about it and then they voted our government out and supported this one on the income trust scandal, which took about $30 billion away from hard-working Canadians.

We cannot believe these people.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I imagine the hon. member will be quite pleased to tell all the employees at Trenton Car Works that he agrees with the Conservatives' budgetary choices.

There are a number of companies in his province that are suffering in exactly the same way other companies in Quebec and Ontario are. That is why it is scandalous to have a political party like the Liberal Party of Canada, that has the constitutional right to call itself the official opposition party, but which in fact has become the official abstention party. Soon it will become officially abolished.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Oshawa.

First, I completely reject the premise of today's motion. Our Conservative government's historic tax reductions, both personal and corporate, have benefited innovators and entrepreneurs, those individuals who comprise Canadian businesses and the hard-working Canadians whom they employ. Accordingly, lower business taxes are clearly a positive. It appears that the NDP does not realize this, though our competitors in the industrialized world beyond our borders do understand it.

An arena in which Canadians compete for business must be allowed to do so operating in a fair business climate, and in that respect, competitive corporate tax rates are a clear positive. Most observers are universally in agreement with that. As Nancy Hughes Anthony, president and CEO of the Canadian Bankers Association pointed out:

Lower corporate taxes will enable Canada to compete successfully with other countries, stimulate sustainable long-term economic growth, and help to improve the standard of living for all Canadians.

It means creating quality jobs, attracting investment and talent, encouraging innovation, and building a strong tax base that can support the social programs that we hold dear.

However, the NDP alone in the economic wilderness of a bygone era of high corporate and personal taxes does not understand that. It is still clinging to an old-fashioned regressive and discredited notion, namely, that big government, high taxes and huge government debt are the keys to prosperity. It would be amusing if it were not so sad, because it is clear that it has not learned a thing from the domestic and international examples of the last 50 years.

For everyone who doubts that, just listen to what the member for Toronto Centre had to say about the NDP's economic policies, someone who led the province as the NDP premier and implemented the very economic policy that the NDP advocates here today. He has derided today's motion as a tired and most off-base kind of economic jargon. My friend has assailed the NDP's economic policies as outdated and unrealistic.

The member for Toronto Centre, whom I welcome to the House, has admitted that he showed incredibly poor judgment when he implemented ill-advised policies such as this. We understand that he has learned greatly from his mistakes, namely that regressive and economically devastating high corporate tax policies are not the way this government wants to go, policies that killed investment and jobs in Ontario. After the benefit of hindsight, my colleague now says:

Our corporate taxes must be competitive. I know this is anathema to the NDP, but I can tell you that the [NDP leader] and the NDP are wrong about taxes.

We understand that. We understand the long term benefits of tax relief. We cut taxes to attract investment, to create jobs and to help sharpen Canada's competitive edge internationally. This is as straightforward as it is simple. That is what we are doing. We are taking concrete action to spur investment and jobs and to make Canada more competitive.

Tax measures introduced by this government since coming into office have provided tax relief approaching $200 billion. Almost three-quarters of this relief benefits individuals directly, whether it be through personal income tax relief or GST reductions, a tax reduction which benefits all Canadians each and every time they make a purchase, which is millions of times a day across the country, including those Canadians with incomes that are too low to pay income tax.

We are building Canada to remain competitive and create a strong business environment. The reduction of corporate taxes is an important part of the strategy. That is why we are reducing the federal corporate income tax rate to 15% and making it the lowest corporate income tax rate among the major developed economies. This is a positive measure for the economy and for Canadians, and the NDP's assertion otherwise has no basis in reality.

Just listen to the praise from the actual drivers of the Canadian economy with regard to our Conservative government's corporate tax reductions. These are the people who create the jobs for Canadian workers whom the NDP claims to care about, who create the government revenue for the social programs that the NDP also claims to care about.

Listen to the Canadian Council of Chief Executives:

The significant corporate income tax cuts...will provide a powerful boost to Canada's ability to compete for investment and jobs in the global economy....[It] will help companies to continue to invest and grow in Canadian communities, despite the rapid rise of the Canadian dollar and intense global competition.

