Mr. Speaker, I rise today with honour and a great sense of pride in representing the people of Sault Ste. Marie. It is a privilege to be here today to address the House of Commons in my maiden speech.
At this time I would like to congratulate our member of provincial Parliament, David Orazietti, on being re-elected last night. The red tie is not in honour of him, it is in honour of our troops.
I would like to begin by thanking the numerous volunteers who worked tirelessly and diligently on my campaign. It was the collective effort of all those involved that resulted in my electoral victory in my first-ever attempt at seeking to represent Sault Ste. Marie and Canada at the federal level. Few who try succeed, and I am truly humbled by this amazing opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those whom I serve. I will not take it for granted.
As parliamentarians, we collectively give thanks to God in this place every day. I would like to thank God for allowing me the privilege of serving the people of Sault Ste. Marie and Him here in Parliament.
I would also like to pay special tribute to my wife, Aida, and our two sons, Brandyn and Kevin, who love and support me each and every day. If not for their encouragement, I would not be in this House today.
Having had the opportunity to be an MP for a few months now, I can appreciate the demands of this position and commend all members on both sides of the House for their efforts, especially those who are forced to be away from young families.
Finally, I thank all the people of Sault Ste. Marie for bestowing their faith in me. I promise to respectfully and truthfully represent their views and concerns here in Ottawa. I pledge to work hard with the same diligence that the majority of my constituents demonstrate daily as they go about their lives.
They elected me because of the values and policies of the Conservative government. It is on their behalf that I would like to discuss the positive implications Canada's economic action plan has had on the riding of Sault Ste. Marie specifically and Canada as a whole, but more importantly the positive impacts the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth, will bring.
I think the Federation of Canadian Municipalities put it best when they said, “[Budget 2011] delivered a vital commitment to cities and communities to develop a long-term federal infrastructure plan”.
In my time on city council, I saw the effect that sound federal policy can have on infrastructure replacement with unprecedented road construction, thanks in part to the federal gas tax contribution. I am so pleased that our government, through the next phase of our economic action plan, will legislate a permanent annual investment of $2 billion in the gas tax fund to provide predictable long-term infrastructure for municipalities.
Not only does this funding assist in replacing aging infrastructure but it also contributes to keeping municipal taxes low as the tax burden for infrastructure investment previously rested squarely on the shoulders of municipal taxpayers. Infrastructure projects are also a key provider of jobs.
I am especially grateful to this government for lowering the corporate tax rate and committing to keeping it low which is making our country more attractive to investors, once again creating new jobs.
It was not that long ago, two major employers in Sault Ste. Marie were in great difficulty and may very well have closed their doors, which would have been a devastating blow to our local economy.
Our low corporate tax policy attracted foreign investment to resurrect these companies, and as a result Essar Steel Algoma is now owned by a family from India, and TenarisAlgomaTubes is owned by a company from Argentina. These two companies provide 4,000 well-paying jobs in the Soo, and contribute indirectly to many more.
Canada must stay competitive in order to attract the kind of investment that will assist businesses that rely on global markets for their product and lower corporate tax rates ensure that competitive advantage.
I can say with certainty that an increase in the corporate tax, as required by the NDP to deliver on its promises, would have a profound negative effect on jobs and investment in Sault Ste. Marie. The steel industry is extremely volatile and every advantage counts.
Both companies I spoke of earlier would like to expand in the near future, creating the potential for new jobs, jobs that will not materialize with a corporate tax increase.
These policies have worked for all of Canada, not just Sault Ste. Marie. Canada is a leader in global economic recovery. Our government is focused on what matters to Canadians, creating jobs and promoting economic growth.
Canada has the strongest job growth record in the G7, with nearly 600,000 net new jobs created since July 2009. The IMF predicts that we will have among the strongest economic growth in the G7 over the next two years. This prediction is not accidental. It is based upon this government's policies on job creation and economic growth, including such things as providing a temporary hiring credit for small business to encourage hiring additional staff, as well as extending the accelerated capital cost allowance for investments in new equipment and machinery.
These investments enable our manufacturing firms to become more efficient and therefore more competitive, with the end result of more jobs. Not to mention the positive economic impact to those companies which actually provide the new machinery and equipment.
While job creation and the economy remain the top priority of this government, we are also committed to helping those giants of Canadian success, our seniors. As the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry said:
When I hear stories of the hardships some of our seniors have endured I truly am in awe. Seniors deserve the respect and admiration of each and every Canadian for the contributions they have made and continue to make as mentors and leaders. They have raised families, built communities and created a standard of living in our country that is the envy of the world. It is virtually impossible to appropriately recognize or thank these brave generous men and women for their unselfish contribution.
Though it is impossible to adequately thank our senior citizens for the hard work and investment they have put into this great country, our nation has made them a priority, higher ever than before. In the next phase of Canada's economic action plan we are introducing new measures to improve the quality of life for these valuable contributors.
We are enhancing GIS for low-income seniors who will receive additional annual benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples. We are also eliminating the mandatory retirement age for federally regulated employees, so that those seniors who want to remain in the workforce have the freedom to do so.
Furthermore, while I campaigned, a common concern of seniors and many constituents was the lack of a family physician. I am proud of our government's position on forgiving loans for new doctors and nurses in underserviced rural and remote areas.
I would now like to talk about this government's plan to balance the budget. As the Right Hon. David Cameron said during his visit, “the western world is facing a debt crisis”. This government realizes we cannot put ourselves in a similar position. We are committed to a responsible, credible approach to balancing the budget by 2014-15 in a manner that will create greater efficiency and effectiveness within the operation of government and the various services it provides. We will do this without raising taxes, without slashing transfers to health, education and support to seniors.
The IMF recently declared that Canada has the best net debt to GDP ratio in the G7. However, the economy is still extremely fragile and we must be diligent in our efforts to balance the budget. As a new member of Parliament, there is still a lot I have to learn about how Parliament works and how it best serves Canadians. However, there are some things I am certain of, that cutting corporate taxes stimulates economic growth, that in order to survive in the globalized world we must embrace free trade, and that the Conservative Party of Canada is working hard to keep this country on the right course in the midst of economic turmoil around the world.
As we debate the implementation of the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, I would like to agree with the millions of Canadians who have praised this government for good fiscal management. We are on the right track and we will continue to fight for lower taxes, balanced budgets, and care for the most vulnerable.
Our country is the envy of the world, in no small part due to the hard work of the Prime Minister, my colleagues, and the Conservative Party of Canada.