House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

May 4th, 2004 / 12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Dennis Mills Toronto—Danforth, ON

He is not an expert, but he has talked to a lot of experts. His book just won the Governor General's prize for the quality of his research.

I am trying to be constructive here in this exchange. I am with the member on this. I think this is a horrific problem and as he said, the industry has sent lots of tax dollars to this treasury. When the industry is in pain, as it is, we should figure out a way to respond.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, since coming to Parliament back in 1997, like most people, I have endeavoured to raise issues of concern to my riding and to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador on a number of occasions. I have tried to raise these issues in the media and I have tried to raise them here on the floor of the House of Commons.

While some progress has been made, there are a number of matters that I find myself talking about today that I was talking about back in 1997 when I came here, which indicates of course the very little progress that has been made on these very important issues.

The issue, first and foremost, not only in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and not only in the riding of St. John's East, which plagues Canadians generally is health care.

There was much ado about a meeting that was held a few months ago by the Prime Minister with the various premiers right across Canada. It had to do with a payment. I will not say an additional payment because it certainly did not represent additional moneys into the health care system, but it was a payment of about $2 billion which had been made to the various provinces. It was a promise that was made by the previous Prime Minister.

This money in no way represented or was in any way an indication of a new fit of generosity on the part of the federal government. We should make that perfectly clear right off the bat. This was not new money. The $2 billion in question is only a very small part of the many billions of dollars that have been cut to the provinces in transfer payments over the last number of years.

I never cease to be amazed, that given the fact that health care is the number one issue in the country, that the federal government still does not seem to be getting it. It does not seem to be getting the message that Canadians generally from coast to coast are concerned first and foremost with the health care system in their respective part of the country. The federal government just does not seem to get it.

Yes, the federal Liberals balanced the budget, but it was at a tremendous cost to the people of Canada. It was at a tremendous cost to the various provinces, including my own. It is easy to fix a problem if all one does with that problem is pass it along down the line to the next level of government.

Years ago Ottawa, as we are all aware, paid roughly 50% of a province's health care budget. Today it is down, I think I read it recently in an ad in one of the local papers, to 14% or 16% that the federal government is actually paying in to the health care system. That is one of the reasons that we have lineups at the various hospitals and health care institutions. That is why it is very difficult to recruit nurses, doctors and medical specialists generally. We have somehow lost sight of the fact that the health care system in the country actually needs more money and it desperately needs leadership at the federal level.

We often hear the Minister of Health and the Prime Minister say that the problem in health care cannot be fixed by throwing more money at it. Does it not stand to reason that if, over a 10 year period, we take vast sums of money out of the health care system when the federal government's contribution to health care was 50% and is now down to about 15%, that the health care system would need that money back in order to fix the problems that exist now?

Therefore, for the government to say that just throwing more money at the health care system will not solve the problem, is an absolute farce. Since the federal government has cut large sums of money out of the health care system, it is only reasonable to assume that it would at least put some money back, which would go a long way toward fixing it. To date the federal government has not put any money back into the health care system.

The government comes along every now and then and offers $2 billion but it has cut so much out of it that we are not yet back to 1997 levels of spending. Still the federal government says that it is putting additional money into the health care system.

Health care needs more money and it desperately needs leadership at the federal level. One of the reasons why we have a bit of a patchwork of health care services across the country is that the federal government has lost its moral authority in setting national standards. Simply put, when we pay only a small fraction of the piper's wages, we cannot expect to call the tune. That is the real problem here.

Our health care system used to be one of the hallmarks of Canadian citizenship. Our nation is crying out for visionary leadership on health care, to put the system back on the rails. It has gone off the rails over the last five years in particular. People are looking to their government and to the Prime Minister to show some leadership and vision.

It is hard to know what the government will do. In this pre-writ period it seems to be satisfied to be all things to all people. We have the Prime Minister travelling around the country and if he hears something about education in one part of the country he is implementing or writing the policy on the fly to satisfy that particular group. He then moves to another part of the country and does the same thing. The problem we have with our leadership right now is that it has no vision.

