MASSE IN THE HOUSE: NDP Opposition Day Motion

Creating Manufacturing and Samll Business Jobs

Hansard – February 5, 2015


Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise here today to talk about this motion, which I will read in a moment. It is an important motion because of the economic situation that we are facing now.

     There is the retail sector, which we see in a current crisis with the closure of Target, the most recent casualty in the Canadian economy. With that, there is talk of Target liquidating itself. It is important to mention that Target was allowed into the country under the Investment Canada Act, having bought out Zellers. Not only have we just lost Target, another retail chain, but the shopping centres that they were joined with now have vacant spaces available.

    The reality is that Target supplanted and took over from the last Canadian-owned retail store, Zellers. When it took over at that time, I remember the disdain and concern of the workers at Zellers, because they had to immediately take a pay cut of a couple of dollars or lose their chance to stay on at Target. I was on the picket line with some of those employees. They had been at Zellers, a Canadian employer company, for over 20 years, when this American superhero giant came in to compete.

    We knew the terms and conditions, living on the border in Windsor, Ontario. We would often go over to Target or some place like that. We would see the signs for a $3 an hour minimum wage or something like that. We knew the type of attitude that was going to come into the Canadian market.

    We have not only just lost this retail component today, we have also lost a Canadian component that had a liveable wage at that time for those workers. The government did nothing for those workers at that time. It could have, and it should have, but it did not. It allowed them to be crushed.

    Today, we stand here to talk about a motion made by the member for Parkdale—High Park, which moves:

That   the House call on the government to take immediate action to build a balanced   economy, support the middle class and encourage manufacturing and small   business job creation by: (a) extending the accelerated capital cost   allowance by two years; (b) reducing the small business income tax rate from   11% to 10% immediately, and then to 9% when finances permit; and (c)   introducing an Innovation Tax Credit to support investment in machinery,   equipment and property to further innovation and increase productivity.

    I am going to tackle the initiatives that we have proposed as reasonable ways to step forward our economy and reasonable ways to make sure that middle-class Canadians can emerge as a stronger force in this country. We have seen that whittled down over the years through a series of attacks, not only from the fact that there has not been proper support for certain industries, especially when other foreign countries have used intervention to steal some of our jobs. We have seen that in the auto sector, for sure.

     We have also allowed middle-class Canadians to be attacked by gouging, whether it is at the pumps, by credit cards, by the banks, or for cellphones. These are a whole series of important things that are necessary to function in a modern society which have gone on the backs of consumers and families alike.

    What that has done is put a real squeeze on disposable income. We see some more reports coming in about that in terms of consumer debt just today. It is a real issue, because the investment that is necessary is available to the government and to those individuals who could help.

    The first thing is about extending the accelerated capital cost allowance by two years. I have a little history with this, and I was reminded by my friend from Edmonton—Leduc about the work that we did in the industry committee before this place became so hyper-partisan that we could not agree on anything. There was a working relationship in the industry committee at that time.

Ironically, the work was done by several parties where we came up with a series of recommendations that we could all agree upon for the most part. The ones we could not agree on, we worked to make sure that they would be at least palatable by all of us. One of the ones that came out that was significant was the capital cost reduction allowance so that in the manufacturing and resource sectors we could actually have the writing-off of equipment at a quicker pace to encourage investment.

    That is important because Canada has become, for the most part, a branch plant economic system. The head offices have often moved outside of this country. Very few have moved back here and very few have stayed. Since the time we had that report which we studied, made recommendations and tabled in the House of Commons, there were Canadian giants at that time that were still in the field like Nortel. Gone.

    An hon. member: Burger King.

    Mr. Brian Masse: Burger King, yes, great. Nortel and Burger King, high industry versus the service industry and that's what they are proud of.

