Mr. Speaker, as a lawyer involved in corporate finance in Canada for 25 years, I can say that contrary to the Bloc motion, the current passport system does not function very well. Such a statement is naive and would only be made by someone unfamiliar with the corporate finance business.
Each year many Canadian companies and foreign companies choose not to raise funds on the Canadian public capital markets because of the expensive and cumbersome multi-jurisdictional securities regulatory process. I know from first-hand experience that hundreds of millions of dollars of capital funding business are lost each year to the Canadian investment industry because we do not have a single national securities regulator.
Frankly it is an embarrassment and it costs us jobs, excellent, high paying, high value added, tax-revenue-generating jobs. The spinoff effects of these lost opportunities are very significant to our economy.
In my view, the government's economic action plan provides much needed stimulus to our nation's economy that is timely, targeted, temporary and cost effective. I believe that the measures contained in our plan will lay the foundation for long-term growth.
As we all know, Canada is facing the domestic effects of an unprecedented global financial crisis. Our financial institutions, while strong and sound by international standards, face the double jeopardy of an unavailability of liquidity to provide much needed loans to business and a short-term negative economic forecast which causes them to hold back in making the loans and investments that Canadian business requires.
Credit-worthy Canadian businesses cannot access necessary sources of debt and equity to operate in a normal course and make the types of investments that will enable them to enhance their competitiveness and operate in a more environmentally sustainable way.
Hard-working families are justifiably worried about their jobs and financial security, and accordingly, are cautious about spending and incurring debt.
These are truly extraordinary times. This is not a normal economic downturn. Despite the fact that Canada's economy is in relatively much better shape than any G7 nation, thanks in large part to the previously implemented economic and fiscal policies of this government, we must take extraordinary steps now to offset the domestic effects of the current crisis in world financial systems.
Given Canada's very favourable debt to GDP ratio, we have an opportunity now to borrow modestly at historically low interest rates and put that money to work for all Canadians to soften the impact of a financial crisis created beyond our borders and to help our economy emerge stronger, more competitive and a leader in cutting edge technology in industries.
The economic action plan is a coordinated plan which will simultaneously protect jobs through critical support for the auto industry, tax incentives for new investments in production machinery and environmental technologies, and generous enhancements to employment insurance.
It will create new jobs through immediate and strategic investments in roads, bridges, public buildings, colleges and universities, investments which will enhance the efficiency of our economy and improve the quality of life for Canadians throughout this great land.
It will maintain and create further jobs by incentivizing consumers to purchase homes and automobiles and to renovate existing homes to enhance their value and energy efficiency.
It will also protect the most vulnerable in our society by providing significant new support for training for those laid-off workers, to give them the knowledge and skills required to shift into new and emerging industries.
It will provide tax cuts for hard-working, low income Canadians and significant investments in affordable housing.
The economic action plan is proof that we listened and we delivered. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and all of our members of Parliament met across the country with thousands of individuals, businesses, municipal and provincial governments and other stakeholders. This broad and comprehensive consultation process elicited many good suggestions which are reflected in the economic action plan.
As a Conservative member of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, I participated in meetings with over 45 stakeholder groups. In my home province of Ontario, I met with the Region of Peel, the City of Mississauga, local boards of trade, labour groups, charitable and social welfare organizations, and ordinary citizens at public town hall meetings. In all of these consultations there quickly emerged a consensus on broad initiatives to stimulate our economy and protect workers and the most vulnerable in our society.
I am pleased to acknowledge that these important and desired initiatives have been included in Canada's economic action plan.
We were advised by the Mississauga Board of Trade and many others to revise the employment insurance program to help save jobs through work sharing. We responded by extending support for work-sharing agreements by 14 weeks.
I would like to read from a press release by the Mississauga Board of Trade in which it describes how the government responded to its requests. The headline reads, “Federal budget is a positive step forward for business and economy”. The statement reads:
Mississauga Board of Trade was pleased to see the federal government present a budget that took extraordinary measures to address an extraordinary economic climate.
...MBOT President & CEO, Sheldon Leiba, [said] “Now we have the confidence that the federal government has a plan and strategy in place to restore our economy and achieve long-term competitiveness”.
As the city’s leading business association, Mississauga Board of Trade developed a pre-budget submission that was sent to the Federal Minister of Finance and local MPs and was presented at a local pre-budget consultation meeting hosted by Mississauga-Erindale MP and Conservative member, Bob Dechert.
In his Budget speech, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty responded positively to a number of Mississauga Board of Trade’s proposals--