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Results: 1 - 15 of 264
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-06-18 10:08 [p.15256]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources entitled “The Transformation of Canada's Forest Sector”.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to the report.
I want to thank all current members of the committee and past members for the great co-operation and hard work on this committee. Over the eight years I have chaired the committee, it has been a very well functioning committee, and I am certainly very appreciative of that. I also want to thank all of the staff, because they have done great work over the years.
I want to wish all of my colleagues in the House all the best in the years ahead.
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-06-10 19:36 [p.14912]
Mr. Chair, it was an accident. That will be my defence at the pearly gates when I, a 22-year politician, am making my pitch for entry, but I will not be lying, because it was an accident. I never intended to get into politics. It just kind of happened.
I was not from a political family. My mom and dad always took the responsibility to vote seriously, but other than that, there was no political background, no heavy political involvement. What they did is instill in all of their 17 children, of which I was one, an idea that voting was important. They gave us that.
I first realized the importance of politics when I worked as a farm economist for Alberta Agriculture. One of my duties was to interpret policy changes, and those policy changes included budgets, both provincial and federal. I interpreted what these changes actually meant to farmers and what they meant to their farm operations. I came to realize very quickly that whether one likes politics or not, it is important.
In 1988, when Preston Manning held a meeting in Lloydminster, I attended that meeting. There were about 40 or 50 people there. After listening to Preston, a few of us decided we should build this political party, so about 10 of us came together and started the first constituency association for the Reform Party in the Vegreville constituency. This was a constituency that was represented by the deputy prime minister at the time, Don Mazankowski.
In 1992, when the constituency association was holding its first nomination process, I helped to organize it. Later, when encouraged by quite a number of people, I got involved, and I won the nomination, although it obviously was not for my speaking prowess.
By the way, when I told my wife that I was considering a run in politics, her response was, “You? You're going to be an MP? Who is going to vote for you?” Well it was not quite like that, but I read between the lines. We know how it is with our wives; we can kind of tell. I really appreciate her support. I did then, and I still do.
Then in 1993, I was part of that first wave of Reformers to sweep into Ottawa. Getting elected, we all in this place know, does not just happen. It took a lot of work by a lot of people over a long period of time. Many of those people started by helping to build this new political party from the ground up. From the very start, there was nothing there, and they built it into an organization that actually successfully elected a member of Parliament in its first real try at it.
Many of that first board of directors who started this political party back in 1988 went on to be key players in my first campaign. They were people like Connie Kempton, Dave Clements, Morgan Day, Dave Dibben, Andy Cameron, Les Mitchell, Gordon Kyle, Allan Murray, and Ralph Sorenson, who actually is the father of our current Minister of State for Finance.
This group was led by a great Canadian, Sam Herman. Starting with nothing and starting from nowhere, with a brand new party and no organization at any level, Sam took it on, and he led this group. He was an organizer, he was a leader, and he was a fundraiser, and he taught us all a lot about how to do these things.
Let me tell everyone a little about Sam. Sam led our group from nothing, as I said, a non-existent organization, to being as strong a constituency association as I have ever seen. He organized us and he led by example. He encouraged us, and he reminded us why we were doing all of this work. It cost each of us a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of our own money.
When I won the nomination in June of 1992, Sam went on the road with me for over a year. It was practically a full-time job. He had just sold his farm equipment business and was starting a new personal financial planning business with two other partners. In spite of that, he went on the road with me for over a year.
As I said, campaigning was almost like a full-time job, going to town to town, business to business, having coffee parties and building this organization from the ground up. It was like a full-time job, except there was no pay, and this at a time when Sam could ill afford the time. This incredible commitment and sacrifice is truly something I marvel at to this day. He then became my campaign manager in 1993 when the election was called.
As members know, in 1993 I was one of the first group of 52 Reform MPs who stormed Ottawa. We brought about a lot of positive change. I would argue that we continue to do that through this new Conservative Party of Canada, a brand new party started in 2003. I believe this new party is carrying on down the path that was started by that Reform Party of Canada, and of course down the path of the other parent party, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.
I am so proud of my colleagues and friends in this place. We are a great team. I also believe that our Prime Minister will go down in history as one of the greatest prime ministers this country has ever known. With his long-term planning, he has led our team to reduce taxes and make an average Canadian family of four more than $6,000 better off than they were when we took office 10 years ago, and this is nothing to sneeze at.
