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House of Commons Hansard #190 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was lake.

Topics

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In response to the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, it is my understanding that the minister was merely tabling a document. This is not the answer that is being tabled. Ministers may rise at any time in the House to simply table a document. The answer that will be required will have to be tabled in the appropriate procedure at some point in the future.

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Sherbrooke.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague who is a member of this government, probably the most incompetent government in the history of Canada. In fact, it has run up the largest deficit in Canada's fiscal history and the largest trade deficit in Canadian history. Some 330,000 more people are unemployed today than before the recession.

I am therefore pleased to ask this question of the member, who talked about research and development. This government has made cuts to the scientific research and experimental development program, cuts that have been condemned by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Can my colleague comment on the government's decision to go ahead with those cuts to research and development? Why does he think his party did that?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, with respect to deficits and so on, our deficit is the smallest in the developed world with respect to the GDP, which is the true measure of a deficit. Of course, the number is larger than it was 50 years ago but, with inflation, that is what one would expect.

When we talk about trade deficits, part of that problem is Canada's strength. If our trading partners are weaker and not buying, that will generate some trade deficit. It is actually a measure of our strength. We are working hard with our partners in the EU, U.S. and other places to encourage them to increase their economic output and that will balance out in the longer term.

With respect to R and D, our government is focusing our R and D dollars on where they will do the most good.

If the member wants to talk about chambers of commerce, the biggest chamber of commerce in the country is in Edmonton. Believe it or not, it is even bigger than in Toronto or Montreal. I meet with it on, not quite on a daily basis but very often, and it is very impressed and appreciative of the focus that this government is putting on R and D in the places where it will do the most good.

We are not here to sprinkle a few droplets everywhere. We are here to focus on things that will matter most to Canadians, to the Canadian economy and to jobs and long-term prosperity.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's investment in business research and development support was concentrated in the scientific research and experimental development tax credit but we will be cutting that eventually by something like $500 million a year. If we look at the announced spending that is supposed to come from those cuts to the SR and ED tax credit, they do not add up anywhere near $500 million.

A lot of companies in my riding and elsewhere rely on that tax credit. These are the innovative companies that are creating jobs that use that tax credit to develop the innovations that make Canadian workers more productive.

I would ask my hon. colleague for Edmonton Centre whether his constituents in the oil and gas technology sector who heavily rely on the eligibility for capital expenditures for the scientific research and experimental tax credit would be happy. Why is he increasing taxes on his constituents in the oil and gas technology sector by cutting the tax credit for SR and ED?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I find it a bit rich when people stand up and dump on Alberta MPs, Alberta and the Canadian government in general for what they consider to be too much support for the oil and gas business. I will give the member credit for not being one of those people.

The simple fact is that we are in partnership with Canadian industry, certainly the oil and gas industry which is driving the economy of the country at this point, and I think my hon. colleague realizes that. The economic progress is a work in progress. We are going to work with all sectors of the Canadian economy and all technology sectors, as we have been doing, as I laid out in my remarks.

Nothing stays the same forever. We need to focus down the road. We are not focusing on tomorrow necessarily. We want to take care of the short-term needs but we also want to look down the road 20 to 40 years to see what Canada and our economy will look like to ensure we are planning properly for that day.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. After question period, the member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing raised a concern about a gesture that she believes I did or did not do in the House during question period. That is the case and if she or others were offended, I apologize to all members of the House.

Bill C-45. Report stage

The House resumed consideration of C-45, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to acknowledge the apology from the member for Mississauga—Streetsville. That was a very classy thing to do and I thank him for that.

I would like to speak to Bill C-45. I am honoured to stand in the House to talk about Bill C-45, but one of the sad things about speaking to the bill is that I will be one of the few MPs who will get to do this, because once again the Conservatives have brought forward time allocation on the bill. I believe it is a record. I believe we are at 31. Unfortunately, when we take away democracy 31 times it is not cause to be proud.

I stand today speaking against Bill C-45, but again, it is with much dismay that we do not see enough people being able to debate in this House, with time allocation.

