House of Commons Hansard #243 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I wish to remind hon. members of the Speaker's ruling of Wednesday, November 8, 2017, regarding Bill C-63, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures.

At that time, the Chair indicated that pursuant to Standing 69.1 the question on the motion for second reading would be divided to provide for separate votes on measures that were not announced in the budget.

The Speaker also indicated that the vote at third reading will be conducted in a similar way if all of the identified elements are still part of the bill.

As that is the case, pursuant to Standing Order 69.1 the question will be divided at the third reading stage as follows: agriculture and fisheries co-operatives; GST/HST rebate for public service bodies; Excise Tax Act in relation to beer made from concentrate; Financial Administration Act in relation to the discharge of debt; all the remaining elements of the bill.

I would like to remind members that when putting the question on groups of clauses for Bill C-63, I intend to follow a procedure similar to that outlined in Standing Order 76.1(8) for the putting of the question on amendments at report stage.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to participate in today's debate.

As hon. members know, our government came to office with a plan to grow the middle class and to grow the economy. Bill C-63 is the next step toward this goal.

The bill would help to make the tax system fairer and more efficient. This bill also includes measures to give federally regulated workers the right to request more flexible work arrangements from their employer, largely benefiting women, who continue to do the majority of unpaid work at home. Also proposed is the elimination of unpaid internships in federally regulated sectors that are not part of a formal educational program, and providing labour standard protections for unpaid interns who are part of an educational program.

Bill C-63 also provides yet another building block in our overall climate change strategy. Through the bill the government is taking action to ensure that Canadian exploration expense treatment for the oil and gas sector is effectively limited to unsuccessful exploration or early stage exploration where the linkage to success cannot reasonably be determined in the year the activity takes place. We believe these measures will be an important part of Canada's pursuit of a low-carbon economy.

If we look at the measures in Bill C-63, I think we can all agree that this legislation is an important step in our plan to build an economy that works for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

However, before I speak about the next steps in our plan, I would like to talk about how we got where we are today, and the signs that tell us our plan to build a stronger middle class and grow the Canadian economy is working.

First, let us look at what we inherited.

Just two years ago, the world economy was still in recovery. Canadians were feeling as though they were working harder than ever, but they just were not getting ahead. During the last election campaign we debated whether Canada was in or heading into a recession. There were grounds for that concern. The median real wage income of Canadians had barely risen over the previous 30 years.

The global economic environment was, and to a large extent still is, very uncertain. The fact is that when we talk to people across the country, there is a lot of anxiety that the next generation, our kids and grandkids, may not be as well off. Our government wants to ensure we create the conditions for all Canadians to succeed in a changing economy.

To get there, the government is committed to ensuring a healthy, thriving business environment and to protecting the ability of Canadian businesses to invest, grow and create jobs.

Let us look at where we are right now.

I would now like to focus on the state of our economy and the recent measures in the government's fall economic statement, which is a continuation of the government's plan put in place in 2015. Our past two budgets laid the foundation for this plan and we built on it in last month's fall statement.

The government's plan to invest in people and in our country's future is based on the belief that when we have an economy that works for the middle class, we have a country that works for everyone.

I think it is fair to say that there are many clear signs that the government's plan is working.

The Canadian economy is currently the fastest growing in the G7, with an average growth of 3.7% over the last four quarters.

This is due in large part to increased consumer confidence, a direct result of programs like the Canada child benefit, which puts more money in the pockets of moms and dads, so they can pay off debt, buy sports equipment for their children, or buy healthier food. Our government is providing a bit of breathing room for Canadian households that greatly need it.

Everywhere we look, there are signs of progress for the middle class.

Over 600,000 new jobs have been created since 2015, and the unemployment rate is nearly the lowest it has been in a decade. Canadian economic growth has accelerated sharply since the second half of 2016. Over the last four quarters, the Canadian economy has had its fastest rate of growth in more than a decade, and growth is forecast to be 3.1% in 2017, significantly above expectations at the beginning of the year.

