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Mar 10th

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 7:05 am | British Columbia, Abbotsford

    Mr. Speaker, with regard to international trade, the Government of Canada does not have any records or information with regard to the provision of any assistance of any kind to a company called State Oil Company Canada Ltd. The Government of Canada is aware that State Oil Company of Canada and Orca Gold Inc. are operating in the mining and oil sectors in Sudan. This information is publicly available on their respective websites.

    The Government of Canada has implemented a number of national measures against Sudan in response to the human rights and humanitarian situation. These measures include withholding commercial support services. In addition, Canada has implemented United Nations sanctions towards Sudan, UNSC 1591, in connection with the conflict in Darfur, including an arms embargo and an asset freeze and travel ban directed against designated persons. This does not, however, prohibit Canadians from facilitating or initiating business contacts with Sudan, so long as they act in accordance with international sanctions.

    Since July 2011, the Government of Canada has offered trade services to Canadian companies wishing to do business in the Republic of South Sudan through the High Commission in Nairobi. Canada's commercial footprint in South Sudan is minimal, due in large part to concerns about political stability, the high costs of doing business and lack of up-to-date market intelligence. A private sector investment conference in Juba took place in December 2013, with Canadian funding to support a session on conflict sensitivity in investment.

    The Government of Canada advises against all non-essential travel to Sudan. See http://travel.gc.ca/destinations/sudan. The Government of Canada advises against all travel to South Sudan. See http://travel.gc.ca/destinations/south-sudan.

    Export Development Canada does not have any records or information with regard to the provision of any assistance of any kind to a company called State Oil Company Canada Ltd.

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 7:05 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Qu'Appelle

    I have the honour to lay upon the table the 2014 annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(e), this report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 7:05 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre

    Mr. Speaker, Question No. 936 will be answered today.

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    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 7:10 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley

    moved:

    That, in light of sustained high unemployment since the 2008 recession and the long term downward trend in job quality since 1989 under successive Liberal and Conservative governments, as documented by CIBC, the House call on the government to make the first priority of Budget 2015 investment in measures that stimulate the economy by creating and protecting sustainable, full-time, middle-class jobs in high-paying industries in all regions of Canada and abandoning its costly and unfair $2 billion income-splitting proposal.

    Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to thank you for that very fair and justified ruling that you just gave to the House, which perhaps even set a new precedent for decorum. It was in fact brief and to the point, which was helpful to all members.

    I would like to begin by saying that I will be sharing my time with my esteemed colleague from Newton—North Delta.

    Canada's economy has a number of weaknesses. That is why we, the official opposition, feel it is essential to have a debate on our economy today.

    I know that my Conservative colleagues would rather talk about something else—anything else, actually—but like the vast majority of Canadians, we want a debate and some answers about the economic realities we are facing, including a very high unemployment rate, a weak economy and the deterioration in employment quality over the past generation that is likely to be long term, according to a new report by CIBC.

    We believe that the government does not have a plan B. Canadians know that the Conservative government is only interested in developing the oil sector of the economy. It ignores the rest. It is deeply obsessed with a very controversial pipeline and has nothing to say about other aspects of our economy. The NPD is in favour of a highly diversified and more just economy.

    Let us put first things first. We have to understand that despite the Conservatives' current obsession with attempting to change the channel away from economic matters to just about anything else, there is a responsibility for us as parliamentarians to take on the challenges of the day. A clear challenge that is facing us as Canadians and Canadian legislators is the economy.

    The statistics prove that we have not seen such worrisome trends since the 2008 recession. This was most recently highlighted in a report by the CIBC, which shows that job quality in Canada has fallen to its lowest level in a generation.

    What does that mean? Job quality, as measured, has moved Canadians away from good-paying, middle-class, secure employment to increasingly part-time, insecure, and low-paying jobs that do not support families.

    We would think that this would be a preoccupation for a Conservative government that claims to make such great strides on the economy, but, over a generation, we have seen the quality of employment and jobs in Canada steadily decline under both Conservative and Liberal governments. We would think that the government would seek ways to enhance the opportunities for Canadians and seek ways to solve some of the productivity conundrums that we have been having for far too long, yet the choices being made by the Conservatives are most perplexing because they do not address the needs of the economy.

    Sure, the $2 billion income-splitting scheme that the government committed to, thereby spending a surplus before it had it, helps the top 15% of Canadian income earners. It is fine for the wealthiest Canadians under a Conservative government. Doubling the TFSA will overwhelmingly help that same group of Canadians. It has been demonstrated in report after report that there are not that many middle-income and low-income Canadians with an extra $11,000 burning a hole in their pocket at the end of the year. However, in a Conservative reality, the people who do have that kind of money, the people who can split their incomes and take advantage of the $2 billion Conservative scheme at the highest end of the Canadian wealth spectrum, are the priority for the government.

    They are not the priority for the NDP.

    We saw most recently in the Statistics Canada report in January that we actually lost full-time employment, even in a month when we supposedly did well. What was created, again, was part-time, insecure work.

    Over the last year, we have seen the Canadian population rate grow at almost double the rate of job growth in this country. That should worry anybody, because the trend is unsustainable if our population is growing almost twice as fast as new jobs and those jobs being created are precarious, part-time, low-paying jobs. Not only are Conservative practices with regard to our environment unsustainable, but we now see that their practices with regard to our economy are unsustainable, and they are leaving a debt.

    We know the Conservatives have added somewhere north of $155 billion to the Canadian debt in their tenure. We know they have lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs, just since the Conservatives took office. We know that 200,000 more people are unemployed today in Canada than before the recession, yet the Conservatives claim that everything is perfectly fine and there is nothing to do here.

    In fact, things are so good, according to the Conservatives, that they have an extra $2 billion kicking around to help out the wealthiest 15% of Canadians. They have so much money right now and the economy is doing so well that the Conservatives were able to dump in more than $1 billion on these self-promoting ads that constantly interrupt every hockey game anyone has looked at in the last few years—to do what? They spend more money by far on these ads than they do on food inspection or rail safety. They do more in self-promotion than they do to help out Canadian workers.

    We see youth unemployment doubling the rate of the national average. We know that has not only short-term impacts on young Canadians and their families, but it has long-term impacts on their prospects. For those young people entering into such a weak workforce, it means that they do not go into the professions for which they are trained, with the skills they have invested in. They have to take whatever job might be available in a tough economic market.

    We see, in fact, that women's participation in the workforce is at its lowest rate since 2002. For women considering going to work, one of the main factors and principles are the family policies that exist around going to work.

    This is why New Democrats highlight and put a circle around the stain of Conservative policies with regard to our economy; the economy that they just do not want to talk about anymore, if members have noticed. We cannot seem to get the Minister of Finance up on his feet in question period anymore. He has been benched and missing in action. Yet Canadians want to know where the solutions are coming from. Where are the ideas coming from? Where is the budget coming from?

    Crossing their fingers and hoping things get better in the oil markets is not exactly a plan for the Canadian economy. In fact, over-focussing on just one commodity, as the Conservatives have done with regard to oil for the last 10 years, has put Canada in a precarious place when oil prices fell, as they inevitably do. Yet we have a government in panic mode suggesting that, “Well, we're just going to wait a few more months, and Canadians are going to have to wait with us”.

    Well, New Democrats are not waiting. We are putting forward proposals that will actually address the needs of the Canadian economy.

    Take, for instance, the New Democrat proposal put forward by our leader to lower the small business taxes in this country. Small businesses account for 40% of our GDP and involve 8 million Canadians. Almost 80% of all new jobs are created by small businesses. When we put forward that motion in the House of Commons, Conservatives voted against it, joined by Liberals for some reason.

