Mr. Speaker, I agree completely with my hon. colleague that the Conservative government has been a failure in terms of job creation. There are still hundreds of thousands fewer jobs than there were when the Conservatives came into office. Youth unemployment is far worse than it was five years ago. In my constituency of Vancouver Quadra, where we have the world-class University of British Columbia, that hits young people coming out of university who cannot find a first job.
Another aspect of the problems with job creation is the tourism industry. The Conservative government has made cuts to the tourism marketing arm. There has been a 41% plunge over the last decade that has led to Canada slipping from 7th to 18th in international arrivals over the last 10 years. There are many fronts on which the government is failing and is, in fact, exacerbating the problem. It is making it harder for young people to get jobs.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity contribute to the debate on Bill C-60, which is a budget implementation bill, and to provide my comments.
It is difficult, really, in the time available to do justice to a bill like this, because once again we have a bill that has a huge variety of measures. Some of them are new policy measures and some of them are not even in the budget speech. To actually do justice is very difficult.
What I would like to do is think about how this bill contributes to a sustainable future for our country and the opportunities and freedoms that we enjoy today. How does this bill help our children and their children in the future to enjoy those same kinds of opportunities and freedoms?
I want to start by saying that one of the things that is important for the health and well-being of society over time is transparency and honesty in government policy and government measures. One of the reasons the Liberals will not be supporting this bill is the tax increases, but beyond that, it is because of the lack of transparency in terms of these tax increases.
We call them “stealth tax increases” because the government continues to deny that it is increasing taxes, while it is absolutely clear that with this budget implementation bill the government is actually increasing net taxes over the coming five years.
In fact, in each and every year, the net impact on middle-class Canadians would be higher taxes. By the end of five years, $3.3 billion more would be coming out of Canadians' pockets through this net increase in taxes. We cannot support a budget that would do that.
I want to focus initially on the impact on small business. Like the speaker before me, I am from a small business background. In fact, I spent 25 years building a business into another category, as a mid-sized business. I know the challenges of small business, especially in securing capital for their growth and in securing investment to upgrade and update their equipment.
What small businesses do is utilize the retained earnings of that business itself, and in many cases they utilize the paycheques or savings of the business owners. That is why this dividend tax credit was so important to small business owners: they could use those funds to help grow their businesses when the market was not available as it is to public corporations.
That is why it is so mystifying to me that a government that claims to be pro-business and that claims it wants to make a healthier economy is side-swiping the very people—small business owners and their employees—who are so critical to achieving that goal.
This change to the dividend tax credit for small business is only one of many ways in which small businesses are paying for some of the Conservative government's mismanagement of budgets and unaccountable spending.
It is also surprising to me that large corporations have enjoyed an approximately 7% reduction in their corporate taxes under the current government, yet the small business rate has only dropped one percentage point in that time. In the meantime, $600 million a year, each and every year for the past three years and going forward, is loaded onto businesses for an EI payroll tax increase.
Small businesses account for 42% of private sector GDP. That is an enormous part of our economy, yet we are undermining those enterprises' ability to invest and grow their businesses.
Between 2001 and 2005, Canada's small and medium-sized enterprises created 467,708 jobs. That is almost half a million jobs.
What is the comparable figure under the current Conservative government? Between 2006 and 2010, under the Conservatives, the overall net number of jobs created by small and medium enterprises was negative 10,831. We are seeing a government that is failing the small and medium business community.
Here is a snapshot. In 2005, Liberals helped small businesses create almost 40,000 net jobs. In 2011, small businesses created 21,000 net jobs.
It is the government that has been failing small businesses, and this particular bill, Bill C-60, this budget, is a huge extra hit on small businesses. Certainly, that is not something we can possibly support.
Let us take a look at some of the other impacts of this bill on sustainability.
However, before I do that, I do want to acknowledge that there are elements of the bill that I think are positive and that I support, and certainly the Liberals support.
With respect to social sustainability, we support enhanced allocations for our veterans by putting an end to the deduction of disability payments, and we are indexing the gas tax fund by 2% a year.
Indexing the gas tax would certainly be helpful in my community of Vancouver and my riding of Vancouver Quadra.
As for economic sustainability, I support the measures to fight tax evasion, because no one likes cheaters. It is important to have measures in place to stop people from cheating.
Furthermore, the tax credits for mineral exploration will be very important to my province, British Columbia. As for the environment, the bill includes a $20 million investment in the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
That $20 million to Nature Conservancy of Canada is one small amount of funds. It is so woefully small.
In terms of sustainability, that is $20 million to one organization, when the government has cut hundreds of millions from Environment Canada, Parks Canada and climate change. The Experimental Lakes Area is just one example of so many program cuts. This is a government that, unfortunately, is untruly claiming that it is at a certain level of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, whereas it is on track to actually having higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions than in 2005, while the Conservatives' target is 17% below.
I think everyone should take notice of what the Keeling curve is telling us today. Now, the Keeling curve is the world's longest unbroken record of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. This record, which is from a facility operated at the Mauna Loa Observatory near the top of a volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, shows that carbon dioxide has been increasing steadily from values around 317 parts per million, when Dr. Charles D. Keeling began measurements in 1958, to nearly 400 parts per million today. That means that we are coming close to the level that this world saw in the Pleistocene era, at a time when the Arctic was 10° hotter than it is today and the rest of Canada was 6° to 8°.