These gains, coupled with a better than expected fiscal outcome in 2016-17, have resulted in a real positive improvement to our budget outlook.

In fact, Canada's fiscal outlook has improved by over $6.5 billion annually on average compared to what we expected back in March. The federal debt-to-GDP ratio has been firmly placed on a downward track, with Canada's net debt-to-GDP ratio projected to remain the lowest in the G7. Our government is committed to preserving Canada's low-debt advantage for current and future generations.

The actions the government has taken are having a real, positive impact on our economy and for all Canadians.

I would now like to expand on how our government's fall economic statement will keep us on this positive trajectory.

Canada's strong economy is giving our government the ability to reinvest the benefits of growth back into the people have who contributed most to that success. This is why we are strengthening the Canada child benefit, to ensure it continues to play a vital role in supporting families for years to come.

The Canada child benefit will be bolstered by annual cost of living increases starting in July 2018, which is two years ahead of schedule.

The government had previously committed to indexing the Canada child benefit to inflation as of July 2020. However, our economic growth and our improved fiscal record have allowed our government to achieve this commitment two years ahead of schedule, which is excellent news for Canadian families.

We are also putting money in the pockets of low-income Canadians by increasing the working income tax benefit by $500 million more per year as of 2019. This benefit will ultimately be 65% higher than it was when we came to power.

I remind members that the working income tax benefit is a refundable tax credit that supplements the earnings of low-income workers, the people who are working hard to get into the middle class, such as young, single workers who are struggling to carve out a place on the job market.

The working income tax benefit provides important income support and helps to ensure that work is rewarded. This $500 million enhancement announced in the fall economic statement is in addition to the increase of about $250 million annually that will come into effect in that year as part of the enhancement of the Canada pension plan. These two actions will boost the total amount the government spends on the working income tax benefit by about 65% in 2019, increasing benefits to current recipients and expanding the number of Canadians receiving that much-needed support.

This will give a needed boost to well over 1.5 million low-income workers as they work long hours, sometimes in more than one job, to advance their careers and support themselves and their families. Whether this extra money is used for things such as helping to cover the family grocery bill or helping to pay for work-related expenses, the improved benefit will help low-income working Canadians make ends meet.

We are also helping small businesses invest, grow, and create jobs by lowering the small business tax rate to 9% by 2019. We are making sure that Canada's low corporate tax rates serve to support businesses, not to provide unfair tax advantages to the wealthiest 1% of Canadians.

The investments we have made in our country's people, communities, and economy are producing results. They are putting more money in the pockets of those who need it the most, creating good, well-paying jobs, and giving Canadians more confidence in their future.

That is why we are doubling down on a plan that has been proven to work and reinvesting in the middle class, which, need I remind the House, was neglected by the previous government for a decade.

I would like to take a moment to discuss another measure in Bill C-63.

It is important for Canadians to have the confidence that our tax system is fair, simple, and efficient and that we have a growing and healthy economy. Initial action to implement changes from the comprehensive tax expenditure review conducted by the government were introduced in budget 2017. The review had a broad scope, which included corporate income tax expenditures, personal income tax expenditures, as well as goods and services tax expenditures. As part of the tax expenditure review, the government considered billed-basis accounting.

Billed-basis accounting is a method that allows certain designated professionals to declare expenses for tax purposes before the income related to those expenses is included in their revenue. It was eliminated in the 1980s for all professionals, except those in certain designated professions. Back then, those professionals could not access the small business deduction except under very limited circumstances, which put them at a disadvantage. That is no longer the case today.

With Bill C-63, the government is proposing to eliminate the option of using billed-basis accounting for income tax purposes for a limited group of professionals in order to avoid giving these professionals a tax benefit that other taxpayers do not have access to.

We intend to implement this measure in a fair and reasonable manner and give professionals the time they need to adjust and adapt. We are acting on the feedback we have received, and we are planning to extend the phase-in period to five years.

I would also like to reassure the House that this measure should not affect the legal services provided through legal aid or on a pro bono basis. It will not have any impact on the agreements regarding contingency fees, under which a lawyer is paid only if the client receives money. The Canada Revenue Agency has indicated that work in progress could be considered to have no value until a payment is made.

