Madam Speaker, I just want to clarify for people who are watching that the motion before us today states:
That, given the proposed changes to the taxation of private corporations as outlined in the Minister of Finance's paper “Tax Planning Using Private Corporations” will have a drastic negative impact on small and medium sized local businesses, the House call on the government to continue, until January 31, 2018, its consultations on these measures.
Many of my colleagues today have made the point that they have heard that this proposal would be detrimental to small business and the middle class in Canada, but I want to focus on the substance of the motion and hopefully convince some of my colleagues to vote for it, because I do think that a reasonable motion to extend the consultation period is something that would cross party lines and that many Canadians watching this today would find reasonable. I will try to go through all of the reasons.
The government cannot and has not communicated the actual impact of this tax hike on the Canadian economy in real terms. The Liberals have not communicated the impact of this on small businesses that will not of this be able to take on new projects, that is, the small businesses that will not be created, or the employees that will be let go because of these measures. They have not calculated that or communicated it. They have not talked about the resulting drain on our social assistance programs when people who have put in place retirement savings under this tax regime right now would have to draw upon social assistance if they cannot access their retirement savings, thanks to these draconian tax measures.
The minister cannot say how much net revenue it would create and on what assumptions the Liberals are basing that revenue. The fact that they have not been able to communicate how much revenue this would generate is problematic. We need to consult Canadians to make sure that they buy into a tax hike from which the finance minister and Prime Minister cannot even say how much revenue would result from it. We also do not know how much it would decrease tax revenue for the government. We know that in our former Conservative government, we saw the lowest federal tax burden in over 50 years, yet something interesting that happened was that government revenue went up. That is because the economy was growing. What is concerning for me is that today we heard from the Macdonald–Laurier Institute that we have had the fourth straight month of weak growth. Their report was done by senior and lauded economists. If we look at the federal budget this year, we see an increase year over year in deficit spending and debt, and a decrease in projected economic growth.
The fact that the finance minister cannot say what this would do is a problem. He also cannot say how much this would cost the government. We do not know how much government revenue would decrease and we do not know how much this would cost to administer. How many more bureaucrats will we have to hire for the CRA to chase small business owners as a result of these punitive new tax measures?
The government has also not explained why it is raising taxes. The Liberals use vague, very discriminative, very terrible, divisive terms like “tax cheats” and “tax on the wealthy” to describe hard-working small business owners who form part of the middle class, but they cannot tell them why they would take this money from them. There is no discernible benefit for the Canadian economy from their deficit right now. It is over $30 billion, and for what? I have not seen any increases in growth. In my province, the economy has certainly continued to worsen.
In sum, the Liberals cannot say how much revenue the government is going to bring in from this and why they are doing this. Why are they taxing Canadians? Why are they bringing this up? The fact that this has not come out begs the question of more consultation.
The Liberals also cannot explain why they broke their promises to small business owners. Not only did they break their promise to not increase the small business tax rate, but they are also raising taxes on small businesses. The reason we need more consultation is that the Prime Minister should be able to explain that broken promise to the many small business owners who gave him the benefit of the doubt in the last election.
I also think that the Liberals have not explained why they are raising taxes on the middle class instead of getting their spending under control. I am the official opposition critic for citizenship and immigration. This year alone, not including social assistance payments, any sort of welfare scheme, or deportation, just the cost of processing people who are legally crossing the U.S.–Canada land border will be half a billion dollars.
The Liberals cannot explain how much revenue the government is going to bring in or how much this would hurt the Canadian economy. They cannot say how much this would benefit the Canadians whom they are taking this from and they cannot explain why they are not getting their spending under control.
I could list hundreds of other measures the government has taken in which it has just blown the federal budget, and on what? Liberals should be talking about this and explaining their lack of spending controls to Canadians before they go back to them to try to raid their pockets for more money.
The government should extend the consultation period because people are furious and this is not a partisan issue. This is about people who voted Liberal in the last election, who hoped in the Prime Minister and are now saying, “No, I do not think so”, because the Liberals broke their promise and are now not even listening to the people. The Prime Minister owes it to these people who gave him the benefit of the doubt to hear their concerns.
I have had over 1,000 Canadians write to me or contact me at my office, either by email or phone. I had over 300 people who showed up at a town hall with virtually no notice. I have had tens of thousands of messages on social media. In a one-month period, over 43,000 Canadians signed a petition that I sponsored, e-1239, against these tax measures. That is unheard of. People are furious and the Prime Minister owes it to them, given his lack of detail on this, to hear them out because this is the future of the Canadian economy.
A further consultation period would also create an opportunity for the Liberals to correct their divisive, insulting rhetoric about small business owners. That is something that I have heard in virtually every email that has come into my office. They say: “Why is the Prime Minister calling me a tax cheat? Do you know how much extra I pay as a small business owner to employ tax lawyers, to prevent auditors from coming in and looking at me? And you are calling me a tax cheat? Now you are going to call me wealthy, like somehow he has no understanding that small business owners are actually part of the middle class.”
An extended consultation period would give the Liberals and the Prime Minister an opportunity to perhaps correct the record in this regard. It would also give us a further opportunity in the House to say what we value as a country. Are we going to punish small business owners for the fact they take on risk and create jobs without the safety net of sick days, vacation time and guaranteed pensions? Are we going to say to them that we as their representatives want to take away their entrepreneurial spirit, tax them, and change the rules such that they cannot see further out? That is something that could also be addressed in a further consultation period.
It would also be an opportunity for the Liberals to clarify the following egregious statement by the Minister of Small Business and Tourism: “The longer we're talking about this, the more people are concerned that they will be impacted, which is really raising a fear and not allowing people to be as productive as possible.” That is an old fearmongering canard. It is fantastical.
The Liberals have been taking so much heat on this that every single Liberal member of Parliament is getting called by everyone in their riding. What did the small business minister do? Imagine being a Liberal backbencher and watching the small business minister say that if we're consulting, we're fearmongering. It is kind of crazy. I would love to have a little more time for the small business minister to go out, correct the record on this, clarify what she meant, and perhaps take more heat from the small business community.
This also came out in the dead of summer when farmers were at their busiest. There were floods in Quebec and fires in B.C. The Prime Minister owes it to people in these communities to extend the consultation period. It would also allow us to fully examine the regional consequences of this proposal.
My province of Alberta has been struggling with the detrimental policies of the government with its changes to the rules for downstream regulations on emissions for our pipelines when the government does not do the same for Saudi oil. My province has been struggling with the minimum wage increase and municipal property tax increases. The government has made political decisions to block the build-out of northern gateway pipeline and has worked against the energy east proposal. This small business tax hike is kicking Alberta while it is down and I would love it if the Prime Minister came to my riding to hear how my constituents feel about it.
I wish I had time to read all the messages that were sent to my riding, but to anyone watching at home today, we need them to amplify their concerns and their voice. Canadians do not have a lot of time on this. They need to pick up the phone and call every single Liberal backbench MP and hold them to account for the fact that those MPs will be voting against something as simple as extending the consultation period. The Liberals are a government that consults on everything. Canadians should get out and call a Liberal MP.