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View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-04 13:23 [p.28487]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address some of the failings of the Liberal government over the last four years and reflect upon just how disastrous it has been.
The heckling continues over there. The Liberals never miss an opportunity to get some good heckling in. Our colleagues across the way are chirping loud and doing all they can to throw us off. However, it will not work. I have been chirped at by the best and they definitely are not the best.
I rise today to talk to Bill C-97, the budget implementation act. Essentially, it is an extension of the government's attempt to cover up what could be actually the biggest affront to our democracy in our country's history. It has attempted to cover up potentially the biggest corruption at the highest levels of our government, and that is the SNC-Lavalin case. That is what we are seeing here today. I bring us back to that again because I feel I have to. The gallery is packed. I know Canadians from coast to coast to coast knew this speaker was coming up.
I would be remiss if I did not remind Canadians from all across our country that it was day 10 of the 2015 election when the then member of Papineau committed to Canadians that under his government, he would let the debate reign. He said that he would not resort to parliamentary tricks such as omnibus bills or closure of debate. He also told Canadians around that same time that he would balance the budget in 2019. Those are three giant “oops”, perhaps disingenuous comments. I do not think he has lived up to any of them at this point.
As of today, the government has invoked closure over 70 times. Why? Because the government does not like what it is hearing. If the Liberals do not like what the opposition is saying and they do not want Canadians to hear the truth, they invoke closure. This means we cannot debate really important legislation. They limit the amount of time for debate on that legislation. The BIA, Bill C-97, is just one of them. Does that sound like letting the debate reign? It does not.
It is interesting that whenever things go sideways for the Prime Minister, a couple of things happen. We see him even less in the House or something always happens to change the channel. That is what we have today.
Bill C-97 is really just a cover-up budget. We have talked about that. It just goes in line with more and more of the government's kinds of wacky ways, where it says it will spend money and perhaps it doles it out. However, the money is not really going to things that Canadians need the most.
We see $600 million in an election year being given to the media, a media that is supposed to be impartial. That is a $600 million bailout.
We also know that in the previous budget, approximately $500 million was given to the Asian Infrastructure Bank. That $500 million is not being spent in Canada for one piece of an infrastructure.
I rose to talk about a few things. One of the things that is really disappointing for me is this. When the Liberals came to power in 2015, a lot of promises were made, and this one hits home for us. I have brought this up time and again in the House. The Liberals said that they would put an end to the softwood lumber dispute.
I think it was in 2016 that the Prime Minister stood in the House and told Canadians that he was going to have a deal done within 100 days. He had a new BFF, the Minister of International Trade Diversification said. Both were just giddy. They were going to get this deal done and put an end to the softwood lumber irritant once and for all, yet last week, we found out from the Senate Liberal leader that the Prime Minister had other priorities ahead of softwood lumber.
Over 140 communities and over 140,000 jobs are tied to forestry in my province of British Columbia. Forestry is a cornerstone industry in my province, yet it was not a priority for the Prime Minister in renegotiating his NAFTA deal.
What we are seeing with the Liberal government is that rural Canadians are just not its focus.
Last week I also met with some real estate folks and some Canadian homebuilder folks. They told me that the Liberal government's B-20 stress test and the shared equity program, which is geared toward trying to get Canadians into homes, is actually hurting that industry. The real estate industry is saying that the B-20 stress test, which was geared more for Toronto and Vancouver markets but is all across the country, impacts rural Canadians negatively .
Almost $15 billion has been kept out of that industry, meaning that it is harder for Canadians to get into the home ownership they strive for. It is a step into the middle class. People put money toward something they own rather than putting it into something that someone else owns. The government's failed B-20 policy and the shared equity program is hurting Canadians. It is another example of how Canadians are worse off with the Liberal government.
I will bring us to a couple of years ago. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and the Minister of National Defence all have it down pat. They can put their hands on their hearts and say that they really care, yet it is the same Prime Minister who told veterans that they were asking for too much.