In summary, the government is committed to ensuring that the tax system puts everyone on an equal footing, and we are convinced that this measure will contribute to greater equity among professionals.

The government's plan will help strengthen the middle class and ensure Canadians have the support, resources, and confidence they need to succeed, create jobs, and grow our economy.

Economic growth is strong and because of that, we are in a position to do even more to help the middle class and those working hard to join it. We will ensure Canadians have the skills, training, and learning opportunities they need to compete and thrive in the rapidly changing global economy.

We are continuing to invest in public transit, our commercial networks, and cleaner water to keep our cities moving and to keep Canadians safe.

We will continue to build a better future for the middle class and all Canadians, no matter their circumstances. We want to ensure that they have a real chance to reach their full potential.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, today the job numbers are out. The Canadian economy created 80,000 jobs, bringing down the unemployment rate to 5.9%, the lowest since February 2008. It is the 12th straight month of positive job creation, the best since March 2007. It is the 12th month of full-time job creation and the best in 18 years.

Did this excellent news happen due to the income tax cuts for the middle class, or the investments we made in infrastructure, or the investments we made in innovation and skills training?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is probably a mix of all the factors he mentioned, but it is important to look back at where Canada stood when we arrived in Ottawa as the Liberal government. In the last election campaign, Canadians were debating, and rightfully so, whether Canada was in or heading into a recession. We had sluggish employment growth. Our GDP growth, in the decade the Conservatives were in power, was the worst since the Second World War.

We were in a situation where Canadians voted for a plan. Interest rates were low, and we knew that there was a need for infrastructure spending in communities across the country. I have spoken to a lot of mayors who can confirm this. I am sure that all MPs in this House know about the dire need for infrastructure spending in all their communities. Therefore, when we came into office, we looked at that situation, and we decided that while interest rates were low, it was important to invest and to make sure that we not only invested in infrastructure but reduced inequalities. We know that when inequalities are on a downward trend, economic growth is better. We have seen it in Scandinavian countries, for instance. They can attest to that. They have had good economic growth while they have maintained inequalities at the lowest possible level. That is where we wanted to go.

It is a plan that has been approved by international institutions. Christine Lagarde, of the IMF, said that Canada's approach should go viral, that this approach should be emulated by other countries in the world, and that the smartest thing to do would be to invest in Canadians and invest in infrastructure while interest rates are low to boost the economy and get better growth. It would help improve the state's fiscal position. That is exactly what we have done, and the results speak for themselves. These are today's numbers: 600,000 jobs created since we took office.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, hopefully I am allotted the same amount of time as our hon. colleague across the way to answer that last question.

I just arrived from Quebec City, where I toured the Davie shipyard yesterday with our colleagues. I met a number of proud employees who are there working on the Asterix ship. It is incredible work the Davie shipyard is doing, and I know that our hon. colleague is aware of it.

I also know that the Liberals like to say that Canadians are telling them that they are doing a great job. I know for a fact, because I heard this from many people yesterday, that the hon. colleague himself has taken a lot of heat in that area, specifically in some radio and media interviews. They ask why rather than spending money on, say, the Asia infrastructure bank, the government is not spending money on what is perhaps the oldest marine fleet in the world. Our Canadian Coast Guard has one of the oldest marine fleets in the world. We have icebreakers that are beyond their notional lifespan, and the government has dithered away two years putting our economic viability, our Arctic sovereignty, at risk. It is putting coastal communities, maritime fishers, and shipping at risk. The government is continuing to put its eyes overseas, rather than focusing here at home.

When are the Liberals going to start focusing on Canadians and spending money here that is actually creating jobs, and when are they going to allow the Davie shipyard to reach its full potential and purchase and approve some icebreakers?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his visit to my beautiful region of Quebec City. I am very proud of Davie and its workers and what they have produced with the Asterix. It is a source of pride for my region. I have worked very hard with Davie and its union representatives to make sure that it can show its full potential in the competitive process we have in place for icebreakers, as the member mentioned.