Think of the difference that $6,000 a year can make for an average of family four. They can use it to invest and build for retirement, to spend on something they need or something special or in some cases just to get by, or to pay for education and so on for their children. This does make a real difference, and it is something I am very proud of.
I am proud of the work that this team, my colleagues, have done in the areas of justice, in ending the Wheat Board monopoly, in ending the long gun registry, and in making our streets safer.
I want to recognize that the opposition has played a role in this as well. I am not one—at least not now, after 22 years—to believe that any one party has all the answers, and I respect my colleagues across the floor. I want to thank all of them for their contribution to making this government a better government.
Finally, I want to say how proud I am of my wife and our children and our grandchildren. I cannot express how much I appreciate what Linda has done for me and our family over these very difficult years. I am so much in love with her, and I look forward in the years ahead to spending more time with her. I am hoping we can find a way to make that work, because as all members of parliament know, we really do not get as much time with our spouses and families and we would like, and she has done a great job.
I am so proud of all of my family. I have five children, married, who have produced eight grandchildren. It is just so wonderful to go home and enjoy the grandchildren and see the fruits of the labour that Linda has put in.
I want to end by thanking all of my constituents for allowing me these seven opportunities to represent them. There was stronger support every time. It was over 80% the last time. I want to say what an honour and what a privilege it has been to represent them. Thirty years ago, I could not have imagined that I would be given that incredible honour and privilege. I thank each one of them from the bottom of my heart.
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-06-03 15:14 [p.14536]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources regarding the supplementary estimates (A) for 2015-16.
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-06-01 16:35 [p.14416]
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted today to support my colleague's opposition day motion and to continue our government's strong support for middle-class consumers and small business owners and operators. I would like to say that I will share my time with the hon. member for Willowdale.
It is no secret that small business is the lifeblood and the engine of our economy. Small businesses account for 99% of all businesses in this country and employ half of the working men and women in the Canadian private sector. Our government believes that small business owners should spend their time growing their businesses and creating jobs, not battling high taxes and red tape. We have already cut taxes significantly for small businesses and their owners. We cut the small business tax rate to 11% in 2008, and increased the amount of annual income eligible for this lower rate from $300,000 to $400,000 in 2007 and then to $500,000 in 2009. This makes a huge difference to small businesses.
We cut the general corporate income tax rate to 15% in 2012 from approximately 22% in 2007. That is a 30% reduction in tax for corporations generally. This reduction benefits successful small businesses on their way to becoming big businesses when their income exceeds this $500,000 income level.
We increased the lifetime capital gains exemption on qualified small business shares from $500,000 to $750,000 in 2007. The government further increased the exemption to $800,000 in 2014, indexed the new limit to inflation, and further increased this exemption to $1 million for farmers and fishermen in 2015. The lifetime capital gains exemption is estimated to be delivering over $1 billion in federal tax relief annually for small business owners, including farm owners and fishermen.
We also reduced small business EI premiums by introducing the small business job credit. This credit is expected to save small businesses more than $550 million in the next year or so.
To further encourage small business growth, last month's budget proposed to further reduce the small business tax rate by nearly 20% by 2019, taking it down to just 9%. For a small business with taxable income of $500,000, this tax cut and other tax relief the government has provided since 2006 would result in an overall federal tax reduction of 50%. It is cut in half.
However, small business owners and operators in my riding of Vegreville—Wainwright would be alarmed to know that the Liberal leader said he would reverse our tax cuts to small business. I also note that both the NDP and the Liberal Party would dramatically hike payroll taxes for small businesses and their workers.
The Liberal leader has said, “We're looking at an expansion and a mandatory expansion of the CPP of the type that Kathleen Wynne put forward in Ontario.” That is what he said. He wants a mandatory expansion to the CPP. For someone earning $60,000 per year, the Liberal leader's policy would be a cut of $1,000. That would be in addition to the $1,000 payroll tax increase that would have to be paid by the small business owner. To be clear, not only would this mandatory increase in payroll tax reduce employees' take-home pay, but it would also force small businesses to cut jobs, hours, and wages for their employees. That is simply what would happen.
When it comes to promoting job creation and economic growth, which ultimately benefit all Canadians, including consumers, our government continues to make responsive and responsible decisions. Our government is implementing policies focused on raising Canada's economic potential and creating stable, well-paying jobs.