Or listen to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters:

Canada is going to have a very attractive tax environment to retain and attract business investment....

...this keeps us in the game of international investment.

Or listen to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business:

Tax cuts were our members' number one priority by far, with just the vast majority saying that was the number one issue. So, they have hit that issue.

Even the NDP premier of Manitoba praised them, stating:

[The Conservative government's] tax reductions...in all fairness...are positive and we're going to see that through the economy.

The NDP is not listening to them, and it will not listen because it is stuck in the past. Sadly, it has no intention of embracing the realities of today. Again, it would be funny if it were not so sad, as it was sad when the NDP and the then Liberal government teamed up in 2005 and the result was to reverse the relatively minor corporate taxes that the government of the day introduced in its 2005 budget.

The NDP demanded that the corporate tax cuts be stripped from the budget in return for propping up a scandal-ridden Liberal government teetering on collapse due to the sponsorship scandal. The unprincipled Liberals naturally agreed.

We have also seen this type of Liberal approach more recently, when my Liberal friends refused to show up to support their own confidence motion or to vote against the government for fear of having to face the voters. If we consider the manufacturing sector, which the NDP claims to care about, it is suffering immensely as a result of this deal.

As the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters stated at that time, it is not action that will preserve Canada's industrial base. Manufacturers feel their pleas are not being taken seriously. They worry whether they understand the serious pressures that are facing them.

It is also sad that the NDP has opposed the support we have provided to the manufacturing and forestry sectors, support allowing them to better invest and compete. For example, we provided over $9 billion in tax relief by 2012-13. We are also improving the availability and accessibility of financial support for research and development, and extending the enhanced scientific research and experimental development investment tax credit.

We are also helping Canadians in their communities affected by a slowing global economy. To help vulnerable communities and laid-off workers, we announced a $1 billion community development trust. This will support communities and workers experiencing hardship through no fault of their own, an initiative that was praised across the country by premiers and organizations from across the political spectrum, like the NDP premier of Manitoba, Gary Doer, who stated:

I also believe that this is very, very important to the regions and the communities in Canada and the money will be very, very helpful and important.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities applauded the initiative, saying that the federal government's decision to help Canadian communities hit by economic upheaval is more than welcome.

The initiatives I have focused on today will significantly benefit all Canadians. Our tax cuts will especially help Canadians compete for the jobs and investments of tomorrow. That has been recognized almost universally from Canada's business leaders and economists, and it is recognized of late by even the Liberal Party.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed my hon. colleague's speech. He talked about the 2005 arrangement that was struck between the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party in order to access some $5 billion of extra spending for well needed programs, including housing programs that the Conservatives claimed as their own in the last two year period.

Interestingly enough, over that time when we did not cut corporate taxes, when we did not reduce that percentage, we actually had a very robust economy. It has not impacted on businesses. That is the clear example. We did not see a downturn in the economy. We did not see businesses like banks or major oil companies leaving Canada because they did not get their corporate tax cut in 2005.

Why does the member think that his government's reckless action on reducing corporate taxes by almost 35% will give that added incentive to this economy when history has not shown that to be the case?

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am sure there are times when the Liberals wonder why they actually listened to the NDP at that time.

We have heard here already today comments from the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park about the number of new jobs that have been created. We are talking today about Canadians. We are talking about jobs for Canadians. We are talking about livelihoods. No Canadian wants to live on handouts. Every Canadian that I have ever spoken to wants to be paid for the work he or she can provide. Canadians want to help build this country. Since this government has taken office, there have been 800,000 new jobs created. That is why Canadians can hold their heads high.

