Mr. Speaker, the motion we are debating today by the Minister of Finance is:
That this House take note that, while Canada is starting to recover from the global economic recession, the recovery is tentative and uncertain and the number one priority for Canadians remains jobs and economic growth, now and for the future.
Is that really the government's priority? I am confused because the government's actions seem to indicate otherwise.
It seems the number one priority of the Conservatives is to help out their CEO friends and big banks, but not Canadians who are struggling to survive these uncertain economic times.
The Prime Minister plans to cut corporate income taxes from 22.12% in 2006 to 15% by 2012, leaving Canada with the lowest corporate tax rates in the G8. By doing so, the Conservatives have also deprived the treasury of billions of dollars that could have been invested in Canadians, for example to lift seniors and children out of poverty.
Last year with the corporate rate at 19% and most Canadians trying to cope with the serious recession, Canada's big five banks had profits totalling $15.9 billion. In 2009 the Conservative tax cuts to that point, 3.12%, fattened those profits by $496 million. No wonder the banks had enough money to pay enormous bonuses to their senior executives.
The government's justification for cutting the income taxes of profitable businesses is that the cuts improve competitiveness, lead to investment, innovation and jobs. The evidence is almost entirely to the contrary.
Across the board corporate income tax cuts are a completely ineffective way to grow the economy. They are a blunt weapon of a government without vision. They result in growing inequality, declining public services and an economy that serves the market, not people.
The Conservatives believe that helping out these corporate CEOs will help create jobs. There is no proof.
If we go back a little bit, in 2000, then Liberal finance minister Paul Martin cut corporate income tax rates by one quarter, from 28% to 21%, to be phased in over five years. The Conservative government has continued with those cuts from 21% in 2007 to 18% today, and the budget confirmed that the government is ignoring the NDP's advice and will further reduce the rate to 15% by 2012.
Those cuts have taken hundreds of billions of dollars out of the revenues that pay for health care, education, infrastructure and fighting climate change.