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

Topics

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

We have seen how much influence the Quebec caucus has in this government. There is absolutely nothing for the forestry industry, for example.

Let us look at agriculture. I travelled to my colleague's riding where we met with market gardeners and farmers. Some of them said, among other things, that there was nothing about high-speed Internet service. They cannot even submit data on the traceability of their animals and their crops.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

An hon. member

We have them for agriculture.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Yes, but we do not know the distribution. They are just figures.

We toured Quebec and we did not see our colleagues along the way because they were somewhere on strike or locked out.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I was really intrigued by the Bloc member's speech and the question by the member for Mississauga South to the Bloc member. He was highly critical of the budget but at the end of the day he did not indicate that the Liberal Party would be voting against the budget. In fact, we know that the Liberals are going to be supporting the budget and keeping the government in power.

Could the member explain the Liberal member's comments and what his actions will be as a result of them?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for the question. When Bloc members say they are going to vote against the budget, they have reasons to back up their decision.

We gave the Minister of Finance a number of options—not just two or three—for eliminating the deficit in the long term, for looking after those in need and for developing a recovery plan and a sustainable economy for Quebec.

It is true that those in the official opposition indicated that they were somewhat opposed, or perhaps a little more opposed, to the budget—as though having to decide by picking daisy petals—but not enough to vote against it. We believe that when you make a decision you are either for or against a matter and you follow it to its conclusion.

It would seem that on the day of the vote, a number of Liberals may be tempted to do something else. That is unacceptable because it would allow this government to remain in power and to not implement any measures. We have asked that these measures be implemented for Quebec's economy.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting. I was just listening to my colleague, the member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, who said that they had toured Quebec and that they were there. Unfortunately, I did not see them in Lanaudière, I did not see them in the Laurentians, and I did not see them in Montreal. In fact, I did not see them anywhere.

Only the Bloc Québécois was able to travel across Quebec to really listen to and take into account the needs of Quebeckers. It is all well and good for the Conservatives to say that they will get out there, but they have to actually listen to people. That is why we presented a responsible plan based on the work done by our colleague from Hochelaga and by all the members. This probably explains why the Bloc Québécois does not just have token Quebeckers as MPs or people who just read from press releases.

Earlier, I heard the speech from my colleague from Hochelaga. He was talking about something very interesting. I know that he is very thorough and professional, and spoke to us about nearly $2.3 billion in tax evasion.

As I was saying, I know how thorough he is, and I would like to know where he got the figure of $2.3 billion in tax evasion.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague, who mentioned our tour.

Indeed, we toured extensively throughout Quebec. We met with over 400 people representing 317 different organizations. We met with more than just chambers of commerce, the Conseil du patronat and special interest groups; we met with the entire population.

Indeed, on many occasions, people wondered how the banks got this information, since it was sudden. The answer is very simple: the Minister of Finance, who is responsible for the budget, is also responsible for the Bank Act. The Bank Act requires that all Canadian chartered banks publish their tax statistics once a year in an annual report.

Consider this example. On page 122 of the Royal Bank's 2009 annual report published recently, the Royal Bank states that taxes that would be payable if all foreign subsidiaries’ accumulated unremitted earnings were repatriated are estimated at $821 million as of October 31, 2009. These figures are for the Royal Bank alone, so we can imagine the figures for all the banks.

We simply did the math. We added the figures of the Royal Bank to those of CIBC, TD, Scotiabank and the National Bank, and that was the total.

In closing, I would ask the Minister of Finance to make sure the right hand knows what the left hand is doing.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Hamilton Mountain.

Two days after reopening the doors of the House of Commons, here we are debating a budget that leaves out millions more people.

This budget contains nothing new in terms of creating jobs or helping seniors who are living in poverty.

This budget will give billions of dollars to the most profitable corporations, which clearly do not need any help.

We cannot support this budget, not as it is currently written.

I would like to talk about some of the changes that would make it possible for the NDP to support the Conservative budget, a budget that would open doors for Canadians instead of slamming them in their faces.

Opening doors starts with a strategy to get 1.5 million jobless Canadians back working again. That way they can spend their paycheques and contribute to growing the economy. It is not a “can't do” approach that projects an increase in unemployment this year, which is what the budget before us predicts. It is shameful.

