November 23, 2017

NDP

Nathan Cullen

New Democratic Party

Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I extend my colleague's comments to say that we are accountable to the people who sent us here, specifically on the promises we made to them during the election and since.

The Prime Minister made a commitment, as did all of his cabinet ministers, that their personal holdings would bear the fullest public scrutiny. That is from the Prime Minister's letter to his cabinet ministers.

We only found out about the Morneau Shepell shares that were still being held and controlled, and not in a blind trust, and not sold, because journalists at The Globe and Mail dug until they found them. It was not the finance minister, for all his great character, which my friend from Winnipeg talks about, who came to Canadians and said, “By the way, I know I let it be known that my affairs have been placed in a blind trust.” The Liberals repeated that line ad nauseam. Morneau Shepell believed that as well. That turned out to be a lie.

A question of trust and confidence in a finance minister is pivotal, because he or she is such a powerful figure. As the ethics code sits right now, which this minister apparently, allegedly followed, there is a distinction between whether shares are held in direct control or are placed in a numbered company wholly owned by an individual and wholly benefiting that individual. The ethics code right now makes a distinction between those two situations, whereas a Canadian will look at that and say, “If the money is going to the same person wholly, what is the difference?”

I am wondering if my friend can comment on this loophole that may have been exploited by the finance minister to relieve himself of any alleged conflict of interest.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
CPC

Pierre Poilievre

Conservative

Hon. Pierre Poilievre

Mr. Speaker, when I was a teenager, I worked at Telus. I was in the collections department. I will tell members that when one calls people to collect on their phone bills, and they are in business, the nicest people in the world on the other end of the line are the people who are paying their bills to keep their phone service intact. As a result of this, as a teenager earning about 12 bucks an hour, I got to own some shares in Telus. I got a little certificate, and I kept it as a keepsake. It was worth about 70 bucks when I left.

I came to Parliament, got elected, and the Ethics Commissioner said that I could not even keep that little certificate worth 70 bucks. I had to go to a bank teller and sell it, because there might be a conflict of interest if I did not.

It was 70 bucks, yet the minister had $20 million in shares while he was in charge of our financial markets and regulating the very company in which he had invested. This was an obvious conflict of interest. He should have known better. He should not blame the law or the Ethics Commissioner for his failed judgment.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I have always been of the belief that every person, from the moment they first achieve cognitive thought, knows the difference between right and wrong, everyone except, it appears, this Minister of Finance. The finance minister has been involved in so many ethical transgressions in the last two years that I honestly believe it would be fair to say that I do not know if he understands the difference between right and wrong. If he does, it appears that he simply does not care.

For the benefit of the House and the benefit of those who may be watching today, I am going to enumerate some of these transgressions and what they mean in today's Parliament, what they mean to Canadians, and what they mean to those who may find themselves in a real or apparent conflict of interest.

We first found out a few months ago that the Minister of Finance had failed to sufficiently disclose all of his assets to the Ethics Commissioner. In fact, he failed to disclose a very significant asset. What was that asset? That asset was a villa in the region of Provence, in the south of France. I am not really that knowledgeable about real estate, but I would assume that a villa in that region, a very wealthy part of France, is probably worth in the millions of dollars.

Going back just a little, I should point out that all parliamentarians, since 2004, have been required, and are still required, on a yearly basis, to disclose to the Ethics Commissioner all of our assets and liabilities, and in fact the assets and liabilities of our spouses and family members. For example, if a member owns a house, what is its relative value? Does it have a mortgage? Does the member own mutual funds, stocks, bonds, or trust funds? Does the member own real property? Members report that to the Ethics Commissioner each and every year so that she will be able to determine if there is any perceived or real conflict of interest or if there could be a potential conflict of interest. Did the Minister of Finance do that? No. He failed to disclose a a million-dollar-plus asset owned by a private corporation, which he controlled. Could that potentially be a conflict of interest? Most certainly it could.

However, when queried by the media as to why he did not disclose this to the Ethics Commissioner appropriately and on time, he merely stated that it was an administrative error. I do not know about other members, but to me, making a million-dollar omission on a disclosure to the Ethics Commissioner is much more than an administrative error.

That was the first, but certainly not the last, of these ethical lapses we have seen from the Minister of Finance. We next learned, through a report first published in The Globe and Mail, that the minister was the owner of a private corporation, a numbered company in fact, in Alberta. We also found out that this numbered company had assets. Specifically, it owned approximately $20 million in shares in a company called Morneau Shepell.

