House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cost.


Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActRoutine Proceedings

February 17th, 2011 / 10:05 a.m.


John Baird Conservative Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-60, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (citizen's arrest and the defences of property and persons).

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in relation to Bill C-469, An Act to establish a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights.

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. The purpose of this report is to place the proceedings of the Committee’s meeting of Thursday, December 9, 2010, concerning what appears to be a possible breach of privilege, officially before the House.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Emerging and Digital Media: Opportunities and Challenges.

Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the tenth report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women entitled, Changing the Long-Form Census—Its Impact on Women's Equality in Canada.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the people of Canada have been living through the most difficult economic times since the Great Depression and many companies have had to restructure or go into bankruptcy, including Buchanan Forest Products a couple of weeks ago in my riding. Thousands of people are not receiving severance or termination pay or pensions.

The petitioners are calling upon the House of Commons and Parliament to affirm that pension benefits are in fact deferred wages, to elevate defined pension benefit plans to secured status in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Canadian Creditors Protection Act, and to pass into law any legislation before it that would achieve these objectives.

Low Income HousingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am also presenting a petition signed by the tenants living in low income housing in Sainte-Adèle, a town in my riding. The purpose of this initiative is to condemn the 30% cuts to the renovation budget for low income housing. In support of this petition, I would like to read an excerpt from a press release issued by the Fédération des locataires d'habitations à loyer modique du Québec:

the 2011 budget for the renovation of Low-Cost Housing (HLM) units [some of which are located in my riding] across the province will fall to 200 million dollars from 276 million dollars. This means that in 2011 a cut of 30% will be imposed on all Municipal Housing Offices that administer over 500 housing units and that other cuts will follow for the smaller housing offices in 2012. These cuts also mean that important construction work will again be delayed.

In concrete terms, these cuts will affect thousands of tenants who will continue to live in apartments with bad windows, frayed linoleum, and washrooms and kitchens without ventilation or proper plumbing. It will also mean that several buildings will remain inaccessible for people using personal mobility devices such as wheelchairs and scooters and that, amongst other things, the housing offices will have to abandon its program to retrofit apartments so as to enable the occupants to install individual washing machines and dryers.

These cuts are due to the refusal of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to finance these renovations. The CMHC should dedicate 140 million dollars of funding per year, however it now wants to limit its contribution to only 70 million dollars.

For this reason, I am presenting this petition and I am sure that I will have others in the weeks to come.

AfghanistanPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my petition demands an end to Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan.

In May 2008, Parliament passed a resolution to withdraw the Canadian Forces by July 2011. The Prime Minister, with agreement from the Liberal Party, broke his promise to honour the parliamentary motion and, furthermore, refuses to put it to a parliamentary vote in the House.

Committing 1,000 soldiers to a training mission still presents a danger to our troops and an unnecessary expense when our country is faced with a $56 billion deficit. The military mission has cost Canadians more than $18 billion, money that could have been used to improve health care and seniors' pensions right here in Canada.

Polls show that a clear majority of Canadians do not want Canada's military presence to continue after the scheduled removal date of July 2011. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Prime Minister to honour the will of Parliament and bring the troops home now.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan


Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members


Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.


Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK


That, given the undisputed privileges of Parliament under Canada's constitution, including the absolute power to require the government to produce uncensored documents when requested, the government's continuing refusal to comply with reasonable requests for documents, particularly related to the cost of the government's tax cut for the largest corporations and the cost of the government's justice and public safety agenda, represents a violation of the rights of Parliament, and this House hereby orders the government to provide every document requested by the Standing Committee on Finance on November 17, 2010, by March 7, 2011.

Mr. Speaker, for many months in this House and across the country, the Liberals have been pointing out the cruel irony of the Conservative government preaching a new-found doctrine of so-called fiscal restraint. It certainly was not there between 2006, when it first took power, and late 2008, when the global recession arrived.