The stimulus plan of the government created photo opportunities for ministers, no question about that, but precious few full-time, well paid jobs for Canadians. Now we learn that more a billion of these dollars that were announced in the last budget never even left the federal coffers to be sent out to create work. Renewing that stalled plan is not going to cut it. It is time to retool it to get these funds flowing with a razor sharp focus on creating family-supporting jobs.

Therefore, extend the home renovation tax credit with a new emphasis on energy efficiency. Retrofit and build affordable housing for Canadians across the land. Do something to create the green jobs of the future, rather than the do-nothing approach that we see here.

This budget includes a boost for skills training, and that is something New Democrats can support. What we cannot support is a budget that blames workers' skill levels for its own failure to create quality jobs.

This year, the doors will close on hundreds of thousands of jobless Canadians. Their employment insurance benefits will run out while they search for jobs that do not exist. Jobs that this government and the companies cashing in on this budget failed to create.

Yesterday's budget extends employment insurance benefits for job sharing. The NDP can support that measure.

What we cannot support is a budget that will not extend employment insurance benefits for the nearly one million workers who are unemployed because of the recession.

This budget will not extend benefits. Instead, it will hit all workers and employers with a new tax by increasing employment insurance contributions by $19 billion.

Instead of putting working Canadians first, this budget literally squanders billions of dollars on more tax cuts for banks and big oil companies.

Now do not tell us about competitiveness. Our corporate tax rates are now well below those of our competitors in the U.S. and the G8. Hence, we are now talking about ideology, not about good sense.

More corporate handouts are not going to spark our economy. These have not done so in the past and they are not going to do it now. Building infrastructure produces ten times the stimulus effect on employment as a corporate tax cut. More corporate handouts will not spark innovation. After 10 years of these corporate tax cuts, big business now invests less in innovation, not more. More corporate handouts will not save good manufacturing and forestry jobs. Those employers will not see a cent, because they are not making profits.

What more corporate handouts will do is to pad the profits of the wealthy corporations, as several banks revealed once again yesterday, the same banks that are going to dole out $8.3 billion this fiscal year in executive bonuses. We need to make better choices in this country.

We need to make better choices. By closing the door on tax breaks for big corporations, we can open other doors for Canadians.

Eliminating the next two rounds of tax breaks will save $6 billion per year, which is enough to invest in the creation of a lot of long-term jobs. It is enough to extend employment insurance benefits. It is enough to put women and children first, to improve our health care and education systems, or to make pension funds more secure. It is enough to do what ought to have been done long ago: whatever it takes to get our seniors out of poverty. It can be done.

More than a quarter of a million seniors, who helped build this country and raised our families and fed us and built our communities, are living in poverty now, locked out of the wealth they helped to create. It does not have to be this way.

The Prime Minister could seize this very moment to lift every single senior in Canada out of poverty. He could do it this year by expanding the guaranteed income supplement.

However, instead of investing the $700 million that would be required to do this and bring dignity to seniors, the government is handing out $6 billion more, almost 10 times as much, to profitable corporations that are not going to do anything productive with it. We cannot support choices like that.

The unfettered faith of this budget in unfettered markets shows how little the government has really learned from the economic crisis.

New Democrats have faith too. We have faith in the single mom in Regina who is juggling three part-time positions. We have faith in the auto worker who just lost a job competition at Tim's to his daughter. We have faith in the senior in Shelburne who should not have to go to bed hungry. We have faith that everyday Canadians, the ones who build this country through co-operation and hard work, if given support, will deliver if we have faith in them, faith rooted in our respect for our elders who built this country in the first place.

Let us create these quality jobs and protect jobless workers until then, and give seniors some dignity and shelve the corporate handouts that stand in the way of achieving these worthwhile objectives. Then we will have a budget New Democrats can support.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, once again the hypocrisy of the leader of the NDP is astounding. It never fails to amaze me.

The member and his party are the ones who voted against the economic action plan before they even read it when it was introduced in the last budget.

They voted against the Conservative government making $3.7 billion in loans available to Chrysler Canada to draw on to keep auto workers employed. They voted against a $10.8 billion loan to General Motors to help protect auto workers' jobs. Let us be clear, these loans were needed to mitigate the job threats to the auto industry caused by the global recession. The NDP and their leader voted against these loans.

I need to have an answer from them. Why would they vote against a program that protected 52,000 jobs in the auto sector. Why would they vote against it?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the truth is that the government was prepared to do absolutely nothing when facing the oncoming recession.

