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House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was business.

Topics

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, we need to support our industrial base and we need to increase employment. We understand that.

We will hear many speakers from this side of the House talk about how the economy is very fragile, and it is. Employment is also fragile but we are working hard to change that. Let me mention a new program starting at the SIAST Wascana campus. This program teaches young people to be plumbers. It has just seen the light of day in the last couple of months. It is an attempt to promote training and education for people so that they can find employment in today's economy.

We are aware of what the member has said and we are working hard to alleviate that particular need.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives and Liberals agree on one aspect of this bill, which is the volunteer firefighters tax credit. We recognize the valuable contributions our volunteer firefighters make. Where we tend to disagree is that the Liberal Party believes that volunteer firefighters at a low-income threshold should also get a tax benefit. According to the bill, the government would penalize low-income volunteer firefighters.

Does the member see the value in recognizing all volunteer firefighters, including those with a low income?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, we are certainly aware that the bill needs some work in terms of some things that may not be totally covered. We are aware there is some discrepancy with respect to that part of the bill. We will certainly look at that and cover the bases so that all will be treated fairly.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all know that the first phase of Canada's economic action plan was a huge success for Canada. Almost 600,000 jobs have been created since July 2009 and in the category of economic growth, Canada is the best of all the G7 countries.

My hon. colleague from Palliser knows his community well. Could he tell us how the next phase of Canada's economic action plan would impact his community and how the good things in that plan would help the people in his community and all of Canada?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, we realize there are many needs to deal with, particularly in infrastructure. Canada's economic action plan has supplied funding for a number of projects. One that comes to mind and which is just being completed is the overpass on Highway 1 which ties into Lewvan Drive in Regina. This overpass is necessary because of increased traffic, particularly freight traffic that will find its way to the international terminal west of the city.

Projects that received funding in phase one of the economic action plan are now coming to completion. Those projects will alleviate a lot of problems for people and will increase productivity for our province.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to debate Bill C-13. This bill implements certain provisions of the 2011 budget.

I am sad to see that the Conservatives are once again showing their lack of respect for our democratic institutions and for Canadians by imposing strict time limits on the debate. The Conservatives' arrogance is an insult to Canadians, more than 60% of whom did not vote for their narrow ideology that defies reason and facts.

The Liberal Party cannot support this bill because it contains a significant number of inadequacies in its current form. With this bill the Conservatives are deliberately excluding low-income Canadians from measures such as the family caregiver tax credit, the volunteer firefighters tax credit and the children's arts tax credit.

How can low-income families and individuals benefit from a non-refundable tax credit when quite often, they do not have enough income to be taxed? Why are the Conservatives choosing to exclude the most vulnerable among us at a time when the economy is so precarious?

For example, if people quit their jobs to take care of loved ones at home, how will they take advantage of a tax credit when they have no income? There are many more examples of how these proposed measures will not benefit those who need them most.

The main problem with this bill has to do with the fact that to be eligible for most of the measures, there is a minimum income threshold. The Conservatives decided to play petty politics with tax credits instead of making them refundable so that low-income Canadians could also benefit, as we proposed. That shows once again that this Conservative government is ignoring Canadians in need.

The Liberal Party wants to work with the government to improve this bill, but it also understands that the Conservatives never listen to the advice of the House or the Canadian public. This government must start working on the problems facing Canadians instead of creating conflicts. A responsible government would not choose winners and losers. It would not choose to ignore a large segment of the population. It would not choose to ignore facts and reason for ideological purposes.

A number of other measures in this bill do not serve Canadian interests and demonstrate that this government has mishandled many issues. Take, for example, the higher charges being imposed on Ontario and Quebec softwood lumber exporters. A few years ago, the Conservative government tried to buy peace with our American forestry competitors, at a cost of $1 billion. Here we are today, forced to comply with the London Court of International Arbitration ruling of January 21, 2011, and increase taxes on this sector of our economy, which continues to be targeted by U.S. trade claims despite the $1 billion already wasted.

The higher charges that Ontario and Quebec exporters will have to face is another demonstration of poor Conservative management. Why does this government prefer to placate Washington instead of standing up for the Canadian workers it is supposed to represent? More than $1 billion has been wasted already, yet the Conservatives have decided to kowtow to the United States once again.

In addition, certain credits set out in this bill are completely ineffective. For example, the small business hiring credit aims to compensate for an increase in employment insurance premiums for some small and medium-size businesses. The problem is that this credit is taxable and is capped at $1,000. To obtain this credit, the business must have paid higher employment insurance premiums in 2011 than in 2010, as long as the 2010 amount was $10,000 or less. Because of these restrictions, the credit targets very small businesses as opposed to all small and medium-size businesses.