However, we cannot be complacent. These are tough economic times here at home and right around the world. Small businesses are stretching dollars as far as they can go, and they need support so that our economy can continue to grow. That is why our government took action to address credit card fees. Every time a merchant accepts a credit card payment, he or she pays fees, and, as is the case with any other cost, fees can affect prices for consumers and usually do.
Last fall we accepted voluntary commitments by Visa Canada and MasterCard Canada to cut credit card fees by close to 10%. This is meaningful. Specifically, the proposals from Visa and MasterCard include voluntarily reducing their respective credit card fees for consumer cards to an average effective rate of 1.5% for a period of five years and ensuring that all merchants receive a reduction in credit card fees. More importantly, Visa and MasterCard started to implement the reductions this past April, so they have already kicked in.
The purpose of these voluntary commitments is simple. It is to reduce the cost of credit card acceptance for merchants in order to keep prices lower for consumers. Let me reassure the House that, as the finance minister has said:
If Visa or MasterCard do not comply with their public commitments the Government will take all necessary measures to keep prices low for all consumers.
Let me turn members' attention to the enhanced code of conduct for the debit and credit card industry that was announced in last year's budget. It aims to promote fairness in the credit card market and addresses the issues that businesses told us about.
We worked hard to fix the problems. Merchants will now have a new, more user-friendly complaints process for code-related complaints. We are improving disclosure requirements within contracts. Businesses will have more flexibility to exit their contracts without penalty. In addition, the code will now apply to mobile payments.
This stronger code also offers new protection for consumers. Credit card issuers will have to inform consumers that using premium cards may mean higher fees, so there will be new branding requirements for premium cards to make them more easily identifiable. We are also introducing new protections with mobile devices so that consumers have choice.
We want to go even further than this. Every year Canadians make roughly $24 billion in payments. More and more of these transactions are being made electronically. However, while debit, credit, and prepaid cards are subject to federal regulations, digital and electronic wallets largely are not. That is why our government launched public consultations on the national retail payments system. We want to hear what Canadians think about the way that they pay so that our consumer protection will continue to be cutting edge.
In conclusion, taking together all that has been done since our Conservative government was elected, I can say with confidence that protecting consumers and supporting small business remains a central focus of our government.
We are working with the provinces and territories to make consumer protection regimes more robust and to defend Canadians using high interest rates and payday lending products. We have worked with the financial sector to ensure that Canadians benefit from greater transparency and pricing disclosure. At the same time, we are defending consumers from having to pay the costs associated with the high-tax agenda of the Liberals and the NDP. That is something that consumers should think about more. Canadians generally should think about that more. What would the consequences be of electing a Liberal or NDP government in the next election? It is something that I do not like to think about, because I do not like higher taxes, but that is what the result would be.
The NDP has pledged to implement a carbon tax that would raise the price for consumers on groceries, gas, and everything else. This is something I will not support, and my constituents simply will not support it either.
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-06-01 16:46 [p.14418]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question asked and the comments made by the member opposite. I do not agree with them, but he certainly has a right to make comments like that.
In terms of what our government will continue to do from now until the time the House rises and what we can accomplish during that time, quite frankly that largely depends on the official opposition. The opposition must be willing to co-operate for a change, instead of opposing every single thing this government brings in.
That is what the opposition members do. They oppose everything. If we look at a list of legislation that they have actually supported, we see they have done it because they have been embarrassed by the statistics, which show that they oppose virtually everything. The list is an extremely short list, and there is only a list of legislation that they support because of the embarrassment of opposing everything.
It is up to the member to determine what we as government will look at and accomplish before the end of the session. He has to look at himself and his colleagues beside him to determine how much legislation our government will pass in the rest of this session.
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-06-01 16:49 [p.14418]
Mr. Speaker, to the last part of the member's question, perhaps I have a lot more faith in my constituents and in Canadians generally than he does. I think most Canadians recognize that banks do have special no-fee programs and other types of programs for people approaching retirement age. That is well known and well understood.
With respect to the member's comments on advertising, the government does spend money on advertising. The difference between what our government does and what his government did when his party was in office a few short years ago is that our money actually goes to a wide range of advertising companies in a fair and open way so that we can let consumers, voters, and Canadians know what programs we have to offer them. His government sent over $40 million into the pockets of political friends.
