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Results: 1 - 6 of 6
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-12-03 12:48 [p.1675]
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to contribute to the debate on Bill C-4. It is a very comprehensive piece of legislation and goes a long way toward keeping Canada at the level it has already achieved, not by Canada's standards but by international standards, which is the number one place to do business in the world.
That is remarkable. Canadians are not used to being number one. We are kind of modest people and have kept quiet about that, but the reality is that being number one in the world is no small task and did not happen by accident. It happened because of very deliberate actions. The actions we have taken over the last number of years since the great recession in 2008 have put us in this position, and our position is unique.
I go to Washington to deal with my counterparts in the U.S. legislative arm on a continuous basis, and they ask me all the time what it is that Canada has done. In fact, we have been dubbed by some people in America as “the miracle to the north”. They want to know what it is that Canada has done that has brought us to the position of being named by the IMF and the OECD as the number one place to do business in the world, the place with the greatest opportunity over the next number of years to do business.
Creating a million jobs since the recession is no small task. That is a very large number, and very significant. How did that happen? How is it that we rate number one?
The reality is that we have made, let us say, four broad strokes of fundamental change in direction from the direction that our opponents would have taken in Canada.
First, we lowered taxes. We did not increase them. In fact, we lowered them some 160 times, which I will talk about in a minute. Second, we shrank the size of government; third, we freed up the private sector; and, fourth, we have gone after international markets.
I will break those down, because they are rather significant if they are lumped together as a direction and formula for success. All of the G7 countries are looking at similar things to do, but they are having a difficult time doing them.
Let me begin by talking about shrinking the size of government.
Shrinking the size of government is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it is very difficult to do. We went through every department, making certain that if we could do something better as a government we would try to be more efficient in doing that, and we lowered the cost of doing business in Canada so it would put us on a track to make certain that we can compete in the world. It is worthy of note that before the recession, when this government got into power in 2006, we paid down some $37 billion going into the recession so that the debt to GDP ratio was considerably lower at that time. Since that time, we have grown so fast that our debt to GDP ratio has not been compromised. In fact, it is interesting to note that we were at 34.6% in GDP in 2012. Some people would say that is just a number, but let us look at Europe.
We just signed a free trade agreement with Europe. The number one driver of the economy in Europe, let us say, is Germany. Germany's debt to GDP ratio is 57.2%, but the average of the G7 is over 90%. We are almost three times less than the average in terms of debt to GDP ratio.
Are we in good stead? There is a reason for the OECD and the IMF to say that Canada is doing very well, and it is because we have been disciplined as government.
On top of that, when I speak with my counterparts in the United States and tell them that we are forecasting balanced books by 2015, they say they just fought a debt ceiling crisis in October and they are going to have to do it again early in the new year. They say the big debate is about how much more money they can borrow and have printed.
Canada is not printing money. We are creating jobs and opportunity for the private sector to create the prosperity that Canadians deserve and should have as a country, and we are actually achieving that.
This is considerably different from what our counterparts across the way would have done. In fact, the NDP has said that it would have brought in a carbon tax and increased taxes on everything from—
Hon. Greg Rickford: Soup to nuts.
Hon. Rob Merrifield: Yes, soup to nuts. I suppose we could say it that way. They would raise the taxes on absolutely everything.
As for the Liberals, if we want to know what a party is going to do, we should look at what it has done. When the Liberals were in power, they said they balanced the books. Yes, they did, on the backs of the provinces, health care, and social services. It is one thing to say we are going to balance the books; it is another thing to say we are going to balance the books by lowering taxes, not raising them, and by making certain that the transfers to the provinces are not impeded. In fact, we are increasing those transfers.
Let me talk about taxes for a second, because that aspect is rather significant. We have cut taxes over 160 different ways during that time period, providing an extra $3,200 per average family of four. People who had a job in 2008 and still have the same job now are paying that much less tax. That is very significant.
In the business sector, small- and medium-sized businesses are the ones that are really creating the jobs. We have lowered the taxes for them as well, from 12% down to 11%, but on the corporate taxes, we went from 28% over the years down to 15%. We even kept lowering those taxes during the recession. That takes a lot of leadership and a lot of understanding of what drives the economy.
