Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the voters from the Richmond Centre electoral district, who have once again placed their trust in me to be their representative. This is the third time that I have been fortunate to be elected and it is always a privilege to speak on behalf of my constituents, previously for the Richmond electoral district and today for Richmond Centre.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my supporters and volunteers in Richmond and, most important, my husband Enoch. His encouragement, support, and sacrifice have made my endeavours in Ottawa possible.
At around 8 p.m. on election day, one of the major television networks declared my defeat and, hence, my early retirement. It took another couple of hours for Elections Canada to count the rest of the ballots and, fortunately, I am here today to talk about it.
That very evening, one of my constituents sent me a line by a famous author, Mark Twain. It states, “...the report of my death was an exaggeration...”. Here I am today to tell my constituents that I will be holding the Liberal government to account as part of Her Majesty's loyal opposition.
I would like to comment on the throne speech and discuss some of the issues I have heard in my conversations with many of my constituents from Richmond Centre.
I have been assigned the role of critic for small business. In the Richmond Centre electoral district, small businesses are a huge engine of job creation. Whether it is in top in the world restaurants, tourism, or import and export businesses, my riding is full of people who are either owners or employees of such businesses.
International trade, especially with Pacific Rim countries, is of major economic concern to my constituents because they are right in the Pacific gateway of the nation. This is why proceeding with the trans-Pacific partnership, the TPP, and continuing to implement free trade agreements is economically beneficial. Of note was the free trade agreement that our Conservative government signed with South Korea, which will stimulate economic activity for both countries and will create jobs in the Vancouver area and across Canada.
Equally important is maintaining a low-tax burden for small businesses. The Conservative government, through Bill C-59 in the last Parliament, reduced the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%, to be phased in over the next four years. I call on the new Liberal government to maintain this prudent measure, which will strengthen the job-creating small business sector.
Let us now look at the throne speech again to see if it talked about business. How many times did we see the word “business” in the throne speech? None; zero. How many times did we see the word “employment” in the throne speech? Only once, in reference to the employment insurance system, when people receive benefits for not working, whether through losing their jobs, sickness benefits, or maternity leave.
Speaking of employment insurance, we will also be watching very carefully the impact of increased payroll taxes on small businesses, which create jobs. Increased payroll taxes represent a real cost to businesses. Lower costs will create an environment for more jobs.
The throne speech does not mention how the private sector will be supported, whether with lower taxes, a reduction in red tape, training, or other measures that will encourage job creation and economic activity.
Indeed, it is disturbing to see the government going in the exact opposite direction, where a large government will be causing large deficits, large deficits will accumulate large debts, and large debts will increase the interest and expenses the government will have to pay. We all know who pays the government's bills. It is the taxpayer who will be paying for these upcoming Liberal deficits. This upsets a lot of people.