    When we put forward a motion that would help the manufacturing sector, because we have lost 400,000 jobs in that sector, Conservatives, again joined by Liberals, voted against it.

    When New Democrats put forward the idea of an innovation tax fund to help us with our productivity and innovation, because Canada lags behind the rest of the world with respect to research and development, we saw Conservatives, again joined by Liberals, voting against it.

    New Democrats are going to continue to support a $15 minimum wage, the $15 affordable child care to help Canadians get back to work, and an economy that works for Canadians, not against them. We will support an economy that will put Canadians back to work. We will form a government in 2015 that is focused on the interests of Canadians and not on the narrow partisan interests of a government just hoping and praying for re-election.

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    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 7:20 am | Ontario, Windsor—Tecumseh

    Order, please. I ask all members to keep both their questions and their answers to one minute.

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    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 7:20 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley

    Mr. Speaker, who are we going to believe on this one: Liberals who say that the only solution to fix the Canadian economy is to raid the EI fund again? They took $56 billion out of it the first time around when they were in office. I guess they got used to the habit of just dipping into a fund and stealing from workers and employers, who put into it for employment insurance, to pad all of their schemes. I do not know how much sponsorship scandal money came out of the EI fund, but we know $56 billion came out.

    We believe in lowering the small business tax rate, not a loan. Maybe the confusion the Liberal Party has is that it voted against something without understanding it, because the proposal from us was to lower it by 20%. Here is what Dan Kelly, the head of the CFIB said about it. He said:

    Cutting the small business tax rate by nearly 20% will provide a big boost to small business owners across the country and help them create jobs.

    Therefore, who are we going to believe? Are we going to believe the head of the CFIB or the Liberals with yet another EI ripoff scheme that would not create jobs and would only hurt workers and employers in our country?

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 7:35 am | Ontario, Brant

    Mr. Speaker, I am so happy for the member's speech because it shows clearly what we are actually doing, which is reducing taxes for small, medium-sized and large businesses. Let me give an example that I hope she will tell the people in her riding about.

    In my community, which is a proud manufacturing community historically, recently we helped a company do a $63-million expansion with a $10-million loan, creating some 500 well-paying jobs. This is heavy forging for the natural resource extraction industry.

    We helped another company with a $500,000 loan that is completely paid back now to the government. It went from 23 employees to 136 employees within two years of that injection.

    I gave those examples because small, medium-sized and large businesses need lower taxation to keep them here and keep them from moving to other jurisdictions. Let me say that, from a community that had 30% unemployment in 1980 to a community that had 6.7% unemployment, our programs are working.

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    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 7:50 am | British Columbia, Taschereau

    Mr. Speaker, I do not know what world members opposite live in. The hon. member made a reference to student debt being low today. I can tell him that never before in the history of Canada have more students graduated with higher student debt than in 2015 in Canada. We can visit any campus across this country and talk to young people, and they will tell us the same thing.

    My question is about jobs. The Conservatives constantly stand in this House and talk about the jobs that are being created, but they do not talk a lot about the quality of the jobs. Benjamin Tal, the deputy chief economist of CIBC, said:

    The number of low-paying full-time jobs has risen faster than the number of mid-paying jobs, which in turn has risen faster than the number of high-paying jobs. Over the year ending January 2015, the job creation gap between low and high-paying jobs has widened with the number of low-paying full-time paid positions rising twice as fast as the number of high-paying jobs.

    The Economist has also said that the government's pledge to proceed with tax reductions in the face of being unable to balance the budget is imprudent and that “[t]he delay in presenting the budget adds to the impression of fiscal disarray”.

    What can the member tell Canadians about the fact that the quality of jobs in this country being created are resulting in more low-paying jobs and not the mid- and high-paying jobs he professes them to be?

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    MPlib
    Mar 10, 2015 7:55 am | Nova Scotia, Kings—Hants

    Mr. Speaker, the member and his government are very much out of touch with the economic reality faced by Canadians and the challenges faced by Canadian families across the country and in his riding of Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley.

    He said that 1.2 million new jobs have been created since 2008. He is ignoring the fact that the working age population in Canada, the number of people eligible to work in Canada, has increased by two million. We have had stagnant economic growth and flatlined job growth in terms of good-quality jobs.

    Is the member aware that in his own riding, which is part of the north region of Nova Scotia, there have been 6,700 net jobs lost since 2008? Sixty-three hundred of those jobs were full-time jobs. If he is not aware of that, why does he not have a better idea of what is going on in terms of the challenges faced by families in his own riding? If he is aware of it, how can he stand and boast about his government's record, when people in his own riding are struggling because they have lost full-time work and are trying to pay their bills on part-time jobs?

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    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 8:00 am | New Brunswick, Acadie—Bathurst

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Nova Scotia talks about the jobs created in the Nova Scotia shipbuilding industry. I would like to hear from him how many jobs were created in New Brunswick. In New Brunswick, out of ten members of Parliament, eight come from the Conservative Party. When David Alward was the premier of New Brunswick, he kept asking for help from the federal government, which he never received.

    We only have to look at the unemployment rate in the north of New Brunswick, where no jobs have been created. We only have to look at the Conservative cuts to ACOA, a program that could help the small and medium-sized businesses that create 74% of the jobs.

    What has the government done in New Brunswick to help with the creation of jobs? Our people have to buy airplane tickets to fly west to work because there are no jobs in New Brunswick.

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    MPlib
    Mar 10, 2015 8:00 am | Nova Scotia, Kings—Hants

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to today's motion on jobs and the economy. I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Markham—Unionville.

    The Prime Minister and the Conservatives do not want to talk about the economy these days. In fact, they are so spooked by the topic that they are delaying the budget into the next fiscal year. We are told that we will not have a budget until April at the earliest. They do not want to talk about the economy, all because of plummeting oil prices.

    The Conservatives are also telling us that all the challenges facing Canadians and the Canadian economy today are a result of plummeting oil prices. However, the reality is that we have faced real challenges in the Canadian economy, and Canadian families have faced real challenges, well before plummeting oil prices.

    In fact, the May 3 issue of the Economist magazine had an article entitled, “Canada's economy: Maple, resting on laurels”, Canada's “post-crisis glow is fading”. In that article, the Economist said that the Conservative government's retelling of the 2008 crisis indicated that the Conservatives saved Canada from doom. It went on to say, “Yet luck played a large, unacknowledged part”. The Economist points to three areas where the Conservative government was lucky.

    First, the Conservatives were lucky that the previous Liberal government, Mr. Chrétien to Mr. Martin, refused to follow the global trend of bank deregulation, and we have a strong banking system as a result of that.

    Second, there was a solid financial footing. The previous government paid down $80 billion of our national debt, but the current government has added $160 billion to the national debt.

    Lucky in a third way was that oil and gas revenues helped pick up the slack when manufacturing faltered, and no federal politician can take credit for putting the oil and gas under the ground in Saskatchewan and Alberta. However, we all know it was Danny Williams who put it under the water off Newfoundland.

    The Economist pointed to three reasons why we went through the global financial crisis in 2008 better than other countries. The three reasons are: a strong banking system, a good fiscal situation, and oil and gas. The one thing they have in common is that the Conservative government has had nothing to do with any of it.

