Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak in favour of my colleague's motion today. First, I would like to thank my constituents in Beauport—Limoilou for their support on May 2. I am proud to represent them in this House and I am well aware of the responsibility that I have been given.
I would also like to pay tribute to my leader, because this victory in Beauport—Limoilou was also his victory. Since our first meeting in Cap-Rouge, in the summer of 2005, I have had the pleasure of working with my friend to build a better future for our families. We have compared our visions of society and agree on the Canada we want. I sincerely appreciate the privilege of having his attention to present my ideas for moving our society forward.
My leader has placed a great deal of trust in me by offering me the position of official opposition critic for small business and tourism. I am honoured and will honour that trust.
Small businesses are the foundation of our local economies. They are part of our everyday lives. The owners of these businesses are our neighbours, our loved ones. They employ our family members, friends and fellow citizens.
Our entrepreneurs have the same concerns as our workers. They want a place in society; they want to earn an honest living and be able to pass something worthwhile on to their descendants, a legacy that makes them proud.
To reach that goal, our entrepreneurs need optimal, competitive conditions. They must be able to rely on strong social programs when it comes to health care and pensions so that they and their employees are protected from twists of fate. They must be on a level playing field with larger competitors, foreign competitors who benefit from cheap labour and a lack of basic services in health care, education and public safety, which Canadians enjoy.
We need to ensure that they have the means to develop and offer their clients, all of us, the best product and the best service.
Our entrepreneurs are the people like the baker whom I buy my bread from, just steps away from my house in Limoilou. Or my three barbers, whom I have been going to for years and who know me by name; the owner of the restaurant on the corner where I go to eat because my workload forces me to grab something and I get service with a smile; or the independent owner of the convenience store where I go to buy beer and other treats, who takes the time to say hello and chat about my life.
And I have not even mentioned the pharmacist, the independent gas station owner, or the cleaner on the corner who takes care of my everyday needs. None of these honest business owners, none of these entrepreneurs, benefit from the very generous tax measures that this government is doling out to the big banks and oil companies, whose profits are mind-boggling.
It gets worse. In an article in the Globe and Mail on April 6, journalist Karen Howlett demonstrated that the massive tax cuts for big business did not prevent a significant drop in investment in machinery and equipment. In reality, these businesses built up $83 billion in additional reserves, money that has been sitting outside our country since 2008, the start of the recession.
In the meantime, family businesses and workers are suffering because of the economic slowdown. They are constrained by financial decisions that do not concern them. In the past few years, we have come to understand that the financial economy has been given disproportionate weight compared to the real economy, that of our industries, services, agricultural production and households.
This disproportion is seen in part in the recent sudden downslide in the S&P/TSX index, which has fallen by 10% since the beginning of 2011.
Everyone is paying the price right now, because the performance requirements of companies listed on the stock exchange are disproportionate to their real and tangible activities. Even when they are profitable, companies listed on the stock exchange have to “restructure”, in other words, make sweeping layoffs of their employees, the lifeblood of a company, with no good reason. Publicly traded companies have to record huge profits and pay large dividends to their shareholders. I am not talking about the obscene bonuses paid to senior executives, which goes against all performance logic and against the needs of the very company involved.
What will this government do? It will feed the tyrannical performance monster I just described at all costs by making massive tax cuts that will do nothing for the family businesses that are part of our daily lives.
The Conservative government is contributing to the economic instability that is hurting us all right now. The Toronto Stock Exchange will look even more like a roller coaster with the measures contained in this budget. There will be more grief because of the fluctuating markets and the fluctuating prices of gas and daily essentials, and we will see more job losses in many regions in Canada.
We have a job creation plan that was rolled out during the last election campaign. We want to reduce the tax rate on a company's first $500,000 of net income from 11% to 9%, which would make a huge difference to millions of small business owners and their employees. This measure would give family businesses more room to manoeuvre, which would in turn ensure their survival and continued development.
In addition, we are proposing a job creation tax credit of up to $4,500, a measure that could create 200,000 jobs. Our entrepreneurs would benefit from a reduction in Canada pension plan and employment insurance premiums for new hires, a great help in these difficult times for many sectors of economic activity, with the exception of oil development and banking, of course.
How does this government intend to create jobs? Through massive tax cuts that will not create jobs in big businesses, but will lead to greater economic instability that will hurt all Canadians. This government boasts that it has created 540,000 jobs since July 2009, mostly temporary and part-time jobs. During that same period, the Canadian population increased by 700,000 to 800,000. It would have been shameful had fewer jobs been created, given that a large number of quality jobs have been lost and businesses have closed since 2008.
This government could do much more by agreeing to implement a real job creation plan, one that would support family businesses that are part of our daily lives, a plan that would create 200,000 stable, good-quality jobs for Canadians.
We need this plan.