For instance, a small business that employs 11 people, each earning $38,000, would be too large to qualify. Based on our calculations, approximately 600,000 small and medium-sized businesses could not take advantage of the credit, which is just another example of this government's petty politics that do nothing to help Canadians.

On top of all that, let us not forget that the Conservatives also announced they want to increase EI premiums by 5.6% in January 2012. Because of that increase, a business with 10 employees, each earning an annual salary of $40,000, would have to pay $800 more in EI premiums next year. In short, any amount left over from the credit will all be clawed back in taxes and increased EI premiums.

The Conservative government seems to be trying to fool Canadians by offering just a few small and medium-sized businesses a hiring credit, when it knows very well that that amount will be taken back in full. This is so typical of the Conservatives: lots of hoopla, with no real results—except for their friends. Instead of giving tax breaks to wealthy corporations that are eliminating jobs in Canada, why not give real tax credits to our small and medium-sized businesses that are creating jobs in Canada?

Another weak point in this bill relates to the gas tax fund. The provisions of that section place a $2 billion limit on annual transfers to municipalities for infrastructure projects. That very fund was created in 2004 by the previous Liberal government, which had, at the time, made provisions for that $2 billion limit to be increased in order to account for inflation and population growth, things that this Conservative government is choosing to ignore. The amount set out in this bill does not correspond to today's reality and does not provide all the help the municipalities need to address the infrastructure deficit, which the Federation of Canadian Municipalities now estimates at $123 billion.

Municipalities—perhaps with the exception of Muskoka—are suffering, and the government is not taking their needs into account. If we consider the facts that municipalities have been growing since 2004, that costs are increasing as a result of inflation, and that our infrastructure is crumbling, as we have unfortunately seen with the Champlain Bridge in Montreal, setting a $2 billion limit now is illogical.

The transfer to municipalities should have been increased in order to take demographic growth and inflation into account; instead, the government preferred to load an additional burden on the backs of municipalities in a typically Conservative manner, namely, without consultation, without debate and without a logical rationale.

Another problematic section is that pertaining to the Canadian securities regulator. The Canadian Securities Transition Office was supposed to be a temporary body set up to establish the permanent organization; however, under Bill C-13, Parliament will have to allocate additional funds to maintain this transition office. By so doing, the Conservatives are trying to force the provinces to accept what they want rather than working with the provinces to implement a functional regulatory system from coast to coast.

If the government wants to show good faith, it will take into account the proposals of the Liberal Party and Canadians. These simple and realistic proposals could easily be implemented. However, by limiting the debate on this 642-page bill to 15 seconds per page, the government is showing that it does not care about debate or about the reasonable proposals that Canadians and the opposition are making. This is an insult to Canadians who do not support the Conservative agenda. Given the current economic situation, we cannot abandon those in need.

The Liberal Party thus commits to defending those whom this government neglects. We cannot support Bill C-13 until the many deficiencies we have pointed out have been fixed.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, we hear a lot these days about taxing the rich and making the rich pay, and the member touched on that in his speech. I would like to point out that there is a lot talk about tax credits that are offered to people who actually do not pay tax.

In light of the fact that the top 10% of income earners in our country, which begins at $80,000, pays 57% of all income taxes, the top 25% of income earners, which begins at $50,000, pays 82% of all federal income receipts, does the member believe that when tax cuts or tax relief is offered, it should go primarily to people who actually pay taxes, as opposed to being handed out to people who do not pay taxes in the form of spending?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I did not have a chance in my speech to discuss taxes and the amount of taxes being paid by individuals. The only remark I made in my speech was that the large corporations were getting the tax breaks in this budget instead of all Canadians getting a tax break.

The challenge of any government, and it does not have to be a right-wing ideology-driven government like the Conservative government, is that it does not have to just give tax breaks to the people who voted for them. The challenge is to help everybody, the most in need.

In times like these, when people are having a hard time making ends meet, those are the people who should be helped. There are proposals for non-refundable tax credits. The tax credits have to be refundable or they are not effective.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that everyone on both sides of the House understands that small businesses drive the economy and create over 50% of the jobs. Yet we have the Conservative government proposing to tax small businesses in the new year with the payroll tax. How would this affect small businesses in his riding?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned in my speech that the number of companies that would be eligible for the new hires program would be very minimal. It is supposed to be geared toward small business enterprises, but it will actually only help a few very small businesses with less than 10 employees.

What will be the repercussion? Even if they were eligible to get the $1,000 maximum eligible tax credit, it would be taxable and then it would be offset by an increase in employment premiums.

The small businesses in my riding will not be any further ahead.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke very convincingly about municipalities and the need for more infrastructure support. That ties really strongly into small business needs.

In rural Canada, in particular, municipal governments, small business and tourism work very closely together. What would my colleague recommend in terms of small business requirements when he thinks about municipal infrastructure investments?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, why do I always get the toughest questions from the Liberals?