As my colleague from Carleton pointed out just a few moments ago, that is the same company the current Minister of Finance used to run, a family-founded, family-run, very successful company that specializes in pensions and pension products. That alone should have raised a lot of alarm bells, but it gets even worse.

We later found out, again from The Globe and Mail, that the minister had not placed these assets, the approximately $20 million in shares, in a blind trust. He had, however, implied, to many people, including his colleagues on the government side of the House, that he had placed all his assets in a blind trust. He had told his former colleagues and former co-workers at Morneau Shepell that he had placed his assets in a blind trust. He had not. That was a clear conflict of interest and a clear violation of the ethics code.

In addition to that, at the same time as he was benefiting from shares in a numbered company which he had not disclosed, he introduced Bill C-27 in this place, a bill sponsored by the minister and brought forward by the minister, that would, in effect, if passed into legislation, allow employers to change their pension plans from defined benefit plans to targeted benefit plans.

I will not get into the details or nuances of the differences between those two pension plans. Suffice it to say, the minister, through his numbered company in Alberta, saw the share price rise, approximately $5 million worth. In other words, because it was not in a blind trust and still directly controlled by the minister through his numbered company, he and his family benefited to the tune of $5 million. Once he introduced Bill C-27, the speculation in the stock market was that Morneau Shepell would be gathering and garnering much more business across Canada due to it being the largest firm in Canada specializing in these products.

It was only after all of these revelations came to light did the minister determine he should sell his assets and place any other assets into a blind trust. That is akin to somebody saying “I'm sorry” after getting caught. In fact, I received an email from one of my constituents after the story came to light, in which he said that it reminded him of a bank robber who got caught a couple of years later, promised to pay the money back to the bank, then went on to say no harm, no foul, that everyone could move on because there was nothing to see. It does not work that way. One has to be accountable for one's actions.

The very definition of “conflict of interest” determines quite clearly that the Minister of Finance was, for two solid years, in a serious conflict of interest.

I go back to my opening comments. I am not sure if the minister truly understands the difference between right and wrong, but today we are giving the minister an opportunity to do what is right. To do what is right means simply this: disclosing all of the minister's assets he currently holds in numbered companies. Why is that important? Because having assets in a number company means Canadians do not know what those assets are.

What could they be? Let us assume for a moment that some of those assets are shares in, let us say, Bombardier. Would that be a conflict of interest? Clearly, it would. What would happen if some of the shares in those numbered companies owned by the Minister of Finance are shares in a company like Irving Shipbuilding or Davie shipbuilding? What happens if those shares, which we do not know about in these numbered companies, were shares in a medicinal marijuana company that is coming onto the market? There are so many things that could be conflicts of interest that we do not know about that the minister must reveal the sources of those assets, if only to gain, or regain, the confidence of the Canadian public and to prove to it that he is not in a conflict of interest.

By refusing to reveal the assets in these numbered companies, all he is doing is reinforcing in the public's mind that he is like every other dirty politician out for personal benefit and not for the public interest.

I call upon the minister to simply do what is right, and that is to reveal the assets, open the books, and let the Canadian public see what he has been hiding for these last two years.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
LIB

Bardish Chagger

Liberal

Hon. Bardish Chagger (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member knows very well, as Canadians should know, that there is a process in this place and there are independent officers of Parliament. Independent officers of Parliament have a responsibility to ensure that members of Parliament are in compliance and also that the partisanship of this place is not reflected in that work so we can serve in the best interests of Canadians.

Does the hon. member agree that the independent officer of Parliament has the responsibility to know the information that the Minister of Finance has disclosed, that she is more than capable of doing her job, and that we should let her do her job?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski

Mr. Speaker, the member talks about the roles and responsibilities of the Ethics Commissioner. It is the ethics of the finance minister that are under question, not the motives or the ethics of the commissioner.

For two years, the minister basically deceived the Ethics Commissioner by refusing to reveal that his assets in a numbered company in Alberta were not held in a blind trust. It was only after an investigative story appeared in the media that the Ethics Commissioner became aware of that.

