House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the minister's list of spending he talked about the Asian longhorn beetle, and the word beetle is quite personal to me. Over the last 10 years or more the province of British Columbia has had a natural disaster occur in its forests as a result of the mountain pine beetle. The Liberals are aware of the devastation it has caused. Their record is not something of which they should be proud.

In 2002 the British Columbia minister of forestry was in Ottawa. He told the government that the province had a five year, billion dollar plan to mitigate and try to arrest the damage that had been caused by the mountain pine beetle. There was no response to that. The federal government said that it would contribute $40 million to B.C., less than 10% of the province's five year plan.

In 2004 the province asked the federal government to be partners in a 10 to 15 year plan. It wanted $1 billion plus a long term commitment while the job was being done. The government offered the province 10% of that, $100 million, with no commitment to the future.

Why does the government seem to have so much indifference about the problems of British Columbia?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, this budget, and especially the climate change plan, will give us plenty of opportunities to work with the province of British Columbia. I have a very good relationship with my counterparts there, and I am confident that will be the case.

We are investing in this budget in order to fight the pine beetle problem. It is a terrible problem from both an economic perspective and an environmental perspective. It may prevent us from having a good solution to the problem of CO

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emissions and the capacity to keep them in the forest. We strongly support the forest industry.

I want to quote Avrim Lazar, president and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada. He said:

The industry is encouraged by the tone of the government’s climate change plan and while important details still need to be resolved, we find this plan, combined with earlier policy announcements outlined in the budget, to be very positive.

I agree with him. We need this plan for our forests. We need this budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I know that there is some sort of rule in this House that when we are debating or responding to a question, we should try to stay with the theme of the question.

My question was distinctly about pine beetles--

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry. I think we are onto further debate and, unfortunately, the time for questions and comments has expired.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I still would like to hear more details of what the minister has in store for the agriculture and rural communities of Canada. To have a quote from Germany does not help us in western Canada. I would like to hear some quotes in western Canada of how we will have some incentives to meet our goals. I was disappointed that I did not hear any made-in-Canada solution.

I would like to speak today about the budget. Bill C-48 is not just about the environment. It is not about child care. It is not about affordable housing. It is not even about anything the Liberals or the NDP alliance would have us believe. The legislation is all about political survival because this government seemingly has one goal, one purpose and one objective: the retention of power, at all costs.

The government is willing to trash today's cherished principles for the political expedience of tomorrow. For example, the Minister of Finance was adamant a few weeks ago, stating that any changes to the budget would be inconceivable because any opposition tampering with this budget would spark a financial downturn in Canada. I quote the finance minister:

You can't go on stripping away the budget, piece by piece...That's not the way you maintain a coherent fiscal framework. If you engage in that exercise, it is an absolute, sure formula for the creation of a deficit.

The absence of principle and conviction usually makes the once inconceivable a reality in politics. Consequently, only a few weeks later, the finance minister was undercut by his Prime Minister, who allowed the leader of the smallest party in the House to gleefully rewrite the budgetary framework of Canada.

We should take a moment to ponder the magnitude of that act. The finance minister had his agenda dictated to him by the leader of the major national party which consistently garners the least support across Canada. There is a reason for that.

While some limited portions of the NDP agenda may be somewhat appealing, Canadians know that entrusting the public purse to the NDP is about as smart as giving kids caffeine before bedtime. They will tax our energy all night and keep on asking for more.

Canadians cannot endorse the reckless spending and the anti-growth agenda advocated by New Democrats. We only have to look at my home province of Saskatchewan to see how the NDP-managed discourages innovation and drives people away. Accordingly, this new budget represents the beginning of a significant realignment in Canadian politics. The Liberals have abandoned a mainstream approach to governing defined by fiscal prudence to one ripe with billions in unaccountable spending dictated to them by the least popular party in Canada.