Ironically, Bill C-45 is entitled the jobs and growth act, and it entirely lacks significant measures to create jobs and stimulate growth in the long term for Canadians. Tax credits to small businesses are short term and very small in size. Support to business research and development has been cut. Where is the Canada-wide strategy to create good jobs, while 1.4 million Canadians are still unemployed?

The Minister of Finance announced during the November constituency week that the government will fall short of its own deficit targets. Worse still, the Conservatives have failed to outline any contingency plan to deal with slowing growth and increasingly negative fiscal indicators.

The Conservatives are focused on austerity measures that will act as a further drag on our economy. They have claimed that their budget is about job creation, but again, even they admit it will lead to 19,200 lost jobs in the public service and the PBO projects a total of 102,000 jobs lost.

In his appearance before the House of Commons finance committee on April 26, the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed that the Conservative austerity budget would mean a loss of 43,000 jobs and would slow Canada's economic recovery. He confirmed that when combined with prior cuts, there would be a total of 103,000 jobs lost.

The PBO's numbers point to the fact that the budget would create a significant drag on our economy. Even the Centre for Policy Alternatives states: “In total, federal spending cuts could lead to the elimination of over 70,000 full time equivalent positions”. These are not only public sector losses. About half of these jobs would be lost in the private sector.

Taking a look at the changes to SR and ED and business R and D support, Bill C-45 would implement significant changes to SR and ED tax credit programs, as outlined in the budget. These changes would reduce the tax credit rate, particularly for large businesses, and eliminate the eligibility of capital expenses. This change could be highly distortional for firms' labour-capital ratios.

While the government has cut at least $500 million per year through the SR and ED, it has not introduced any new direct funding to replace this gap. The combined effects would be to reduce government support for business R and D at a time when Canadian businesses most need to increase innovation and productivity to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy. This would particularly hit the manufacturing sector, and it is likely to drive firms to move their R and D activities to other countries with better incentives.

The Conservatives are engaged in cost cutting under the guise of addressing underperformance in innovation. They have done nothing to fix the complexity and overhead costs of applying for and administering SR and ED tax credits.

Another thing the bill is reducing and eliminating is the Navigable Waters Protection Act. It removes water protection from the name of the bill. Now it is just about navigation protection. This is not a small change, and it demonstrates the government's reckless attitude toward environmental protection.

In fact, the Conservatives would not allow these changes to be studied by the environment committee, despite the fact that the proposed changes have significant implication for our environment.

The government issued a press release, bragging about the change of the title from Navigable Waters Protection Act to the navigation protection act.

This type of measure shows just how out of touch Conservatives are with Canadians' desire to protect the environment and build a sustainable economy. In fact, Bill C-45 completely guts the Navigable Waters Protection Act, with the exception of the 3 oceans, 97 lakes and 62 rivers. The act would no longer automatically apply to projects affecting waterways. This would leave thousands of waterways without protection, meaning fewer environmental reviews by Transport Canada. Efforts by the opposition to ensure protection for all navigable waters were defeated at committee.

Under Bill C-45, only 10 of Canada's 37 designated Canadian heritage rivers would be protected. Those left out of the new act include the Cowichan River, the Clearwater River, the Main River, the Margaree River in Nova Scotia and the Mattawa River, which is close to me. Speaking of what else is close to me, it is the city of Sudbury. The City of Greater Sudbury is known as the city of lakes. There are 330 lakes within the boundaries of the City of Greater Sudbury. Also my colleague from Nickel Belt would have the same concerns as I do.

When all of the lakes and rivers within a riding are eliminated from having the same protections, it makes one scratch one's head as to why we are doing this. Protecting our lakes and rivers is paramount. The City of Greater Sudbury, for example, as I mentioned, has Ramsey Lake within its city boundaries. People can fish and swim practically in downtown Sudbury. People in parts of the city use Ramsey Lake for their drinking water. That would no longer be protected under the Navigable Waters Protection Act or the navigation protection act. That is sad. It leads people to wonder what kind of country we will be leaving for our children.