    The Economist also pointed out that since 2008, Canada's post-crisis glow was fading, and that in terms of growth and jobs, and growth in the GDP, Canada had actually fallen behind other countries. In fact, if we look at 2015 numbers, Canada is projected to be 14th, or middle of the pack of 34 OECD countries in growth. We will be behind the U.S. and the U.K. In 2016, Canada is projected to be 21st of 34 OECD countries in economic growth. We will be behind the U.S., Australia and the U.K. There are real challenges.

    It is important to also recognize that when the Economist published that article citing the challenges facing the Canadian economy, oil, WTI, at the time was at $104 a barrel, which is in fact more than twice where it is today. Therefore, even before plummeting oil prices, our economy had flatlined in growth and job creation.

    In terms of job creation, the CIBC report from last week said that Canadian job quality was at a record low. The growth of low-paying jobs compared to mid or high-paying jobs is significant. We are seeing fewer high-paying jobs created and more low-paying jobs.

    The Conservatives talk about 1.2 million jobs being created since 2008. However, they are completely ignoring the fact that our working age population has grown by two million. Labour market participation remains lower than before 2008. People have given up looking for work. The number of people facing long-term unemployment, or people unemployed for over a year, today is twice that of 2008. There are 160,000 fewer jobs today for young Canadians than in 2008.

    There are record levels of personal debt as middle-class parents and grandparents are forgoing retirement and retirement savings to financially support young Canadians who are unable to support themselves based on the low-quality jobs they are getting.

    It is damning of our economic situation and of the government's negligence and ignorance of that situation which it seems to be blissfully unaware, or perhaps it does not care, that this is the first generation of Canadian parents who believe their children will be worse off than them.

    The Conservative government does not get it. It is out of touch, and one can only assume because of it delaying the budget, that it is also out of ideas.

    We needed a plan for jobs and growth before plummeting oil prices, and we need a plan for jobs and growth even more today. Even in terms of how it manages the petrol economy, because the Conservative economic plan was threefold, which was oil, oil and oil, it has not done very well. Not one pipeline has been approved under the Conservative government, largely due to the fact that it either has no relations or toxic relations with the stakeholders and partners required to move these projects forward, whether it is with President Obama, aboriginal and first nations leaders, the provinces or the environmental community.

    The government and the Prime Minister have not built the kinds of relationships required to defend Canadian economic interests. Former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney says that the top foreign policy priority of a Canadian prime minister is to have a personal relationship with the President of the United States.

    Mr. Mulroney would have gotten Keystone XL approved with President Reagan. Mr. Chrétien would have gotten Keystone XL approved with President Clinton. In fact, they understood the importance of relationships.

    However, the government cannot even meet with premiers to discuss moving forward on labour and training, and addressing the jobs-skills mismatch. It cannot meet and sit down respectfully with aboriginal and first nations Canadians. It calls the environmental communities eco-terrorists. These are the stakeholders and partners we need to have our projects moving forward. Even in the area where the government is focused, and that is on oil, it has not done a very good job.

    The Bank of Canada has said that low oil prices are “unambiguously bad for growth”. It responded with a 25-basis point rate cut. What has been the response from the government, when we need action, when we need clarity, when we need certainty? It has delayed the budget until April, perhaps hoping oil prices will increase.

    The reality is that wishful thinking is not a replacement for responsible budget making. Suncor and Encana cannot delay their public reporting or their annual reports because of low oil prices. They would have a regulatory challenge with the securities commission, but they would also create uncertainty with their investors.

    The same could be said about a federal government delaying the budget, ostensibly because of falling oil prices. I can remember governments that introduced budgets when oil prices were less than $40 per barrel. I can remember governments balancing budgets back then. The fact is that the government is out of touch and out of ideas.

    The Liberal plan for jobs and growth will be to invest in infrastructure, to take the historic opportunity we have today to rebuild Canada's infrastructure; to create jobs and growth today, and the kind of economy that will create more jobs and growth in the future; to invest in people and skills to ensure young Canadians have the skills they need for the jobs of today and to prepare for the jobs of the future; to invest in innovation, science and data; and to invest in the kinds of trade relationships we need, both globally with the Obama administration, China, Mexico and our traditional partners, but also within Canada, the kind of relationships required to build a strong economy.

    A Liberal government will move this economy forward and will help Canadian middle-class families move ahead. The Conservative government is out of touch and totally out of ideas to benefit those families.

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 8:10 am | Ontario, Kitchener Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member opposite about the fact that over 87% of the jobs created in Canada since the great recession have been full-time jobs, almost 85% of them in the private sector and nearly two-thirds in high-wage industries, and this in spite of the aging of the baby-boomer generation, which really makes people more inclined toward flexible work and part-time hours. We are glad that the economy responds to that.

    The CIBC report that has been recently in the news goes all the way back to 1988. Most of the years since 1988 were with a Liberal government, and it seems to me that most of the declines referred to in the report since 1988 were under a Liberal government.

    Can the member at least admit, as many Canadians do across this land, that the present Conservative government has done a fantastic job since the recession in creating 87% full-time jobs and 85% private-sector, two-thirds—

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    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 8:15 am | British Columbia, Taschereau

    Mr. Speaker, over the last 35 years in Canada, income inequality has grown. That means that the wealthiest Canadians in this country have gotten wealthier and the poorest Canadians have gotten poorer. The middle class has also shrunk in terms of its share of the wealth. More than 94% of that income inequality growth over the last 35 years occurred under a Liberal government.

    That was fuelled by policies like abandoning the federal minimum wage along with downloading billions of dollars of federal spending from the federal government to the provinces and also cutting services to Canadians.

    I wonder if my hon. colleague in the Liberal Party will comment on whether the current Liberal Party would pursue the same policies that would make middle-class and working-class Canadians poorer, as happened so often under previous Liberal governments in this country.

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    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 8:15 am | Ontario, Windsor—Tecumseh

    Order, please. Again, I would ask all members to keep their questions to a minute.

    The hon. member for Kings—Hants.

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    MPlib
    Mar 10, 2015 8:15 am | Nova Scotia, Kings—Hants

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member again is demonstrating that the Conservatives are totally out of touch with the challenges faced by middle-class Canadian families, who are struggling. He does not seem to accept the fact that we have 160,000 fewer jobs for young Canadians than before the downturn. He does not understand or get the reality that while we may have 1.2 million new jobs, the labour market of people who are eligible to work has grown by 2 million. The member does not seem to understand that the growth in jobs has been in lower-paying jobs, and that is in that CIBC report.

    For Canadian families, the bills still come in, whether they are for rent, car payments, or paying for hockey or education. The bills do not go down when someone loses a full-time job that is replaced by part-time work. The member exemplifies the arrogance of the current government, which is so focused on patting itself on the back that it does not have time to be in touch with the challenges faced by Canadian families.

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    MPlib
    Mar 10, 2015 8:20 am | Ontario, Markham—Unionville

    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to talk on this topic. Just to amplfy what my colleague said, which was that income inequality in Canada has grown under governments of all stripes, let me be clear: it has never grown under a federal NDP government, because there never has been one. We shall see if that continues in the next election.

    I would like to reinforce what my colleague said about the statistics in a somewhat different way.

    We have two parties here. On the one hand, we have the CIBC bank saying that the quality of jobs is the worst it has been in Canada for 25 years, the worst since 1989. It measures that quality by a mix of wage levels and by part-time versus full-time employment and self-employment. According to its studies, job quality is the worst since 1989, when the studies began.

    On the other side there is the government, which puts out a flurry of its own statistics that suggest the opposite. I know my colleague talked about those statistics, and that is an important issue, but I would like to put the question differently: which has more credibility on this issue, a bank that has done studies saying it is the worst in 25 years or a government that says everything it has done is marvellous?

