Bruce Carson is another well-known criminal, Mr. Speaker.
Arthur Porter was the man who the Conservatives say was able to oversee CSIS, as they allow it all manner of extra rules that have not been in place before. This is not to say that we do not necessarily need more tools to go after terrorism, but we need the rule of law. To them, that is needless red tape.
Who else was overseeing CSIS? It was the northern gateway lobbyist. What was the lobbyist's name? Chuck Strahl. Chuck Strahl gets parachuted in because he is a party favourite and does not tell anybody he is an Enbridge lobbyist. They have northern gateway, so all the Conservatives are standing and denouncing these terrorists, who as far as I could tell were just ordinary citizens of British Columbia. Was Chuck Strahl getting briefed on the northern gateway, the supposed threat, while he was overseeing CSIS? These are questions. This is the government's idea of red tape.
Getting back to this bill, we see Conservatives stand to speak about red tape all the time, but they do not deliver. I ran a small business for 10 years, and one of the biggest issues of red tape I had to deal with was the Conservatives' beauty of GST-HST, where they had moved the burden from the large corporate bodies down to individuals and small companies. I know that as the economy is tanking and people are trying to get back into the workplace and find other work, HST has to be collected starting at $30,000. That was the rule back in the 1990s.
If a man has lost his job or his wife is wanting to get back into the workforce to do some consulting, hairdressing, web design, or the husband wants to do web design, these are micro businesses that can be grown into small business that may start to employ people, but they have to start paying the HST at $30,000. People really cannot do much at $30,000. I know people who told me they wanted to start small businesses, but if they were only making $32,000 or $33,000, the administrative burden of dealing with the HST actually was not worth it. It simply was not worth going back into the workforce to do that.
A reasonable government would raise the minimum on HST, say, to $50,000 over 20 years, from the 1990s to today. That would be a reasonable move. People could get themselves established. They could find out whether their home project could become viable, whether it is making stained glass, crocheting, or whatever, and then a small business gets established.
With the New Democrats' idea of helping small business, one of the big issues we have been pushing is credit card fees. Talk about needless impediments to small business. Ask any small business owner, such as a taxi cab driver or someone running a small restaurant, about the credit card fees. We will never see the Conservatives deal with this.
Not to speak ill of the dead, but I remember when Jim Flaherty stood and said he was going to go to the banks and deal with all of this. He came back like a chastened altar boy. He was just going to leave it to them.
This is where regulation is important. These sectors of the economy have to be regulated because, if basic rules are not in place, people get ripped off. Government needs to ensure regulation on the credit cards. One of the other things was that they deregulated cable and phone rates. We have among the highest cell phone rates in the world, but they believe that, if they just leave it to business, it will do it. We believe that certain regulations are important, to protect the market and to protect the ability of consumers to have fair play.
In terms of supporting small business, we would say in a time of economic uncertainty, when the Conservatives have literally bet the entire Canadian house on Fort Mac, that we need to ensure that small business can innovate and do its job. Let us drop the tax rate from 11% to 10% to 9%, because we know this money would go directly back into the economy.
Small business reinvests that money all the time, whereas the current government put in large corporate across-the-board tax cuts, believing the theory of trickle down. We know the only real thing that does trickle down in economics, and it is not money. The Conservatives cut that tax rate on the large corporations, and any economist will say that we have dead money. It is money that the large corporations have taken out, that they are giving in CEO bonuses or putting offshore, that they are not reinvesting. If the Conservatives are going to work with business, they should offer an incentive for innovation. An innovation tax credit makes sense. What we are dealing with here is a bill that would offer nothing to small business, except the false image that they are going to deal with the needless regulations.
I think back to when I was documenting the life of people in my region in terms of the hard-rock mining industry. If they go underground in Stobie Mine in Sudbury, or go underground in Timmins, wherever they walk there will be signs that say not to put one's hands here or not to stand there. An old miner said to me one day that every one of those signs and regulations was paid for in blood. They would only put up a sign telling them not to do something if someone had been seriously injured, not just once but usually two or three or four times, or killed. Those regulations were important. We saw in the mining sector again and again this effort of self-regulation. Allowing companies to do it does not work. There are certain regulations that are important.
How do we deal with the issues of meaningless red tape, contradictory red tape, red tape that has become redundant as the years go on? I would put it back to my colleagues on the government side that this is where they have to ensure a standard that the ministers are going to meet. That is ministerial responsibility. It used to be in the ministerial code. They quietly took out ministerial responsibility. I find that staggering. It is as if they did not want to be on the hook for promoting incompetence. If they are competent, then they will be overseeing their department and regularly bringing forward recommendations of where regulations need to be removed and replaced with ones that work.
What we are dealing with here is just another shadow bill. It is shadow boxing with the economy, when the real issue we are facing is that the Conservatives have stripped the fiscal capacity of this country to the bare bone. The Conservatives do not know what the numbers are. We are getting contradictory numbers in terms of this budget: if they are going to be doing cuts, if they are going to be going into the contingency fund. The Conservatives do not seem to know. They are playing games with the economy, which is not the kind of message for a G7 nation to send.
At a time when we are seeing increasing economic uncertainty in Canada's west, we need to be able to tell small business people that we are going to work with them to kick-start the economy so we can balance the economy and get off this one-industry-only obsession and ensure we have a diversified economy. That is where the New Democrats are coming down on the issue. We would drop the small-business tax rate from 11% to 10% to 9%. The New Democrats would ensure that, when business people make a capital investment, they can write it off quicker. That would help manufacturing.
Some of these ideas have been in previous budgets. The Conservatives and the Liberals have had similar things in the past. However, they have given them up; they are not interested and they have moved on. We say these are the kinds of incentives that we need now, at a time of economic uncertainty.
I am, as always, proud to represent the people of Timmins—James Bay, but less proud to have to deal with bills that simply do not address the needs of Canadians.