The problem of mounting student debt was also in the recent throne speech. I have mentioned that issue on several occasions here on the floor of the House of Commons. The source of the problem is the cuts made by the government that we have in power right now to transfers to the provinces for post-secondary education. For example, in Newfoundland and Labrador the provincial student grant program was the first to go and was replaced with the provincial student loan. Less federal funding at the post-secondary education level also drove up tuition rates.

Today I was reading a story from last week in the Globe and Mail that said that student debt had risen 76% over the last few years. Students are in desperate shape. Many students come to my office on a daily basis telling me that they have a student debt load of $40,000, $50,000 and $60,000. What that means is that students are graduating today with tens of thousands of dollars of debt while search for or starting a job, which presumably will be their first job and a low paying job.

One wonders how an individual with that kind of a debt load could possibly start a family, buy a new car, rent an apartment, get a mortgage on a house or whatever, when he or she has that kind of debt load. The federal government has not addressed the problems of students.

The Liberals, under the current Prime Minister's term as finance minister, have created a generation of impoverished students and debt-ridden graduates. However more than lip service is needed to fix that problem. It remains to be seen whether the Prime Minister is serious about dealing with the serious underfunding in post-secondary education.

I have a feeling, and I hope I am wrong, that the Prime Minister and the government are just making these promises pre-writ because they want to be all things to all people and, when the election is over, students and the health care system will find themselves in the same positions they are in today.

That is an awful commentary to make on the government but one has no choice but to make it when we see how the government has performed over the last number of years in not keeping its promises.

I want to speak for a moment to an issue that is very important to a lot of provinces, the equalization issue. The equalization program is another good example of where the government talks a very good line but it rarely does anything practical to assist the smaller provinces that want to see some meaningful changes made to the current equalization system.

Instead of truly equalizing the have not provinces with the have provinces, the equalization program over the years has kept us stuck in a semi-impoverished state. The funding under that program prevents the poorer provinces from drowning but it also prevents them from learning to swim on their own. That is the chief problem with the current equalization system.

This sorry state of affairs arises because of the clawback provision in the equalization formula. When a resource rich province like Newfoundland and Labrador earns a dollar in resource revenues, roughly about 80% of that dollar is clawed back by Ottawa through reductions in the equalization payments to that province. It is very difficult for a small province to make any headway under the “earn a dollar, lose a dollar” formula.

We have not been successful in making the country fully aware of the drawbacks of that formula, especially the clawback provisions. I think if people in the country were truly aware of how unfair that formula really is they would insist that something be done about it to help the smaller provinces.

I want to give an example that outlines the problem in graphic detail. I would truly love for everyone who is within hearing of what I am saying to give a little bit of attention to this example.

I will only talk about my own province of Newfoundland and Labrador right now. In six years the revenues flowing to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador from three oil fields, Hibernia, White Rose and Terra Nova, will be $1.1 billion. The federal government, through its corporate tax structure and the clawback provisions in the equalization program, will claw back $900 million out of that $1.1 billion.

I am flabbergasted when I think about that. We are a resource rich province struggling with an $827 million deficit and in six years, when we will have $1.1 billion flowing from three oil wells, the federal government, through its corporate tax structure and the clawback in equalization payments, will take $900 million out of that $1.1 billion.

How can a province like Newfoundland and Labrador ever expect to make any progress under that kind of a system? What that means is that the provincial government, which has an $827 million deficit, will get to keep $200 million of the $1.1 billion, which represents 18% of what is being generated. Something is wrong in how the country operates. Provinces do not have a chance to become equal or to get a foot up and try to swim on their own when the federal government makes those kinds of demands on poorer but, at the same time, resource rich provinces.

To compound that tragedy--

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1:05 p.m.

An hon. member

You mean it gets worse?

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
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1:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle St. John's East, NL

Yes, it can get worse.

To compound that tragedy, offshore oil--Voisey's Bay Nickel Company Limited is the largest nickel development in the world--is a non-renewable resource. An oil field can only be pumped dry once. A province has only one chance to get a project right in terms of jobs and in terms of economic rent that it might be able to generate from it. When it is gone, it is gone. We cannot say that we will fix the problem tomorrow because the oil and the nickel will not be there tomorrow. It is a non-renewable resource.