Amazingly, the government is demanding members in the opposition endorse the legislation. Not only would this course of action jeopardize Canada's economic future, it would turn the public purse into a prize on what the Waterloo Record has called Canada's news game show, “Let's Spin the Taxpayers' Wheel of Misfortune and Make a Deal”. In a frantic attempt to cling to power, the government has made the first winner of this game show the smallest party in Parliament and its leader.

What did the leader of the fourth place party have to do to win this prize? It is simple. Change his tune completely on this government and agree to prop it up.

The NDP just months ago voted against the budget. The NDP just months ago did not have confidence in this government. The NDP just months ago was prepared to force an election. The NDP was ready to, and in fact did, play politics.

Even more, the leader of the NDP publicly chided my party for having the audacity for refusing to bring down the government and force an election this past February. Why? Because apparently the budget of a few months ago was all wrong, especially for the residents of my home province of Saskatchewan. The NDP went to great lengths. According to the leader of the NDP, the budget did nothing for Saskatchewan and he was extremely concerned about what had happened in the budget.

Let me quote from the February 25 Globe and Mail :

New Democrats said that if the Tories vote for the Liberal budget, they will revel in pointing that out to voters on the hustings, especially in the West, which has several ridings that are Conservative-NDP races. One NDP adviser said the party would have a field day pointing to a Tory vote for a budget that funds the gun registry and does little for farmers.

However, when the government, like a parent desperately trying to silence a pouting child at the toy section of a department store, caved into NDP demands, something odd happened. While the NDP demanded some really expensive toys, $4.6 billion worth of them, paid for with Canadian taxpayers' hard earned money, it demanded nothing for Saskatchewan, and everything that was left out of the first budget was left out again. There is nothing for farmers, nothing for rural communities and nothing for Saskatchewan. I look forward to hearing the NDP explain that on the hustings.

I would also like the Liberal-NDP alliance to explain how this legislation resembles responsible financial management, or how this budget will improve the quality of lives of Canadians because we all know it is not and cannot.

This legislation is not responsible financial management. It represents the worst of the worst in unrestrained spending of the Liberal government. People in my riding and across Canada will not accept this. People like Russel Marcoux, the CEO of the Yanke Group of Companies, said, “we're hearing about a billion dollars here and a billion dollars there. Where is it all coming from?”

There is no fiscal responsibility evident right now. People know that if they were to model business decisions after the Liberal-NDP budget, they would not have to worry about making other business decisions for a long time after that. Insolvency will do that for them. Even more troubling, Bill C-48 lays out no plan for spending. It only lays out a lot of spending. It commits millions to a large number of areas with absolutely no plans on how the money will be spent.

Ironically, while the Gomery inquiry is examining sponsorship spending in the 1990s by the Liberal government, this legislation would allow cabinet to again create and implement programs with absolutely no framework. It would allow cabinet to make payments in any manner it deems fit. The Liberal Party of Canada, the party of ad scam and the party of Alfonso Gagliano, wants Canadian taxpayers to trust it with their money, to implement programs with no framework and no accountability. Those are not shrieks of delight from hardworking, overtaxed Canadians.

Nancy Hughes Anthony, the president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, recently stated that one would have thought, what with ad scam and these sorts of things, that the accountability would be increased, but we are seeing that the accountability seems to be decreased. How any rational individual could seriously consider endorsing this total absence of a framework is puzzling at best?

The Liberal Party of Canada created a problem for themselves with ad scam and the resulting tales of deceit and corruption emanating from the Gomery inquiry. Now the Prime Minister and his party want to use the Canadian taxpayers to bail them out.

Like the bank robbers who throw money into the air to confuse the authorities during a getaway, the Liberal Party is trying to deflect attention from ad scam with an unparalleled spending blitz. While the NDP has been a willing getaway driver setting its price for cooperation, the Canadian public cannot and will not easily comply.

If a CEO of any reputable company wanted to increase spending and reduce revenue in the midst of a major crisis, the board of directors would surely ask for his or her resignation. Canadians are the directors of the Canadian government. We should expect no less and demand no less. This is no way to run a country.