During that period of time, the Conservatives increased federal spending by three times the rate of inflation. They wiped out all of the contingency reserves and prudence factors that had been built into federal budgets to serve as fiscal shock absorbers against sudden adverse developments. They put the country back into deficit again before, not because of, but before there was any recession to blame.

Now, suddenly, they have religion. Now they are going to get prudent all of a sudden, so they are telling average Canadian families there is no room for them on the government's agenda. There is no room for family care, no room for early childhood development, no room for help with the costs of post-secondary education and no room for a better Canada pension plan, while they simultaneously load billions of dollars on big, expensive, high-risk Conservative spending schemes like $10 billion to $13 billion on prisons and jails, like $16 billion to $21 billion on stealth fighter jet airplanes with no mission statement and no competitive bidding to get value for money, and $6 billion every year in extra tax cuts for the richest 5% of Canadian corporations, not for small business, just the big ones.

For months we have asked the government repeatedly to provide a factual rationale for these odd and bad choices but we have received no response, Therefore, last November, in the Standing Committee on Finance, our critic, the hon. member for Kings—Hants, put down a detailed motion demanding a full financial analysis. The Parliamentary Budget Officer was asking for much the same thing. Again, there was no response.

Belatedly, while still concealing all the details, the Conservatives came up with the lame excuse that details could not be provided because of cabinet confidences. That was clearly false.

Our Liberal finance critic took the case a step further last week by raising a question of privilege in the House. Again, nothing but belligerence and obfuscation came from the government.

Two nights ago we took another step. We gave notice of the motion that we are moving as the subject matter of this opposition day debate, a House order for the production of documents. Suddenly, at long last, there were rumours that the government might have something to table, some answer to the questions we had been asking.

We have no idea what that rumour entails. We will look into the details, if there are any details, but given the months of stonewalling, given the last minute, death-bed nature of this repentance, if it is one, and given this government's always grudging attitude toward Parliament's unmistakable right to know, the motion we have selected today remains vital and necessary. This is all about a government that is afraid of the truth and determined to hide it in a vast variety of ways.

Not since 1873, when Sir John A. Macdonald was trying to evade responsibility for his railway scandals, has a Canadian Parliament been as abused as this one today by government schemes to obscure transparency, stifle accountability and hide the truth. Never before has a Canadian government been as pathologically partisan, ideological and obsessed with secrecy and control.

It is Conservative standard practice to so limit and manipulate information that it becomes impossible for Parliament to do its job of holding government to account. It becomes impossible for Canadians to judge their government because hard facts are simply concealed. It becomes impossible to know in truth what is going on and, without knowledge, democracy is impaired.

Oh, yes, the Conservatives can pass all of the fine-sounding accountability acts they want, but these become a mockery when the Prime Minister prorogues Parliament twice in one year, padlocks the central institution of our democracy twice in one year to evade tough questions about his government's misbehaviour. All that fine legislation becomes a mockery when the government sends its ministerial staffers to deliberately and repeatedly interfere with access to information laws. It becomes a mockery when the government condones, even encourages, ministers to falsify documents and then tell the opposite of the truth.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer, a position designed and created by the Prime Minister and an officer personally selected by the Prime Minister, warned this week that Parliament was being subverted by the government's obsession with secrecy. He cannot do his job, and MPs cannot do their jobs when the government will not provide the necessary information or, when it does provide it, the information comes out in such garbled or falsified form.

With respect to the two specific requests for information mentioned in the motion before the House today, one relating to extra corporate tax cuts for the privileged few and the other to enormous new prison costs, Mr. Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, and every other relevant authority have debunked the notion that this information can be hidden from Canadians because it somehow involves a cabinet confidence. It does not.

One journalist noted the other day that the government uses the false excuse of cabinet confidence to hide information in the same way that Richard Nixon used the excuse of executive privilege. Both are equally odious and wrong, but it is a telling point that the Conservative government seems to aspire to Nixonian standards, complete with its own list of enemies who need to be silenced.

