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House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was question.

Topics

Bill C-13--Time Allocation MotionKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Bill C-13--Time Allocation MotionKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker Mr. Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Bill C-13--Time Allocation MotionKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Bill C-13--Time Allocation MotionKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker Mr. Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Bill C-13--Time Allocation MotionKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Bill C-13--Time Allocation MotionKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker Mr. Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the nays have it.

Bill C-13--Time Allocation MotionKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

And five or more members having risen:

Bill C-13--Time Allocation MotionKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker Mr. Bruce Stanton

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #56

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

I wish to inform the House that because of the debate on the time allocation motion, Government Orders will be extended by 30 minutes.

Committees of the HousePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to continue the argument we have had over the motion I brought on Monday with regard to the proceedings that have been going on in the ethics committee, if I could complete that in response to the government House leader's argument of yesterday.

I really do not expect the whole House to stay, if people want to go. As witty, eloquent and brilliant as my argument will be, I think a number of members may want to leave at this point.

Committees of the HousePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. Perhaps I will give the House a few moments to leave if members wish, although I am sure they will miss the hon. member's intervention, so the member for Windsor—Tecumseh can be heard when he does add to his remarks from Monday.

I will ask all hon. colleagues, if they do need to carry on conversations, to do so outside the chamber so the Chair can listen to the member for Windsor—Tecumseh.

Committees of the HousePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to have you hear this response to the arguments we had from the House leader yesterday.

At the outset, I read through his arguments in the blues because I was not in the House when he made them. I believe he has made a number of errors in his argument and I want to address those. Also, there were a number that were just irrelevant, but I will touch on those as I go through.

Let me start with the comments where he seemed to have focused on the fact that committees were their own masters. I clearly acknowledged that in my remarks when I made my argument on Monday. However, I want to emphasize, as I said at that time, committee members, chair and committee as a whole are regularly responsible for our own conduct, but it is not an absolute authority on our part. There are times, Mr. Speaker, and this is one of them I would argue, when you should intervene. It is not an absolute right for committees to be in charge of their own responsibilities.

The House leader acknowledged that in his talk to the House when he said, “I would agree that in certain situations the Speaker ought to intervene”. He admitted again that he was wrong when he said that because he blew his argument when he was supporting mine.

Mr. Speaker, let me go to the times when it is appropriate for you to intervene, using again the House leader's quote from Mr. Speaker Parent when he said the Speaker had the right to intervene because “The Chair found there was an evident breach of the Standing Orders”.

The litmus test, as set by the Government House Leader, seems clear in this regard, that if the committee chair or the committee itself is in breach of the Standing Orders, the Speaker should intervene, which is what I am asking you to do, Mr. Speaker.

You will recall in my initial remarks, Mr. Speaker, when I quoted the House of Commons Procedures and Practice, second edition, by O'Brien and Bosc, on page 1048:

At all times, directives from procedural sources higher than parliamentary committees (Constitution; statutes; orders of reference, instructions and Standing Orders of the House; and rulings by the Speaker) take precedence over any rules a committee may adopt.

Therefore, using the government House leader's litmus test that the Speaker should intervene when committees break Standing Orders in conjunction with the superiority of rules like the sub judice convention and the division of powers set out in the Constitution, it seems that he and I can agree that when the Constitution and conventions are contravened by the committee, that the Speaker should take action. I think he is on side with me in that regard, although he may be reluctant to admit it.

The House leader then went on to argue that the letter of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, Mr. Robert Walsh, to the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay, dealt mostly with potential consequences and hypothetical scenarios. I have to take serious exception with that characterization of Mr. Walsh's opinion. Mr. Walsh stated very clearly that with respect to compelling the production of documents for the purposes that were set out in the motion by the member for Peterborough, which has already been adopted by the committee, “such initiatives are not within the constitutional functions of the House or, by extension, its committees”.

The committee has adopted that motion, it is seized with the study, there is absolutely nothing hypothetical about this. His attempt to characterize Mr. Walsh's opinion in the way that he did is really unfortunate because it is grossly in accurate.

However, not satisfied with what he did with Mr. Walsh's matter, he then went on to do the same for one of the remarks that I made. The government House Leader said about my remark:

—the member for Windsor—Tecumseh premised much of his concern around the notion that the ethics committee would not be successful in keeping its proceedings in camera.

When I made reference to that, all I was doing was acknowledging that Mr. Walsh had raised the point.