However, it is a little rich to see Conservatives go and do photo ops at the Davie shipyard. When the member for Lévis—Lotbinière was sitting at the cabinet table when the national shipbuilding strategy was approved under the previous government, nothing was left for Davie, and now he is going to do photo ops at the Davie shipyard. He should hang his head in shame.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his speech.

When debating a budget, or in this case, a budget implementation bill, we often talk about the measures set out in that budget. However, it is also important to talk about what is missing. I want to talk about a commitment that the NDP and the Liberals made regarding the tax loophole on CEO stock options.

I am raising this issue because it is disappointing to see that the Liberals have not closed this loophole after two years in office. What is more, they are eliminating the public transit tax credit and other tax credits. I want to ask my colleague to explain the rationale behind eliminating the public transit tax credit while keeping a tax credit for CEOs who are buying stocks in their own companies.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his question.

I believe that our government is committed to making our tax system fairer where we see it is lacking. I think that my colleague has made some valid suggestions. We are open to looking at the different options available to enhance the fairness of our tax system.

We must acknowledge that the public transit tax credit had very little impact. Again, you have to pay taxes in order to receive a tax credit. We are making historic investments in public transit. We are spending $180 billion over 12 years, with a large part going to public transit. We know that this improves access to public transit and makes it easier for Canadians to get around. We believe that it will help improve the lives of Canadians and also make a difference to our environment.

When we looked into the analyses of the public transit tax credit, we noted that it was not a very effective measure. I believe that the NDP cares about the most vulnerable, as I do. The most vulnerable quite often do not pay tax, and they did not benefit from this tax credit. You have to know about it and, often, you need an accountant in order to use it. You have to know something about taxes, and not everyone does.

By investing directly in public transit, we are making it easier for everyone to access it and at the same time we are helping the environment.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, my constituents are concerned about the Asian infrastructure bank. As my hon. colleague mentioned earlier, the reality is that the government is going to invest $500 million in an Asian infrastructure bank that is going to create jobs for building pipelines and coal-fired power plants in another part of the world. My constituents are asking why the government cannot create jobs here in Canada.

The Liberals shut down the energy east pipeline, which would have come through my riding and created jobs. Here they are, sending money outside the country instead of putting it toward good-paying middle-class jobs in my riding. They could put money into carbon capture plants, which capture 98% of greenhouse gases and 100% of sulphur and put it into the ground. This is innovation. This is advancement and a great asset for greenhouse gas capture. Why can the government not put money into Canada?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy that the member talked about job creation. That is clearly where we have succeeded and where the Conservatives failed for 10 years. In the last two years, we have created 600,000 jobs in this country, most of them full-time. That is something they unfortunately failed to achieve. I am all about Canada's success. I wish they had succeeded in those 10 years. They did not. They had the wrong plan.

When we look at the Asian infrastructure bank, this is part of Canada's re-engagement in the world. Most of the bank's projects are done with the support of the World Bank and other international institutions, such as the Asian Development Bank. Is the member suggesting that we should withdraw from international institutions?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address one allegation sometimes made against the Liberal government and other far left governments around the world that I think is false. Some have accused governments like these of really having it in for the rich, for wanting to get tough on people who have a lot of money, and unfairly so.

Even Winston Churchill once said, “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” I want to say that in this case, this very rare case, even the great Winston Churchill was wrong. Socialism and big government policies do not equally spread around the miseries to everyone. No, they spread them around in a way that is better described in George Orwell's Animal Farm. They spread them around in a manner that is equal, but equal in a special way, equal in that everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.

The Liberal government, a government that subscribes to, to put it generously, social democratic policies, socialist policies, does not disparage those who have lots of money. Rather, it has a different view of how money should be distributed. While we on this side believe in the free market, which distributes wealth based on merit, the Liberals believe that wealth should be distributed by government, that people should be allowed to get wealthy as long as they do so through the government.