More importantly, Mr. Speaker, the claim of cabinet confidence is simply irrelevant, as you made abundantly clear in your landmark ruling on April 27, 2010, about the obligations of government to produce documents when requested to do so by Parliament.

After an exhaustive review of all the arguments and all the authorities going back 125 years, the Speaker reached three essential conclusions: first, that holding the government to account is the House of Commons' fundamental right, undisputed privilege and, in fact, an obligation; second, that in order to discharge that obligation, the House of Commons must have unfettered access to complete and uncensored information; and third, that any limitation on the method by which that access to information is accomplished must be determined not by the government, but by the House of Commons. The House of Commons decides the process, not the government. As the Speaker said so clearly last April 27, when the House duly adopts an order following proper notice and debate, as we are doing today in this debate, the government must comply.

Why is the information about prison costs so important? It is because Canadians need to verify the work of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. He determined that one or two of the government's crime bills would increase costs to taxpayers by $10 billion to $13 billion, and that little, if any, of that new cost had been budgeted. Where will it come from and at whose expense? Parliament needs to know. Canadians also need to know the additional costs associated with 18 other bills of a similar nature for which no cost analysis has yet been provided and for which no budget provision has been made.

Canadians also need to know if every bit of attrition in the size of the public service, which is the Conservatives' one and only plan to reduce the deficit, is being more than offset by the hiring of new prison guards, so that at the bottom line there would really be no attrition at all and, therefore, no savings at all and, therefore, no deficit plan at all.

Canadians need to know how many mega billions in total will be spent on U.S.-style megajails, which have proven in America to be a failure in terms of public safety.

Why are jails the Conservative governments biggest job creation plan? Why are jails the Conservatives substitute for social housing or mental health services or aboriginal inclusion or education? These questions need answers.

Furthermore, why is the information about extra corporate tax cuts important? It is important because Canadians need to verify the analysis done by the Department of Finance showing that corporate tax cuts are the least cost-effective way to generate immediate jobs. That is the federal Department of Finance saying that corporate tax cuts are the least cost-effective way to generate immediate jobs.

Canadians also need to verify the work of the chief economic analyst at Statistics Canada, who says that the job creation value of the government's extra corporate tax cuts is “trivial”, “a drop in the bucket”.

Canadians need to know what would be gained by extra corporate tax cuts on top of the 35% reduction in corporate tax rates in Canada that has taken place over the last 10 years. Since Canada already had the lowest corporate tax rate in the G7, except for the UK, before these latest Conservative tax cuts; since Canada already had a 10 point or 25% tax rate advantage over the United States; and since Canada already had a globally competitive corporate tax rate before these latest cuts, what is to be gained by more, and for whom?

Six billion more dollars in borrowed money will need to be repaid at some future date by our children and grandchildren to finance an extra cut now for the biggest and wealthiest 5% of Canadian businesses. To a lot of Canadians that sounds out of whack. Only 1 business in 20 stands to gain, only the privileged few.

Meanwhile, every employer and employee in Canada, including every small business that employs a single soul, is going to be paying more taxes this year because the Conservatives are imposing increased job-killing payroll taxes through higher employment insurance premiums. This year, next year, the year after that and the year after that, up and up those payroll taxes will go.

The Conservatives will rake in $1.3 billion more this year in these higher payroll taxes, then $3 billion more next year, then $5 billion more the year after that and then $7 billion more. Over four years more than $16 billion will be taken from every employer and every employee on every Canadian job. Most especially, small business will pay.

In the perverse logic of the Conservative government, it cuts taxes on the corporate profits of big business while it increases taxes on the jobs created by small business. It just does not make sense when they can find billions to blow on jets and jails and extra corporate tax cuts.

It also does not make any sense why the Conservatives give the back of their hand to average middle income Canadian families struggling to make ends meet.

Is there help for family caregivers looking after sick or aging loved ones at home? No, the government says that would be reckless. Is there help for young parents looking for a child care space so they can earn a decent income for their family? No, the Conservatives say, because they just do not believe in that.