We need to ensure that our children have places to swim and fish. We need to protect the wildlife within those areas as well, from fish habitat to duck habitat. Throughout my riding and northern Ontario, lakes and rivers would no longer be protected. As I said, 97 lakes and 62 rivers are being protected, and that is what is being changed. We need to ensure we protect more lakes and rivers right across our country because we need to ensure we leave clean lakes, rivers and air for our kids in the future.

New Democrats oppose budget 2012 and its implementation bills, unless it is amended to focus on the priorities of Canadians: creating good quality jobs, protecting our environment, strengthening our health care system, protecting retirement security for all and ensuring open and transparent government. As mentioned, this is another massive omnibus bill that contains a wide range of unrelated measures. The government is trying to ram legislation through Parliament without allowing Canadians and MPs to thoroughly examine it.

One thing my hon. colleague on the other side talked about earlier in his speech is the greatness of our nation. We are blessed to have resources from coast to coast to coast in forestry, mining in my community, lakes and rivers right across the country and the oil sands in Alberta. We should be debating the changes that are being proposed. Unfortunately, as I stated at the outset of my speech, there has been lack of debate and conversation because the government is shutting it down once again. There have been 31 time allocation motions, which is shameful, especially when we are talking about an issue that is so important to Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague to expand a bit on his point that the announced reductions in the scientific research and experimental development tax credit are not being met by increases in spending elsewhere, as claimed by the government. I see there are $110 million for the industrial research assistance program, $12 million for business-led networks of centres of excellence, $40 million for procurement and $37 million for industry academic collaboration. That adds up to about $200 million, but SR and ED is projected to be cut by at least $500 million. In fact, the government's estimates are lower than some independent estimates.

I would like my colleague to comment on that, please.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is correct. The government is now stifling innovation and research in the country by cutting SR and ED and tying the hands of many of the businesses that we need to expand. In an economy where we are starting to see slowdown, we truly need our businesses to be able to invest in research and development. However, cutting $500 million this year out of SR and ED means that many of those businesses are not going to have the resources to be able to expand and to be able to look at new and innovative ways of growing.

What we see here are no ideas of addressing this gap. What we will see is continued cutbacks and our businesses continuing to falter.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague from Sudbury why it is so important to keep those jobs in research and development for economic growth and for the future of Canada. We saw all the cuts in environmental programs and everything, but why is it so important to keep those kinds of jobs?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, those jobs are truly important to our country because those are the well-paying jobs that actually spur our economy. They are the well-paying jobs that allow men or women to look after their family, to contribute to family life. That is the type of job that actually allows them to buy a car and to buy a house. It allows them to be contributing members to the middle class.

What we are seeing with the elimination of these jobs and the creation of part-time jobs is that they are not family-sustaining employment. Why it is so important to ensure we are supporting SR and ED is to continue to see the growth and innovation in research in this country. We can be the leaders. We can be world leaders. We are right there, but we can get even better.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my hon. friend from Sudbury could help me figure out a puzzle. The Conservatives say they have eliminated millions of lakes from the Navigable Waters Protection Act because millions of lakes were getting in the way of municipalities and cottage owners. Could he posit why it is that many of these millions of lakes, 90% of the lakes removed, do not exist anywhere near a municipality or a cottage owner?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I really do wish I could figure that riddle out. When we are looking at 97 lakes and 62 rivers that are being protected right across the country, that is not even half of the lakes and rivers that are in my own city.

We call our city the city of lakes. We have done a great job in Sudbury of re-greening. If we look at how we used to smelt and how we used to mine, I am very proud of my community and what we have been able to do to change. I take my kids swimming right in downtown Sudbury. We fish there. People have drinking water there. Unfortunately, the millions of lakes right across our country, which we are so proud of, are no longer being protected under the Navigable Waters Protection Act. That is shameful, because it truly is scary what kind of country we will be leaving for our kids if the government continues to go down this path.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, Employment Insurance; the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier, Regional Economic Development.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand today on behalf of my constituents in Richmond Hill to speak to the jobs and growth act, 2012, which would implement key provisions in our economic action plan 2012 tabled in March of this year.