We in Saskatchewan have an NDP government. We know what we are talking about when we see our hard earned taxpayer dollars go to a government that has no clue about responsible government and spending.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened to the speech of the member opposite. For a speech that was intended to address the budget, I certainly heard an awful lot of politics.

I suspect that I spent more time listening to political rhetoric than I did listening to substantive comment on the budget. We heard a lot of talk about the New Democratic Party and I think that my colleague opposite and her colleagues are perhaps a little bit too distracted by the politics.

Having said that, I acknowledge 100% that this is a political place and that politics is going on all the time. We should not be too negative in talking to each other just because things are political.

However, getting back to the budget, I do not quite understand how the member opposite can reach a conclusion in her speech that somehow the government does not know what it is doing. The record of the last seven or eight fiscal years has shown very clearly that it does know what it is doing. I could go through all the statistics, but I am not going to even mention any benchmarks because they are repeated here all the time, indicating that the government has done extremely well.

Among the G-8 countries, it is actually a leader currently and projected to be leading in so many of the economic statistics including balanced budgets. That commitment persists to this day. We will balance the books and our budget this time is calculated to continue to do that for the next few years.

I do not understand the member when she suggests that the government does not know what it is doing when the record clearly shows that the government does know what it is doing fiscally and politically.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK

Madam Speaker, it is very hard to talk about a budget when we do not know what the budget is. In the member's remarks, he said that he heard a lot more about politics. I have never seen so much politics played as I have in the last couple of weeks.

As the member said, for the last seven or eight years the government has balanced budgets, but in the last couple of weeks it has been a sad scenario for Canada. Imagine how well we would have done if we had the money that was filtered through ad scam? Just imagine the hospitals that would still be open today. Perhaps the compassionate care program that probably could have been fulfilled as it was needed.

However, perhaps the member did not hear me because I quoted from some people who are very concerned about the budget, people like Nancy Hughes Anthony. We would have thought that with ad scam that accountability would be increased and that is what we are trying to say. There is no accountability. All we are hearing is announcements from coast to coast to coast.

There is no solution for Saskatchewan where we are having a difficult time right now. Farmers are trying to put crops in the fields and trying to sustain a living. I think the suicide rate will be up this year considerably because it is a very sad situation in Saskatchewan. Our Prime Minister and his ministers have failed to recognize the seriousness of the border being closed. I thought that border would be opened because the Government gave us all a bit of hope when it elected its new leader.

I also wanted to mention that the Liberals' approach to budgetary matters is that of an extortionist and perhaps the member who I know has a legal background would have to ask why a lawyer would write me this or perhaps he would agree that the approach is basically as this lawyer accountant wrote me: “I have your money and you'll get it back if you do this for me. You'll never see the money again if you do not vote for the Liberal budget. The problem is that any supposed power to enforce compliance is not real”.

I am disappointed that the member did not really get the speech because he misunderstood that Canadians do not want their dollars wasted. There is only one taxpayer. In Saskatchewan we are victims of a government that just taxes us to death and has no incentives for economic growth. We were counting on this budget helping Saskatchewan become a sustainable province.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Burlington
Ontario

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be speaking after the member for Blackstrap because my constituents are thrilled with the budget. The budget represents important investments. If she was actually consulting her constituents, including the families in her constituency that would benefit from the investments in early childhood development, she would know that they too are looking forward to the budget.

The budget builds on a successful record of Liberal budgets. Canada became deficit free for the first time in 30 years in the fiscal year 1997-98. Since then we have had eight consecutive balanced budgets and we have shaved off $61.4 billion from our national debt. That is money that is directly paying down the debt, much like many of us pay down our mortgages. It is a record unmatched over the last 50 years. On top of that we have also had some $100 billion in tax cuts.