We look across the border at the United States and we see some troubled times. We are seeing a strong Canadian economy and it is because of the pre-emptive moves of the finance minister under the leadership of the Prime Minister. This government has taken the initiative. We saw the dark clouds on the horizon. We saw what was happening in the United States. We took the early initiative to cut taxes, to cut personal taxes, to lower the GST, so Canadians would have more of their hard-earned money to spend on themselves. They are the people who should be spending it. They should not be giving it to government. That is what makes Canadians proud.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to correct the record. Earlier one of the members from the NDP said that I was comparing our federal corporate income tax rate to that of Sweden's. What he needs to understand is that there are two corporate income tax rates in Canada. One is a federal corporate income tax collected by the Government of Canada and the other is a provincial corporate income tax collected by the various provinces. The member for Outremont compared our federal corporate income tax rate in a federal state to that of a single corporate income tax rate of a unitary state like Sweden. The record needs to be corrected. The member needs to do some better research on this.

I would add that the NDP motion is flawed. The NDP members criticize us for disproportionately benefiting the oil and gas sector, but this flies in the face of the facts. The fact is that our government has eliminated the accelerated capital cost allowance for the oil sands sector and has disproportionately benefited the mining and manufacturing sectors in this country through other measures we have introduced in our budget. I suspect the NDP has done this because its members represent ridings with manufacturing and mining interests, whereas none represent any ridings that have any significant oil sands interests.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for clarifying another false assumption by the NDP, continuing on all of the false assumptions that we see in this motion today.

NDP members seem to be so concerned about corporations actually making a profit. I might share with this House that the oil and gas sector provides--

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I regret to I interrupt the hon. member, but he must now share his time, as he had stated 15 minutes ago, with the hon. the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to respond to the motion of the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth.

Let me preface my comments by stating that I am in no way intending to diminish the challenges facing the manufacturing or the forestry sectors. Rather I want to clearly show Canada the hypocrisy of the member's motion and underscore the radical socialist agenda that the NDP is trying to peddle to Canadians.

Let me state at the onset that the government takes the issues facing the manufacturing industry very seriously and we are addressing them head on. We have brought forward billions of dollars in assistance and every time the NDP has voted against these measures.

What is key to the manufacturing sector and the forestry sector is the need to have the right economic fundamentals so our companies and firms can put their full attention and efforts into responding to these world challenges. It is clear that Canadian manufacturers are determined to compete and succeed in the global economy. The NDP does not seem to comprehend that if Canada does not have an internationally competitive economy and tax structure, Canada will not attract new investment, the economy will go into recession and jobs, which rhetorically the NDP members say they would like to defend, will dry up.

When the economic fundamentals are working, businesses have the best opportunity to make their mark and succeed.

Thanks to this Conservative government, the fundamentals of Canadian economy are working and jobs are being created. While other global economies are experiencing uncertainty, we are alone in the G-7 in maintaining ongoing budget surpluses and falling debt burden. Our unemployment is at the lowest in 33 years and our overall employment grew by roughly 360,000 jobs in 2007.

Yes, there are challenges, but also opportunity to ensure that all Canadians share in the benefit from our economic success. Certainly this desire extends to include the manufacturing sector overall. It is not an easy task. While the new jobs generated by our economic gains in thriving sectors offset losses in other sectors, the problem is more complex than that. Otherwise the significant measures the government has introduced to encourage skill development, such as the apprenticeship tax credit and the apprenticeship incentive grants, would represent a sufficient response. However, in a country as large and diverse as Canada, these challenges have a real and profound impact on small communities that have come to rely upon a particular manufacturing plant or mill.

The government took action to respond to these kinds of adjustment pressures. The $1 billion community development trust represents our government's support for provincial and territorial efforts to build a stronger, more prosperous future for communities and workers affected by current economic volatility. The trust allows provinces and territories the flexibility to invest in those projects that best help vulnerable communities and individuals, while respecting Canada's international obligations.

Do not take my word for it. Five provinces, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador, have stepped up to leverage the money provided in the trust since it was announced on January 10. We have every confidence this money will be put to good use. By working together, the federal, provincial and territorial governments can best help take the economic challenges we face today and turn them into economic opportunities tomorrow.

The community development trust is one way the government has responded to the needs of workers, businesses and regions affected by economic difficulties.

Despite the NDP's rhetoric, the government has delivered much more. Conservatives delivered the targeted initiative for older workers, which the government seeded with $72.5 million from budget 2006 and has recently expanded with a further $90 million source from budget 2008. Here is another initiative to be delivered at the community level.

