Mr. Speaker, I have three or four quick points and a quick question.
The speaker from Windsor West was lamenting the lack of a flowery title. I point out that the short title of the bill is very descriptive. It is called strengthening military justice in the defence of Canada act. That is pretty descriptive.
I will say that I believe that my hon. colleague is only 20, so he has lots of time to have a career in Parliament and then to sign up for the military. I would encourage him to do that. It is a great profession.
I will point out that the Provost Marshal, in discussing Bill C-41, said that he had faith in the independence of the system, which goes to one of the situations to which my hon. colleague has taken exception.
On the point of counsel, the vast majority of cases are minor in nature. For summary trials and other measures, people all have either counsel or an assisting officer who can assist them through the process.
One of the important features of the military justice system is timeliness, especially in a field of operation like Afghanistan. We would want to get the individual through the system and back into ops to conduct the mission of the forces. The vast majority of cases are minor, and timeliness is of the essence.
Does my hon. colleague have any comments on the necessity for timeliness in the military justice system?
Before I resume debate, I just to want to remind all hon. members that when members give 10-minute speeches, it is followed by five minutes for questions and comments. We typically try to get two exchanges during those five minutes.
That means that after about one minute, the Chair is giving you a signal to wrap up quickly so that there is equal time for a response and then a similar amount of time for the second question or comment, followed by a response from the speaker.
I urge all hon. members to pay attention to the Chair. We try to give you a signal when you are approaching the last ten seconds of your time. While we are reluctant to cut people off mid-sentence, that is something that we may need to do, particularly for those who often seem to need that abrupt guidance at the end of their comments.
I am not picking on anyone in particular here. It is just a general reminder to all that this way, we can ensure that two questions get asked of roughly similar length and that the person responding has approximately the same amount of time to respond to the issue that was raised.
With that, resuming debate, the hon. member for Windsor West.
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have an opportunity to be part of this important debate on an important subject: climate change. However, I am also very disappointed to have a debate that is predicated on one of the parties in the House, the New Democratic Party, playing politics with such an important issue. The time is long past when we should be using this as a topic to divide parties, to insert into the motion some text that makes it an egregious insult to those in the Liberal Party of Canada who have done so much good work on this issue and have advanced this issue so far. Frankly, this is not worthy of the good intentions and the integrity of the members of the New Democratic Party. I was very disappointed to see this issue being used in this way.
The time to debate the science of climate change is over. Apparently there are some Conservative members who are speaking out because perhaps they still think that climate change science should be denied or mistrusted. Frankly, they are in such a small minority on this planet at this point that they are marginalizing themselves.
What we have is an issue that crosses countries, crosses cultures and crosses everything. It is a human species issue. As a species, we need to co-operate to solve this issue. This issue is so complex that it touches people in the whole range of our society, the whole range of the global community, and we need to work co-operatively together. We cannot advance on this issue with the kind of divisive tactics that frankly this motion itself embodies. That is my disappointment.
It is not a Canadian issue; it is a global issue. The atmosphere does not have national boundaries. We will be experiencing the effects of American, Chinese, French and every other country's greenhouse gas emissions, and vice versa. This is an issue that is costing lives. It is costing species, and it is costing the security of our future on this planet.
It is not just low-lying islands such as Tuvalu or low-lying deltas in South Asia; it is also the forests of British Columbia, where we have 70 million cubic metres of pine that have been decimated by changing climate and warmer winters. It is not just the floods in Manhattan that cost billions; it is also floods in Winnipeg, in first nations communities around Winnipeg, and in low-lying suburbs of greater Vancouver. It is not just droughts in the mid-west or the huge costly drought in Australia and China; it is also droughts in the Nicola Valley in British Columbia, droughts that are costing the Okanagan Valley wineries and having an impact on the Great Lakes and Lake Winnipeg.
