Mr. Speaker, I hope you will indulge me for a few minutes. I would like to raise a point of order and seek your guidance on the absolutely outrageous actions of the Conservative majority on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security yesterday evening. I am raising that first thing this morning, because I believe it is a question that has to be put to you for keen deliberation over the course of the weekend and to provide the House with some guidance on the matter.
Mr. Speaker, as you are well aware, the bible on which our democratic practice and procedure that has evolved over a century and a half in the House comes from House of Commons Procedure and Practice. This is the bible, or the guide to the Speaker's deliberations, that guides all of our deliberations as members of the House of Commons.
In House of Commons Procedure and Practice, on page 1057, is a very important regulation that guides our deliberations and guides the deliberations of committee structures in the House. It is a comment on the framing of the motion for the previous question. I will read for a moment how it is framed in House of Commons Procedure and Practice.
The motion that “The question be now put” is known as the previous question. In the House, the previous question is a debatable motion. When the debate ends, the motion for the previous question is put to a vote. If the motion is carried, the initial motion under consideration is immediately put to the vote in the House.
At committee, and this is on page 1057 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, it says very clearly:
In committee, motions for the previous question are inadmissible.
That is black and white. There is no way of getting around what is a very clear regulation and very clear guidance that is given to committees. Motions for the previous question are inadmissible. I want to reference for a moment, as well, former Speaker Milliken's ruling on April 2, 2009, when he said:
...committees that overturn procedurally sound decisions by their chairs and choose to present procedurally unacceptable reports to the House will have them declared null and void.
Former Speaker Milliken was very clear that the guidelines, the procedure and practice rules we are governed by that are contained within House of Commons Procedure and Practice, that clearly say that motions for the previous question in committee are inadmissible, are very clear direction to committees. Committees that then overturn procedurally sound decisions by their chairs and choose to present procedurally unacceptable reports will have them declared null and void.
Last night, at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, exactly what I have just referenced happened. The Conservative majority on the committee threw out the rule book, threw out a century and a half of traditions that exist in our country and in this Parliament, and took matters into their own hands. The victims, of course, of this are all Canadians concerned about fundamental and sound principles of Canadian democracy and also the committee chair, who is the member for Prince Edward—Hastings.
Last night the majority on the committee simply told the chair that his intention to stick to the rule book was simply not going to be followed by the Conservative majority on the committee. They ignored the rules. They ignored the practice. They ignored all the precedents. They ignored the clear direction, and they overturned a procedurally sound ruling by the chair, showing profound disrespect to the member for Prince Edward—Hastings, even more profound disrespect to the rule book under which we are governed, and perhaps the greatest disrespect to Canadians as a whole. Conservatives threw out those democratic principles, and they threw out the rule book.
By ignoring the rules and forcing their majority will on the committee, the Conservatives have produced what is a real-life incarnation of the tyranny of the majority. The implications are pretty profound for our democracy. In the past, we have seen the government throw away the rule book. We have seen this with the Board of Internal Economy.
However, this was done in a public forum. I think it makes it even more outrageous that this took place in a public forum, in front of the public.
I am going to take a few minutes to recount what happened yesterday evening at the time the member for Northumberland—Quinte West stepped forward and moved a motion that was procedurally unacceptable.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, in the rule book, it is very clear that motions for the previous question are inadmissible. The member for Northumberland—Quinte West, perhaps because he was unaware of the rule book, perhaps because he had not read it, or perhaps because he does not think the rule book applied to him, moved that motion.
The chair, the member for Prince Edward—Hastings, made the following ruling. He said, “ The chair cannot support this motion...due to the fact...that...we have other speakers on the list yet and our practice has been to continue the debate until the speakers are exhausted, and at the time then the motion would be brought forward”.
Very clearly, the member for Prince Edward—Hastings, as the chair of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, was following the rule book, and he clearly ruled it out of order.
The member for Northumberland—Quinte West then threw out the rule book and challenged the chair.
Now, at that point, the member for St. John's East stepped up and said, “I don't think that the overruling of the chair makes a motion” which was clearly inadmissible, “in order”. You know that when one moves a motion that is inadmissible, one simply cannot just overrule the chair. They cannot throw out the rule book.
