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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was billion.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Mississauga—Streetsville (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply February 8th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I do not think I heard a question, but I certainly concur with the hon. member's comments. We already know that Ireland has the most favourable tax rate of 12.5% and not all companies are flocking to Ireland to do business. In fact, no one would do business in Scandinavia as a result of the high tax rate.

As I have said earlier, tax rates vary from state to state. Some of the most highest taxed states are not the least popular and neither are Nevada and Wyoming, which have the lowest tax trade.

I want to read to few quotes from some citizens who wrote in on the topic of corporate tax breaks. The first one is from Mahmood in Ottawa who says:

With a debt of $500 billion and a massive deficit of $45 billion, this is clearly not the time for tax cuts. All tax cuts must await return of the budget surplus and a substantial reduction in the national debt. Any corporate tax cut at this juncture will only add to the budget deficit and debt.

Jeff from Toronto says:

The Conservatives are not prudent fiscal managers. They spent $1.2 billion on G8/G20 summit security to stop fewer than 100 anarchists, but they cut $22 million [which is actually $43 million] in settlement programs in Toronto...resulting in a loss of 1,000 jobs in the GTA. The security spending was a pork barrel for the Conservative—

Business of Supply February 8th, 2011

Madam Speaker, my argument today is that these tax cuts are reckless and unaffordable.

It was one thing when the Liberals reduced corporate taxes during an economic boom. We were in a surplus of $14 billion and we kept a reserve of $13 billion. However, circumstances are different today. Because of the government's policies, today we have a $56 billion deficit and we have just added $200 billion more in new debt under the government, which will have to be paid back by borrowed money.

These tax cuts are unnecessary as well because we already have some of the lowest corporate tax rates of the G7. They do not include tax rates for small businesses. We know that corporate tax cuts are not the most efficient way to create jobs and drive growth in the economy. For example, infrastructure, housing and family care would help foster growth and jobs.

Business of Supply February 8th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I rise to join the debate on corporate tax cuts. I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte.

Today we are discussing the decision of whether to proceed with tax cuts for large corporations rather than investments in Canadian families, pensions, learning, health care and family care.

Rather than the Conservatives' misguided priorities of spending billions of dollars of borrowed taxpayer dollars on untendered fighter jets, building U.S. style prisons, G20 summits and tax cuts for the largest corporations, this House and the Liberal Party will argue and ask the government to reverse this irresponsible decision of the tax cuts in the upcoming budget.

The government believes that cutting taxes is a panacea to all else and warn that doom and gloom awaits us if we do not continue to cut corporate taxes. The Liberals agree that it is important to tax corporate profits at a competitive rate because we want companies to invest more of their profits here and foreign firms to see Canada as a great place to do business because more investment means a stronger economy and of course more jobs.

As a Toronto Star editorial stated:

But there’s a difference between staying competitive and making a fetish out of one benchmark — ever-lower corporate tax rates.

Canada already has one of the most competitive business tax environments in the world. The federal Liberals started the trend last decade when the deficit had been eliminated and the economy was booming and we were in surplus. We slashed corporate taxes from 28% to 21% in 2004. The Conservatives went further, cutting them to 18% in 2010. That put Canada in third place in the G7, behind only Italy and the U.K.

The Conservatives now want to drop our rate further to 16.5% and then further again to 15% in 2012, costing the treasury $6 billion this fiscal year alone and over $10 billion by 2012. Let us think of what $10 billion could do for our economy.

Every year since 2000, corporations in Canada have received a generous tax cut. When times were good and everyone was getting tax cuts Canadians accepted that Ottawa was giving up billions of dollars of revenue. However, times are no longer good and the government is running a deficit of $56 billion and Canadians have not had a personal income tax cut in over four years.

As other countries continue lowering their corporate taxes, must we continue to do so? Do we really risk the flight of capital, of corporations and of investments to other countries if we do not continue to lower our corporate taxes?

The Conservatives would have us believe so. In fact, they quote Jack Mintz of the University of Calgary who claims we will be left behind other countries with more aggressive tax-cutting regimes if we stop cutting our tax rates.