Is there room for a voluntary supplementary Canada pension plan to help secure a respectable retirement for two-thirds of Canadians who do not have adequate pensions? No, say the Conservatives. They will only promote private sector plans, even when that means expensive management fees, lower earnings, less participation and less security.

What about access to higher education? If a student gets the grades, should the student not get to go to university or college, or get the trades training he or she may need? From the Conservatives the answer is no, that students just do not matter as much as jets and jails and extra corporate tax cuts.

Canadians need the financial details that we have requested in our motion today in order to analyze these very strange Conservative priorities. However, this motion attacking unreasonable and destructive government secrecy is important for another reason too. The specific issues that we have mentioned are symptomatic of a much bigger problem, a government that so distrusts Canadians and is so obsessed with controlling everything all the time that, in the process, it erodes democracy.

I have mentioned the arbitrary padlocking of Parliament by prorogation; the tampering with access to information laws; and ministers falsifying documents, trying to cover up and then failing to be truthful.

I hear the Conservatives chuckling on the other side about their transgressions. Well, Canadians are not laughing.

However, there is so much more. The Conservatives instruct their ministerial staff to thumb their noses at parliamentary committees. Contrary to law, they refuse to appear and answer questions.

A Conservative senator warns women's groups to shut up if they ever want to gain anything from this malevolent government.

The nation's single best source of reliable data, Statistics Canada, previously admired around the world for its accuracy and integrity, is now crippled and dumbed down so that the government can base its decisions on bias and ideology rather than hard evidence.

Public servants are threatened and intimidated to keep their mouths shut, the most graphic cases being Richard Colvin, and also the scientists who work for Environment Canada.

Parliamentary watchdogs are systematically attacked, belittled and coerced into toeing the government's line or they get hounded out of office: Linda Keen at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission; Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer; the Chief Electoral Officer; the Ethics Commissioner; the Information Commissioner; the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development; Paul Kennedy, chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, Peter Tinsley, the chair of the Military Police Complaints Commission; Munir Sheikh, the Chief Statistician; Colonel Stogran, Veterans Ombudsman; and the list goes on.

In addition to that, outside of government, dozens of groups and organizations are treated the same way, being put on the enemies list or hit list, including the Canadian Council on Learning; the Canadian Teachers' Federation; the Rights & Democracy organization; women's groups; and advocates for the poor and the disadvantaged. There are many more, including KAIROS, of course, which this government hated and wanted to silence so much that it went so far as to falsify a document and then tied itself up in knots.

That is typical of a Conservative culture of defeat. On our side, we will fight it every step of the way.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Cambridge Ontario


Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the member's speech. It became quite clear to me that the matter is not really the motion today. The member for Wascana is extremely good at this and I compliment him on his ability to change the channel on the real issue. The real issue is that the Liberals, the Bloc and the NDP coalition want to hide their high tax agenda from Canadians. That is exactly what they are trying to do today, to take up time in the House to hide the true issue, which is that they want to raise taxes.

We believe high taxes are a threat to jobs; we believe in lowering taxes. We have done this and the truth is right here in our economic recovery. This Conservative government has taken every opportunity to lower taxes and, in fact, has seen 460,000 jobs created in Canada.

I want to be very clear before I get to my question. This really is not about partisanship but about a differences in our philosophies.

When the member was finance minister for a brief time, he said the following in a press release while totally rejecting the New Democratic Party leader's call to roll back corporate taxes:

—the government's tax reduction plan has produced significant economic and social benefits for all Canadians.

He went on to say:

Canadians deserve the facts—

—and that the leader of the NDP's—

—numbers are simply wrong, and [that the NDP was]...trying to obscure the true benefits of tax cuts—namely jobs and economic growth.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order. The hon. member for Wascana.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted that the hon. gentleman has referred to that period of time when I had the honour of serving this country as minister of finance.

At that time the Government of Canada, because of 10 years of hard work by the Liberal government, had eliminated the deficit. Prior to that the deficit had existed in this country. The red ink had been flowing for 27 consecutive years. We made the decisions that were necessary to get rid of the deficit. We balanced the books. We ushered in an era of 10 consecutive surplus budgets.