Yesterday was a very important day, because we saw the closure of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls commission and we saw its report. The government knew that this day was coming, but did it put any money in the 2019 budget for that? There is nothing.
The Liberals like to say that Canadians are better off than they were under our previous Conservative administration, but it is actually the opposite. Canadians are worse off since the Liberal government took over. Eighty-one per cent of middle-income Canadians are seeing higher taxes since the Liberal government came to power. The average income increase for middle income families is $840. The government's higher pension plan premiums could eventually cost Canadians up to $2,200 per household. The Liberals cancelled the family tax cut of up to $2,000 per household. They cancelled the arts and fitness tax credit of up to $225 per child. They cancelled the education and textbook tax credits of up to $560 per student. The government's higher employment insurance premiums are up $85 per worker. The Liberal carbon tax could cost up to $1,000 per household and be as high as $5,000 in the future.
The Prime Minister called small businesses tax cheats. The government's intrusive tax measures for small businesses will raise taxes on thousands of family businesses across Canada.
The list goes on and on. Bill C-97 is just the capping of a scandal-ridden administration, and to that, I say, good riddance.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-15. As we know, the government introduces a budget, usually in the spring, then there are two budget implementation acts that turn it into legislation. Therefore, it is appropriate that I make some general comments about the budget, its fiscal implications, and my concerns about the direction in which the government is going. I will also pick out some of the very concerning elements in Bill C-15, the budget implementation act.
It is important to note that the Prime Minister just returned from the G7. That should give him some cause to reflect on the direction he has decided to follow. He went there believing other G7 countries should agree that we should embark on a stimulus spending plan. It was very clear that he was met with a very cool reception to this idea by many countries.
As Brian Crowley from the Macdonald-Laurier Institute indicated, “a 'growth-friendly' agenda can't be written in red ink”, and they know that “today's deficit is tomorrow's tax hike”.
What came out of that G7 was a discussion that every country needed to reflect on its own current situation. He had a goal that was clearly not met in his conversations at the G7.
The Liberals often talk about the spending we did, but I find it quite stunning that they fail to realize that during 2008-09, we had a global recession. It was the biggest crisis in the world since the Great Depression. They seem to not reflect on that point very well. What we have now is slow growth. We have a little stagnation, absolutely, but we do not have a recession and we certainly do not have a global recession. Therefore, to go to other countries and feel they need the same response, the Liberals are not really looking at the current situation and adapting appropriately.
It is important to contrast this response during the Prime Minister's recent visit to what happened when we were in government, when Minister Flaherty, our colleague, played a key role in the response to the crisis. He was named the best finance minister in the world. When they talked about his record, they said was, “Our winner has earned a reputation for maintaining a sound fiscal policy. His country...has performed remarkably well”, and that he had played “a key role in the G8’s discussions”. This is a huge difference in the response to the global recession and the leadership role we played as opposed to what is happening right now.
We need to first look at the Liberal government's first budget. I remember attending a number of all candidates forums, and a number of key promises were made. The first major broken promise was that the Liberals would run a small deficit of $10 billion. We now know that we are looking at a $30 billion deficit, and this does not include the $3 billion they have committed to home care. We see another announcement that was never in the fiscal plan, a very important initiative, global health, but it was not planned for. The Liberals seem to have a way of spending money that I have never seen before, money that has not been planned.
It is also important to note that as we go forward most economists recognize that unilateral stimulus is bound to have a marginal impact on an open economy. Canada is an open economy, so the money the Liberals are spending, which is adding to the debt of the next generation, is going to be very marginal in terms of its impact.
Another important fact to know, even as we engaged in our stimulus spending, is that we had a plan to get back to balanced budget, and we did that. During the worst of times, the net GDP to debt went from 34% to 31%. Right now the Liberals are on track to increase it. They left one marker, being the $10 billion. Then they said they would decrease the net debt to GDP. It now looks like they will blow that one out of the water. It is a really big concern.
