Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have an opportunity to speak to this budget implementation bill. Before I start, I will be sharing my time with the remarkable, hard-working, thoughtful member for Don Valley West.
I am here today to talk about the budget, but before I start I want to talk a bit about the amount of time the opposition members spend on complaining about not having enough time to talk about various pieces of legislation. If they added that up, it would be hundreds if not thousands of hours of House of Commons time, precious time that we need in the House to talk about important legislation. It is thousands of hours they spend complaining about not having enough time. Does that make sense?
It maybe does to the New Democrats and maybe to some Liberals, but it certainly does not to me. They could just talk about the issues at hand, about which they have several opportunities to speak in the House and when it goes to committee where they have all kinds of opportunity to propose amendments and to talk about the issues. Instead of that, they complain about not having enough time. I think the public has seen through that and people really will not buy into it anymore.
I will mention a few things about what past budgets leading up to this budget have really done for Canadians. Then I want to talk a bit about a couple of specific changes that apply to farmers and fishermen. These are not changes that may be important to hundreds of thousands of people, but they can be very important for family farms and for families involved in the fishery. However, I will talk about that at the end of my presentation.
As Canadians know, since taking office eight years ago, the Conservative government has been focused on jobs and the economy. We have focused on lowering taxes to families and to businesses, which are the job creators in our country. We have focused on making things better, allowing families to move ahead and to do better, have a little more money in their pockets and have more opportunity for them, their children and their grandchildren.
We have looked at protecting the incomes and opportunities for seniors as well, making the point that just because they are seniors does not mean they can no longer contribute to society. We have made several changes that make it a little easier for seniors to continue to contribute to society over the long term. That is important too.
We have focused on these things, and we have done it in a very organized fashion, one budget building on the next.
I take a lot of pride in what we have accomplished. However, it is not just me saying that. I can refer to several different think tanks and world-renowned agencies like the International Monetary Fund, for example, and the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G7 over the next couple of years. In fact, I do not remember the details and the year, but I remember a study predicting that Canada would be the number one economy in the world well in the future. The OECD is saying that what we are doing now is setting a foundation, not only to create jobs now, because our government has put in place the environment that has allowed business to create 1.2 million jobs since this recession was at its worst, and we should take a lot of pride in that. It is good for us and good for Canada.
The OECD and the International Monetary Fund think tanks recognize that we have set this foundation that makes things better for Canada than for most countries that went through the recent recession, In the decades ahead, Canada will stand in good stead.
The leader of the third party had focused for the longest time on the middle class in Canada, saying that it was not doing as well as it should be. If we want to have a look at that, here is what an analysis in The New York Times has said, “After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada”, substantially different from the way it was in 2000 when the Liberals were in government, “now appear to be higher than in the United States”.
The leader of the third party talks about middle-class incomes and wants things to be better, but he should realize that they are much better relative to our competitor nations than they were just a few years ago, when the Liberals were in office.
Those are some things for not only the opposition parties to think about, but for Canadians to think about as well.
I know I have taken a little long getting to the particular details that I want to talk about, but I want to mention a couple of issues to do with farming and fishing. These are issues that are not, as I say, important to a large number of Canadians, but they are certainly important to certain Canadian farm families.
Before I got into politics, I farmed, and I still have farms, but I also worked as a farm economist. I worked with farm families on how they could grow their farms and in some cases, unfortunately, how they could exit the farming business in the best possible way. In the eighties, in particular, it was a very difficult time for grain farming and for the livestock sector. Certain things were in place that clearly were there only because of technical reasons.
I want to mention a couple of those things.
The first has to do with the tax deferral or the rollover provision for capital gains. This was put in place a long time ago. It gave farmers and fishermen the ability to pass the capital property over to the next generation without being taxed on it at that time. In effect, the tax liability was passed to the next generation so the current generation, let us say the parents, could exit the industry and be paid off in some fashion, but in a way that would allow the farm to continue. That was extremely important.
However, there were certain quirks about that which did not make any sense. We have fixed those in this budget. For example, if people were both farming and fishing, which is the case certainly in Atlantic Canada, in a lot of cases in the west and even on the Prairies, where there are some various commercial fishing operations, the rules were set for either farming or fishing. They had to have a substantial part of their income, 90% or more, from either farming or fishing. However, if they were farming and fishing and they had income under that percentage, then they simply did not qualify.
We have changed that so they can put the two together and if they qualify with both the farming and the fishing components of their business, then they qualify for these rollover provisions. It is an extremely important change that would allow many farming and fishing families to pass this on to the next generation.
One final thing is that in many years, parts of our country are hit by drought, floods or by excessive moisture. There has been a provision in place that can be enacted by governments to allow farmers to, in severe cases, where they simply cannot keep their livestock anymore, to sell off their breeding stock and not have to pay tax on it that year. That tax would be paid the year after. If they sell off their cow herd, for example, they are not taxed on it that year and that allows them to buy back breeding stock the year after, if there is grass again because it has rained or the fields have dried. In effect, the purchase price of the replacement breeding stock is balanced off against the income from the breeding stock they sold a year earlier.
In 2014, our government has extended this tax deferral to bees and to all types of horses, which may not sound very important. We have a lot of horses in Alberta. It is very much a commercial business. Horse owners have been asking for this for some time.
Again, these things are very important to those particular farm families that are directly affected by this. Our government takes care of this kind of detail.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak on the budget bill. I very much look forward to questions from the members opposite.