    I would say the bank. I have a little credibility on this issue, because I used to work for a bank. Before I went into politics, I was chief economist for the Royal Bank. That is not the CIBC; it is another bank, but a bank is a bank, and I can say that if there is a bias within the banks, it is that they really do not want to annoy the government in power if there is an option. Therefore, all other things being equal, it is not that banks will lie, but if they have a choice, they would rather not present statistics that embarrass the government of the day. That is because they want to please the government for various reasons, commercial and otherwise.

    CIBC is not out to get the government. If anything, CIBC officials would prefer to please the government, yet the statistics are clear in their own minds. They cannot please the government on this issue because the facts say very clearly that the quality of jobs in Canada is indeed the worst in 25 years. That is what CIBC said in this study.

    I would argue, then, that CIBC has credibility, not only because it has competent economists who did the study but also because its own interest is to please the government rather than displease the government. It is obvious from the debate today that by coming out with this fact, CIBC has displeased the government. I would argue that no amount of self-serving government statistics should counter the fact that the bank has come out with an opposite conclusion even though it is not particularly in the interests of the bank to do so.

    The bank studies in this field are therefore credible. The bank does not want to embarrass the government, but it does want to tell Canadians the truth. According to the bank's analysis, the labour market situation is the worst it has been for 25 years.

    I am not sure I will devote more of my limited time to arguing the statistics. I rest my case by saying what I have already said, which is that the bank has far more credibility than the government on this issue.

    Given that the bank's facts are, broadly speaking, correct, the question then becomes what the federal government should do about it. What should the federal government do to address the fact that the job quality in this country has deteriorated to a point not seen for 25 years?

    The first answer to what to do would be what not to do. What not to do is not present a budget.

    The budget is the basic core plan of the government. Particularly when times are tough and oil prices have plummeted and times are uncertain is precisely when the Canadian public and Canadian investors want to know that their government indeed has a plan. By delaying the budget until some unknown, unspecified date, the government is clearly indicating that it has no plan, or has no plan B, shall we say; it does have its tired old economic action plan, but that plan fell apart when oil prices plummeted and it became clear that the tax measures it proposed would put us back into deficit.

    Conservatives want to keep that from the public. They want to focus the discussion on terrorists and war rather than on the economy, which is now doing very badly under their watch.

    The first thing to do is have a plan, but the Conservatives' plan is non-existent. To the extent that it exists in the form of income splitting, it is indeed a bad plan.

    The objective should be, first and foremost, to favour the creation of jobs, and not just any jobs, but high-quality jobs of the kind that we have not seen in recent years.

    The second thing not to do is income splitting, because income splitting will do essentially nothing to help create growth and jobs, and it is a hugely biased program that benefits only 15% of Canadian households, leaving 85% totally out in the cold. It will benefit only a very narrow segment of Canadian households, and not, by the way, those generally in the greatest need.

    It will not really do anything in terms of social justice by helping those most in need, nor will it do anything of any significance in terms of promoting jobs and growth or improving the dismal quality of jobs that we see around us today. The solution lies not in not having a budget or in this very poor income-splitting proposal, but rather in other measures, the kinds of measures that we in the Liberal Party have been focusing on.

    First and foremost, I would say, would be infrastructure. We had a policy resolution some time ago at a policy convention calling for a very major increase in federal investment in infrastructure. The mayors of our cities are crying out for this measure. It has not escaped their notice that the federal government has cut infrastructure investment by 90% over the next two years, and it is now, not five years from now, that the cities are in desperate need of that expenditure.

    Given our job situation, there is a double reason for infrastructure. One is that we desperately need it. We have an enormous infrastructure deficit. We need it for productivity, since it will enhance the transport network for our manufacturing sector and things of that nature, but we also need it for the jobs it will create. Economists' studies indicate that the multiplier effect or the job impact per $1 of expenditure is higher for infrastructure than for, I would say, anything else. Therefore, a second reason to focus on infrastructure is that it is highly efficient in creating jobs, often high-quality jobs, which would go some way toward counteracting the dismal situation that CIBC has indicated we find ourselves in today.

    That is one major measure that would address this issue. Others would include support for higher education, because, as has been pointed out, under federal Liberal and Conservative governments—not, thankfully, NDP governments—we have over time seen an increase in inequality. Equality of opportunity is essential, and part of that equality of opportunity concerns access to post-secondary education, whether that be university, college, or some other form of post-secondary training.

    That is just a small sample of the kinds of measures that we in the Liberal Party would propose in order to deal with this dismal situation of the lowest-quality jobs we have seen in this country for a quarter of a century.

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    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 8:30 am | Ontario, Windsor—Tecumseh

    Order. I would remind the member to direct his comments through the Chair rather than to the member.

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    MPlib
    Mar 10, 2015 8:30 am | Ontario, Markham—Unionville

    Mr. Speaker, I notice that at the macro level, the member is quite happy to talk in glowing terms about jobs created and the plans of the Conservative government. However, if we go to the micro level and his own riding, I note that they have lost 6,700 jobs since 2008. His glowing words at the macro level do not quite square with what is happening in his own backyard.

    That having been said, I would also point out that he is wrong when he says that we do not support measures to assist families. We have not said in any way that we are opposed to the overall benefit that is being offered. We have said very clearly that we are opposed to income splitting, which is only one element, and the most regressive and unsatisfactory element, of the Conservative package. We would repeal it and use that money for purposes that would be of far greater benefit to Canadians in terms of job creation, and possibly also put money directly into the pockets of Canadians.

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    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 8:45 am | Newfoundland, St. John's East

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity today to join in this debate on the NDP motion, which calls upon the government to take seriously the needs of Canadians, for a proper level of stimulation and to deal with the very high, sustained unemployment we have in Canada.

    The Conservatives keep talking about job creation, but what we hear is that the job situation in Canada is in fact getting worse. Their plans do not include a solution to the problem. Since the 2008 recession and a long-term downward trend in job quality, as described most eloquently by a recent CIBC report, job quality is going down.

    What is job quality? Job quality is an index being used by the CIBC, the employment quality index, that deals with the distribution of full-time and part-time jobs. We are seeing fewer full-time jobs and more part-time jobs; not only part-time jobs, but jobs that have been described as precarious employment. These are short-term part-time jobs and term employment, where one works for a few weeks here and a few weeks there. There is an inability to even qualify for employment insurance, the jobs are so precarious. Therefore, less than 40% of those who are unemployed are even able to qualify for employment insurance, despite the fact that they may have been working quite a bit in the period leading up to their unemployment, because of the changes to the employment insurance regime that this government and the previous Liberal government have brought in.

    The employment quality index also deals with self-employment versus paid employment and the compensation ranking of jobs in a hundred different industry groups. It looks at whether we are dealing with good-quality jobs that pay well, that provide some benefits, that allow people to take advantage of a middle-class income standard that gives a quality of life whereby they do not have to be concerned about where their next meal or their next rent cheque is coming from and they have a measure of security for themselves and their families.

    That is something that Canadians really deserve to have. We have a very prosperous country. We have superior level of natural resources. The GDP in Canada is very high. However, we have growing inequality.

    What do we do about it? We have a government that does not deal with that problem. It comes up with an income-sharing scheme that is extremely expensive and is going to benefit only 15% of the population, and unfortunately, it costs $3 billion of taxpayers' money that could well be spent in providing for programs such as the ones we have put forward, like a high-quality child care program that would allow Canadian families to have quality child care at an affordable price to a maximum of $15 a day. I have heard some of the members opposite describe it today as being a big bureaucracy, somehow or other.