It is interesting to contrast what is happening in Britain right now, which is seeing some reasonable growth. The following comes from its budget speech:
Britain can choose, as others are, short term fixes and more stimulus. Or we can lead the world with long term solutions to long term problems...we choose the long term. We choose to put the next generation first.
Unfortunately, that is not what our government has done. The Liberals have chosen short term to take care of themselves, and to make popular decisions rather than worry about their grandchildren.
When our finance critic gave her speech on the budget implementation act, she was able to look at the statements of the Minister of Finance during the pre-budget and when he was in the private sector. She pointed out that he had a really different perspective on the issues around debt and retirement. It put some real holes into his approach in the budget. I do not know how he can align himself or sleep well at night when it looks like the budget goes so contrary to what his fundamental beliefs are.
I will give members a couple of examples.
What does the U.K., Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, and the U.S. have in common? They have an old age security system that kicks in at the age of 67 or older. Australia is going into a system where the old age system kicks in at 67 or older. What have we done in the budget implementation act? We have moved in the opposite direction.
Sometimes the decisions a government has to make are not popular and they are not made lightly. We knew that it was a very difficult decision to make, but we also looked at the demographics of our country. We looked at the fact that people were healthier and living longer. I think there are many people we know who have lived their retirement perhaps longer than their working years. Therefore, it was a difficult decision, but it was not an unusual decision.
What is the cost of the change the Liberals are making? It is estimated to cost an additional $10 billion. It is also important to note for those who are not aware that old age security comes out of current revenue. It is not something like the Canada pension plan where we put money away for our future. Therefore, the Liberals have given my children and grandchildren an additional $10 billion of debt, and that is unacceptable. They have to be in a position to look at the long-term health of our country.
The small business tax rate is another example. The government sat at forums. I sat beside my Liberal counterpart at forums when the Liberals promised a 10.5% to 9% decrease. However, the budget implementation act would turn that around. It was a legislated change. It was a change the Liberals said they accepted, but they reversed it. The budget implementation act would move it from 9% back to 10.5%. It is absolutely unacceptable.
In looking at some of broken promises, whether it is the deficit or small business, my biggest concern is that the Liberals are not taking care of the next generation. They are looking at saddling it with a horrific debt.
The Liberals are also showing they are having a bit of a problem in delivering on their promises. Even when they commit money, they do not estimate it properly, and then they have trouble delivering. We can look at the cost of bringing in the refugees. They said that it would be $250 million, but it is now over $850 million.
The Liberals provided $8.4 billion for first nations, and we support that, but there is no plan for accountability. There is no plan on how it would be delivered. Even when there is money that we believe is well spent, the Liberals' plan for delivery and execution is lacking.
I have a big concern about the overall direction of the Liberals. I have a concern about many of the specific measures. I have a concern about the government's endless lust to spend taxpayer money, as exhibited by its recent March spending spree, where they took a surplus and in one month spent about $11 billion.
We are creating a structural deficit and someday we will have to pay the piper for the foolish choices of today.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to join this important debate on the government's budgetary policy. I will be focusing my remarks on certain areas that I have not had a chance to discuss yet in previous speeches on the government's budgetary policy.
There is an evidence sense of unreality to the discussion coming from government members on this. We hear a lot about what the budget aims to do. The budget aims to do this and it aims to do that. Our complaint is not with the intentions of the budget. Our complaint is with the provisions in the budget. There are many cases in which there is this obvious dissonance between high-minded claims about what the budget aims to do and the substance of the provision. We just heard a good example of that. A member talked about small business in his riding and the important work it did, but then supported a budget that would raise taxes on small business and eliminate the hiring credit for small business. There is this evident dissonance here.
I had an opportunity to question the finance minister in committee of the whole last week. I asked three times, consecutively, if he believed that the government should eventually balance the budget at some point in the future. We did not get an answer to that question.
