Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege for me to stand in the House today and speak about Bill C-45, the budget implementation bill.
Canada has been through some tough times since the great recession began in 2008, and we have fared incredibly well when compared to other industrialized nations around the world. We have the strongest growing economy, and it is due in no small way to the efforts of our Conservative government. Our economic action plan has and continues to ensure that the Canadian economy will remain robust and prepared to fend off most risks.
I want to thank the Minister of Finance, our Prime Minister and all of my caucus colleagues for their hard work. I ask the members on the other side of the House to consider this bill very carefully, and I ask for their support.
It is important to keep our fragile economy running smoothly, and this bill supports jobs and growth to do just that. This is good legislation for all Canadians. It is also good for my home province of Alberta and my riding of Medicine Hat. It contains support for farmers. There are many in my region who I am proud to represent here. I would also like to add that many of them are prospering at historic levels now that they have the freedom to market their grain to whomever they choose. I am happy to report that fact to the House.
This bill is good for farmers. It is good for small business owners. It is good for families and seniors. It is good for the middle class. I do not understand how the opposition members have committed to voting against it. I do realize it is an attempt on their part to simply obstruct everything that we do. This is the NDP's game plan, and it has not even tried to hide that strategy.
Our government has been committed to the economy in other ways, such as by helping to keep the corporate tax low, which in turn has created over 820,000 new jobs since July 2009, shortly after the global economic downturn began. That is an incredible statistic when we stop to think about it.
Nevertheless, the global economic environment remains fragile, and recent economic developments will continue to impact the Canadian economy and government revenues. We have made it clear that we will not impose a harmful, crippling carbon tax on Canadians, like the NDP has on page 4 of its election platform. We do not believe that is productive. We believe it would hurt Canada.
Our Conservative government remains committed to the Canadian economy, and this budget implementation bill will ensure we can continue to grow in an environment where most industrialized nations are struggling.
Through this act, we are facilitating cross-border travel. Pilot projects will begin at ports of entry in Montreal and Prince Rupert which will examine ways to make travelling less burdensome, such as trying to cut out multiple inspections of freight and baggage. Goods should be “once screened, twice accepted”.
Budget 2012 also increases travellers' exemptions. Canadians who visit the U.S. for a 24-hour period will be able to bring in $200 worth of goods. Those returning after 48 hours will be able to bring back $800 worth of goods.
We are removing the red tape and reducing fees for Canadian grain farmers. That is good news for farmers in the Medicine Hat and surrounding area. Our government has allocated $44 million over the next two years to transition the Canadian Grain Commission to a sustainable funding model.
Our government was elected by farmers on a platform to modernize the grain sector in Canada and to keep our economy strong. We have brought in marketing freedom, and the next step is to renew the Grain Commission. These changes will eliminate about $20 million in unnecessary costs from the grain handling system, costs which ultimately are passed down to the farmers.
I urge the opposition to stop playing games with the economy and support the swift passage of this legislation. We are modernizing organizations like the Canadian Grain Commission. It was the same idea with regard to the Canadian Wheat Board. The board was created in a different time. To say that we find ourselves in the same agricultural situation today as we did decades ago would be a stretch, to say the least.
We are trying to create a modern economy to keep us competitive and economically sound at home and abroad.
Through the Red Tape Reduction Commission, we are working to reduce the tax compliance burden for businesses, with such things as simplified administration options for business partnerships, an improved business section on the CRA website, improvements to the rules for paying eligible dividends and graduated penalties for late filings. That is going to help businesses in my Medicine Hat riding; there is no doubt in my mind. If we bring in new regulations, we need to remove one or more items of red tape.
We are not sure what the opposition wants. What we do know is that, besides its $21 billion carbon tax grab on every single Canadian, it wants to raise other taxes as well. It wants to raise the GST, corporate taxes and, most likely, the personal income tax rate as well.
We are going to change the Public Service Superannuation Act, which would fix the public service pension plan so that the plan is more in line with the private sector. That is a necessary cost saving, and it is fair. We are not asking our hard-working public servants to do anything we are not. The bill to fix our MP pensions to reflect the same rules as already passed through the House. I am proud of that, because it had all party support. It just goes to show that we all can work together to get things done, as Canadians expect us to do.
Another part of Bill C-45 is that amendments would be brought to the Income Tax Act to allow for pooled registered pension plans, PRPPs. I would like to talk a little about these, because they are a way for the people of my Medicine Hat riding and all Canadians to save money for retirement. The whole idea behind the PRPP was to provide a way for those who do not necessarily have access to other plans but want to put aside a little nest egg for their retirement anyway. This option would allow people to save money for retirement at a lower cost by pooling their plans through administrators. It would also allow the self-employed to save money.
This is important for people in my riding. I have discussed the new PRPP with small businesses in my riding. They are very excited about the plan and the opportunity it would present to their companies and more importantly, their ability to attract and retain highly skilled employees.
Bill C-45 would reinforce our financial sector by supporting a sound and balanced regulatory regime. We do not presume that Canada is immune to world economic fault lines, but we do know that we fared far better than most in the last four years. I know the opposition disagrees, but let us look at the comments made last week by Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund. She said:
Canada is a country with one of the strongest financial sectors in the world.... Canada can teach the rest of the world about how to build a stronger, safer financial system.
If I look at Canada and the anomaly that it constitutes compared to other countries — because it's growing pretty well, because its banking system is solid and growing, because its inflation is under control, because its fiscal deficit is also pretty much under control and its level of indebtedness is reasonable — you know, it's not bad as a scorecard.
That is quite a statement of what we are doing here. This is not partisan drivel. It was not a Conservative Party of Canada strategist or even our fantastic finance minister who said this. It was Christine Lagarde.
Unlike the NDP, we don't base our economic policy on what crackpot economists working for big union bosses tell us. We take an honest, calm and moderate approach, one that strikes a balance. Bill C-45 would continue to make our country more financially prosperous. That is a good thing.
Bill C-45 would enhance security in regard to people travelling to Canada by plane. As part of the perimeter security and economic competitiveness plan, Canada would be working better to screen travellers so that security threats could be stopped ahead of time. That makes Canada safer. I find it very disturbing that the NDP would not support that and so did the people in my riding.
Let us talk about employment. We know that our government's economic action plan has played not a small part in the creation of 820,000 new jobs. We also have a bevy of tax credits to support job strategy. We would also include in that extending the hiring credit for small businesses in 2012. The NDP will be voting against this. What does the opposition have against small businesses? It strikes me as crazy, especially since we just celebrated small business week. Cities in my riding, like Brooks, Taber and Medicine Hat are growing.
I want to touch on one more part of the economic action plan that would be beneficial to constituents in my riding and in Canada. That is our government's accelerated capital cost allowance for energy generation, to further encourage businesses to invest in clean energy generation and energy efficiency. My province is the largest producer of energy in Canada, and this would help those in the clean energy sector be more successful.
Countless world economic bodies have praised our strong financial position, and we have nothing to be ashamed of. Our record speaks for itself. I am proud to be voting in favour of the bill. I am proud to be part of the Conservative team and family that has only Canada's best interests at heart.