Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley, the House Leader of the Official Opposition, on the two essential points he made.
This is a pattern of difficulty complying with elections legislation. We could go back to the in-and-out scandal where the Conservative Party ended up pleading guilty to a serious election offence. There is a long list, a direct line from these offences to the current situation in which some members find themselves. I share his view that it is a pattern of disrespect for election legislation.
I also share his view that the House should take the time to pronounce itself and to consider this matter thoroughly and completely. These issues have precedence over other matters before the House. I hope we can hear from colleagues on all sides of the House.
It would certainly be our intention to participate in what I hope is a full and substantive debate, starting this afternoon, on this matter. Once the House votes, ultimately, and once the debate is finished and no member rises to speak, then the procedure and House affairs committee can consider its work. However, until that time, we are looking forward to hearing interventions from many members.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in response to a question of privilege raised by the member for Kingston and the Islands, with regard to statistics related to Bill C-54, the not criminally responsible reform act.
As hon. members know, the cases involving Alan Schoenborn in British Columbia, Vince Li in Manitoba, Richard Kachkar in Ontario, Guy Turcotte in Quebec, and Andre Denny in Nova Scotia were horrific tragedies for everyone involved. No words of mine nor anyone else's can ever ease the pain felt by the victims and their families.
As the Prime Minister rightly stated, we cannot change terrible things in the world, terrible things are going to happen, but we can create a system that is reasonable. That is exactly what Bill C-54 aims to do.
On November 22, 2012, the government announced its intention to move forward with legislation to address concerns about high-risk accused persons found not criminally responsible.
On February 8, 2013, the government tabled Bill C-54 in the House of Commons.
On February 12, the member for Mount Royal tabled Question No. 1169. Question No. 1169 sought information that the government relied upon in developing Bill C-54.
The government responded to Question No. 1169 by indicating several sources of information that it had relied upon in developing the legislation. The government's response included the final November 2012 report by Crocker et al to the Department of Justice.
As correctly noted by the member for Kingston and the Islands in his question of privilege, “This makes sense because the government can only rely on the evidence it had at the time.”
The member for Kingston and the Islands also noted that the government included an annotation in its response to Question No. 1169, indicating that the Department of Justice had received a significantly amended version of this report 38 days after the introduction of Bill C-54.
After the bill had been introduced, we gave notice that the report had been significantly amended.
In any case, the amended version of the report was provided 17 days after my speech on March 1 on second reading of Bill C-54, with respect to which the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands had taken exception.
A simple Internet search would show the hon. member that the amended version in fact has been available online for everyone to see on the National Trajectory Project at www.ntp-ptn.org.
I would also point out that nothing at any time between March and today, June 13, 2013, has stopped any member of the House to ask the government a follow-up order paper question or just ask us to table the amended version.
I would also like to respond to the assertion made by the member for Kingston and the Islands regarding the Minister of Natural Resources.
In delivering what I consider an excellent speech on Bill C-54, the Minister of Natural Resources was provided, as were many government members, with supporting documentation that in error included the statistics listed in the final report that was submitted to the Department of Justice in November 2012.
To suggest that by referring to this data was a deliberate attempt to mislead the House is preposterous. This was nothing more, quite frankly, than an honest mistake, not of his own doing, and I hope this addresses entirely the matter pertaining to the hon. minister.
In your May 7, 2012 ruling, Mr. Speaker, at page 7649 of the Debates, the chair established a three-part test for establishing contempt in relation to misleading the House. In these circumstances, the claim by the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands fails in two respects. The incorrect statements were not known to be incorrect, and they were certainly not made with any intention whatsoever to mislead the House.
As for the response to Question No. 1169, it is well established that the chair does not intervene with respect to the quality of an answer.
In any event, I would submit that the government went above and beyond its obligations by indicating that a revised report was received after the fact despite the question asking about the drafting of Bill C-54.
For his part, this afternoon the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley cited examples of committee matters. It is another well-established principle here that the chair does not typically concern itself with committee proceedings, except upon a report from the committee itself.
In this case, this morning the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights reported Bill C-54 with amendments. No other report has come from the committee nor do I anticipate one will.
In drafting legislation, the government relies on a wide array of information. It is because of errors in statistics, such as what came to light in this situation, that the government cannot rely on any one source or any one study. It is a good example.
It is critical that the government collect a broad cross-section of information in drafting legislation, and that is exactly what we did with Bill C-54. In developing Bill C-54, the government relied on a number of sources, including relevant jurisprudence, doctrine, available research, and consultations with provinces and territories.
Indeed, at our last federal-provincial-territorial meeting in October 2012, ministers recognized the importance of public safety being the paramount consideration in the Criminal Code Review Board decisions.
Ministers also discussed proposals to make the process more responsive to the needs of victims, including further consideration for the appropriate term for reviewing decisions in serious personal injury offence cases.