My argument was entirely based on the fact that the breach had already occurred. It is not based just on the inevitability of the in camera proceedings being breached. The breach has already occurred. When that motion was passed, according to the opinion of Mr. Walsh, the breach occurred, the breach of the constitutional division of powers between the judiciary and the legislative wing of the government and the conventions that have grown up around that. It is not hypothetical, it has already occurred.

The House leader then went on and brought to your attention, Mr. Speaker, a portion of the ruling of Mr. Speaker Fraser, at page 9756 to 9758, of Debates, which I did not see any reason to bring up, although he seemed to accuse me for not doing so, simply because it was irrelevant. He is talking about some responsibility that I seem to be giving to you about controlling the chair. This is not an issue here. It is not the conduct of the chair that has any relevance to the procedural motion that I brought. The chair of that committee did absolutely nothing to breach the rules. It was the original motion being passed by the majority in that committee that breached the rules.

He went on to talk about somehow you intervening, Mr. Speaker, and having to control, which of course is not your responsibility, other than in extreme cases. We have no way of knowing about that, because all of this was done in camera, and I made no reference to it in any way. He raised a totally irrelevant point.

He went on with another mischaracterization. The government House leader claimed that the CBC's production of documents, as prescribed in the adopted motion, was voluntary. Let us look at this. Here is a line from the opening paragraph of the letter to the committee's chair that accompanied the documents in question. It had turned over certain documents to the committee earlier this week. It said:

While we have chosen to comply with the order...we do so under protest and with strong reservations about the purpose for which the documents have been requested.

That is not voluntary by any stretch of the imagination and it is absurd that it would be claimed to be so. It is like saying it is voluntary when an individual is being mugged and turns his or her wallet over at the point of a gun. That is what they were faced with and it was not voluntary at all.

I want to address a few comments about what the government House leader did, spending a great deal of time and energy setting out the proper process for the committee to compel documents through an order of the House. While very informative, the point of the lesson in the context of the question at hand escaped me. He claimed his point was that:

—that the appropriate time to be raising points about the proceedings of the ethics committee and how they may intersect with the sub judice convention would be at that time, that is to say, after any report from the ethics committee is presented.

While I agree with him that is one of the times we can do it, it is not the only time by any means. There are other appropriate times, and this is one of them. It is a very strong argument on my part.

In a situation like we have here, where we have, as found by the Law Clerk, a clear contravention of the Constitution and its conventions that have grown up under it, that is the time when you have the authority to intervene, Mr. Speaker, and I would submit strongly that you should do so in this case.

I want to make one additional point about the argument he made, and I think you raised it after I had made my argument on Monday, Mr. Speaker, about the normal practice of waiting for a report to come from committee before you make a ruling on a motion of this kind.

If we go back a bit and look at where that practice came from, and it is about a practice, the reason for it is it would be unfair to the Speaker in any given situation to ask him or her to make a ruling when the facts were not clear. If you have a report that has been passed by committee, it is before you, as the Speaker, you would clearly know what the facts are. You would have any number of cases where you as the Speaker would need that report in order to make a valid ruling. I acknowledge that.

That is not the situation we have here. There are only two facts that are of any relevance in terms of the breach of the mandate of the committee and it moving beyond its mandate. One is the motion itself, which we have. The second is we have the opinion of the Law Clerk, which says that motion, as passed by the committee, if carried out, would in fact be a breach of the Standing Orders and the practice in the House as well as the contravention of the Constitution and the conventions under it.

Two facts are all you really need, Mr. Speaker, to make your ruling: first, to recognize the motion that was passed in the standing committee; and second, the opinion of the Law Clerk that it is a breach of the Constitution.

In his final point, and I will make a couple of comments on this and then I will be finished, he urged the Speaker to wait. I think he was trying to argue a similar point, as was earlier said, that somehow the Speaker had to wait until the breach had occurred and the report had come to the committee. As I have said in all the facts that I have already given you, Mr. Speaker, that is simply not a necessity in these circumstances.

I want to make this final point with regard to interpreting that motion, and that is the comments that have been made by the member for Peterborough, and I made reference to these in my opening argument. He has clearly said, as the motion also clearly demonstrates, that the committee would be substituting the role of the judiciary. Again, I go back to those words that I think are so damaging to the cause of the government side. The member for Peterborough said, “We are going to determine and assess the facts of the case behind closed doors”. Those were his words.