Do members realize that with the taxes now at 15%, we are bringing in more corporate revenue to the federal government to deal with all the social services and all the issues that we have in lower-income brackets than we brought in at 28%? That is an amazing statistic, but it is very worthy of note in looking at what has actually happened with regard to lowering taxes.
We lowered the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. It is very significant. Everyone who buys anything in this country is realizing the benefit from that. This is no small feat.
What does the corporate tax being at 15% do to us? We are creating lots of growth because of the competitive advantage we have with our largest trading partner. The corporate tax rate in America is 35%. That is compared to 15%; no wonder businesses are coming back into Canada. We saw that the headquarters of Tim Hortons, as an example, went to the United States because of the tax advantage. Then they came back. Why? It is the same reason: the tax advantage.
Those are the kinds of things we are seeing right across the entire spectrum in the private sector.
I said that we shrank government. We lowered taxes, which is very significant. What else did we do? We freed up the private sector, and that sector is what is really creating the jobs. We brought in a piece of legislation saying that for major projects, it would be one project, one review, at two years maximum. Those are phenomenal opportunities for the private sector.
We have lowered the red tape some 20% to 30% right across the board. Can we do more? Yes, and we absolutely have to do more when it comes to freeing up the private sector. I have had American counterparts tell me that they can go in and do one-stop shopping for projects and get approval. It is not that they are compromising on the approval but that they are doing it in a more streamlined way. We have to do more than that because we are not there yet, but we have certainly come a long way.
Freeing up the private sector to capitalize on the opportunities that we have in some of our trade agreements becomes very significant. That is the fourth thing that we did. We not only freed up the private sector to compete, but then we went after international agreements so they could compete and capitalize on free trade agreements, such as the one we just signed with the European Union. It is the largest, most comprehensive free trade agreement ever signed between any two countries anywhere in the world.
Members may ask where that came from. Is NAFTA not the largest free trade agreement ever signed in the world? Well, it was at the time. Our opponents disagreed with that, and even today they disagree with NAFTA. It is amazing. That is so, even though it created 40 million jobs, and even though the GDP of the three countries of Mexico, the United States, and Canada, which were at $7.6 trillion at the time of signing, have gone to over $17 trillion today. That could not have been realized when they signed the agreement. No one would have forecast that kind of growth. Everyone just said that it was a good opportunity for more trade, but nobody would have put all the pieces together to say that collectively we would raise our GDP and raise opportunity and prosperity in our three countries to that degree.
I would suggest that the same thing will happen with the European free trade agreement. Europe actually imports some $2.3 trillion a year. It is amazing how much more we can capitalize on that.
This does not happen by accident. Pieces of legislation like this take real leadership. Real opportunity for Canadians is what we are looking for. We are saying that these will get us to success, and that is true.
Before closing my remarks, I want to say that our greatest threat in Canada and in this room should be looking at what happens when these principles are not followed. The United States has gone down from a AAA rating to a AA. Heaven forbid that it ever goes to an A rating, which would compromise it all because of a lack of leadership. We need to stay the course.
I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this piece of legislation.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-12-03 12:59 [p.1676]
Mr. Speaker, this is an interesting question coming from my colleague across the way. I do not know where she has been when we lowered taxes 160 different ways during the period of time since the recession.
I have been watching very closely. I have been in this House all that time. I have yet to see NDP members stand in their place to support the tax reductions that we have created in this country. It is the absolute reverse position that they have had in this House. They have never supported a reduction in tax.
We are not just talking about it; we have done it, in 160 different ways. That is not just lip service. That is actual action, and it is what we have done.
However, lowering taxes was not the only goal. The goal was to create jobs and opportunity for the private sector and the people of Canada, and that is what we have done. That is what this House should be very proud of.
Even if I were on the other side and knew I had to be in opposition, I would at least sit there, be quiet about it, and accept the thanks for putting Canada in the number one spot in the world.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-12-03 13:01 [p.1677]
Mr. Speaker, I would love to.
The member may be right on the specifics of the aerospace aspect, but I can say that supporting the auto sector going through the great recession and the kinds of problems that manufacturing had at that time is something every member of this House actually voted on and had the opportunity to vote on. We all voted for a piece of legislation that increased the opportunity of subsidizing our auto sector, a manufacturing sector. At that time, it was a significant number of dollars. I think it was around $8 billion.