At that point, the chair, following interventions from the Conservative majority, pushed ahead just the same.
The member for Alfred-Pellan also intervened to request clarification. She asked the chair if there was no longer any right to debate the amendment to the amendment or the main motion between votes. The chair replied that that was indeed the case.
Mr. Speaker, what happened yesterday was that a clearly inadmissible motion, one that is clearly prohibited by the rule book, was ruled out of order, quite properly, by the chair, and the Conservative majority said, “The rules do not apply to us. We are just going to use our majority on this committee, and we are going to simply bulldoze through something that is clearly inadmissible, something that violates the principles, the democratic principles, under which we are governed and the rules that all of us, all members of Parliament, are supposed to follow”.
It is not just that they ruled what is inadmissible admissible, throwing out the rule book. They also eliminated any debate, as the member for Alfred-Pellan stated very clearly, after the Conservative majority tried to push through on this. It also eliminated any debate whatsoever on the amendment and on the main motion.
This is not some minor bill the Conservatives have brought forward. This is Bill C-51. This is a bill that has growing concern across the country about what it would mean to our democracy, what it would mean to democratic rights and freedoms. There have been questions raised in this House repeatedly. No answers have been forthcoming from the government.
This is a bill that, in many people's minds, including former prime ministers and Supreme Court justices, would be a danger to Canadian fundamental precepts of Canadian democracy.
To throw out the rule book on the debate on Bill C-51 and the extent to which, actually, Canadians would be consulted on the bill at the committee stage is no minor matter. This is a fundamental principle of Canadian democracy.
On this side of the House, as New Democrats, we believe that Canadians are entitled to add their voices on Bill C-51 and that the experts are entitled to come forward and provide their recommendations on Bill C-51. We believe that this is a fundamental bill that could, in a very dangerous way, impact fundamental rights and freedoms in Canada, and we believe that Canadians have the right to be heard on the bill. That is what we believe on this side of the House.
This is an important study. The freedom of committees, as you know, Mr. Speaker, is circumscribed by our rule book, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which is what all of us, as members of Parliament, are supposed to follow,.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, Standing Order 116 says very clearly, as well:
In a standing, special or legislative committee, the Standing Orders shall apply so far as may be applicable, except the Standing Orders as to the election of a Speaker, seconding of motions, limiting the number of times of speaking and the length of speeches.
Since committees are regarded as creatures of the House, Standing Order 116 provides that the rules of the House have force in committees, so far as they are applicable. A member may speak on issues before a committee, and that is very clearly delineated in Standing Order 116.
However, it is also the precedents in the past. In the past, but perhaps not in events as outrageous as what we saw last night at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, we have had issues with conduct in committees that have been brought to the House, and Speakers have made rulings on them. As well, for the guidance you will be giving us in the coming days, Mr. Speaker, I want to restate some of the Speakers' rulings and some of the comments previous Speakers have made on committee actions.
First, Speaker Milliken, on March 29, 2007, said the following:
At the present time, the chair occupants, like our counterparts in House committees, daily face the challenge of dealing with the pressures of a minority government, but neither the political realities of the moment nor the sheer force of numbers should force us to set aside the values inherent in the parliamentary conventions and procedures by which we govern our deliberations.
Hon. members are all aware of situations in committees of this Parliament where, because decisions of the chair are subject to appeal, decisions that were procedurally sound have been overturned by the majority on a committee
.....All the more reason then for the Chair to exercise its awesome responsibility carefully and to ensure that the House does not, in the heat of the moment, veer dangerously off course.
Speaker Milliken also, on March 14, 2008, said:
The Speaker must remain ever mindful of the first principles of our parliamentary tradition which Bourinot described thus: “To protect the minority and restrain the improvidence and tyranny of the majority, to secure the transaction of public business in a decent and orderly manner—”
As well, Speaker Milliken, on April 2, 2009, as I mentioned earlier, said:
As explained in House of Commons Procedure and Practice at page 857, decisions of committee chairs may be appealed to the committee. However, as I noted in rulings on March 14, 2008 and May 15, 2008, committees that overturn procedurally sound decisions by their chairs and choose to present procedurally unacceptable reports to the House will have them declared null and void.