When the finance minister, who should know better, cannot even answer a direct question about whether it is important for a country to balance its budget at some point in the future, then we have a real problem with the seriousness of the plan. It is not a problem with intentions necessarily, but it is a problem with the seriousness of this so-called fiscal plan.
I want to talk about three specific things today. I want to talk about where economic growth really comes from. I want to talk about the impact of the budget on families. I want to speak about the impact of the budget on indigenous Canadians, specifically in the context of indigenous education.
We hear a lot about economic growth, and this comes back to the good intentions here. We hear the word “growth” used over and over again. Like so many of the words the government uses, especially in the context of budgetary policy, we have not ever heard it clearly defined. We do not hear the Liberals explain what they mean by growth and what exactly they plan to achieving in growth.
Economic growth is produced when there is an increase in the ability of society to provide for itself, when society grows in its economic means to provide for itself in terms of its wants and its need. Therefore, it is very closely linked to the concept of economic productivity, productivity being the rate of output given the input.
We often talk for example about labour productivity. As labour productivity increases, the amount of output that can be produced in a given hour of labour increases. That is really what creates economic growth. Economic growth is about finding ways of more productively using our time and our resources to produce more things that we can use to satisfy our wants and our needs. Fundamentally, foundationally it is about growth in productivity.
When the government thinks about trying to encourage economic growth, it should focus on productivity. The current government talks as if all that is required to increase growth is more government spending. Looking around the world, it is easy to see how there is no linear relationship at all between government spending and economic growth. Some countries do much better than others that have much lower levels of public spending. That is not to say the government does not have a role in identifying areas where productivity growth can occur, but it certainly is not in any sense linear.
From my perspective, there are a number of different things that facilitate increases in productivity, which is important for economic growth. One would be a more educated workforce, specifically though a workforce equipped with job-ready skills, and a marketplace that is well-equipped to commercialize knowledge that is produced.
That was why in 2007 our government came forward with a science and technology strategy that looked at ways of more effectively encouraging commercialization of knowledge. It was why we put an emphasis on encouraging the trades as well, because of the needed to have a workforce that was equipped with job-ready skills. That was important for productivity and economic growth.
Efficient transportation infrastructure is obviously an important part of that as well, both in education and infrastructure. These are areas where government spending can play a positive role. What is disappointing about the budget is the total abuse of the word “infrastructure”. The government redefines infrastructure to mean almost everything.
The minister confirmed in our discussion in committee of the whole that he believed child care was a form of infrastructure. Well, it is certainly not in the sense that economists traditionally define it. Transportation infrastructure obviously has a positive impact on productivity when it is well placed, well designed, and when it helps people get to and from work more quickly.
Productivity growth requires an economic system that provides significant returns on business innovation. Business innovation creates improvements in productivity, and therefore we need a system that creates incentives for that business innovation, things like relatively low business tax rates and benefits accruing to companies that choose to hire more people. That is why this budget would negatively impact productivity by effectively increasing the tax on small business by eliminating the hiring credit. These types of measures are not good for economic growth.
Economic growth requires a stable and predictable economic environment as well. People will invest in an economy that they have a reasonable expectation will do well over the long term. When we have extended periods of large budget deficits and we have the government going into deficit with no plan to get out of it when we are not in the midst of a recession, that clearly damages confidence and reduces the reason for investments in things that produce productivity growth.
We hear a lot about growth from the government, but we do not actually hear any discussion of those foundational constituent parts of growth, things like how we increase the productivity of our economy and how we increase the productivity of labour. These are things that the government should be thinking about in a more serious way, but the Liberals repeat this mantra that more government spending is somehow, absent of any clear connection or specificity in investment, going to lead to economic growth. That is a major concern I have with the plan of the Liberals.
I want to speak as well about the impact of the budget on families.