In that regard, it is clear the judiciary in the country has that responsibility. It is clear under the Constitution. We could go through any number of pieces of legislation where it is clear. That is the role of the judiciary. It is clear in the Broadcast Act that it is its authority. It makes the interpretation, not a parliamentary committee.

Parliamentary committees make use of that, once that determination has been made in terms of whether there should be amendments to the legislation. However, the committees do not make that assessment. It is done by the judiciary.

I will conclude, Mr. Speaker, by again asking you to take into account the request I made with regard to how to dispose of this matter, either to declare the committee's work with regard to the study to be completely beyond its mandate or at the very least, as a fallback position, that it suspend any further study until such time as the courts have concluded, and that may include an appeal to the Supreme Court, their intervention in this matter.

Committees of the HousePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I will first deal with the question of disclosure that has been made by the CBC in forwarding documents.

My friend suggested that somehow this is not a voluntary disclosure but rather one that has been compelled. We have the unusual phenomenon before us where the corporation, which is required to disclose information under the law, has done so, but the opposition House leader is making the case that it should not have done so. It was the choice of the CBC to make that information available.

There was some information under seal which the CBC obviously believed to be of concern, but some that was not under seal and obviously CBC believed it to be open. The committee has not yet had an opportunity to turn its attention to those items to determine whether it is satisfied.

As I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, for any determination to be made by you in advance of the committee having decided whether the voluntary disclosure it has received is satisfactory would be premature. It would be highly unusual for you to offer an opinion in advance of the facts before you.

Further, the opposition House leader characterized, or mischaracterized, the parliamentary law clerk's letter as a finding. It is not a finding. It constitutes advice. My friend is a lawyer and I am trained in a similar fashion. We all know there are such things as legal opinions. We all know there is a diversity of legal opinions. We all know that unless they are made by a judge, or the Speaker in the context that we are in, or the chair of a committee in that context, they are not findings. They are merely letters of advice.

Not only has the member elevated it in his arguments to the level of a finding, he has created this very unusual device where he wants you, Mr. Speaker, to be the police officer to enforce his interpretation of what that legal advice is to the committee. That is a stretch many steps too far.

It is the member's interpretation of the law clerk's advice that he is now purporting you should make into an order that must be enforced. There is no such order. His interpretation, with the greatest of respect, is not one that is shared by others. It is certainly not an appropriate role for the Speaker to do that. It certainly is highly inappropriate for us to essentially displace the role of the Speaker by that of the law clerk and suggest that this advice somehow displaces any decisions that are made by the chair of the committee or by you, Mr. Speaker, ultimately as Speaker. Again, that is not appropriate.

The committee has the benefit of that advice. It can act on that advice and it can interpret that advice. It is the role of the chair and members of that committee to interpret that advice as masters of their own universe. It is not the member's place to provide that interpretation in a definitive fashion.

Similarly, Mr. Speaker, in asking you to deal with this, he is asking for an interpretation of law or of the Constitution. As you know, Mr. Speaker, there are abundant rulings, including some by yourself already in your short time as Speaker, that make it clear it is not the Speaker's role to interpret law or the Constitution.

Finally, I listened very carefully to my friend's arguments. He said that it was appropriate for the Speaker to intervene when there is a clear breach of a standing order. However, I do not see any here. I listened very carefully to my friend's arguments, but I did not hear him say what standing order had been breached. I would invite him to rise and state which standing order has been breached, and if there is none, I think that disposes of the question definitively.

Committees of the HousePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I thank hon. members for their further submissions. I am taking the matter very seriously and will come back to the House with a decision in due time.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-13, An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011 and other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-13, the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act, a very important bill to residents in my riding of Richmond Hill and to all Canadians.

This bill builds on our government's commitment to continue the work over the last five years focusing on what matters most to Canadian families. It continues our long-term plan launched in 2006 to heighten Canada's advantages through a national economic road map that would truly make Canada a world economic leader and improve the quality of life for students, seniors, families and workers.

It is because of this government's prudent and visionary decisions since then that Canada has weathered the global economic turmoil of the last three years better than most other advanced countries. As we see the difficulties endured by so many other countries around the globe, we recognize that this strong, stable national majority Conservative government is acting swiftly to ensure that Canada's economy continues to grow and remain strong.

I would like to remind all hon. members in the House that before the global recession hit, our government paid down nearly $40 billion of the debt to bring Canada's debt level to its lowest level in 25 years. We were well on our way to more competitive taxation levels. This is why we were able to act promptly to stimulate our economy as the downturn in the global economy necessitated appropriate action.