Salmon is the iconic species of British Columbia and first nations. We saw a 90% drop in the Fraser River sockeye salmon returns, and climate change is part of that impact. Do we accept a world in which we might not have salmon in British Columbia in 50 years because of acidification of our ocean, because of the warming of the streams in which those young salmon fry have to survive and because of the change in the food cycle that nourishes the salmon when they come into the ocean? That is impacting our salmon right now, and the situation is already desperate for many salmon species.
We are in a race against time. The climate change issue is urgent.
Canadians and people around the world are driving a car with a broken engine. Arguing about it is not going to fix anything. We need to work together to have a car that will win this race, because it is a race for humanity.
It is not just future generations as some theoretical concept. It is the people who are alive today. Think about the projections. There is a 10% chance that the vast majority of this planet will not be able to support human habitation—not be able to grow food, not have adequate fresh water, not have fish protein for human consumption—by the end of this century.
My niece's son is one year old. That means that he will be 88. It is the people alive today who are faced with the risks that our society is imposing on their future, and that is completely unacceptable. We need to co-operate to deal with this. We cannot keep playing political games, which this motion embodies.
The motion talks about a grave concern about the impact of a 2° rise in global average temperature. For all the lack of commitment on the Conservative Party's part, that party did sign the Copenhagen accord. The Copenhagen accord, which is operational immediately, states:
We underline that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. We emphasize our strong political will to urgently combat climate change in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.
Where is the urgency in the government's action? There are urgent communications that try to convince Canadians that it is doing something, when, in fact, it is taking us backward with every month that passes. In the Copenhagen accord the Conservative government signed, it further states:
We agree that deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science, and as documented by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report with a view to reduce global emissions...so as to hold consistent with science and on the basis of equity. We should cooperate in achieving the peaking of global and national emissions as soon as possible...
This is what the Conservatives actually signed, but what they are doing is completely antithetical to that supposed commitment. Unfortunately, this is a government that has consistently embarrassed Canada on the international stage and has been obstructive in climate change negotiations,. It has even ripped up its binding legal international agreement under Kyoto.
One would think that it is not an issue of concern to take that kind of step and smear Canada's reputation on the world stage. One would think that would suggest that this is not an issue for the Conservatives. In fact, that is what their actions would suggest.
The new president of the International Monetary Fund has been very clear that climate change is one of the major economic threats facing the future of the global economy. The government does not seem to consider it a concern at all.
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, a former Conservative finance manager of France, stated that the real wild card in the pack of economic pivot points is “increasing vulnerability from resource scarcity and climate change, with the potential for major social and economic disruption”. As I said, she called climate change “the greatest economic challenge of the 21st century”. That is something one would imagine the Conservative government would actually take account of. On the contrary, this is a government that has a focus on accelerating the development of Canada's fossil fuel commodities, from oil sands to shale gas to coal, at the expense of capturing virtually any of the market investment in the thriving clean energy market.
I am quoting from a study called Competing in Clean Energy. Capitalizing on Canadian innovation in a $3 trillion economy. This is a market that is set to grow much more quickly than the other aspects of our economy. “In Canada, our venture capital investment”, especially from large institutional investors in terms of the clean tech sector, “has declined from around $3.3 billion in 2000 to less than $1 billion this year” with Canadian “companies securing only two per cent of clean energy patents granted in the United States since 2002 (compared to Korea’s five per cent, Germany’s seven per cent, Japan’s 26 per cent...).”
The advice of the Canadian clean energy sector is to have a level playing field, have some certainty for business, get rid of the subsidies for the oil and gas industry, subsidies that include the absence of a price on carbon, that include the absence of actually regulating that industry.
There has been a lot of talk but there has been no action. The Conservative government's plans in that regard are also considered to be amongst the most ineffective and costly approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
I do want to add that there are enormous opportunities to take action on greenhouse gas emissions but there are also economic costs to not taking action, and not just environmental costs as the member for Etobicoke North has been so eloquently able to lay out for us today.