We have an emergency with respect to climate warming, and the government is not only ignoring that, not only not funding anything to deal with that, but is in fact pretending it is accomplishing advances that it simply is not.
In conclusion, some of the important elements of social, democratic and environmental sustainability, as well as business sustainability, that I would like to see are not in the bill. In fact, the key measure that jumps out from the bill is a woeful attack on small businesses through a massive increase in their costs. That is money taken out of their pockets that they need to expand and update their enterprises.
Mr. Speaker, it is an important debate we are having today. This is about the men and women in the Canadian Forces, full stop. It is about whether they will be treated like every other Canadian citizen. It is about whether the government is manifesting what I would describe as stubborn pigheadedness when it comes to improving the military justice system that is in place.
It is impossible for me to speak about this criminal justice bill without being reminded of the typical conduct of the government under the Conservative Party. It is a government that consistently has refused to be bound by its responsibilities under section 4(1) of the Department of Justice Act. For Canadians watching, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, a lawyer, went to the bar when he was sworn in and pledged an oath to uphold the law. When he was sworn in to the role as a lawyer in the province of Ontario, he was sworn in to uphold the law for his entire legal career.
I would argue that since the arrival of the Conservative government, in some quarters described as a regime, it has seen fit to consistently leave aside its responsibilities in this regard. I think the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada may, for example, be in breach of his own code of conduct and his code of ethics as a lawyer. However, that is not what we are debating today.
I am reminded of the words of David Daubney. Mr. Daubney, for my colleagues in the Conservative caucus who do not know, was a member of Parliament with the Progressive Conservative Party. He then went on to a very distinguished career as a lawyer in the Department of Justice, where he served in his last post as director of the criminal law policy unit.
Two day after retiring from his distinguished career, he lashed out at the Conservative government in terms of its conduct with respect to the use of evidence, analysis, research, things that we would rely on as parliamentarians to make the right calls for everyday Canadians, in this case, everyday members in our Canadian Forces.
Mr. Daubney went on to say that he was extremely disappointed and that was one of the reasons why he left his career. Despite the fact that with his team he delivered hard evidence and good analysis to the government, particularly in areas like mandatory minimums, the government would not hear them. It was more than tone deaf; it simply shut it off.
Here we have another example of a bill. I would like to go back to some words spoken earlier by the MP for Ajax—Pickering, who stood up and boasted that Canada was the envy of the world. He is right. I could not be in more agreement with my colleague, but he knows better. During his time serving as a young ambassador in Afghanistan, he knew that one of the foundational documents we were trying to inculcate into the Afghani system of criminal justice was to use the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as the baseline.
For Canadians who are watching or following, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is now the number one document used in the world for strengthening the rule of law for helping to amend and strengthen constitutions all over the world. When I trained in the former Soviet Union after the wall fell in over 20 countries, I used the Charter of Rights. When I was in the Ukraine last fall, strengthening its legal system, I used the Charter of Rights. Many jurisdictions now look to Canada and look to our charter as the foundational document.
When my colleague for Vancouver Quadra rose to express her concern about the human rights implications in the bill, she was right. I know many members in the Conservative caucus know in their heart of hearts that the bill is incomplete, but it is capable of being, not perfected, but certainly improved, which is why the Liberal Party of Canada is raising these important foundational questions today.
This is about the average man and woman in the Canadian Forces. Should they make a mistake, should they make the wrong choice, as so many Canadian citizens do in their lives from time to time, we want to make absolutely categorically sure that these citizens have the same protections afforded to them as any other citizen living in Canada and walking our streets today possess.
This was why I raised questions this morning around why, for example, the government of the United Kingdom, the British government, had ensured that the requirements for independence and impartiality were woven into its domestic criminal justice system so it was in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights. That is a powerful precedent for Canada and for this Parliament, and I think the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada knows that.
In the U.K. context, the British government has ensured that the accused may be represented by counsel and entitled to an appeal under a newly created summary appeal court. It has ensured that the summary appeal court would be presided over by a civilian judge, yet assisted by two military members who were officers or warrant officers to ensure adequate military representation. Also, as a general rule, it has moved to ensure that imprisonment or service detention cannot be imposed where the offender is not legally represented in court or in a court martial. This sounds to me to be an important and powerful precedent that we should look to weave into our amendments to the criminal justice system.
Comparatively, beyond our common law founding mother ship United Kingdom, why have countries like Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands and dozens more all moved to ensure that independence, impartiality, fairness and justice are hallmarks of their amendments and improvements to the criminal justice system?
Why only here are we seeing, as I described earlier, the stubborn pigheadedness that seems to find its way into every justice bill the Conservative government brings forward? When in the face of so much evidence, in the face of the opportunity to get it better, why is the government not seizing the opportunity and doing right by Canadian citizens, and more important, doing right by the men and women in our Canadian Forces?
Order, please. I see there is abundant interest in questions and comments for this round. I ask members to keep their interventions to around a minute or so.
The hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.
It being Wednesday, we will have the singing of our national anthem, today led by the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.
[Members sang the national anthem]
The electoral district of Vancouver Quadra (British Columbia) has a population of 119,627 with 88,146 registered voters and 216 polling divisions.
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