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House of Commons Hansard #8 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.

Topics

The EconomyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister's speech included the statement that balancing the nation's books will not come at the expense of pensioners or by raising taxes on hard-working Canadians, but that is simply not true. There will be a 9% increase in employment insurance premiums in the first year. There is the imposition of a 31.5% punitive tax on income trust distribution, which incidentally wiped out $35 billion of the retirement nest eggs of Canadians. The Conservatives are also imposing a new air traveller's tax, notwithstanding that the Minister of Transport said just two days ago that cutting taxes creates jobs, more hope and more opportunity. It seems to be a contradiction. It goes to character. That is the issue.

How could the member stand in his place and say the Conservatives are not raising taxes when in fact they are? It undermines the confidence and trust in the government. It is a matter of accountability and integrity. Why are the Conservatives not prepared to admit that they are raising income taxes and other taxes?

The EconomyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a philosophy we believe that users should pay the costs for the service. That is why when costs go up, for instance in the airline industry, we believe that people who use the airlines should pay the costs. That is not a tax; it is the cost of operating.

Also with employment insurance, that fund is supposed to remain balanced. At the moment we are putting an extra $4 billion or $5 billion into that fund to keep it afloat. There is a board in charge of that fund which sets the rates. We have frozen the rate for two years which means we have subsidized $5 billion and then $4 billion. Into the future as the economy recovers, we believe that the EI fund can take care of itself. That is not a tax; that is how the EI fund operates.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, experts say that corporate tax reductions have not had the desired effect the government thinks they should have. For example, Statistics Canada indicates that business spending on machinery and equipment has declined as a share of GDP and total business investment spending has declined as a percentage of corporate cashflow. This is the opposite of what the government is trying to achieve.

IT use by Canadian business is only half of that of the United States. That comment is attributed to Kevin Lynch, former clerk of the Privy Council. In 2007, Canadian business spending on R and D, about 1% of GDP, ranked 14th in the OECD, well below the average 1.6% and only one-third of that of Sweden, Finland and Korea. In addition, productivity growth was actually worse in the last decade.

There is a lot of evidence out there that the government's agenda of reducing corporate taxes is not having the desired effect. Why do the Conservatives insist upon doing things that do not work?

The EconomyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the last two budgets we have brought in a number of initiatives to improve productivity but at the same time the world recession hit. It affected all the commercial enterprises in this country. They had to retrench. They are now starting to recover and there are signs now that this economy is coming back. With the initiatives in place and the lower taxes, we expect the productivity of this country to increase dramatically in the future.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, that was an important question that was just asked regarding corporate tax cuts and whether or not they are working. Our government's overall low tax policy has created a tax freedom day for Canadians which now comes almost three weeks earlier.

Has the hon. member heard today's jobs report? If he has, is he encouraged by this jobs report? Does he not see this as evidence that our economic action plan in fact is working and that we are witnessing a recovery taking place in Canada?

The EconomyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think it was announced today that over 20,000 new jobs were created last month, and not to be greedy, I will say that in part our government is responsible for this. The actions we have taken to help restore the economy, to infuse businesses through less taxation so that they can hire and to encourage them to buy new equipment, buy new computers has helped to raise the employment rates. We are still in a delicate situation. That is why we are continuing with $19 billion in incentives over the next year. Our expectation is that by the end of this year the economy will be back on its moorings and will carry on into the future.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

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.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Sudbury will have approximately 16 minutes remaining after question period to conclude his remarks.

We will now move on to statements by members.

Short Line Rail ProjectsStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, today there are 13 railway short lines in Ontario, transporting goods to market, supporting thousands and thousands of Ontario jobs and dozens of Ontario communities. Examples such as the Huron Central, the Ottawa Valley, the Kawartha Lakes Railway and others could all cease operations, some as early as this summer, if vital infrastructure investments are not made.

Since 2006, our government has partnered with several provinces to assist rail operators in rebuilding vital short line rail arteries and the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities has stated that he stands ready to support Ontario rail short line infrastructure applications.

