House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Board of Internal Economy
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that Mr. Rob Nicholson, member for the electoral district of Niagara Falls, has been appointed member of the Board of Internal Economy in place of Mr. John Reynolds, member for the electoral district of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.

Civil Marriage Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Mount Royal
Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-38, an act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 22nd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership and associate membership of certain committees, and I should like to move concurrence at this time.

(Motion agreed to)

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a request for you. We are literally being inundated with petitions by the thousands on the issue of marriage. I wonder whether there is anything you could do in your office to expedite the rapid approval of those from the Clerk's office so we can present them in a timely fashion in the House?

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for his intervention. I will take the matter under advisement and see what we can do to expedite matters as suggested.

I am sure the hon. member is receiving voluminous mail, and I am delighted that is the case. I know all hon. members strive to keep in touch with their constituents and others. This is just one of many examples. We will see what we can do to expedite matters as requested by the hon. member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park.

The House resumed from January 31 consideration of the motion.

Finance
Government Orders

February 1st, 2005 / 10:05 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased and honoured to rise today on the prebudget debate to discuss what is going to be extremely important for Canadians across the country.

Over the last 11 years we have seen 11 years of Bay Street budgets. What we need to see this year is a budget for main street, a budget for our communities across the country, a budget that will help to address the fall in the quality of life which we have seen Canadians endure over the past decade.

In my riding of Burnaby—New Westminster we saw the closure of a major hospital just a few months ago because of federal health care cutbacks. We have seen for the average Canadian worker a fall in salary of 60¢ an hour in real terms. We see average Canadian families now indebted a third more than they were a decade ago. And we have seen broken promise after broken promise.

In this year it is time for this budget to address all these outstanding issues and start to address the main street deficit. The fact is that most Canadians are living with a lower quality of life than they were 10 years ago.

I would like to speak for a few minutes about what we particularly do not want to see in the budget for this year.

First of all, we do not want to see the continued mismanagement of public funds, as we saw in the sponsorship scandal last year and in numerous other cases. A few weeks ago, despite the regulations that exist at Treasury Board, we saw that the Canadian ambassador to France managed to spend $200,000 on social evenings, while Canadians find themselves with ever dwindling financial resources. We do not want the budget to permit such bad practices any longer.

Neither do we want to see continued investment of money in certain foundations that have no oversight from the Auditor General. We all know that she has spoken about this on many occasions. I myself am impatiently awaiting Ms. Fraser's report on this subject on February 15. It is very clear that we cannot continue to keep money from the public servants who are responsible for ensuring that it is spent wisely.

We do not want to see more tax reductions for the best performing companies, as we have seen under this government. In fact the first major decision of this government, taken at the beginning of last year, was to cut the income taxes of such companies.

There is this huge gap between Bay Street, with its record profits, and ordinary Canadians. We are in fact looking at profits of 14% once again. This is unprecedented in Canadian history. At the same time, Canadians are living with increasingly fewer resources and services, and increasingly fewer promises are kept.

These are the things that we especially do not want to see again. We do not want to see this government wrong again in its budget projections. In the last 10 years, we have seen a difference of $86 billion between the forecasts and the final results. It is absolutely appalling for projections to be so far from reality.

Those are the things that we do not want to see in this budget.

There are things that we do want to see. In this minority Parliament and because of pressure from the four corners of the House--and I can guarantee that in this corner of the House we will be fighting for main street--this budget must finally start to address that main street deficit: the cuts in community services; the cuts in the quality of life; the cut in basic revenue; the increase in debt for Canadian families; the increase in debt for Canadian students; and the increase in debt we are seeing right across this country, which is being paid for by Canadians from coast to coast to coast. If we want to see that main street deficit addressed, then there are things that must be in this budget.

We must invest in education. Either we have seen students themselves and/or their families going into debt by tens of thousands of dollars in order to further their education to make a contribution to this country or, as in my riding where I have knocked on thousands of doors, we have seen dozens of young people who have not gone to school. They have not gone into post-secondary education because they know there are no supports in place to help them do that.

We are looking in this budget for a significant investment in education that will start to address that main street deficit, an investment that will start to address support for ordinary Canadians across this country so that they can go to school and get the trade qualifications and the education required for them to make the full contribution they want to make to this society and to this country.

What we want to see and are fighting for is a main street budget that is going to invest in a sustainable environment. It is deplorable that after signing the Kyoto accord, after making that commitment to reduce emissions by 20% in 2005, we are actually seeing an increase of 20% in emissions, as our leader, the member for Toronto--Danforth, has pointed out on numerous occasions here in the House. That is shameful. It is shocking.

In this corner of the House we are working hard and we will be fighting to make sure that this budget in this minority Parliament actually addresses that main street deficit and that we start to invest in a sustainable environment. This includes investing in municipalities and investing in infrastructure.