    One thing about it is that it would actually require someone to sit down with the provinces, something the Prime Minister has not done since he has been in power. Why is that? It is because he does not really want to have good national programs that raise all boats by giving Canadian working families a real opportunity to have a decent job, to support their families, and to become a part of the middle class to which so many aspire if they are not already there.

    That term “middle class” is kind of a funny term to me because, as New Democrats, we have always talked about the working class or people who have been left out, but most Canadians see themselves as either being in or aspiring to be part of the middle class. Therefore, when we talk about middle-class Canadians, we are talking about the bulk of Canadians who see themselves as, hopefully, participating in the economy, having an opportunity for some income security and hopefully retirement security, being able to educate their children, and giving them a good start in life.

    Instead, what we have is fear and worry because of the precarious job situation of this generation. They are saying that their parents had a better way of life and that progress ended with their parents.

    Do we want the next generation to say that progress in life and in this country ended with their parents? That is a legacy that I do not want to see us leave to the next generation.

    That is the danger with the policies of the Conservative government. It is why we are calling for the first priority of the upcoming budget to be investment in measures that stimulate the economy, that create and protect sustainable, full-time, middle-class jobs in high-paying industries in all regions of Canada. It is why we are calling for the government to abandon its costly and unfair $2 billion income-splitting proposal.

    We talk about all regions of the country. Look at my province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We are suffering with an unemployment rate higher than 11%. The last number I saw was 11.4% unemployment. That is shocking. To talk about all of this so-called economic progress that has been made is unacceptable.

    Instead of seeing job stimulation through investments in infrastructure and job creation, we are seeing what the Conservatives think will get votes from their base. They are rewarding their base because they promised four or five years ago that they would have income splitting, which has been shown to be costly, ineffective, and bad public policy, according to the late finance minister. It has contributed to growing inequality in this country. That is the kind of policy that the Conservative government is putting forward, instead of policies that would help to lower the amount of inequality we have.

    It is not only in Newfoundland and Labrador. We see it in other provinces as well, but I will talk about my home province since it is the one closest to my heart. In addition to the high unemployment rate, we have a staggering problem now as a result of the lowering of oil prices. The Newfoundland and Labrador government has announced that it will be facing a $1 billion deficit for the first time in Newfoundland and Labrador history. It is going to have a very difficult job assisting people, providing the services it has been providing, and providing the kind of stimulus that would be needed to sustain the jobs and growth that are necessary in that economy.

    In times like that, provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador do expect the Government of Canada to play a more positive role, to get in there and say it needs to solve some of these problems and help by stimulating the economy, jobs, and growth. It is not doing it.

    We are looking for immediate action in the budget to boost job creation and to grow our economy. We are not the only ones who believe it is important that this happens. Concerns have been raised by others who recognize that issues such as a balanced budget are not the most important thing to have in the Canadian economy this year. What is really required is trying to make some progress in economic terms, and we are not doing that.

    Kevin Page, for example, said that in the last 10 years, we have made virtually no progress on all of our big issues, such as longer term economic challenges, closing innovation gaps in the economy, dealing with aging demographics that will put pressure on health care, and dealing with environmental sustainability. We have not even had discussions or proposals from the government.

    I see that my time is rapidly running out here. We really need to help small business owners. That is part of our proposal and our plan. Cuts to the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%, extending the accelerated cost allowances, and other ideas are part of our economic plan. We hope that the members opposite will see the light and support this motion.

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    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 8:55 am | Newfoundland, St. John's East

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for raising the issue of loan guarantees. It is something that I and my party have supported going back to 2004 and 2005. We were there supporting the notion of a federal loan guarantee for the Lower Churchill development long before the current government made any commitment in that regard.

    Clearly, it is a positive thing that the federal government finally decided to support a loan guaranteex for Newfoundland and Labrador hydro development. However, never before today have I heard it referred to as a small business measure. This is an $8-billion project, and it will have a loan guarantee of $6.2 billion. In our understanding, that is not a small business; that is a very large business.

    While we recognize that it is an important role for the Government of Canada to play, what we have offered is a cut in the small business tax rate from 11% to 9% in recognition that 98% of all businesses in Canada are small businesses, and they do need help because they are the big job creators.

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    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 9:00 am | Newfoundland, St. John's East

    Mr. Speaker, I know that many regions of the country, and the member talked about his, are suffering from job losses. However, one of the biggest job creators, certainly in the private sector, has been small businesses. In fact, 78% of all new private sector jobs between 2002 and 2012 have been created by small business. Yet, the Conservatives have really ignored the small business owners in favour of the wealthier corporations. They have cut the corporate tax rate for the wealthiest corporations by over 25%, but their support for small business has only been a cut of 1%. We know where their emphasis has been.

    We also know where the job creation is in the private sector. It is in many regions of the country, particularly in rural areas, such as that represented by the hon. member, and in places like Newfoundland and Labrador where every job counts. When there is an unemployment rate of 11.4%, a persistently high unemployment rate, it needs the support of public measures such as those we are proposing in order to advance and provide those jobs that people need.

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 9:00 am | Ontario, Nepean—Carleton

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to address this House on the aspirations of working-class families and building an economy where people who are struggling move into the middle class, and the middle class gets ahead.

    Members of the high-tax parties believe that governments must run the lives and spend the money of struggling families, that they can reduce poverty by taking money from working families and spending it for them. Conservatives believe that the best social safety net is a strong family and that the best anti-poverty plan is a good job. That is why our low-tax plan helps families and creates jobs.

    Members of the high-tax parties here today will tell us that they are more generous. The truth is that they are more generous with other people's money. They like to spend it on themselves. However, wealthy union bosses, well-paid lobbyists and lawyers who charge hundreds of dollars an hour to do so-called advocacy litigation have nothing to do with social justice. Despite all the high-minded rhetoric of the high-tax parties, the evidence is in. It shows that two things have happened since our government has taken office: one, families are moving out of poverty and into the middle class; and two, the middle class is getting ahead. In fact, it is ahead of any other middle class in any other country in the world.

    Here are the facts. Between 2005 and 2011, during which time our government has been in office, take-home pay among low-income families is up by 14% after tax and inflation. Even Andrew Coyne, who endorsed the Liberals, wrote:

    In 2011, the latest year for which StatsCan has figures, the proportion of the population living on low income—that is, with incomes below the agency’s Low Income Cut-off (LICO)--fell to its lowest level … well, ever. At just 8.8%, it beat the previous record of 9.0%, set in 2010. As recently as 1996, it was at 15.2%.

    We have gone from 15.2% of families living in poverty to 8.8%, a cut of almost half in just two decades from when the Liberals were in power until we took office. That is an extraordinary phenomenon and there are other statistics to support that it is a sweeping phenomenon and not an isolated statistic.

    Let me go on. Throughout the world, while the global recession came about between 2008 and roughly 2011, one would expect that child poverty would go up. Millions lose their jobs and have lower incomes and as a result more children are living below the line, but not in Canada. In fact, in Canada child poverty actually dropped by 180,000 children between 2008 and 2011. Was this the result of some expensive new government program? No, the evidence is clear that we reduced poverty by putting money back in the pockets of families.

    David Morley of UNICEF said, “If Canada is faring better than other western democracies, it is due to measures that are favourable to families, like tax credits, fiscal measures and benefits that have been maintained or put in place to counter the effects of the global crisis.”