This is false. Corporations lay down roots for many reasons other than the lowest tax rates. Most of those reasons have little to do with tax levels. Companies locate in Canada because of our highly trained workforce, access to major markets, our lower dollar, sophisticated communications, our lack of corruption, quality social services and social programs, education, an excellent quality of life, and much more. If corporate taxes were all that mattered, Ireland, with its rate of 12.5% would still be booming. No one would do business in Scandinavia where taxes remain high. In the U.S. where corporate taxes vary from state to state, companies would flock to zero tax havens like Nevada and Wyoming, but they are not.

It is also not clear that corporate taxes necessarily lead to more jobs. The evidence is mixed. Other measures, such as spending on infrastructure or cuts to personal income taxes may help foster growth and create even more jobs.

Jim Stanford of the Canadian Auto Workers argues that cutting corporate taxes would actually destroy jobs. Business would hoard not hire, leaving less money in the federal treasury for EI benefits, retraining and infrastructure.

Next year, Ontario businesses will pay a combined federal and provincial rate of 25%, which compares to a rate of 35% in the U.S.

One would think that the growing gap is a big incentive for U.S.-based multinationals to invest in Canada, perhaps even offsetting the higher cost of the Canadian dollar. That is wrong. Tax cuts are of little attraction.

In fact, U.S.-based companies, unlike most foreign multinationals, are taxed by the IRS on their global income. Therefore, profits that are not reinvested but are repatriated are hit with a higher rate back home, not the Canadian rate.

The lower tax rate makes profits looks better in Canada, but that just means Americans are taxed more in the U.S. Therefore, the Conservative tax cut is not a huge draw.

In fact, Scott Clark, a former deputy finance minister, points out that after the recent recession, many companies are reporting losses or depressed profits, making tax breaks a lot less attractive than when the economy was booming. Many large corporations would not be paying taxes on their profits because of many recorded losses during the recession and will be able to record those losses against their profits for many years to come.

Two sectors which weathered the recession well in Canada were the oil and financial services industries, so the tax cuts the Conservatives are willing to provide to their friends in Calgary are in the oil sector and, of course, the big banks, unlike forestry and manufacturing, which did not turn a profit and may have benefited from a cut.

Making a country that is good for business is a lot more complicated than shifting the tax rate a few percentage points. Timing is key. Cutting business taxes when we are in a surplus or when the budget is balanced is one thing, but continuing to cut when the deficit is $56 billion effectively means borrowing more to cover the lost tax revenue.

We need to hit the pause button and get our fiscal house in order. Tax cuts are not the magic bullet for what ails our economy, nor are they the elixir for investment, growth and jobs, as the Conservatives claim. They are a drain on the fiscal purse at a time when there are better ways to create jobs.

According to Philip Cross, Statistics Canada's top economic analyst, Canada's natural resources, the price of oil, currency fluctuations and the state of the country's financial markets have been far more influential on corporate investment decisions than the recent tax cuts. A broad look at how corporate tax rates have changed Canada suggests the impact of small cuts is marginal for most companies. The larger impact is on the government's bottom line.

Other analysts argue that as a result of the tax cuts, corporations sat on their savings, hoarded the cash, bought back shares or sent profits out of the country to their foreign headquarters instead of investing, expanding and hiring in Canada. In fact, the tax cuts do not apply to small businesses, which are the job creators in our economy since they have their own tax rate.

According to Carol Goar, a writer for the Toronto Star, five questions need to be asked of promoters of corporate tax cuts.

First, what evidence does the government have that reducing corporate taxes stimulates job creation?

Second, how does the finance minister know corporations will use their tax cuts to hire workers rather than invest in labour-saving equipment, give executive bonuses, increase their shareholder dividends, facilitate mergers and acquisitions or simply sock the money away?

Third, if the finance minister is eager to encourage hiring, why did he jack up the employment insurance premiums on January 1 by $13 billion? Nothing kills jobs faster than a payroll tax.

Fourth, what proof exists that corporate tax cuts make Canadian companies more competitive? They could have the opposite effect. Instead of investing in research or innovations, firms could use tax cuts to undercut their rivals, buy back shares or give executive bonuses.

Fifth, why is it good economic policy to shift an ever-growing portion of the tax burden from businesses, many of which are highly profitable, to individuals, many of whom are struggling to get back on their feet after the recession?

After five years of the Conservative government, Canadians are worse off and the corporate tax cuts are only borrowing against our children's future. The government's real priorities are fighter jets, U.S.-style mega-prisons and more tax cuts for the largest corporations.