I believe profoundly that the measures contained in our legislation are balanced, reasonable and carefully drafted. We want to ensure that those who are mentally ill and who pose a serious danger to the public and indeed those who pose a danger to themselves get the treatment that they need.
In conclusion, I believe that my submission provides a response to the matter in question and that there in fact is no prima facie case of privilege.
In addition, and in response to the request of the member for Kingston and the Islands, I am seeking unanimous consent to table the amended version of the Crocker report as received by the Department of Justice in March 2013.
The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley is rising.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce some facts rather than fiction to this question of resources for the Border Services Agency. It is an important question.
I agree with the premise of the last question from the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, which was that resources are necessary to enforce the law. That is precisely why, since taking office, the current government has increased the budgetary allocation to the CBSA by 27%, an increase of $387 million, and has increased by 26% the number of full-time equivalent personnel at the agency.
It is true that this huge increase would be offset by a relatively modest decrease, but when all of those changes are implemented in 2015, the net effect will be a significant increase. My estimate is that there will be about 15% more Border Service agents then than there were a few years ago, and significantly more resources, both in real and absolute terms.
When the estimates, the public accounts, the CBSA planning and priorities and all of these public documents indicate higher resources, would the member explain to me why the NDP maintains that there have actually been cuts? I just do not understand why those members are making that up.
Mr. Speaker, if you will indulgence me a little, for more than six months, our committee has been looking at the electoral boundaries from coast to coast. I would like to thank the committee for its hard work and its teamwork on this project.
I would like to thank our clerk, Marie-France. She is the best. Michel and Andre, our analysts, got the report right and in as good a form as we possibly could. I would also like to thank our junior analyst, Charles, who was there for one day. All of the other committee supports and translations have been superb throughout the whole long process.
I would like to thank the more than 100 MPs who presented to our committee, and I would also like to thank the members of the committee, the members for Louis-Saint-Laurent, Hull—Aylmer, Skeena—Bulkley Valley, Toronto—Danforth, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Oxford, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, Brampton—Springdale, Richmond Hill and Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley. They are a heck of a team, and they got it done well.
I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 61st report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs in relation to the report on the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario.
I want to thank the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley for bringing this up. I know, having worked with him for the past few months since he has been made opposition House leader, that he does take these types of things very seriously in terms of procedure.
I have had a chance to look at the passage that he referred to. I will say that there are many reasons why debate collapses from time to time. Sometimes there is agreement, sometimes there is not. However, I cannot see that anything that the member for Wellington—Halton Hills said, in terms of what his thoughts might have been about why debate collapsed, would rise to the threshold of becoming a prima facie breach. It seems to me to be more a matter of debate about how events came about and less an actual breach of someone's privilege. I appreciate him raising it. I know he takes these things seriously. I know the goodwill that exists between House leaders is very important and I hope that continues going into the future.
Order, please. I would just remind the hon. member that correcting the record is rarely seen as a point of order by the Chair. If he would like to do so at a future question period or other times of debate, he is welcome to do it.
The Chair also has a question of privilege from the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. The member will only have about five to six minutes.
There will now be a 30-minute question period.
The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.
The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley knows to address his comments to the Chair.
The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport.
We will now have a 30-minute question and comment period.
The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.
I thank all hon. members for their interventions. It does sound to the Chair, at this stage, that this would not qualify as a question of privilege, as the member for Toronto Centre originally raised it, but more along the lines of a point of order about whether or not something is properly before the House. I will look into it, but it does seem like that.
I understand the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley and the government House leader would like to come back on this? Yes. We will hear more interventions on this matter in the next few days.
Now the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, I assume, is rising for the Thursday question.
That Standing Order 31 be amended by adding the following:
“(1) The Speaker shall recognize Members in alphabetical order by Party. For the purposes of this Standing Order, all Members who do not belong to a recognized party shall be grouped together.
(2) When a Member is unable to present his or her statement on the date required by Standing Order 31(1), he or she may indicate in writing to the Speaker at least one hour prior to the beginning of Statement by Members, the name of the Member with whom he or she will exchange position.”.
Mr. Speaker, as we know, Standing Order 31 provides that 15 minutes prior to each question period is dedicated to private members' statements, during which an MP who is not a member of the cabinet may deliver a 60-second statement.
The motion I have the honour of moving today is very simple. It has to do with the order in which members speak during the 15 minutes dedicated to members' statements before question period every day.
The motion proposes that this order no longer be based on a list submitted by party whips to you, Mr. Speaker.
Instead, the motion invites you to recognize members in alphabetical order.
Of course, you would retain your authority to select the member of your choice based on the criteria of fairness, which remains your responsibility.
Indeed, only the Speaker has the right or the authority to recognize or not recognize an MP during private members' statements.