If the minister truly wanted to be forthcoming and if the minister truly believed in proactive disclosure, he would have informed the Ethics Commissioner at the outset of his time in Parliament. He chose not to do so. That was a decision made by the finance minister to deceive the Ethics Commissioner and that is intolerable and unconscionable. Quite frankly, the minister should be ashamed of his actions.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
NDP

Nathan Cullen

New Democratic Party

Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals like to congratulate themselves when they take some action. They often say that they are making history, or that this is a historic decision or action. They have made history here because never before have we had a Prime Minister and a finance minister under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner at the same time. It confounds to me.

I will read a citation from the Prime Minister and I will ask my friend to comment on it. This is what confuses me and I think confuses many Canadians as to why Parliament has to spend a whole day simply asking Liberals to keep a Liberal promise. The promise reads, “both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny.”

The only reason we found out that the finance minister still maintained control of his $30-odd million in Morneau Shepell was because some journalists found out. That was not public scrutiny he offered up, it was only dug up. There still remain five or six numbered companies about which the finance minister will not tell us. Public scrutiny means just that.

Could my friend comment on how difficult it is to get a Liberal to keep a Liberal promise?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski

Mr. Speaker, my friend from the NDP is quite right. It is almost impossible these days to get a Liberal to keep a promise, but that is perhaps a debate for another day.

I would agree with my hon. colleague on this fact. Because the finance minister's position in Parliament is arguably the second most important person in government, he must be held to not only meet the minimum standards but to exceed standards and expectations of the general public.

We know about the Conflict of Interest Act. We know the definition of a conflict of interest. What is also contained in that definition is that a decision maker, which obviously the finance minister is, cannot be viewed as acting impartially or with integrity if he or she may receive personal benefits from their decisions.

What happened was that the Minister of Finance decided not to put his assets into a blind trust. The Minister of Finance decided to introduce Bill C-27, which definitely benefited his family's fortune to the tune of about $5 million. Those were deliberate decisions made by the Minister of Finance, which contravened every single tenet of the Conflict of Interest Act.

I know the minister is under investigation. I encourage the Ethics Commissioner to find a resolution to this with great haste. Canadians need to have the confidence that their elected officials, particularly their Minister of Finance, is acting with the integrity they have been charged to uphold.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
LIB

Joël Lightbound

Liberal

Mr. Joël Lightbound (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my speech, what is clear and what I have said repeatedly in the House is that the Minister of Finance, like all other parliamentarians in the House, did what is expected of everyone who has the privilege of serving in this place, that is, he met with the Ethics Commissioner, presented his entire situation, and worked with her to come up with the best way to comply with the rules and ensure that the highest standards of integrity are met.

That is exactly what the minister did as soon as he came to Ottawa. The Ethics Commissioner recommended that he set up a conflict of interest screen, which he did. That measure was good enough for the ministers in the previous government, and the Ethics Commissioner determined that that was the best possible measure of compliance.

The Minister of Finance has always worked with the Ethics Commissioner, and he will continue doing so without fail. He announced that he would go even further than her initial recommendations. What I am seeing is an opposition that is doing anything it can to distract from the finance minister's record, and our government's record, when it comes to the economy.

The opposition is going to great lengths to talk about anything other than the Canadian economy and the help we are bringing to middle-class Canadians and Canadians from all walks of life. They do not want to talk about the half a million new jobs that have been created over the last two years. They do not want to talk about how our economy is growing faster than any other in the G7, including the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany.

After 10 years of watching the wealthiest get further ahead and the rest get further behind, we are working to ensure Canada's middle class feels confident that its economy is working for it and that no matter what cards people are dealt with at birth, they can play a good hand.

Canada's middle class is stronger today because of the hard work and leadership of our finance minister.

To serve to the best of his ability, since day one the finance minister has worked with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and followed her recommendations and advice. In this spirit, the minister has always made an effort to work with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner on any matter, going above and beyond her recommendations.

The finance minister is focused on his job, growing our economy, and ensuring the benefits of our economic success result in more opportunities for every Canadian. The fact is that opposition members are focusing on personal attacks so they do not have to admit that our plan is working precisely where theirs failed for too long.

Under our plan, the government is making smart investments that are creating well-paying jobs, growing the economy, and giving all Canadians a real chance at success.

Our investments in people, communities, and the economy are making Canada stronger and positioning Canadians for success in the economy of tomorrow.

When we came to office two years ago, we took immediate action to help the middle class. We introduced the middle-class tax cut, while asking the wealthiest Canadians to pay a little more. Nine million Canadians are benefiting from that tax cut.

