Mr. Speaker, I will pick up at jobs in the economy because I think since I was elected in 2008, it is consistently what our government has actually talked about.
Indeed, with the global economic recovery so fragile, as demonstrated by the ongoing events in Europe, keeping Canada's economy on the right track must remain our priority. While Canada's economy has created nearly 600,000 net new jobs since July 2009, the strongest job growth in the G7, too many Canadians are still looking for work.
That is why we are working hard to implement our prudent, low tax plan to support Canada's economic recovery and help create jobs through the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.
Indeed, our Conservative government remains focused on ensuring Canada continues to offer the right environment to attract investment necessary to create more and better paying jobs, thereby improving the living standards of Canadians.
Ironically, one of the most proven ways to that end is an action opposed by the NDP, to give job creators the means to hire more workers by lowering their taxes, which is exactly what our government is doing. It is also exactly what we have done since coming to office and what we told Canadians during the election that we would continue to do if we were returned to government.
Given the results of May 2, it is safe to say that Canadian families prefer our low tax plan over the tax and spend plan of the NDP. Families know that our Conservative government is acting on what matters to them as we steer them through this turbulent global economic period.
Indeed, unlike what the NDP would have Canadians believe, our Conservative government has a strong and proven record on the economy, one that Canadians can look to and trust.
In the words of Bank of Montreal deputy chief economist, Doug Porter, appearing before the finance committee this week:
--compared to policy making in the rest of the world, Canada's economic policy-making has been exemplary. I don't think there's been a significant misstep in recent years.
That is very high praise.
Let us listen to the IMF:
Canada is actually matching up quite well on a relative basis...the recession was not too deep, they haven't had a financial crisis to the extent that the U.S. has had or the Europeans are having it. And so all in all Canada is actually doing quite well.
However, it is vitally important Canada maintains our hard-earned fiscal advantage that underpins the confidence that investors around the globe have in Canada and which encourages job growth.
That is why our stimulus spending was temporary and targeted, without jeopardizing Canada's long-term fiscal advantage.
In budget 2010 and 2011, we started the process of returning to balanced budgets by doing such things as closing tax loopholes and launching a comprehensive review of government spending to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
Our Conservative government has been very clear and consistent that we will not raise taxes or cut transfers to other levels of government in support of health care and social services, like the shameful record of the Liberals in the 1990s.
As the member for Kings—Hants, the current Liberal finance critic, nonetheless publicly declared, the Liberal government balanced its books by slashing transfers. Provinces have been put in serious fiscal peril because of this irresponsible slashing.
Unlike the tax and spend NDP, our Conservative government is focused on creating the right conditions for jobs and long-term economic growth. Budget 2011, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, will invest in the key drivers of economic growth: innovation, investment, education and training. It will seek to foster an environment in which all Canadians contribute to and benefit from a stronger economy.
Unfortunately the NDP voted against the next phase of Canada's economic action plan and its important investments.
Let us take some examples: investment in innovation, education and training. Let me expand on that because it is important that the NDP understands just exactly what it voted against. The NDP has a motion here today, but it does not know what it actually voted against.
In looking to the future, it is important to help develop and attract talented people to strengthen our capacity for world-leading research and development, and to improve the commercialization of research.
Since forming government in 2006, each successive budget we have tabled has demonstrated our Conservative government's commitment to implementing our science and technology strategy and our ongoing determination to invest significant amounts in research and development, while encouraging the partnerships with the private sector that can turn promising concepts into groundbreaking applications.
In my own riding of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, for example, the Thompson Rivers University received almost $900,000 from our government last month to purchase a low-temperature incubating facility. It is a very long and complicated piece of equipment, but it is really focused on meat research and development. It will help many local small and medium-sized enterprises that are closely linked to the agriculture, bioproduct and natural resource sectors in the B.C. interior and beyond.
Programs such as the Vanier Canada graduate scholarships, the Canada excellence research chairs, and the recently announced Banting post-doctoral fellowships program cover the full spectrum in attracting, retaining and developing world-class talented researchers in Canada. We had the brain drain not so many years ago, and that is reversing.
The research these programs support, and the researchers they develop, will help sustain Canada's economic advantage well into the future.
However, we understand more needs to be done to ensure Canada is the leader in research and innovation to succeed in the global knowledge economy.
That is why the next phase of Canada's economic action plan will build on earlier investments by providing significant new resources to advance a digital economy strategy, strengthen Canada's global research leadership, and support the commercialization of research by fostering business innovation.
Some examples are $80 million to support collaborative projects between colleges and small and medium-sized businesses that accelerate the adoption of information and communications technologies; $53.5 million to expand the Canada excellence research chairs program; and $60 million to promote increased student enrolment in key disciplines related to the digital economy.
The Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences praised these investments, declaring they will “substantially boost Canada's capacity for research and innovation”. Amazingly again, the NDP voted against every one of those investments in research and development.
This takes us to another area, support for industries and communities. In planning for the future, we should not overlook the traditional industries working hard to adapt to an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
The next phase of Canada's economic action plan gives significant support to the long-term competitiveness of vital sectors in regions and communities across Canada.
