Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to stand in strong support of the jobs and economic growth act, as well as in support of Canada's continued economic recovery.
Like my Conservative colleagues, I completely oppose the NDP's attempt to delay and threaten the jobs and economic growth act, which is a key component of Canada's economic action plan.
As demonstrated again this morning, Canada's economic action plan is working. Canada's economy is getting stronger. Each month, more and more Canadians, who only a year ago spent restless nights worrying about finding jobs, are now findings jobs and waking up to brighter mornings and, indeed, brighter futures after hearing the great words, “You got the job”.
I know the NDP likes to talk down the Canadian economy, businesses and workers as it preaches its doom and gloom economic defeatism, but the NDP needs to open its collective eyes. We have seen over a quarter of a million net new jobs created in this last year. We have seen job gains every month this year. Canada had record job growth in April. We saw Canada's economy, in the first quarter of 2010, roar ahead with 6.1% growth, the strongest quarterly rate of economic growth in a decade, as well as in the G7.
Both the OECD and the IMF are predicting our economic growth will lead all G7 countries both this year and next. Hope has replaced fear, the fear that we saw a year ago. Optimism has replaced pessimism. Canada is on the right track. If members of the NDP do not want to believe me, they should listen to what the OECD had to say about our country's economy. It stated, “I think Canada looks good - it shines, actually, Canada could even be considered a safe haven”.
Nevertheless, the global recovery is fragile and that is why Parliament's overriding priority must be fully implementing Canada's economic action plan, a blueprint to help create jobs, lower taxes and foster growth for an even brighter tomorrow. We cannot stop moving forward. We cannot delay Canada's economic action plan any longer, but the NDP's procedural delaying tactics would do just that.
We have debated the jobs and economic growth act in Parliament for nearly three months. We have heard over 50 speeches to date. We heard from over 50 witnesses in the finance committee. In that time, we heard some wild allegations. We heard some members criticize the act as far as being too ambitious as an 880-page document.
What is clear is that those members complaining about the size of the act have actually not even looked at it. If they had, they would soon realize that the action to make Canada a tariff-free zone for manufacturing makes up over one-half of the entire document, or 52% of the pages in this act, due to technical and legal requirements.
I know the protectionist NDP members voted against making Canada a tariff-free zone for our manufacturers and it irritates them that we are eliminating so many job-killing tariffs, but I am proud our Conservative government is making Canada a tariff-free zone for manufacturers in the G20. This will cut costs and paperwork for our manufacturers. This will make Canadian-made products more competitive here and abroad. This will create jobs for Canadians for years to come.
While the NDP may not like it, I am proud to stand behind the over 450 pages in this act that delete the tariffs exclusively dedicated to supporting manufacturers and the Canadians that they employ.
We have also heard some members, spurred by biased special interest groups, complain about a provision in the act that would literally save small businesses and the thousands of people they employ. These are the ones involved in the remailing industry across Canada.
I want to now take a moment to set the record straight so there are no misunderstandings. It is nonsense to suggest that this is about privatizing Canada Post. That is not this government's intention. If the NDP members do not believe me, they should listen to Canada Post CEO, Moya Greene, herself. She recently told a parliamentary committee:
However, I want to make it clear that the bill does not take away the exclusive privilege. It applies only to a tiny segment of the mail.
Private sector remailers, mainly small businesses, have been operating and competing with Canada Post for decades. Due to legal wrangling and recent court decisions, these small businesses are now threatened without quick passage of this act.
This is about saving small businesses and saving thousands of jobs, and nothing more.
We had the honour at the finance committee of hearing from Barry Sikora. Mr. Sikora is one of those small businessmen who have been involved in the international mail industry for decades. He has been employing people for decades and his business has been contributing to local communities for decades. He had a simple plea:
...my company employed 31 people. We're not a huge corporation; we're an average business in the printing industry. Now, because of this situation, we're down to 17 employees. Many of our customers have left us, and they have not gone to Canada Post for their foreign mail delivery needs; they have taken their business to another country. They have forced our industry to lay off long-time employees, and that's not a pleasant thing to do.
If this doesn't pass [the jobs and economic growth act], I'm out of business.
The NDP can wail, heckle and yell all they want over there but those are the Canadians for whom we are trying to protect their jobs. I do not care if the NDP members are not in touch with Canadians or with small businesses in this country but the least they can do is keep their mouths shut while we try to support them.
For those members who talk about delaying and defeating this act, I want them to go to classicimpressions.ca and click on the “about us” tab. They should look at the faces of those people who Mr. Sikora employs and whose jobs are at risk. Their futures demand that the NDP comes to its senses.
What is more, I will put in perspective what else is at risk in this act if it is not passed or if it is delayed: $500 million in transfer protection payments to the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Saskatchewan; $75 million to Genome Canada; $20 million for Pathways to Education to support disadvantaged youth; $13.5 million for the Rick Hansen Foundation; legislation to enforce debit and credit card industry code of conduct, vital for retailers and small businesses, again, in Canada; key income tax changes to attract foreign investment into Canada's venture capital and private equity industry; key reforms to federally regulated pension plans in Canada, such as requiring an employer to fully fund pension benefits if a pension plan is terminated; and many more.
The NDP delaying tactic would put at risk all of those measures, measures urgently needed to ensure that Canada's economic recovery continues. Canadians do not want that to happen. The risks are too high.
We need to work together as parliamentarians to ensure this act is adopted and adopted quickly for the benefit of our economy and the jobs of Canadians.
I therefore urge all members to support Bill C-9 and oppose the NDP's tactics to delay this passage.