This is a government whose representatives stood in this House and said we were not even going to go into recession, that there would never be a deficit and that we would never have to take action whatsoever.

I remember when they said if the NDP had its way, we would have to invest up to $30 billion. The Minister of Finance said that.

Then faced with losing their own jobs, the government members finally decided they needed to do something about the jobs of others.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is really a one-year budget. To go beyond what the government has put in the budget, our wish is based on nothing than a bunch of estimates that the government has not justified.

I am particularly concerned about the lack of vision anticipating the implications of our aging society. On the issues of pensions, seniors and health care, we have to understand where Canada is going to be down the road. We cannot just say, “Now that we are here, let us do this,” because the economics of this lag. We cannot address a problem today with the money of today, as it is going to take years to kick in.

Does the leader of the NDP feel that the government can be trusted with regard to controlling expenditures, given that it allowed some $3.5 billion in infrastructure funding to lapse in the last fiscal year? It appears that we are not getting the money out again this year and that we cannot trust the government to get it out next year.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the question of trust certainly does cut to the heart of the matter here. Municipalities and communities were counting on funds being transferred. They had, what I thought was, a very good proposal on how that could be done, involving the transfer of funds in a predictable fashion.

Just as an example, we have advocated transferring one cent per litre of the gas tax that is being collected right now to municipalities for public transit. That would allow municipalities all over Canada to begin to introduce investments and service improvements and would keep transit affordable. That is exactly the kind of policy that should be in place.

Unfortunately, we cannot have a great deal of trust in the government to actually deliver the funds. It did not do so last year and we do not really expect it will do so fully this year.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, after reading this budget, the Bloc Québécois will be voting against it. This is a budget that does help the workers who have lost their jobs. As mentioned during oral questions, 50% of unemployed workers do not have access to employment insurance.

There is nothing in this budget for the forestry industry, which is going through a major crisis throughout Quebec. Quebec has been denied the right to be compensated for harmonizing its sales tax.

I would like the leader of the NDP to explain how the Liberals, who have said that they will support this budget, can claim to be an alternative to the party in power while at the same time supporting measures that will harm workers and those who have lost their jobs.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot explain the actions of the official opposition. Such questions should be put to them.

I am not really able to explain the behaviour of another political party. We are simply advancing our propositions. We are saying that if this budget were to be improved along the lines we are suggesting, then we might have some basis for moving forward.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate on the Conservative government's budget.

While budgets are always important events in the life of a government, I would suggest that none in recent memory should have been as important as this one.

The Conservatives had a choice to make. Would they continue on with the failed policies of yesterday by tabling a stay the course budget that would include billions of new spending on corporate tax cuts and higher taxes for average Canadians? Or would they finally admit that their free market formula of smaller governments, cuts to social programs, fewer regulations on corporations and tax cuts for the wealthy was precisely the prescription that had brought our economy crashing down on us in the first place?

Sadly, though not surprisingly, the government decided to stay the course and in the process it abandoned hard-working Canadians and seniors. There is no doubt that the innocent victims of the global recession of 2008-09 were seniors and the middle class. A cycle ripped through Canada's job market, leaving over 1.5 million officially unemployed. Of those, 810,000 are poised to run out of employment insurance benefits in the coming months. Thousands already have. Without jobs to greet them, the majority will wind up on welfare rolls or worse.

What should Canadians have been able to expect from their government? A plan to get Canada working again. Clearly, the status quo is not good enough. Full-time job growth has been sluggish at best. Canada's unemployed are competing in an ever smaller job market. Over the past year, Canada added only 55,000 new part-time jobs and 119,000 new temporary jobs.

Without a good job, well paid, with benefits and reliable hours, life becomes harder to plan, mortgages harder to pay, loans harder to diminish and savings harder to tuck away. In short, Canada's job crisis represents a new threat to the sustainability of Canada's middle class.

It is the government's job to get serious about job protection and job creation. Instead the budget freezes public sector operations, creating new job losses in the federal public sector and thereby compromising the food we eat, the health of our environment, transportation safety and the public services on which Canadians rely. In one fell swoop the Conservatives have managed to weaken the economy and hurt Canadians.

The same is true for the government's cancellation of the home renovation tax credit. The HRTC was one instrument that worked. It could have been improved by encouraging renovations that enhance energy efficiency, but it was undeniably successful. It bolstered the crucial housing and construction sectors and it had a huge uptake by homeowners who needed the government's help to maintain their assets during this recession.