For example, in recent years, the forestry sector has taken important steps to embrace innovative technologies and transition to higher value activities.
Government investments are helping the forestry sector to accelerate its transformation and to enhance its long-term future, a goal that is particularly important for many of my constituents.
The next phase of Canada's economic action plan takes additional action to support the transformation of the forestry sector by providing $60 million to help forestry companies innovate and tap into new opportunities abroad. This funding will support the development of emerging and breakthrough technologies for the forestry sector through the transformation technology program.
It will also help forestry companies to diversify and to expand their markets through the value to wood program, the Canada wood export program, and the North American wood first initiative. Little wonder the Forest Products Association of Canada said of the next phase of Canada's economic action plan:
This Budget continues the process of developing a policy framework aimed at fostering innovation and the type of strategic investments needed for the Canadian forest products industry to lead the world. This will bolster rural communities and protect jobs, strengthen the economy and advance Canada's environmental reputation.
Stunningly, again, the NDP voted against helping the forestry sector.
With regard to agriculture, our government is taking important steps to support a strong and competitive agricultural sector. It is important that it remains on the cutting edge of innovative science and technology.
Effective management of plant and animal diseases serves to reduce the likelihood of future outbreaks, which can have a significant economic impact on production and the livelihood of producers. We just have to look at BSE and what happened there.
The next phase of Canada's economic action plan proposes measures that will support innovation and the long-term profitability of this key sector. Here are some of the things we are going to do.
We will provide $50 million for an agricultural innovation initiative to support knowledge creation and increase commercialization of agricultural innovation;
We will extend the initiative for the control of diseases in the hog industry and provide $24 million to complete initiatives directed at national biosecurity standards;
We will provide $17 million for a management and monitoring strategy to contain and prevent the spread of the plum pox virus, and much more.
It should not come as a great surprise that organizations like the Canadian Cattlemen's Association were supportive of budget 2011. It stated that it:
--appreciate[d] the Government of Canada's focus on research and innovation in the agricultural sector--
It went on to say that these are areas that are:
--crucial to the long-term competitiveness of the Canadian cattle industry.
Again, the NDP, disappointingly, voted against helping Canada's agricultural sector.
I would like to speak now about the Canada-India research centre of excellence. For these and all sectors, the trend toward globalization and foreign investment provides many benefits to Canada and it is important to adopt policies that encourage trade and investment.
Emerging economies such as India, for example, are increasing their capacity to undertake advanced research that can make important economic and social contributions around the world. Canada is going to benefit from stronger links with researchers and institutions in India by partnering to produce new ideas that create economic opportunities, while developing and attracting highly skilled personnel.
The next phase of Canada's economic action plan proposes $12 million to help establish a new Canada-India research centre of excellence. This centre is going to lever the considerable relationships that already exist between post-secondary institutions, researchers and students in Canada and India for the benefit of both countries. As the University of Alberta president, Indira Samarasekera, asserted, this investment supported “the goal of reaching the world, of promoting Canada's international brand”.
Unbelievable as it might seem, although no surprise, the NDP again voted against it.
As I have already demonstrated, our government responded quickly to the global economic downturn with our economic action plan by taking decisive steps to protect incomes, create jobs, ease credit markets, and help workers and communities get back on their feet. Part of this plan was an investment to improve infrastructure in the communities across the country.
Now, with the next phase of the economic action plan, we are proposing targeted investments in infrastructure.
The plan includes working with the provinces, territories, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and other stakeholders on the development of a long-term plan for public infrastructure, and that is beyond the building Canada plan and legislating a permanent annual investment of $2 billion in the gas tax fund to provide predictable long-term infrastructure. Again, that was in the last budget. My municipalities are absolutely delighted with that secure investment into infrastructure. Providing up to $150 million to support the construction of an all-season road between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk that completes the Dempster Highway, connecting Canadians from coast to coast; and providing $228 million to fund repairs and major maintenance on federal bridges in the greater Montreal area to ensure that the bridges continue to serve the needs of the commuters while meeting the highest safety standards.
A more local example was $4 million to build the new transit centre in Kamloops and over $900,000 to the Kamloops airport to improve safety features. Again, that is very important in my riding.
The list just goes on. As the Federation of Canadian Municipalities stated, budget 2011 “makes it clear: strong communities--with quality infrastructure--are essential to a strong economic future”.
Yet again, the NDP voted against it.
Just as planning by our Conservative government before the recession meant a softer landing than many other countries have faced, so too will the low-tax economic policies we are now taking enable us to have a strong economy well into the future.
In every region of Canada, families and businesses are paying less tax and unemployed workers are receiving better support and new training. Major job-creating infrastructure projects are improving the quality of life in communities while creating new jobs. Colleges and universities are benefiting from new investments.
Canadians can rest assured that our Conservative government believes that encouraging investment and economic growth is the best way to create jobs and a brighter future for Canadians. It is what Canadians expect of us and it is what we must deliver.