I gave the following speech on Tuesday, June 10th, in the House of Commons.
I stand in support of this motion by the honourable member for Skeena-Bulkley Valley.
That, in the opinion of the House, the drastic increase in income inequality under recent Liberal and Conservative governments harms Canadian society; and that the House express its opposition to the Conservative income-splitting proposal which will make this problem worse and provide no benefit for 86 per cent of Canadians.”
I repeat — income splitting is no benefit for 86 per cent of Canadians.
That means it IS a benefit to 14 per cent of Canadians.
And what 14 per cent of the Canadian population would that be, I ask you Mr. Speaker?
Why the wealthiest, Mr. Speaker – the best off, the highest income level.
But you probably already knew that, Mr. Speaker, because income splitting is a plan pitched by the Prime Minister and the Conservatives, and that party is all about big business, big money, and big tax breaks for the wealthy.
Big gap, Mr. Speaker, between the have and the have not — a growing gap between have and have not.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I’m going to stop right here and shift gears.
Let me talk about the 86 per cent of the population who will NOT benefit from income splitting in my riding of St. John’s South-Mount Pearl.
They’re everyday Newfoundlanders and Labradorians — policemen, firefighters, teachers, nurses, government workers, waiters, fishermen, small-business owners, single moms, single dads, construction workers, and hairdressers.
You get the picture, Mr. Speaker, most ordinary people will NOT benefit from income splitting.
They’re the people that this Conservative government has forgotten, or left further and further behind, or have no interest in helping.
That doesn’t go for ALL levels of government, Mr. Speaker, there is hope out there.
Take St. John’s City Council, which is going where this Conservative government refuses to tread.
For example, while this Conservative government won’t have anything to do with a National Housing Strategy — and voted against a New Democrat proposal for just that.
And the Liberals under Paul Martin killed their national housing strategy.
The City Council in St. John’s adopted an affordable housing plan this week that promises 500 homes by 2017.
Five hundred homes by 2017, Mr. Speaker.
The plan targets rental housing, home ownership, energy efficiency and age-friendly homes.
The plan is all about affordability for the people in the middle, as one councilor put it, the people in the middle.
Again, they’re the people, the Canadians, that this Conservative government has forgotten.
So well done, St. John’s City Council.
It’s so fabulous — it’s so inspiring — to see a level of government picking up where the Conservatives so desperately fail.
Who exactly is left completely out of the Conservatives’ income splitting plan?
People making under $44,000 a year – NO BENEFIT.
A couple that makes above $44,000 but are both in the same tax bracket – NO BENEFIT.
Single people, couples with no kids, couples with kids who are grown up – NO BENEFIT.
Parents who are divorced – NO BENEFIT.
But someone MUST benefit, Mr. Speaker.
Income splitting is going to cost the federal government $3 billion a year — $3 billion, that figure is from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives — who benefits from that?
Why the best friends of the Conservatives, Mr. Speaker — the wealthy.
Income inequality in our country is spiraling out of control — it is out of control.
The incomes of the top 1 per cent are surging while the average Canadian family has seen their income free fall over the last 35 years.
Ninety-four per cent of the increases in the inequality over the last 35 years occurred under federal Liberal governments, Mr. Speaker.
The latest Liberal leader paints himself as a champion of the middle class — he infers it in half the questions he asks in this House — but he can no more relate to the middle class (because he’s had nothing to do with the middle class) than the Prime Minister can relate to a fisherman on the northeast coast of Newfoundland.
Than the Prime Minister can relate to a Housekeeper at the Delta Hotel in St. John’s, or a farmer in the Goulds, or a waitress in Quidi Vidi, or a fishermen in Petty Harbour, or a street cleaner in Mount Pearl.
The Prime Minister can’t relate to those people, Mr. Speaker (keeping in mind he’s turned his back on Newfoundland and Labrador anyway).
Income splitting will cost the Canadian treasury $3 billion — money that will stay in the pockets of the wealthiest.
At the same time, we’re asking middle and lower income earners to pay their fair share, more than their share, Mr. Speaker.
This Conservative government has done nothing to address, to reduce, inequality, growing inequality.
This country is desperate for affordable child-care like the $7-a-day Quebec model.
This country is crying out for pharmacare so people don’t have to make desperate choices between food and medications.
This country has been shamed by how our government treats veterans — they fought for us, but this Conservative government does not fight for them as services are reduced and mental health problems are ignored.
This Conservative government is failing our seniors who don’t have enough money to live on.
It’s failing students who are entering the workforce with massive anchors of debt.
It’s failing fishermen (oh I can’t leave them out Mr. Speaker) fishermen who are being squeezed out of an industry by a government that favours big business licence holders.
Fishermen who have to choose between NOT paying federal licence fees or their bank loans.
It’s failing the middle class.
Yet, this government has the time to draw up tax schemes that only help the wealthiest 14 per cent of Canadians.
With so much to do it’s clear to see where this Conservative government’s priorities lie.
Not with ordinary people.
As the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives put it, “Income splitting creates a tax loophole big enough to drive Rolls Royce through. It’s pitched as a program for the middle class but in reality it’s an expensive tax gift for the rich.”
To quote the Broadbent Institute: “Income splitting would increase inequality as it is skewed inequality heavily toward a Mad Men style family with a high income earner and a stay-at-home spouse … income splitting fails the fairness test.”
Let me bring this back to the beginning Mr. Speaker.
This motion reads that in the opinion of the House, the drastic increase in income inequality under recent Liberal and Conservative governments harms Canadian society.
Harms Canadian society, they’re words that stick with me, Mr. Speaker.
I have a message for this government — seniors matter, veterans matter, workers matter, students matter, middle and lower income earners matters, the environment matters, our fishermen matter, the East Coast matters.
The 86 per cent of Canadians who don’t benefit from income splitting — they matter.
It seems the only ones who get support from this government are those who sign cheques payable to the Conservative Party of Canada.
This country has to be better than that.
Canada must do better than that.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.