In a government-directed economy, people get rich by having the best lobbyists. In a free market economy, people get ahead by having the best product or service. We have seen this borne out.

Strategas research, a company out of the United States, did a carefully calculated correlation between the money spent on lobbying in Washington and the amount of government spending in Washington. It found that as government becomes a larger share of the U.S. economy, the number of dollars companies spend on lobbying goes up almost on a one for one basis. Why? It is because business goes where the money is, and if all the money is in the government, it invests in getting that money. It invests in getting a return by purchasing political power. When the government decides who gets what, those with money buy power and then transform that power into yet more money.

What are some of the ways one can do this? One can, for example, hire a lobbyist to get a subsidy. Company X spends $10 million on lobbying and gets a $400-million interest-free loan, a pretty good return on investment. That is how one gets a return on investment in a government-directed economy. One purchases political power and then hopes that this political power results in more money.

In a free market economy, one invests in creating a better product or service that improves other people's lives, which they buy voluntarily with their own money, and then one gets a return by making somebody else's life better. In a free market economy based on voluntary exchange, the only way to get ahead is by offering something to someone that is worth more than it cost.

Let me give some practical examples of where our friends across the way have been extremely generous to the rich, contrary to allegations that they are hard on the rich, allegations that, in fairness and in a spirit of nonpartisanship, I seek to dispel here on the floor of the House of Commons.

First, a $400-million interest-free loan was given to Bombardier, which, if it is ever paid back, will be done so on the most generous terms. Bombardier is controlled by a billionaire family that had 53% of the votes at a shareholder meeting, even though the family has a minority of the shares. They have multiple voting shares. That company could have raised more money by issuing more stock, but what would have happened then? The majority control of the billionaire Bombardier-Beaudoin family would have been diluted, and they would have lost their majority and thus their control of the company.

The Liberals bailed out the billionaires and saved their control of that company so they could continue to make decisions and pay themselves exorbitant salaries, even when they have bad results. In fact, after the government kicked in this money, the executives of the company, some of them billionaires, paid themselves a 50% increase in compensation, all while laying off 14,000 people. We now know that many of the jobs to be created in the future are going to be south of the border, and the control of the intellectual property will be in the hands of Europeans. There was no Canadian public interest in this move, it was all about helping this billionaire family.

Therefore, it is not true, and I reject the allegation against the party opposite that it is tough on the rich. That is unfair, and I reject it, and I will stand up against those who disparage the government in that way.

Then, there is the infrastructure bank. Municipalities across the country have become smart about these construction companies. For years, these companies would come in, place a bid, promise to build a bridge or a road for a certain price, and then, after they got the contract, they would come back and say, “Oops, sorry, it's going to cost a lot more than we thought and you'll have to pay us more.”

Municipalities have said that they are not doing that anymore. From now on, they are paying on a fixed price contract. It must be built for the price agreed upon and, if it goes over, the construction company will have to pay for it. That has bred discipline into the process of procurement. The government wants to take away that discipline, with loans and loan guarantees backed up by taxpayers, which will protect investors when they participate in infrastructure megaprojects. If they build a monstrous bridge, a transit project, or something else, and the project goes over budget or its revenues fall short, then that company will use the loan guarantee provided by this multi-billion dollar taxpayer-backed bank to protect them. Taxpayers get all the risk and investors get all the profit.

This whole scheme was cooked up at the Shangri-La Hotel, one of the swankiest places in Toronto. The heads of investment firms, worth literally hundreds of billions of dollars, met with ministers of this government, in secret, to craft all the terms. They decided how Canadian tax dollars would be spent. There were no consultations on this with taxpayers, the people who have to pay for it. Those who would benefit were at the table writing the policy for the government. That consultation, and the generous way with which the government carried it out, proves once again that the allegation against the government for having it in for the rich and being hard on the wealthy is absolutely false. I again dispel that false allegation.

