Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Motion No. 518, a motion from the member for Calgary Centre, taking up his private member's opportunity with a motion that basically tries to debate the continuing direction the Conservative Government of Canada is taking with its economic policy.
For one who, after five years in the House, is only getting his first private member's bill in front of the House for debate, I find it was a very large sacrifice on the part of the member for Calgary Centre to put forward a motion like this when he could have been doing something much more useful for his constituents.
Having said that, of course I am very pleased to have the opportunity to debate the issues within that motion. I note that our previous speaker from the Liberal Party did not dwell overlong on the corporate tax cuts in the history of the Liberal Party. Quite clearly the New Democratic Party has believed and continues to believe that the corporate tax cuts that were initiated in the 1990s and carried through to this day have fundamentally altered the tax system of Canada to a point where it is no longer recognizable.
The burden has fallen directly upon average Canadians, who when they do make a profit on their income, so to speak, would invest this in Canada. Certainly average Canadians take their dollars and put them directly into the Canadian economy. That is the case, and what is happening since we have moved the tax burden over to the individual is that is those individuals do not have the same capacity.
What has happened within the system for businesses? The very best businesses do very well in Canada. Canada still has, if we look at it, a resource-based economy. Where businesses are doing well is in selling the natural resources, taking the natural resources out of the ground here in Canada and selling them to customers who require these resources in order to conduct their business in this country as well as in other countries.
We have an economy that is robust in its sale of natural resources. Those resources, of course, are finite and will eventually be extracted and be no longer part of the Canadian economic equation. That is a deficit that we are building within our natural resources sector.
Profitable companies and Canadian resources go hand in hand. Those are two things that go hand in hand in this country. So when we talk about reducing corporate income tax, we are talking about reducing the value to Canadians of the exploitation of their resources, to a large degree.
Whether it is in the financial sector where much of this money is made or whether it is directly in the resource companies, it is coming from virtually the same source.
Since the advent of free trade, we have seen a huge decline in our manufacturing sector. That will not come back with free trade because, of course, free trade encourages the movement of manufacturing to the lowest cost labour situation. That is exactly what has happened now.
We see that free trade has caused an imbalance in the world's economy, with huge surpluses of capital in those countries that were most successful at harnessing their low-cost labour and applying it to products. So we see that China and India are very strong right now with their ability to influence the world economy and to do well in that. All the much better for them.
Getting back to corporate income taxes, what can we do in Canada to promote what we are doing better? Let us take a look at the Mackenzie Valley gas project. It is one that has gone through environmental assessment. It has gone through a process and has now come to a point where we in the north can support this project, because we have identified what has to happen with it and what can make it go well.
I had the opportunity to read more about this in the last few days, and one of the things that is clear is that we will not see the development of the Mackenzie gas project without investment by Canada. Where is the investment going to come from at a time when we have billions of dollars of deficit in our fiscal situation? Where is that money going to come from to do the things we need to do? Should it come from the average Canadian, to invest in an opportunity for a large corporation to move ahead with the further exploitation of our resources? No, I would say it probably should come from corporations, which will benefit in the end from those investments.
When we look at the investment there, we see quite clearly that we need infrastructure. The cost of the Mackenzie Valley pipeline is extremely high, yet it could be reduced to a huge extent by the building of the Mackenzie highway prior to the development of the pipeline. That would not take a very large investment on the part of government, whether it be our government in the Northwest Territories, which is still suffering from a borrowing limit lower than that of our major city in that territory, or it could come from the federal government if it chooses not to cut $6 billion out of the budget through corporate tax cuts every year. Then we would have some money that we could see invested in things like the Mackenzie Valley highway, which would create the opportunity for the Mackenzie Valley pipeline to be built at an economical rate, much as we are competing with the Alaska pipeline project that is to be built along the Alaska highway.
We are in a situation in the Northwest Territories where we are trying to compete with a project that has better infrastructure than we do. So we need investment that will make corporations more money and they will be able to pay more taxes. It is a good situation. We are agreeing to the exploitation of the resources, but we need investment by the federal government in this type of activity.
Will the federal government have the fiscal capacity to put that into the Mackenzie Valley pipeline if the Conservatives continue with their rather poor policy of reducing the corporate taxes benefiting those that are in place already, that are wealthy already and are in a good position to exploit Canadian resources and to take profit from that?
No, we need the investment of government in order to make that possible. Right around the world, we are the one single country left that is an energy exporting country that does not have a national presence in the energy business. Where are we in Canada? Why are we taking this path rather than the path that every other energy exporting country around the world is taking? Why are we doing that? Why are we continuing to look at our economy in a fashion that rewards the very best and does not help out those who really need help?
The NDP in the last while has proposed that we look at the potential for reducing taxes on small businesses, which employ many Canadians, which give opportunities to Canadians to expand their local industry to work in their communities. That is where tax reduction will give the biggest benefit. So what we have is a situation where the government continues to favour the very large corporations and does not look at the economy in a holistic sense, does not look at how we can invest to ensure the best return to all Canadians. It thinks that by giving it to the corporations we are somehow going to get it back in a better fashion, and that just does not make sense.