We do not do that. That is why we brought in the Accountability Act as one of our first pieces of legislation when we took office in 2006.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-06-01 16:50 [p.14418]
Let them holler, Mr. Speaker, but the truth is the truth. They cannot deny it. That is the truth. They were found guilty of that.
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-05-27 14:19 [p.14216]
Mr. Speaker, our Prime Minister and this government have put forward a plan to help middle-class families by continuing to put more money back in their pockets. We are enhancing the universal child care benefit and are creating the child tax cut to help all families with children.
I think it is also important to point out that we have gone even further to help all Canadians make ends meet. In fact, federal taxes are at their lowest level in 50 years
It is disappointing to hear the Liberal leader take the opposite approach. His plan is to reverse these savings and to instead bring in a family tax hike. That is what he said. He made his point of view perfectly clear when he said that benefiting all families “is not what is fair”. That is what he said.
Our government believes it is fair to help all families, and indeed, all Canadians, and we will continue to do just that.
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-05-25 13:59 [p.14053]
Mr. Speaker, the most important issues I have dealt with in my 22 years as a member of Parliament are pro-life issues.
These are the issues dealing with abortion and end of life, such as physician-assisted suicide. They have been the most important but also the most difficult, and sometimes frustrating, to deal with. Often it seems that progress is too slow, but on the other hand, we do need to recognize that progress is being made.
On May 14, the annual pro-life rally was held on Parliament Hill. The turnout was very encouraging, with a huge crowd of about 25,000 people, the largest on record.
As usual, the approach was extremely positive with a focus on helping young women and men who were struggling with the decision to possibly abort their unborn child, to find the support they needed to decide to have the child. Barring serious health concerns, this is always the right decision. Information and help are offered to parents to decide what to do after that.
Progress is being made and pro-lifers here and across Canada should be proud and thankful for this.
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-05-14 13:03 [p.13929]
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to be here today to speak to the 2015 budget. I have been a member of Parliament now for 22 years, and I have spoken to a lot of budgets, first from the point of view of the opposition and for the past nine years from the government side. I want to say that I really prefer the budgets from the government side. I have enjoyed speaking to them and pointing out to Canadians the benefits and changes that have been presented not only in the 2015 budget but in a series of budgets leading to a long-term plan to help make our country better.
Canada, as we all know, is a marvellous country. It is truly the best country in the world in which to live, but when we were elected as the government almost 10 years ago, there was a need for a change in direction. I would argue that the country had been going the wrong way for a number of years, with increased taxation, more interference in business, more red tape, and less freedom all around.
I am proud to be a member of Parliament in this Conservative political party, which has done a lot over these 10 years to make Canada a much better place.
I am here today to speak to budget 2015. We only have a little time to speak to the budget, but I want to take my time to focus on two topics, and they would be seniors, who are extremely important in every constituency, and as time allows, some of the changes for small business.
Mr. Speaker, I am sharing my time with the hon. member for Calgary Centre.
Since 2006, our government has strengthened the retirement income system and has increased direct support for seniors to address their changing needs. In fact, actions taken by this government have substantially increased the income seniors can earn before they are required to pay income tax.
In 2015, a single senior could claim income of $20,368 before paying any tax at all. I remember what that number was when we got into government nine years ago, and it was considerably lower.
For a couple, it would be $40,720 before they would pay a penny in income tax. That is a remarkable transformation for seniors across this country.
However, that is only one area we have worked on. In the budget there are changes that would add to the benefits seniors see. Economic action plan 2015 continues in this direction by proposing a reduction in minimum withdrawals from registered retirement income funds, RRIFs, and the creation of a home accessibility tax credit.
The reduction in the minimum withdrawal factor takes into account the longer lifespans of Canadians. We all know that we are living longer. For RRIFs, we are requiring now that Canadians take less money out so they can stretch that capital for a longer period of time so that they are far less likely to run out of retirement income before their lives end.
The minimum withdrawal factor for registered retirement income funds is determined by percentage factors, which are on a particular rate of return and indexing assumptions. For example, currently, a senior must withdraw 7.38% of the RRIF in the year he or she is age 71. The new factors proposed will reduce that minimum withdrawal to 5.28% at age 71. By permitting more capital preservation, the new factors will help reduce the risk of outliving one's savings while ensuring that the tax deferral provided on registered retirement savings plans continues to serve into retirement.