Now we have the Asian infrastructure bank. This is a half-a-billion dollar contribution from Canadian taxpayers to a foreign bank to build infrastructure in other parts of the world. All of us at times have supported foreign aid for the world's poor, but this is not intended to help the world's poor, it is meant to help the world's rich. Wealthy investors who build pipelines—which would never get approved here in Canada—or other infrastructure in other parts of the world, would have their investments protected by $100 billion of tax money from around the world. Therefore, if those project do not meet their financial expectations, that is fine, because taxpayers from around the world will have to pick up the tab for the incompetent decisions of international investors. That is more welfare for the wealthy. In this case, it is the foreign wealthy, those who are not even in Canada.

We cannot say that this has anything to do with promoting trade links. In fact, the principal government participating in this Asian infrastructure bank, in China, has said that the purpose of the bank is to re-establish the Silk Road, the trading route from China westward, away from Canada. Therefore, the infrastructure that would be built could not possibly facilitate commerce with Canadians, because we are on the wrong side of the world to benefit from any of it. Again, the government has cozied up with the world's wealthy elite in order to provide taxpayer-funded benefits to those who have the most.

To move on to other decisions here at home, the government has decided that it is going to raise taxes. It claims it will only affect the wealthy. However, it seems that it affects everyone but the wealthy. The Fraser Institute calculated that 87% of middle-class taxpayers are paying more in tax since the government took office, on average $800 more.

We found in the first annual financial report from Finance Canada since the government's policies were implemented that the wealthiest Canadians actually paid less in the 2016-17 tax year, because they were able to successfully move their money around and avoid the tax increases that the government imposed on people.

This brings me to the conduct and judgment of the Minister of Finance. We have learned that he was one of the individuals who moved his income in order to avoid paying the taxes that he was imposing on others. He sold his shares in Morneau Shepell on November 30, 2015, which was almost a month before his own tax increases took effect. By selling his shares at that time, he paid capital gains tax under the lower rate, rather than waiting an extra five or six weeks and paying the higher rates that he said were so fair.

Putting aside whether the minister acted ethically in that matter, on principle he should have led by example. If he believed that Canadians should pay higher taxes and that people like him should pay more, why could he not have waited five weeks to make that $10-million sale, realize his capital gains in the 2016 year, and pay the same higher taxes that he applied to everyone else? He was very careful to make sure that those taxes would not apply to him.

On the same point, the Minister of Finance has huffed and puffed and said it is so unfair of us to ask him questions about his shares. However, in any public company, a corporate executive could be asked those kinds of questions at a board meeting or at an annual meeting of shareholders. In fact, corporate executives are required to publicly disclose the shares they buy and sell. If they sell them at a time that is near the release of earnings report, for example, there are lots of red flags raised, and lots of questions that they are accountable for answering.

For the minister to suggest that it is somehow unreasonable for Her Majesty's loyal opposition to demand that he explain the timing of the sale of shares that he made in the immediate lead-up to the tabling of tax documents on the floor of the House of Commons is a little rich, quite literally, coming from him.

Let me talk to both the hypocrisy of his conduct and his judgment. In the corporate world, they have something called “blackouts”. Typically, officers and directors of public companies try to avoid selling shares in the immediate lead-up to the release of earnings results. Even in cases where those results are anticipated accurately, even if the guidance issued by the company at the beginning of the quarter turns out to be accurate at the end of quarter, even if all the analysts correctly predict the earnings per share that will be released at the end of the quarter, and even if there is nothing unexpected that comes out in those earning results, it is not good form for a CEO, or another executive, to sell shares a week before those results are released. It is better form for that executive to wait until three or four business days after the earning results are released, to have no doubt that everyone had exactly the same information when they sold their shares.

The minister admitted on the floor of the House of Commons yesterday that some of the contents of the document he tabled on December 7, 2015 were confidential, that it was kept tight within a small group in Finance Canada, that those materials were sensitive and therefore could not be shared around. If that were the case, then surely he ought not to be trading on the stock market seven or eight days before the public release of that document. He should have had the competence and the judgment to avoid the real, or perhaps just perceptual, problems that go along with that conduct. These are exactly the kinds of questions and criticisms that the opposition is expected to raise, and it would be political malpractice for us not to raise them.