I believe in a simple principle with regard to family taxation. If two families are earning the same amount of money, then they should pay the same amount of tax. It would seem arbitrary and unreasonable, and therefore unfair, that we would have two families each earning the same family income but happen to pay different amounts of tax, simply by virtue of which people in the family are earning the income. That is why we brought in income splitting. It was an important tax cut, but it was also a measure to ensure tax fairness.
However, the government does not seem to agree with this principle of tax fairness. The Liberals would eliminate income splitting, having the effect of raising taxes on many families, but also now ensuring a system of unequal taxation where we have families that are earning the same income, yet paying different amounts of taxes, simply because of how they decide to divide child care responsibilities. Our view has always been that it should be up to families to make their own child care choices, and families should not face some kind of direct or indirect fiscal penalty because of the financial choices they make.
Of course, the Liberal changes would also remove universality of child care benefits. We think that is a problem. We think a universal taxable benefit made good sense. Of course, a taxable benefit is inherently more progressive because the more money one makes, the more tax one pays on it. It had that built-in progressivity to it, but it was still designed to ensure that everyone had something to benefit from.
I want to speak briefly about the impact of the budget on indigenous Canadians. This budget would spend a significant amount of new money, but it does not come with the kinds of measures that are necessary to ensure the success of those investments, especially as it pertains to education.
We have a core problem when it comes to education in aboriginal communities. Unlike in every province across the country, on-reserve first nations education does not have legislated educational standards and a legislated mandate for core curriculum. It does not require that schools award a recognized provincial diploma. That is a problem. It is a problem when we do not have those structures in place to ensure that there can be a seamless transition between a school on a reserve and a school off a reserve. These are the kinds of measures, the kind of collaborative structuring of the system, improvements to accountability, that would make a real concrete different. We think those kinds of changes should, and could, be accompanied by increased investment. However, the government has put in new money but does not actually have an effective plan to improve the system at all.
Those are a number of reasons, and there are many more I could list, why I am very concerned about this budget, and I will be opposing it.
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2007-12-07 12:22 [p.1893]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the amendment proposed by the member for Ottawa Centre to delete a portion of part 17 specifically dealing with corporate taxes.
In the recent economic statement and the throne speech, and in view of the substantial surpluses it has, the Conservative government had an opportunity to correct the direction it has been taking. Instead, it has continued in the wrong direction. It has continued to ignore the very serious prosperity gap that is growing in Canada for many of our working and middle class families. The government has failed to target tax relief to people that it would help the most.
The Canadian Labour Congress made a submission to the House of Commons finance committee during its prebudget consultations. The paper is dated August 2007 and contains an analysis on corporate income tax. It talks about the fact that despite increasing cuts to corporate income tax, what we have seen is an unprecedented lack of investment in companies, in the bricks and mortar, in training and re-education within companies, things that would actually make a difference to working and middle class families. The following is a quote from that paper:
Pre-tax profits have soared to record heights and after-tax profits have grown even faster. There has been no comparable increase in corporate investment. Simply adding $15 billion to the 2000 investment level would have increased total investment to nearly 13% of GDP in 2006.
Further on it states:
Business leaders are using this huge surplus to become net lenders to households, stockpile liquid assets, acquire other enterprises, and buy back stock. While these actions may be viable business strategies, it is not clear why the public should subsidize them through further corporate-tax cuts.
That is a very good analysis in terms of why we would support business decisions on where they are going to put their profits.
I mentioned in a question to a Liberal member that in the economic statement the Conservative government acknowledged the difficult times that manufacturing and forestry are in for a number of reasons, yet it simply failed to follow up on what it acknowledged is a very serious problem.
In the riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan, sawmills are laying off shifts of workers. A pulp and paper mill has filed for bankruptcy protection. There simply is not the national leadership around the forestry sector.
I have argued in this House previously and I will reiterate that forestry in British Columbia is not a sunset industry. It is a viable part of who we are as a province. We have the resources. We need to demonstrate national leadership around reinvestment in the industry, retooling where necessary and providing education and training for workers who need to transition into other jobs within the forestry sector.
