MASSE IN THE HOUSE: C-9, Budget Bill Implementation Act

Hansard – April 15, 2010
C-9, Budget Bill Implementation Act

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to rise and speak about the budget. I am going to shorten my speech a little as I need to be in two locations at once, but I want to touch on a couple of important points that are critical for the economy, also for social policy to evolve and also to tackle some of the challenges that we have today.

One of the things that has been interesting with regard to the budget is there is a whole series of new taxes in it. Conservatives claim there are not and there is also a whole series of new types of policies that are going to undermine the strength of this country.

A couple of things to note in particular and it was mentioned earlier about the new taxes on security going to the airline industry. It is important, especially coming from my area in Windsor, because the reaction to this and the type of screening facilities that are coming came about through a situation that eventually ended in Detroit. Someone overseas boarded a plane on a one-way ticket basically in the middle of winter with no winter gear and was not seen as a threat. Even though they bought that ticket and the government of the United States knew about it, the father of this person actually phoned in to the U.S. government and told it that his son was not feeling right or had a problem. Despite all that, the person went through the system and actually came across Canada and tried a terrorist activity in Detroit, Michigan. Thank God that nothing took place and the people there were able to fix the problem, but the reality is the screening machine that has been now ordered for Canadian airports would not even stop this situation from occurring. There is no connection to the expense that is happening. There was no debate or discussion in Canada about that and this new tax is thrust upon the industry at a time where it is struggling.

That is the type of behaviour we are seeing from the government, it is my way or the highway. We saw that on one of the most critical issues that we see happening in Ontario and British Columbia and that is the implementation of the HST. It is a creature of the finance minister. He has been discussing this issue for many years, so the suggestion that it is coming from rogue Liberals in other provinces, there are accomplices to it, but it certainly does not have to take place because federal legislation is required and interestingly enough a federal bribe is required in the billions of dollars to those provinces.

Interestingly enough in this whole equation, Canadian taxpayers are going to be taxed more. There is a shifting of the tax arrangement here that is going to punish the middle-class quite significantly. Then on top of that, what is ironic is that the Conservative Party is borrowing those billions of dollars from taxpayers which we will have to pay interest on over the next number of years. I had the parliamentary research do an analysis of the borrowing costs over 10 years and estimations of what the tradition has been in those 10 years and paying it back. Because until we go back into a surplus we are going to pay for this borrowed money to bring a new tax on people. It is just absolute insanity. The estimated cost from the Library of Parliament, depending on the circumstances, it could cost maybe $7 billion to $9 billion to bring in this new tax depending upon even if it is paid back over 10 years if we get back into a surplus. So that is what we are doing. We are actually borrowing money and paying a premium on it so that Canadians can get taxed further. It is absolute, utter nonsense.

The Conservatives rammed this through Parliament with the help of the Liberals because they wanted to make sure that their cousins in the provinces were able to get this cash payout, especially because of the circumstance they are in and the ideologies meet up quite well, so they actually rammed this through with very little debate and very little discussion and no study. The industry committee was one of the few that actually had any type of involvement whatsoever with this issue on a parliamentary level because we had to have the tourism sector come in. The government did not even study the impacts of the HST implementation, so we have a major tax policy change, no study on it and again, there are no qualifications or reparations if there are problems.

We heard testimony very significantly from the tourism industry because American visitation is down. The Canadian dollar is up. Ever since 9/11 and other security issues have been increased, there has been less travel in many respects for some sectors of the tourism industry. It is concerned with this tax and there was no study on the effects of it, so we have a whole slew of new costs that are going into the system.

As well, it came when the government in previous budgets got rid of beneficial programs like one gets their GST back if they visit Canada, one can actually claim to get it back. It was an attractive way to be able to promote Canada. The government got rid of that and it expanded it.

When we look at the budget and its priorities it redistributes the wealth again. I want to touch briefly on the corporate tax cut which is really important. It is significant because we are also getting rid of the fiscal capacity of the country.

I had a study commissioned by the research division of Parliament to look at the cost of corporate tax cuts and what they have meant to this country. They studied it from 2000 to 2007, the first wave What it cost the coffers of the country is approximately $86 billion.

To get to the actual next level of corporate tax cut reductions to 15% over the next year the research division estimated the total cost to Canadians is $171 billion.

What it is important to talk about is that we are borrowing money to do this. We are borrowing money from Canadians to provide a corporate tax cut.

When we talk to business people about it they understand this and they get that this is wrong. The oil and gas companies, the insurance companies and the banks, all those companies right now that are gouging Canadians in the extreme are going to get a benefit and our coffers are bare.

I want to conclude by saying that it is important that Canadians are supported during this process. That is why we had an NDP amendment on pensions, employment insurance and the serious things to redirect the money and put it back in the pockets of people.

Mr. Brian Masse: Madam Speaker, it is a problem and the cut is significant.

I was actually on the municipal council when we assumed the airport when it was devolved down to the city of Windsor after the town of Tecumseh turned away from the project.

The federal government walked away from many of these small important airports which are very important for the region, economically as well as socially.

One of the things that it had to do was augment service through cargo and passenger flights, as noted by the member. One of these was tourism. We have Sunling for example that will go into these smaller markets and offer direct destination flights which is important because it brings in revenue for the airport and it also creates jobs and is so often like running a small or medium size airport. It is almost like a Frankenstein type of operation because we need to add parts and elements to make sure that it is going to be sustainable.

Therefore it is very important that these airports are profitable. The cuts are going to put more of a burden. The customs, officials and support system that are necessary for people coming home from these international flights are now going to be increased and passed on to the passenger. It is going to be very difficult for some of these operations to stay in place.

If that is the case, then these airports have lost a revenue that is critical in the overall footprint of their operations and for the country to be successful because we just cannot survive with one or two big airports.

Mr. Brian Masse: Madam Speaker, this relationship is ironic. The member summed up the situation quite well. I will not expand on that, but I do want to note that I was here during the years when John Manley tried to open up the Bank Act. The argument was that we needed to Americanize our banks because they were too small to survive and their operations were antiquated.

The Liberals at the time were looking at it and they had their pals in the Alliance who were basically pushing for this as well. I will give the Bloc Québécois credit. It was a small band of New Democrats that stopped that. Ironically, I had banking officials in my office. They came in to lobby one day and I reminded them of those days. Go check Hansard and read the history. They are now talking about how good they are, but it was only because they were stopped from themselves.