This Parliament's all-party rail caucus, which I have been honoured to chair for the last several years, has consistently indicated its support for Ontario's short line rail and we were all heartened when MPP David Orazietti proclaimed, through a release, that the McGuinty government was officially committed to partnering with our government in support of our rail short lines.

I encourage our provincial partners to sign on to the territorial base fund and support Ontario short line infrastructure applications. The time to act is now.

HaitiStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on January 12, when the devastating earthquake hit the poorest country in our hemisphere, Canadians responded as Canadians do: we opened up our hearts and we opened up our wallets.

The government announced it would match dollar for dollar donations made to the Haiti earthquake relief fund following a desperate appeal for immediate help. Canadians could give to the charity of their choice with the understanding that was where the money would stay and believing that it would go to the desperate people of Haiti right away.

It turns out that is not the case. The government now admits that it will not respect Canadians' charities of choice. The government, not donors, will decide where the money will go, designating the World Bank as a charity of choice. What arrogance. When generous Canadians part with their hard-earned dollars, they have every right to choose the charity they want.

Incredibly, the government also admits CIDA has not dispersed one red cent of this money two long months after the earthquake struck. This is serious. Canadians who donated their hard-earned money want it fixed.

Olympic AthletesStatements By Members

March 12th, 2010 / 11 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the people of Drummondville were excited to watch their hometown athletes perform at the Olympic Games in Vancouver.

These were the first Olympic Games for 30-year-old Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau. He came in fifth in freestyle skiing, men's moguls. The Drummondville native said that it was his best performance ever.

Jessica Dubé, who is from Saint-Cyrille de Wendover, delivered her best performance of the season and placed sixth in the pairs free skating event with her partner Bryce Davison. They are now preparing for the world championships to be held in Torino, Italy, from March 22 to 28.

Lastly, Marco Marciano, former goalie coach for the Drummondville Voltigeurs, won a gold medal with Canada's women's hockey team.

On behalf of my fellow citizens, congratulations to all of our athletes.

Harmonized Sales TaxStatements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, aboriginal communities in Ontario strongly oppose the HST. The Union of Ontario Indians and the United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin have been trying for months to meet with the Minister of Finance to discuss the loss of point of sale exemptions under the new tax. The Premier of Ontario also wants to meet with the federal government and first nations on this issue.

Chief Shining Turtle from Whitefish River First Nation has been told flat out to stop contacting the Minister of Finance's office regarding the HST. Staffers of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development called to tell him to stop sending emails. Then they had the gall to hang up on him. This is no way to treat aboriginal people, especially chiefs.

Forcing the HST on first nations infringes on their treaty and inherent rights. Since the federal government triggered changes to point of sale exemptions, it has a legal duty to consult and accommodate first nations people.

I call on the government to show respect and ask that it meet with the Union of Ontario Indians and the province to resolve this matter.

Olympic AthletesStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, Rob Pool from Standard, Alberta wrote to me, telling me that watching the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver “made his spirit soar”. He said that as a hockey fan he thought he would watch the hockey games and very little else, but as the games continued, he said:

I became captivated by the enthusiasm of what became a celebration of life...I can sympathize with a young girl from rural Quebec who spends her life from age five to age twenty, only to lose her mother on the eve of her greatest challenge in sports, this transcends sports and becomes life. When young Joannie rose above her misfortune and changed a negative into a triumph, it becomes the triumph of a nation's spirit over adversity.

My constituent asks the House to balance the challenges of difficult funding decisions and the taxpayers' agenda with the spirit of national pride created by Canadian Olympians. Therefore, during the next two years, our Conservative government is delivering to Canadian Olympians an additional $34 million on top of $11 million a year we already spend. We have renewed $10 million to help identify and develop superior athletes and another $10 million to the Canadian Paralympic committee.

We will continue to cheer. Go, Canada, go.

Human RightsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the House needs to take note of the continuing political and legal harassment of Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's former deputy prime minister and the current leader of the opposition.

Mr. Ibrahim has long been a compelling spokesman for democracy and for human rights in his country, and despite an unjustified prison sentence continues to speak out with courage and with determination. It is important for Canada to send a consistent message on democracy and human rights.

