House of Commons Hansard #67 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

The Budget
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

An hon. member

Give them money.

The Budget
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Sure, put more money into them. We can put more money into the RCMP, but part of the problem with it is that not all cities in Canada have the RCMP, including the City of Port Moody, which is the third largest of the five in my riding. It is a local municipal force so they have to raise money locally, so give them more tax room. Stop ripping off Canadians at the pump and let them raise the gas taxes for the needs that they want.

The federal Liberal government finds virtue in taking gas tax dollars and using them for resources that are not infrastructure related. Why does it not apply the same principle and let municipalities put gas taxes in place to finance what they need? The first responsibility of the state is always to protect citizens. The government is ripping off citizens and is doing nothing to protect Canadians. It has failed young Canadians and is going to stack my generation with debt and taxes that are going to bury young Canadians in the future.

The Budget
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Oak Ridges
Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Actually I want to talk about spending, Mr. Speaker. The member unfortunately is totally wrong, but I want to make a comment with regard to the issue of gas tax. It was this government in March 2000 that proposed suspending the GST on gasoline. We wrote to each province. How many provinces responded? One. Because they would not suspend the PST. There is no documentation to show that if we were to suspend it without the provinces doing the same the prices would go down. In fact, New Brunswick is a good example, where they did that for 2% and the oil companies raised the prices.

The Budget
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the provinces probably did not twin that tax cut because provinces need to pay for health care that the government is gutting from them. They need to pay for other things in the provinces that the government is cutting them off from.

The Budget
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

An hon. member

They cut the funding by 25%.

The Budget
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

As my colleague is saying, the government keeps cutting them off from health care, cutting them off on transportation infrastructure, and cutting them off on the things that they need to provide because this government is tax happy, spend happy and driving Canadians into the ground.

The Budget
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Let us cool things off a little here. It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester, Fisheries and Oceans; the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, Employment Insurance.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

February 25th, 2003 / 4:20 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and I think that if you were to seek it you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, in relation to its study on border security and enforcement, a group comprised of 2 government members and one member of each of the opposition parties of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, be authorized to travel to Washington, D.C., U.S.A. in March 2003, and that the necessary staff do accompany the committee.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there consent to table the motion?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government, and of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment

The Budget
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Bonwick Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased to rise to respond to last week's budget. I certainly want to take this opportunity as well to congratulate the finance minister on what I and I believe most Canadians believe to be very fine work.

Before I address the budget, though, I would like to clarify the record. I know I have to govern myself within the confines of using parliamentary language. For the hon. member who questioned the amount of time that I spend in the House, I will put my attendance record forward, my voting record forward and my attendance records at committee forward against his. I would be more than pleased to do that, because my commitment has been such that from Sunday to Thursday or Friday, when the House is sitting, I am away from my family working on behalf of my riding, trying to accomplish the good things with which the government is vested by way of responsibility. I do not appreciate the assertion that I am not in Ottawa representing the people of Simcoe--Grey when in fact the complete opposite is true. I find it a slight by the hon. member but typical of the kinds of comments that come from that side of the bench. It is shameful of that member and I am so disappointed.

I say we are in a very unique situation here, a terribly unique situation when we compare ourselves to the other industrialized and developed nations of the world. That was the challenge I was trying to throw out to the Alliance Party: to stand up and try to instill confidence in Canadians and remind them of the excellent fiscal shape this country is in today as opposed to five or six years ago and to create consumer confidence, because we are in a very unique position. We are in a unique position not only because of the hard work of the finance minister and the budget that he brought forward last week, but we are in a great position because of the leadership of the Prime Minister and the leadership that has been shown by the members of Parliament, my Liberal colleagues from all across this country.

This is a Canadian budget. Canadians have spoken. They have spoken to us in our ridings. They have spoken to us by way of survey. They have spoken to us by way of talk shows. They have spoken to us by way of presentations before committee. And this government listened. What did it listen to? There is a $35 billion increase in health care.

Mr. Speaker, show me somebody in this country who does not think that a $35 billion increase in health care spending over the next five years will help to raise the quality of life in Canada. Clearly it will, both in urban areas and rural areas.

In my riding of Simcoe--Grey, the three hospitals I have will directly benefit, as long as the province transfers the money in a timely fashion, of course. They will directly benefit from this. We are in a position to do that not simply because of the budget and the hard work on behalf of all my colleagues, but I think we have to take our hats off to the past finance minister as well, for it was under his watch that we went from a $43 billion yearly deficit to eliminating it in its entirety and to actually starting to reduce debt, to actually seeing the economy grow and the debt to GDP ratio spreading ever wider. Originally it was 66% and now it is 46%.

