Madam Speaker, today I rise to debate another misguided Liberal motion on our plan to reduce taxes for Canadians and get tough on crime.
Whenever a Liberal talks, it seems it is about raising taxes. We prefer to take another tack and talk about lowering taxes for Canadians.
It is a good thing our government has a long record of providing tax relief for hard-working Canadians such that I could continue all day, which I am sure all members here would enjoy.
The Liberals could also talk long about their own tax record. Unfortunately, it would be to discuss all the ways they would like to increase taxes, such as a GST hike, an iPod tax, a carbon tax, and it goes on and on.
Let us look at our Conservative government's tax record. Since taking power, we have cut over 100 taxes. We are cutting taxes in every way that we collect them, from excise taxes and sales taxes, to business taxes and personal taxes.
One of our first actions on taking office was to reduce the GST by 1%, to 6%, but we did not stop there. We then reduced the GST by another 1%, to 5%.
Of course, whenever we cut taxes, we hear howls from the Liberals. Indeed, the Liberals were so incensed that we would lower Canadian taxes that the member for Kings—Hants, when asked if he would repeal the GST cuts, said, “Absolutely”. He was joined later by the Liberal leader, who would infamously say, “I'm not going to take a GST tax hike off the table”.
Thankfully for Canadians and their wallets, the tax-and-spend Liberals are not in power and a Conservative government that believes in lower taxes is.
This is a government that believes in lower taxes for Canadians, like our seniors, and has demonstrated this with tax relief measures such as pension income splitting. This is one of the most significant tax changes for seniors and is saving some seniors thousands of dollars every year on their income taxes. This is a move that was praised by seniors' groups. The New Brunswick Senior Citizens' Federation said, “On behalf of the 21,000 seniors citizens we represent in New Brunswick, we commend you for introducing the opportunity for our seniors to utilize pension income splitting. This change will mean additional moneys for our seniors who are mostly on a very limited fixed income”.
We also doubled the pension income credit and increased the age credit amount by over $2,000, but our Conservative government did not stop there. We introduced the child fitness tax credit to help parents get their kids into organized sports. We introduced the child tax credit to provide much needed assistance for families across this country. We introduced the public transit tax credit to help people make the decision to take public transit. In our local newspaper this morning when it looked at a raise in the cost of public transit in our community, one of the young students said, “I have that public transit tax credit, so it helps ease the pain”.
We lowered Canadians' personal income taxes and, perhaps more important, we introduce a tax-free savings account, the most important personal savings vehicle since the introduction of the RRSP. Nearly five million Canadians are already benefiting from having their capital gains earned tax free.
In the end, the most important thing is what our record of tax relief means for families. Our tax relief measures mean a lot for Canadians. The tax savings for a typical family is $3,000. Let me say that again: a tax savings of $3,000 for the average family. That means a lot for the average family in Canada. I am proud to be part of a government that has made that happen.
Let me turn again to the topic that brings us here today: our tax relief for businesses. Let us review some of the ways our government has reduced taxes for businesses.
We reduced the federal capital tax in 2006 which was seriously harming business investment in Canada. To encourage provinces to remove their capital taxes, we introduced the temporary financial incentive to help provinces remove their capital taxes. With our help, by 2012, capital taxes will be eliminated. We reduced the small business tax rate to 11% in 2008. We also increased the income eligible for this lower tax rate from $300,000 to $500,000. It was a move that recognized that innovative and growth-oriented small businesses play a vital role in the ongoing health of our economy.
To help Canadian businesses weather the global economic storm, in Canada's economic action plan we also introduced a number of temporary tax measures to stimulate the economy. For example, to promote the exploration and development of Canada's rich mineral resources, the mineral exploration tax credit was extended in budget 2010. This temporary 15% credit provides important benefits in terms of employment and investment, especially for rural and remote communities. This is especially helpful in my home province of British Columbia. In the words of the Mining Association of British Columbia:
With British Columbia’s mining industry emerging from recent economic challenges, MABC is encouraged by this federal budget's initiatives that will help ensure that recovery does not falter.
MABC was pleased to see...a one year extension of the 15 percent mineral exploration tax credit....combined with a stay-the-course plan to continue reducing corporate income tax rates...important to the recovery currently under way in the mining sector.