In the case of the massive development that will get underway at Voisey's Bay Nickel, it is not only subject to clawback provisions but it is subject to clawback provisions at a rate of 90:10, meaning that 90% will go to the federal government and other sources, such as the company and so on, and 10% will go to the province. Oil is a non-renewable resource and once it is gone, it is gone and we can never hope to have made any progress in terms of economic rent from it. Yes, jobs will be created but we will not get the kind of economic rent that we should be getting from our natural resources.

When we talk about the oil part of the Atlantic accord, it said that the Atlantic provinces were supposed to be the primary beneficiary of their offshore oil and gas development. Under the Conservative Party policy we would ensure that those provinces under the Atlantic accord would become the principal and primary beneficiary of the money that is generated.

However the equalization program, through its clawback provisions, counters that commitment by making Ottawa the primary beneficiary. Ottawa gives with one hand and takes away with the other. Is it any wonder that the Atlantic provinces have been screaming for a change to the equalization system? The term equalization is supposed to make one province equal with the other. It is not supposed to make one any better off. It is supposed to give a province a chance, through its resource development, to become an equal province with the rest of Canada but that is not happening.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Before proceeding to questions and comments, I would like to clarify for members of the House that the House is debating the amendment to the motion for third reading of Bill C-30 proposed by the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth, seconded by the hon. member for Scarborough East, that the question be now put.

Questions or comments? The hon. member for Prince George—Peace River.

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Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have risen on questions and comments, but I do not really have a comment. My question is that I was so enthralled with the presentation being made by my hon. colleague from Newfoundland for the chamber and, by extension, for all Canadians viewing this on CPAC, that I would like to offer him more time. That is my purpose in posing this question, if he would care to continue, because I noticed that his thought was cut off almost in mid-sentence.

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1:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, that is a rare opportunity indeed. I thank my colleague for the opportunity to go on for a little longer until the Speaker raises his hand again.

The equalization formula is one thing, of course, and I think I have explained fully to the House the drawbacks and the disadvantages of it. Another item of concern that comes up every now and then has to do with the unemployment insurance system, and I notice that the government once again, this time around, is starting to talk about it. It seems to me that every time we get close to an election the government raises this whole issue of unemployment insurance. I still call it unemployment insurance, not employment insurance, because it was always meant to be an insurance against unemployment, not against employment.

After coming to power, the Liberals changed the unemployment insurance system to the employment insurance system, and their new employment insurance system made it harder for seasonal workers to qualify for employment insurance benefits.

Here is how it changed. When they do qualify, they now get fewer benefits if they happen to be seasonal workers, and those benefits that they are able to access are for a shorter period of time. That should be made perfectly clear. The net result of the changes is that now only a third of Canada's unemployed people, people who become unemployed, qualify for unemployment insurance, and that is not right.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

An hon. member

What are they doing with all the money?

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle St. John's East, NL

My colleague asks what the Liberals are doing with the money. They are amassing great surpluses. The money is not going back to the workers or the employers in this country.

The net result of the changes, as I said, is that one-third of Canada's unemployed now qualify for employment insurance benefits, compared to the two-thirds who qualified under the old system of unemployment insurance. It became employment insurance when they changed the name and only one-third of the people actually qualified, but under the unemployment insurance scheme, two-thirds of people who became unemployed qualified for it.

That left the EI fund with an annual surplus of several billion dollars. Was the money given back to the employers? Was it given back to the unemployed people? No, all of those extra funds went into general revenue. I do not know if it is accurate, but we are hearing now that there is no surplus in the unemployment insurance fund. I think they have spent it all in general revenue. None of it has gone back to the workers.

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1:10 p.m.

An hon. member

They bought Challenger jets.

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Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle St. John's East, NL

Yes, that is a good point, Mr. Speaker. They bought Challenger jets.

The government balanced the budget, so not only did it balance the budget on the backs of the sick but it has balanced the budget on the backs of the unemployed as well.

A few minutes ago, the member for Toronto--Danforth talked about the sponsorship scandal and I would love to say a few words about that. I would be remiss if I did not mention that, because the member for Toronto--Danforth continues to spin that none of this money is missing and that the people of the country have been misled by the Auditor General and The Globe and Mail , the National Post , the Ottawa Citizen and the national news generally.