    It is not hard to understand why. Let us look at the universal child-care benefit. Over 13 years, the Liberals spent billions of dollars trying to set up a government-run daycare program. Bureaucracies, government-funded lobbyists and researchers got all kinds of money, but in the end it did not create a single, solitary daycare space. The Liberals and the New Democrats, high in the ivory tower looking down, think modest families cannot be trusted to make their own decisions, that we need a bureaucracy to control every aspect of their lives and all of their money. I am proud to say we cancelled the Liberal bureaucracy. We divided up the savings and sent it to parents in cheques in the amount of $1,200 per child under the age of six. We called it the universal child care benefit.

    I asked my officials what the impact is of this benefit on poverty. Very methodically they gave me an answer. First, we use the low-income cut-off lines, which take after-tax incomes of all families with children to determine how many are low-income. Second, we did the very same comparison but based on what a family's after-tax income would have been without the universal child care benefit. The answer showed that there are 41,000 kids whose families would be beneath the poverty line without the universal child care benefit, but are above it because that benefit exists.

    That was not all. We increased the amount of money that families can earn before they start paying taxes and removed one million Canadians from the tax rolls altogether. Let me quote the Parliamentary Budget Officer on our tax reductions, because there has been a lot of misinformation about who benefits from those tax reductions. Let me quote his report:

    In total, cumulative changes have reduced federal tax revenue by $30 billion, or 12 per cent. These changes have been progressive, overall. Low and middle income earners have benefited more, in relative terms, than higher income earners.

    The report also points out that the highest 10% of income earners benefited the least with after tax gains of just 1.4%. The $30 billion in annual tax cuts sounds like an incomprehensibly large amount of money. It is; that is a lot of tax cuts. Let me say what it means for an average family. We have a country with 35 million people. Divide $30 billion by 35 million, we get $850 per person, per man, woman and child, in lower taxes. For a family of four that is $3,400. That might not sound like a lot of money to wealthy limousine Liberals or champagne socialists, but the reality is to an average family working hard to make ends meet and get ahead, that $3,400 can make the difference. That is why we are going to continue to reduce taxes for Canadian families.

    I should emphasize that with regard to the $850 per person in tax relief that happens every year under our government, the Parliamentary Budget Officer said specifically that the money went disproportionately to low- and middle-income earners.

    The reality is that when we put money back in the pockets of everyday people, they do the right thing with it. They lift themselves up and they do the same for their children. They give their kids a better start in life. We have to believe in families and in workers and in small business owners to trust them to keep their own money. We on this side of the House believe in Canadians and we trust them to keep their earnings.

    It is not just the Parliamentary Budget Officer's report or data from StatsCan that shows we are getting better off in Canada, in fact even the liberal-leaning New York Times wrote, “Life in Canada, Home of the World's Most Affluent Middle Class”. It also compared the years when the Liberal Party was in power and found that after-tax middle-class incomes in Canada, substantially behind in 2000, now appear to be higher than in the United States.

    Overall, since taking office, personal income taxes are down by 10% and take-home pay is up by 10%, on average across income levels. In fact, the lower quartile of income earners have actually benefited more than all others across the spectrum. The median net worth of Canadian families is up by 24% since 2005 when the Liberals were in power.

    That brings me to the question before the House on the family tax cut and benefits that we recently instituted. I just finished talking about everything we have done in the past nine years. Now let us talk about the present.

    In the fall, our Minister of Finance introduced the family tax cut and benefits for families, which did three things.

    First, it allowed couples to split their income to save up $2,000 on their taxes. Therefore, if one spouse earns more than the other, the higher income earning spouse can give enough to the lower spouse to equalize that, which will reduce their tax burden and allow them to keep more of their money. This allows families to make choices about how they raise their children.

    Second, we increased the universal child care benefit from $1,200 to $1,900 per preschool child, that great poverty-fighting, middle-class supporting benefit that I discussed earlier. We also extended it for children under the age of 18. Any child who is over the age of 6 and under 18 will be eligible for up to $720 per year.

    Finally, we increased the daycare tax credit by $1,000 so families that put their kids in a local community daycare could claim more of those costs on their taxes.

    What does this mean for a family? Let me provide a few scenarios.

    For families with incomes of $95,000 and $25,000 with two kids, one under 6 and one between 6 to 17, the net federal benefit for the 2015 tax year as a result of these new tax breaks is $2,835.

    Families where both mom and dad each earn $60,000, with two kids, one under the age of six and the other in the adolescent years, would save $875.

    A single income couple making $60,000 with one parent in the home and two kids would have a $1,605 benefit.

    The net benefit for a single parent with a modest income of $45,000 and a child under the age of six the net benefit for the 2015 tax year as a result of these new breaks we have brought in for families will be $402.

    In fact, every family with kids is better off as a result of the family tax cut and benefits.

    Through this motion today, the high-tax opposition parties have announced that if they ever get the chance to take office, they will take that money away. They will reach their hands into the pockets of hard-working families and take away these hard won gains. We will not let them.

    As I said at the outset, the best social safety net is a strong family. That is why we are helping families with the family tax cut and benefits.

    The best anti-poverty plan is a good job. That is why we have a low tax plan that creates jobs. It has created 1.2 million net new jobs, 85% of which are full time, 80% in the private sector, and two-thirds in high wage industries. That is the best relative job-creation record in the G7.

    Let me quote the International Monetary Fund, which said:

    Over the past several years, Canada has taken numerous steps to reduce the economy’s vulnerabilities through policies designed to keep financial institutions and the financial system as a whole safer.

    The Parliamentary Budget Officer said, “The current system of taxes and transfers serves to increasingly equalize income as inequality increases”.

    These improvements allow for a stable and strong economy that creates more jobs for Canadians.

    Our job creation plan is widespread and sensible. It includes trade, tax cuts and training.

    Let me talk for a moment about training. As we were growing up, we were told that the only way we could be a success was to go to university. University is great. I had the honour to attend the University of Calgary. However, there are also honourable and prosperous lives to be had in the trades. We wanted to reorient our training program to fill the one million skilled job vacancies that we expect will appear in Canada over the next decade.

    We need more plumbers, electricians, carpenters, stonemasons, and I could name many more. Our government created the apprenticeship grants, which help those families that want to give their children a chance to learn these great trades so they can go on to high salaries and incomes in high demand fields.

    I am thinking now of those families with working class backgrounds that struggle to get by. People know the types I am speaking of, those who scrimp and save and set aside every penny they can so their 18 and 19 year olds can go to college and get a certificate to practise in the trades. Some of them just do not quite make it. That is why we brought in this grant, so these families with these young people could get their shot. They can get their opportunity to make a good life and have a better future, literally building our country.

    This year we went beyond the apprenticeship grant and brought in the apprenticeship loan. For those young people who do not quite have enough money to retool their skills, we will now give them an interest-free loan while they study so they build those skills and ultimately build a better life for themselves.

    Already it is working. Half a million young people have benefited from our apprenticeship grants. Even though we just announced the loan at the beginning of January, we already have 2,000 young people who are benefiting from those loans. This is just the beginning.

    We are going to reorient our economy. We are going to give the proper esteem to these important trades jobs, because trades are just as a good as professions, college is just as good as university, and a good blue collar job is just as beneficial to the Canadian economy as a white collar job. Working class Canadians deserve that respect, and they also deserve the same benefits and help as everyone else. We are going to ensure that they get it.

    There is a difference between the high tax parties and our low tax government. The high tax parties are for union bosses; we are for workers. The high tax parties want to spend millions on a new office headed by a “children's commissioner”. We believe there are already eight million children's commissioners across country whose names are mom and dad.