In 2004 Canada had the fastest growth in exports in more than seven years and Canadian real GDP advanced at an annual rate of 4.3% in the second quarter making Canada the envy of the G-7. Since the Liberal Party formed the government in 1993, over 3.5 million jobs have been created and some 500,000 of these jobs were created between January 2003 and January 2005.

It is because of the Liberal Party's strong fiscal record that the government has and is continuing to invest in priorities that matter to Canadians. The budget demonstrates those investments in health care, early childhood development, the environment, cities and municipalities, and Canada's role in the world.

Let us look at the announcement on early childhood development. In my constituency, like many constituencies right across the country, the majority of children under the age of six are receiving some form of child care. Yet, only one in five of those children across the country is in a regulated day care space. That number has not changed in the last decade.

If we look at innovative economies, children need to learn easily and quickly when they arrive at school at the age of five, so early childhood development is absolutely imperative to their success.

In fact, my community of Burlington participated in an institute of urban studies initiative where it examined inclusivity, the term usually addressing racism and poverty, but it looked at how Canada could become more inclusive. Cities like Burlington, Saint John, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver were the cities that participated in the first tranche of the study.

One recommendation that came through loud and clear, particularly from the city of Burlington, was the development and support of a high quality national early learning and child care development strategy that is coordinated, universal and transparent. This would make a huge difference to families and ensure that people have the chance to be all that they can be.

The budget that we are discussing today, which we will vote on later this week, responded to this need with the federal government's commitment of $5 billion over five years to build that national framework with different rollouts in each province because of differing needs, but a $5 billion commitment nevertheless. I know in Ontario that money is going to be well spent.

The other thing that is important in the budget, as I mentioned, is predictable, stable funding in the long term infrastructure area, particularly for our municipalities. In terms of the environment, social and economic infrastructure, these things will be very important to our communities.

Revenue raised by the gas tax is one mechanism that the budget commits to ensuring that we have the infrastructure, so that Canada is able to continue to remain competitive and that business and individuals in our communities will benefit. The last budget had the GST rebate for the municipal sector and in my community that was worth some $1 million a year.

The other area that I mentioned provides us an opportunity to talk about Canada's role in the world. Canada is making important contributions to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world that reflects our Canadian values and interests. The proposed increases to official development assistance will go a long way to ensuring that Canada helps and does its share to achieve the millennium development goals, that ambitious agenda that world leaders committed to in the year 2000 to cut global poverty in half by 2015.

The increases will help implement Canada's new international policy statement, the framework that coordinates the three Ds, diplomacy, defence and development, and our trade agenda to make sure that Canadians are at the forefront, that Canadian aid dollars are used in the most effective way, and that we get more coherence. It will be a new platform for Canadians to play a more important and effective role in relieving the plight of the world's poorest people.

Our country's principles and values, our culture, are rooted in the commitment to tolerance, democracy, equality, equity in human rights, peaceful resolution of differences, the opportunities and challenges of the marketplace, social justice, sustainable development and easing poverty. This was witnessed after the recent tsunami disaster. Canadians responded with an unbelievable opening of their wallets, an incredible contribution to ease the suffering and plight of others in that affected area. Some $200 million was raised by individuals and that amount was matched by Canadian government contributions. We go further than that in the budget.

Canada has an important role to play in the fight against global poverty. Our new approach in aid is outlined in the international policy statement. We are concentrating our efforts in five priority sectors: health, education, governance, private sector development and environmental sustainability. Across all of that we are working on gender equality.

Helping women in developing countries will be a theme throughout our work to make sure that we are enhancing inclusivity in many parts of the world, places where we can make a difference. As everyone knows, an educated mother will have children at a later age and will be able to assist in her children's education. We will make those important gains around the world.

Kofi Annan has talked about how we need to do better in the world. Canada is certainly on target in meeting its international commitments, continuing to grow its aid and making sure that its commitments are honoured. In the recent UN report entitled “Threats, Challenges and Change”, he stated, “The threats we face are threats to all of us and they are linked to each other. To address these many threats to human well-being and security, the world needs to share the benefits of trade, to end the debt crisis and to promote more efficient and effective aid”. Canadians are doing just that. In fact, the IPS ensures that we will do just that.