Canadian industry needs the skills and knowledge of workers 55 to 64 years of age, especially in the communities that rely upon single industries. While these workers are laid off because of the economic problems in the industry, we need to find some way to keep their knowledge and skills in the labour market.

These are examples of ways in which we have taken tangible action to address the challenges the hon. member mentions in his motion, but we have done much more.

The hon. member refers to tax measures. His motion falsely insinuates that our tax policies do not benefit Canadian companies in all sectors, including those in manufacturing and in forestry. Only the NDP cannot comprehend that cuts to the general corporate tax rate are advantageous to manufacturing and forestry companies. These tax cuts will help manufacturing and forestry companies be more competitive, create wealth and, most important, create jobs for ordinary Canadians.

With the tax measures introduced by the government, manufacturers and processors will receive over $9 billion in tax relief by 2012-13. Our initiatives will give Canada the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G-7 by 2010. Furthermore, we have also extended the accelerated capital cost allowance for investment in machinery and equipment in the manufacturing and processing sector for three additional years.

This was a key recommendation of a unanimous 2007 industry, science and technology report, supported by the NDP member for Windsor West. When it came time to stand up and be counted, the radical socialists voted against their own critic's recommendations. It is unbelievable.

We have allocated $33 billion to the building Canada infrastructure plan, including $2.3 billion for trade related infrastructure and $2.1 billion for gateways and corridors, of which at least $400 million will be in support of a new Windsor-Detroit crossing, an important crossing for manufacturers.

Our 2008 budget also has introduced improvements to the SR and ED tax credit program and provides $34 million more per year for collaborate research for specific industries, including manufacturing, important elements that will contribute to improving innovation so Canadian companies can compete with the best.

For auto manufacturers, we are investing $250 million over five years to support R and D projects that will produce green automotive technologies. Coming from Oshawa, I know how important that is.

We are also helping our manufacturers to extend their business globally. We have improved Export Development Canada's export guarantee program to assist small and medium sized manufacturers in fulfilling export contracts. This is in addition to the $174 million over two years to increase security and minimize delays at our borders. These measures brought forward by this Conservative government will surely benefit our industries, including manufacturing and forestry, attract new investments and will create jobs in Canada.

For the forestry industry, we have resolved the costly and prolonged softwood lumber dispute. The agreement eliminates U.S. countervailing and anti-dumping duties. It brings an end to costly litigation. It protects provincial forest management policies and it has returned over $5 billion to Canadian producers. Again, sadly, the NDP voted against this deal.

We have also provided $127.5 million to strengthen the long term competitiveness of the sector and a further $200 million to facilitate action to combat the mountain pine beetle.

We have provided $25 million for a forest communities program that will assist 11 forest based communities to make informed decisions on the forest land base. Budget 2008 allocated $10 million over two years to promote Canada's forestry industry to international markets as a model of environmental innovation and sustainability.

Over the past two years this Conservative government, led by our Prime Minister, has indeed taken important steps to set the overall business climate so our industries can grow and become more globally competitive.

What today underscores is the hypocrisy of the NDP toward Canada's manufacturing and forestry industry and workers and the radical socialist agenda that it is trying to peddle to Canadians. However, Canadians will not have the wool pulled over their eyes. Canadians know this government is showing leadership and is delivering for manufacturers and forestry workers and industry when it needs it the most. It is the NDP that must stop playing games with the lives of workers and should start supporting the government's endeavours.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, Manufacturing and Forestry Industries; the hon. member for Kitchener Centre, Afghanistan.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak to some of the things the hon. member brought up in his speech.

He referred to a competitive advantage that we would have with tax cuts in our country. In reality, one of the biggest competitive advantages we have in the country, vis-a-vis our major trading partner, is our public medicare system. To corporations in the country, that represents a significant advantage over American companies, and it is something we have to maintain. To maintain it, we need revenue and we need to have the balance of corporations supporting the revenue flow to these types of activities.