    The high tax parties want to turn workers against business owners; we want to turn workers into business owners. They want to make the rich poorer; we want to make the poor rich. They believe in a hand out; we believe in a hand up. They want a government that stands in the way; we want a government that stands by people's side.

    We are going to continue to work to keep Canadians working. We have come so far. Working and middle-class families have made so much progress over the last 10 years. However, our work is not done. There is still more to do.

    We need to put yet more money in the pockets of middle-class families so they can spend in their communities, start small businesses and save for their futures. We need to create yet more jobs; 1.2 million jobs is a lot but it still is not enough. We need more.

    We are going to ensure that people have the skills they need for the jobs of today, and we are going to continue with our agenda of trade, training and tax cuts to take our country forward so families can secure and build on the gains they have already won, and build the dreams they envision for themselves.

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 9:20 am | Ontario, Nepean—Carleton

    Mr. Speaker, I will tell the member how it is going to help. A family with a single income of $60,000 will save $1,600 from our family tax cut, which is income splitting and an increased universal child care benefit. That is how it is going to help. It is going to put $1,600 back in that family's pockets. The NDP and the Liberals, the two high-tax parties, will take $1,600 away from that family. That money is now already in the family's pockets. It applied for the 2014 tax year.

    Therefore, when the high-tax parties tell us that they are going to be cancelling a future benefit, they are misleading Canadians. In fact, they will be retroactively raising taxes on middle-class families if they get the chance to take office. I am talking here about a family that earns $60,000 and the NDP wants to take $1,600 out of that family's pockets. That is a pay cut for middle-class families and is the reason why Canadians will reject these high-tax parties and re-elect a low-tax government.

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 9:25 am | Ontario, Nepean—Carleton

    Mr. Speaker, the best way to improve families' income and quality of life is to reduce the taxes they are paying. That will give them more income. However, the New Democrats and the Liberals want to raise taxes. That will lower the income of middle-class families and families living below the poverty line.

    What we are doing has a direct impact. The New Democrats do not even realize that 90% of workplaces fall under provincial jurisdiction. Our Parliament does not control minimum wage. However, what we can control is taxes. Our government is lowering taxes so that people who are working hard to improve their lives and their children's lives benefit. We will continue to do that.

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 9:30 am | Ontario, Nepean—Carleton

    Mr. Speaker, that is not true. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has said that our tax cuts have helped all Canadians, particularly middle-class Canadians and Canadians living below the poverty line. Even proportionately, middle-class families and people living in poverty are the ones who have benefited from our tax cuts. Lowering taxes will give the average family approximately $3,400.

    Let us talk about job creators: companies. We are lowering their employment insurance premiums. The New Democrats and the Liberals want to create a 45-day work year, where someone could receive employment insurance benefits for an entire year after working for 45 days. That would increase the cost of the program by over $4 billion and raise taxes for small and medium-sized businesses.

    This proposal would kill jobs, and that is why we are rejecting it.

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 9:40 am | Ontario, Brant

    Mr. Speaker, as with previous speakers, we welcome these comments because they highlight such a stark difference between the approach of the opposition and the approach of this government.

    The member presents, in a rhetorical way, the same falsehoods about jobs being somewhat precarious, low-paying, and so on. If he takes the example of the area of the country where his riding is located, southwest Ontario, manufacturing suffered greatly there during the recession. What has happened in the time since the recession of 2010 to today is that job creation numbers in heavy manufacturing in my community have gone from 30% unemployment to 6.7%. These are high-paying jobs with benefits. There are thousands of them.

    Therefore, how does the member square his comments with the fact that what is happening in southwestern Ontario right now is a resurgence of heavy manufacturing and all types of manufacturing, creating good-paying jobs? His numbers are completely incorrect. How does he respond to that?

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 10:50 am | Ontario, Kitchener—Conestoga

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague was sort of pooh-poohing the idea of the $60-a-month benefit for families with children between six and 17. He implied that it would not make any difference. However, what he failed to take into account, or what he failed to inform Canadians about, is the fact that under this government, the average Canadian family is now paying $3,400 less in taxes and is $3,400 better off.

    I have three adult children. Each of them has three children. I know what a difference it makes in their lives. I know what a difference it makes to the average Canadian family.

    I wonder if my colleague would be honest with this House and tell us that if and when he goes to the polls, he will be honest with Canadians and tell them that in order to pay for the NDP's extravagant schemes, he and his party will remove that $3,400 benefit from all Canadian families that have children.

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 11:00 am | Nova Scotia, West Nova

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support the nomination of the town of Middleton, in the Annapolis Valley, to compete for the name Kraft Hockeyville 2015.

    The community has been working hard to ensure Middleton has a strong campaign. In the past month it has received thousands of testimonials in support from those who have had wonderful experiences at the Middleton arena. The arena has hosted minor hockey, high school hockey, the men's hockey league, the CanSkate program, and weekly public skating sessions. It also hosts numerous events in the off season, including a craft show, floor hockey and an annual dance in support of the Middleton minor hockey association.

    I encourage everyone to follow along at the Kraft Hockeyville website and vote often for Middleton. I join the community in voicing my support for Middleton to become Kraft Hockeyville 2015.

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 11:05 am | Ontario, Burlington

    Mr. Speaker, this year's theme for International Women's Day was "Make It Happen" One of the tenets of the theme was making it happen in business ownership for women.

    I would like to congratulate the co-CEOs of Gerrie Electric, Elaine and Heather Gerrie, for their successes in business. With over $150 million annual sales, Gerrie Electric is one of Canada's largest independent electrical and automation distributers.

    Elaine and Heather are true role models for women in business. Not only have they succeeded in business leadership and ownership, they have "Made It Happen" in a male dominated industry.

    I want to thank Elaine and Heather Gerrie for breaking down barriers and realizing opportunity. Their vision, drive and determination are making a difference in the lives of their employees, our community of Burlington and our country.

    I thank Elaine and Heather Gerrie for "Making It Happen", and congratulate them on being recognized as one of the best managed companies in Canada.

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 11:05 am | Alberta, Calgary—Nose Hill

    Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, I look forward to our study of the new anti-terrorism bill.

    We must prevent threats to the safety of Canadians, while respecting the privacy of ordinary citizens. Naturally, we will hear a range of opinions about the proper balance. The goal is critical: to protect our country's freedoms and values. That is why the courts and the Security Intelligence Review Committee will carefully monitor the new tools under Bill C-51.

    We will cautiously weigh the measures needed for Canada to remain a safe country, while also ensuring that innocent citizens are able to go about their lives without unwarranted intrusion.

    Canada, like other democracies, is the target of jihadi terrorists. That is why our government will continue to take prudent measures to safeguard the nation's peace and security.

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 11:10 am | Alberta, Peace River

    Mr. Speaker, moms and dads should be able to make important decisions that affect their own children. That is why our new family tax cut and enhanced universal child care benefit will give 100% of families with kids an average of nearly $2,000 per child per year. That is nearly $12,000 over the child's first six years.

    What do we hear from the other side of the House? We hear about new taxes, high debt, and the removal of all of these benefits that we brought forward for Canadian families.

    Canadians do not want their money funnelled into bureaucratic black holes. They do not need higher taxes. They need tax relief and support, and they need to be able to use it as they see fit. That is exactly what we are delivering.

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    MPlib
    Mar 10, 2015 11:10 am | Newfoundland, Random—Burin—St. George's

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Major Rhonda Stevens, originally from North Harbour in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.