I did not think we were ever going to get a nickel of that back, to be perfectly honest. It was one of my more difficult days in this place. I was wrong, thank goodness. The manufacturing jobs actually were sustained. The auto sector came through the recession fine and is doing better now than it was even before the recession.
Also, some of the trade agreements that we have in place will give opportunity for manufacturing around the world. We are going to be supporting manufacturing, and that is going to increase because of our low cost of doing business in Canada. We are starting to see us being able to compete with even some of the Asian countries when we look forward to manufacturing jobs. We have a great opportunity in this country because we provide conditions for the private sector to win and to compete internationally. When we do that, those businesses will grow Canada into the kind of prosperity that we deserve.
I do not believe we have even come close to reaching our potential, but we are headed in the right direction. As long as we keep going, we will stay number one in the world and surpass all expectations.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-05-02 17:15 [p.16241]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Burlington.
It is very interesting. I have listened to the debates this afternoon and opposition members have been arguing about the rationale as to why they cannot support Bill C-60, our economic action plan.
I would like to give them a few examples of reasons why they should support it. It is rather important legislation that continues a growth pattern that we have started on as a government.
We have come out of the recession as number one in the world, which is really rare for Canada as it has never been there before. It is exciting to see the numbers of jobs that have been created and the opportunity that we have as far as growth as we move forward.
Maybe I will close with some of the optimistic things that we can talk about within our country, but this legislation builds on that. Just for one reason alone, if the opposition is looking at something it could support, it certainly could support our veterans. This legislation would give a very nice benefit to our vets. For that reason alone, the opposition should support it.
Then again, it should also be supporting what the legislation does with regards to going after tax evaders, something that has not happened for many years. Just in fairness, as Canadians, and for no other reason, the opposition should support it to ensure everyone pays their fair share of taxes and to deal with those who cheat.
When it comes to the indexing of the gas tax, I heard the opposition say that the number one problem in municipalities was housing. I would beg to differ. The number one problem in municipalities, as we have heard right across the country from coast to coast to coast, is infrastructure. The legislation deals with $53 billion of infrastructure over a 10-year period, the most aggressive infrastructure plan that we have ever laid out as a country. For that reason alone, the opposition should support the legislation.
We would be lowering taxes and providing flow-through shares for mining and keeping that industry going. The accelerated capital cost allowance creates a tremendous amount of opportunity in manufacturing and opportunity for job growth and industry growth for many years to come. This is a great benefit in the legislation. The opposition should be supporting it because of that, or because of the hiring tax credit that has been continued for small businesses, which is a real benefit that it should be supporting. Even the capital gains exemption has gone up for lifetime capital gains for individuals. This is should be supported.
For those reasons alone, and I could go on about many other reasons, the opposition should support the bill. Instead, we hear a lot of negativity and some things that are negative have nothing to do with the legislation as far as arguments go. I guess I should not be alarmed about that, because when the opposition runs out of manufactured reasons for not supporting it, it comes up with reasons that are not even in the bill.
I would like to spend my time on the number one issue in my riding, which is the lack of labour. It is different from what I heard from the hon. member from Toronto, who suggested the number one problem was unemployment.
I have the opposite problem in my riding, which is a good thing in some ways, but in other ways it is not. The temporary foreign worker program was there to address it in the last election. When the people of my riding discerned whether I was the right person to vote for, the number one issue they came forward with was a lack of labour. The importance of the temporary foreign worker program was to deal with the kinds of reduction and the ability for corporations and industries to grow and create the kinds of opportunity for our region and our country.
However, the temporary foreign worker program was something we said we would take a look at, to see if we could find ways to make that program work even more effectively. Guess what? We did. We made the program work even more effectively and efficiently. However, there is a bit of a problem with the temporary foreign worker program and this legislation addresses that.
In my riding, unemployment is zero. The real objective of the temporary foreign worker program is that it does not take away jobs from Canadians, but helps complement the workforce where there are no Canadians to fill those jobs.
Even where unemployment is virtually zero or very close to it, there are people in the system who have abused the program, even in my riding. This needs to be addressed. In this piece of legislation, we are going after those individuals, tweaking the program and will be consulting on this program in the future to make it better so that it actually deals with what it was intended to do, which was complement and not replace Canadian workers.