Furthermore, there are places around the world where such questions are not asked of the leaders, where leaders can say, “That's out of bounds. You can't ask me that. It's none of your business.” There are places like that. They are the most miserable places to live on planet earth. I am so proud to live in a country where we have the ability to ask these kinds of questions. It is our job on this side of the House of Commons to ensure that the government is always acting in the public interest, and not in the private interest of any individual.

Going back to the point of hypocrisy, the Prime Minister and the finance minister have been crying a lot of crocodile tears about the questions they face over their own financial decisions, the amount of tax they have paid, and the way they have protected their own family fortunes.

These are the questions that they invited when, over the last three years, they have engaged in a bloody-minded campaign of class warfare. They went out and started attacking people, including in their own words, “wealthy doctors” and others, who use “fancy accounting scheme”, “a privileged few” who were avoiding “paying their fair share”. They implied that there was a group of people who were getting ahead and not paying enough, and they disparaged those people. Now the Prime Minister and the finance minister expect everyone to have sympathy for them because people are asking questions about their finances.

When they single out a group of honest, hard-working, law-abiding Canadians, and attack them for following the rules and working hard and succeeding, then people are going to ask questions as to whether they live up to their own standards. That is exactly what we have been doing.

To conclude, the government has no problem supporting the wealthy and the privileged. In fact, the government has been very, very generous to that group of people. However, we on this side of the House of Commons will continue to stand on the side of merit, free enterprise, and an economy that allows anyone who is prepared to work hard, to be smart and industrious, to get ahead while making the lives of other people better at the same time.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, first let me provide some counter. The member across the way has tried to say something that is just not true. This government did in fact have a special tax increase on Canada's 1% wealthiest. There is no denying that. That is factual. In fact, the member knows it full well, because he voted against that measure.

What we have heard time and time again from members opposite is a character assassination conducted against the Minister of Finance. I found a wonderful quote that is appropriate, and I would like to read it into the record. This is what the member opposite said when he was in government:

I would encourage him, if he has the integrity, if he has the courage, to take the exact statement that he just made, walk outside in front of the media and repeat those allegations. It is my bet that he will not do it.

When we look at the character assassination, I have heard words such as “jail” and “criminal activity” being levelled against the Minister of Finance.

Would the member across the way not hold the same standard he held when he was in government, when he talked about how easy it is to use parliamentary privilege to say something inside the House, and not have the courage to say the same sorts of things outside of the House when it comes to character assassination?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

First of all, Mr. Speaker, the member just used a bunch of words that I have never used. He used the words “jail” and “criminal”, and others. I have never used such words. Never have I used such words. Never have I used such words.

The member—

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I am trying to hear the answer from the hon. member for Carleton, but I am hearing shouting from both sides and it is overpowering. I am very interested in what the hon. member has to say.

The hon. member for Carleton.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a very strange course of events when the government is using words about an allegation relating to its own minister that the opposition is not using. He almost wants us to make those allegations. We have not.

Second, the Minister of Finance told me go outside. I said, “Come with me. Let's go together. I will repeat the same facts and questions out there as I did in here”, but he was like the schoolboy who challenged someone to fight and then did not show up at the bike racks. I went outside, I repeated my questions and my facts, and stated the same things out there as I did in here, which are questions and facts.

These are legitimate questions and legitimate facts, and the finance minister could have done a lot better job of dealing with these problems if he had just answered basic, simple questions, to which he would obviously have answers, like when did he sell his shares. We asked it literally dozens of times this week and as late as yesterday, he was claiming not to have any knowledge. That was an obvious question, to which he could have given an obvious answer, and he would have done himself a great service if he had. If he starts to answer questions, he will do himself a great service.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 10:50 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I resisted the temptation, which came to me frequently throughout the speech by the member for Carleton, to ask about relevance to Bill C-63. He did occasionally, in fairness to the member, touch on things that are actually in Bill C-63, but I am going to ask a more partisan question.