The people of the country have not been misled by the media. They have been misled by this government. This is a scandal of unbelievable proportions. Of the $250 million spent on the sponsorship program, a full 40% of that money, or $100 million, was given in commissions to Liberal-friendly ad agencies. The member for Toronto--Danforth can spin it as long as he wants, but the fact of the matter is that this money is indeed gone, to their buddies and friends, and in one manner of speaking, the money is missing and has yet to be accounted for.

The Liberals can bad-mouth the Auditor General all they want. The fact remains that the people of this nation want to know what happened to that $100 million. They want to know how it was spent by Liberal-friendly ad agencies that probably funnelled a great deal of that money right back into the federal Liberal Party coffers to run the next election.

I was minister of municipal affairs at one time. In my department, we signed contracts for tens of millions and billions of dollars over the three year to four year period that I was minister of that department. Contracts were signed for various things such as water and sewer projects and so on, but we always had engineering consultants who did a great deal of work on these projects before they were actually approved. They charged a commission fee of roughly 15%. Fifteen per cent is reasonable, I think, for an engineering firm that draws up the plans, supervises the project and does the work.

But a commission of 40% going to an ad firm for a telephone call saying “we have a cheque here for $40,000 that we want you to deliver to this particular group under the sponsorship program”? An ad firm would get a 40% commission for delivering that cheque. It would get a 40% commission for not doing anything. There was no paper trail to indicate that any work had been done to justify that, and then the member for Toronto--Danforth has the gall to try to spin this as something that the Auditor General is confused about and should not be mentioning and says that the press has treated the government in an unfair manner. That is absolutely outlandish and is something that could only be conceived of by the federal Liberals.

Members opposite are treating the Auditor General quite unfairly. I think we have a great Auditor General, one who has done a tremendous job in uncovering these scandals of this government. The Auditor General stated that the invoices were paid for minimal service and sometimes no service at all. I commend the Auditor General for doing a great job in that regard.

We are supposed to believe that the current Prime Minister, the second in command of that administration, knew absolutely nothing about this sponsorship scandal. He was second in command when the health, education and EI programs were gutted in successive budgets. He knew all about that. He knows very well--and I will sit down because you are telling me to, Mr. Speaker--that he was there as finance minister writing the cheques under this sponsorship program that has led to the biggest scandal to ever plague this country.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise today to talk about this budget that has proposed so much that is good for the country. It will be very delightful to see in the end which members of the opposition actually will vote against all these good provisions.

What is most exciting for me is that this really is--

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
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1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

We don't know what you're going to do with the money.

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1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

The member is right: it is a tremendous amount of money for the north. It is so exciting for the northern MPs. That is what I want to talk about today. I will talk about that and then go on to talk about volunteerism and, if I have time, about education and the exciting new concept of the social economy in this budget.

As for the north, this is a really exciting day for my colleagues from the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. It is the north's time to come of age. Of course the first thing is related to my portfolio: the $90 million for an economic development strategy for the north. We have a lot of potential. I talk to people across the north and they are very excited about this provision in the budget.

Of course health care is important in the north, as it is everywhere else. Over and above the large increases in health care funding for the country, the north has a specific $20 million a year for the next five years, starting this year, to take into account the added costs of doing business in the north.

There is $75 million for oil and gas development. As members will know, that is a tremendous boon to the north's economy. This is on the verge of occurring and of course we need the environmental and regulatory funding to make sure it is done appropriately.

There is the extension of the 15% mineral exploration tax credit. Once again let me say that the north depends to a large extent on mining. There are some great mines right across the north, in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon, and in fact in the northern parts of the provinces. This is a great boon to the Canadian economy and our resource development.

One of the most exciting things, which people are talking about right across the country and the north, is the largest environmental program in the history of Canada from any government or party: the $3.5 billion to clean up contaminated sites. The fact that 60% of this is going to go to the north, to an area of just over 100,000 people, is so exciting for the people of the north. Already they are talking about this as not only a huge cleanup for our environment and the stewardship of the environment, but also a great economic opportunity in developing the procedures to do this, which Canada can then export to other northern nations.