What we see now is a huge corporate tax cut. Does this help my riding? We have a diamond mining industry. Last summer I spent an extensive period of time interviewing the chief executive officers of different mines. Was their concern corporate tax cuts? No. Their concern was public investment in infrastructure that would allow those mines to stay open longer, that would allow those mines to exploit the resources.

Where will we find the dollars to invest in my territory to pull off the kind of continued resource development that can lead to profits in our country and a fair share for Canadians?

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member's question further delineates the hypocrisy of the NDP.

The hon. member talks about infrastructure needs. I am so proud of the government. The government has invested a record amount in infrastructure. We are talking about $33.1 billion in new infrastructure, the biggest single investment in infrastructure since the second world war. What did the NDP members do? They stood up proudly and voted against it.

The member said that the health care system was important to Canadians. I am passionate about that. The Canadian health care system is my background. How is it supported? It is supported through the taxation base of the Canadian taxpayers and our corporations. To have a solid base, we have to be competitive internationally.

Whether he realizes it or not, Canada competes globally. We are not in a vacuum. We must be players in the world and in the world economy. The government is taking strong action to make sure Canada is not a follower but a leader in the new world economy.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Independent Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief.

I am obviously not surprised to hear yet another Conservative member boasting of his government's leadership and talking to us about pride, since self-praise has become their trademark.

What I really want to know is, how can such language be used when the Conservative government has completely ignored an entire sector of the economy, Quebec's forestry and private woodlot owners, and when we are dealing with an unprecedented crisis that will go on for a very long time? To the Conservatives, this crisis does not exist and they did nothing about it in their budget.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, the forestry sector right now in Canada is facing unprecedented challenges. We know there is an economic slowdown in the United States.

The government took leadership. Early on we settled the softwood lumber dispute, a dispute that went on while the former Liberal government sat on their hands and did absolutely nothing. The Liberals could not negotiate a deal if their lives depended on it.

With the softwood lumber dispute settlement, we returned over $5 billion to the softwood lumber industry, something that was unprecedented. More important, we ended the costly litigation.

With the forestry sector, we took the leadership with our community development trust. If she had listened to my speech, she would have heard that. She would have noted that the provinces that have signed on to this are taking an initiative, leveraging that money from the Conservative leadership to ensure their sectors will remain strong.

The independent member, a former member of the Bloc, will never deliver a thing for Quebec. She will always be yelling from the outside. She will never be inside.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to share my time with my new colleague, the hon. member for Toronto Centre. I am also very pleased to tell you that the Liberals will be voting against this NDP motion.

The simple fact of the matter is that Liberals understand that wealth creation and social justice are both important, whereas the federal NDP, mired in the class wars of the 1960s, does not care about wealth creation and does not understand the first thing about it.

We on this side of the House understand that Canada, in a global economy, is in competition with many countries, not least of which is the United States, to attract capital and jobs to this country and to retain our domestic capital and companies.

We understand that living next door to the world's only superpower we have to create a special Canadian advantage, so that we can be able to level the playing field and compete with the United States.

Until recently, we did have a Canadian advantage. It was called a weak currency. It was cheaper to do business in Canada and business flowed into Canada taking advantage of our cheap currency. We do not have that any more.

Therefore, we need to create a new Canadian advantage to attract capital and jobs to this country and that new Canadian advantage, according to the Liberal Party, and we said this weeks before the government did, is to create a low corporate tax rate, a corporate tax rate substantially lower than the United States, something in the order of 10 percentage points.

That we believe will replace the weak currency as a new Canadian advantage and will serve this country well to improve productivity, competitiveness and attract jobs into this country.

I was a student in England in the late 1960s and the rhetoric of the NDP members is still back in the class war of the 1960s. Their rhetoric sounds just like the rhetoric of the Labour Party under Harold Wilson in the late 1960s.

The NDP members should understand that other social democratic parties around the world in Scandinavia and Britain, and I would include a lot of provincial NDP governments led by fine people like Gary Doer, Ed Schreyer, Allan Blakeney and my new colleague, have evolved too. As governments, they have to understand the realities of the world.