As the previous quote alluded to, we are lowering business taxes from over 22% in 2006 to 15% by 2012, as passed in 2007 by Parliament.
Canadians are benefiting from permanent tax relief that is broad-based, fiscally durable and structurally sound. Lowering taxes on job creators means that more jobs are created. It is a simple calculation, but an important one. It is one that has been confirmed by leading economists in Canada. The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters as well as Jack Mintz, one of Canada's top private sector economists, have shown that lowering business taxes means thousands upon thousands of more jobs for Canadians.
At a time when we are exiting a global economic recession, now is not the time to hike taxes on job creators. Liberals used to know that, but instead, they have decided to turn a blind eye for cheap political gain.
The member for Kings—Hants knew this when he said, “We cannot increase corporate taxes without losing corporate investment. If we lose corporate investment, we have a less productive economy.... That means fewer jobs. That means more poverty”.
The member for Wascana knew this when he said, “Canadians deserve the facts” and that the NDP leader's “numbers are simply wrong, and he is trying to obscure the true benefits of business tax cuts, namely jobs and economic growth”.
I agree with the member for Wascana. Canadians do deserve the facts.
If we want higher wages, more jobs and a higher standard of living, we need the business investments that result from our government's tax cuts on job creators. Are our efforts paying off? Without a doubt, yes. Compared to other major industrialized countries, Canada is indeed weathering the recession better than most. Our strong economic, financial and fiscal fundamentals have contributed to that success, along with our economic action plan.
Over 460,000 more Canadians are working today than in July 2009, the strongest job growth in the G7. Compare this labour market recovery to the ongoing labour market challenges in the United States, where employment remains well below its pre-recession level. Tax relief for Canadian businesses has without a doubt contributed to Canada's relative success.
Whether the Liberals really appreciate it or not, tax relief has helped build a solid foundation for economic growth, job creation and better prosperity. Improving the competitiveness of the Canadian tax system of course requires collaboration among all governments to help Canadian businesses compete globally. Fortunately, reducing business tax makes so much sense the provinces are following our example. B.C., Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba have also reduced their provincial taxes on businesses.
The Liberal Ontario finance minister, Dwight Duncan, is a stalwart defender, saying, “Scrapping...corporate tax cuts would hurt the fragile economic recovery by raising taxes on the...forestry and automotive sectors”. He said that scrapping them is “about the most shortsighted, dumb, public policy pronouncement one could envision”. Liberals proposing a shortsighted dumb public policy? Shocking, I know.
The fact is that along with the provinces we are helping Canada build a strong foundation for future economic growth, job creation and higher living standards for Canadians, to the point where Canada is now increasingly recognized as a model for business taxation.
A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal noted:
Twenty-two years ago we wrote an editorial--'North to Argentina'--warning Canada that economic prosperity isn't a birthright but requires sound policies like free trade. Nowadays, that's a lecture Canada could credibly deliver to Washington on business taxes.
The government also recognizes that unnecessary regulation imposes significant costs on business and adversely affects productivity and economic growth. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates that businesses in Canada currently spend over $30 billion each year complying with regulations. Over the past four years, the government has taken important steps to reduce the administrative and paperwork burden on Canadian businesses.
In March 2009 the government met its target of reducing the paperwork burden on companies by 20% and eliminating almost 80,000 regulatory requirements and information obligations with which businesses must comply.
To sustain that momentum, this January the government followed through on its budget commitment and announced the creation of the Red Tape Reduction Commission with parliamentarian and private sector representatives. It will work to reduce the burden of federal regulatory requirements on Canadian businesses, especially small and medium businesses. As a member of that commission, I must say it is working extraordinarily well. It will consult with Canadians and Canadian businesses to identify irritants that have a clear detrimental effect on growth, competitiveness and innovation. The commission will provide advice on permanent solutions to control and reduce the overall regulatory compliance burden. I am honoured to be a part of that commission finishing the job.
It is important to remain vigilant in maintaining Canada's position on the world stage. That is why our Conservative government's number one priority remains the economy. Canada's economic action plan was intended to help guide the economy while being ever mindful of the country's long-term future. It has provided a balance between stimulating our economy in the short term and building our capacity in the long term. The plan is working in every region of Canada's family--