In addition, thanks to the Canada child benefit, nine out of 10 Canadian families are receiving more in child benefits than they did under the previous system. We also estimate that with the introduction of the Canada child benefit, child poverty—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. member for York—Simcoe on a point of order.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
CPC

Peter Van Loan

Conservative

Hon. Peter Van Loan

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There is a rule in the Standing Orders that requires people speaking to a motion in the House of Commons to respect the rule of relevance. They must actually speak to the specific motion on the floor of the House.

While I hear the member talking about interesting things, these are not anywhere even remotely close to the actual motion on the floor, which relates to the affairs of the finance minister and his failure to disclose to Canadians transparently, as required, the holdings he has in order to establish he is following the ethics rules. This is nowhere close to that.

I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that you require that anybody addressing this motion show some shred of relevance. I understand latitude is often provided, but we are so far out of the ballpark here that it is not even close.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the hon. member for York—Simcoe for his intervention. He is certainly right that relevance to the motion before the House is the boundary by which members should guard their comments and interventions. I note that the hon. parliamentary secretary is about five minutes into his 20-minute time period. I encourage him to bring his comments around to the motion before the House.

However, in that regard, members are also afforded a degree of liberty around how they can pose those arguments. As long as they introduce the ideas they are presenting to the relevance of the motions before the House, they are able to present arguments around those ideas as well.

I will ask the hon. parliamentary secretary to continue and to keep in mind the motion before the House.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
LIB

Joël Lightbound

Liberal

Mr. Joël Lightbound

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what I was doing. It would have been nice if the opposition member had listened to the first part of my speech, because I did talk about what the Minister of Finance has done since coming to Ottawa, in terms of working with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to make sure all the rules are being followed.

Talking is one thing, but listening is another. I urge the member to listen. He said I was talking about interesting things. It will only get more interesting from here on out, so it is important to listen closely.

I was in the middle of talking about the interesting fact that child poverty in Canada has been reduced by 40%. That is something interesting. However, what we are talking about is not just reducing child poverty by 40%, but how we did it, namely through the Canada child benefit.

In the motion, we are talking about the work of the Minister of Finance. When he first arrived here, he reviewed the Canada child benefit with our government to find ways to make it more progressive and to better target families who need it the most. The government stopped sending cheques to millionaire families like the previous government did.

The minister also looked at the increased limit for the tax free savings account. Hon. members will recall that the Conservatives increased the TFSA limit to $11,000 and did so with great fanfare. The American who came up this concept in the first place said that this was absolutely crazy, and that it would put the government in a fiscal straitjacket. However, when the Conservative government's then finance minister was asked what he would do for future generations, when the government was starved of money for carrying out its duties, he said that we should leave that problem to Stephen Harper's granddaughter to solve.

We are not leaving any problems for anyone's granddaughter. We are dealing with issues that affect Canadians today, and that is precisely what we did when we introduced the Canada child benefit.

I am very proud to say that in our fall economic statement last month, we took steps to further strengthen the Canada child benefit by proposing to index it to inflation almost two years ahead of schedule, starting in July 2018. This will ensure that as the cost of living rises, so does the Canada child benefit, which is important to Canadian families. This is our focus on this side of the House.

A strengthened Canada child benefit means additional support to help pay for books, winter jackets, and skating lessons. These are the kinds of things Canadian families need.

The added confidence the Canada child benefit brings to families has been shown to have an immediate impact on economic growth. Canada is the fastest-growing economy in the G7. We are not stopping there, and neither is the Minister of Finance. In the fall economic statement, we also announced that we would provide more support for low-income workers.

Starting in 2019, the government will enhance the working income tax benefit, or WITB, by an additional $500 million per year.

This will put more money in the pockets of low-income workers, including families without children and the growing number of single Canadians. This enhancement will be in addition to the increase of about $250 million annually that will come into effect in that year as part of the enhancement of the Canada pension plan.

By these two actions alone, the government will boost the total amount spent on the working income tax benefit by about 65% in 2019, increasing benefits to current recipients and expanding the number of Canadians who receive this much needed support.

When we compare this to the former government's measures, such as the increase to the TFSA contribution limit and income splitting for families, which, as the parliamentary budget officer indicated at the time, benefited the wealthiest 10%, we can see the difference between the priorities of the Harper Conservatives and our government. Our priority is to help as many Canadians as we can, particularly those who need it most.

