Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for sharing his time with me and giving me this opportunity to speak on behalf of the Groupe parlementaire québécois.
Unfortunatley, Bill C-74 is another mammoth bill that is being debated under another time allocation motion.
The government is blaming the opposition for opposing this bill, claiming that this is what forced it to use time allocation. However, blaming the opposition for doing its job as the opposition is like blaming the Canada Revenue Agency for collecting taxes from people or blaming meteorologists for forecasting rain.
Of course we oppose bad policies. Would the government have me believe that it did not expect us to ask questions and that it did not fully expect us to oppose certain aspects of this bill?
This is ridiculous. Here we are with only 10 minutes to discuss an immense omnibus bill that is 560 pages long.
I will therefore try to be as brief as possible and get right to the point: this budget does not address the needs of Quebeckers; it is as simple as that.
As I said at second reading, there is not much for Quebeckers in this budget, apart from a handful of minor measures that will give the minister a chance to strut all over Canada just before the election. Targeted announcements pay off in swing ridings during elections, as we know. We are seeing that right now in the Chicoutimi by-election. Journalist David Akin said that in his entire career, he had never seen so much money and so many announcements being lavished on a single riding.
They are desperate to win this by-election at any cost. They have some nerve. Our Liberal colleagues are lucky that they do not have to pay for their own gas. Otherwise, they would think twice before taking a limousine hundreds of kilometres to make a $10,000 announcement.
In Bill C-74, we see a $75-million gift to the Irvings to fight the spruce budworm. This is a perfect example. The spruce budworm is also a problem in Quebec. In fact, the infested area in Quebec is bigger than the entire province of New Brunswick, yet Quebec is not getting a single cent. Every penny is going to help the Irvings. That sums this budget up perfectly. This is not a budget for Quebec. It is, first and foremost, a budget for the Liberal Party. It is clear that this old party will never change.
Do not get me wrong, it is not all negative. For example, the Canada workers benefit is interesting. It will help out low-income workers. The small business tax cut from 10.5% to 9% is another good measure.
As hon. members know, Quebec's economy relies heavily on small business owners. Quebec is known for its creativity. With our good ideas we are able to develop businesses that can penetrate markets all around the world. Lowering the small business tax rate will give our businesses the boost they need to create our flagships of tomorrow.
However, the context in which this was announced raised some eyebrows. The Minister of Finance was criticized from all sides for the tax reform he announced last summer. Then out of nowhere he announced the tax cut in order to save face for the government, but at the end of the day it is still a good measure and the tax reform was largely abandoned.
The government kept the proposal to restrict the use of passive income, but it diluted the proposal so much that the reform will not do much. Instead of going after our farmers and small businesses, the government could have gone after the massive problems with its tax reform. I should also mention that there is nothing in the budget to address tax havens.
According to the Conference Board of Canada, we lose at least $9 billion a year in revenue to tax havens.
It is not complicated. If we recovered just a fraction of this amount, we would have some serious breathing room to balance our budget. Bay Street would obviously be angry, which would not fly with the current government, but it would be fair to the people and businesses here that pay their taxes.
The government should be closing loopholes instead of creating more tax havens by signing information sharing agreements with countries that do not have tax return obligations.
Once again, Quebec is demanding that it be able to collect all taxes, but the Prime Minister thumbed his nose at Quebec's unanimous motion, showing his arrogance yet again.
I do not think that any party in power in Quebec would turn its nose up at billions of dollars hidden in tax havens, unlike the Liberals, who are creating more loopholes. The same goes for Netflix, an American multinational corporation.
Quebec and Canadian companies that provide a similar service must charge sales tax, but the government is doing everything it can to exempt Netflix and other U.S. giants from this requirement. That is completely unfair. It is offering a competitive advantage to foreign businesses to the detriment of our own. That must change.
Speaking of handouts to foreign businesses, let us talk about the environment and Trans Mountain. The government just gave a $4.5-billion gift to a U.S. company to develop a pipeline that British Columbia opposes.
The 2015 Liberal platform had this to say about environmental projects:
Canadians must be able to trust that government...will respect the rights of those most affected [by these resource-based projects]...While governments grant permits for resource development, only communities can grant permission.
The government just reversed its position. This budget is more of the same on the environment: a lot of talk and not too many concrete measures. It is simply disappointing.
Quebec is asking for help with the electrification of transportation, but there is nothing for that in the budget. This corner of the House has asked for this funding several times.
Time is running out so I will start to wrap up. This budget is above all for Liberals. It sprinkles around some tax breaks in order to win elections. The government still has not resolved the problem of health transfers that are below the acceptable minimum threshold. While the Liberal Party is playing Monopoly with our money, Quebec is confronted with real problems every year because of a significant increase in health care costs.
I would like the government to start listening instead of always being so arrogant, as we saw with the single tax return and the migrant crisis. On our side, we are going to continue tirelessly defending the interests of our people, Quebeckers.