I am honoured that my constituents of Kitchener Centre have chosen me, for the second time, to be their voice in Ottawa. I thank them and assure them that I will devote every ounce of my strength and every skill I possess to representing Kitchener faithfully in this House. I also very much appreciate the support of my wife and family, my great campaign team, and all the friends and neighbours who put my signs on their lawns.
I rise today in support of the Budget tabled by the Honourable Finance Minister.
In all of human endeavour, there is no more complex undertaking than the preparation of a budget for the proper governance of a modern nation. It is the place where lofty ambitions collide with cold realities. The place where some compelling priorities win out over other equally compelling priorities. The place where a serious mis-step can ruin, or at least injure, the legitimate financial interests of millions of citizens. Crafting a budget is a complex and challenging task.
In a Parliamentary democracy it is even more difficult. We were elected as Government based upon commitments made to the Canadian people. The damage to confidence in democratic institutions is incalculable when governments renege on their commitments for anything short of catastrophic change of circumstances. We must be true to our word.
Yet other parties were elected because those who support them had other priorities. Can we give due consideration to the priorities of the Opposition? Can we just compromise for the sake of compromise, reneging on our commitments to Canadians? To ask that question is to answer it.
What are the unshakeable commitments our Government made to Canadians?
First and foremost, we've promised to protect the jobs on which Canadians across this country depend. As I went door to door, my constituents made plain to me that was their chief preoccupation. Some were just getting back to work after the recession. Some were still searching for work. Young Canadians. Older Canadians. All were cautious in their optimism about our economy.
Canadians have a right to be cautious. Canada led the world in job creation. We did that with one of the lowest debt to GDP ratios. But elsewhere around the world circumstances are less favored. Nuclear disaster in Japan. Debt crisis across the European Union. Uprisings in the Middle East. And unbelievable debt and deficits in the United States. Canada is an island of stability in an ocean of uncertainty.
As a trading nation we are not immune from global currents. Canadians have a right to temper their optimism with caution. Our government has a duty to address those concerns.
Our budget offers a small business hiring credit to encourage job creation. We're extending the accelerated capital cost allowance for machinery for 2 additional years - to assist manufacturers in Kitchener Centre and across the country. We're reviewing the "Best Fourteen Weeks" and the "Working While on EI" pilot projects for one year - to give relief to Canadian families. The budget includes $20 million for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation's support of young entrepreneurs.
This budget's job creation measures also support a cleaner energy economy. This includes renewed investments totaling almost $100 million over 2 years in clean energy and energy efficiency research.
I'm especially pleased that this budget also delivers $400 million more for the EcoEnergy for Home Retrofit Program. I pressed hard for this program, which combines job creating retrofits with green house gas reducing energy efficiencies.
But our long-term economic health depends on more than just immediate job creation.
It also depends on expanding our corporate revenues by lowering our corporate tax rate. A simplistic view might consider that the idea of reducing the tax rate contradicts the idea of expanding the corporate tax base. In the real world, it's no contradiction. Studies have shown that lower tax rates will induce corporations to book their profits in Canada, creating more revenue than we lose through lower rates.
Our long-term economic health also depends on jobs for the long-term. Our investment in the multi-nation allied procurement of F-35 jets does exactly that. Not only will companies, like Heureux Devtek in my riding, get to bid on jobs building Canadian jets, but also on jobs building jets for Norway, France, Britain and a half dozen other allies.
This budget also plans for the future by investing in a myriad of innovation, education and training opportunities.
Finally, our long term economic health depends on eliminating the deficit. Has it ever occurred to those members who embrace socialist policies that deficit financing - borrowing to finance government programs - results in a kind of reverse Robin Hood? A Robin Hood who takes from middle income Canadians (in taxes) to pay to those wealthy enough to lend to the government (in interest). This is not the economic justice a government owes its citizens. (And it limits our future capacity to provide health and education and other necessary services.)
So our Budget sets out a low tax plan to return to balanced budgets. We will deliver on the 2010 round of strategic reviews. We will take action to close tax loopholes. We will launch a comprehensive strategic and operating review to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government.
This budget also includes other priorities. We'll lift the poorest seniors out of poverty with enhanced GIS. We'll introduce new tax relief for family caregivers of infirm dependents. We'll end the anti-democratic per-vote state subsidy of some, but not all, political parties. We'll encourage children to participate in the arts. We'll leverage more research into brain diseases like Alzheimers and MS. In short, we'll match lofty ambitions against cold realities. We'll pursue some compelling priorities over other priorities. And we'll protect the legitimate financial interests of millions of Canadians against serious government mis-steps.
Does that mean that dialogue and collaboration have no place in the future of this 41st Parliament? Once we live up to our commitments I hope there will be room for compromise. Providing we all respect the fundamental needs of ordinary Canadians, we can all work together in this Parliament.
Our government has proved it is willing to listen. When the current Opposition Leader proposed NDP priorities for the Budget crafted in March, we listened! EcoEnergy, GIS enhancement, incentives for rural medical recruitment - we found we could agree with those proposals and we put them in the Budget! Will the Opposition pay us mutual respect? Will they compromise their demands? Will they support this sensible budget? I urge them to demonstrate their desire to collaborate by supporting this budget, and accepting the election of our Government.
In this spirit I want to close by quoting from the words of a great Canadian. His words express the spirit of this budget. His words speak especially to the fresh idealism of our new Members of Parliament. He said;
"As for you who stand today on the threshold of life, with a long horizon open before you for a long career of usefulness to your native land. I shall remind you that already many problems rise before you: problems of race division, of creed differences, of economic conflict, of national duty and national aspiration. Let your aim and purpose, in good report or ill, in victory or defeat, be so to live, so to strive, so to serve as to do your part to raise even higher the standard of life and living."
These are the words of Sir Wilfred Laurier, our 7th Prime Minister. Let us heed him and join together to pass this Budget, doing our part to raise even higher the standard of life and living of all Canadians.