This extra money can help cover the grocery bill or buy warm clothes for winter. The improved benefit will help low-income working Canadians make ends meet.

The government has also taken important steps to secure a brighter future for Canadians. In the last two years, we have strengthened retirement security, housing, and health care. In June 2016, Canadian finance ministers worked collaboratively to reach an historic agreement to strengthen the Canada pension plan, the CPP. The CPP enhancement will take effect in January 2019. At maturity, it will increase the maximum CPP retirement benefit by about 50%, which in today's dollars will represent an increase of nearly $7,000, to a maximum benefit of around $20,000. I am proud that earlier this month my very own province of Quebec took action to enhance the Quebec pension plan in a similar fashion to the Canada pension plan. This complements the government's plan to build an economy that works for the middle class, and means that Canadians in all 10 provinces and three territories can look forward to a safer, more secure, and dignified retirement.

On housing, the government has re-established its leadership role. No less than yesterday, the government announced Canada's first-ever national housing strategy, a 10-year, $40 billion plan that will give more Canadians a place to call home. This bold 10-year, $40 million—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
CPC

Peter Van Loan

Conservative

Hon. Peter Van Loan

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I have been listening patiently following your encouragement that we wait to see if there might be some relevance in this speech and arguments. I thought that when we got into the government's housing strategy, we might hear about the French villa that was part of the finance minister's assets that he failed to disclose to the Ethics Commissioner.

The motion states:

That the House agree with the Prime Minister’s statement in the House on November 1, 2017, that “sunshine is the best disinfectant”; and call on the Finance Minister to reveal all assets he has bought, sold or held within all his private companies or trust funds since he became Finance Minister, to determine if his financial interests have conflicted with his public duties.

The member has failed to say a passing word related to the motion on the floor. He is speaking about everything the finance minister has done, except with respect to his ethical disclosures.

As I said, I thought that when we got into the housing policy he might talk about the French villa the finance minister failed to disclose, and that when he started talking about pensions, he might address the ethical conflict of holding shares in a company that regulated those pensions. He did not address that. He just went right on by that issue.

There is simply no relevance whatsoever in his speech. In fact, it fits the pattern of the government all the way through, which is to stonewall, and stonewalling, by failing to be relevant, is simply not permitted. We have a lot of latitude. However, what we have here is a shameful disregard for the role of this Parliament with respect to the ethics rules, the failure to disclose, and the fundamental nature of the motion. The member's failure to address the motion with even a word heightens and furthers that contempt by the government.

Therefore, I would ask that, unless the member gets to the point and in some way addresses the motion, you conclude that this speech is not in order and is not relevant.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the hon. member for York—Simcoe for his remarks. It is true that the rule regarding relevancy is important.

I would say that I certainly agree with the hon. member for York—Simcoe with respect to his demand that the rules of relevance be followed in the House. Certainly, those are the orders that apply to all of us.

As I have indicated in the past on questions of this nature, what is important is that members create a connection between the arguments and positions they are posing in the House and how those ideas are relevant to the question before the House, and then continue with their explanations and arguments in that regard. If that link or connection is not made at the outset of the speech they are presenting, it is difficult for members to put into context how those particular arguments refer to the very question the House is taken up with throughout the course of the day.

Therefore, we will go back to the hon. parliamentary secretary, ask him to put that into the right context, and continue from there.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
LIB

Joël Lightbound

Liberal

Mr. Joël Lightbound

Mr. Speaker, what I hear from the member opposite also fits a pattern of the opposition playing politics while we work for Canadians. I find it regrettable that the member opposite would make a mockery of the housing strategy, the first in Canada, which will help reduce the housing needs of 530,000 households, and reduce chronic homelessness by half in this country. I find it quite regrettable that he would make a mockery of that.

However, I will address what the member mentioned, as I did at the beginning of my speech, had he paid attention. I said that the finance minister, as he and all parliamentarians are expected to, worked with the Ethics Commissioner from the get-go, when he got to Ottawa. He disclosed to her, with full transparency, all of his assets and asked her to set the path he should follow. She recommended that he put in place a conflict of interest screen, which was good enough for the ministers of the Harper government and she deemed to be the best measure of compliance possible.