However, the Conservatives decided to cancel this program and opted instead to throw good money after bad. Nothing is more egregious in this budget than the government's policy of continuing tax cuts to the big banks and profitable corporations.

Canada's corporate tax rates are already well below those of our main competitor, namely the U.S. Yet the government will continue to enrich its corporate friends.

The Parliamentary Budget Office estimates a $19 billion structural deficit in three years. Fifteen billion dollars of that deficit will be the cost of corporate tax cuts, all of that without a shred of evidence that those tax cuts have led to private sector investments and job creation.

To add insult to injury, since Liberal and Conservative governments started cutting corporate taxes 10 years ago, individuals are carrying 61% of the cost of government programs, while corporations now only pay 15%. It is clearly time to recalibrate.

Instead of spending $6 billion on further corporate tax cuts, the government should have sustained its stimulus spending to create jobs. Both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have warned governments that withdrawing their stimulus packages too quickly could trigger another global recessionary dip. By cutting the stimulus package off too soon, the Conservatives are letting the jobless fend for themselves and letting the economy simply drift toward recovery. That is not nearly good enough.

On the contrary, the $6 billion that is currently targeted to further corporate tax cuts should be invested in improving Canada's crumbling physical infrastructure and enhancing its social infrastructure. This would be a win-win. Investments in cities, health care, child care and affordable housing would create jobs and leave our communities more functional and vibrant as well.

Imagine what a boon to the steel and construction industries with serious investment on infrastructure could be. As we replace obsolete infrastructure we can transfer, Canada's economic base to a more energy efficient platform because we would not have to choose between what is good for the economy and what is good for the environment.

To a city like my home town of Hamilton, that is absolutely crucial. The recession has hit through our community with the force of a cyclone, leaving a devastating trail of joblessness in its wake. In a city that was once known as Steel-town, only two of the city's largest 10 employers are now private sector companies.

The impact of those job losses is being felt at every level of our community. First, of course, is the high rate of unemployment, with workers increasingly run out of EI. This places an additional burden on the city's welfare rolls and the city is already cash-strapped.

The companies that are closing their doors are now no longer paying property taxes to the municipality, a loss that cannot be compensated for by the public sector because employers like hospitals and post-secondary schools are exempt from paying property taxes to municipalities. This puts the burden for the cost of municipal services squarely on the shoulders of residential property taxpayers, the very people who are losing their jobs. It is a downward spiral with no end in sight.

The only way to reverse the trend is through a positive intervention by senior levels of government. Regrettably, to date, instead of assisting through stimulus spending, they have shown a propensity to download costs instead. The budget could have redressed that balance, but shamefully, the Conservatives have failed to do so in any meaningful way.

Job creation is not the only area in which the government has failed to show leadership when it comes to transitioning from one of the worst recessions on record into a more sustainable economy that benefits all Canadians. Just ask the over 1.5 million Canadians who have lost their jobs. The Conservatives' first order of business should have been to stave off the crisis awaiting the 807,000 EI recipients who are poised to run out of benefits in the coming months.

I was proud to table a comprehension motion on EI reform in the House on behalf of our caucus over a year ago. That motion was passed by a majority vote of MPs. Yet benefits still have not been extended or expanded in a comprehensive way to help those Canadians who are struggling in this very tough job market. It is absolutely imperative that we act to protect the jobless, and there is no time to waste. The future of entire families literally hangs in the balance.

The same is true of pensioners and seniors. Let me just focus on two issues here: workplace pensions and public pensions. As companies teeter on the brink of bankruptcy, unfunded pension liabilities are being exposed that leave workers, at best, worried, and at worst, completely unprotected after years of contributing what should have been their retirement income security. We must act now to protect workplace pensions so Canadians can retire with the dignity and respect they have earned. The throne speech promised such action on Wednesday, but Thursday's budget failed to deliver. That has got to be a record by any government of breaking its promise to Canadians.

Similarly, the Canadian government failed to expand the ability of Canadians to invest in low cost, secure, predictable public pensions through an enhanced CPP. The NDP tabled a motion to that effect in the House, and like my EI motion, it too was passed. Again, anxious retirees are still waiting for action.