Measures in Bill C-45 would continue to grow Canada's economy, fuel job creation and secure our long-term prosperity. I am also pleased to say how truly honoured I am to serve the good residents of Richmond Hill. They are hard-working, dedicated to their families and communities and committed to improving the lives of those less fortunate than themselves.

Richmond Hill is also a community of entrepreneurs. In fact, nearly 85% of all businesses in my riding employ fewer than 20 people. Therefore, any measure which helps small business is very important to them. That is why I strongly support the measures in Bill C-45 and economic action plan 2012.

I would also like to take a minute at this point to reflect on the economic action plan 2012. As members know, it was tabled eight months ago and has received the most debate of any budget in recent history. It is a continuation of our long-term vision, first set out in 2006.

Fortunately, we had many fundamentals of that plan in place, like paying down the debt, before the global economic recession struck. Also fortunately, because of the foresight and the leadership of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, we have successfully weathered that storm.

Since July 2009, employment has increased by over 820,000 net new jobs. That is more than 390,000 jobs above the pre-recession high, which is by far the strongest growth seen among G7 countries through the recovery. Moreover, the private sector has been the primary driver of new job creation and 90% of all new jobs are full-time positions, with more than two-thirds of those in high wage industries.

Real GDP is also significantly above pre-recession levels, which is again the best performance by far in the G7. In short, Canada has come through the global economic storm well and the rest of the world has noticed.

For example, both the IMF and the OECD expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G7 over the next year and for the fifth year in a row, the World Economic Forum has rated Canada's banking system as the world's soundest. Forbes Magazine has ranked Canada number one in its annual review of the best countries for business. Three noted credit rating agencies, Moody's, Fitch, and Standard and Poor's, have reaffirmed their top ratings for Canada and it is expected Canada will maintain its triple-A rating in the year ahead.

Looking at this year's budget and its enabling legislation, Bill C-45, we can be confident that the measures it contains will continue our recovery and promote job creation and economic growth for all Canadians. It is worth noting that the commitment to manage public finances in a responsible manner has been a key element of our government's comprehensive long-term agenda.

We have done so in order to foster strong sustainable long-term economic growth and create the high-quality value-added jobs of tomorrow. In addition to paying down the debt prior to the global recession, we have followed through on this agenda by implementing broad based tax reductions and investing in knowledge and infrastructure.

Economic action plan 2012 further advances this agenda by announcing a set of measures to improve conditions for business investment, encourage responsible resource development, promote innovation to support research and development and to facilitate greater participation in the labour force by under-represented groups.

These are all goals that my residents in Richmond Hill support. The jobs and growth act, 2012 moves ahead with many important steps to build a strong economy and create jobs.

The bill would support families and communities by improving the registered disability savings plan and would help Canadians save for retirement by implementing the tax framework for pooled registered pension plans. It would close tax loopholes and take landmark action to ensure that pension plans for federal public sector employees would be sustainable and fair compared to those offered in the private sector.

I would like to highlight one of the most important enabling legislative items to my riding and that is with respect to pooled registered pension plans.

The reality is that most entrepreneurs and small businesses in Richmond Hill and elsewhere simply do not have pension plans. Pooled registered pension plans are an important step toward providing an innovative, new, low-cost private pension option to millions of Canadians currently without access to a workplace pension plan. This includes not just employees but employers and the self-employed.

The House may recall in December 2010 there was a unanimous agreement at the meeting of federal and provincial finance ministers to pursue a framework for PRPPs as an effective and appropriate way to help bridge existing gaps in the retirement system. This new landmark program that will help Canadians save for their retirement is a result of federal and provincial governments working together to help ensure the long-term strength of Canada's retirement system.

