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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-28 11:55 [p.15664]
Mr. Speaker, as usual, I would like to acknowledge the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are listening to us today. I am sure they have some serious questions with respect to all of the question period speeches they have been watching on television or reading about in the papers.
Canadians are all wondering the same thing: can we trust the Minister of Finance? As we debate the 2017 budget and the proposed spending to achieve the government's objectives, all Canadians are watching the Minister of Finance closely and wondering if they can trust him.
Indeed, over the past three months, the finance minister has done some things and shown some lapses in judgment that have been revealed by journalists, the official opposition, the NDP, and Canadians. Paradoxically, ironically, and sadly, members of the Liberal Party are still smiling and laughing about it today, and not taking it seriously. As my colleague from Barrie—Innisfil was finishing his speech this morning on yesterday's motion, which calls on the government to end the debate on the 2017 budget implementation bill, we saw several members of the Liberal Party laughing and dismissing it all as nonsense. Basically, they are saying the opposition is lampooning them and engaging in gutter politics, but that is not at all the case.
Since July, the Minister of Finance has been saying that he wants to stand up for taxpayers by going after people who cheat when filing their income tax returns to pay less in taxes. To that end, he implemented certain tax reforms, or rather tax hikes for small and medium-sized businesses, which create jobs for the so-called middle class that the government is always talking about. I have a problem with all of that. We should be talking about Canadians, not about classes. Meanwhile, the minister hid from the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner that he had a company in France, which owns his villa there. He paid a $200 fine for that just under a month ago.
While he was trying to go after small and medium-sized businesses, farmers, mechanics, and hairdressers, among others, he made millions of dollars on his shares in Morneau Shepell, which he held until recently and were worth roughly $20 million. Instead of putting those assets in a blind trust, he hid them in a numbered company in Alberta. While he was going after small businesses that create jobs in Canada, he failed to disclose to the Ethics Commissioner the fact that he had assets in France and Alberta. What is more, he devised and introduced a bill that seeks to make changes to Canada's pension plans and will benefit three companies that specialize in pensions, including Morneau Shepell.
The Minister of Finance keeps spouting nonsense every time we ask him if we can trust him in light of the revelations from journalists and the official opposition. Yesterday, our venerable official opposition finance critic, the hon. member for Carleton, and several other opposition members, asked a very specific question. It takes a lot for me to feel discouraged, but I am starting to have serious doubts about the integrity of this Minister of Finance.
The hon. member for Carleton reminded him that he introduced a bill in 2015, after the Liberal government was elected, making changes that, according to the Liberals, would increase taxes on the wealthiest. That is not what happened. Several academic papers show that it is not the case. Ultimately, the wealthy are paying less taxes.
In short, two weeks before the announcement of the bill's implications for the stock market, the Minister of Finance—or someone else, but we do not know who—sold millions of Morneau Shepell shares in order to save about half a million dollars. If it was not the minister, can he tell us who it was? Yesterday, during question period, he did not answer.
The situation has only gotten worse over the past three months. After the villa in France, the $20 million in Morneau Shepell shares hidden in Alberta, and the bill that benefited Morneau Shepell, today we learned that someone sold shares to avoid the consequences of the proposed tax increase.
The Minister of Finance must stop playing ridiculous, partisan politics, which are no longer acceptable. It is high time he gave serious answers to the questions asked by the official opposition of Canada. We represent the Canadian people and we hold the government to account to ensure ministerial responsibility. The members of the Liberal Party of Canada must stop making light of the situation. Their Minister of Finance has committed serious violations. He must answer the questions and stop telling us nonsense day after day in the House.
I would still like to say a few words about the 2017 federal budget. Once again, it is a completely ridiculous budget and the Liberals are calling it a feminist budget. The budget should be for all Canadians, not just a special interest group. Of course, we know that the Liberals are centralists and that they work on behalf of special interest groups, including post-materialist groups.
What is more, this budget is in the red and speaks to the many promises the government has broken. Unfortunately, what has defined the Liberals over the past two years is a series of broken promises, including their promise on electoral reform. We are lucky that they broke that promise, because it would be a very bad idea to change the way we vote in Canada. We must retain our Westminster system of voting. The Liberals also broke another promise they made to their environmentalist base by keeping the same greenhouse gas emissions targets as our Conservative government.
