Mr. Speaker, my party is profoundly disappointed with the lack of vision demonstrated by the government with Bill C-2.
With Bill C-2 the government had an opportunity to demonstrate courage and vision for Canadians. The government had an opportunity to stop taxing, especially payroll taxes which are killing jobs in Canada. They have been demonstrated around the world as being the single biggest impediment to the growth of jobs not just in the Canadian economy, but in the U.S. and the U.K. economies.
Even the Netherlands in 1983 had an unemployment rate in excess of 13%. In 1983 the Government of the Netherlands recognized that high taxes kill jobs. As such the government reduced payroll taxes, reduced general taxation and reduced regulations on small business. It has achieved a reduction of 15% to the extent that now in the Netherlands the unemployment rate is less than 7%.
This demonstrates what vision and leadership can provide to Canadians and what we need to do to ensure the sustainable growth of the Canadian economy.
I come from a small business background. Most of my family has been in small business for the last three generations. One thing we recognize in small business is when we only have so much coming in, in terms of general revenue, we can only afford to do so much with that amount. It is not a limitless pit as the government might feel.
It stands to reason when payroll taxes are increased small businesses will not be able to hire as many people as they would otherwise want to hire.
Subsidies designed by the government to entice people toward particular actions and to move them in particular directions are the exact opposite of taxes. This in itself should demonstrate to the government that reducing payroll taxes would help stimulate growth in the Canadian economy.
Bill C-2 and the $11 billion tax grab on ordinary Canadians without reducing employment insurance premiums will create further impediments to job growth. This is unacceptable to Canadians, especially to young Canadians.
When I speak to the students with whom I went to university and hear their stories of graduating with degrees and significant student loan debts, my heart goes out to them. I feel very badly for their circumstances. While the government through words says that it shares this pain and wants to do something about it, when given the opportunity to act decisively it consistently fails to demonstrate the vision these young people need.
Trade is a tenet of our party's policy. It is something that we have been consistent on in terms of supporting the values of free trade. We have consistently recognized the importance and the opportunity that trade provides to Canadians. In a country where trade provides 40% of our GDP we should recognize that when we overtax Canadian companies and individuals we create a significant impediment to our ability to help companies to be competitive internationally. This will create a further disincentive to the creation of jobs.
We are a trading nation, yet we have higher payroll taxes than our major trading partners. Perhaps this explains why we in Canada have over twice the unemployment rate of the U.S. We have a significantly higher unemployment rate than that of the U.K. We have three times the unemployment rate of Japan.
How will young Canadians move forward with a government that continues to hold them back?
Bill C-2 is another example of a government that does not trust its own people to make decisions with its own money. When government takes money from people through taxation, it is essentially saying that it is in a better position to determine what to do with that money than the individuals. The government has demonstrated unequivocally that they have not earned the right to make those decisions.
Consistent with that lack of trust in the Canadian people, the government continues to fail to give them an opportunity where they invest their RRSP savings. To limit Canadians opportunities to invest internationally and to maximize their returns to provide for their families for their futures is unconscionable.
In this day and age we have an opportunity through history to learn the lessons of economics, especially the economics over the last 30 years. It demonstrates without hesitation or equivocation how taxation or any barrier placed by government on small and medium size business, especially in a trading environment, prevents jobs.
This government cannot claim ignorance to these facts. I find it unacceptable that this government continues to move in this direction without recognizing this. My constituents and in particular the small business community have expressed this to me. I come from Atlantic Canada where many small businesses are struggling to survive. They would very much like to expand and hire more people but this government continues to put barriers in their way to this type of job growth.
Flexibility of the workforce is very important. As we enter the 21st century it is critical that governments understand that people and businesses need more flexibility in hiring practices and the transferability of benefits, all the things that economists agree on. We have not yet been able to convince this government and instead of listening and responding to the needs of Canadians and to basic economic truths, it is going to ram Bill C-2 through this House and continue to force Canadians to endure longer sustained high unemployment in this country.
We do believe in ensuring a sustainable future for the Canada pension plan. There are some members of this House who do not think it is important to protect 225,000 disabled Canadians through the Canada pension plan. However we recognize that the Canada pension plan is an important vehicle for those people in our society who need us to provide a level of support for them because they cannot provide that for themselves.
For many Canadians the single biggest difficulty that lies in front of them is a government that refuses to allow them access to the tools of job growth. Small business, especially a small business that is involved in international trade, is going to be and should be the engine of job growth in this country. Why this government insists on preventing small business people and young people from taking their rightful place in the international business community instead of providing them with opportunities to succeed and to ensure that future generations of Canadians are successful, we do not understand.
It takes courage sometimes to make the right decision. It takes vision and it takes a level of understanding and intelligence. We sincerely hope that the Canadian people in the next election will try to seek the type of leadership that will provide Canadians with this type of government.