Another particular item I am very excited about is the $51 million for mapping of the Arctic continental shelf. As everyone knows, for years I have been championing our sovereignty in the north. With global warming as the polar ice caps melt, this is coming into question more and more. As members will know, we have four international disputes right now in the north so this particular funding is very exciting for me.

We will be mapping the Arctic continental shelf. That will lead to a formal submission to the United Nations convention on the law of the sea. That allows Canada to extend its boundaries past the 200 mile limit in the north in the Arctic continental shelf. Our neighbours, such as Russia, for instance, have already done their mapping to protect Canadian sovereignty. This is very exciting.

Of course a couple of months ago we announced a whole new five year plan on protecting sovereignty in the north, with advanced patrols and unmanned planes and satellite control. There is a whole plan for sovereignty in the north. This is very exciting for Canada.

Of course as a former director of a municipal association, I am also very excited about the new cities agenda, particularly the 7% GST rebate, which was made retroactive to February 1. It has already gone back so the municipalities can start reaping their rewards right away. The municipalities I have talked to are very happy with this particular item in the budget.

Also, the infrastructure programs the Canadian government has established in recent years have been a tremendous boon, not only for my constituency, in which every single municipality has benefited, but for municipalities across the country. In particular in this budget, what is exciting for us is the rural infrastructure program. The $15 million that we get in our constituency, which used to be over 10 years, is now over five years. This means we can spend that money twice as quickly to bring economic advantage to the north.

Most provisions in a national budget cover the whole country, so there is a lot of things that also will help the north in that way. However, I want to talk about specific things for the north about which we are very excited.

I want to talk about the voluntary sector. I am not too sure how well this has been covered in the debate. I have a lot of history in the voluntary sector. I have friends in the United Way, in the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre, which is for first nations people, in the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition and in the Yukon Learn for literacy. I want to congratulate Yukon Learn. It is having its AGM this Friday in Whitehorse. The volunteers there have done tremendous work.

There are hundreds of other volunteer agencies. Dawson City in Yukon is particularly held together with the true grit of volunteers. It is just amazing, pound for pound, what they put out. Volunteers arranged activities for every week of the year.

The budget provides great exciting support for the volunteer sector. First, the government will implement a number of the decisions from the joint regulatory table. It has set aside $12 million to fund the implementation of those decisions. It will review taxation related to charities, through the Charities Advisory Board. Also the Senate committee on banking, trade and commerce will look at charity funding.

The voluntary initiative, which the government started in 1995, has been very favourably received. The budget sets aside another $6 million to continue that voluntary sector initiative.

We also will look at the possibility of setting up a not for profit corporations act. Instead of NGOs coming under the Corporations Act, they would come under the not for profit corporations act, which would reduce some of the regulatory burden that would otherwise be unnecessary. We will also explore the possibility of having a bank, a creative idea that came up in these discussions, targeted toward the challenges of the voluntary sector.

Finally, I would just point out the new exciting concept of the social economy provided for in the budget. One of the three pillars of our government is to rebuild the social foundations of the nation. In that is the exciting social economy concept. The budget allocates $162 million toward this initiative. If I have time at the end of my speech, I will describe that in a bit more detail.

Students across Canada and in my riding are in great need. I was very excited to see many initiatives for post-secondary education. This includes the introduction of a new Canada learning bond, which will provide up to $2,000 for children in low income families born after 2003 for post-secondary education. It includes enhancement of the Canadian education savings grant, matching rates for low and middle income families. It includes the introduction of a new grant for up to $3,000 for first year post-secondary dependant students from low income families. I am happy to see these initiatives for students from low income families.

The budget introduces of an upfront annual grant of up to $2,000 for post-secondary students with disabilities. Although I do not have time to talk about them today, I am happy to see other initiatives in the budget for people with disabilities.

The budget also includes: an increase in the ceiling for the Canada student loans to $220 a week from $165; an increase in the income threshold to determine the eligibility for student loan interest relief; an increase in the maximum amount of debt reduction for students facing financial difficulty up to $26,000 from $20,000; the extension of the education tax credit to employees who pursue career related studies at their own expense; an investment of $125 million over five years for the aboriginal human resources development strategy; and doubling the $50 million support for the urban aboriginal strategy.