There are seven ways that this piece of legislation lays out how it is going to be changed. The first one would come into effect immediately and it is with respect to the pay differential, which was brought in about a year or a year and a half ago and was not being used. Only about 5% of those using the program even bothered with it. Let us get rid of the compromised price of 15% for skilled workers or 5% for lower-skilled workers on the differential of what those individuals are being paid. That we got rid of in this piece of legislation.
We are going to temporarily suspend in this piece of legislation the accelerated labour market opinion process, which was something they were asking for. In my riding, people needed it. We are not going to cancel it in this legislation, just suspend it while we take a breather, do some consultation and look at how we build on this program to make it even better.
The third thing in this piece of legislation on the program is to make sure it has the power to deal with those who abuse the process in the sense of being able to take away, revoke or suspend the labour market opinion process, the work permit as well as the LMO. This is something we need if we are going to be able to deal with those who refuse to see it as a program to complement Canadian workers and use it to replace Canadian workers, which we are seeing even in an area such as ours.
The fourth change to the temporary foreign worker program in this piece of legislation is to make sure we stop outsourcing. The program was never intended to replace the Canadian workforce and to have people work outside our country is a total abuse. This piece of legislation deals with that as well. That is another reason for certain that the opposition should be supporting it.
The fifth reason is that we want to make certain there is a plan in place for corporations that get LMOs and use temporary foreign workers to replace them long term with the Canadian workforce. That may be the most difficult one in my riding to comply with, so we are going to go through a process of consultation on that.
The sixth thing is to make sure that the fund is self-funded. There is no way that the taxpayer should be supporting this fund. The employer should be doing that.
The seventh thing is to make sure that English and French are the only mandatory languages necessary for foreign workers.
Those are the seven changes. The agricultural community and the agriculture workforce are exempt from most of these, except that if people abuse the system, the work permits will be revoked.
These are wonderful changes to the program, but it is in a process of consultation. It is one of the most important pieces in this bill that will impact all of Canada, but particularly my riding.
We have a wonderful experience in Canada. When we were coming through the recession, my colleagues in America went green with envy. They call Canada the miracle to the north because of the jobs created, the lower taxes, how we are freeing up the private sector to grow, capitalizing on international markets and moving to balanced books. For that, we should be very excited as Canadians. We have a great story to tell. We are doing some wonderful things not only in this budget, but in past budgets. This complements past ones. All members should think soberly about that and support this piece of legislation.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-05-02 17:26 [p.16243]
Mr. Speaker, it is an absolutely wonderful story that we have with regard to investments in Canada, and for those who come to this country to invest and create opportunities for employment in manufacturing, as well as the opportunity in the long run for Canadians on investments. This is one of the first times in the history of our country that we actually have the floodgates wide open because it is all about confidence. People are going to invest in this country because of the confidence that is here that they would actually be making money.
In fact, I was talking to a group this morning from chemical corporations in this country that are dealing with investments. They are looking at infrastructure builds of $5 billion over the next five years. They are saying that they have corporations all over the world, but the corporations that are making the most money are really Canadian corporations. Why? It is because of the competitive advantage that we are giving them. We are working to make certain that we have the opportunities for Canadians to be able to develop manufacturing jobs and good jobs in the long run. These are one small example of the kinds of investments that are coming into this country.
When it comes to Canada Post, CBC and other crown corporations, they are arm's-length from government, but we want to make sure that they are sustainable in the long run. We have to work and be responsible to Canadians and to the public we represent by making sure that these crown corporations move in that direction. That is where I believe this piece of legislation will take us.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-05-02 17:28 [p.16243]
Mr. Speaker, I beg to differ with my hon. colleague: it is absolutely new. It is indexed gas tax funds, which is brand new, plus $14 billion in larger projects. I do not have the numbers in front of me, but collectively it is $53 billion in 10-year, long-term, stable funding.
This is exactly what the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has been asking for across Canada. This is what it is getting in this piece of legislation. It is the most excited. When I talk to mayors and reeves in municipalities across my riding, they are absolutely ecstatic about this bill. They want it passed because they then can make some long-term plans for solid infrastructure that will build this country a long way into the future.
My hon. colleague should support this piece of legislation if for no other reason than the infrastructure alone.
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