March 1, 2011

LIB

Michael Savage

Liberal

Mr. Michael Savage

Mr. Speaker, the hallmark of Liberal governments is that we clean up Conservative messes and turn them around. In fact, it was under the Liberals that poverty was reduced very significantly from the mid to late 1990s to the point that it had gone down to 9.5% both for child poverty and for poverty. Now it is back up to 12%. That is the legacy of this government so far. It has absolutely no concern for those Canadians most in need.

Every organization that has looked at this knows this. We can name them: Campaign 2000, Citizens for Public Justice, Make Poverty History, Canada Without Poverty. In my own area there are the Faces of Poverty, the housing coalitions, the people who are working at the ground level on poverty. They know what we need. Not one of them would say that what we need to do is further reduce corporate taxes when corporate taxes are already 25% below the United States. They would say that we should invest in people, in families, in early learning and in helping our parents when they are aging. They would say that, for heaven's sake, we should at the very least stand up as a responsible government in a country as traditionally generous as Canada and accept that as the federal government we have a responsibility to help those most in need.

People just need help. We will figure out those details. There are all kinds of things the government can do but it needs to stand up and do something for the people in Canada who need help. That is what they deserve.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Sub-subtopic:   Poverty
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CPC

Ed Komarnicki

Conservative

Mr. Ed Komarnicki

Mr. Speaker, I cannot imagine the hon. member saying that when he knows the record is that in the 1990s the Liberals slashed $25 billion in provincial transfers that affected health care, education and programs for low income Canadians. They took $50 billion from the EI fund and used it for their own pet political projects.

He says that we should be doing something for those who find themselves with low incomes. In fact, we have invested funds in that. We have made sure that transfers are not cut to the provinces. It is interesting that the Liberals had 13 years to do something about that and they did not.

The member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour himself admitted the Liberals failed to help low income Canadians. He stated, “We didn't get to where we need to get”. His Liberal colleague from York Centre agreed, and when speaking about the Liberal record on poverty stated, “We didn't do as well as we would have wanted to do”. In fact, they did not get it done in 13 years. It was always if they might have done it, had they had another term. The fact is they did not do it.

The provinces are just now starting to recover from the infrastructure losses they experienced because of the cut in transfer payments.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Sub-subtopic:   Poverty
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NDP

Linda Duncan

New Democratic Party

Ms. Linda Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to raise a question put to the Minister of Finance. The question was put on November 1, 2 and 4. Why did I raise this question three times? I raised it three times and am raising it again today because I have been hearing complaints from my constituents that the government has chosen to impose the HST on the citizens of Alberta. That is taxation without representation.

The government claims that it is the party of the people, that of grassroots democracy. Yet not one single member of Parliament in the Conservative Party across the way has stood to defend Albertans against the imposition of this unfair tax on which they have not even been consulted.

I took the time today to again contact the office of the former minister of finance of Alberta. Why is that? I did it because apparently the former minister of finance of Alberta, a Conservative member of the Alberta legislature, had continually written to the government, demanding an answer to why the HST was being imposed on the residents of Alberta. His office advised me that just before he stepped down from that position, there had still been no reply from the government as to why it had allowed the imposition of the HST on the citizens of Alberta when there has not been one iota of consultation with them.

I previously raised examples in the House of where this tax was being imposed. I heard from Greenwoods' Bookshoppe in my riding, which was absolutely outraged to discover that it was being forced to pay HST when shipping unsold books back to Ontario. The Minister of Finance suggested to me that nothing had changed. Yet in going through its invoices, it was very clear that previously the company only paid the GST and is now having to pay a greater fee because it is paying the HST. Essentially, the federal government is being a broker in allowing Ontario to tax Albertans when there is no specific benefit to Albertans from the imposition of this tax.

This was a huge issue in British Columbia. The premier of British Columbia fell from his position because of the imposition of the HST. There was great consternation. People spoke against it. In Alberta it did not occur to anybody to speak against the HST because there was no thought that the tax was going to be imposed there. Albertans are very proud of the fact that they do not have a sales tax. A lot of Albertans have woken up to realize that the federal government has nefariously worked out a deal with Ontario to impose the HST on Albertans.

I want to share with the House an email that I received yesterday from a constituent who said: “I hope you folks can continue the pressure for a change of application of the HST. It really upsets those of us in non-HST provinces, particularly Alberta, to find we are paying HST on some of the most expensive items in our family budget, investments and insurance”.

I might add that the government, in its wisdom, has now backtracked on its undertaking that it would consider increases in the CPP and, instead, wants to invent yet another private investment scheme. Albertans can look forward to paying HST on that plan as well.