For the record, I hope all members of the House will join me in expressing our solidarity with Mr. Anwar Ibrahim and his continuing legal struggle in Malaysia, and join me in calling on the Government of Canada to express its deep concern to the government of Malaysia about this matter.

World Kidney DayStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today in recognition of World Kidney Day.

Kidneys are important organs that perform many functions to keep the blood clean and chemically balanced. I am sure some will be shocked to know that approximately two million Canadians have kidney disease or are at risk, according to the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

Many of these individuals will not be aware that they suffer from kidney disease because of the lack of early warning symptoms. Common conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity can lead to chronic kidney conditions. If identified early, however, kidney disease can be managed through diet, medication and exercise.

I urge all Canadians to educate themselves on the signs and symptoms that may indicate kidney disease and to remember that healthy choices can play an important role in kidney health.

22nd Quebec Intellectual Disability WeekStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, events related to the 22nd Quebec Intellectual Disability Week are taking place across the province. Since March 7, hundreds of volunteers and many others have been working to raise awareness of what it is like to live with an intellectual disability.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the exceptional work of an organization in my riding, Les Amis de la déficience intellectuelle Rive-Nord.

The association includes relatives, interveners, volunteers and people with intellectual disabilities, working together to promote respect for human rights.

People with intellectual disabilities still have to confront too many stereotypes. By getting involved with this organization, many young people in my riding are working to eliminate those stereotypes and fully integrate people with intellectual disabilities into society.

The EconomyStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, Stats Canada reported this morning that employment in Canada increased by nearly 21,000 jobs in February, lowering the unemployment rate from 8.3% to 8.2%.

Today's numbers are further proof that Canada's economic action plan is working. February marks the fifth month of job gains in the past seven months. Since July 2009, Canada has created almost 160,000 new jobs.

While Canada is weathering current global economic challenges better than nearly every other industrialized country, our recovery remains fragile. The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that our government will not be satisfied until those Canadians who have lost their jobs are working again. That is why our government will fully implement year two of Canada's economic action plan and roll out the remaining job creating stimulus projects across the country.

While the opposition ignores what matters most to Canadians, jobs and economic growth remain our top priority.

Citizenship and ImmigrationStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand in the House of Commons today to congratulate Marika Teakle, a distinguished Canadian citizen from my riding of Westmount—Ville-Marie.

Ms. Teakle showed exemplary dedication for 47 years, both as a volunteer in her community, and as a public servant responsible for immigrants.

In a tribute to this amazing woman on February 26, 2010, Albert Deschamps, the Quebec regional director general of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, announced that a room used for citizenship ceremonies would be named the Marika Teakle room, in her honour, and a plaque was officially unveiled.

As her member of Parliament, I am delighted to have this opportunity to congratulate Marika. New citizens preparing to take their oath of citizenship will be reminded, as they enter the Marika Teakle room, of her long-standing service to immigrants to Canada and of her commitment to their well-being.

Congratulations.

Canada's Economic Action PlanStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning Statistics Canada reported that the Canadian economy added approximately 21,000 jobs in February, thereby pushing the unemployment rate down.

These statistics show once again that Canada's economic action plan is producing results. Our government understands that the main concern of Quebeckers and Canadians is the economy. Thanks to our economic growth and jobs budget, we are meeting the needs of Quebeckers.

It seems the Bloc Québécois still does not grasp the importance of Canada's economic recovery, since, just this Wednesday, it voted against the budget.

The recovery does remain fragile, however, which is why our government will follow through with year two of Canada's economic action plan and carry out the other projects to create jobs across the country.

Unlike the Bloc, which claims to be in Ottawa to defend the interests of Quebeckers, our government is taking action for Quebec and Canada.

SudburyStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, the past week has been an eventful week for my constituents. The week began with the disappointing news that mediated talks between Brazilian-owned Vale Inco and its striking workers, USW Local 6500, had broken off.