Those are the kinds of tariffs that other countries are putting in place, carbon taxes, like Japan's on our coal exports to Japan. Canada now has a massive wealth transfer of approximately $400 million every year into the Japanese treasury because Japan has a price on carbon and Canada does not. That is just the beginning.
Japan is poised to put the same legislation in place for oil, natural gas, and bitumen, so that for all of those products exported to Japan the Japanese government will collect a tariff. There will be a massive wealth transfer into the Japanese treasury, a competitor nation, because of a failure to act by the government in Canada.
I want to go to the section in this motion, “condemn the lack of effective action by successive federal governments since 1998 to address emissions and meet our Kyoto commitments”.
I will start by asking the member for Windsor West, who was celebrating the reductions that Lafarge cement has made. That is to be celebrated. In my province it is not just the cement industry, it was the aluminum industry, the pulp industry, the transportation industry, and the oil and gas industry.
These industries began to make changes to their processes and technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They started to do that back around 2000, because of the Liberal government's voluntary reduction registry. It worked. There was up to 35% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by the pulp sector.
The idea that the Liberal government did nothing is completely fallacious. In fact, I was right at the table in those days. I was the environment minister in British Columbia from 2001 to 2004. I had a chance, not as a federal Liberal but as a member of a provincial government, to witness the activities of the federal Liberal government of the day.
What I want to say is that when we have an issue that is this woven through the fabric of our society and requires this much co-operation, it also requires education and understanding. That is what the Liberal government, from 1997, when it signed the Kyoto protocol, began to do. It began to educate the Canadian public who at that point did not know much about this.
I understand some members here have been deeply engaged in this issue for many years, not the ones who have been cackling from across the aisle, but some on this side of the House.
In fact, I wrote my Master of Business Administration thesis on just this issue in 1992.
However, the bulk of the public was not aware of the issue when the Liberal government began working on it, so part of what the government did was begin to bring the public on board and have public understanding of individual actions that could take place, co-operating with the public. Part of what the Liberal government did was work through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, FCM, so that the municipalities understood their role in it. They started to become champions for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Today, we see these municipalities and federations, whether they are provincial or countrywide, as leaders in greenhouse gas reduction because of their partnerships co-operating with the federal Liberal government of the day.
The Liberal government began working with industry, and began industry-by-industry negotiations so that the kinds of reductions that they would make would not harm their competitive chances or their businesses, but would contribute to greenhouse gas emission reductions. It worked, and it worked right across the country. Then they began working with provincial governments, and I was the representative of our provincial government. I witnessed the Liberals of the day in 2001, 2002, and 2003 undertake an extensive set of modelling.
How we can actually accomplish our goals in a way that is fairest for the provinces, the industry, and individuals, and is as cost-effective as possible? The modelling and those conclusions were then brought to me and to the provinces to reflect on, to analyze, and to give input on. Then, the modelling was redone, taking in the information provided by the provinces. That is called consultation. I know that the Conservative government of today does not even know that word. Why consult? It knows better than anybody about everything. Well, the Liberal government consulted and that is how it got the provinces on board.
In British Columbia, I had the privilege of leading an initiative that brought the captains of industry and others who were interested in the issue together to work with our cabinet on how we could move forward on it. Out of that, we came up with a climate change plan in 2004 that involved every ministry reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions and those of its partners.
Following that, in 2007, in the throne speech, the Government of British Columbia launched its greenhouse gas reduction plan, which is widely admired across North America today. An audit has shown that greenhouse gas emissions have actually declined by 15% since 2008 under the B.C. Liberal greenhouse gas reduction plan at minimal or no impact to the economy. That ties into the partnership that the federal Liberal government made with the provinces to create bilateral agreements to support the provinces in bringing forward their own plans and carrying out their own activities.
The Liberal government, in 2005, had project green, the final piece of its road map to action. It was a regulatory tool that would have accomplished the Kyoto targets had the Government of Canada not changed.
The Liberals did nothing? That is one of the biggest fictions of our politics today. The Liberals set the entire framework for the actions that have been carried out, and I was there as witness to it. British Columbia was on board because of it.