We have been saying that basically we do not need to reduce the taxes on large corporations to keep the incentives.

A tourism tax credit was eliminated by the government, and it has been proven that tourism has gone down because of that. Small businesses are suffering because they are normally open longer than the big corporations.

There is general discontent among small businesses in our country because the government is not doing enough for them.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague. It was evident that he was very negative about the great measures in the bill.

He forgot to mention the 650,000 new jobs that have been created. He tried to take credit for the $2 billion tax incentive for municipalities. That was $1 billion. We have doubled it and made it permanent.

Most of all, I cannot understand why he would avoid mentioning the tax credit to assist caregivers. He is trying to make it look like we are not compassionate for people who are caregivers. That is clearly a part of Bill C-13. I would like him to comment on that.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, my speech was given in French, but members will be able to read it in English tomorrow.

There is no problem with the caregivers tax credit. It just does not help the people who actually need it. It does not go far enough. That is what we are saying.

The Conservatives did not create the 600,000 jobs the member is saying they created. Those are part-time jobs. We were in Europe and spoke to the OECD. It is worried about the number of unemployed people in Canada. This is a big worry.

My Conservative colleague should get his head out of the sand and do something for the economy.

National All Buffleheads DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to share good news with the House that members of my community, over 100 strong, gathered on Saturday, October 15, to celebrate two important milestones, the 80th anniversary of the creation of the Shoal Harbour protected area and the re-emergence and punctual arrival of the little Bufflehead duck.

We have now created in local Saanich—Gulf Islands, through the Sidney town proclamation and the North Saanich town proclamation, an All Buffleheads Day for October 15. This is our “Hinterland's Who's Who” moment since I share with my colleagues that this little duck is a rapid diver, a tree nester and punctual, returning from its migrations all across Canada within a day or two of October 15.

I urge colleagues to join me when I put forward a private member's bill that October 15 should henceforth be National All Buffleheads Day.

Peace Country HarvestStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I stand in the House today to pay tribute to the countless farm families in the Peace Country who are diligently working to complete this autumn's harvest.

This past week I travelled the Peace Country and met with many producers who are significantly behind in bringing in their crops as they have been hampered by wet weather conditions and in some cases by the sheer volume of the crops that need to be brought in.

In an effort to complete this year's harvest, I know that every member of every farm family will be working to get the job done. I want to wish every Peace Country family safety as they work around the clock. I hope and pray alongside each of them for good weather to enable the completion of this year's harvest.

Bertrand LafontaineStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Marc-André Morin NDP Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank community workers, who are very important to our society at this time.

We live in a world that seems to be increasingly unjust. Wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few while more and more people are being left behind. Fortunately, there are generous people who put aside their own comfort and interest to help the disadvantaged.

Today, I would like to recognize in particular a resident of Saint-Sauveur, Mr. Bertrand Lafontaine. Since 2006, after a brilliant career in business, Mr. Lafontaine has devoted all his time to the Soupe populaire de la vallée de Saint-Sauveur, an organization that provides meals for the lonely and the needy. After five years, Mr. Lafontaine is retiring for the second time in order to enjoy life a bit. I hope his example will inspire those who follow in his footsteps.

Food For Famine SocietyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring attention to the House and all Canadians that in my riding of Langley, British Columbia, there is an exciting event happening as a result of yesterday's United Nations World Food Day.

At Langley Secondary School students are hearing about the plight of children in many parts of the world, such as the Horn of Africa. Tragically, children are dying every day due to extreme malnutrition.

A Langley organization, the Food for Famine Society, in partnership with World Vision Canada, is challenging secondary students and the community to raise awareness and to raise funds so that the Food for Famine Society can produce and provide ready-to-use therapeutic food free of charge to the starving children.

This is a great example of how Canadians of all walks of life are making a wonderful difference in our world. Way to go, Langley.

National School Meals ProgramStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday was World Food Day, a time to reflect on the needs of Canadians. One in five children lives below the poverty line, which may lead to poor nutritional status and poor child health outcomes.

Fortunately, school nutrition programs are highly effective in providing children with nutritious diets, better cognitive abilities and health. Unfortunately, Canada is one of the few developed countries without a national nutrition program.

Outside North America school meals are viewed as an investment, rather than a cost, improving student nutrition, health and social development, and feeding regional economic development.

In Brazil, food is a constitutional right. A massive program feeds 47 million students at 190,000 schools each day.

If a national school meals program could be implemented in Canada's high schools at a cost of $1.25 per meal, with a goal of increasing graduation rates by 3%, the payback would be more than $500 million.