By definition, seniors do not have a lifetime to wait. They deserve action and they deserve action now. That is particularly true of Canada's most vulnerable seniors, those who are receiving the GIS. The rate of seniors living in poverty doubled from 3% in the mid-1990s to 6% in the mid-2000s. The maximum GIS benefit intended for the lowest income seniors was approximately $650 a month in 2009. That is only $50 more than it was in 2005. The maximum annual old age security and GIS benefits are approximately $14,000, which is $4,000 below the poverty line in most cities. We can and must lift Canadian seniors out of poverty by improving the GIS.

I know my time here is almost up, but let me just conclude with one final comment. Like most Canadians, I recognize that in the long term, we cannot spend more than we collect, but budgets are about choices. By putting an end to the corporate tax cuts, we can afford to help those who are the most vulnerable in this economic down. Hard-working Canadians and the seniors who built our country deserve nothing less.

Let me wrap up by trying to be constructive. I move a subamendment to the amendment that is before the House today:

That the amendment be amended by:

(a) adding immediately before words “the oil industry”, the words, “large banks, big corporations; and

(b) adding after the word “supplement”, the words “allow for the full protection of pensions in all cases of corporate insolvency, work for increases to the CPP and QPP”; and

(c) by adding after the word “commission”, the words “the implementation of the harmonized sales tax in Ontario and British Columbia, and eliminates all references in the budget designed to weaken our national commitments to a clean energy future”.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The amendment to the amendment is in order.

Questions and comment, the hon. member for Sudbury.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague's speech was fantastic. My community of Sudbury and the surrounding area of Nickel Belt are being hit by a devastating strike. Vale Inco has been on strike for the last eight months, with 3,200 steelworkers being affected. This all relates to the government's plan for foreign investment. We have been calling it foreign takeover. We are seeing more and more of this happening. We are not protecting our Canadian resources. We are losing jobs, not creating jobs. We are losing revenue.

Could I hear my hon. colleague's thoughts on that and how is it affecting her?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. I know that both the member for Sudbury and the member for Nickel Belt have been tireless champions of the steelworkers' cause in their home communities, and I commend them for those efforts.

The member for Sudbury is absolutely right. That issue is not one that is just impacting Sudbury. My home town, as I said earlier in my speech, is Hamilton. Just down the road is Nanticoke, where we have a plant where first, workers were being laid off in March and then the others were locked out just a few months after that. Why?

Stelco is what people thought about when they thought about Steel-town. What happened to Stelco? It was bought out by U.S. Steel, yet another foreign takeover.

The government has said it is going to take U.S. Steel to court. The workers are still locked out. That was months ago. We are still waiting for a decision. What happens if the decision is favourable? First, it will probably be appealed and even if the appeal is denied and the court decision can go forward, we are talking about months and months of legal proceedings that at best will perhaps get the government some fines that the company will have to pay.

For me, the bottom line is not those fines. The bottom line is this. What is happening to family-sustaining jobs in communities like Hamilton, Sudbury and, indeed, in communities right across the country? Workers are losing their jobs. They are being locked out. I defy the government to demonstrate to any member in the House where the net public benefit is of such actions. It is the government's job to protect that net public benefit under the Investment Canada Act.

The government has failed to stand up for workers. It has failed to stand up for them in foreign takeovers and it is has failed to stand up for them in this budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way from Hamilton Mountain for her speech on the budget. I will refrain from putting too many adjectives in there.

There was a lot of negativity in her speech and at the end I hoped she would get to something positive, because there are a lot of positive priorities set out in the budget. I am still troubled by the fact that the NDP has said that it will vote against this budget. We all know that it voted against last year's budget.

She has talked a lot about jobs. The jobs of the future will be from our young people. In last year's budget, the New Democrats voted against 500 new, prestigious Vanier Canada graduate scholarships and 1,000 permanent Canada graduate scholarships.

I would like a very simple answer to this question. Are those members now going to vote against post-doctoral fellowships of $70,000 each, which is $45 million over five years to the granting councils? Are they going to vote against all of—

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Hamilton Mountain.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, no caucus has been a stronger advocate of post-secondary education than the NDP caucus, both with respect to grants and, of course, extended loan programs for graduate students so that they can continue to do their work, and not just graduate students, I would point out, but undergraduates as well, who are not mentioned at all in the budget.