Another tremendous aspect of Bill C-45 is the action it proposes to help ensure the sustainability of public sector pensions. Unlike previous governments that were content to ignore questions of long-term affordability, we are taking the fiscally responsible position of putting the long-term state of Canada's finances first, even introducing landmark reforms for members of Parliament and senators' pensions. Next to jobs and the economy, this has been one of the most often mentioned issues in my riding. We are taking the necessary steps to make public sector pension plans sustainable, responsible and fair.

We are doing this in two important ways. First, we are moving the public sector pension plan to a fifty-fifty contribution arrangement, finally making public sector employee contributions equal to what the government contributes. Second, for employees who join the federal public service starting next year, the normal age of retirement will be raised from 60 to 65. These two important changes will go a long way to promoting the long-term sustainability of public sector pension plans, while ensuring they are fair to Canadian taxpayers.

Extending the hiring credit for small business is another important and positive step for my riding of Richmond Hill. By offsetting some of the EI premium increases when businesses grow their payroll, this measure has been very effective in helping small businesses to maintain or strengthen their business performance. I am glad to see that this measure is being extended.

I would also like to mention how important it is to cut red tape for small businesses. Over the years the growth of compliance items has become absolutely enormous. The red tape burden has been identified through our nationwide business consultations as a major impediment to job creation. That is why our government has taken steps to reduce unnecessary and duplicate compliance items so entrepreneurs can focus on what they do best, which is growing their business and creating jobs.

To summarize, the jobs and growth act, 2012 would continue our government's long-term and focused plan for low taxes, job creation and economic growth. This is what my residents in Richmond Hill have asked for and this is what our government intends to deliver.

I urge all members of the House to vote in favour of this budget so we can keep Canada's economy strong and keep Canadians working.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague’s speech very carefully, but unfortunately the things he believes in make him more apt to believe in Santa Claus than to stick to reality.

In an article published in the New York Times, well-known financier Warren Buffett wrote, in a letter entitled A Minimum Tax for the Wealthy:

“Between 1951 and 1954, when the capital gains rate was 25 percent and marginal rates on dividends reached 91 percent in extreme cases, I sold securities and did pretty well”.

He also talked about the 15 years after that, when the rate was 70%, and concluded by saying:

“Never did anyone mention taxes as a reason to forgo an investment opportunity that I offered”.

If there is a way to make money, people will do it, no matter what. Mr. Buffett has shown this and he practically calls people fools who believe that raising taxes may cause investors to flee.

How does my colleague respond to that?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's reference to Santa Clause is clearly a misuse of the term.

However, for five quarters in a row the Canadian economy has grown, with 820,000 net new jobs, 90% of them permanent since 2009. I know the NDP members snicker when they hear this because they do not like to hear the truth. On page four of their 2011 election platform, they clearly are asking for a $21.5 billion increase in carbon taxes, which would raise prices on just about everything Canadians purchase.

It is a little rich for the member to quote Warren Buffet.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I just cannot resist asking my hon. colleague across the way why his government is intending to raise taxes on innovative companies, the companies in my riding and elsewhere that rely on the scientific research and experimental development tax credit, the companies that will be developing the technologies and increasing the productivity of workers to provide the jobs for my children and presumably his children as well. Why is the government in this budget increasing taxes on innovative companies by cutting the scientific research and experimental development tax credit?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the hon. member has focused on the 2% overall reduction to the Canadian budget that we have brought forth in the House. There are countries that are cutting 20%, 25% and 30%. Companies in the member's riding and in my riding are benefiting from the fact that Canada's corporate tax rate has been reduced by some 15% and 11% for small businesses. That has created jobs for the member's riding in Kingston and the Islands. It certainly has created jobs in my riding of Richmond Hill and in every community across the country.

Having the lowest debt to GDP ratio among G7 countries is a clear sign that our economy is going the right way under the leadership of our Prime Minister and our Minister of Finance and I am proud to be on this side of the House.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be on this side of the House as part of the Conservative team and it is good to be able to talk today on Bill C-45, the jobs and growth act, 2012.

While I am on feet, I did want to salute the Parliamentary Spouses Association, which today held a fundraiser that raised $10,000 for the Tim Horton Children's Foundation. I would like to salute everyone who had a part in that today.