I would like to talk more about our commitment to pursuing greater sectoral focus in CIDA. Our actions in focusing on 25 partner countries will go a long way to easing the plight of those particularly in Africa. Fourteen of the countries, more than half, are in sub-Saharan Africa, countries with some of the lowest income levels on a per capita basis, and that are able to use our aid effectively. We have some history with those countries. It has been a real injustice for some of the opposition members not to recognize that. On top of that there are specific countries for which we have a whole of government approach, areas like the Sudan. The Prime Minister made an increased commitment to helping the individuals in the Darfur region, important investments to ease its problems and make sure there is peace and security for the individuals there.

For Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan we have a whole of government approach so that we can bring about peace and work on development to allow them to have a sustainable economy and that they will be able to continue to trade.

Madam Speaker, you have been involved in many of the initiatives. The public will be interested to know that members of Parliament work with the ministers of international development, trade, defence, and foreign affairs to implement Canada's agenda. It is Canadian members of Parliament who work collaboratively on things like landmines, the creation of the International Criminal Court, bringing awareness of human rights issues to our colleagues around the world and setting an example for good governance. All Canadians can be proud of that accomplishment which is done in the spirit of collegiality and representing all of Canada and not partisan differences.

In this current climate particularly leading up to the vote on Thursday, it is important to remember that we do work together in advancing the situation for others in the world. The world has a lot to gain from Canada.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Madam Speaker, my question for the member involves the issue of the gas tax and moneys that are being allotted to municipalities.

In my riding there are a number of small municipalities that have the job to repair bridges and maintain roads. The warden of Dufferin County, a fellow named John Oosterhof, has suggested that he is most concerned that the issue of funding is based on population as opposed to kilometres. Some of the city people, such as Mayor Miller of Toronto, say they have to have all this money. The problem is that many rural municipalities just do not have the funding. In my area a bridge had to be closed because the municipality did not have the resources to repair it.

The decision appears to have already been made that it will be based on population as opposed to kilometres. Would the member be prepared to have the government reconsider that formula and base it on kilometres as opposed to population?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, I find it very interesting that the member for Dufferin--Caledon is not happy about how previous waves of infrastructure have been rolled out in our province. We are both from the province of Ontario. Interestingly, he sat as a member of the government that worked out the last deal so perhaps he should talk to his old colleagues, Mr. Eves and Mr. Harris, if he did not like the deal that was worked out by the province.

I can assure him that this new commitment on gas tax is not a stand-alone initiative. It is in fact an initiative that complements the work that we have done on GST rebates, on the infrastructure program, on COMRIF, specifically allowing smaller municipalities to pool their resources to invest in things that are important.

I am very much in favour of making sure that the deal is something that will be reflective of the reality of smaller communities like mine, of rural communities like his, and making sure that all of the money is not sucked into the very busiest and biggest capitals. There is some element of per capita that is absolutely imperative, but we also have to look at the infrastructure that is important to all of us.

I would encourage the member to pick one of the sides that his party has been on regarding this deal for cities. There has been a bit of a flip-flop all over the place throughout the last election and in the last couple of weeks. He should support the budget on Thursday and vote for the new deal for cities because it is important to the member's riding, to my riding and to the people of Canada.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Guy Côté Portneuf, QC

Madam Speaker, I have never seen an MP less concerned about her constituents. She is absolutely remiss in her duty.

Yesterday, I had the sad task of having to explain in this House why the budget and the two budget implementation bills do not recognize the realities and problems currently in place in Quebec. Hon. members will recall that there was a farmers' protest yesterday on Parliament Hill. Last evening, I got a call from a forest products company, Tembec, announcing that four of its plants were going to shut down or cut back on operations.