We reduced the corporate tax rates. When we started out they were at 28%. They were globally uncompetitive. We took those rates down on the track that we had established to about 19%. The government added one more percent to take it down to 18%.

All of that was done when the country was running robust surpluses. When we left office in 2006, we left our successors with a $13 billion annual surplus and fiscal flexibility going forward five years of $100 billion. Transfers to the provinces had been raised to an all-time record high, including $41 billion for health care, a new transfer for municipalities and a better deal on equalization, the best deal the provinces had ever had.

The difference now is the Conservatives have put us into $56 billion of debt and their corporate tax cuts are unaffordable.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, what has become very clear with the government is this pathological pattern that it believes there is a set of rules for it and there are rules for everyone else. If anyone else breaks the rules, the government will throw the book at them. There is maximum attack on anyone who does not follow their rules. Yet there is a case where a minister doctored a document and then lied to Parliament. That is about as serious as it can get. If folks back home did that in their workplace, they would be fired. Here, this is the price of doing business.

We see that it is not just that the minister doctored the document and lied, but the Prime Minister of this country, who is supposed to represent an ethical standard, said that what she did is perfectly in line with how the government operates.

I would like to ask the hon. member what it means in this House of Commons, where the laws of this land are made, that it is considered okay as long as it is a Conservative minister to lie, doctor documents, misrepresent the facts and they will be backed up all the way up to the Prime Minister himself. What does it mean for the standard of democracy in this country where a government is willing to go to that level to misrepresent the truth and lie to people?

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, sadly what the hon. gentleman has described is an aspect of the well-entrenched Conservative culture of deceit. He speaks of a double standard and indeed there is a double standard. There is one law for the Conservatives and one law for everyone else.

In this particular case the facts seem to be absolutely beyond dispute. The minister has said certain things in Parliament and in committee, and in the last number of days, most recently, she has completely contradicted herself, obviously indicating that a document was falsified, that it was done on her instructions where she had previously said that she had nothing do with it, and where she has quite literally tied herself in knots trying to evade the responsibility for that.

It is absolutely unconscionable. It is unacceptable. The House has already indicated that point of view. A committee report is now before us that indicates that point of view. It is clear that further action is required.

Either the Prime Minister must shoulder his responsibilities and relieve that minister of her duties, or Parliament will do it for him.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Before I resume with questions, I would like to remind all hon. members to direct their comments to the Chair rather than to their colleagues. Second, I anticipate some intense discussion here today and I would remind all members to use parliamentary language.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the former minister of finance did so well for our country at a time when there was a need for a proactive, strong social conscience in government.

I look at the issue before us in terms of priorities. Is it fair to say that the Conservative government's priorities are wrong? There are the billions of dollars in corporate tax breaks but there are the many needs of our communities. In particular, there is the pension issue. Many pensioners are on fixed incomes with the many needs of today, but the government fails to meet those needs in favour of giving significant corporate tax breaks.

The Conservative member who spoke previously said that the Conservatives were not increasing taxes. Could the member for Wascana explain to this House the payroll tax and how the Conservative government is in fact increasing taxes? Ultimately fewer jobs would be created because of the government's increase to the payroll tax.

Could the member add to that comment?

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, governing is all about making choices. None of the choices that confront governments is ever particularly easy, but when it comes to making the budget, one has to decide where the priorities lie.

The Conservative government for the last year or so has been telling us that its priority is around untendered jet aircraft, larger jails and extra corporate tax cuts. Those appear to be the main items, certainly the biggest spending items, on its agenda.

The Liberal Party suggests that as we come out of recession, as a lot of middle-class Canadian families are struggling with the highest level ever of household debt, that it is time to give those middle-income families the priority, the attention and the break. After all, the large corporate sector in the country has already had a 35% tax cut.