What happened next? What happened in the fall of 2005, when the Liberals were poised to put that last piece of the puzzle in place? The NDP made the decision that it knew better. It thought it would be better to have a Conservative government. It thought it would be better for climate change to have the current Prime Minister in charge. It would be better for Canada's reputation to pull down the government of the day and put a Conservative government into the driver's seat. What a mistake.
However, for the NDP to bring this motion forward, claiming that the Liberals did nothing, is the height of hypocrisy. It is very disappointing to me, as someone who works constructively, I would like to believe, with many members of the NDP.
I know my time is drawing to a close. I am just getting going here. I am having a lot of fun, but I remain highly disappointed that we have to have partisan wedge issue motions--
Mr. Speaker, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, I am pleased to stand today against the NDP's opposition day motion. It is another opportunity to remind Canadians of the NDP's record on taxes. That record speaks for itself.
Time and time again, NDP members stand in this place and vote no against our Conservative government's actions to lower the tax burden, protesting efforts to leave Canadian families and businesses with more money to help them grow our economy. Even worse, the NDP continues to call for billions in new taxes on Canadians; that is, from a carbon tax that would raise the price of everything, to a $10-billion-a-year tax hike on businesses.
Unlike the NDP, our Conservative government believes that leaving more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians is the right thing to do, and we have the record to prove it.
Since coming to office in 2006, we have cut taxes more than 150 times, reducing taxes in every way that government collects them. Actually, I just noted that, in one of the NDP mail-outs to its constituents, the whip encourages Canadians to ensure that they take advantage of these tax reduction opportunities. Even in its mail-outs to its constituents, the NDP is acknowledging the very important measures we have provided. It was quite gratifying to see the NDP actually sending out that mail-out.
We have cut taxes more than 150 times, and we have reduced them in every way that government collects them. We have removed more than one million Canadians from the tax rolls altogether, and the overall tax burden on Canadians is now at the lowest point in more than five decades.
Today, I would like to highlight some of these important measures that our government has done to support job-creating businesses across Canada—tax relief that the NDP consistently opposes.
Our approach to business taxation follows simple logic. Lower taxes make Canada's economy stronger and create stable, long-term jobs. Today, Canada has the best record of jobs and growth and recovery among the G7 nations. We can see how that plan is meshing and is working. In fact, a recent study by KPMG concluded that Canada's total business tax costs—business income taxes, capital taxes, sales taxes, property taxes and wage-based taxes—are more than 40% lower than those in the United States. Again, I just think we need to compare how Canada is doing against the United States fiscally and in terms of our net GDP-to-debt ratio in order to know our plan is working.
In short, our government has created an environment that encourages new investments, growth and job creation, one that ensures Canada has the strongest fiscal position and the lowest business tax costs in the G7.
When we consider our Conservative government's unparalleled commitment to lowering taxes, especially for job-creating small businesses, the NDP motion is a scary prospect for Canadians.
The NDP position is very well known. Theopposition House leader , the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, in British Columbia, summed it up best when he said, “...tax cutting is seen to be a failed strategy...”. That is absolutely wrong.
Let me now highlight some of our government's key initiatives that demonstrate our continuing leadership in lowering taxes for businesses, all of which, again I have to point out, the NDP voted against.
Canadians understand that a competitive business tax plays a key role in supporting businesses in all sectors of the economy to invest, grow and thrive. Our government has implemented broad-based tax reductions that support investment and growth. These cuts are delivering more than $60 billion of tax relief to job-creating businesses over a six-year period, ending in 2013-14.
For example, to spur investment and productivity, we have reduced the federal business tax rate to 15% in 2012 from 21% in 2007, which is amazing support for our corporations. The small business tax rate was reduced to 11%, and the amount of income eligible for this lower rate was increased to $500,000 in 2009.
