Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
I'd like to thank Bert Kilbride for hosting this event here at Therma-Ray.
I would like to acknowledge and thank The Honorable Noël Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate, for joining us today.
Former Premier Bernard Lord, Bud Bird, former MP for Fredericton, and Percy Mockler, MLA for Restigouche-La-Vallée.
I'd also like to acknowledge and thank Keith Ashfield, our Conservative Candidate for Fredericton, and Rodney Weston, who's carrying the Conservative banner in Saint John.
Friends, there are few cities in Canada, or anywhere, that can boast of a thriving entrepreneurial spirit like Fredericton's.
The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce has over nine hundred members, most of which are small businesses, and there is one business for every fourteen people in the Fredericton region.
This is impressive.
Here in Fredericton and across Canada, small businesses are the growth engine of our economy.
They create almost forty per cent of new jobs in Canada every year, and are responsible for over twenty per cent of our national GDP.
Clearly, small business has a big impact.
That's why our Conservative Government made some important commitments to small businesses in the last election and we have delivered on them. We lowered the GST from 7 to 5 per cent. We reduced the paperwork burden on small businesses, by introducing on-line business permits and licences and by making tax remittance and reports less frequent, which will reduce filing requirements by about one-third.
We ensured that small businesses can earn more without the penalty of paying higher taxes by increasing the threshold for the federal small business tax rate from $300,000 to $400,000.
And we reduced the rate of that tax, from 12 to 11 per cent, one year ahead of schedule.
We also increased the lifetime capital gains exemption from $500,000 to $750,000 for small business owners, and extended those provisions to fishing and woodlot businesses as well as farms.
This morning, I am pleased to announce further steps in our plan to provide certainty and opportunity to small businesses.
First, if re-elected, our Conservative Government will be proceeding with implementation of a 20 per cent reduction in the federal paperwork burden on small businesses.
Under the leadership of Minister Diane Ablonczy, we will fully reach our 20 per cent target before the end of 2008.
Second, to help technology companies to move from research and development to commercialization, we will soon be providing industry with details of the $75-million venture capital fund that was provided for in budget 2008, and that will be administered by the Business Development bank of Canada.
Third, we're going to make it easier for small business owners to hand over their businesses to their children, by indexing their lifetime capital gains exemption to inflation.
In this way, the value of the exemption will not be eroded over time by inflation.
Finally, if re-elected, our Conservative Government will once again raise the threshold for the small business income tax rate, this time to $500,000.
By helping more small businesses to avoid getting bumped into a higher tax bracket, we'll be helping those small businesses to grow and to reach their potential.
The measures that I am announcing today are modest, responsible and affordable steps.
But we believe they are steps in the right direction for Canadian small businesses and for the Canadian economy.
Friends, all Canadians, including small business, have made many gains in the last two-and-a-half years.
In a time of global economic uncertainty, we have kept our economic fundamentals sound.
And we have every reason to look forward to a hopeful future.
By continuing the direction we've taken, responsible, affordable and practical steps to help small businesses and all Canadians, we can protect the gains we've made together, and move forward to greater prosperity in the years ahead.
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