Just to show that NDP members are innumerate, the numbers cited by the member for Outremont, claiming that Canada had lower corporate taxes than Scandinavia or Britain, are totally wrong because we have to include the corporate tax rate for the whole country, not just the federal government.

Therefore, Canada's corporate tax rate in 2007 according to the IMF is 36% versus 25% in Denmark, 26% in Finland, 28% in Norway, 28% in Sweden, and 30% in the U.K. So, the member is out to lunch on the numbers which is typical of the federal NDP.

The true numbers indicate that the reconstructed social democratic movement of the world understands globalization, understands global realities, and those countries have adjusted. They understand that in order to create wealth, jobs and productivity we have to compete with lower corporate tax rates and those countries have done it.

The federal NDP members are in the class war mentality where any corporate tax cut is just seen as a sop to the rich. They do not understand, as their Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, British fellow social democrats learned long ago, that we have to create wealth before we can redistribute it, and that in order to compete in this world and get jobs it makes sense to have lower corporate tax rates.

There is a certain chicken and egg question here. Why are the federal NDP members almost alone in the world in being the Neanderthal version of the global social democratic movement? Are they Neanderthal because they have never formed government and therefore never had the opportunity to learn about realities, or have they never formed government because everyone knows they are Neanderthal?

I suspect it is a little bit of both. They are Neanderthal because they have never been government and they have never been government because they are Neanderthal. I suspect that will go on for some time, but I will leave it to academics to analyze this sociological chicken and egg question.

Before the Conservatives become too enthused with my speech, let me say that if the NDP is clueless on wealth creation, the present Conservative government, and I would not say the same about all Conservatives, is clueless about social justice.

Just as the NDP has never seen a social program it did not like, the Conservatives have never seen a tax cut that they did not think was the panacea for all Canadian problems.

Whereas the reality is that Liberals are in favour of corporate tax cuts. We came to that conclusion before the government did. We do not think that corporate tax cuts alone are sufficient to solve all the problems of the Canadian business world.

That is why we, unlike them, thought that the recent Ontario budget was a good budget because the provincial Liberals addressed business taxes by eliminating the capital tax, but they also understood the importance of investment in infrastructure, investment in training and retraining, and providing jobs for displaced workers and helping communities in distress. The provincial Liberals also understand, as we do, the importance of direct support for the manufacturing sector.

One litmus test to which the finance minister did not have an answer, but we now know that his answer was no, was whether he would match the $17 million offered by the Ontario government to keep the Windsor auto plant open. He said no because he has an ideological aversion to that sort of thing. He thinks that tax cuts alone are sufficient to do the job, when it is perfectly evident that tax cuts alone are not sufficient to do the job.

We on this side of the House are not only going to vote against this silly NDP motion, we are indeed proud to vote against this NDP motion. At the same time, this does not imply support for the extreme laissez-faire ideology put forward by the government.

Opposition Motion—Corporate Tax CutsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

April 2nd, 2008 / 4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Fitzpatrick Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, in listening to the NDP I could not help but recall Churchill's famous quote. I think the NDP goes back a lot further than 50 years ago. It sounds like it is going back 100 years with its rhetoric. The quote of Churchill was that: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” That is the type of quote that I thought really registered with some of the rhetoric that I heard today.

I do appreciate the point that the member raised about corporate tax rates. Being of Irish ancestry, the miracle in western Europe over the last 20 or 25 years has been the Republic of Ireland. Let us look at the performance of that economy, from 1986 up to the present, and at the current level of income, the growth rates and unemployment rates and so on.

I am sure that the member for Markham—Unionville, who is a professional economist, knows more about what went on in the Republic of Ireland than I do. I have read some things about it. There have been terrific results for that society. People are returning to Ireland from all over the world. It is a place to be and it has a terrific record to bestow upon itself.

It seems to me that the corporate tax rate in the Republic of Ireland, if I am not wrong, is 12%. At different times the corporate tax rate has been as low as 10%. I wonder if the member from Markham could comment on the miracle of Ireland and--