I find it ironic, though, that the member opposite talked about the jobs of the future. I have to say that the jobs of the future do not feed the families of today. There are 1.5 million unemployed in this country and 810,000 Canadians are going to run out of EI benefits in the coming weeks. Yes, if we have to make choices, we will stand up for those families. They deserve a job, they deserve a paycheque and the government has chosen to abandon them so that it could give tax cuts to the big banks.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for the opportunity to speak to budget 2010, year two of Canada's economic action plan. This is the third straight budget that I have had the privilege of working intimately on with the Minister of Finance in my role as parliamentary secretary. I thank both the minister and the Prime Minister for that great opportunity.

Working closely on budget 2010 also meant taking part in many consultations in preparing this substantial document. I literally travelled either with or without the minister right across this great country, this in addition to hearing many witnesses in numerous hearings that I attended as part of the finance committee's prebudget consultations.

Before moving on, I would like to highlight a few of the consultations that I attended and how that feedback helped shape budget 2010.

First, I took part in a very interesting prebudget round table in beautiful British Columbia with my colleague, the member for Richmond, whom I need to applaud for being such a strong advocate for her constituents. Second, I joined the Minister of Public Works and Government Services in Edmonton for another similar round table, and likewise salute her for her efforts and hard work.

These are just a couple of examples among many of how we went out to speak directly with Canadians before preparing the budget and not just a select few special interest groups here in Ottawa. We travelled to them. As the Prime Minister said previously, consulting with Canadians outside of Ottawa is never a bad thing.

Along with my caucus colleagues we went from coast to coast to coast to hear from businesses, public interest groups, not for profit organizations and industry associations. Most important, we heard and spoke to everyday Canadians, men and women who are the backbone of this great country and who trust Parliament to spend their hard-earned tax dollars wisely after, and only after, careful consideration.

While we heard a lot of different stories from these Canadians, we heard one common theme when it came to their shared view with respect to what they wanted to see as Parliament's number one priority: the economy.

Focusing on the economy did mean different things to different Canadians across the regions. However, it all boiled down to basically staying the course on stimulus now to help protect jobs in the short term and laying the groundwork for long-term economic growth and the good high quality jobs that come with that.

That is exactly what budget 2010 seeks to accomplish. It builds on the work done in year one of Canada's economic action plan to stimulate our economy from the depths of the most severe economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. At the same time it helps to ensure Canada's economic advantage into the future.

Last year we launched Canada's economic action plan. Its short-term objective was straightforward: stabilize our economy, help families, and save jobs from a then worsening global recession. It worked, and it helped to ensure our country weathered the global recession better than all other major industrialized countries to date. The plan, including provincial and territorial actions, is expected to create or maintain approximately 220,000 jobs by the end of 2010.

Some in the opposition intent on tearing down Canada's economy and its workers at every turn shamefully mock the claim that Canada's economic action plan is working. I say to them, do not take my word for it. I ask them to look at the recent Statistics Canada report that announced our economy grew 5% in the fourth quarter of 2009, the strongest quarterly rate of economic growth in about a decade.

If they do not have faith in Statistics Canada, what about independent economists, like RBC economist Patricia Croft who said, “I think in the aftermath of this crisis, Canada is emerging as a winner. Indeed, we may be owning the podium in a kind of different way”.

What about HSBC Canada economist Stewart Hall who said,“While the economy entered 2009 like a lamb, it's exiting like an Olympic champion”.

What about CIBC economist Warren Lovely who said:

Simply put, highly rated, Canada offers safe harbour in today's global debt storm … Few advanced economies boast stronger real GDP growth prospects-a view endorsed by our (CIBC's) economics department, a broad cross section of private sector banks, the Bank of Canada, the IMF and … the OECD.

I could go on. However, I think all would agree that the global recovery is not firmly established. We all share the view that too many Canadians have lost their jobs. As I mentioned previously, that is why budget 2010 looks to support the recovery and jobs while sustaining Canada's economic advantage for generations to come. It takes action in three broad areas to achieve these goals.

First, it delivers $19 billion in new federal stimulus under year two of Canada's economic action plan. It includes over $3 billion in tax cuts, $7.7 billion to modernize infrastructure and improve housing, $2.2 billion to support industries and communities, and much more.

Second, it invests in a limited number of new targeted initiatives to build jobs and growth for the economy of tomorrow, harness Canadian innovation and make Canada a destination of choice for new business investment.