I am proud that under the leadership of our Prime Minister Canada currently has the strongest job growth record and the lowest net debt to GDP ratio in the entire G7. Both the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development anticipate Canada to lead the way in economic growth over the next few years. The reason for this enviable record is that this government's top priority has always been the economy with a focus on a long-term low tax plan to create jobs and growth.

Despite our strong domestic economy, we remain in a period of heightened global uncertainty. As has been mentioned many times in the House, Canada is not immune from global economic turbulence. This is precisely why Bill C-13, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, is so essential for Canada's continued economic stability. Bill C-13 invests in key areas that support job creation. Our government's priority has always been Canadian families, emphasizing help for students, seniors, families and communities, while maintaining our fiscal advantage.

Bill C-13 contains strategic investments that will contribute to the long-term economic growth and prosperity for Canadians.

One might ask how Bill C-13 will create jobs and economic growth. For one, it recognizes that it is the private sector that drives growth and wealth creation. We know that small- and medium-size businesses have been leading the way in job creation over the last two years. This is very important in Richmond Hill where 98% of all businesses are small or medium size, with the vast majority of those having less than 20 employees. This is why we will continue to support entrepreneurs and job creators in Richmond Hill and right across the country with key initiatives in the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, Bill C-13. Let me highlight a few.

A temporary $1,000 hiring credit for small businesses will help up to 525,000 employers defray the costs of additional hiring. A two year extension of the accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investments in manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment will support our manufacturers. The extension by 16 weeks of the work-sharing program will help employers going through a rough patch retain their employees and the skills they contribute to their businesses. A reduction in the increase of employment insurance premium rates in 2012 from 10¢ to 5¢ will stimulate job creation. Reducing unnecessary red tape through the continued work of the Red Tape Reduction Commission will allow entrepreneurs to focus on what they do best: growing their business and creating jobs.

Increased funding for the National Research Council's industrial research assistance program will support collaborative projects between colleges and businesses and will help strengthen our manufacturing sector by accelerating the adoption of information and communications technologies. Further reducing the corporate tax rate will make Canada very attractive as a place in which to invest and do business. In fact, Canada will have the lowest overall tax rates on new business investment in the G7, a fact of which I am very proud. Keeping taxes low allows our businesses to invest in their operations, creating much needed jobs for Canadians.

These are the very kinds of measures that will help small businesses like those in my riding of Richmond Hill. Nestled in the heart of the GTA, Richmond Hill is one of Canada's fastest growing and most diverse communities. It is a shining example of Canada's dynamic communities. Families, seniors, small- and medium-size businesses, organizations and the municipality find that the stability our government has infused into our economy is the key factor that has positioned us as world leaders throughout the global economic crisis.

This next phase of Canada's economic action plan, Bill C-13, continues to build on our strong economic policy with help for all Canadians and particularly for those who most need it, our seniors, our families and our communities.

For example, 680,000 low income seniors are benefiting from the enhancement to the guaranteed income supplement. Those who need it most are receiving an additional $600 per year if single, and $840 per year if a couple.

A new caregiver tax credit on up to $2,000 will financially help those looking after loved ones with infirmities including for the first time, spouses, common-law partners and children.

Homeowners are being helped with the extension until March 31, 2012 of the eco-energy home retrofit program. Some $400 million has been allocated across the country to help homeowners defray the costs of making their homes more energy efficient, an investment that at the same time is creating jobs and stimulating local economies.

A new children's arts tax credit on up to $500 in eligible fees assists families with the costs associated with arts, cultural and developmental activities for their children. Arts, cultural and educational activities are very important in Canada, especially in my riding of Richmond Hill. Last week I was at Cosmo Music highlighting this very measure which is in effect for the 2011 taxation year. Parents in Richmond Hill are very pleased to know this kind of assistance is available to them. They appreciate knowing the value and recognition our government places on these types of activities.

I am also very pleased that Bill C-13 makes permanent the annual gas tax funding for municipalities each and every year. People will remember that it was this government that doubled this investment from $1 billion to $2 billion. Permanent gas tax funds give our municipal partners stable, predictable funding that they can count on to assist with their infrastructure needs. This is very significant particularly in Richmond Hill. As an example, the town can now expect over $5 million each and every year and can incorporate this revenue into its budgetary process.