In the five years since the Conservative government was elected, Canada has become less equal. The rich are getting richer and middle-class Canadian families' incomes are stagnating. The pressure on families is increasing and the elastic is stretched really tight.

Liberals would make different choices and defend the priorities of Canadian families. We would cancel the $16 billion jet fighter deal and save billions by replacing the CF-18s in an open competition. We would cancel the government's corporate tax breaks and freeze tax rates at 2010 levels.

Canada's corporate tax rates are already among the lowest of the G7. Liberals would reinvest the savings in reducing the deficit and the priorities of middle-class Canadian families. Pensions, learning, health and family care are the real issues affecting working families and these are the priorities that the Liberal Party will fight for.

Human Resources February 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, just because the government's child care payment has not solved the child care crisis does not mean it should attack working mothers. Over 70% of mothers with a child under two work full time. It is their choice to use child care or not, but the minister and the government are saying that the only choice is to stay home, that if parents choose child care they are somehow bad parents.

When will the Conservatives realize that it is 2011, not 1911, and give Canadian mothers a real choice and a real plan for early learning and child care?

Human Resources February 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the human resources minister has told millions of working mothers like me that using child care services is a mistake and that daycare is an abdication of parenting. The minister lives in an era of Father Knows Best. The reality is that Canadian mothers know they must balance work and home life, not choose one over the other.

Why do the Conservatives not stop insulting mothers and give families a real choice: a child care policy that actually works for working mothers?

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my colleague might comment that in fact ratifying the Canada-Panama free trade agreement is a good thing because Canada is a trade-dependent nation and it will lead to growth. In fact, if we get ahead of the United States, it leads to a comparative advantage and will create jobs for Canadians.

I want him to comment on the NDP's concern that Panama is a tax haven. In fact, we have agreements with many tax havens. We trade with many tax havens. I wonder if the NDP thinks we should eliminate those agreements with countries like the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, et cetera.

It is criminals who launder money. It is criminals who do not check whether a free trade agreement is in place before they conduct criminal activity.

I wonder if the member thinks this is just a red herring and, in fact, ratifying this treaty is not actually good for our economy.

Canada Post Corporation February 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, battery operated sex toys, replica pistols, rifles, ammunition and also unregulated body supplements, are these products Conservatives feel are appropriate to be sold on a government website? These products need to be pulled and the website needs to be shut down until it is reviewed.

How could the minister have allowed this? When will the minister act?

Canada Post Corporation February 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, I brought to the government's attention lewd sex toys on the Canada Post website without even as much as an adult content warning. Today we learn that anyone can mail-order a gun.

Canada Post's website offers imitation and replica pistols and rifles that exceed the legal limit. With the click of a button, anyone can purchase these items with ammunition. The NRA may think it is a great idea to mail-order guns, but Canadians do not.

On whose side is the government?

Citizenship and Immigration February 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, on December 23, the Grinch was out to steal Christmas. The Conservative government cut $53 million from programs that offer support and integration services for new Canadians.

The Conservative government's cuts to settlement services have hit my riding of Mississauga—Streetsville and the region of Peel hard. We have been able to confirm that over $2.5 million was cut from the region of Peel alone.

These agencies offer language and skills training to help newcomers integrate into the workforce and the community so that they can become contributing members of society.

Where are the government's priorities? How can the Conservatives sleep at night when they cut $53 million from some of Canada's most vulnerable people and at the same time give corporations a $6 billion tax cut?

If the government is looking for ways to pay off its unprecedented $56 billion deficit, it needs to look elsewhere. Settlement services provide essential services and programs, and the Liberal Party will do whatever it can to maintain their funding.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on the advantages of this agreement and why we have chosen to support it.

We support the agreement for two reasons: first, it would l provide significant improvements and opportunities for significant Canadian enterprises; and second, it would encourage Canadian jobs.

Many Canadian companies are already active in Panama, including AIMCo, the Bank of Nova Scotia, Borealis, Canaccord, Brookfield, Talisman, SNC-Lavalin and other engineering construction firms, and this would continue.

Many of the witness who came forward at committee stressed how Canada would have a comparative advantage in this agreement since the United States has not yet signed an agreement with Panama.

There would be significant advantages from a job creation standpoint and from a comparative advantage economic standpoint for Canada.