Most importantly, the Liberals said that they would run a modest deficit of $10 billion per year in their first two years in office, when in reality they ran a deficit of $30 billion in the first year and $19 billion in the second year, 2017-18. What is even more worrisome is that they broke their promise to balance the budget by 2019-20, even though we are not in an economic crisis or at war. They themselves are saying that the economy is doing great. When we, the Conservatives, ran a deficit in 2008-09, it was because Canada was weathering the worst economic crisis since 1929 and 1930. Today, there is no economic crisis and no war, so there is no reason for the government to be running a deficit.
A recent article in the Financial Post indicated that, according to the OECD, household debt, particularly mortgage debt, is the highest it has ever been. For the past few years, the household debt ratio in Canada, including debt for houses, cars, and all the rest, has been the highest of all the OECD countries. This could have a serious impact on Canada's economic growth.
The Liberals say the economy is doing great. They keep sending Canadians an endless stream of Canada child benefit cheques. Despite adding up to thousands of dollars a year, they do not seem to be working, because Canadian households are more in debt than ever. This debt could be extremely dangerous for the country.
How can we expect Canadians to behave any differently, when the example they are given is a Minister of Finance who cannot be trusted and a government that urges them to spend as recklessly as it does? It is time for the Liberals to get a grip on themselves.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-28 12:07 [p.15665]
Mr. Speaker, the impact is quite clear. In 20 years our kids will pay for all the demands that they have brought forward.
I remind the hon. member across the aisle that I did not say that the content of the budget was ridiculous. I was speaking of the way it was presented and titled as a “feminist budget”. Is it possible in this country or in any parliamentary democracy for a budget to refer to a particular group or gender? This is unbelievable and unacceptable. The budget should be for all Canadians, not only in its content but in the way it is presented.
Financial Post journalist, Mr. Watson said, “Turns out the Harper government was actually terrific for wage growth.”. In the last two years of the government under Mr. Harper, we saw wage growth as we have never seen in Canada. We created 1.2 million jobs in the last decade.
All of the fruits that the Liberal government is harvesting in the last two years are because of the work of the Conservative government from 2006 to 2015 and its $3-billion surplus.
That is the reality. Stop playing politics and work for all Canadians.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-10-26 12:03 [p.14555]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise.
I would like to take a few moments to tell the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are listening right now that I am truly very disappointed with what the Finance Minister did last week and this week. Canadians have become aware that he misled them for two years and that he did not put his $20 million in Morneau Shepell shares in a blind trust. I seriously expected him to rise last week for his final response in question period to say that he regretted it, and that not only did he no longer have his shares, but he was donating to charity the $65,000 in additional monthly profits that he pocketed for the last two years. That would have been the least he could do. He is an extremely wealthy man. He should have done that, and I do not think that it would have jeopardized his retirement.
With respect to Bill C-24, I will be addressing primarily the aspect of the ministers and the administrative change that means absolutely nothing, as well as the supplementary estimates. I will also very quickly address the issue of regional development. The Liberals are abolishing regional development minister positions. These positions are key, because today 60% of Canadians live in large cities. The same is true almost everywhere in the world. These positions are also important because the voice of rural Canadians is being less and less heard in the House. There will no longer be ministers representing regional development agencies in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec or western Canada. These agencies will no longer exist, or at least they will not have any ministers. These ministers sat at the cabinet table to ensure that every region of Canada had a voice.
The first thing the Liberals did was to make sure that there would no longer be any ministers representing the regions and to entrust all decisions to a single individual, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development in Toronto. This has already had a serious impact. Last fall, $150,000 in funds earmarked for economic development in northern Ontario was allocated to a company based in the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s riding of Mississauga. This is precisely the new type of politics the Liberals have been playing.
This spring, an Atlantic liberal caucus subcommittee indicated that they had been told that processing times at ACOA were three times longer since the appointment of a minister from Toronto. It is not surprising, since he himself, as a minister from Toronto, is completely overwhelmed by the affairs of Canada’s great city of Toronto and completely overwhelmed by the affairs of his own department. That is why we need independent ministers who can focus on the region they represent. We are saddened to see the government go ahead and abolish these key minister positions in Canada.