The country has not been in better financial shape as opposed to its allies or the G-7 countries in many years. Canadians need to know that. This economy is strong. It is stable. Quite frankly, we would not be in a position to invest the kind of money that the government invested in Canadians by way of its budget if we did not have those kinds of surpluses within our budget.

A number of things about the budget certainly impressed me tremendously. Health care, absolutely, but I would also like to talk about some of the other things, like the Department of National Defence. CFB Borden is located in my riding. It is one of the largest training bases in Canada. There are no people in this country that I am more proud of than the men and women in our military.

I get an opportunity to visit the base on a regular basis to meet them and hear their stories and I am here to tell the House that this nation is well served by the men and women in our military. I could not be more proud, more happy, to see a $1.6 billion increase for the Department of National Defence over the next two years and again an incremental increase of $800 million over the following three years. This is not chump change. This is $4 billion. That is a significant amount of money for our military, and I am proud to see it go to our military men and women because they certainly deserve it.

We talk about things such as the infrastructure program. When I was chair of the southwestern Ontario caucus for two years my caucus was proud, along with many other caucuses, to champion infrastructure in the House and to tell the government that there was a need for an infrastructure program and a need for cost sharing on some of the demands municipalities are facing today.

Do members know what happened? The government listened. We invested over $5 billion into infrastructure pre this budget. It had enormous consequences all across the country. My riding was likely one of the largest beneficiaries within rural Ontario. We had a number of tremendous projects that were announced over the last five years that have clearly raised the quality of life, that have created an environment where business wants to invest and that have had a substantive impact on the economy. We asked and the government listened.

What the municipalities want now is a long term sustained infrastructure program, not a one year or two year program but long term. They got it; it is over 10 years. Maybe $3 billion is not enough over that period of time, I will give that, but let us not lose sight of how it will extrapolate within the public sector, municipal governments, provincial governments and the private sector. We are not all of a sudden talking about $3 billion, we are talking about $10 billion or more. Therefore it will have a substantive impact over the next 10 years.

As the government has proven time and time again, when we have the resources to give more we will. As the demand is there, as municipalities are facing challenges, whether they be rural or urban, the government will be walking with them, shoulder to shoulder, as we have in the past. I would challenge anybody in the House to suggest that the infrastructure money we have invested in our great land, in my riding of Simcoe--Grey, has not offered significant benefit.

When I start talking about the wonderful things that have taken place in the budget, I am truly hopeful that both sides of the House will espouse the virtues of a budget that will create the level of confidence that Canadians rightly want to hear and deserve to have.

When I hear that $985 million will be invested in a national day care program, I say bravo. That is for the working class family. When my wife and I were raising our oldest boy 14 years ago that was the kind of program we needed. It certainly would have helped to elevate our quality of life and to provide a more stable environment for our son. No, we cannot go back and do it, but I am proud of the fact that I am sitting with a government that has the foresight to recognize that kind of investment sometimes needs to take priority over a road or a sewer.

The fact is that this budget invests in the most important thing any government can, its people. I could not have been more proud when some of these approaches were articulated in last week's budget.

There has been mention across the hall with respect to some of the lack of accountability in government spending over the years.

I forgot to say this at the beginning, Mr. Speaker, but I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot.

The members across the hall raised a very good point. I believe the official opposition is doing its job when it points out these deficiencies in government and in spending. Bravo to them for pointing them out. We do the same thing in the backbenches. If we see there is mismanagement taking place, if we see that we are not maximizing taxpayer money to the best possible ability of the cabinet and the government, we stand up and holler and shout and ask for corrective action.

The fourth principle of this budget, for which I could not have been more pleased, was clear and transparent accrual accounting. Based on a recommendation from the Auditor General, Canadians will now have as clear a picture as they have had in many years of the state of governance is in this country.

What more could they ask for: investment in health care; investment in security in these troubling times; investment in day care; investment in poor people; and investment in our children, while still balancing our budget and still setting aside a contingency to reduce the debt? I say bravo to the Minister of Finance, bravo to the Prime Minister and bravo to all Canadians who will benefit from this budget.

The Budget
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will only bring up a couple of the issues but I am sure others will bring up other issues.

I cannot believe the nerve of the member to bring up the issue of health care funding. When his government in the 1960s signed on to health care, it promised to pay 50% of the cost of health care. Now it is down to 13%. This budget brings it up over several years to 18% rather than the 50% that was promised. He has the nerve to stand in the House and say that they are doing a good job on health care when they are funding less than half of what they promised when they signed the deal with the provinces. That is disgusting.

The other issue concerns the debt. The member made a claim earlier that his government was in fact reducing the debt. If we were to check last year's budget documents against this year's budget documents, we would see that our national debt is higher this year than it was last year.