These and other measures in Bill C-13 continue to focus on what matters most in my riding and to all Canadians: creating jobs and promoting economic growth. We are maintaining our focus on the priorities set out in the next phase of Canada's economic action plan by supporting job creation and providing support for families, seniors and communities.

In closing, I call on all members in the House to support the important initiatives in this next phase of Canada's economic action plan that will continue on our nation's proven path of economic stability. I look forward to the passage of Bill C-13, the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act, and the benefits it will bring to all Canadians.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to what my colleague said and, again, it is obvious that the Conservatives are clearly out of touch with the needs of Canadian families. Canadians want real action on job creation, real action on hiring more doctors and nurses and real action on retirement security.

Fast-tracking this legislation, which is over 600 pages, is the wrong thing to do. We talked about this but I need to emphasize it again.

The fact of the matter is that there is an issue here with the economy, and the government is not acting on it. The government is going to make it harder for people who have to access EI.

Given the fact that the government is fast-tracking the bill, I am wondering if the member could tell me whether or not the government is looking at proroguing.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the question of what we are doing for nurses, I would like to remind the member that built right into our economic action plan is the credit for nurses and doctors that would forgive their loans. That is very important in the northern regions of Canada.

Let me add that 600,000 new jobs have been created in Canada since July 2009 as a result of our government's ability to react when it was needed most to help Canadians.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is important that the previous speaker recognize that since 2008 there are actually 500,000 fewer full-time jobs.

Housing is a very important issue in Winnipeg north, as I am sure it is in many communities across our country, whether it is housing for seniors or individuals on low income. We are looking for leadership from the government to deal with things such as housing co-ops, non-profit housing, house leases, different types of housing programs that would make it that much more affordable for home ownership.

Does the member have any comments on how he believes this budget would advance those types of issues?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all know that the government has focused primarily on creating jobs with its low tax plan.

As far as housing is concerned, the member wanted me to point to something specific in the budget, and I will point specifically to the funding for the retrofit program, which has been extended. Canadian families from coast to coast to coast are availing themselves of this program. Over $400 million in additional money has been allotted to that program. It is an excellent example of how our government is helping families cope with the costs of improving their homes.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the opposition is calling for higher taxes and reckless spending. We have seen this experiment in Greece and in Italy and it has not worked there.

Could the member explain to the opposition why that is not a good path to follow?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am going to point specifically to our Minister of Finance who has been voted as the best finance minister in the world by his peers. The reason, in my humble opinion, he has that distinction and that recognition among his peers is that our finance minister, under the leadership of our Prime Minister and this government, has been able to react to changing global economic conditions quickly with this next phase of Canada's economic action plan. It is the best possible plan we could put in place at this point in time.

I urge all members in the House and my colleagues in the opposition to support this important legislation.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

November 16th, 2011 / 5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour to rise in the House in support of Bill C-13, the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act.

It is also an honour to follow my friend from Richmond Hill, who so eloquently stated the reasons why the bill is so important for our country.

As the finance minister said early on in the introduction of the bill, our government is focused on what matters to Canadians: creating jobs and providing economic growth.

Canada has the strongest job growth in the G7, with nearly 600,000 net new jobs created since July 2009, and the IMF projects that we will have among the strongest economic growth in the G7 over the next two years.

As has been pointed out over and over again, we are not immune to global economic turbulence. That is why we need to stay the course and implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan. Our government is focused on creating jobs and generating economic growth. Based on our economic performance compared with the rest of the world, it is truly working.

Our measures have been applauded by many in the private sector. For example, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business applauded the government's provision of a temporary hiring tax credit. Dan Kelly, the senior vice-president for the CFIB, said:

Since the 2011 budget announcement, many members have called about the credit and reported it will make it easier for them to hire, enhance wages or adjust to rising Employment Insurance premiums. ... This is a particularly important initiative as the government has declared 2011 as the Year of the Entrepreneur.

It is the entrepreneurs and the small business owners in this country who create the jobs this country needs.

The keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act would help support Canada's economic recovery and would be promoting job creation and economic growth by implementing a whole host of measures like, as I pointed out a minute ago, providing a temporary hiring credit for small business and expanding tax support for clean energy generation to encourage green investments.

Coming from Manitoba as I do, I know that clean, green energy from Manitoba Hydro is very important to our economy, and this is what our government is supporting.

I was especially pleased to see the extension by one year of the mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors to support Canada's mining sector. It is truly remarkable how the mining sector has come alive in Canada over the last decade and has become such an important contributor to our gross national product.