For years, the Bloc Québécois has been calling upon the government to come up with an effective plan to assist the forest industry and its workers. We have yet to see any sign of it. For years we have been demanding a government plan to assist older workers. At the very least, when plants are closed, we want to see assistance programs made available to those who lose their jobs.

I hope that the hon. member will come to my riding to explain how Bill C-48 is going to help the unemployed of Saint-Raymond and Saint-Léonard. There is another plant in Brantford, Ontario, where I hope she will go as well. I also invite her to my colleague's riding of Abitibi—Témiscamingue, where another will be closing. I hope the hon. member is going to look out for the real interests of her fellow citizens.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

May 17th, 2005 / 12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, I have worked with hon. members from the Bloc Québécois, the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques and the hon. member for Verchères—Les Patriotes, on the WTO situation.

There is a group of members who want to have rules and a new system. We have worked together to change the rules in order to ensure that the voice and aspirations of people in our ridings are respected in the world. The hon. member needs to think a little bit about the situation in Canada. There are places here where we must work harder to improve the situation for people without employment. Nonetheless, this government has worked very hard for everyone in every riding and every province.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the assembly today and speak to Bill C-43, particularly because my understanding is that today is a rather slow news day--

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

An hon. member

Come on over.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

I am sure that all the political junkies who are tuning in to get their political fix today have nothing better to do, so this debate will probably fill a void for them. I am pleased to speak and help those people get their political fix.

I should say at the outset that even though this is a debate on Bill C-43, I feel we cannot really speak to this legislation without also speaking to Bill C-48, because the two are obviously intertwined.

I think we have to put things in context. These two bills are rather unprecedented. This is the first time in recent memory that I can remember not one but two budget bills being delivered. In fact, it is my understanding that both of these bills need to be passed on Thursday evening for the government to avoid a non-confidence vote, so let us talk about the fact that these two bills have been brought down together, what that means and what the impacts are.

Members may recall that Bill C-43 passed the first stage a few months ago. At that time, although Conservative Party members abstained from the vote, we did so because we felt that the government deserved to go forward. Our party did not think that Canadians wanted a general election, at least at that point in time, so our members abstained from the vote. Shortly after that, of course, in fear of the government going down, the NDP proposed a solution, one that is a political solution, I might add, and not a financial solution, and introduced and cut a deal with the government that ultimately led to the creation of Bill C-48.

I have to set the record straight on a few points.

First, the Minister of Finance has said on several occasions that it was the Conservatives who flip-flopped on our position of support on Bill C-43 and that is why the government was forced to seek an arrangement with the NDP. In fact, that is not true. What happened was that the revelations coming out of the Gomery inquiry were of such magnitude and such impact that we felt the government then did not deserve our support to remain in office. We then clearly indicated that we would be trying to take the government down at any and every opportunity. It was only because of this situation that the government then entered into negotiations with the NDP. The ultimate creation was this bill called Bill C-48.

It is this bill, quite frankly, that gives me quite a bit of concern, because we all know that this was a political deal made not in the best interests of Canadians but in the best interests of the Liberal Party of Canada. In fact, this deal was cut in a hotel room in Toronto without the presence of the Minister of Finance.

We hear all the spin from members opposite, who are saying that the Minister of Finance was involved. I have never seen a budget consultation that created a budget bill for Canadians while the Minister of Finance was on the phone listening to House leaders from two different parties create a budget bill. It is unheard of.

It is incumbent upon all Canadians to understand that this was a political solution to a problem the Liberals felt they were facing, and that was the defeat of their own government. This was not a bill that was constructed to help Canadians. This bill was constructed to help the Liberal Party of Canada.

Now that I have provided that framework, I think I can talk a bit more about Bill C-43.

I must admit that there are elements of Bill C-43 with which I agree. There are certain things contained in the bill, particularly with respect to the RRSP provisions in the elimination of the 30% restriction on RRSPs. This alone is something that many people in my riding had been asking for over several years. Over many elections the government talked about implementing that provision, but in my recollection, this is the first time it has actually brought it forward in a budget. That is something I applaud.