I spoke about Bill C-24 here in the House about six months ago. It was late spring. At that time not so long ago, I was still a permanent member of the powerful Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. It was quite the learning experience for me. I had to read a huge number of documents and learn about many financial, economic, and structural issues. The committee deals with government operations and estimates.
Every four or five months, the committee reviews and analyzes the supplementary estimates, in other words, the credits the government wants to have approved by the committees so that it can close its fiscal year on a sound note. I observed one thing. I do not remember exactly whether it was credit A, credit B or credit C, or which department it was. I think it was the Treasury Board. After it was elected, the government immediately wanted to raise the salaries of the ministers of State, as is proposed in the bill. Normally, to do so, the government must introduce a bill like the one we are debating today concerning ministers’ salaries and allowances.
That is not what they have been doing for the past two years. In fact, the Liberals used the supplementary estimates, by including the votes in the supplementary estimates and getting them approved through the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates for two consecutive years. We Conservatives were a minority. We voted against that funding, but that did not change anything.
If this bill were so important, if it were true, as they claim, that this bill is intended to foster ministerial pay and gender equality, then why did they use the back door to increase salaries? Why did the Liberals not introduce Bill C-24 when they first came to power in 2015? If gender equality were that important to them, they would have introduced this bill as a priority at the outset.
Something about this really surprises me. An hon. member for whom I have enormous respect and who served in the military said that a minister is a minister is a minister. First, that is an extreme extrapolation. One can say that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, but at the same time, a minister is still a Canadian like any other. The part that concerns me is that ministers of state are not on the same footing as ministers. The question is simple: do they have deputy ministers? No, and this bill will do nothing to change that fact, either.
Ministers of state will not have deputy ministers or cabinets, which have a staff of about 40 to assist their minister perform difficult tasks. They will not have the right to submit memorandums to cabinet explaining government issues. Most importantly, they will not have any officials serving under them. For example, the Minister of National Defence has 80,000 public servants under him. Not only is there the civilian administrative wing comprising some 20,000 employees, but there is also the military wing, because military troops are public servants. All told, we are talking 100,000 people.
Ministers of state will not have 100,000 people to manage and give orders to. Neither will they oversee an actual institution, or have headquarters from which to work. For example, Public Services and Procurement Canada is across the beautiful Ottawa River, and there is a huge building there with Public Services and Procurement Canada written on it. About 10,000 people work there.
Ministers of state have none of the prerequisites that would make them equal to ministers. This has nothing to do with gender equality or equity between individuals. Ministers of state simply do not have a minister’s workload. That is the only thing Canadians need to know.
Remarkably, the hon. member of St. Catharines himself said it a thousand times in his speech on administrative changes. That is exactly what it is: an administrative change. It is not a substantial change. The Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, who comes from the Eastern Townships, will not have a building with 10,000 public servants or a cabinet. She will not have anything a real minister has. I am on the Standing Committee on Official Languages, so I recognize that the files she manages are extremely important, but her workload will still be quite a bit lighter than that of the Minister of National Defence, for example.
My colleague from Calgary Shepard made me think of something. It is not true that all cabinet ministers are equal. No one can tell me that the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Canadian Heritage are on equal footing. I must say that I prefer heritage to the economy. That being said, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has a portfolio because she is the House leader and she is the Minister of Small Business and Tourism. She has more to deal with than another minister who does not have these two portfolios and these two responsibilities. It is as simple as that.
I wanted to say one last thing, something a little more philosophical. Imposing a gender-equal cabinet comes with its own share of risks. At the end of the day, philosophically and legally speaking, what does it even mean? It means that we will never see an all-female cabinet in Canada. I would even go so far as to say that this is good way for the Prime Minister of Canada to make sure that women never make up more than half a cabinet.
In fact, I would even say that this will stop the advancement of women in politics.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-04-06 16:39 [p.10295]
Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak this afternoon. I am pleased that you are the one in the chair right now.
I am rising today to share some of my thoughts and, of course, those of Her Majesty's official opposition on Bill C-25, An act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and the Competition Act.
It is important to begin by saying that this bill targets some 270,000 federally incorporated companies, which are, for the most part, small and medium-sized businesses that do not sell shares and to which the changes will not apply.