However, the House has indicated its preference for alphabetical order, rather than having lists submitted by party whips.
In that sense, the motion I am bringing forward here today follows on the heels of the Speaker's ruling presented to the House yesterday.
More specifically, here is what the motion says:
That Standing Order 31 be amended by adding the following:
(1) The Speaker shall recognize members in alphabetical order by party. For the purposes of this Standing Order, all members who do not belong to a recognized party shall be grouped together.
(2) When a member is unable to present his or her statement on the date required by Standing Order 31(1), he or she may indicate in writing to the Speaker at least one hour prior to the beginning of statements by members, the name of the member with whom he or she will exchange position.
As we can see, the motion is proposing only one small change: following alphabetical order rather than the whips' lists.
The distribution of the number of statements allocated to each party and to independent MPs would stay the same.
Thus, the Liberal caucus is currently entitled to two statements a day, and it would still have these two daily statements after the motion is adopted.
In other words, the Speaker would be invited to recognize MPs in the order of their last names each day. The alphabetization would be by party, so each party's respective spot would remain.
This motion offers all of the flexibility that is required. If a member is absent or wishes to change positions with another member, it can be arranged. The motion offers enough latitude for a pressing statement to be made by a given member if circumstances warrant.
The objective of the motion is to give more latitude to members and less to party leadership.
I believe that there is a feeling here in the House that there needs to be a better balance between an MP's right to freedom of speech and the need to toe the party line.
This motion is a step in that direction.
I would like to use the recent example of our colleague from Langley to illustrate the scope of this motion.
On March 26, 2013, when our colleague from Langley rose on a point of privilege complaining that the use of lists generated by party whips during private members' statements had prevented him from delivering a statement, he received a large amount of sympathy, from both sides of the House.
During his point of privilege, the MP for Langley explained that he had been scheduled to deliver an S. O. 31 during one of the Conservative-dedicated spots, but was informed 15 minutes prior to private members' statements that his topic had not been approved by the Conservative whip and that consequently he would not be allowed to speak.
Since then, at least 10 other members of the governing party have spoken in support of the point of privilege from the MP for Langley. The NDP House leader, our colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley, has also provided a statement in support.
The Speaker's ruling yesterday made it clear that the member for Langley could have risen, attracted the Speaker's attention and eventually been recognized by the Speaker to make a statement. However, he would have been flouting the decision of his whip and his party.
There is no reason for this type of clash between members and their party. We can prevent it by getting rid of the whip's list for members' statements.
Of course, under this proposal MPs belonging to a party may still feel pressure from their whips in terms of the content of their S. O. 31. However, their ability to speak would not be at risk and this in itself would be an improvement.
Members would have control over their own speaking time. They would not have to defy their whip or party to get the chance to speak. Members would not have to openly disregard the whip's list because that list would no longer exist. That would be a useful improvement, but it is still a small one and far from revolutionary. After all, these lists are a relatively recent phenomenon.
The practice of having party whips supply the speaker with lists of MPs to recognize during private members' statements began in 1994. At the start of the 35th Parliament, all recognized parties agreed that party whips would help to coordinate private members' statements by providing lists to the speaker. It is clear that while the original intent of the decision to have party whips prepare speaking lists was to facilitate a sense of order, it was not to allow parties to use the system to silence their members.
Furthermore, there is no indication that whips' lists improve the quality of the statements. To the contrary, while MPs are inclined to use S. O. 31 spots to highlight the achievements of their constituents and recognize important events, parties are more likely to use them for partisan attacks, which may unfortunately lower decorum in the House. While this motion would not ban such partisan attacks, it would very likely reduce them.
That said, this motion is not at odds with the principle of party discipline. It actually supports the proper use of party discipline, which has a useful role in our institutions, but should not be overly rigid.
Members will continue to express their convictions, and these are in line with the policy directions of the party to which they belong. When making their statements, members will continue to keep in mind the strategic interests of their party, strategies whose success will have a great impact on their chances of being re-elected.
I want to be very clear that the sponsor of this motion supports party discipline. He supports his whip.
Some argue that allowing members of Parliament to represent their constituents in the House without being whipped in any way by their party leader—U.S. congress style—would radically enhance the people's trust in our democracy. If that were so, why is the trust of Americans in the congress at a record low? According to a Gallup poll of December 12, 2001, a record 64% of Americans rate honesty and ethics of members of congress low.
Party discipline is there for a reason. Studies show that when casting their ballot, voters generally vote more for a political party than for an individual. True, hard-working, conscientious, and well-known MPs might, thanks to their efforts and personal qualities, get the extra popular support that helps them survive their party's political setback. Trust me, I know first-hand what that is about.