This person further said: “I know there are other retailers who charge HST simply because they are headquartered in Toronto. Is it not asking too much that the federal tax laws be changed so that tax be applied to anything of the province of residence, not the province of the headquarters? In the age of computers, this is so simple. Why has this not been changed by now? What was an oversight is now a ripoff benefiting Ontario primarily”.

I stand in the House again to raise this question on behalf of the people of Alberta. Why on earth is the Government of Canada allowing the imposition of the HST in Alberta?

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Sub-subtopic:   Harmonized Sales Tax
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CPC

Shelly Glover

Conservative

Mrs. Shelly Glover (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate having the opportunity to respond to the NDP on this question.

First, we need to be clear, very clear, that provincial taxes are a provincial responsibility. That includes decisions about harmonized sales taxes. As former premier of Ontario and the current Liberal MP for Toronto Centre recently remarked, “It's up to the provinces to decide whether they want to proceed with a harmonized tax. It's a decision for them, not us”.

Provinces have full independence to make decisions on sales tax matters. These are exclusive decisions of provincial governments, not the federal government. Recently, certain provincial governments made changes to their provincial tax system. A couple of them decided to replace their sales tax system with another.

The recently elected NDP Nova Scotia government decided to increase its sales tax. As the Chronicle Herald reported last year: “Nova Scotia sales tax is going up to 15% in July. The increase of two percentage points in the harmonized sales tax in the NDP's first full year budget breaks Premier Darrell Dexter's campaign promise that the NDP wouldn't raise taxes”.

I would add the NDP tax hike in Nova Scotia is an important lesson for any Canadian looking at the NDP here in Ottawa.

Again, these were all provincial decisions, not federal decisions. There was no revenue impact at the federal level.

Nevertheless, as a result of recent provincial decisions, questions have come up in provinces, like Alberta, about changes in cost on mail and courier services. Again, nothing has changed at the federal level. For mail and courier services, sales tax has always been applied on the basis of where the consumption takes place.

If the NDP members have an issue with a provincial tax decision, they need to talk to a provincial government to have that debate not a previous provincial representative but the provincial government.

This is a federal Parliament, so let us talk about federal taxes, specifically lowering them. Unlike the NDP, our Conservative government believes leaving more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians is the right thing to do. Unlike the NDP, we have the record to prove it.

Since coming to office in 2006 we cut over 100 taxes, reducing taxes in every way government collects them. We removed over one million low income Canadians completely from the tax roll. We reduced the overall tax burden to its lowest level in nearly 50 years. We cut taxes for all Canadians, even those who do not earn enough to pay personal income tax. That is when we cut the GST to 5%.

Shockingly, the NDP has voted against every tax cut we introduced. I ask the NDP a very simple question, why did it oppose lowering the GST for Canadian families and why does it continue to oppose every incentive to lower taxes for Canadians, including Albertans?

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Sub-subtopic:   Harmonized Sales Tax
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NDP

Linda Duncan

New Democratic Party

Ms. Linda Duncan

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see the parliamentary secretary standing up and saying that the provinces of Ontario and Nova Scotia and everybody else should speak for taxation of Albertans.

I am standing up on behalf of Albertans. I am the only one in the House standing up on behalf of Albertans who were not consulted in HST initiatives, initiated by the government.

Yes, some provinces bought in to the proposal, but this whole harmonized sales tax was initiated by the government. Alberta has not opted into this process and Albertans have to pay the tax. It is completely unfair. Albertans should have been informed of the implications of the negotiation of these terms with other provinces.

That concern has been raised repeatedly by ministers of finance in Alberta. I am simply repeating that concern through this House.

Yes, I am proud to stand up and say that I voted—

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Sub-subtopic:   Harmonized Sales Tax
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CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

I will have to stop the hon. member. The time allotted has expired. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Sub-subtopic:   Harmonized Sales Tax
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CPC

Shelly Glover

Conservative

Mrs. Shelly Glover

Mr. Speaker, I am going to make this very clear for Canadians who might be watching.

When the member from the NDP, who is from Alberta, stands in this place and misleads Albertans as to how she represents them, it must be corrected. I am going to do that very quickly.

This member comes from a party that has said very clearly that it intends to raise taxes, it intends to side with the Liberals and side with the Bloc Québécois to ensure that corporate taxes are in fact raised. It intends to raise the GST. It intends to look at an iPod tax. It intends to carbon tax our Canadians.

That is not what Albertans are calling for. I do not know who she purports to be representing here in this House today, but it certainly is not the Albertans who have spoken very clearly to our government, saying that they appreciate those tax measures. They appreciate the cuts that they have seen, over 120 of them, to ensure that their families have more money in their pockets.

I think she ought to talk to them—

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Sub-subtopic:   Harmonized Sales Tax
Permalink
CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

The motion that the House do now adjourn is deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:12 p.m.)

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Sub-subtopic:   Harmonized Sales Tax
Permalink

March 1, 2011