Madam Speaker, I truly appreciate the opportunity to discuss today's motion introduced by the member for Kings—Hants, although I must express my sincere disappointment.
The member for Kings—Hants, not too long ago, would have mocked these types of grand but ultimately empty proclamations on income inequality. Indeed, in recent memory he told the House what truly drives economic growth and improves the fortunes of all Canadians. I will remind him of his own words. He stated, “Government does not create jobs. The economy does. The appropriate role of government in managing the economy is to set the conditions for investment opportunity, growth and job creation. Redistributing incomes is a poor substitute for ensuring that opportunities to participate in the economy are shared throughout all regions of the country and all sectors of society”.
I do not mind admitting that he was actually right then but he has really drifted away from that position now.
He ended up in the Liberal Party, which endorsed the lamentable and outdated policies of the 1970s, policies that created outsized government bureaucracies and endless social programs and imposed ever-increasing, damaging tax rates on businesses and individuals.
We know that during the last election, the Liberal Party, which was relying on the hon. member for Kings—Hants as its finance critic, made raising corporate taxes a key plank in its election platform.
Against all the empirical and theoretical evidence to the contrary, the Liberal Party wanted—and still wants—to deprive entrepreneurs and businesses across the country of billions of dollars annually in order to “invest” in a “fairer” Canada. But, it does not work that way and the hon. member for Kings—Hants knows it.
Increasing corporate taxes, the cornerstone of the Liberal Party's economic policies, deters investors, kills jobs and takes money out of the pockets of Canadian families.
As respected economist, Jack Mintz, from the University of Calgary School of Public Policy, recently explained in the Financial Post:
...corporations do not pay taxes—people do. People work for businesses, owners provide financing and consumers buy goods and services. Corporate taxes are either shifted forward to consumers as higher prices or shifted back onto shareholders through lower dividends and capital gains and/or workers by reduced negotiated salaries and benefits.
If Canada reduces corporate taxes.... Businesses will invest in more machines and structures, often with the most advanced technologies. The demand for workers consequently increases—businesses bid up wages to attract workers or take on more workers.
Mintz also referenced a recent independent Oxford University study that concluded that business tax increases, like those advocated by the Liberal Party, are passed onto workers by over 50% in the short run and more than 100% in the long run due to lower worker productivity. If the Liberal Party were really interested in improving prosperity for all Canadians, why would it publish the very businesses and entrepreneurs who make it happen?
Only a few short years ago, the member for Kings—Hants understood the folly of the left's reflexive demands for higher taxes on businesses. In this very House he said:
Innovative, forward-thinking governments globally have proven that we can build a competitive economy with dramatic reductions to corporate taxes....
We only need to look at the Netherlands, Sweden.... Australia and New Zealand....
The Scandinavian example is particularly important to help guide us because Scandinavian countries value investments in social policy...and, at the same time, they saw the need to reduce their corporate tax levels to some of the lowest corporate taxes in the world.
The old globaphobic, socialist, Luddite nonsense that somehow innovative and forward-thinking economic policy is contrary to good social policy is wrong.
We have tried to work with that Liberal member and hoped that the Liberal Party would listen to evidence presented at committee to disprove its flawed thinking but I am not overly hopeful. When it comes to waiting for some rational thinking from the Liberal Party, to quote Benjamin Franklin, “He that lives upon hope will die fasting”.
Let us be clear. Since coming to power, the Conservative government has brought in strong economic policies that have allowed us to offer more opportunities to more Canadians, and especially to low- and middle-income Canadians.
Furthermore, these economic policies are achieving results. Since 2006, some 1.1 million net new jobs have been created, which represents the strongest growth in the G7. This means that 1.1 million more Canadians are working than under the previous Liberal government.
What has contributed to this job growth? As I just said, the Conservative government has taken major steps to reduce the tax burden on businesses that create jobs. The result? Canada has the lowest overall tax rate on new business investments in the G7 and can finally compete with all major OECD countries regarding corporate tax rates. This has allowed Canadian job creators to offer better salaries and to invest in training, equipment and technology, so they can compete more effectively on the global market, thereby protecting jobs in Canada and creating new ones.
As Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters president, Jayson Myers, recently declared that without the Conservative government's aggressive tax reduction agenda “the recession would have been deeper and unemployment would have certainly been higher. Now, however, we have a business sector...better poised to take advantage of new market opportunities, which will, in turn, continue to generate job growth”.
However, we have done much more than that. Since 2006, and especially through Canada's economic action plan, we have made key investments in infrastructure, science, research and development and much more. We have also kept transfers to provinces and territories for health care and schools at record high levels, unlike the previous Liberal government that gutted them. It was a shameful Liberal legacy that hurt the most vulnerable Canadians.
Furthermore, we have taken targeted action to help low income Canadians. This includes removing more than one million low income Canadians from the tax rolls completely and one-third of the personal income tax relief provided by our Conservative government is going to Canadians with incomes under $42,000 even though they pay about 13% of taxes. Additionally, we introduced the working income tax benefit to reduce barriers for low income Canadians to enter the workforce, something that nearly everyone agrees has been tremendously positive, except for the Liberal Party that voted against its creation.
In the words of McMaster University professor, Bill Scarth, “[WITB] stimulates employment rather than subsidizes people not to work. ...it's a fundamental and beneficial change”.
While our Conservative government has been pursuing smart economic policies to encourage job creation, today's motion from the member for Kings—Hants, and more important, the Liberal Party's embrace of far left economic thinking of higher taxes, is not what Canada needs.
We have committee work to do. It is a charged agenda in the finance committee. We have tried to work with that member in the finance committee. I am not sure why he refuses to work with the rest of us. We tend to get along very well with the NDP members in committee. That lone member just does not seem to get that the economy is a priority of Canadians and we will work toward ensuring that Canadians' priorities are addressed with or without him.