Mr. Speaker, I would like to start this evening with a quote from Scott Reid, the Prime Minister's communications director: “But we can guarantee that we will play no part in compromising one bill for another”.
Further to that, the government House leader is reported to have pounded his fist on the table at the caucus meeting yesterday and stated that he had made no deals with anyone over any legislation.
Maybe he has not, but his party certainly has. In fact, that is the very reason we are here tonight debating Bill C-48, which is nothing more than a deal made by the Liberals on legislation. That deal includes the creation of this bill and the modifying of Bill C-43 to remove some of the previously promised tax relief measures. Once again the Liberal Party has been caught red-handed in stretching the truth to the breaking point.
We have a lot of serious things being said tonight, but I want to talk about the tax side because we have many members who are going to speak on many issues of this bill. Removal of tax relief was one of the things the Liberals did in order to create a window of money to buy the NDP to support them. In fact, the leader of the NDP was not actually bought, as I heard someone suggest one time; he was just rented for a short period of time.
Some time ago an article appeared in the Salmon Arm Lakeshore News . It was an article written by a local financial adviser, who is a regular contributor, to try to put taxes and tax relief in perspective in terms of how they work in Canada. This is something that the NDP in particular might want to listen to. The article as written by this individual states:
I was having lunch at PJ's with one of my favourite clients last week and the conversation turned to the [provincial] government's recent round of tax cuts.
“I'm opposed to those tax cuts,” the retired college instructor declared, “because they benefit the rich. The rich get much more money back than ordinary taxpayers like you and I and that's not fair.”
“But the rich pay more in the first place”, I argued, “so it stands to reason they'd get more money back.”
I could tell that my friend was unimpressed by this meagre argument. Even college instructors are a prisoner of the myth that the “rich” somehow get a free ride in Canada.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let's put tax cuts in terms everybody can understand. Suppose that every day, 10 men go to PJ's for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If it was paid the way we pay our taxes, the first four men would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1; the sixth would pay $3; the seventh $7; the eighth $12; the ninth $18. The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59. The 10 men ate dinner at the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until the owner through them a curve.
“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20.”
Now dinner for the 10 only costs $80. The first four are unaffected. They still eat for free. Can you figure out how to divvy up the $20 savings among the remaining six so that everyone gets his fair share?
The men realize that $20 divided by 6 is $3.33, but if they subtract that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being paid to eat their meal.
The restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of $59. Outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
“I only got a dollar out of the $20”, declared the sixth man, pointing to the tenth, “and he got $7!”
“Yeah, that's right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar too. It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!”
“That's true,” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks.”
“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor.”
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They were $52 short!
And that, boys and girls and college instructors, is how Canada's tax system works.
The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore. There are lots of good restaurants in Switzerland and the Caribbean.
And we know where a certain Prime Minister has all his cruise ships, do we not?
Let us talk about this legislation. Tax cuts were proposed and then yanked out in order to pay the NDP to rent its leader for a few weeks so he would support the Liberals.
First, that affects job creation. When the Liberals loads taxes on businesses, that is one of the expenses businesses have to meet in order to do business. Businesses will operate only when they can make a profit. If they cannot make a profit, they have to do one of two things.
They have to add that cost on so the consumers pay more. In turn, they also fund the government in yet another way by the consumer prices they pay, never mind paying their taxes, and then the businesses from which they buy their goods can pay the taxes this government extracts from them.
Then there is the alternative. If their competitors can do better, particularly with foreign trade, then our companies start closing down. We cannot compete with the United States, let us say, which has much lower taxes than we do, both at the corporate and the individual level. Our companies start closing down. They start cutting jobs. Canadians end up out of work. This is just like what is happening in the car industry right now.
The government has sold out Canadians. It could have taken the tax cut, which could have helped job creation. It could have reduced costs for consumers on necessary goods. Instead, it used that on a wish list for the NDP. What is really a crime is that, having cut out the tax reductions from the government's bill, the parliamentary secretary himself just a few short minutes ago admitted that this is money that may never get spent, which the NDP should be taking note of.
Let us talk about the NDP members and their priorities, because they were the ones who laid out the priorities on this particular bill. I had a group of NDP MPs, including one sitting in the House right now, come to my riding.
I could be mistaken, but I believe that all the elected NDP members of Parliament from British Columbia came to my riding. They said they were there because they wanted to find out what the people of my riding wanted, and they wanted to know the priorities of people in every area. I was at the meeting they held, an open house with wine and cheese. I said I was very happy to see them because I work very hard to get the things that are necessary for the people of my riding. I said that in a minority government in particular we would be looking for help and we would certainly welcome their help. I said we were glad they were there to find out the priorities of the people of my riding.
The NDP members negotiated $4.6 billion worth of changes to the budget with the Liberal government. How did those changes affect my riding?
One of the really big things that has hit my riding is the softwood lumber dispute. It is devastating. We are a very forest dependent riding. When they had a gun to the heads of the Liberals, did the NDP members put anything in their budget to provide compensation for individuals, companies and communities affected by the softwood lumber dispute throughout British Columbia, where a large majority of NDP members come from? Not one dime. It was not a priority for them. Foreign aid was a priority, but not B.C. aid, not aid for B.C. communities and aid for forestry workers. It was not on their agenda. It was not their priority.
They also found out in my riding that it was very important for people to get some help with the BSE problem with cattle. We have a lot of ranchers in areas of my riding. What did the NDP ask the Liberals for on that? Not one dollar. The NDP asked for money for housing, which the parliamentary secretary to the minister said may never get spent, but not for one dollar to help the cattle industry in my riding and throughout British Columbia, particularly through the rural area where they claim they have strong support. There was not one dollar asked for there.
We have a bogus budget that the parliamentary secretary to the minister says may never get spent. We have the priorities of the NDP that do not meet the priorities of the area they claim they most represent.
This whole thing is a sham. It should be shut down. It should be stopped. That would be the best thing we could do for the taxpayers of this country.