Canada's system of international taxation was improved to better support cross-border trade and investments. These actions are part of a policy framework that increases the productive capacity of the Canadian economy as well as Canadian living standards.
Lower business tax rates and other tax changes have increased investment in Canada and reduced the costs of expanding, giving businesses strong incentives to invest and hire in Canada.
Our government's low-tax plan is helping to guide the Canadian economy along the path of sustainable economic growth. Real business investment in Canada is now 8.1% higher than its pre-recession peak, while no other G7 country has even returned to its pre-recession levels. Again, having a positive business environment encourages people to come and invest. It encourages the job creators in the country that produce the wealth for those important social services program and the things we value.
More examples include tax relief for new manufacturing machinery and equipment that will help businesses invest for the future. The accelerated capital cost allowance for machinery and equipment used in the manufacturing and processing sector was first introduced in budget 2007 and extended in budget 2008, budget 2009 and budget 2011 in response to the ongoing global economic challenges.
The ACCA allows businesses to write off eligible investments faster, providing them with the support they need to retool and remain competitive. Canadian businesses from across the country have applauded this measure, which is very important in helping them to expand. Indeed, as the finance committee heard from witnesses from across the country, this was a consistent message in terms of ways that we could support the business communities. In total, more than 25,000 businesses in the manufacturing and processing sectors, employing Canadians in all regions of the country, have taken advantage of the accelerated capital cost allowance since it was first introduced in 2007.
On the advice of the Canadian Manufacturing Coalition and others, we will provide $1.4 billion of tax relief over four years to the manufacturing and processing sectors through a two-year extension of a temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for new investment in machinery and equipment. This tax relief will encourage manufacturers and processors to accelerate and undertake additional investment in machinery and equipment, making their operations more productive and globally competitive. It will enable manufacturing and processing companies to plan and invest over the coming years and help create jobs in a sector that has been particularly hard hit by the global recession.
Key measures introduced by our government are already delivering substantial tax relief to small businesses and small business owners. Reductions in the small business tax rate to 11% and increases in the small business income limit to $500,000 are estimated to provide small businesses more than $2 billion in tax relief in 2013 and more than $10.4 billion over the 2008-09 to 2013-14 period.
I would like to give an example. A small Canadian controlled private corporation, with $500,000 in taxable income, has seen its federal corporate tax bill decline by more than one-third, from $83,600 in 2006 to $55,000 in 2013. That is a tax saving of over 30%, or $28,600, that can be reinvested in the business to fuel the growth and expansion that creates new jobs.
Again, I have to point out that the NDP shamefully voted against all those tax reductions for small businesses.
However, we are doing even more than this. The lifetime capital gains exemption on qualified small business shares was increased to $750,000. It was at $500,000 in budget 2007. We are looking at the first increase in an exemption since 1988.
This LCGE, as it is known in short form, is estimated to be delivering almost $1 billion of federal tax relief annually to small business owners, farmers and fishermen, and certainly every one of us in our ridings see the challenges small business owners face and the very important role they play in our communities. They are the first people supporting jobs, training for young people and communities and the many endeavours undertaken. It is a giant first step in 2013 and will go up to $800,000 in 2014. In addition, to ensure that the value does not erode over time, we will index a new $800,000 LCGE limit to inflation, which is for the first time ever, something members of the finance committee heard people across Canada ask for.
Representatives of job-creating businesses, large and small, have told us time and time again that this tax relief is crucial in helping them expand their operations and hire more Canadians, but again opposition members are just not listening. Maybe they will take note of the words of Jayson Myers, president and CEO of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, who explained:
—business tax cuts are benefiting Canadians in very important ways....While...tax rates have fallen, the amount of money businesses are paying to government is--in fact--increasing because their investments have made them more competitive, more profitable, and have allowed them to grow.
That is a really important illustration of how lower taxes actually can generate higher revenue.
Not only that, but the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has stated unequivocally:
If governments had not provided tax relief for Canadian businesses, the recession would have been deeper and unemployment would have certainly been higher.