Third, budget 2010 outlines a three point plan for returning to budgetary balance once the economy has recovered.

Budget 2010 is a pretty extensive document running over 400 pages and there are many good job-creating and pro-economic growth initiatives that should be highlighted. As this debate continues, I am sure my colleagues will highlight many of those. I would like to focus on a few in particular that will play an important role in positioning Canada to attract the high quality, long-term jobs of tomorrow.

Our Conservative government believes one of the best ways to build a more competitive economy is simply to create a pro-growth environment that allows the large and small private sector businesses and entrepreneurs who employ the vast majority of Canadians to succeed and expand, not an anti-growth environment that stands in the way of their success with high taxes and endless needless red tape.

How do we do that? First, unlike the opposition, we understand that a competitive economy requires competitive lower taxes, not hiking business taxes, not imposing a job-killing carbon tax. Lower taxes support businesses by providing them with the freedom to grow and invest. This creates the foundation that will over the long term bring sustained economic growth and increased employment.

Since 2006, our Conservative government has implemented bold tax reductions to create that competitive business environment, an environment that encourages new investment, growth and job creation. This is quite a significant change from the days of the old former high tax Liberal government.

In fact, due to our Conservative government's leadership, Canada will have the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the entire G7. Importantly, this rate will also be below the average of the OECD countries. What is more, we are also committed to become the jurisdiction with the lowest business income tax rate for the G7 by the year 2012.

As the Canadian Council of Chief Executives pointed out yesterday:

--these tax changes, combined with responsible fiscal policies and unwavering support for open markets and trade liberalization, send an important signal to the rest of the world … as the economy improves, the renewed commitment to fiscal discipline promised in (Budget 2010) will enable Canada to position itself as a leading global destination for business investment and talented individuals.

Indeed our Conservative government fully recognizes that competitive taxation not only protects jobs now, but attracts investors to create new jobs for Canadians today and tomorrow.

When Tim Hortons reorganized itself as a Canadian company after decades as an American one, a National Post editorial declared:

This is good news. Tim's is as Canadian as maple syrup...we take even greater satisfaction in the “why” of Tim's return. Canadian corporate taxes are falling so significantly...that Canada has once again become attractive as a site for corporate headquarters and plants.

Without a doubt, the tax relief our Conservative government has advanced is positioning Canadian businesses to emerge stronger and better than ever before. In budget 2010, we build on that record with the groundbreaking elimination of 1,541 tariffs on productivity-improving machinery, equipment and other manufacturing inputs. This makes Canada a tariff-free zone for manufacturing.

I am proud to say that Canada will be the first country among our G7 and G20 partners to be able to make this claim. This means that Canadian manufacturers will be able to import goods for further production in Canada by Canadian workers without the red tape and paperwork of tariffs, and the costs of complying with discouraging customs rules. This will give our manufacturers from across this country a competitive advantage in the global marketplace by lowering production costs, increasing competitiveness and enhancing innovation and productivity.

The House will recall that last fall we launched an open and public consultation process when we sought input on such a proposed measure. During that consultation, we heard loud and clear that eliminating tariffs would help Canadian manufacturers. They told us this action would assist them to maintain and increase production and employment while expanding their exports. Moreover, using standard economic modelling, it has been suggested that 12,000 jobs could be created over time by this one action alone.

Another key benefit for this pro-growth action is that it also assists in diversifying Canada's trading patterns, complementing our efforts to provide new trade advantages to Canadian business, which include the negotiations with the European Union, exploratory talks with India, and the implementation of recently concluded free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and Jordan.

Even though the tariff-free zone for manufacturing initiative was only unveiled less than 24 hours ago in budget 2010, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Here is only a small sampling of what we have heard from industry associations, business leaders and economic commentators. First, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters said:

We worked with the government directly to reduce tariffs for manufacturing and I believe this is an important cost-savings mechanism for companies...it is a bottom-line boost to cash flow for manufacturers at a time when it is needed the most.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce said:

--certainly manufacturing has scored there. It's really a jobs and growth budget.

The Belleville and District Chamber of Commerce said:

[It] is a positive step...to allow manufacturers to be competitive. Our local manufacturers work on global competitiveness. They have to be competitive and this will allow that to happen.

The Royal Bank's chief economist Craig Wright called the initiative the “real gem” of the budget, and said that it builds on the country’s attempt to attract foreign investment.