Finally, Speaker Fraser, on November 28, 1990, had this to say:
I have to say to hon. members and to the public that the workings of committees is very important to the working of the House of Commons. I do ask hon. colleagues to make every effort possible to come to whatever agreements and understandings among themselves which are necessary to make these committees work.
I do not want to state this too often, and I hope that I will not have to, but there is a general feeling across the country that somehow or other not only politicians, but maybe institutions, are letting down the country. This is why it is essential that everybody make an extra effort to try to make this system work.
I am not happy with this situation, obviously. But, I am also bound by rules here and if I am to intervene in committees, it has to be in a very severe and outrageous situation indeed.
I would submit that this is an absolutely outrageous situation, that the rules under which we are governed were clearly violated yesterday, and that the chair made a procedurally sound decision, based on the fact that motions for the previous question are inadmissible.
Even more so, motions for the previous question eliminate all questions at once. With a sleight of hand, it simply eliminates any ability for opposition members of Parliament to speak on that issue at all.
What could be next? If the tyranny of the majority means that at any time a procedurally sound decision made by a chair of a committee can be overturned by a Conservative majority, what is to stop Conservatives from saying that opposition members have no right to speak at all, or that opposition members have no right to appear at committee? At what point are they going to stop this tyranny of the majority?
There is absolutely no doubt that what happened last night was a travesty. It ripped up the rule book on a fundamental piece of law that Canadians are becoming increasingly concerned about. I have no doubt that the government does not want debate on this bill. The more there is debate, the more Canadians are calling into question how this bill was put together and the vague language and loopholes that can lead to dangerous precedents in our country. There is no doubt about that. However, they do not have the right to completely shut down debate. They do not have the right to move procedurally wrong motions, to overrule the chair when the chair is ruling, having followed the rule book in the interest of Canadian democracy, and they do not have the right to simply shut down debate.
Mr. Speaker, I am asking for guidance from you in the coming days. The House has an objective referee, and so should committees. When committee chairs make procedurally sound rulings following the rule book, they should be respected. Rules are there for a reason. The implications of allowing a wild west in committees in the final 11 weeks of Parliament are simply too serious to even contemplate at this point.
I ask for the Speaker's guidance on what was an outrageous action by the Conservative majority last night at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, and, as a member of the opposition, I also ask for his guidance as a Canadian. What happened last night was a travesty. It was outrageous, and it should not be permitted. We ask for the Speaker's wisdom and guidance so that these kinds of instances do not occur again.
Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the remarks by the member for Prince Edward—Hastings, who is also chair of the public safety committee. I enjoy working with him, and he did a good analysis of the various authorities that CSIS has.
I would say that he took a lot of liberty in his remarks about the Liberal leader's comments, and the things he quoted are simply not true. It does not do much for the integrity of the member or his party when they constantly misquote people in the House.
The question I want to raise with the member is a serious concern. As he knows, the Liberal Party will be supporting this bill. Wesley Wark, when he was before the committee, had this to say about Bill C-44:
Bill C-44 does not add any new provisions to the CSIS Act to ensure proper consultation between the service and its minister, the Minister of Public Safety, and the two departments most likely to be impacted by expanded CSIS overseas operations—the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and the Department of National Defence.
Liberals proposed an amendment. With the additional protection of sources and the additional powers granted in this act for work overseas, does the member not see it as a problem if activity takes place by CSIS abroad that could impact our trade relationship or the Minister of Foreign Affairs? If CSIS folks are caught in illegal activities, or whatever, as a result of a warrant issued in Canada, does he not see the dangers that situation could cause, such as trade and diplomatic problems? Why not put into the act a requirement that consultation has to take place?
Order. Could members of the chamber who would like to conduct conversations take them outside so that your colleague, the hon. member for Prince Edward—Hastings, could have the attention of the House? If members would like to talk, please take it outside the chamber.
The hon. member for Prince Edward—Hastings.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Prince Edward—Hastings, who has the important role of chair of the public safety committee.
This very afternoon I will appear in front of the committee to invite that member to support the protection of Canada from terrorists act. We are removing the passports from those terrorists. We are ready to take out dual citizenship when they are convicted of terrorist acts. It is unfortunate that the opposition is opposed to this.