I now want to talk a bit about the new social economy concept. As I said, there are three pillars to our exciting government platform that was first outlined in the throne speech and now funded through the budget.

The third pillar is Canada's place in the world. The budget provides funds to increase foreign aid. There are new initiatives in defence and new initiatives for interacting and performing our role internationally. We have already seen some come into play with our missions to Afghanistan and Haiti and with the Prime Minister's visit to the United States.

The second pillar is preparing Canada for the new knowledge based modern economy, the economy of this century. There are a number of initiatives in the budget that address this. Obviously, I do not have time to go into them right now.

Over and above all, there is the assistance to students. Money has been allocated for research and for companies in the new technology.

The first pillar is the social economy. In that pillar, over and above a number of social initiatives related to first nations and to other people, is the special concept of funding businesses or organizations that deliver social services. The social economy enterprises are organizations that run like businesses. producing goods and services for the market economy, but which manage their operations on a not for profit basis. Instead, they direct any surpluses to the pursuit of social and community goals. Social economy enterprises are located across the country and contribute significantly to Canada's communities. This government will ensure that over time a wide range of our programs for small businesses are accessible to social economy enterprises.

We are taking immediate action in this area. This budget sets aside $162 million over five years; $100 million in the next five years to support financing initiatives that will increase lending to the social economy enterprises and help establish four special capital funds in support of social economy enterprises; $47 million for pilot programs in support of strategic planning and capacity building of community economic development organizations; and $15 million, starting in 2005-06, to the community university research alliance program run by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The council will seek out parties to do community based research on the social economy.

The government is committed to enhancing the social and environmental conditions of our communities across Canada. This is exciting new work in an effort to keep our social programs in touch with the modern world.

As people can seen throughout this debate and through the throne speech, there are a number of exciting new initiatives for Canadians. It will be great to see how members across vote on these initiatives. There are a number of seats that are not held by Liberals. Our members will be watching how members opposite vote, when the vote comes up presumably this week. Our research bureau, our candidates running in the ridings of the opposition members and Canadians who live in those ridings will be very interested to see how they vote on these initiatives that will help Canadians.

It will be great to see if any Conservatives vote against reducing waiting lists in hospitals, the $36.8 billion in health care, or the GST rebate, the $7 billion for cities, the seventh consecutive balanced budget or our effort to pay off the national debt. It will be great to see if Conservatives vote against our expenditure review to cut $3 billion in low priority government programming. It will be great to see if the Conservatives vote against the greatest cut in history.

It will be great for our candidates in Quebec to see if the Bloc votes against huge transfers in health care and education money, and the programs I just outlined.

It will be great for our candidates to see if any of the NDP members vote against $3.5 billion, the biggest environmental program in Canadian history, or against $2,000 for a number of low income students or the grant of $3,000 for low income students. We will see if any members of the NDP vote against $18 million for the voluntary sector, or $2 billion in housing since 2002, or $162 million for the social economy or $36.8 billion in health care. We will see if any of the NDP vote against the $248 million increase in foreign aid, or money for the urban aboriginal strategy or for aboriginal human resources development or for aboriginal children.

On voting day we will be watching very carefully to see which, if any, members of the opposition vote against these initiatives to help Canadians, for health care, for social programs, for aboriginal people, for the economy and for people with disabilities.

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1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is ironic to listen to all these pre-election speeches on the part of the Liberal members. The Liberals forget that all these election dollars belong to the people of Canada. Canadians expect good governance and expect that money will not be wasted in a scandalous manner as the government has done over this last decade. Canadians expect good government. They do not expect government, whichever government it is, to buy votes, basically promising these initiatives and telling voters that if they vote for the government, they will get their money back because that is what the government thinks the people deserve.

That is highly irresponsible. In essence, I think the election is going to be about accountability, and the Liberal government is going to have to account for last 10 years.

This morning one of the Liberal members said that the most frustrating experience he had was being on the side of the government in the House. Even when programs are promised and announced, they do not become a reality.

How can the member guarantee Canadians that the Liberals will deliver the money?