This morning, going through The Daily Press, those media sources that are generally cheerleaders for his party, people like Terence Corcoran and the editorialists in The Globe and Mail, papers and columnists who uniformly endorsed the Conservatives in the last election, are wondering if the Conservatives have not gone out too far without evidence. In this constant attack, I am not going to defend the finance minister's decisions on many things, but if the member cannot get the cheerleading choir of the Conservative Party in The Globe and Mail and the Financial Post to agree that he is on to something, would he consider changing the channel and actually talking about the bill before us?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, we will not stop asking the relevant and important questions that are the duty of an official opposition to ask. Our job is to hold the government to account to ensure that not only its policies but its conduct are appropriate. In so doing, I have stated facts, asked questions, and played my role as an opposition critic, and I will keep doing so.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to focus on the first part of the speech by the member for Carleton. He spoke about the infrastructure bank and how all of the risk would be put on the taxpayer. If I recall, one week before the election, he announced a fund in Ottawa, which he should remember. It was called the public transit fund, which would be administered under PPP Canada. PPP Canada issues private sector funds, taxpayer funds, and obviously the proponent of the project would issue his funds as well.

I am wondering if his mind has changed since July 27, 2015, when he announced the public transit fund, which would be administered under PPP Canada, which we know is a public-private partnership, and obviously all of the risk is on the taxpayer. He was just complaining about the infrastructure bank. All I want to know is if he has seen the enlightenment of not issuing a PPP.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I strongly support private sector investment in infrastructure in a way that puts the risk on the investor, and that is exactly what Conservatives did in government. We created infrastructure deals that ensured that the investor would suffer the losses in the event that the project went over budget or revenue came in below expectations. That is exactly how public-private partnerships should work. In fact, the only real benefit to having a public-private partnership is to shift risk off the taxpayer and onto the private sector investor. What, in fact, the government is doing is exactly the opposite. It is shifting the risk off the investor and onto the taxpayer, and that is what we oppose.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for another exceptional speech here in the House. I would ask him to elaborate a little on the finance minister's invitation to go to out to the lobby and restate what he suggested were allegations that did not refer at all to the fact that they were facts and questions. The other half of that invitation was that if my colleague did, and he did and the finance minister did not accompany him, he would face the full weight of the law and the legal proceedings that the minister's great wealth would enable.

I wonder if my colleague could speak about the fact that the threats that have been made from the Prime Minister and the finance minister, and the legal chill that they are trying to impose on the questions that are being legitimately, logically, and democratically asked in the House.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the minister is in fact trying to use his prodigious wealth to silence his critics. There is no question about that. I have stated facts and asked questions on the floor of the House of Commons, which I have repeated outside the House. However, the minister, instead of just answering them here, has said that he wants to sue people who ask those questions.

In the House, we are equal regardless of the wealth that we inherited or brought to this place. We are all equal in our ability to conduct debate, to ask questions, and demand accountability, and that is all that we have sought from the minister. Unfortunately, he has made problems so much worse for himself through his absolute unwillingness to answer the most basic questions on the floor of the House of Commons or anywhere else. He has had all week to do it, he fails to do it, and instead he goes around using the Bay Street tactic of threatening lawsuits against anybody who disagrees with him.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Carleton has introduced a new phrase into our lexicon today: “political malpractice”. It is fascinating. He also said that the Minister of Finance is using prodigious wealth to silence people.

However, I recall that very member on the government benches day after day refusing to answer direct questions about a certain Mr. Nigel Wright, who I do think had prodigious wealth and wrote a cheque arguably to silence someone. How does he feel about that instance today?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think a lot of people are looking back on those quaint old times in the previous government when people had to resign because they spent $16 on a glass of orange juice, or because they, on behalf of a constituent, called a quasi-judicial body in order to try to help a constituent with a problem. Those were the days when ministers held themselves to the highest possible ethical standards. Now we live in an era where a minister can own shares secretly in a company that he regulates, introduce a bill on pensions when he owns a pension company, and where that minister can actually tell us that it is illegitimate to question his sale of shares right before introducing a tax measure. Times have changed for the worse.