    By the way, the only reason that Burger King is locating here, and it is a small office, is because of tax evasion in the United States. We have seen President Barack Obama talk about this situation. So it is a joke when Conservatives heckle about Burger King being this great landing of a corporate head office when it is just going to be a branch plant corporate office and the President of the United States and Congress and the Senate start to move in legislation because it is tax evading in the United States. That is what we are attracting. The Conservatives' strategy is to bring the head office of tax evaders to our country. Guess what? Burger King laid off people. Why? It bought Tim Hortons and now has reduced it. That is its success story.

    It will probably get half a floor in some building on Bay Street where head office employees will be golfing half the time and that is going to be the Conservatives' victory flag, but meanwhile, we have lost Nortel and other Canadian institutions that have either moved out or are gone.

    The capital cost reduction allowance was something that we all supported and tabled in the chamber. It led to good government policy and support. There are comments and support for those issues. There is no doubt that extending it for two years would be a benefit. It is critical right now because when we look at what is available in terms of capabilities and the dollar dropping, we have a chance to win some of our manufacturing jobs back now because manufacturing is going to benefit.

    Coming from a manufacturing city, we have seen thousands upon thousands of jobs disappear to Mexico, the United States or going overseas. Sadly, right now we just lost last month a chance for Ford to build a new engine in Canada in Windsor and Essex because it went to Mexico. Conservatives blew the deal. We lost a chance for a new engine. But now we have--

    An hon. member: We did not blow the deal.

    Mr. Brian Masse: You did blow the deal. You started to negotiate in public with some of your members.

    That is what took place. The statistics in terms of our trade deficit over several years pertaining to manufacturing goods, and I will use the year 2010 because it was significant as a year when things flipped over, it was creeping and creeping. Our exports at that time versus our imports of manufacturing trade goods went to an $80 billion deficit and it has continued to grow.

    We have a chance right now with the dollar being low and using the CCRA as a way of attracting some of that investment back. That is what makes us much more successful.

    In conclusion, we have the skills, the abilities and the support systems like health care that are net advantages for employers to locate in this country. Dropping the corporate tax rate has not done it. We have witnessed the bleeding of manufacturing jobs and value added jobs, a dirty word to the government, out of this country. Let us act now and take back some of those jobs.

Mr. Brian Masse: Mr. Speaker, I would highlight a couple of things that have taken place over the last number of years.

    One is the distain or disconnect the government has with respect to trading with the United States. We have seen the repercussions of that. Whether it be coal or bovine, there have been a series of impediments at the border. I agree that we need to reach out internationally and open new markets, but we are watching our number one market close us down. That has been an unfortunate consequence of the government's preoccupation with trying to push pipelines in the face of America and Washington and not looking after the real projects, such as the new border crossing project in my riding of Windsor West. Of the $3.5 trillion U.S. budget, we could not even get $250 million for the American plaza. Rather, we are paying for the border crossing and for the plazas on both the Canadian and American sides because of neglect.

Mr. Brian Masse: Mr. Speaker, there were a number of things that took place that were significant. We had the peaking of the Canadian dollar based on a raw export resource-based economy, which pushed the manufacturing sector into a weakened state, we had no plan, and we had no auto strategy. In the area I come from, if there is any potential attempt for auto investment it becomes a Hail Mary pass not a plan.

    We have what is called the Canadian Automotive Partnership Council, where the entire industry came together to create report cards and progress cards on how to move the industry forward. We do not use that. Rather, we just wait for that moment as opposed to pushing for it. That is why I like the idea of the capital cost allowance right now, because with that and an organized plan we can try to fight to get some of these jobs back. The administration in the United States is doing that, it is rebirthing manufacturing. We do not see it.

    The Liberal leader came to London, Ontario and talked about how we basically have to diversify auto manufacturing because it was a dead industry. Then he came down to Windsor and had no auto strategy, despite the fact that there is money still available for such a strategy to be employed. We have put one forth before. Our first was a green auto strategy that involved David Suzuki and the CAW. There are 13 countries in the world that have a specific auto strategy. What I mean by an auto strategy is they assign targets and measure and refer to those targets, whether it be with respect to environmental, production, diversification, or parts supply improvements.