We would put our emphasis on issues like home care, education, family caregiving and pensions. We would try our best to control the burden of payroll taxes. As the hon. gentleman just said, a payroll tax kills jobs. While the government claims to be reducing income taxes for corporations, it is increasing the payroll tax burden for every small business in this country by a combined total over the next four years of $16.6 billion, and that will kill jobs in this country.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba


Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to this very important motion concerning, among other things, the ongoing discussions at the finance committee on the Liberals' plan to increase taxes on job-creating businesses and, consequently, on workers, consumers and families. As a mother of five children, I can say that this would hurt my family, along with many others, particularly single mothers.

Before I begin, let me be clear up front that there has been some confusion as to what we are talking about with respect to our Conservative government's low tax plan. This is not a new plan. This is a plan that was first introduced in 2007 and passed by Parliament in 2007. This is a plan that has been in law since 2007. This is a plan that has been accounted for in the government's books since 2007. Most importantly, over 110,000 businesses have been making their investment and hiring decisions based on our low tax plan since 2007.

I note that at the time the Liberals were more than supportive of lowering business taxes. Indeed, this is what the Liberal leader had to say in the fall of 2007 on the subject. He stated:

I am convinced that a further reduction in the corporate tax rate cut is the right thing to do...How, for the sake of good jobs and rising living standards, can we encourage Canadian companies to increase their investments? The answer is simple... lower the corporate tax rate--

I repeat that good jobs and rising living standards are what the Liberal leader believed are affected by lowering corporate taxes. However, under their new leader, the Liberals have shifted even more dramatically to the left and embraced the business bashing rhetoric and tax and spend philosophy of their NDP coalition partner.

The Liberals' dramatic shift to the left, along with their reckless plan to hike taxes on business, is now the centre of debate here today. The tax hike plan is really getting Canadian businesses and the people who work for them very nervous, especially as they try to climb out of the worst global recession since the 1930s in a period of tentative recovery.

I know the sponsor of today's motion is from the province of Saskatchewan, which is where I was born. I would ask him to talk to his constituents and the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce. I am not sure that he has done that yet. If he had, I am not sure he would be so keen on demonizing businesses in his home province and advocating for punishing tax hikes.

I would ask him to listen to what the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce wrote in an open letter. It stated:

The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce is extremely disappointed to see the issue of planned business tax reductions, and the ability of Canada's businesses to foster sustainable economic growth, which has become hostage to political manoeuvring...

Following through on the business tax reduction agenda is critical to moving from government- and Canadian taxpayer-funded-stimulus to a private sector-led recovery. The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce believes improving the business climate to trigger private sector investment is the most significant economic issue now confronting Canada...

The alternative to that, of course, is an increase in taxes. We do not believe raising taxes would be good for growth or employment...

...the tax reductions parliamentarians have endorsed since 2007 will free up capital to be put to work growing Canada's businesses and its economy... If parliamentarians renege on their commitment to continue with promised tax decreases, you can be certain that many businesses will not be able to pursue their plans.

I am going to suggest the people of Saskatchewan will not look too kindly on a politician who suggests that taxes be raised in their province, hurting their local businesses and costing them local jobs for their families. I am also going to suggest that the Liberal Party actually talk to small businesses. In recent weeks, shamefully, the Liberal Party has been standing up bizarrely claiming small businesses want to pay higher taxes.

To be clear, that is 100% wrong and Canadians need to know that. I know because I stood right beside Catherine Swift, the head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business when she said she supports our plan.

For the record let me quote what the CFIB actually said:

I'd just like to clarify that the corporate income tax reductions are not exclusively a big business issue for a lot of different reasons. The small and medium-sized business sector is very integrated with the large business sector in Canada. Therefore, measures that benefit one also benefit the other. We also have seen, right through the economy, that our very competitive corporate tax climate, which is viewed around the world as very attractive, already brought investment to Canada, and naturally, that's a win for everyone, all businesses and also for the creation of employment. I think also...when a plan gets announced, businesses take that into account in their own planning and to change this now in the middle of the game, I think, creates a lot of very serious problems in terms of our reputation as a country on the international scene and also for our businesses here in Canada.