We will also be fighting hard to make sure that this budget invests in children. We have been calling for this for years. Broken promise after broken promise from the government has led to not keeping that fundamental commitment made by Liberal governments and the Liberal Party during elections: to establish a pan-Canadian, publicly funded, universally accessible, not for profit child care system that helps to support families, those working families and families across this country that have had to deal with that main street deficit and the absence of publicly funded, universally accessible and not for profit child care in this country. We will be fighting for that in the budget to be tabled this month.

We will be fighting as well to increase the $4,900 child tax benefit and to open the benefit and include those who do not pay income tax, again to address this main street deficit.

It is important to note that when we talk about growing poverty in this country, when we talk about the fact that homelessness in my area has tripled, when we are talking about the fact that food bank lineups are longer and longer, when we are talking about the fact that there are more and more poor Canadians, so much of that has impacted children in this country.

It is deplorable that 15 years after the adoption in the House of this resolution to eliminate child poverty we now see over a million poor Canadians, poor children and their families who are forced to address this issue of the main street deficit. We will be looking for a substantial investment to make sure that for this main street deficit for poor children, who are in food bank lineups and are homeless in so many tragic cases across this country, there is finally an investment to start to deal with their reality.

It is tragic as well to note that we are now looking at between 150,000 and 300,000 Canadians who are homeless in this land. At a time when we are looking at record corporate profits, at a time when we have $9 billion of surplus, at a time when we have all of these resources available, we are looking at between 0.5% and 1% of our population who are sleeping without a home tonight. That is shocking.

We will be fighting for all of these issues because we have had 11 years of Bay Street budgets. We in the New Democratic Party caucus will be fighting very hard to make sure that this is a main street budget dealing with the real realities of Canadians from coast to coast to coast in this country. We will be fighting hard and we will not stop until Canadians are adequately represented in this year's budget.

Finance
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member of the then CCF party, now the NDP, a very important question. The members of that party always talk as if they are opposed to the reduction of our national debt. I would like to pose the question to the member in the following way.

There are people in the country who are poor and who need help from the government. Then there are others who have more money than they need and they are generally the ones who have the fiscal capacity to buy Canada savings bonds and other debentures, which is the government's way of borrowing money.

Therefore, when we are in debt we land up actually transferring money, usually from poor people because they pay taxes too in this country. That money is transferred to those who already have too much because they have the Canada savings bonds and we are paying the interest. I know that the debt has come down and our interest rates are now low so that this amount of money has now decreased, but it used to be that one out of every four dollars collected in taxes went to pay interest.

Why are the NDP members continually opposed to reducing the debt and stopping that transfer of money from Canada's poor to Canada's rich because the rich are lending the money to the government? I would think that the NDP, as I would, would like to see that debt eliminated so that we can use taxpayers' revenue to provide government services and programs which are needed in this country.

Finance
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the hon. member that it was the Conservative government under Brian Mulroney that led us to record deficits in the 1980s, which was appalling financial mismanagement.

As a financial administrator myself--that is my background--I have always balanced budgets and paid down debt while maintaining services. That is a very important distinction.

It is important to note the real records of the three major parties in the House over a 20 year period across the country. A study that came out in spring 2004 actually compared the three parties, the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party, and their record of debt and deficits.

The reality is that the worst record, as we know very well, is that of the Liberal Party. In provincial governments and in the federal government, where it governed from 1981 to 2001, 85% of all Liberal government budgets across the country were in deficit.

The Conservative Party was a little better. For Conservative provincial and federal governments across the country over that 20 year period, 66% or two-thirds of the time the actual fiscal period returns were in deficit.

It is important to note that the best record was that of the New Democratic Party. Most of the time when we projected a surplus, we attained it. We have the best fiscal record, looking at the provinces where we have governed. We have not governed federally, of course.

Finance
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

An hon. member

Not yet.

Finance
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Not yet, but when we look at the provinces and compare the NDP, the Conservatives and the Liberals, the best record comes from the NDP.

Our philosophy is simple. When we are talking about paying down the debt, we do that as the GNP rises and grows. We do not invest all of our money in a Bay Street budget to pay down debt when hospitals are closing, when the number of homeless is doubling or tripling, when there are a million kids living in poverty, when food bank lineups are growing, when services are being cut back, and when key commitments like the child care commitment are broken indiscriminately.

When all those things are happening we do not sit back and say, “Let us pay down the debt”. We deal with the fundamental issues first. In this corner of the House, that is what we are fighting for.

Finance
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his passion and commitment to this issue.

I have a quick question with respect to the question that was just brought forward. There is confusion. In banking and business terms, the concept of investment is a very sound one, where one continually makes investments in a company to ensure that the growth is maintained, as it is within families. Families consider investing in their young people to make sure educations are provided and jobs created.

I wonder if the hon. member could comment on why there is such resistance to the concept around investing in sound, sustainable practices into the future.