This eight-month strike has taken a significant toll on the lives of the workers, who are fighting to protect fair wages and pensions. New Democrats want both sides to start talking again. The federal government needs to show real interest in ending this strike, instead of brushing off the concerns of workers and the community.

On Wednesday, Greater Sudbury welcomed, with open arms and grateful hearts, some of our fantastic Olympic athletes: Tessa Bonhomme and Rebecca Johnston, gold medallists with the Canadian women`s Olympic hockey team; Devon Kershaw of the Canadian men's cross-country skiing, who delivered the best ever Canadian finish in the men's 50 kilometre, mass start classic; and Chris Del Bosco of the Canadian men`s ski cross team, whose determination to make Canada proud is truly inspiring.

My constituents have proven that even in the most difficult of times, they can set aside their worries and put on a great welcome for our deserving athletes.

Paralympic Winter GamesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, today the Paralympic Winter Games will begin in Vancouver and Whistler. Over 500 athletes from 43 countries have come to Canada to compete for Paralympic gold. Team Canada will be represented by 55 Canadians, who will make us all very proud in their pursuit of excellence.

I know our Paralympians are eager to show all Canadians that they are ready to win gold, much like Alexandre Bilodeau, who won Canada`s first gold medal in Canada, or Maëlle Ricker, the first Canadian woman to win gold on home soil.

Canada of course won 14 gold medals in total, setting a record for most gold medals won by a country. In every sport, there was a Canadian athlete to cheer for and to unite us all as Canadians. I would like to thank each and every one of them for their efforts.

On behalf of the good people of my riding and all Canadians, I wish our Paralympians the best of luck. Go, Canada, go.

Government SpendingStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, while this government is trying to balance the budget by proposing flashy but ineffective measures, the media were reporting this week that the Department of Public Works awarded a contract worth $6 billion over 11 years to Profac for federal building maintenance.

By maintenance, they mean installing a doorbell to the tune of $1,000, purchasing two potted plants for $2,000 and installing lights for no less than $5,000. The problem is that the government refuses to provide itemized receipts for those costs. How does it intend to prove any irregularity?

It is even more distressing to see this Conservative government try to shift the blame to public officials. It was this government that extended Profac's maintenance contract. The government is responsible for this waste of public money by virtue of a basic principle that the Conservatives do not seem to grasp, and that is ministerial accountability.

The BudgetStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister misled Parliament and all Canadians when he said in his budget speech, “balancing the nation's books will not come at the expense of pensioners...or by raising taxes on hard-working Canadians”.

That simply is not true. Commencing during the 2010-11 budget year, employment insurance premiums for employees and employers will increase by almost 9%. The government will be imposing a 31.5% punitive tax on income trust distributions to over 2.5 million Canadians, primarily seniors, and it will be imposing a new air traveller's tax.

As the leader of the official opposition said to the House yesterday:

The issue that goes to character is that the Conservatives will not stand up in the House of Commons before Canadians and admit they have increased taxes. That is the issue of character. That is the issue that undermines confidence and trust in the government, and that is why we will continually [expose] the Conservatives when they seek to tell Canadians things that are simply not true.

The EconomyStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Conservative Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, this morning Statistics Canada confirmed that Canada's economic action plan is working.

Last month almost 21,000 new jobs were created. Five out of the past seven months have seen job gains and since last July close to 160,000 new jobs have been created.

Our low tax policies and economic action plan are fueling Canada's recovery.

Canadians should ask the Liberal leader more about his plan for the economy. How many jobs would be created by the Liberal leader's GST hike or his carbon tax on everything? How would the Liberal plan for massive and reckless new spending encourage economic growth? How would the Liberal plan for a higher deficit create the jobs of tomorrow? The answer is simple: higher taxes and reckless spending do not create jobs and they do not encourage economic growth.

Our Conservative government is dedicated to creating jobs and growth while keeping our taxes low.

AfghanistanOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence. It is now clear that not only in 2006 but even today there are widespread and well-sustained reports of the ill-treatment and indeed torture of prisoners in the Afghan prison system, including detainees from NATO forces.

Why were these reports ignored in 2006 and why are they being ignored today?