We are sure of one thing. We will move forward with surveillance, arrest, and detention. These are additional measures to keep Canadians safe.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Prince Edward—Hastings. This morning, our government, along with Senator Boisvenu, was pleased to present important legislation to create six new DNA-based indices pertaining to missing persons, human remains and relatives of the missing, whose DNA can be instrumental in locating victims.
Judy Peterson, the mother of Lindsey Nicholls, who disappeared in 1993, has been a tireless advocate for the creation of a DNA database of missing persons and dead persons, petitioning for the passage of legislation that has come to be known as “Lindsey's law”.
She said, “It’s been a very long emotional journey, but I am absolutely thrilled with this crucial legislation”.
I think late would have agreed when he put that in the budget.
Mr. Speaker, before beginning debate, I should let the House know that I intend to split my time with the member for Prince Edward—Hastings.
With this motion, my hon. colleagues are suggesting that somehow the government job credit for small businesses is nothing but an incentive to lay off employees. As I mentioned in my first question to the member for Kings—Hants, it is a little difficult for us to wrap our heads around the logic, and I suspect it is difficult even for the Liberals, that somehow any government, not just this government with a reputation of creating jobs, would take any action to reduce the number of jobs available. It is truly ludicrous.
What we are doing is exactly the opposite. The small business job credit will lower EI premiums for small businesses by 15%. Over the next two years, the premium reduction will save employers $550 million, money they can use to hire more Canadians.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates the credit will create 25,000 person-years of employment over the next two to three years. The Minister of Finance also confirmed that in 2017, EI premiums will go from the current $1.88 per $100 of earnings down to $1.47 per $100 of earnings. This means that employers will have more money to invest in things like training and increasing wages, and workers will have more money in their wallets at the end of the day.
Our government has a responsibility to create the right conditions for economic growth, and it is clearly one that we do not take lightly.
Since the economic downturn, we have had a steady increase in employment, low interest rates and the kind of economic growth that has made us the envy of other countries. We got here by implementing concrete measures to ensure Canadians have the skills they need for the jobs that are in demand. That is a big part of it. On the other side of the coin is how we are supporting employers to ensure they continue to grow their businesses and create jobs for Canadians. The small business job credit is simply the latest step in a broader plan to support job creation in our country.
Another element of our plan, as members know, is the Canada job grant, an employer-driven approach to help Canadians gain the skills and training they need to fill available jobs. So far we have finalized agreements with all of the provinces and territories, and six of them are already accepting applications from employers with a plan to train people for jobs. Matching employers with employees across this country will continue to create jobs across Canada. What this means is that employers can be sure they will have an employee with the skills that the job requires. It means as well that there is a real job at the end of the training.
We are also partnering with several colleges and training institutions to get more businesses directly involved in ensuring there is a better matchup between skills taught and skills wanted. That is also why we invest so much in apprenticeships. However, support for apprentices will not accomplish much if it is difficult for people to hire them. To change this, the government has provided tax credits for employers who hire eligible apprentices.
Employers can also take advantage of provisions in the EI system for supplemental unemployment benefits or SUB plans. Employers with a registered SUB plan can provide supplemental payments to EI benefits for temporary periods of unemployment due to a temporary stoppage of work, training, illness or injury. So far close to 3,000 employers across Canada have approved SUB plans, and over 887,000 workers are benefiting from these payments. The SUB plan, among other things, solves a major challenge for employers who hire apprentices. It means that employers can pay up to 95% of their apprentice's regular salary, while the apprentice is completing his or her technical training at college.
Our priority is clear. Since the depths of the global recession we have implemented a range of measures to create jobs and prosperity for all Canadians, and we are seeing the results. Canada's economy is performing well in the context of the weakened global economic recovery. We have created over 1.1 million jobs since July 2009, and over 80% of these jobs have been in full-time positions. Nearly 80% are in the private sector and 65% of those are in high-wage industries.
As I said, this job credit for small business is the latest measure in a much broader plan, a plan that includes a commitment to a national EI program that is more reflective of, and responsive to, local labour market conditions and that stimulates job creation. The job credit we announced two weeks ago intends to do just that.