The government had an opportunity in the economic statement and Bill C-28 to demonstrate that, but the government failed to do it.
There is a crisis in British Columbia caused by pine beetles. Although some money has been allocated, where is the long term, strategic planning for what will happen to those communities in five to ten years when all of the dead wood has been cut? Those communities are facing serious transitions and yet the government is failing to demonstrate the leadership that is required to make sure that those communities maintain their viability.
In addition to the challenges in our forestry and manufacturing sectors, we also are seeing the growing prosperity gap. Working and middle class families continue to struggle to make ends meet.
Many of us have been activists in our communities for a number of years. When food banks opened well over 20 years ago, many of us thought they were a temporary measure and that as our economy recovered, the food banks would close because they would no longer be needed. It is a very sad fact that there are more food banks rather than fewer.
In “HungerCount 2007” put out by the Canadian Association of Food Banks, there are a couple of startling figures. It says that the number of people assisted by a food bank in March 2007 was 720,231. There have been changes in food bank use. There is 91% more usage of food banks since 1989. There are 673 food banks in Canada with 2,867 affiliated agencies. The number of provinces and territories without a food bank is zero. It has been 26 years since Canada's first food bank opened in Edmonton. Seventy-three per cent of Canadians believe that hunger is a problem in Canada. Fifty-seven per cent believe that the government should take responsibility for solving the problems.
There are some very stark figures in that report which speak to the fact that there are men, women and children in this country who simply do not have enough to eat. I want to end the part on the food banks by saying that of the food bank clients, 38.7% are children. The percentage of households containing at least one child was 50.6% . It has been 18 years since the federal government promised to eliminate child poverty.
That leads me to the Campaign 2000 report that just came out entitled, “It Takes a Nation to Raise a Generation: Time for a National Poverty Reduction Strategy”. In 1989 the House unanimously passed Ed Broadbent's motion to end child poverty by the year 2000. Here we are in 2007 and it has not happened. Still there are children and their families, because of course there are no poor children without poor families, who continue to be the poorest of the poor in this country. The child poverty rate of 11.7% is exactly the same as it was in 1989. Forty-one per cent of children living in poverty live in families with at least one income earner working full time all year.
In my own province, despite a growing economy, British Columbia continues to report the highest provincial child poverty rate, which is 15.2%. In aboriginal and immigrant communities, the story is even worse. In aboriginal communities one in four children is poor, which means their families are poor. Aboriginal children and their families are living in substandard housing unable to access adequate drinking water, unable to access adequate medical care.
I recently put forward a private member's bill called Jordan's principle which talks about putting children first. It is a very good example that children on reserve often do not have access to adequate medical care. In Jordan's case his family had to surrender him to the province, put him in foster care in order for him to get the care he needed. Consequently, the federal and provincial governments fought over which one should pay for his care. The child ended up in hospital for four years. In the last two years of his life he could have been in a special foster home, but neither the federal government nor the provincial government would step up to the plate and pay for his care. He died in hospital instead of going to a foster home. That is a stain on Canada's reputation as being a caring and compassionate country.
Lest we only talk about problems, I want to talk about solutions because there are solutions. The winter 2007 report of the National Council of Welfare states that there are some real things that can be done. The report talks about childhood development care, access to education and training for adults so that they can better participate in the labour market, better jobs, income, social security for people who are not in the labour force, access to health care and other services, and affordable housing. The report states that in the absence of any leadership from the Conservative government on a national anti-poverty strategy, some of the provinces are taking some leadership around that, notably Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec. Those provinces are developing action plans. In Newfoundland and Labrador there is a cross-ministry initiative to develop an action plan with some real meaningful targets.
In this wealthy country of ours, the surplus was an opportunity to invest in Canadians. People talk about the rising tide lifting all boats, but it is not happening. We should have taken this opportunity to invest in child education, housing and other initiatives that would make a difference to families and which would close the very serious prosperity gap.
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