Bill C-45 is an act to implement certain provisions of the budget. It is the jobs and growth act, and our plan is working. We have seen 820,000 net new jobs created since the recession started in July 2009. There are more people working today than before the recession began, and that is because of the prudent leadership of our Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and our strong plan to ensure that our economy remains strong.

We are among the leaders in economic growth in the industrial world and our debt to GDP ratio is among the lowest in the world. Truly, Canada is the envy of the world right now because of our financial position.

We have had some independent accolades. Members do not have to take my word for it, although I would appreciate it if they would. Canada has had the best banking system in the world for five years in a row, according to the World Economic Forum. As my colleague before me mentioned, Forbes magazine has indicated that Canada is the best country in the world in which to set up a business.

However, we know that the economic recovery is fragile. We cannot take it for granted. We have seen sluggish growth the world over, including Europe, and there are concerns about the fiscal cliff in the United States. There is uncertainty everywhere around the world, in Greece, Italy and Spain. In many countries, the economic future does not look bright. We have to be concerned about that as Canadians. Even though we have had a good run of economic growth, we cannot assume that it will continue forever. That is why we need strong leadership and the strong measures included in Bill C-45.

We must remain vigilant if we are to maintain the significant economic advantage that we have built up over the last number of years. That means continuing to promote things like responsible resource development. We need to continue to promote things like our oils sands and our natural resource sector, provided that we do so in a way that is both economically beneficial and environmentally responsible, and that is what we have committed to doing.

We need to continue to maintain a low-tax plan for jobs and growth. I heard a previous questioner indicate that perhaps we should be raising taxes in order to keep our economy strong. However, on the Conservative side of the House, we disagree. We believe that we need our low-tax plan for jobs and growth. Raisiing taxes would not lead to growth but in fact hinder growth.

We need to continue to promote trade of our Canadian goods and services, not just to our traditional trading partners but also with the developing world. We need to look to countries that need the things we produce and we need to continue to promote our interests in those countries. That is why I am so pleased that the Minister of International Trade is away from Canada a lot because he is working on our behalf to secure new markets for our goods and services. I want to thank him for that. Indeed, we have learned that we cannot afford to rely solely on the United States because it has economic troubles of its own. We cannot have all of our eggs in that basket. Therefore, we need to continue to promote trade.

These are the kinds of things, in my view, that we need to continue to maintain for Canada's economic advantage. However, there are a few specific items in Bill C-45 that I do want to address, such as improvements to the first nations land management system.

My riding is home to 33 first nation bands. Many of them are under the first nations land management regime. Our government is committed to working with first nations to create conditions that will accelerate economic development opportunities.

Giving interested first nations greater control over their reserve lands and resources would bring a brighter and more prosperous future for them. Our government has already taken steps to enable interested first nations to assume greater control of their own land and resources under the First Nations Land Management Act. I am encouraged to see so many first nations in my riding under that regime.

Under the first nations land management framework, first nations can opt out of the 34 land related sections of the Indian Act and establish their own regimes to govern their lands, resources and environment. Thanks to the actions of our government, in January 2012, there were 18 new entrants that came under the framework. Today, there are 56 first nations that are operating and developing their own land codes. We want to expedite the process to allow more first nations to participate.

On March 15, 2012, the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board voiced its concern with the current process. It said:

First nations do not have an ability to move swiftly in developing their lands as a result of the restrictions that arise under the Indian Act and the red tape that comes with them.

The Auditor General has also identified the designation and leasing process to be a cause of unnecessarily lengthy approval times.

Bill C-45 proposes changes to the First Nations Land Management Act that would reduce voting thresholds to a simple majority vote, eliminating the need to hold repeated votes over a one or two-year period. What sometimes happens now is that if a majority of members of a first nation do not choose to cast their ballot, the First Nations Land Management Act requires them to hold a second vote, which takes time and resources and unnecessarily slows the process. One can imagine if we applied the same rule to a municipality that said it were electing a council and that if over 50% of the people did not bother to show up to vote, that process was not good enough. We think that process needs to be changed so there is one vote with a simple majority allowing first nations to control their own lands.