However, it is increasingly clear that the Liberal leader does not have a plan for the economy. He believes that budgets balance themselves, and now he is trying to make us believe that taxing small businesses would somehow create jobs. In fact, it is the opposite. The Liberals' plan for employment insurance would cost Canadians nearly $6 billion. This would lead to a massive increase in payroll taxes, with an increase in EI premiums of nearly 50¢, and would kill thousands of jobs.
If we take a look at just one part of this plan, the 45-day work year, its cost alone would be over $4 billion. Other parts of their plan are equally thoughtless, including $3 million to provide EI for prisoners. They would compensate perpetrators of crime.
It is abundantly clear that we do not need the measure that our Liberal colleagues are proposing today. Therefore, I urge all members not to support the motion. This applies particularly to the members of the NDP, who I am sure do not need to be reminded of their record of being the least democratic party in the House, without a single dissenting vote against the party line since becoming the official opposition.
In closing, I know my colleague from Prince Edward—Hastings has more to add to this speech. What we have here is flawed Liberal logic backed up by flawed NDP logic. Really, the facts speak for themselves. This is a good incentive. It would create jobs across this country. This is legislation we need. We do not need the naysayers.
The hon. member for Prince Edward—Hastings has six minutes left in his speech.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Prince Edward—Hastings for his insight into this important bill. As the chair of the public safety committee, he has some very important views to add and his comments earlier, being a former police officer.
It is a pleasure to have an opportunity to speak about this issue of grave concern to our Conservative government and to all Canadians: the use of drugs in our federal prisons.
As hon. members know, our government has a robust agenda in place to strengthen the laws so offenders are held accountable for their actions and to increase the voice of victims in the criminal justice system. To this end, since 2006 we have supported significant crime prevention programs and invested in a wide range of support services for victims of crimes and passed laws to ensure that sentences match the severity of the crime. We have also committed to bringing forward legislation and a victims bill of rights that would enshrine the rights of victims in law. The legislation before us, the drug-free prisons act, would build on this work.
Notably, it brings back to us one of the key parts of our crime and public safety agenda; that of increasing offender accountability. This push to hold offenders accountable for their crimes forms the basis of much of our correctional programming. This is apparent in the many bills we have introduced and passed.
Offender accountability is a prominent feature in many elements of the Safe Streets and Communities Act, which received royal assent in March 2012. In that comprehensive bill, our government made a number of changes to increase penalties and to place the onus on offenders to succeed in their own rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.
We introduced measures ensuring violent and repeat youth offenders would be held accountable for their actions and that the protection of society would be of paramount consideration.
We ended the use of house arrest and conditional sentences for those offenders convicted of serious and violent crimes. We made it the law that federal offenders would have expectations for their behaviours and objectives for meeting court ordered obligations, such as restitution to victims or child support.
We modernized the disciplinary system, creating new offences for offenders who had disrespectful and intimidating behaviours toward correctional staff.
We made certain that if authorized to be outside of an institution before the end of their sentence, offenders would be expected to continue on the right path. We did this by providing police officers with the power of arrest without warrant of an offender who appeared to be in breach of any condition related to the condition of his or her release.
We made it the law that offenders who received a new custodial sentence would automatically have their parole or statutory release suspended.
We changed the laws so those who committed serious crimes, like sexual offences related to a minor, would be no longer eligible to apply for a record suspension.
We ensured that the Parole Board of Canada could proceed with a parole review, even if the offender requested to withdraw his or her application within 14 days without a valid reason, thereby ensuring that the process would be serious and respectful of victims who planned to attend the hearing.
These are common sense measures that Canadians want and commitments that we are delivering on.
In the last session, a private member's bill put forward by my hon. colleague, the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, was introduced to ensure that offenders would be held responsible for paying their debts to creditors, such as victims with restitution orders, when they received payment from the Crown.
We recently saw the coming into force of the Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act which would double the victims' surcharge that offenders must pay and would ensure that the surcharge was automatically applied in all cases.
It is clear that we have made progress in increasing offender accountability for a wide range of crimes and in a wide range of situations.