However, the main determinant of an election is the faith voters have in a given political party and its leader. Canadians expect that each of us as their legislators will be well informed of the realities of the riding that we represent and uphold its interests. However, at the same time, Canadians do not consider their own riding taken in isolation. They want their MP to be a good legislator who makes sound laws and good decisions for all Canadians.
Canadians expect that each of us will care about Canada's 307 other ridings in addition to the one that elected us. They want us to look out for the national interest, to fight for Canada's values, well-being, and reputation. They want us to help them build a country they can be proud of. They know that in this task we are not, and will not be, lone wolves. We will be supported by our party and colleagues. The people of Saint-Laurent—Cartierville know that I am a Liberal and that as always I will be a team player within the Liberal caucus.
This motion would allow us to be more free to express our convictions our own way during this one-minute statement that is given to us, our Conservative, NDP, or Liberal convictions, our convictions as elected representatives of a riding, and our convictions as Canadians who will always put our country before our party.
In adopting this motion the House would not say that MPs elected as part of a team, on a national platform, and with a recognized leader, should not act as a team once elected. Rather, we would say that party discipline should not be unnecessarily rigid in Canada.
By moving to a strictly alphabetized system for determining who delivers S. O. 31s, we would be taking that power from political parties and returning it to the individual members of Parliament, where it belongs.
Adopting this motion would be a step in the right direction towards restoring a healthy Canadian parliamentary democracy. Many reforms are still needed in order for party discipline to have its proper role in our democratic institutions, without being excessive.
We will get the ball rolling by supporting this motion. I am appealing to members of all parties.
This motion is not addressed to any party in particular. It is absolutely non-partisan. Its goal is the smooth operation of Parliament as an institution, something all members care about.
Therefore, I invite all my colleagues to support this motion. I invite all my colleagues to stand up for a right that belongs to us, in turn and in alphabetical order: the right to have our 60 seconds.
Pursuant to Standing Order 67(1), there will be a 30-minute question period, and, as has been customary in the past, preference is given to members of the opposition to put questions in the course of this 30-minute question period.
The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.
Mr. Speaker, I am not sure where the 40% came from either.
I would say to the member that the temporary foreign worker program, as we have said time and time again, is not to displace Canadian workers. Where there are egregious examples—and that is what we are really talking about; we should just call a spade a spade and say there have been some egregious abuses of the system—the government has indicated that we are going to review it and we are going to respond.
However, members of the member's caucus have in fact gone to the minister and requested temporary foreign workers be allowed to come into Canada to fill unfilled vacant jobs; for example, the members for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, Halifax, Ottawa Centre, Churchill, British Columbia Southern Interior, Sackville—Eastern Shore, Trois-Rivières, and Brome—Missisquoi. These are members of your own caucus who understand that sometimes it is appropriate to bring in temporary foreign workers.
The hon. member's time has expired.
The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley on a point of order.
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.
Mr. Speaker, it is with some regret, but also hope, that I rise to speak on the question of privilege raised by the member for Malpeque.
I say “regret” because in Canada, in 2013, I believe we should not need to address the issue of a politician publicly grilling a witness appearing as a guest of Parliament on his or her beliefs, memberships or donations. It is not a stretch to name this practice for what it is: a shameful act of McCarthyism that should properly be a relic of an intolerant and undemocratic past.
I say “hope” because the discussion today gives parliamentarians an opportunity to commit themselves to a better future, one with a higher standard of conduct for parliamentarians and with renewed respect for Canadians.
This discussion on a higher standard of conduct has also been raised just this morning by my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley, who stood in this House to talk about the duty parliamentarians have to truly represent and respect their constituents.
No party in this House can say it has an unblemished record and claim to have never questioned witnesses appearing before committees of Parliament about their partisan activities or beliefs, but I believe this in every case has been regrettable and wrong.
Witnesses appear before committees at the invitation of the committees and do Parliament the honour of sharing their experience, expertise and perspectives. It is interchangeably disrespectful and indeed counterproductive to this process to try to discredit those witnesses by making their personal political beliefs or activities a source of attack.
Like the hon. member for Malpeque, I also agree that it is fundamentally irrelevant to the question at hand.
If we endorse processes that make testifying before committee a prying inquiry into matters of personal behaviour, we risk driving away necessary and helpful voices from our deliberations—
I thank hon. members for their interventions. I understand the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley will be coming back in due course. I will listen to that, and then come back with a decision.
With regard to permits and entries for Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) in the riding of Skeena—Bulkley Valley: (a) what is the total number of permits for each quarter since 2001 inclusive; and (b) what is the total number of entries for each quarter since 2001 inclusive?
The electoral district of Skeena--Bulkley Valley (British Columbia) has a population of 91,926 with 61,318 registered voters and 201 polling divisions.
This action requires you to be logged into Politwitter. No regisrtation is required, just authenticate using your Twitter account.