The proposed measures would benefit seniors by allowing them to preserve up to 60% more of their registered retirement income funds by age 95, if they so choose. Of course, that is a decision each senior and each couple can make.
The new RRIF withdrawal rates would apply for 2015 and subsequent years. RRIF holders who at any time in 2015 withdraw more than the reduced 2015 minimum amount would be permitted to re-contribute the excess, up to the amount of the proposed reduction in the minimum withdrawal limit, to their RRIFs. Re-contributions would be permitted until February 29, 2016 and would be deductible for the 2015 tax year, reducing the registered retirement income funds minimum withdrawal requirement.
The second change is the introduction of the home accessibility tax credit. A similar measure our government put in a few years ago seemed to be very successful. We would put in place a home accessibility tax credit that would apply to seniors.
Making improvements to improve safety, access, and functionality of a dwelling for seniors and persons with disabilities can be costly. In recognition of this, and of the additional benefits of independent living, economic action plan 2015 proposes a new, permanent home accessibility tax credit. The proposed 15% non-refundable income tax credit would apply to up to $10,000 in eligible home renovation expenditures per year, providing up to $1,500 in tax relief. For some seniors in particular, that is significant. Eligible expenditures would be for improvements that would allow seniors or persons who are eligible for the disability tax credit to be safer and more mobile and to function better in their homes. These are changes that would make a real improvement in the lives of many seniors.
Some people, as well as some in this House, talk about seniors as though they are all low-income wage earners. The reality is that a lot of the personal wealth of the nation is in the hands of seniors. We have a wide range in seniors' incomes. We have seniors who are barely getting by living on the Canada pension plan and perhaps old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. We certainly have that group. However, too often politicians forget about others, such as people who have retired with quite a substantial retirement income, such as a teacher with teacher's income, a nurse with a nurse's income, or someone with a public service pension plan or a private pension plan, on top of the Canada pension plan. I would say that there are a lot of people in that mid range who are doing quite well. For them, of course, the pension income-splitting change we put in place a few years ago for retirement income for seniors is extremely helpful. It saves some seniors a substantial amount of money and allows them to live a lot better in retirement.
The measures in the 2015 economic action plan are on top of a wide range of other changes we have made before.
Of course, there are also a lot of seniors who are in the high-income bracket. The benefits from lowering the federal income tax rate from 11% to 9% in the next few years will help all seniors and all Canadians.
Seniors are extremely important people and are well worth government consideration because of what they have done to build our country. We should thank them on a daily basis for what they have done to build this truly wonderful country of Canada.
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-05-14 13:14 [p.13930]
Mr. Speaker, I would encourage the member opposite to actually see what our government has done and to look at the reality of the situation and not only refer to her party's talking points, which sometimes, quite frankly, are not accurate. This is one situation where the talking points are not accurate.
We are a government that over nine years has increased transfers to the provinces dramatically. We have increased transfers for health care, and these transfers are designated for health care, by 6% per year. The former Liberal government slashed transfers to the provinces for health care dramatically, downloading onto the provinces and causing an awful lot of problems in the health care system.
We do what is best for health care. We will continue to do that. The members opposite ought to get their talking points right.
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-05-14 13:16 [p.13931]
Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I personally agree with him 100%. I think he is right, but it takes time to get there, so our government is taking a really important step, which would substantially reduce the required amount seniors have to take out.
My hope is that in future years, as the budget allows and over a period of time, we will in fact remove that requirement entirely. I would really love to see that, and I look forward to the day down the road when that happens. I agree with the member.
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-05-14 13:18 [p.13931]
Mr. Speaker, that is a good question.
This is the party that removed the long gun registry. We have always thought it was a waste of money, that it was ineffective, and that it inappropriately interfered with hunters, farmers, and anyone, really, who wanted to own a long gun.
This is just part of the process to ensure that the registry actually is destroyed, so that farmers, duck hunters, and others can feel very comfortable with the fact that the registry has been destroyed as we promised.
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-05-12 10:06 [p.13757]
Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present this morning.
In the first, the petitioners are calling on Parliament to do everything it can to protect Christians in areas of Iraq where they are being particularly targeted.
View Leon Benoit Profile
View Leon Benoit Profile
2015-05-12 10:07 [p.13757]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls on Parliament to put in place mandatory labelling for food that has been genetically modified.
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