The list goes on. The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council noted:

This will mean reducing manufacturers' input costs and therefore improve their productivity and competitiveness because they either improve their profits or they can lower their final price.

Finally, I implore all members to listen to the words of Finn Poschmann at the C.D. Howe Institute. He said:

Eliminating all tariffs on inputs is an absolutely brilliant move. Tariffs are just plain dumb in imposing costs on businesses. It certainly it inhibits productivity growth and the ability to compete. And it is a superb message…in terms of attracting investors but also in taking a leadership role in establishing an agenda aimed at trade liberalization and broad-based economic growth.

Again, that was only a small sampling of early positive feedback to this groundbreaking job-creating initiative.

In budget 2010 we also built on that record with another move that will help attract investment in Canada and fuel new, good quality employment. The ability of new businesses to access capital to finance their growth and to invest in innovation is critical to their success. Venture capital is a vital and necessary tool for providing new startup firms with the tools to introduce new products or services or technologies, invest in new capacity and most importantly create new jobs.

Budget 2010 took a major step in reviving Canada's venture capital market by proposing to modernize the definition of taxable Canadian property thus eliminating the job-killing red tape tax reporting under section 116 of the Income Tax Act for many investments. This will enhance the ability of Canadian businesses, including innovative high-growth companies that contribute to job creation and economic growth, to attract venture capital.

Again, even though this announcement was only made less than 24 hours ago, we have seen a huge, positive reaction. Here is a quick sample. Noted technology entrepreneur Terence Matthews heralded it this way:

At a minimal cost to the government, this amendment will have an immediate, positive and direct impact on Canada's ability to grow a robust Canadian technology industry. By sending a clear message to international investors that Canada is “open for business”, the government will make Canadian companies more attractive to foreign investors overnight.

Canada's Venture Capital and Private Equity Association stated:

The CVCA has long requested the elimination of Section 116 as it pertains to the venture capital and private equity industry and we wish to congratulate the federal government for taking action…Its removal provides an important signal to foreign investors that Canada welcomes their contributions to growing companies and employment.

Eliminating tariffs to support manufacturers and improving Canada's venture capital market are only two of the many positive pro-growth and job-creating measures in budget 2010. There are many more similar items in the budget to improve Canada's economy over the long-term that I had to omit due to time constraints, items that I know my colleagues will highlight in this debate. I hope to speak to some of these in later debate on the upcoming budget implementation bill.

I strongly recommend to all members of the House, especially the opposition, to read the budget document and recognize that staying on course for year two of Canada's economic plan is key to our success as a country. Thanks to the leadership of this Prime Minister and this finance minister, we are on the right track.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am looking at page 98 in the budget book which is supposed to be the place where there is something comprehensive on agriculture.

I just cannot understand it. How can this parliamentary secretary, this member for the rural riding of Macleod, this former farm leader, stand in his place and support this budget that does not have one new dime in it for farmers who are in tragedy in this country?

We are losing the hog producing industry. The industry is going down the tubes and production is being replaced by American production. There is nothing in this budget for hog producers.

There is nothing in this budget for the potato producers in Prince Edward Island and Manitoba who had their processing contracts cut.

There is a wee bit of money in here for beef farmers, but it is not the proposal that the beef processing industry and the producers asked for which would be a per head payment to deal with the uncompetitive position we are in as the result of SRM removal.

Worse yet, the money that is announced in this budget to deal with that problem in a half-mannered way comes from AgriFlexibility. So that money that is going to go to the SRM removal, to the processing plant, actually comes out of current funding for Agriculture Canada through AgriFlexibility and in fact is goring other farmers in the process.

My question is simple. Does the government just not care about farmers in this country? Will the parliamentary secretary now admit that there is absolutely nothing—

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, that reminds me of my days when I was in a leadership role in several of the largest agricultural organizations across this country, back in the dark days, if I can refer to them that way, when we used to sit and listen to Liberal budgets that actually cut funding to agriculture. When there were droughts in western Canada, a Liberal never represented anyone in western Canada and how do you think we fared, Mr. Speaker? I think you know the answer to that one as well as I do.

I happened to have a long discussion with one of the major cattle producers just last night and, as a matter of fact, it will come as a surprise to the hon. member, who cannot seem to control his yelling from that side of the House, that the cattle industry actually understands that if we had done what the hon. member suggests, we would have had an immediate trade challenge.