There were a few other points that I could agree with, but here is what happened when Bill C-48 came into the mix. This was a plan, and I use the word “plan” very lightly because I think there was no real forethought put into it, and a bill brought forward that literally could be contained on a page and a half. This was a bill that was put together on the back of an envelope, to use the vernacular, in order to try to save the political hide of the Liberals.

What happens when a budget is put forward that has spending commitments of over $4.6 billion without a true plan on how to implement it? It is a recipe for disaster.

I think the Minister of Finance also understood that, because at the time Bill C-43, the original budget bill, was brought forward, the Minister of Finance was effusive in his praise about his own bill. All members opposite were lauding this budget as one of the best budgets in years.

However, when questioned by the media and by members of the opposition as to the potential of amending that bill for political purposes, the Minister of Finance was quite clear. He stated unequivocally that we cannot .cherry pick budgets. We cannot take certain elements out of a budget and put other elements in because that is a sure recipe for deficits, for deficit disaster.

Those were the words of the Minister of Finance, but what happened only a few short weeks later? There was a political deal cut, without his knowledge, I might add. The very things he was warning all Canadians about happened. Why did they happen? Once again, it was for political purposes: to suit the Liberal Party of Canada.

Frankly, I feel sorry for the Minister of Finance because his legs were cut out from underneath him by the Prime Minister. The Minister of Finance was not consulted about this. He was told, “We must enter into an agreement with the NDP to save our political hides”. Now, across Canada, the Minister of Finance, to his great embarrassment, is trying to defend Bill C-48 when in his heart of hearts he knows as well as I know and as well as most Canadians know that Bill C-48 is an unmitigated disaster. It was only done for political purposes, and that is the worst thing that Canadians expect of any political party and any Minister of Finance.

Budgets, whether we agree with them or not, should be crafted to try to represent the views of the government of the day and hopefully to represent the views of the majority of Canadians, to help Canadians but to be financially and fiscally responsible. Bill C-48 destroys all that credibility, Whatever credibility there was within the original budget bill, Bill C-43, Bill C-48 goes to great lengths to destroy it. That is something I simply cannot support and I do not think most members of the House should support it.

We are in the situation right now where there is a lot of political tension. That is obvious. Many political observers are saying that we are on the brink of an election. Clearly today's announcement puts that in some doubt because of the numbers shifting a little, but I do not think Canadians should have to expect that budgets affecting the lives of Canadians from coast to coast to coast should be put in jeopardy for political purposes. I do not think Canadians expect that budgets should be crafted and designed in order to better prop up the political fortunes of any party. Whether it be Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats or the Bloc, Canadians expect and deserve better, but it is just not happening.

If there was going to be an attempt by the New Democrats to craft a deal with the Liberals to amend the budget and to bring in a new budget, or a better budget, as they like to call it, then I would think that at least there should have been consultation with all members of the House and with all parties. There was not. The NDP tried to further its own political purposes in a hasty deal with the Liberals. It totally ignored the reality of what people in my province wanted to see.

For example, in the original budget bill, Bill C-43, there was literally no mention of agriculture, none whatsoever. The NDP then suggested a solution, an amendment that it said would help Canadians in all provinces across Canada. I can tell the House with great certainty the people of Saskatchewan are absolutely opposed to Bill C-48, because once again, with an amendment and the opportunity before it to bring something to the province of Saskatchewan, the NDP totally ignored agriculture. The NDP had the government over a veritable political barrel. It could have introduced some significant changes and benefits for Canadian agriculture and farmers in Saskatchewan, and yet it did nothing.

Let me close by saying I think it is a travesty that this government is trying to promote a bill that was crafted strictly for political purposes, thus reneging on its own commitment to Bill C-43. This is unconscionable, and at least Bill C-48 should be defeated.