I cannot imagine a clearer message from Canada's job creators and yet opposition members' wilful ignorance on taxes prevails.
Perhaps the NDP member for Windsor West had his head in the sand when he remarked in the House:
—the reality is that the tax cuts are not even the number one thing the corporations are asking for...tax cuts are not the priority.
That was a very puzzling statement. The bottom line is that when it comes to job creation, our Conservative government is listening to Canadians who are telling us what works while the NDP cannot seem to shake off some ideological commitment to higher taxes.
Since 2006, our government's number one priority has been creating jobs for Canadians and I am proud that we followed through on this commitment again in budget 2013, especially when it comes to small businesses. In recognition of the critical role that small businesses play as job creators in the Canadian economy, the economic action plan proposes to extend for one year the temporary hiring credit for small businesses. This temporary credit will be available to an estimated 560,000 employers, allowing small businesses to reinvest approximately $225 million in job creation in 2013.
Certainly, in my role as parliamentary secretary, I am especially pleased that economic action plan 2013 has announced that CRA will take even more action to reduce red tape and improve services for small businesses. For example, CRA has created a dedicated team that is responsible for coordinating and addressing small business issues. The CRA has mandated the team to ensure that the agency takes a small business lens approach to service improvements, with a renewed and enhanced focus on cutting red tape. This focus on engagement with small business stakeholders will ensure that the perspectives of the small business community are continuously taken into account in every aspect of the work that CRA does.
Last summer, when I conducted round tables across the country, I heard that we need to do a little more. Again, we are looking at a wide range of additional electronic services for businesses to be implemented to build on the success and help businesses get what they need faster, reduce paperwork, save time and help the environment.
I would like to provide another example. In April 2013 business owners can choose to go paperless and rely exclusively on electronic notices stored in the secure “My Business Account” portal, accompanied by emails directly from the Canada Revenue Agency.
I am also pleased to tell Parliament that CRA is expanding its small business focus across all operations and moving toward a “tell us once” approach, so that small businesses will not have to submit the same information several times.
Under our Conservative government, the CRA is helping small business owners avoid costly and time consuming audits by raising awareness of their tax obligations in order to get them the help they need right from the start.
Canada's entrepreneurs and risk-takers are confronted with the many challenges of a globally competitive marketplace each and every day. These entrepreneurs need their government to be a partner in achieving success through lower taxes, not an impediment caused by the NDP's plans for higher taxes and reckless spending.
Job creators know that in our government they have a partner. Since 2006, we have designed and implemented policies aimed at driving the economy to its full potential for the benefit of all Canadians.
Economic action plan 2013 sets a path to return to balanced budgets by 2015, which will strengthen Canada's fiscal advantage and spur long-term jobs and growth.
Today, Canada's is universally recognized for its resilience through the global recession and recovery, its low tax environment, its highly educated and skilled labour force, its natural resource endowment and a financial sector that is the envy of the world.
However, we cannot become complacent. In a fast-changing, competitive global economy, Canadians must continually aim higher to avoid falling behind.
Together, the initiatives in economic action plan 2013 build on previous government action to reinforce the fundamental strengths of the Canadian economy. The results so far dramatically highlight the wisdom and effectiveness of our decisions, with 900,000 net new jobs, the best record in the G7.
Even better, Canada stands among just a handful of nations with a triple A credit rating. Canada remains one of the most welcoming and profitable places in the world for international business and foreign direct investments.
By lowering taxes, reducing red tape and removing barriers to trade and investment, we have made Canada one of the most welcoming and profitable places in the world for international business and foreign direct investments.
The facts are clear. We stand for low taxes and private sector growth. The NDP stands for high taxes and big government. The NDP plans massive new taxes, be it a carbon tax that would raise the price of everything or massive new business tax hikes.
For these reasons, I know the NDP motion will be rejected by Parliament.
The electoral district of Windsor West (Ontario) has a population of 122,219 with 84,245 registered voters and 222 polling divisions.
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