War of 1812Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, October 14, along with my colleague from Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, I attended an important announcement highlighting the investment made by our government to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

The important Battle of Thames took place in my riding of Chatham-Kent—Essex. British and aboriginal forces fought to repel the American invasion. We remember the brave Shawnee Chief Tecumseh who died there.

Our government has received a strong mandate from Canadians to remember these important historical events. It has earmarked $28 million to help us celebrate the 200th anniversary by designating October 2012 as a month of commemoration, sponsoring hundreds of events across the country, honouring current Canadian regiments and War of 1812 militia units, restoring important historical sites, and creating a permanent monument in the capital region.

I am proud that my riding of Chatham-Kent—Essex is an important part of the celebrations to be held across Canada commemorating the War of 1812.

Viateur BeaudryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Tremblay NDP Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the incredible performance of Viateur Beaudry from Baie-Saint-Paul, who earned two medals at the 2011 Special Olympics in Athens. With determination, perseverance and skill, Mr. Beaudry won the gold medal in doubles bowling, with his partner Dwight Safroniuk of Saskatoon, and the silver medal in singles bowling at the most prestigious international competition in the world.

Mr. Beaudry was one of 109 Canadian athletes who qualified for this year's games, which welcomed 7,500 athletes representing 185 countries.

On behalf of the people of Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, I congratulate Mr. Beaudry on this outstanding achievement. His success is both a source of pride and an example of how individuals can overcome challenges.

Restaurant IndustryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow an important segment of our economy is meeting here in Ottawa for the first ever restaurant industry summit.

As a restaurant owner myself and having been involved in the industry for over 40 years, I am proud of the contribution that restaurants make to help strengthen the Canadian economy. The numbers are impressive: $61 billion in annual sales, one million employees, 80,000 locations.

The restaurant industry is the fourth-largest private sector employer in Canada. What is even more exciting about this industry is that it is the number one source of first-time jobs for young Canadians.

I applaud our nation's hard-working restaurateurs for creating jobs, driving demand in agriculture products and for attracting tourists to our country.

I look forward to our government continuing to work together with this valuable industry as we look to strengthen our economy. We thank all restaurateurs for the jobs they create and the vital role they play in our communities.

Canadian Wheat BoardStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a thrill for western Canadians to hear that our government is finally moving toward giving them the same rights and opportunities as other Canadian farmers; the right to grow, the right to market and the right to sell their own crops. We have waited decades for this day.

Farmers have finally received the good news that our government will keep its promise to give them marketing freedom. The future is bright. We already know that entrepreneurs are ready to invest, farmers are ready to market and value-added jobs are just around the corner.

Farmers paid the price when the board was forced on them, and they have been paying for it ever since. That has gone on far too long. It is time to give real choice and freedom to western Canadian farmers.

The western provinces have been held back by the Wheat Board. We invite the members across the way to join with us in bringing freedom to western Canada.

Make no mistake that the government's actions will result in more investment and innovation in western Canada. It will result in value-added jobs and a stronger economy.

I ask the opposition to join with us in bringing western Canadian farmers the same freedom the rest of Canada already has.

L.V. Rogers Secondary SchoolStatements By Members

October 17th, 2011 / 2:10 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to give special recognition to the students at L.V. Rogers Secondary School in Nelson, B.C. for doing their part to improve our country and secure our future.

These creative students have partnered with the community and film industry professionals to produce a feature film about climate change called Project Turquoise Snowflake. I urge my hon. colleagues to contact me for more information about this film.

Throughout this experience the message has been clear to those involved in the film and to all Canadians: all is possible when the energy and enthusiasm of youth is mixed with the experience and guidance of supportive mentors.

Climate change is an opportunity for all Canadians to work together to effect positive change.

Margaret Mead commended small groups of thoughtful, committed citizens who can change the world.

Indeed, we can find one such group at L.V. Rogers Secondary School in Nelson, British Columbia, one of the many bright spots in my riding.

Well done, LVR.

Clay Card, Renzo Dainard, Jorden Miller and Danae GoughStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Hillyer Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I rise today to offer my sincere condolences to the friends and families of four southern Alberta teenagers who lost their lives in a car accident on Saturday night.

Clay Card was on my son's hockey team, and after the game on Saturday night, he and his friend Renzo Dainard went out with two young women, Jorden Miller and Danae Gough. Tragically, they never came home. It is a testament to their character to know that alcohol was not a factor in this accident.

The four friends all came from Magrath, a small town of about 2,300 people where everyone knows everybody. While the entire community mourns and struggles to come to grips with this tragic loss, it is comforting to know that the community will be there to support and comfort the families who lost their sons and daughters.

I call upon the members of the House to join with me in expressing our deep regrets and to offer sincere condolences to the town of Magrath and especially the parents and siblings of Clay Card, Renzo Dainard, Jorden Miller and Danae Gough.

May God grant their families peace and comfort at this difficult time.