Thursday, April 03, 2008

Birdbrains?

From an exchange in the House yesterday:
Mr. Thomas Mulcair: That is what those birdbrains in the Liberal Party of Canada want to support. They want to support the Conservatives. They are against families. They are against social programs. They are against social justice. They have no vision. They have no convictions. They do not believe in anything.

More and more, the truth is coming out. Canadians are starting to decode the Liberals. I am just waiting to hear the new star from Toronto Centre, someone who once had the guts to come into this House and claim to represent social justice and progressive thought and who has now sold himself out to the bosses.

I can hardly wait to have him stand up and talk against families, against workers, in favour of tax increases for individuals, and against the average working family. That guy wants to give tax breaks to corporations.

Let him have it, I say, and let him know what really is going on out there in Canada. We can hardly wait because we are going to deal with him.
"We are going to deal with him?" Should Bob be watching his back in dark alleys or something? What is with the vitriol?

The response:
Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I am very grateful to my colleague from Markham—Unionville for giving me the chance to participate in this debate. This is my first intervention in a debate in the House of Commons since 1982, so you will appreciate that in these 10 minutes I am not going to give a long, nostalgic commentary on the last period of time.

I know that is going to disappoint many here, but I want to say it is great to be back in the House and it is great to be welcomed in a very open spirit by my colleagues.

To have been accused by the member for Outremont of having sold out to the bosses and to being a traitor to the working class is a pleasure, if I may say so. I feel honoured to be considered in that particular pantheon by the member for Outremont.

But like me, the member for Outremont has a problem and that is that most of his thoughts are in print. I have this problem and so does he.

I know that members opposite are going to be culling. In fact, when the guy was fired as the Tory candidate in my riding, he had three binders and those binders somehow found their way to my office, so I have the binders the members have and I go to tab three and tab five. So, I know all the quotes the members are bring up.

The member for Outremont in 2002 in the National Assembly of Quebec had this to say about private enterprise. He said:

[Translation]

We are already taxed more than anyone else in North America. And that is because the people in our government insist on pretending to be businesspeople, but they do not let the free market determine which companies survive and which ones fail.

On April 16, 2002, the member for Outremont also said:

A government exists to create conditions so that private companies, the real ones, can have conditions where they can invest and create something.

That is what the member for Outremont said, although he seems to have forgotten. I do not know exactly what happened. All I know is that, when he was a member of the National Assembly and a minister in Quebec, he knew full well, just as everyone who has been in power knows, that people must be able to create something, to invest, as he said, and to create wealth. Without wealth and prosperity, a government cannot create social justice and help people.

I do not have time at this moment to give a full reflection on what I feel about the motion that has been put forward, except to say that I rise with a certain sense of sadness because I have come through an election campaign that was very interesting. The Green Party put forward positive proposals. I did not agree with all of them but they were there, substantive, thoughtful and creative.

My colleagues from the Conservative Party ran, basically, on a platform of anti-crime, anti the candidate, of course, and anti our leader, and that was the campaign.

The New Democratic Party ran on a threefold campaign. It had three elements. The first element was pure gimmickry. The second element was class warfare, of which we have heard more today. When was the last time someone stood in the House and used the language of saying “another member has sold out to the bosses?” What has happened?

My colleague from Markham—Unionville talks about going back to the class warfare of the 1960s. This is not going back to the class warfare of the 1960s. This is going back to the class warfare of the 1930s. This is going back to the class warfare of the 19th century. This is a truly sad commentary. Then we add the third element of the campaign, which is character assassination.

There is nothing that anybody in the House can say about me that I have not heard 1,000 times. It does not bother me, except that it saddens me when a party, which alleges to be in favour of creating greater prosperity and social justice, has a mentality that says that if we create business conditions, which in fact allow businesses to make money, that is a terrible thing. I do not get it. It is a sad commentary.

Then the member brought forward his devastating facts, presumably from the NDP research, which are all subsidized, which say that we were wrong yesterday when we pointed out that there are a great many social democratic countries that have recognized that they can actually lower business taxes and it helps the overall prosperity of their economies. Then he stood up and said that was not true, that we had the facts wrong. He recited all the information but forgot one simple fact: Canada is a federal country. It is a reality of our country.

Therefore, when we look at the taxes that are businesses are facing, we cannot just compare the federal tax rate to the Swedish unitary tax rate. We need to look at the overall tax rate. My colleague from Markham—Unionville gave those statistics very clearly.

It is quite pathetic to have all the rhetoric, all the overblown stuff, all the language, the gimmicks, the class warfare and the character assassination. That party, which at one time was leading the way on social policy and was setting the mark with respect to where Canada should go, has now been reduced to this really sad state of affairs.

The member for Outremont made a point of saying, in very flowery language, that he was looking forward to seeing how the member for Toronto Centre would possibly escape from this trap, which had been so effectively set by the New Democratic Party, how he would be able to live with himself, wake up in the morning and face the mirror because he sold out to the bosses and has now totally fallen in with a capitalist class.

How would he be able to live with himself? The answer is very easily because, like most social democrats around the world, I recognize that business success is not the enemy of social justice. It is quite simply that.

I had the great honour of leading a province through a very difficult recession. I know my friends opposite have said a lot and will say a lot about that, but I want to say this to my friends. If companies are unsuccessful, it hurts everyone. If companies are unsuccessful, it hurts the poorest of the poor. If companies are unsuccessful, it hurts the weakest of the weak. If companies are unsuccessful, it hurts every Canadian.

+ -(1645)

I want companies to be successful in this country because I want to create a climate for social justice and I want to create a climate for sustainability. That is the kind of Canada that the Liberal Party and my leader, St├ęphane Dion, want to lead and that is the kind of country we want to have.
I know, I did not provide Mulcair's extended excerpt. People can go read it for themselves. I wanted to highlight that exchange where Mulcair got personal with Rae and Rae directly responded.

It's incredible the buttons that have been pushed this week as Rae has arrived in the House.