Having clearly heard that quote from the CFIB in its entirety, I ask once and for all that the Liberals stop distorting the views of Canadian small businesses about the Liberals' tax hike plan. In fact, the member for Kings—Hants should apologize for intentionally misquoting the CFIB.

This all goes to a larger issue. What we have here is a fundamental disagreement. Our Conservative government believes hard-working Canadians should not be paying higher taxes. We believe lower taxes help job creation and economic growth. Our low tax plan has already shown signs that it is working and making Canada an attractive place for business to invest and create jobs.

I think of one example that all Canadians could relate to, which is Tim Hortons and what transpired a few years back. Tim Hortons, that Canadian icon, actually left Canada in the 1990s like many businesses at the time because of the high tax policies of the previous Liberal government. But after Parliament passed our low tax plan in 2007, Tim Hortons recognized that Canada was once again open for business and not solely open to tax business like under the Liberals. Tim Hortons swiftly moved back to Canada as a direct result.

In the words of a Calgary Herald editorial at the time:

Talk about a double-double blessing! ...Canada's national coffee--Tim Hortons--is leaving Delaware and coming home, for all the right reasons. That is, after years during which Canadian business rightly complained of being at a tax disadvantage compared to its U.S. competitors, the pendulum has swung and Timmies now reckons it will do better north of the border.... [I]t shows Canada is doing something right. Rule one in public economics is that people respond to the incentives they're offered. That a company such as Tim Hortons is prepared to go through the upheaval of moving its head office to take advantage of a lower tax environment shows business tax cuts...are starting to work.

Clearly, a strong economy means more financially secure Canadian families.

But the Liberal opposition believes Canadians and Canadian businesses are not sending enough of their hard-earned money to Ottawa. That is why the Liberals are pushing for higher taxes, be it a GST hike, business tax hikes or an iPod tax, to help fill government coffers in Ottawa. Why would we do that to Canadians? The Liberals would use taxpayers' money to bankroll their big government schemes, like providing benefits to people after a 45-day work year.

Clearly, when it comes to taxes we have different views.

This debate has been occurring at finance committee over the past few months. Over the course of the committee's prebudget consultations, group after group and expert after expert was asked what they thought of our government's low tax plan and what they thought of the Liberals' tax hike plan.

What did the finance committee hear? The testimony was nearly unanimous in support of our Conservative government's plan to keep taxes low for job creators and against the Liberals' plan to attack them. Groups like the Mining Association of British Columbia, the Conference Board of Canada, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, the Conseil du patronat du Québec, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, the Mining Association of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and more were all united in telling the finance committee tax hikes are a bad idea for our economy and for jobs.

As the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told the committee:

The single most important or most damaging thing the government could do at this point to stall the recovery would be to cancel the planned tax reductions. Business has been planning on them. The private sector has been hiring based on them.... If suddenly those were repealed at this point, the impact would be to get business to shelve its plans for expansion and getting people back to work.

I am stunned. The Liberal-Bloc Québécois-NDP coalition recently banded together to endorse a Liberal motion to essentially harm Canada's economic growth and kill jobs, especially after all the witnesses before the committee so strongly supported our Conservative government's ambitious plan to support job creators.

Even more recently, the finance committee invited Ian Lee, the director of the Master of Business Administration program at Carleton University's Sprott School of Business. We asked Ian Lee at finance committee what he thought about the debate on business taxes. Here is what he said at length:

“I've followed the debate over the past two months and I'm just astonished at the debate. There has been no reference to the OECD, to their 10-year tax policy research branch studies. They have published dozens and dozens and dozens of studies which have concluded irrevocably without condition that corporate taxes are the most harmful type of tax for economic growth. There is no ambiguity in the research. None, none, zip, nada. So I know that's going to upset some people but that's a fact....The OECD research for 10 years, across many, many scholars, has found that income per capita goes down. Or you can put it in reverse: the lower the corporate taxes, the higher the income per person. The scholarship is very clear on that. So I'm answering your question: if corporate taxation goes up, income per capita will go down....The scholarship is unambiguous and an increase in taxes is merely a disguised tax on workers or consumers. That's all it is.... It's going to raise prices or cause wages to go down.”

