IN THE HOUSE ~ Speaking on family income drop in Canada

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I have two comments and two questions coming out of the member's presentation. The first is on prosperity. He mentioned something about the current government having brought prosperity to Canada.

The member must be aware that the latest Statistics Canada figures show that since 1989, four of the five quintiles, in other words, when we divide the Canadian population into income sectors, the lowest 20%, the second lowest 20%, the middle 20% and then the two upper 20%, have seen a decline in real income.

In other words, the poorest, the lowest income Canadians, have seen their income drop by about 10%. The second quintile and third quintile, the middle class and working class Canadians, have seen their real income, the percentage of family income, drop by an equivalent of three weeks of salary a year.

Even the upper middle class, the second highest quintile, have seen an erosion of market income of a few days of pay a year.

The only group of individuals in Canada that have been prosperous since 1989 are the highest income level of Canadians. They have seen their incomes skyrocket. Corporate CEOs and corporate lawyers are doing very well.

How can the member talk about prosperity when the government has an 80% failure rate since 1989, where 80% of Canadians have seen their real incomes go down, not go up?

My second question is on his very apt observation, that when 86% of our trade is put into one country, we leave ourselves extremely vulnerable. That is has happened. What we have had over the past few years is that concentration of exports, now 86%, to the United States.

As any small business can tell us, when 86% of its trade is done with one client, there is trouble. We have seen in the last two months absolutely no action from the government on softwood lumber, aside from one phone call, but no concrete action and, indeed, various signs that the government is ready to negotiate when we won under the current dispute settlement mechanism.

First, how can he see the country as being prosperous when 80% of our families are seeing lower income?

Second, does he not feel it was a mistake for the government to put all the eggs in one basket and to concentrate our exports, when we should have over the past decade diversified to protect the interests of Canadians?