The importance of offender accountability applies equally to the topic at hand: drug use in federal prisons. Our government has taken decisive steps to remove drugs from our federal penitentiaries. In 2007, the Correctional Service Canada, or CSC, adopted a transformation agenda to address areas of concern within our correctional system. Among those areas was that of eliminating drugs from institutions. A consistent national approach was implemented to manage who and what was entering our institutions. New search and surveillance technology, including additional drug protection dog teams, allows for better screening and detection.
Furthermore, the national anti-drug strategy of CSC works within a zero tolerance policy that takes a multi-prong approach to tackling drug and alcohol use, including urine testing, administrative consequences and disciplinary actions.
In particular, urinalysis has been a key focus of the CSC and plays a role in the legislation before us. The use of random and required urine testing is seen as a critical tool in an institutional setting. It holds offenders to account, providing a strong deterrent to drug use.
Of course there are well-defined circumstances in which the CSC can use these tests. First, there are the reasonable grounds for testing, such as finding drugs or drug paraphernalia in a cell. Second, the offender must undergo drug testing in order to participate in a particular institutional program. Third, it is part of a random drug testing program used by the CSC.
Random resting is both fair and effective and an excellent method to helping keep offenders accountable for their actions in prison. The test is random and an inmate who is using drugs cannot plan ahead to ensure he or she is clean the day of the test. Furthermore, if offenders refuse to take the test, they can be subject to the same sanctions or infractions they would receive if they had failed the test.
CSC has recently increased its random monthly testing to help ensure every offender is tested every year and now tests 10% of the offender population every month, up from 5%. With this increase in random testing, the CSC will have more information at its fingertips to monitor an offender's progress and to measure our efforts to create penitentiaries free of drugs.
The legislation before us proposes two amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, which will empower the CSC and the Parole Board of Canada to use this urine test data to ensure offenders are held to account. Bill C-12 would stipulate in law that the Parole Board could cancel an offender's parole if the offender failed the test or refused to take a urine test in the same period between being granted parole and physically leaving the penitentiary. It would also emphasize in law the Parole Board's ability to set specific abstinence conditions on offenders as part of their parole conditions. Any evidence of drug use could result in the Parole Board cancelling an offender's parole.
We believe these are reasonable expectations of offenders to take responsibility for their actions and be held accountable for those actions. We believe this legislation can help us create a safer environment in our prisons. While many members seem to support more drugs in prisons, Canadians are not fooled. Canadians elected a Conservative majority government that was tough on crime, and we will crack down on drugs in our communities. That is exactly what we are doing, and we will continue to do that.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be able to stand here today and speak to Canada's economic action plan 2013.
I think in the House we can all agree that there are a multitude of elements involved when a person, business or family works towards a common set of goals of success and prosperity. Of course, the individual has a lot to do with the outcomes in terms of the choices we make, our determination and how hard we are willing to work toward the objective.
Admittedly, we share responsibility. The government and all members here share responsibility in helping our citizens achieve those goals. We can provide either stepping stones or barriers. I am very proud to say that our government is providing the stepping stones by putting Canadians and the economy first. It is certainly evident in our latest budget, economic action plan 2013.
Undeniably, a firm base for any healthy economy is a thriving manufacturing and small business environment coupled with job-creating initiatives. Economic action plan 2013 includes our government's plan to make the largest federal investment in job-creating infrastructure in Canadian history, totalling $70 billion over a decade. This investment would help build and repair roads, bridges, subways, rail and more, certainly in communities in Prince Edward—Hastings and across this wonderful country.
There would be a new tax break for new manufacturing machinery and equipment with the accelerated capital cost write-off, which would provide the manufacturing and processing businesses in Ontario alone approximately $560 million in tax relief to grow their companies and create jobs.
Our government has extended and expanded the hiring credit for small businesses for another year, which would see many small businesses in Ontario and across Canada save another $225 million in 2013. I can tell the House that as a small businessman myself with 38 years of experience, in my riding of Prince Edward—Hastings, small businesses are one of the key components of the local economic engine. I can assure the House that this particular initiative would go a long way to helping those businesses grow, prosper and ultimately create more jobs.
We are increasing the lifetime capital gains exemption to $800,000 from $750,000 and indexing it going forward. We are indexing it the same way we indexed the gas tax. This would provide small businesses in Ontario approximately an additional $39 million in tax relief to grow their companies and create more jobs.