It is important to remember that the amendments proposed in Bill C-25 are the result of a legislative review that was conducted by a House of Commons committee in 2010, two Parliaments ago. Consultations were then held by our government and Industry Canada in 2014.
Like the majority of my colleagues who have spoken to Bill C-25, I think it is commendable and fantastic in many ways that the current government was open enough to use old legislation from the Conservatives' 2015 budget to develop Bill C-25.
However, what my opposition colleagues and I find a little unfortunate is the lack of substance in the bill we have before us at the current stage and, in fact, the lack of substance we see all too often in the current government's bills. I would even say the lack of bills, quite simply. No more than 50 bills have been tabled by the Liberal government since October 19, 2015. The minority government of the Right Hon. Stephen Harper had tabled three times as much legislation by 2007.
Certainly, the bills lack substance. In addition, there is a lack of real change. I will come back to the bill after this aside. The Liberals campaign slogan was “real change”. We can certainly change the things we say. That is obviously what the Liberals have done. However, Canadians expect legislative change, and that is not what we are seeing currently.
The Liberal government is missing several opportunities to do a good job in the House and bring in concrete measures for Canadian society, to address problems affecting workers, seniors, the unemployed, and corporate boards. This is how I am getting back to the bill.
We are delighted that the Liberal government is using legislation that the previous Conservative government worked very hard on. However, in committee, we brought forward two main amendments that, it appears, do not suit the opposition, or rather the government. Excuse me. I misspoke. I saw the future and called the government the official opposition. That will be two and a half years from now.
During the committee stage of Bill C-25, the Conservatives proposed amendments that would have strengthened the bill. First, we proposed to define the word “diversity”, which is an integral part of the bill.
It is one of the key components of the bill since the other side of the House wants to impose diversity, which is still undefined, within various federally regulated corporate boards and institutions.
The amendment we wanted to bring forward would define the word correctly. The need for this was also raised by a number of the witnesses who appeared before the committee. The official opposition critic responsible for this issue and several of my Conservative colleagues met with these witnesses.
The second amendment would require a review of the diversity policy in three years.
There is a reason why the Liberal government did not accept this amendment, which would define the word “diversity”. One of the things this government most often does is present sweeping concepts that they do not want to define. In this case, it is diversity. In another case, it is the 1%. For the next two and a half years I will repeat that the 1% does not exist. We are one of the world’s fairest societies, one of the societies where wealth redistribution is unparalleled in the history of mankind. I really find it incredible. I had the chance to go to university and I can say that any professor or academic would tell you that there is no such thing as the 1%.
I would like to give a parallel example that will explain why imposing diversity could have consequences that are not necessarily what the government intends. I will go out on a limb: I assume that by diversity, they mean cultural minorities of all kinds. Today it is rather fashionable to identify all kinds of minorities, when what really counts is protecting the political minority, first and foremost. I will give an example of some of the consequences that sometimes result from a desire found only in rhetoric. When the Liberals talk about a gender-balanced cabinet, I see rather significant consequences. It is not in law, thank God, but if by misfortune the next government decides to continue with that, this would then become a convention. We would have a sort of parliamentary convention to have a gender-balanced cabinet.
According to the Liberals, having a convention saying that cabinet must be gender balanced means that women will forever hold half the power in the cabinet that forms the government. From another perspective, this also means that from now on, women will never be the majority in cabinet. Is that not a bit ironic to think that for centuries, cabinet was composed mostly of men, and now, with this convention we end up never seeing a cabinet composed mostly of women?
I believe this is a first consequence of this rather dangerous convention, based on misconceptions, dangerous social interpretations, and political capital, which, furthermore, in a way endangers—to put it bluntly—the possibility of having the best cabinet possible. I am sure that my colleague from Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, across the way, would make a wonderful minister. I was with him on the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. He is incredible, clever and has an outstanding mind. However, because of gender parity, he will probably never be as close to me on the seating plan as he could be. We will never get the best by relying on sweeping misconceptions.
Creating such misconceptions of social reality that can be interpreted differently can have consequences. We therefore need to define the word “diversity” to ensure that this bill will not have negative consequences on corporate administration.
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