That was an expert, Ian Lee, on making sure corporate tax reduction continues. Mr. Lee's findings have been supported recently by experts like the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, University of Calgary Professor Jack Mintz, and many more who have released detailed reports showing our low tax plan is crucial to keeping Canada's economy strong. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Indeed, I would like to draw the attention of Parliament, and especially of Canadian families, to one finding in particular from the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters' report.

We know debates like this can get a little theoretical. We know sometimes we can get lost in big and competing numbers, but let us bring it down to a more personal level. To do that, let us look at two numbers from the report of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters. The report, which is available online, indicated for the final two portions alone of our low tax plan, among the many economic benefits would be an increase in personal incomes of Canadians by a whopping $30.4 billion, or an increase of 2.4%, and an increase of personal income of $880 per capita. That is $880 per person.

That might not seem like a lot of money to a Liberal leader who summers in France, but for the average Canadian family, that is a big amount. That is what this debate is all about: jobs, economic growth and how we can make Canadian families more financially secure.

I recognize there is some debate today about our government's record of transparency versus the Liberal record, but I am quite comfortable with what our government has done to better inform Canadians about how we spend their tax dollars. Indeed, we are the government that created the office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. We are the government that passed a law requiring all federal departments and agencies to produce detailed quarterly financial statements. We are the government that produced groundbreaking progress report after progress report on the economic action plan, something even Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, said, “really put Canada almost at the forefront in fiscal transparency and stimulus”. That is our record.

What is the Liberal record? It is spending scandal after spending scandal that had to be uncovered, everything from the sponsorship scandal to the HRSDC boondoggle, to the wasteful long gun registry, and the list goes on and on.

Today's debate is also about transparency and who will stand up for taxpayers. On that, only our Conservative government has been clear. We will not support tax increases on workers, families and businesses. We will stay committed to our low tax plan to create jobs.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke at length about Tim Hortons. I would like to ask her whether the benefit she mentioned, the return of Tim Hortons, was not simply related to Wendy's, the American parent company that held 100% of Tim Hortons. Through an IPO—initial public offering—and share dividends for its shareholders, Tim Hortons was returned to Wendy's shareholders.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question about Tim Hortons. I would like to take this opportunity to say that we are very proud of Tim Hortons, which is recognized throughout Canada and the United States as a Canadian company. It is because the Conservative government decided to lower income taxes that Tim Hortons decided to return here, to Canada.

I encourage Bloc members to celebrate Tim Hortons, a Canadian company, with us. Quebeckers enjoy their double-doubles with the rest of Canada.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, for the member for Saint Boniface, the motion reads in part, “the cost of the government's justice and public safety agenda, represents a violation of the rights of Parliament”.

We are talking about transparency. The member for Saint Boniface made specific reference to the importance of transparency.

Does the member for Saint Boniface not believe that the House of Commons, Parliament, the members inside this chamber have a right to know what the costs are of these megaprisons and the policy the government is espousing in regard to the crime and safety bills, such as the one we passed yesterday?

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to hear the Liberal member for Winnipeg North talk about public safety and justice.

There is a cost to ensuring the safety and security of all the constituents in his riding where I worked for most of my police career. There is a cost to making sure they are safe. Almost all Canadians agree with our plan to ensure that we spend the money required to make them safe and secure.

I worked the streets of the north end; my mother lives in the north end. It is unfortunately one of the most violent areas of the city of Winnipeg. Unfortunately, the city of Winnipeg suffers from the label of having an excessive amount of violent crime. I challenge the member to do the right thing because the members of his community agree with me and they agree with this government to do what it takes and to spend the money to protect them from violent crime.