Government Orders: Part 2 of Economic Action Plan 2013

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I want to change the focus slightly from what the hon. member covered in his speech and just ask him about the measures we are seeing brought forward in Bill C-4 about which he is excited. I have to admit, I have less excitement in the sense of happiness about them. I am concerned that it is becoming too predictable a trend that the bulk of the government’s legislation that we see in any session of Parliament is coming to us bundled together with many unrelated pieces of legislation. In fact, over 30% of the government legislation in the previous session of Parliament came in the form of omnibus bills.

These measures, about which my hon. friend is so happy, are ones that I am very concerned about, such as the changes to the Canada Labour Code, changes to the public service act, changes to the Supreme Court Act. These have nothing to do with one another or with the budget. Would they not have been better handled as separate bills?

Rick Norlock: Mr. Speaker, let me begin by saying that during the lead-up to the last election, the Green Party candidate in my riding said that the economic policies of the Green Party were very conservative in nature, yet I noticed the voting record of the only member of the Green Party is pretty close to 95% to 100% of that of the New Democratic Party. The policies of the Green Party are very democratic socialist in nature.

She mentioned that we have these omnibus bills and we need to talk at length about all the things that happen. My constituents tell me they are tired of a bunch of politicians who talk and talk, and very little gets done. I tell my constituents that we are getting things done, that we have had more private members’ bills in the history of this country happen under this government, that we get things done such as the economic action plan, that our place in the world, especially in the G7, is at the top of the heap and not where we want it to be quite yet but getting there. They tell me that they want to see action taken, not more talk from a bunch of politicians here in Ottawa.

I am happy that we get things done and that we do not sit here babbling ad infinitum about things that are not really of interest to average Canadians. They want action, and that is what they are getting from our government.

Elizabeth May:  Mr. Speaker, I have a serious economics question for the member. A lot of us in this place talk about economics. The member for Markham—Unionville is one of those who is actually qualified to speak to it, having achieved a Ph.D., having taught at four universities, and having been the former chief economist at the Royal Bank.

I am curious about his views. We keep hearing the mantra that cutting corporate tax rates, so that Canada now has the lowest corporate tax rate in the OECD, is helping the job creators. However, we are also seeing that our job creation rate is very low. Youth unemployment is 14%.
Current RBC staff are telling us, as Mark Carney from the Bank of Canada pointed out, that low corporate tax rates are resulting in a large accumulated pile of what Carney called “dead money”. It is not going into the economy. It is not stimulating jobs. A current RBC economist says that it is now $600 billion. I believe that is 32% of our current GDP. I wonder if my friend from Markham—Unionville has any comments on this.

John McCallum: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her reciting of my various credentials.

I believe that Canada already has a very low corporate tax rate on the largest corporations. I believe that it is something in the order of 25%, when we include both the federal government and the provinces, whereas in the United States, it is something in the order of 39%. There is a huge gap.

In previous election campaigns, we in the Liberal Party said that we did not want to go back to super high corporate tax rates, but we thought that given other needs of the economy, this gap was larger than it needed to be. At the time, we wished to freeze corporate tax rates rather than allow them to go down further.

That was in the past. If we look to the future, I take her point about the proceeds from these lower taxes not always being used to advantage the Canadian economy through investment. There is a lot of what Mark Carney called dead money. Personally, if one thinks of all the possible tax cuts, it seems to me that the cut in corporate tax rates to the low level it is at today would not be among my top priorities. I do not think there is a great deal of evidence that the cuts we have seen to date have had a major positive effect on investment and jobs in the country.