The second change would eliminate the need for an approval by order in council and allow the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to authorize land designation. This would make the system more efficient and allow first nations more control, thereby reducing approval times for first nations land management by several months. The streamlining of land related approval processes would encourage economic development on first nations land and create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity there as well.

I also want to talk about something that affects small businesses in my riding. The majority of businesses in my riding are certainly small and medium-size enterprises. Just as they are across the country, they are the major engine of job creation in my riding. Budget 2011 contained a hiring credit for small businesses of up to $1,000. It provided relief to small businesses by helping to defray the cost of new hires. Bill C-45 would extend the credit to an employer's increase on its 2012 EI premiums over those paid in 2011. It has the potential to help over 536,000 employers whose total EI premiums were below $10,000 in 2011. This would reduce payroll costs by $205 million and allow small and medium-size enterprises to continue to hire more folks and to keep their costs in check so they can continue to drive our economy forward.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said of the credit:

It is a popular measure among all SMEs but is particularly important among growing firms as it helps them strengthen business performance.

I met with some constituents who had concerns about pipelines in my riding. They asked about credits for oil and gas companies and why we were not doing more to promote green energy. I encouraged them to read Bill C-45, which is rationalizing and phasing out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. We are also promoting the use of green technology through the accelerated tax credit program there.

I want to sum up by saying Bill C-45 continues our government's plan for jobs and growth. The plan is working. The plan is having real results for Canadians. I encourage all members of the House to support it.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague carefully. Unfortunately, the Conservatives are once again presenting us with a monstrosity of a bill, like the one they presented last spring, Bill C-38, in which they attacked old age security, employment insurance and health transfers to the provinces.

Once again, Bill C-45 shows that the Conservatives have not learned their lesson; they still want to keep Canadians in the dark and they want to prevent the members here in the House from doing the job they were elected by Canadians to do.

I would like my colleague to expand on this question: why is the government acting this way?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to address some of the preamble of that question.

Obviously our government has done nothing but increase transfers to provinces for health care. The health care transfer will be $40 billion by the end of this decade, which is an increase in anyone's books. I do not quite understand how the NDP's math could indicate that a 6% increase for the next three years and 3% going forward is a cut.

We believe that the 2012 budget should be passed in 2012. We do not think that is an unreasonable expectation. There have been hours of debate in the House, hundreds of speeches, and 12 different committees studying different aspects of the bill. We want our jobs and growth plan for 2012 to be passed in 2012. We think that is a reasonable expectation.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon. I also want to congratulate him for the fantastic work he is doing on the committee on national defence, work that clearly applicable in other fields.

The member has added richly to this debate. He has also shown how our long-term plan for jobs, growth and prosperity in this country is reinforced by the measures this government is taking to reform first nations, to improve the Indian Act and to make the bands in his riding and elsewhere more dynamic.

However, there is a contrast between his speech and the questions coming from the opposition. It really does pivot on the issue of taxes. We have not seen, certainly not in this country under this government, anyone well versed in the economy advocating higher taxes. Many other jurisdictions with higher taxes than Canada's are bringing them down.

Could the member comment further on just what a disaster it would be for the Canadian economy to see a $21 billion carbon tax and, indeed, other taxes, which some estimate could go as high as $50 billion, introduced in this economy in lieu of the plan that he has spoken in favour of?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is great question by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.

I think that is the main difference between our government and the opposition. We hear them complaining about cuts. The cuts they complain the loudest about are when we cut taxes. When we cut the GST from 7% to 6%, they complained loudly about that. They complained even more loudly when we cut it from 6% to 5%.

We have heard members here in debate calling for an increase in taxes on the Canadians who are doing well, and for increases in taxes on corporations. We are not going to go down that road. No country has ever taxed itself into long-term prosperity. No country has ever taxed itself into creating jobs and growth.

We will continue on our low-tax plan for jobs and growth because it is the right thing to do.