    Rhonda has been appointed Officer-in-Chief of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax. Rhonda's interest in search and rescue was piqued at a young age. Her father spent 25 years with the Canadian Coast Guard. His team responded to many distress calls, including the Ocean Ranger tragedy, which occurred on February 15, 1982, and saw 84 lives lost.

    After spending time as an air cadet in Clarenville, Rhonda left home at age 17 to attend the Royal Military College, where she honed her skills as a flight navigator. She has logged more than 3,000 hours of flying time, both as a pilot and a navigator.

    Her 21 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, 15 of them with search and rescue, have ensured that Rhonda is well prepared to take on this new challenge.

    Rhonda's parents, Art and Una Eddy, are understandably proud of her accomplishments. I ask all members of the House to join me in congratulating Major Rhonda Stevens and wishing her all the best in this new position.

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 11:10 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Qu'Appelle

    The hon. member for Mississauga—Erindale.

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    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 11:10 am | Ontario, Hamilton East—Stoney Creek

    Mr. Speaker, today, outside of this place, there are hundreds of Tibetans marking the occasion when, on March 10, 1959, tens of thousands of Tibetans took to the streets of Tibet's capital, rising up against China's illegal invasion and occupation of their homeland. Tibetans formed a human chain around the Potala Palace, the home of the Dalai Lama, to protect him from Chinese soldiers.

    Fast forward 56 years. A few days ago, March 6 to be exact, a 47-year-old woman burned herself to death in protest against Chinese policies in Tibetan areas. She becomes the 137th known case of self-immolation by Tibetans since the practice started in 2009.

    Mr. Prime Minister, it is time for action from Canada. We must take the lead in initiating a multilateral forum on Tibet. There is a role for the ambassador of the Office of Religious Freedom in investigating the reasons behind the rise in self-immolations in Tibet. Canada should urge the Chinese government to allow independent monitors to assess Tibet's situation—

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 11:15 am | Ontario, Northumberland—Quinte West

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a brother, son, and solider, Sergeant Andrew Doiron, who tragically lost his life this past Friday.

    Sergeant Doiron was known for his intellect, his precision, and his love of being a soldier. He was meticulous in thought and in action. He dedicated a considerable amount of time teaching and mentoring young soldiers out of his passion for the Canadian Armed Forces.

    This is the man we all remember today. We remember the soldier who completed three deployments in Afghanistan. We remember the brother and son who adored skiing, fitness training, motorcycles, and dogs. We remember Sergeant Andrew Doiron for his sacrifice made to Canada.

    From a grateful nation, may he rest in peace and his life never be forgotten.

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    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 11:15 am | Quebec, Outremont

    Mr. Speaker, four days ago Sergeant Andrew Doiron of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment was tragically killed in Iraq. Canadians are grieving the first death of a Canadian soldier in combat in this war. Why were Kurdish forces not aware of the presence of Canadian troops on the front lines?

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    MPlib
    Mar 10, 2015 11:20 am | Quebec, Papineau

    Mr. Speaker, this weekend the Minister of National Defence posted images of special forces in Iraq, risking their safety. He also described the Muslim Ashura ceremony as ISIL enslavement. We were also reminded last week that this same minister had announced on social media that Corporal Cirillo had tragically died before his family and comrades even knew.

    Has the Prime Minister reprimanded his minister for any of this behaviour?

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    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 11:20 am | Quebec, Outremont

    Mr. Speaker, there is no difference. They are all combat deaths.

    The White House has been very clear on this. American soldiers who are training Iraqis are not allowed on the front line. It has said that sending them to the front would constitute a major change in their mission and would require Congress's approval.

    Why are our soldiers on the front line without Parliament's approval?

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    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 11:20 am | Alberta, La Peltrie

    Mr. Speaker, the truth is, of course, that the NDP voted against this military mission. The truth is that Parliament voted for it. Parliament voted for it because we want to give all the help we can to the brave Kurdish people who are resisting the advance of ISIL and are willing to take on the fighting themselves. We are giving them advice and assistance. Yes, we are doing that in a robust way, but we are absolutely following what we said we would do in this Parliament, and we will continue to do that.

  • retweet
    MPlib
    Mar 10, 2015 11:25 am | Quebec, Papineau

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration said that the hijab was an indefensible perversion of Canadian values. The hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest said disgraceful things about foreign workers.

    Instead of dividing Canadians, this Prime Minister should get his priorities straight and present his economic plan to Canadians.

    Again, when will he table his budget?

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 11:25 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Qu'Appelle

    Order, please.

    The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

  • retweet
    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 11:25 am | Quebec, Outremont

    Mr. Speaker, I wonder when the Conservative Party is going to make a full accounting of all the money it took, thanks to Pamela Wallin.

    The Minister of Public Works is the Prime Minister's closest and most faithful minister—

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 11:25 am | Alberta, La Peltrie

    Mr. Speaker, at the time, I indicated that all the senator's expenses would be reviewed to discover the facts. We did that, and the senator must be held accountable for her actions.

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 11:30 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Qu'Appelle

    Order, please. There are several people talking at the same time. The Right Hon. Prime Minister has the floor, and I will ask members to come to order.

    The Right Hon. Prime Minister.

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 11:30 am | Ontario, Haldimand—Norfolk

    Mr. Speaker, I always believed that this project, which was designed to make the Markham Centre for Skills and Independence more accessible for people with disabilities, was worthwhile and in the public interest.

    I accept the advice of the commissioner to ensure that these subsidy programs are administered in a fair, accessible and effective way for all involved.

  • retweet
    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 11:30 am | Quebec, Outremont

    Mr. Speaker, we are willing and ready to go before a judge. Is he?

    There were senior officials under the minister, a political staffer in her office, two other cabinet members, and, wait for it, Nigel Wright. Remember him? We remember that the Prime Minister fired him after he quit. In this case, Nigel Wright said that the Prime Minister himself knew that this was “an issue”.

    What exactly did the Prime Minister know about this dirty insider deal involving his office, three Conservative ministers, and a dear friend of the Conservative Party?

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 11:30 am | Alberta, La Peltrie

    Mr. Speaker, as the report makes clear, I had no specific knowledge of these applications nor any preference in what was chosen. The fact of the matter is that the then Minister of Human Resources made a decision to support accessibility for disabled people to a community centre in the Markham area. She believed that was in the public interest, and I believe she was acting in good faith.

  • retweet
    MPndp
    Mar 10, 2015 11:35 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay

    Mr. Speaker, I did not even hear a “sorry”. She broke the rules and she misused public funds. We expect that when a minister breaks the rules, there is a “sorry”, but no. It is as though if Nigel Wright makes the call, it is okay. This is the question here. All manner of projects apply, but not all manner of projects get moved up after they have been rejected because they are not in the public interest.

    I would like to ask the Prime Minister once again about his interference in this project. When Nigel Wright was told to “sort it out”, what does that mean? Is “sort it out” the new “good to go” for breaking the rules in the PMO?

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 11:35 am | Ontario, Haldimand—Norfolk

    Mr. Speaker, the commissioner was very clear that there was no involvement by the Prime Minister in the selection of this project. I always believed that this was a worthwhile project to help improve accessibility for people at the Markham Centre and that it was in the best public interest to fund this program.

  • retweet
    MPcon
    Mar 10, 2015 11:40 am | Manitoba, Selkirk—Interlake

    Mr. Speaker, I just want to remind that member that we received the final report only an hour ago.

    We thank the Military Police Complaints Commission for this final report and the work. We agree that the outcome of this is completely unacceptable. That is why we are seriously looking at the report and its recommendations on an expedited basis.

    We offer our condolences again to the Langridge family.


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