Mr. Speaker, I object to the suggestion of the member for Kitchener Centre that Conservatives do not care about Canadians. We do.
I thank her for this opportunity to speak to our Conservative government's strong economic leadership, leadership that was acknowledged and applauded just today in the IMF's World Economic Outlook.
For the benefit of members who have not had the opportunity to read that document yet, I would like to highlight one comment in particular. It says:
A package of tax cuts has provided a timely fiscal stimulus...the [Canadian] government’s structural policy agenda should help increase competitiveness and productivity growth to underpin longer-term prospects.
This Conservative government is taking concrete measures to ensure the long term economic competitiveness of Canada's manufacturing sector, especially our automotive sector. We recognize, and I would hope the member opposite would agree, that our automotive sector is a global leader that supplies high quality jobs in many communities across Canada, most notably in the Province of Ontario.
The actions we have undertaken to support the auto sector range from $400 million to improve an access road, to the new Windsor-Detroit border crossing, to significant tax relief by 2012-13 that will total over $1 billion.
As the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has declared, following the sweeping tax reductions we announced in our 2007 fall economic statement:
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.
We have built on that tax relief in budget 2008 with numerous measures, such as a $250 million automotive innovation fund that will support strategic, large scale research and development projects by automotive and parts manufacturers in developing greener, more fuel efficient vehicles.
We have also taken action that will be of special benefit to the automotive sector through an enhancement to Export Development Canada's export guarantee program, increasing the guaranteed coverage from 75% to 90%. Additionally, $34 million per year has been provided in budget 2008 for new research through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, targeted to the needs of key industries such as the auto sector. We are also providing key funding support to the development of environmentally friendly E85 fuelling infrastructure that will help promote the commercialization of E85 fuels.
As I have outlined some of the measures we took in budget 2008 to support the auto sector, I believe it would be instructive to hear what the sector's reaction to our budget has been.
I will quote then from David Paterson, vice-president of corporate and environmental affairs for General Motors of Canada. Here is what he said of budget 2008:
Directionally it's very, very positive... they've [the Conservative government] really shown they're listening and they're moving forward.