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.