Now the finance minister has announced that he would go—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
CPC

Peter Van Loan

Conservative

Hon. Peter Van Loan

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We are all supposed to conduct ourselves with appropriateness, honesty, and transparency in this House. One of the things that is not permitted is a member to knowingly mislead the House. It is a very serious question of privilege that I will not raise at this point, but I would simply ask the member to correct himself. It is a matter of public record that the Minister of Finance did not disclose his holding in a French villa, as required by the ethics rules. He later did disclose it when required to, and was convicted and fined for having violated those rules. Therefore, when the member says to the House—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

Order. I appreciate the intervention by the hon. member for York—Simcoe. I believe we are into a debate on the matters that have been presented in the House, and the hon. member will have the opportunity, perhaps under questions and comments, to pose those kinds of arguments. I do not see that as a point of order.

We will go back to the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
LIB

Joël Lightbound

Liberal

Mr. Joël Lightbound

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, the finance minister from the very beginning has always worked with the Ethics Commissioner and continues to do so—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
?

An hon. member

From the beginning?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
Permalink
LIB

Joël Lightbound

Liberal

Mr. Joël Lightbound

Yes, from the beginning, Mr. Speaker, he has worked with the Ethics Commissioner. He has put in place what she deemed to be the best measure possible, a conflict of interest screen, and has now announced that he will go even above and beyond that and place all of his assets in a blind trust. He has divested himself of all shares in Morneau Shepell so he can continue the important work he has been doing for Canadians for the last two years, work that has generated more success for the Canadian people and the Canadian economy than that party ever could achieve in 10 years. Under the previous Conservatives, we had sluggish growth and high unemployment.

Members may remember the debate in the last federal election two years ago on whether Canada was heading into a recession. No one is asking that question now, because Canada has the strongest growth in the G7. We have created half a million jobs over the last two years, and that is the direct work of the finance minister. He has worked with the Ethics Commissioner and done everything according to the rules. That is precisely why he is able to do the important work he has been doing for the last two years for Canadians, and will continue to do.

On health care, the government has reached new health funding agreements with the governments of all provinces and territories. Each will receive its share of the $11 billion federal investment in home care and mental health care. This means that Canadian families can look forward to better health care support, particularly in the urgent priorities of home care and mental health, and that is a result of the work of the finance minister.

In addition to the investments I just mentioned, since we came to office, we have also invested in small businesses, which we know are the engine of the Canadian economy and provide millions of Canadians with good well-paying jobs.

The government is helping small businesses to invest, grow, and create jobs by proposing to lower the small business tax rate to 10% as of January 1, 2018, and to 9% as of January 1, 2019.

For the average small business, this will leave an additional $1,600 per year for entrepreneurs and innovators to reinvest in their businesses and to create jobs.

Finally, the government intends to make important changes to the tax system that will ensure that Canada's low corporate tax rates go toward supporting businesses, not to providing unfair tax advantages to high-income and wealthy Canadians.

The steps taken to date are having a real and positive impact on our economy and on the middle class and Canadians from all walks of life. Optimism is on the rise, and with good reason. Our plan to strengthen the middle class and grow the economy over the long term is working. Job creation is strong, with over 500,000 new jobs created in the last two years, most of them full time, and our youth unemployment rate is near its lowest level on record.

Canada has the fastest growing economy in the G7 by a wide margin, growing at an average of 3.7% over the last year, which is the fastest pace of growth since early 2006.

Growth is forecast to be 3.1% in 2017, which is significantly above expectations at the beginning of the year.

The fiscal outlook has also improved by more than $6.5 billion annually on average from what was projected in budget 2017.

I know it is also important for all members to recall that the federal debt-to-GDP ratio is firmly on a downward track, and that Canada continues to have the best fiscal position among G7 countries.

I want to point out that when we came to power in 2015, our debt-to-GDP ratio was 32.5%; it is now 30.5% Over the course of the next few years, it will drop under 30% and below 1977 levels.

Canada's economic position is the envy of the world and the result of the efforts of the Minister of Finance, who came in with the right plan at the right time for Canada's economy, and made investments in our infrastructure and enhanced the Canada child benefit, among other things.

Our government is is committed to sound fiscal management as it continues to make investments to support long-term economic growth and a strong middle class. We will do this while preserving Canada’s low-debt advantage for current and future generations. Canada's economic performance is impressive. Now, we can also say that our performance on social issues is impressive.

In my opinion, Canada is back on track because of the efforts of the Minister of Finance and of our government, after 10 years under a government that focused too much on the wealthiest and failed to achieve satisfactory results for Canadians.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assets
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November 23, 2017