I live right next to Trenton Air Base, one of the most significant air transport capitals, not only in Canada, but in the world. We are investing almost $1 billion in the strategic aerospace and defence initiative to enhance the competitiveness of Canada's economically important aerospace and defence industry. We have created the aerospace technology demonstration programs, which would support large-scale technology projects with commercial potential in Ontario and across Canada. We have CAE in Montreal, now with simulators around the world.
The northern regions of my riding had a very active forestry industry, which certainly suffered some severe challenges when the economic downturn hit and the housing boom in the States went off. Therefore, I am pleased that we would be providing $92 million to help the forestry sector in Ontario and across Canada to continue to innovate new products and to expand into new markets.
We would provide $920 million to renew the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. Since its creation in 2009, FedDev has supported over 340 projects and has played an important role in building a stronger economy in southern Ontario. FedDev has been instrumental in the success of so many projects in Prince Edward—Hastings and across the regions of southern Ontario.
I am very pleased as well to support the eastern Ontario development program, which would be renewed as well. It would continue to promote job creation and business development in all the rural areas of eastern Ontario. As part of the renewal of FedDev, I am very pleased that $200 million would be invested in a new advanced manufacturing fund to help Ontario's manufacturing industry innovate and become much more competitive.
Another ingredient required to maintain economic health is ensuring Canadians get the skills training and the employment-seeking assistance they need. I am fortunate. I have Loyalist College, the brand new skills development centre, which will play a pivotal role in developing skills in my area. Job-seekers know that if they have the right skills and education, they are well on their way to finding a good job. I am proud to say that our government firmly recognizes that, too.
As such, we are providing up to $15,000 per person, in Ontario, with combined federal-provincial-territorial and employer funding to help them get the skills they need for in-demand jobs. That is right; we are helping them to develop the skills for a job that is waiting for them. We know how important education is, especially, in high-demand fields. We will be encouraging students to undertake education in these high-demand fields, including the skilled trades, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Our government is also investing $70 million to support an additional 5,000 paid internships for recent post-secondary graduates in Ontario and across Canada. These young people are our future. We are helping them along and providing the initiative for them to get a job.
My riding of Prince Edward—Hastings includes a first nations reserve, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte—Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, a very proud and successful local aboriginal group.
I am proud that we are helping first nations students with post-secondary education, by providing $10 million to grant scholarships and bursaries to help them attend a post-secondary education. We realize the importance of engaging first nations youth. They are going to play a tremendous role in our country.
Finally, another very important key to having a robust economy is to limit government's interference in Canadians' wallets.
Winston Churchill once said:
For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
It just does not happen.
Our government gets that, unlike the opposition, unfortunately, the tax-and-spend Liberals and the “speNDP”. There is just no end of spending. The solution is very simple with them. Just spend more, spend more, spend more. Unfortunately, we have to find a balance, and we have done that.
Right from the get-go, our government has been dedicated to freeing up Canadians' paycheques by lowering taxes. In economic action plan 2013, our government eliminated tariffs on important items for families, including baby clothing, sports equipment, skates, hockey sticks, golf clubs, and more.
In fact, our Conservative government has cut taxes over 150 times and is saving the average family over $3,000 a year. That can buy a lot of groceries or clothes for the kids, or even allow families that vacation that they have waited for and that they have deserved for so long.
Our government does not put obstacles in the way of Canadians, obstacles like red tape or increased taxes. Our red tape commission said every time we bring in a regulation, we have to get rid of one. That is common sense.
So, yes, we are providing stepping stones to help Canadians achieve the happy and successful lives they want to have.
I am thankful for the opportunity today to talk on economic action plan 2013. I am proud of the initiatives in it. I have had many extensive pre-budget consultations across our riding, with so many different groups. I know our government worked closely with recommendations from the stakeholders, the businesses, the community leaders, the experts in so many fields, to achieve the best use of taxpayer dollars. We have created a budget that will strengthen our economy and solidify our economic recovery.
The electoral district of Prince Edward--Hastings (Ontario) has a population of 113,227 with 88,198 registered voters and 228 polling divisions.
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