Indeed, that is why it is so shameful to see the NDP denigrating our country, denigrating the oil sands, when the oil sands are so important for our country and our economic growth. It is truly a shame that it is out to kill this most important enterprise. Having worked in the oil sands myself and lived in an oil sands camp, I have experienced first-hand the men and women of Canada who are working in the oil sands, providing for their families, saving for their children's education, and on and on. It is truly a remarkable Canadian achievement, and it is truly disgraceful to see the NDP doing whatever it can to kill this engine of economic growth.

We are also simplifying customs tariffs in order to facilitate trade. Canada is a trading nation. Trade is what supports our economy and, in turn, what supports the social programs that all Canadians need.

We are accelerating the capital cost allowance.

This is something I am kind of interested in. We are eliminating the mandatory retirement age for federally regulated employees in order to give older workers wishing to work the option of remaining in the workforce. That is something that many of us are clearly looking forward to.

In terms of supporting communities, our bill would legislate a permanent annual investment of $2 billion in the gas tax fund to provide predictable, long-term infrastructure funding for municipalities. I represent a remote rural constituency with many municipalities, and this fund that our government has doubled in the last few years is vital to the maintenance of important infrastructure for my communities.

We are enhancing the wage earner protection program.

Here is one that was especially well received in my constituency and indeed across the country. We are introducing a volunteer firefighters tax credit for volunteer firefighters. This is an example of how the government supports communities. Our volunteer firefighters give of their time. For many years they were the unsung heroes of many of our communities. We are so proud to have provided the volunteer firefighters tax credit, something they have requested for many years, which in a sure but small way recognizes the contributions they are making to our communities. That is what community is all about and what the government supports.

We will be increasing the ability of Canadians to give more confidently to legitimate charities.

With regard to the family caregiver tax credit, we are removing the limit on the amount of eligible expenses caregivers can claim under the medical expense tax credit.

We are introducing a new children's arts tax credit for programs associated with children's artistic, cultural, recreational and developmental activities.

This is truly an incredible list of what the government is doing. It includes forgiving loans for new doctors and nurses in underserved rural and remote areas. As a member of Parliament, like many of my colleagues I represent a remote rural constituency. Health care is very important. Providing incentives to new doctors and nurses to live and work in our beautiful rural communities will only help to strengthen them.

We will be helping apprentices and skilled trades and workers in regulated professions by making occupational trade and professional examination fees eligible for the tuition tax credit.

We will be improving federal financial assistance for students.

We are making it easier to allocate registered education savings plan assets among siblings without incurring tax penalties or forfeiting Canada education savings grants.

The phasing out of the direct subsidy of political parties is something I am pleased to see. As we listened to the members of the NDP early in the debate on this particular bill, I was astonished that all they focused on was this tax giveaway to political parties, which to their minds is a big deal. I guess free money is what they are all about, whereas the members of our party have worked hard. We have attracted donations from thousands of small donors and have built up a strong base of funding. We earned it. They want it for nothing. That is the difference between us and them. I am pleased to support the phasing out of the direct subsidy of political parties.

We will be closing numerous tax loopholes that allow a few businesses and individuals to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

In terms of Manitoba in particular, as all members in the House know, all politics is local. I am especially pleased with what Manitoba will see come out of the bill. There will be $5,000 in grants from the energy program for Manitoba families to make their homes more energy efficient; $840 in new annual financial support for needy Manitoba seniors; the new family caregivers tax credit; and, this is one that is especially important in my constituency although the point is somewhat moot now, the waiving of licence renewal fees for hunters and firearms owners. Thank goodness this will be a thing of the past once the bill is passed.

I thank the hardworking Minister of Public Safety, another Manitoba MP I might add, who is spearheading this particular initiative, along with the member for Portage—Lisgar.

In terms of agriculture, and I represent a very strong agricultural community, help for Manitoba farmers will be provided by the new $50 million agricultural innovation initiative. Our agriculture is only strengthened by research and innovation. That is why Canadian producers are among the most efficient in the world.

I could go on with the number of initiatives that are in our budget. I will say that this is a good budget for Canada and all of our citizens. It is our low tax plan for jobs and economic growth.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Madam Speaker, yesterday, the Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress released its most recent report tracking Ontario's economic progress. The report states that Ontario lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs between 2007 and 2009 and that everyone knows that these jobs are not coming back. This flies in the face of all the numbers the Tories like to trot out. I wonder if the member opposite can speak to this disconnect between the facts and what his government keeps talking about.