Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for sharing her speaking time with me.
I am always happy to rise in the House, but quite frankly, I have to say that I would rather be talking about something else today, but the government decided to specifically target Canadian entrepreneurs, the people who create jobs and wealth and who are the backbone of the Canadian economy. As evidenced by the Minister of Finance's infamous reform proposal, they have fallen out of favour with the Liberal government.
Two aspects of the Liberal government's approach are a complete disgrace. The first is obviously the direct attack on our entrepreneurs, but there is also the fact that Canadians had so little time to debate these major issues. That is why, today, we have moved a motion stating that this Liberal reform is no good, as it is an attack on our entrepreneurs, and asking the government to extend until January 31 the consultations it claims to have held.
In 1962, the Diefenbaker government created the Carter Commission to evaluate proactive tax measures that could be presented by the federal government to stimulate entrepreneurship, investment and job creation. How long did it take for that government and the ones that followed to develop a positive policy? It took ten years because, in the 1960s, governments listened to citizens, business people and those who make the economy work.
It took ten years, until 1972, to achieve the tax measures that we know today. Since then, various adjustments, changes and proposals are made every year, which is perfectly normal. Our job here is to look carefully at each proposal. The scandalous part is that the Minister of Finance launched a supposed 75-day consultation of Canadians in the middle of the summer, on July 18. I was a journalist for 20 years and I have been in politics for nine, so I know the game well enough to know that a government that provides a 75-day consultation period starting in the middle of the summer has already made up its mind; it does not care what people have to say. That is the reality under the Liberal government.
I would like to share just a little story about how I was on vacation when I saw the Minister of Finance's announcement. I checked in with my colleagues, released a statement, and headed to the Radio-Canada studio in Quebec City. I was on vacation. My hair was long, I had a beard, I was wearing bermuda shorts and sandals, but we did the interview anyway because it was important to us. I hope nobody digs out the pictures because that could be embarrassing. I can see that my colleague from Montreal's south shore is having quite a chuckle picturing that. Taxpayers paid for those pictures because we did it at Radio-Canada.
Jokes aside, the fact is that when a government launches consultations in the middle of the summer, that is a sure sign it does not really want to hear what people have to say, and for good reason. How do the Liberals really feel about entrepreneurs? Why did the Liberal government launch this so-called consultation about taxing them more heavily? Because it does not like them. It despises them. People across the aisle are getting all up in arms. They say I am exaggerating, but I am not.
Almost exactly two years ago, on September 8, the CBC's Peter Mansbridge interviewed the Liberal party leader, who said, “a large percentage of small businesses are actually just ways for wealthier Canadians to save on their taxes". Not only is that not true, it is also derogatory, arrogant, and so very Liberal. On the basis of that fallacy, the Liberal government started thinking about ways to help itself to even more of our entrepreneurs' money.
The government settled on a three-pronged approach to making life difficult for our entrepreneurs and getting its hands on even more of their money: business transfers, passive income, and income sprinkling.
Is there anything better than walking into a second-, third-, or fourth-generation business, where the pictures of the grandfather and great grandfather are hanging? How wonderful to see people managing to transfer their knowledge from generation to generation, people motivated by family pride to make their business thrive.
What does the Minister of Finance’s reform propose?
It proposes further taxing those who would like to sell their business to their children. Too bad for them, but the reality is that, if an entrepreneur wants to sell the family farm or business to their children, they will pay more taxes than if they sold it to a stranger.
How unfortunate. As the member for Carleton notes every time he asks a question on the topic, the risk, particularly in the case of family farms, is that farmers will very likely end up selling to a large company, like McCain, rather than to a family member if it means paying less tax. That is outrageous.
As Canadians, we must respect and promote family entrepreneurship. That is what the provincial government is currently doing, with the support and cooperation of the opposition parties in a spirit that allows family businesses to be sold within the family without any tax penalty.
The first pillar of the Liberal government’s attack is the transfer of businesses, which is taxed more when it happens within a family. What a bad idea.
The second is passive income. The Liberal government wants to further tax people who put money aside in businesses. That is outrageous; absolute heresy. Anyone in business will tell you the facts, which are that, in business, there are good years, and there are bad years. You have to save money when you want to buy something, invest in your company, modernize equipment, give bonuses to employees, hire people or raise salaries.
That is the fair, responsible and realistic way Canadian entrepreneurs operate. That is not the Liberal way, who prefer to live on credit, run deficits and rack up debt without a care in the world.
No! A true entrepreneur is a visionary man or woman who is responsible and puts money aside. Unfortunately, the Liberal government wants to further tax entrepreneurs. That is a sign of the contempt in which it holds them, in typical Liberal fashion.
The third is income distribution. We have been hearing a lot about how it is not right for people to split their income and to hire family members, and what not.
No! In real life, when you know how family businesses work, how often do you hear entrepreneurs say that they had to mortgage their house to stay afloat? Others say they have not paid themselves a salary, and that their children and spouse are pitching in, that everyone is making an effort, everyone is rolling up their sleeves, all trying to make the business grow.
Anyone who visits a local business owner, whether it be the owner of a modest pizzeria on the corner or your local electrician or plumber, knows that the family is engaged and involved in the business's success. Sometimes family members are paid salaries or dividends, but this is not some mortal sin; on the contrary, that is how you run a business.
That is what you are supposed to do. Of those three factors, this is an attack on entrepreneurs because entrepreneurs are not salaried employees. That is what is so vicious about the Liberals' attitude. They are pitting salaried employees and entrepreneurs against one another, when everyone should be working together.
The Liberal government says it is going to tax the wealthiest 1% more. It seems to have forgotten that the Department of Finance found in a report released last week that the infamous 1% paid less in taxes this year than it did two years ago. Will you look at that!
That is the Liberal Party's policy, but I digress. I cannot conclude my remarks without mentioning the fact that, last Friday, we, the five Conservative members for Quebec, spoke out on behalf of Quebec business owners. We held a meeting, and it was very moving to hear from real Canadians, real business owners, and real job creators who are completely disgusted by the Liberal government's attitude.
Thirty-six-year-old Steeve Marin started his company 15 years ago with the support and backing of some of his colleagues. Today, he says that, after all of the sacrifices he has made, what the Liberal government is doing is like using a bazooka to kill a fly. Not only is this approach inadequate, it is disrespectful.
Ms. Lapierre and her husband started a company three years ago. They went without a salary for 10 months so that they could pay their employees. That is what life is really like for business owners, the very people the Liberals intend to go after. It is unacceptable.
Gaétan Boudreau owns a construction company. He said, and I quote, “if this keeps up, I'm walking away”.
That is the reality. It is not the Conservatives who are saying this. We were pleased to hear from tax expert Louis Julien from Choquette Corriveau, who said that, if these measures are passed as they now stand, business owners will have to pay more taxes. They will have less money for future projects and a lower standard of living. These measures will curb entrepreneurship, cause an economic downturn, negatively affect job creation, and cause hundreds of entrepreneurs to leave Canada. That is what the Liberals' bad policy would do.
The least the government can do is to continue to listen to what Canadians have to say about this, at least until January 31, 2018.